D&D General Ed Greenwood's $5K Contract To Sell The Forgotten Realms

D&D historian Ben Riggs has a copy of Ed Greenwood's original Forgotten Realms contract and spends a few words covering it, calling it "The best $5,000 D&D Spent". The setting was sold to TSR for $4,000 in 1987, with another $1,000 for comsulting services.

s-l400-4240916222.jpg


Ed Greenwood, the creator of the Realms, said he never regretted the decision to sell the property to TSR, the first company to make D&D. The five grand he made was $4,000 for the Realms itself, and then $1,000 for services as a design consultant. (That’s $13,000 in 2022 dollars).

 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

I dont think Ed’s got all that much to regret about the original FR sale to be honest. He’s made it into a multi-decade long career after all, novels and supplements. And a lot of the size and scope and (in D&D circles) ubiquity of FR is due to the work of a multitude of others in the setting, from Salvatore to Black Isle Studios. I’m certainly not trying to minimise Greenwood’s initial creation of the Realms, but I think the article kinda implicitly assumes that FR would have been just as big a success if he’d refused to sell it and published it independently as a fantasy heartbreaker in the 80s sometime. The only reason the FR IP has value is because TSR made it so. TSR made bank off that $5k, sure - but in the longer run, I think Greenwood would be happy with his deal. It turned him into an legendary elder statesman, made sure he’d never be out of work in what can be a pretty brutal industry. Even now, his name on the cover can help sell 3pp books. FR now is worth much more than the $5k (inflation adjusted) of course, but I suspect that deal was a pretty handy loss leader for Greenwood, from a business point of view.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I dont think Ed’s got all that much to regret about the original FR sale to be honest. He’s made it into a multi-decade long career after all, novels and supplements. And a lot of the size and scope and (in D&D circles) ubiquity of FR is due to the work of a multitude of others in the setting, from Salvatore to Black Isle Studios. I’m certainly not trying to minimise Greenwood’s initial creation of the Realms, but I think the article kinda implicitly assumes that FR would have been just as big a success if he’d refused to sell it and published it independently as a fantasy heartbreaker in the 80s sometime. The only reason the FR IP has value is because TSR made it so. TSR made bank off that $5k, sure - but in the longer run, I think Greenwood would be happy with his deal. It turned him into an legendary elder statesman, made sure he’d never be out of work in what can be a pretty brutal industry. Even now, his name on the cover can help sell 3pp books. FR now is worth much more than the $5k (inflation adjusted) of course, but I suspect that deal was a pretty handy loss leader for Greenwood, from a business point of view.
All yhat, and he got to keep his day job thst he loves.
 


Waller

Hero
I dont think Ed’s got all that much to regret about the original FR sale to be honest. He’s made it into a multi-decade long career after all, novels and supplements. And a lot of the size and scope and (in D&D circles) ubiquity of FR is due to the work of a multitude of others in the setting, from Salvatore to Black Isle Studios. I’m certainly not trying to minimise Greenwood’s initial creation of the Realms, but I think the article kinda implicitly assumes that FR would have been just as big a success if he’d refused to sell it and published it independently as a fantasy heartbreaker in the 80s sometime. The only reason the FR IP has value is because TSR made it so. TSR made bank off that $5k, sure - but in the longer run, I think Greenwood would be happy with his deal. It turned him into an legendary elder statesman, made sure he’d never be out of work in what can be a pretty brutal industry. Even now, his name on the cover can help sell 3pp books. FR now is worth much more than the $5k (inflation adjusted) of course, but I suspect that deal was a pretty handy loss leader for Greenwood, from a business point of view.
Apparently we're now deciding what Ed Greenwood thinks.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Ohh, so he would have continued to work with them post winning the competition like the consultation fee Greenwood was given?

Yes. My understanding (which someone can correct me if I am wrong) is that they worked with Baker, who did most of the writing in the book that was published.

It still seems absolutely crazy, I never would have guessed there was this much money in D&D back then.

Well, they wanted good people to come out of the woodwork and show up with their offerings. You don't get that for peanuts.
 

Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
The 1e grey box maps had vast swathes of empty spaces to write your own adventures and locales into. Of course, as the Realms became more detailed, that could change. My PCs at one point had a castle that suddenly found itself placed smack dab in an area that was infested with trolls and ettins.



One thing Riggs is right to point out is that beyond the money (which, yeah, TSR could've done better by Ed Greenwood), the deal gave his creation immortality. The Realms has been a part of gaming for decades and will continue to be a part of it for decades to come. It's certainly been inspiring me from the 80s to today.
Some of it is inevitable…the more products means more is developed—in fairness.

I ended up not liking a lot of it. Always looking to bring other deities into it, not liking the aesthetic of frilly sleeves and cravats in a lot of associated art.

But that is tangential and irrelevant to most.

WOTC asquited a goldmine and Greenwood is on the Mount Rushmore of D&D! Good for him. That is a huge accomplishment.
 




ECMO3

Hero
The trouble with so many people is that they don't understand the value of themselves, and of what they produce.

This disparity is often exploited by others, especially in creative fields.
I don't know if I would call it exploiting people.

Different people are good at different things. A lot of people in the creative field don't understand how to turn their "creation" into a commercial success or they are in a situation where they don't have the resources to turn it into a success. Others with less creative talent do understand that side of it and can take it and make it into something commercially viable. Of course they get paid for doing that and usually transfer at least a little bit of that back to the originator.
 




Jimmy Dick

Adventurer
I absolutely loved FR when I got that 1e boxed set. My only regret was that I lived in the middle of nowhere and had no one who wanted to play D&D at all. When I eventually found the 4e version of FR, I was really disappointed. Hopefully they will put out a new version of FR for their 50th anniversary cash grab because that looks more and more like Pathfinder every time I look at it.
 



Erdric Dragin

Adventurer
No idea why he didn't also request royalties. Or some measure of autonomy. I, for one, could never sell my creation without some level of authority and monetary gain.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The trouble with so many people is that they don't understand the value of themselves, and of what they produce.

Well, that's because it is potential value, that may or may not be realized. And, for most of the history of humankind, realizing the full potential value requires skills and resource that aren't part of the creation skillset.

So, Greenwood made something cool. His ability to realize that value on his own was minimal.
 


Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top