TSR Ernie Gygax on New TSR, WotC Beefs, Trademarks, Licensees, 5E, & More

Status
Not open for further replies.
A YouTube channel, 'Live From the Bunker', interviewed Ernie Gygax about the new TSR. I've watched and decided to try to transcribe the most relevant parts of it, but the full hour-long video is below if you want to see the whole interview and full context.



Ernie Gygax is one of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax's sons, and recently announced that TSR, the company that launched D&D in 1974, and bought by WotC in the late 1990s, was returning.

All the below is Ernie Gygax's words as best I could transcribe. I'm posting the facts of what was said here, without commentary.

There's also talk about early TSR stories, Gail Gygax lawsuits and wills, etc. but I've tried to stay on topic. You can watch the full interview for more.

Why A New TSR?

TSR has been gone. There's a ton of artists and game designers and people that play..... and recently they were dissed for being old-fashioned, possibly anti modern trends, and enforcing, or even having the concepts of gender identity (laughs).

All I'm trying to do is fill in the stripmine, allow this old fertile soil to produce more games and products again. We're not gonna be able to get back the diamond that was Dungeons & Dragons. We'll be able to make things that might have chips of diamond material... we're never gonna see that great D&D diamond again, I don't think.

Why Two TSRs?

The other TSR is a licensee because [Jayson Elliot] let it lapse. But he had absolutely ... love for the game and the products. There was no reason to say 'oh you've screwed up, oh it's all ours, ha ha ha ha!' Instead, Justin [LaNasa] came to him and said ... we love that you're doing Top Secret things, we have a much broader goal for the whole thing. But there's no reason for you to stop or even have any troubles. Justin said, I'll take care of the paperwork, you just give me $10 a year, and you put out all this love for old school gaming that you can. And we appreciate that you were there to try and pick up things, and you produced Gygax Magazine, for in its time that you're also working on a game that you love to play ... because Top Secret was Jayson's love, as a young man.


On Gail Gygax, Wills, & Courts

We are in court right now with Gail Gygax, my father's last wife, who he impressed upon me, this is my wife, this was his last years, if you're going to deal with me, you're going to be dealing with my wife here. So 'OK father, understood'. And he said 'it doesn't matter what you think, because this is my wife'. That is important!

But he then did a will. The will was not put forth because the assumption was that there was not $50,000 in 19... or 2008, I should say, dollars worth of value in his estate. And right now though without that Gail had complete control of all the IPs and product, and she had pulled them all from the market hoping to sell them as one gigantic package to a large conglomerate, be it Pepsi or a studio or whatever.

Which did not happen, and at least in my opinion - and exactly that, an opinion - has lowered the knowledge and recognition of my father's name and his works. I think the best way to show and create value for anything is to have it in front of the public. And so in September there's going to be a couple of days where I get up really early - and it's not my style, like I said I was up until 6 in the morning - so by 8am I'm supposed to be bright and chipper and being questioned by lawyers as well as other family members.

Top Secret

[Top Secret] hasn't done real well, OK? But hopefully there will be a little bit of extra energy involved with Jayson and his material too, because we will be openly talking about them, and saying there's this fine gentleman, this ally. And there'll be other allies.

How Involved Are You?

With the two other gentleman as well as many volunteers and hopefully an ever expanding membership. This is kind of ... think of like an old British club where you know 'oooh, we sit around with our cigars'. This is gonna be hobby [champions?]

TSR Trademark

The TSR logo trademark was found in the dirt, by mistake, as we were setting up the museum. We were just looking for 'dungeon hobby shop', all that sort of thing, and Justin found, aching in the corridor, with the carcass of an old [counter?] this treasure. And instead of saying, like a thief and pocketing this, he said to Jeff and I, we have found this treasure. Let's make something of it!

Giantlands

Giantlands is a first licensee of a product that we are working with. I was involved with Giantlands just before Hobby Shop Museum became a reality. Jim Ward, he said, Luke and Ernie I would like either of you or both to be part of this project. So I said, well Jim Ward's got project, it looks like it was Gamma World, Metamorphosis Alpha, which I loved, and then I started reading more and said 'oh there's this other gentleman, Stephen Dinehart, and look at this, Aztecs flying around on hovercraft and beam weapons, alright, this is starting to look good.

I said I really don't want to get involved deeply with actually writing, having my name on the top, I would love to be involved in basically criticizing, modifying, and polishing the work for somebody else as well as trying to see what we can do to get this to not be just a concept...

How many original TSR people are part of this new TSR?

Well, it's an ever expanding list as we go along. A lot of it are let's say it's involved in projects, so it's not like you're hired on a wage situation, it would be more like royalties, or potentially a job or an occupation. Sometime, though I doubt it will happen because my friend [couldn't make out words] I would love to have him as something to do with our shipping department. He was the longest lasting TSR employee ever, and he was a good buddy, he bought me beer when I was underage.

We have Larry Elmore, particularly interested in Star Frontiers... and he is ready to maybe actually be a [one?] project art director.


On Wizards of the Coast, Lorraine Williams, & Original TSR

They just took as all corporate raiders do the treasures and then tried to make them their own. American Indians did the same thing they would, um, wipe out another tribe many times take the women and children and murder off everything else and leave to make your tribe that much better, room to grow.

On Star Frontiers

It would not be the same game. It would be a complete remake, sadly, or at least enough, as they told my dad when they did 2nd Edition, that I'm sorry you don't deserve any royalties from this because we changed it more than 10%. We're just a small company, we're defiantly not going to go to bat against WotC, that would be a stupid move, we'd just lose.

This is to fill in, and take all those holes where they've thrown back and said 'we don't want that'. So, OK, we're picking up apple cores and panting seeds.


On Cooperating with WotC

I would hope so but they just put out a big disclaimer recently trying to divorce themselves from the ethics and style of play that was involved in the origins of the game. They're basically trying to say 'we're a better company and a better type of person' than those who started playing. At least that's somewhat of the impression they've given and 'please switch over and be part of the new wave'. You know. Join the pack of lemmings, oh yeah!

.... and the problem is my fighter returns antagonism for antagonism. So that's where we start getting into some difficulties and I'm having to throw a protection from evil up. [Can't make out words] here and there, end of the party, and hopefully someday I'll be able to throw a fireball [can't make out words].

The Future of TSR

Justin is extremely interested in dealing with a Swiss firm .... this would just be a licensee .... but it's very possible that I may be taking some of my dungeon features from the old hobby shop dungeon and putting them into a game where it's virtual reality.

On [Online Theories That This Is A Test For?] 6th Edition D&D and WotC

I wish that I had better contacts with Wizards, and some of them probably would like to talk to me at some point too, because almost anybody that plays the games have been and are fans of older material. Though every edition, everybody that got involved somehow was taking their ideas and tried to make them canon, and that's been very interesting, so I guess we all like to own our own property, and I still feel that the best game I ever played in was my father's, probably followed by Rob Kuntz, and then Dave Arneson.

More on Star Frontiers

Unless for some reason they will allow us play royalties and things. We would still like to be friends with WotC for old things. We want to pick up things that were tossed in the dirt, brush them off, but if needed we are not incapable of creation. We'll create and we'll allow people to have things that aren't the method they are prescribing for people, it is not happiness for everybody, though it is happiness for many millions.

The 2019 Giantlands Kickstarter

That was individual. Stephen [Dinehart] is a licensee and my friend, and I'm part of it, but it's not TSR as the company and the people that have the museum. Those are two separate entities, which Justin is the first licensee in that we actually expect to have glorious things occurring.

On Crowdfunding & Late Kickstarters

I had a problem because when I did a crowdfunding on something called the Marmoreal Tomb, we are now just starting to deliver five years late ... its an incredible work! But I brought in an artist, a man of great talent, and more ambition than possibly foresight at the time. He's still cracking the whip, we have received years of hate from some people [can't make out words] Marmoreal Tomb, but not the whole thing, we don't have all the stretch goals, I'm saying that I have a burned hand from Kickstarters. But they do work. The reason that they really work is not just the money that they bring in, because you don't get all of it, maybe 7-10% of gets stolen by banks and other people, because that's why they do this crowdfunding thing, they say 'oh great, yeah, we'll handle your money' but it's gone.

But the idea is that we are going to be doing a membership drive, and a membership will be for playing at the museum, for buying products, and also conventions, probably having conventions where we have no fee, or a very reduced fee, if you're a member. And memberships will be lifetime memberships. A copper membership for like $50, there's a mitral or something for a grand. I don't know. That's something I don't have to worry about.

... [can't make out words] about $64,000 out of 125 or whatever they started with. I think I got 113 or something after Kickstarter peeled off their top. I've been paying for artists, I've wasted money on some accountants, I've got a gamer accountant now to help, and governments, and some people say 'oh you've got to pay tax on this, and oh no we didn't have to, the federal returned some money, the state said you give me money [laughs].

On D&D 5th Edition

The idea is let's share. The idea is there isn't a bad roleplaying game. 5th Edition to me is kinda like drinking light beer, when you could be having a Guinness. It's still cold ... has calories, some.

And more!

The above is selected quotes -- probably about half of the interview, but I tried to focus on new information. I've transcribed those as best I can, but there are a couple of bits where I couldn't make the words out. There's lots more (chat on gaming generally, old TSR stories, etc)! Watch the video for the full thing.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

imagineGod

Legend
I have just reformed Tactical Studies Rules as a new company and have been in contact with the ghost of Gary Gygax thru my ouija board. Together we will be doing a kickstarter for the true Advanced Dangerous Dungeons Lejendary Edition!!!!!
Target the 50th Anniversary.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I have just reformed Tactical Studies Rules as a new company and have been in contact with the ghost of Gary Gygax thru my ouija board. Together we will be doing a kickstarter for the true Advanced Dangerous Dungeons Lejendary Edition!!!!!
Looks legit.

But for you to have my money, I think you should first post a video of yourself ranting about gaming-related stuff, like kids ruining your lawn, Coca-cola Zero and pepermints not being as tasty as when you were young. You know, things that'll show me how pertinent your project is and how much of a modern business person you are. :p
 


I do not live in the USA. I live in Canada, in the province of Québec. I never felt the guilt associated with white male privileges. In my youth I have been told quite a few times to "speak white" by some English speaking persons from other provinces. So as a white male of a French speaking province I learned English quite fast. This said...
I have seen non inclusiveness only once at my table and that jerk was shown the way out quite fast (and as a 6 foot 1 tall and 220 pounds adult, I can be very convincing when showing the way outI when angered). I played/DM for hundreds of peoples over the years and beside that one incident, I have never seen anyone rejected to play at any tables in my area, and never saw that in my youth. First nations people, women, gay lesbian, poc, muslims, jews all played at my table and none were ever troubled for their belief, origin or sexual preferences.

And that said...
I do use racial/status/gender prejudices in my games. These are tropes to overcome. All the more satisfactory when the women in the group shows the bigots NPCs that she is better than them. D&D is about overcoming obstacles with friends. It is a catharsis and an allegory of the real world. And yet, it is all fictional. Depending in the audience my games run from high fantasy heroism with children to grim dark and desperate if the players are into that. And all variations in between these two extremes are there.

D&D in my experience is by its nature a very inclusive game. And that is why M.Gygax's comments made me raise an eye brow. I really hope he did not mean those words. I do not mind having some tropes integrated over to overcome in the game, but to correlate them in real life? No way.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
I would love a good space opera game which isn't overly focused on an established book or television or movie or other licensed setting, and which isn't magic-focused. Star Frontiers used to be a game I enjoyed which accomplished many goals I have for a game like that.

If there is a new version which can accomplish the more general goals I am interested in with a space game which includes good artwork and thoughtful rules and an easy to use system, I will at least consider it.

I have some doubts this will be that game, but I am also in general an optimist so I won't dismiss it if it comes out and will give it a genuine fair look.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
D&D in my experience is by its nature a very inclusive game. And that is why M.Gygax's comments made me raise an eye brow. I really hope he did not mean those words. I do not mind having some tropes integrated over to overcome in the game, but to correlate them in real life? No way.
A charitative reading of his words would be along the lines of: "With designers and players that despite being cast aside for being old-fashioned and too homogeneous for mainstream modern sensibilities, can still produce things of value." But I'm not so sure if this is an accurate reading or me wanting to believe in people and being delusional. Evidence point to the latter.
 


Weiley31

Legend
Could we please end the discussions on the ORIGINS of race theory and return to considering if/when this new TSR will be sued into oblivion, and whether that’s a good or bad thing?
I mean, if we're all agreeing that Ernie is a word censored so new TSR getting sued into oblivion would be a good thing.
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
I think this interview demonstrates that a return to tradition is a very selective thing. When trying to produce something traditional, you get to choose what is and is not a tradition. Someone could easily produce a piece of traditional art that also builds on traditions of inclusion and representation. However, when Ernie Gygax says that "the ethics and style of play that was involved in the origins of the game" include things like "enforcing, or even having the concepts of gender identity"... well, to me that's more of a regressive attitude than a traditional one.

I don't think people who are nostalgic for old school D&D are sitting around the table saying, "Man, I really miss enforcing traditional gender stereotypes! I really miss having racist tropes embedded in the rule set I'm using!" The stuff people are nostalgic for doesn't involve racism, sexist, and anti-inclusive attitudes... so it's a shame that these regressive ideas are being dredged up as a justification for producing work through this new TSR.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I have seen non inclusiveness only once at my table and that jerk was shown the way out quite fast (and as a 6 foot 1 tall and 220 pounds adult, I can be very convincing when showing the way outI when angered). I played/DM for hundreds of peoples over the years and beside that one incident, I have never seen anyone rejected to play at any tables in my area, and never saw that in my youth. First nations people, women, gay lesbian, poc, muslims, jews all played at my table and none were ever troubled for their belief, origin or sexual preferences.

<snip>

D&D in my experience is by its nature a very inclusive game. And that is why M.Gygax's comments made me raise an eye brow. I really hope he did not mean those words. I do not mind having some tropes integrated over to overcome in the game, but to correlate them in real life? No way.
As I said further up thread, lots of people say that they welcomed everyone to the table and I have no reason to think otherwise for their individual tables. But POC and women have attested for years that they felt excluded from the hobby because it was otherwise a sea of whiteness and maleness wherever they went, whatever they read, whatever art they looked at. Lots of women in the hobby have experienced the gawking, the harassment, the confrontation by gate-keeping asshats at conventions. And though D&D (at least after 1e with the stupid strength limitations on female characters) and other RPGs may be fairly inclusive or at least have that potential, hobbyists aren't necessarily so. And that's why WotC, Green Ronin, and other companies are pressing harder on the issue by incorporating it in their games and online marketing.
And that's why Ernie Gygax is making a wrong-headed appeal and to the wrong people in the hobby.
 


A charitative reading of his words would be along the lines of: "With designers and players that despite being cast aside for being old-fashioned and too homogeneous for mainstream modern sensibilities, can still produce things of value." But I'm not so sure if this is an accurate reading or me wanting to believe in people and being delusional. Evidence point to the latter.
I would like to believe you and your interpretation but this time, I have to agree that it doesn't bode well for your interpretation. Yet, if it is what he meant. I fully agree that some of the old artists are still relevant and still produce great Art. If they are being ignored because they are white males, it is a shame.
 


Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
I would love a good space opera game which isn't overly focused on an established book or television or movie or other licensed setting, and which isn't magic-focused. Star Frontiers used to be a game I enjoyed which accomplished many goals I have for a game like that.

If there is a new version which can accomplish the more general goals I am interested in with a space game which includes good artwork and thoughtful rules and an easy to use system, I will at least consider it.

I have some doubts this will be that game, but I am also in general an optimist so I won't dismiss it if it comes out and will give it a genuine fair look.

FrontierSpace:
 

That's just not true. Yes, there are still people with fond memories of the older editions, but many, many people I've played with have zero connection to the older editions. And all the data coming out supports that. Ernie's spending too much time with grognards in an echo chamber and thinking that that's what the gaming world is really like.

On [Online Theories That This Is A Test For?] 6th Edition D&D and WotC

I wish that I had better contacts with Wizards, and some of them probably would like to talk to me at some point too, because almost anybody that plays the games have been and are fans of older material.

That is one spicy take. I assume it's coming from the disclaimers that are on older TSR products in DriveThruRPG.

On Cooperating with WotC

They're basically trying to say 'we're a better company and a better type of person' than those who started playing. At least that's somewhat of the impression they've given and 'please switch over and be part of the new wave'. You know. Join the pack of lemmings, oh yeah!

This, like so much else about the Marmoreal Tomb Kickstarter, annoys me. I can't say it makes me angry, because it's been six years of mismanagement and excuses wearing the backers down. But nowhere does he accept responsibility for the debacle - it's just something that happened to him.

On Crowdfunding & Late Kickstarters

I had a problem because when I did a crowdfunding on something called the Marmoreal Tomb, we are now just starting to deliver five years late ... its an incredible work! But I brought in an artist, a man of great talent, and more ambition than possibly foresight at the time. He's still cracking the whip, we have received years of hate from some people [can't make out words] Marmoreal Tomb, but not the whole thing, we don't have all the stretch goals, I'm saying that I have a burned hand from Kickstarters. But they do work. The reason that they really work is not just the money that they bring in, because you don't get all of it, maybe 7-10% of gets stolen by banks and other people, because that's why they do this crowdfunding thing, they say 'oh great, yeah, we'll handle your money' but it's gone.
 

Weiley31

Legend
My my my the sensitive might not like my games. OOC, sexism and racism and anti-LGBT+ is not allowed at my table (along with politics). IC, however, there is TONS of in-character racism when the humans enter the dwarven mine. TONS of racism when the group tries to negotiate with lizardmen. TONS of in-character sexism when the female barbarian steps up into the gladiatorial arena.

And can you believe it... no one at my table has ever been offended! (I asked)
Well you need something for the PCs to overcome. They are the heroes who overcome the in-character racism of the world. They are the ones who somehow earn/gain the trust of the Lizardmen Tribe after the Lizardmen themselves viewed the party as suspicious/untrustworthy because of race. The Female Barbarian PC/NPC deals and OVERCOMES the sexism of the nobles/male gladiators once she steps in the gladiatorial arena, where she demonstrates that it is skill, and not specifically gender that determines who is better.


And as much as a hot take that/this will sound like, I'm for that in the fiction. These are the things that heroes of the stories must/will overcome against. They stand against it and resist against when they witness such things happening to others within the in-fiction world.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
I don't think that's a fair reading. Here's the quote from Morrus's transcription:

they just put out a big disclaimer recently trying to divorce themselves from the ethics and style of play that was involved in the origins of the game. They're basically trying to say 'we're a better company and a better type of person' than those who started playing.​

In other words, he's suggesting that the disclaimer (I assume this is the DriveThruRPG one) paints the ethics of those involved in the origins of the game as bad - in comparison to "better" people now. This wouldn't be the first time someone took a criticism of past texts or practices to be a criticism of the moral character of those who authored those texts and/or participated in those practices.
Here's the disclaimer WotC has put on 99.9% of the TSR stuff:
We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.
WotC (and others) are saying that some of the TSR stuff reflected ethnic, racial and gender prejudice common in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

EGG is saying that disclaimer is "(divorcing) themselves from the ethics and style of play" of the original game.

What in WotC's list is he defending and claiming is inherent to the game? It's not D&D unless female characters have lower stats by default? It's not D&D if some people aren't genetically incapable of achieving what other people can?

Yes, he obviously is taking it personally, which I think is only human, although WotC's disclaimer very clearly says it was a societal issue, and not something unique to the game's writers.
 


BookTenTiger

He / Him
Well you need something for the PCs to overcome. They are the heroes who overcome the in-character racism of the world. They are the ones who somehow earn/gain the trust of the Lizardmen Tribe after the Lizardmen themselves viewed the party as suspicious/untrustworthy because of race. The Female Barbarian PC/NPC deals and OVERCOMES the sexism of the nobles/male gladiators once she steps in the gladiatorial arena, where she demonstrates that it is skill, and not specifically gender that determines who is better.


And as much as a hot take that/this will sound like, I'm for that in the fiction. These are the things that heroes of the stories must/will overcome against. They stand against it and resist against when they witness such things happening to others within the in-fiction world.
I think there's a difference through between racism as a narrative obstacle and racism in the ruleset. The first is a narrative choice, and the second is a systemic problem.

For example, originally female characters had a Strength cap. That's a sexist rule. I wouldn't want that in any form of D&D, nostalgic or modern. However, I could include a sexist baron who underestimates the female paladin. That's a narrative obstacle that can be overcome.

Producing a traditional RPG game doesn't require the author to build in a racist or sexist ruleset.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Visit Our Sponsor

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top