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

A YouTube channel, 'Live From the Bunker', interviewed Ernie Gygax about the new TSR. I've...

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

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Suppose someone called everyone on ENworld racists bigots? Would you be offended by that? How would you argue against it?

Here's the thing; WotC did not call everyone who played D&D at its inception. Not even close. So this comparison is meaningless.

Ernie decided to interpret WotC's tame statement that some products released aren't reflective of modern sensibilities (and who could argue against that, I mean, Oriental Empires exists), and interpreted it to mean "Oh, they're calling ME racist?!?"

And I'll be frank; if Ernie is unable to see even that bare minimum of nuance, then Ernie clearly sees absolutely nothing wrong with those products, and therefore likely holds some terrible opinions.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
It doesn't necessarily sound as if it is what people are commenting on in this thread, but rather he is having a problem with the accusations levelled against him and other gamers from the beginning of the game.

Suppose someone called everyone on ENworld racists bigots? Would you be offended by that? How would you argue against it?

All his statements point to them being dissed and a conclusion that everyone was racist and that they were all old fashioned and just like others have been accusing him in this thread.
Is that so, though? As far as I can tell people in this thread are judging him by his deeds. By the words he's chosen to put out there in what was intended as a promotional interview for his new company.

He seems to be misrepresenting the WotC disclaimer and taking it as a personal attack, when it never was. Saying SOME bits of SOME older products contain outdated stereotypes and a few unpleasant prejudices is not an attack on Gary or anyone else. It's a very mild acknowledgement that some stuff in there might be a little discomfiting when read in today's context. WotC nor anyone else called Gary a racist or bigot. WotC continues to honor and propagate his memory.

I've seen this misrepresentation in other online spaces from reactionaries and (to be frank) some older folks with evidently poor reading comprehension. It's disappointing to see Ernie parrot this false notion, and I'm judging Ernie for his poor choice to do so.
 

Gradine

The Elephant in the Room (she/they)
And it was widely accepted by both men and women alike.
And this gets to the crux of the fallacy. Because as "widely accepted" as any societal ill may have been, there have always been men and women (and others!) who have argued and fought against oppression. These weren't time traveling "SJWs", they were contemporaries who were often quite clear about what is wrong and why. And they were always there, even when history did its best to erase them. And they will always be there, waiting for vindication.
 

imagineGod

Legend
Evolution of language:

You that time in high school when the teacher briefly mentions a subject then steps out, and then someone in class creates a caricature and many others join in the ridicule, I wonder if there is a way to express that in a phrase?
 

GreyLord

Legend
Here's the thing; WotC did not call everyone who played D&D at its inception. Not even close. So this comparison is meaningless.

Ernie decided to interpret WotC's tame statement that some products released aren't reflective of modern sensibilities (and who could argue against that, I mean, Oriental Empires exists), and interpreted it to mean "Oh, they're calling ME racist?!?"

And I'll be frank; if Ernie is unable to see even that bare minimum of nuance, then Ernie clearly sees absolutely nothing wrong with those products, and therefore likely holds some terrible opinions.
Oriental Adventures is a GREAT example though.

Much of it was playtested and approved by Asians.

Now white people come and call them racists and prejudice against themselves Japanese and Chinese contributors...that can be pretty grating.

I have had contact with some Japanese gamers...and some of the "controversy" around it is something they themselves do not actually appreciate. Now, a LOT OF this is disconnect between those who are actually in East Asia and Asian-Americans, some of whom have had difficulties regarding discriminatory thoughts and actions similar to what is presented in that Oriental Adventures book.

So, when we have the disclaimer, some may take it in a particularly bad way. It puts off some of the Japanese gamers and justifies in some of the minds of Eastern Asians WHY D&D should NOT be accepted in large numbers there. The mindsets of North Americans, specifically US citizens and Canadians are racist and discriminatory against them. Ironically, at the same time, it may make Asian-Americans feel like they are being heard at least a little bit with their concerns.

The most recent item was an Oriental Adventures for 5e that was ENTIRELY designed and written by Japanese and Chines writers. The ONLY involvement any whites had with it was the art. Everything else was done by actual Asians. I imagine there are quite a number of Asian-Americans that would call those authors racist against their own people...and many White players who would join in.

Statements can be understood in VERY DIFFERENT Ways. We may find something innocuous and unassuming, but it may actually be VERY offensive to another group and they may want to defend themselves.

As unassumming as it is,
Is that so, though? As far as I can tell people in this thread are judging him by his deeds. By the words he's chosen to put out there in what was intended as a promotional interview for his new company.

He seems to be misrepresenting the WotC disclaimer and taking it as a personal attack, when it never was. Saying SOME bits of SOME older products contain outdated stereotypes and a few unpleasant prejudices is not an attack on Gary or anyone else. It's a very mild acknowledgement that some stuff in there might be a little discomfiting when read in today's context. WotC nor anyone else called Gary a racist or bigot. WotC continues to honor and propagate his memory.

I've seen this misrepresentation in other online spaces from reactionaries and (to be frank) some older folks with evidently poor reading comprehension. It's disappointing to see Ernie parrot this false notion, and I'm judging Ernie for his poor choice to do so.

This may be. I think he may have taken some items as personal attacks upon him. IF someone said that ENworld had an attitude of racism and bigotry, there are probably many posters here who would also take a similar stance in trying to defend themselves.

It could be his reaction has had an adverse response that was unintended. He may have taken it much more personal than it was intended to be.

I do not know entirely. It's one way he could have intended it. I figure to give them time to clarify (and after a decent time has passed, them maybe assume what he did or did not say) what he meant, but I do not think that he intentionally was trying to alienate or isolate anyone...or that is my hope.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
They're going to get sued for infringement and damaging the D&D brand. (It'll start with a cease and desist order, but I cannot imagine Ernie will comply, based on this past week.)
I'm confused here. There is no D&D related to this new TSR company, as far as I can tell. Not even in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sort of way. So what infringement and damage to the D&D brand are you alleging arises from TSR making a Giants game? Cease and desist for doing what exactly, related to the D&D brand?

What I think this is much more similar to is a former employee of the Naugles chain of restaurants, which was acquired acquired by Del Taco in 1988 and over time completely converted to all be Del Tacos, reviving the brand Naugles.

Which happened. Successfully. Del Taco had failed to uphold the Naugles intellectual property traits in their branding to such an extent that the old guy from Naugles (with very little money behind him and facing the giant that is Del Taco) successfully re-opened Naugles using the exact same menu items they used to carry with the same trade dress they used to use. They faced a trademark battle which was over relatively quickly and the Naugles guys won because Del Taco had, essentially, abandoned identifying with Naugles over many years. Even though Del Taco still sold some clothing items with the Naugles name as a distant ancillary to their primary food services business, and even though Del Taco still had at one point run an ad which mentioned “Viva Naugles Viva Del Taco,” as a distant ancillary to their primary food service advertising business, they simply hadn't made the Naugles name genuinely part of their branding for their primary services in decades.

I see a lot more similarities to that case than to a more standard intellectual property dispute. WOTC hasn't made TSR part of their brand identity for a very long time. They also entirely abandoned some of the trademarks, in an official way. They're going to face a more uphill battle than you seem to think if they're going to claim an infringement of the "D&D brand" from this, given they went to some lengths to disassociate their branding from that TSR branding long ago and any remaining mentions of TSR are quite ancillary to their primary business branding.
 
Last edited:

Here's the thing; WotC did not call everyone who played D&D at its inception. Not even close. So this comparison is meaningless.

Ernie decided to interpret WotC's tame statement that some products released aren't reflective of modern sensibilities (and who could argue against that, I mean, Oriental Empires exists), and interpreted it to mean "Oh, they're calling ME racist?!?"

And I'll be frank; if Ernie is unable to see even that bare minimum of nuance, then Ernie clearly sees absolutely nothing wrong with those products, and therefore likely holds some terrible opinions.
Did you mean "Oriental Adventures", or did I miss a product?

And yeah, it was bad, but to be fair, I kinda feel like it was shaped by the movies we got to watch at the time, Kagemusha and Ran? A lot of this stuff does not age well.

Then again, neither did Duke-Nukem, Lesure-suit larry, Custer's Revenge, and a lot of other computer games... The RPG industry ain't alone for REALLY bad ideas.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Evolution of language:

You that time in high school when the teacher briefly mentions a subject then steps out, and then someone in class creates a caricature and many others join in the ridicule, I wonder if there is a way to express that in a phrase?

Strawman Argument. Attacking an opinion someone doesn't really hold.
 

MGibster

Legend
I don't want to imagine the day when Games Workshop to be asked a politically correct version of Warhammer 40.000.
Games Workshop has been spending the better part of the last two decades cleaning up their setting but they're slow and subtle about it. For example, the Daemonettes of Slaanesh models, sculpted by Juan Diaz, in the early 2000s were topless and sporting anywhere between 1-6 bare breasts but the models for those same units today are covered up. In the 90s and early 2000s you would be hard pressed to find examples of painted models of humans who weren't white, but these days if you go to the GW page you'll see Space Marines and humans of various tones and hues. If there's a problematic element to the setting that needs to be changed, GW's method is to just ignore and never reference it again rather than to overtly state that it's no longer canon.

But I think GW runs their business based on the idea that the bulk of their customers will be into the hobby for a few years before losing interest and moving on.
 

GreyLord

Legend
I'm confused here. There is no D&D related to this new TSR company, as far as I can tell. Not even in a nudge-nudge-wink-wink sort of way. So what infringement and damage to the D&D brand are you alleging arises from TSR making a Star Frontiers and Giants game? Cease and desist for doing what exactly, related to the D&D brand?
Not sure myself...BUT one possible way...

dmsguild planescape campaign setting 2e

focus on the cover, a larger picture of it, in the lower left hand corner...

TSR
 

Status
Not open for further replies.
Remove ads

Remove ads

Top