Evidence Chainmail Had Material from Dave Arneson

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mwittig

Explorer
I've found some more information about the copyrights. Although Lowkey13 told us that three of the games that Lowry published have the same 1971 copyright date, Lowry had three additional copyrights in 1971, and those dates are not May 15, 1971. All six of them are shown below:

copyright_chainmail.jpg

copyright_alexander.jpg

copyright_dunkirk.jpg

copyright_tractics.jpg

copyright_tractics2-3.jpg

copyright_hardtack.jpg

So we have:
1. Alexander the Great (Saturday, May 15, 1971)
2. Chainmail (Saturday, May 15, 1971)
3. Dunkirk (Saturday, May 15, 1971)

but we also have:
4. Tractics vol 1 (Saturday, Aug 21, 1971)
5. Tractics vol 2-3 (Saturday, Aug 21, 1971)
6. Hardtack (Wednesday, Dec 1, 1971)

The date is arbitrary. As you know, these copyrights were mass submitted in 1972. They were not contemporaneous with the actual publication dates.

If you're familiar with the topic you know that a selection of the 1st or the 15th indicates that the individual in question is most likely choosing a random date*; in addition, the actual retail practice back then means that this particular date, which fell on a Saturday, is certainly wrong.

Moreover, we can easily see that there are three copyrights submitted for three different products, in 1972, that all claim the exact same date a year prior in 1971. We further know that this is impossible, because contemporaneous evidence is that Chainmail, Dunkirk, and Alexander were released at different times.

So we know that this is an arbitrary and incorrect date that does not suffice as evidence of publication date.
I would say that those dates are a lot more right than yours is, unless Gygax had the best Saturday ever.
And yes, that must have been an extraordinarily productive Saturday! Gary invented three games from scratch and made it down to the copyright office and back in time for supper!
There seem to be some errors here. First, the date of the copyright was given by Lowry, not Gygax, because Lowry was the publisher.

Second, the date has nothing to do with the game designer finishing the design of the game.

Third, the instructions on the copyright form shown on page 2 of this thread specified to Lowry that the date he gave was to be the date that the book was "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed":

“Give the complete date when copies of this particular edition were first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed. The date when copies were made or printed should not be confused with the date of publication.”

With only the first three copyright dates to consider, Lowkey13's explanation that the May 15, 1971 was arbitrary would appear possible, even likely. However, with the addition of the later three copyright dates, that no longer seems to be the case. The reason is that the Tractics dates of Saturday, Aug 21, 1971 does not appear to be arbitrary at all; in fact, that is the first day of Gen Con 4, which can be verified here:


So it appears that Lowry did follow the instructions given to him and did try to estimate when the products were "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed"; in the case of Tractics, this appears to have been the first day of Gen Con 4. This suggests that the May 15, 1971 date is similarly an approximation by Lowry as to when those three products were "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed".

Further, note that--as explained in the complete definition above from the copyright form-- this is not the date the books were printed. Therefore, there is no reason why the three games couldn't have been printed earlier, at different times, but all put on sale on the same day (Saturday, May 15). Further, as seen by the Tractics example, the fact that May 15 was a Saturday does not automatically mean that it is incorrect; as mentioned previously, hobby stores were open on Saturdays. Lowry's estimate could have rounded to the nearest half-month as well.

So the May 15 date does appear to be an estimate from Lowry as to when those three products were "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed." With no evidence having yet surfaced supporting the March 1971 publication date used by nearly everyone, I again point to the unsupported 2006 Acaeum forum post as the likely source for that dating-- a date which places Chainmail just prior to Arneson's first announced Blackmoor game. From the evidence above, it appears more likely that Chainmail actually followed that first announced Blackmoor game-- which is consistent with the analysis at the top of this thread.
 

pemerton

Legend
I've found some more information about the copyrights.

<snip>

the instructions on the copyright form shown on page 2 of this thread specified to Lowry that the date he gave was to be the date that the book was "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed":

<snip>

With only the first three copyright dates to consider, Lowkey13's explanation that the May 15, 1971 was arbitrary would appear possible, even likely. However, with the addition of the later three copyright dates, that no longer seems to be the case. The reason is that the Tractics dates of Saturday, Aug 21, 1971 does not appear to be arbitrary at all; in fact, that is the first day of Gen Con 4

<snip>

So it appears that Lowry did follow the instructions given to him and did try to estimate when the products were "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed"

<snip>

So the May 15 date does appear to be an estimate from Lowry as to when those three products were "first placed on sale, sold, or publicly distributed."
I have no particular horse in the Gygax vs Arneson race, and have only an amateur knowledge about these events early in the history of Chainmail and D&D.

But your two statements about what "appears" to be the case are almost completely unwarranted. From the fact that someone completed a copyright registration form by reference to their best attempt to recall a first date of distribution (Day 1 of Gen Con) it doesn't follow that the game in question actually began to be distributed on that day. (And at least in this post you have nothing more than conjecture that this copyright registration form was a best attempt to estimate a first day of distribution.)

Even moreso it does not follow that other copyright forms completed by the same person were completed according to the same (conjectured) motivation. Maybe someone remembered when Tractics first went on sail but couldn't remember for the others, and so labelled them all 15 May!

Your earlier posts also seem to assume that the forms were completed in strict accordance with the instructions on them, whereas @lowkey13 has posted suggesting that this is not uniformly the actual practice in the industry. (And that's before we get to the possibility of outright lying.)

And do you have evidence as to who actually filled in the forms? Was it the publisher, Gygax, a secretary, a lawyer? What instructions was the person given who completed them. Was a lawyer (or secretary) told These ones were some time in May and so just made up a date in accordance with industry practice?

I'm all for doing documentary/archival history, but particularly in this post you seem to be going well beyond what the documents tell us into unfounded speculations about the facts that gave rise to those documents.

I again point to the unsupported 2006 Acaeum forum post as the likely source for that dating-- a date which places Chainmail just prior to Arneson's first announced Blackmoor game.
I thought there was a poster upthread, maybe more than one, who indicated that that date is widely accepted in the literature based on the testimony of those who were there at the time.

And I'm a bit puzzled over why you think its significant that Arneson announced, some time in April, a "medeval (sic) Braunstein" for April 17. In your post I didn't see a date for the actual announcement. But once Arneson had got hold of a copy of Chainmail how long do you think it would take him to organise a mediaeval Braunstein? And what evidence do you have about the circulation of new hobby games among shops and fans in that part of the US during that time period? Without such evidence you can't really say whether this is a plausible or doubtful period of elapsed time between Chainmail being published by Gygax and it being used by Arneson.
 

Bardic Dave

Explorer
This post is entirely about attacking the person of the poster, rather than their logic. Please don't do this.
Some very sensible stuff.
Good luck! Try not to make the same mistake I did if he doesn't appear to actually listen to you or directly address your criticisms. It's become apparent to me that the OP is very comfortable making strong assertions on the basis of not much. He genuinely doesn't appear to understand why his position is so fragile. He truly seems to think that if the timeline he's invented is consistent with his "analysis", his "analysis" must be correct and therefore the invented timeline must be accurate. He appears to believe that's good enough: that because he can imagine how it might have happened, it therefore most likely actually did happen like that. His analysis doesn't go any deeper than that and he appears to be perfectly comfortable with that.
 

Bardic Dave

Explorer
He also appears to believe that any alleged inconsistency in the conventionally accepted timeline is direct supporting evidence for his assertions, as if there are only two possible versions of events—his version or the conventionally accepted version.
 

pemerton

Legend
It's become apparent to me that the OP is very comfortable making strong assertions on the basis of not much.
Well I XPed the OP for reasons similar to those @Hriston has stated in this thread: some interesting points are made about the context of certain texts, and on that basis a conjecture or hypothesis is put forward - that the identified patterns of name use would be consistent with an Arneson-Gygax interaction that is contrary to the received account.

The problem for me is when conjecture, or tentative hypothesis formation, is then treated as proof. It's not proof; rather, its the identification of something interesting and an interesting explanation, which now has to be investigated to see whether or not it is true.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
To recap:

It is well established that Gygax (and Perren) wrote Chainmail.

It is well established that Gygax incorporated and expanded on rules and ideas from other, published, material into Chainmail. (See, inter alia, the series of posts I linked to earlier).

It is somewhat established that one of the sources used by Gygax was Patt, for the Fantasy Supplement.

It is well established that Gygax would be aware of Patt, since the next issue of the Courier had a letter from Perren critiquing an article from the issue that Patt was published in.

It is well established that Arneson incorporated Chainmail into his proto-D&D. This is well established because:
A. Gygax said so.
B. Arneson said so.
C. Despite the fact that they engaged in litigation within 5 years of the events in question, and Gygax MAXIMIZED the role of Chainmail, and Arneson MINIMIZED the role of Chainmail, both principals maintained that crucial fact from the 70s until they died.
D. You can see the evidence of the textual borrowings from Chainmail.
E. There is no extrinsic evidence that contradicts any of this.


The bold part is really all that needs be said.

To the extent you wish to continue, I would suggest bringing up your ideas with those who are doing original research; you are welcome to contact Jon Peterson and others. As you are aware, they have been known to frequent the ODD74 board.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Mod Note:
So, back a page, I gave a warning. Some of you have kept to the spirit of that, and thanks for that. Others... not so much.

I now have a rhetorical question for all of you: Why are you continuing to post in this thread? Because, from the outside, it looks a whole lot like XKCD 386:
1573478768420.png
You folks do realize that allowing someone's incorrect analysis go unanswered will not break the Universe, right? And, in fact, once you have determined that someone really isn't receptive to your statements, continuing to pound away at it is apt to do more harm than good, for you, for them, and for whatever point you are trying to make.
 

mwittig

Explorer
But your two statements about what "appears" to be the case are almost completely unwarranted. From the fact that someone completed a copyright registration form by reference to their best attempt to recall a first date of distribution (Day 1 of Gen Con) it doesn't follow that the game in question actually began to be distributed on that day.
Pemerton,
Thank you for joining the discussion and providing a reasoned explanation for disagreeing. I agree that there is no proof that Tractics was distributed on the day Lowry claimed it was (day 1 of Gen Con 4). However, Lowry claiming it on a copyright form represents some evidence that it was, and i think that it is also evidence that the other dates he gave were similar approximations of when the products went on sale, rather than arbitrary dates. He may have remembered the day wrong for Chainmail, and his May 15 date could be an estimation. However, he did claim that date within just 7 months (his copyright form was notarized on Dec. 31, 1971). Therefore, while he may not have gotten the exact day right, he’d have to have been off by 2 months in his estimation to match the March date that many books claim.

Now let’s look at the flip side: what is the evidence of the March 1971 date that everyone has chosen to use? I know of no statement by Arneson, Gygax, or Perren supporting that date. While it appears in many books, none that I have seen offer a citation or explanation from where that date came from. From researching this, as best as I have been able to tell, that March date stems from the 2006 forum post I referenced earlier, which itself offers no citation or explanation.

Now given that context, would you agree that the evidence for Chainmail being published in May, though far from a certainty, is still stronger than the known evidence that Chainmail was published in March?
 

zenopus

Explorer
I too would like to see the evidence of when Chainmail was first available. I imagine it is something from wargaming journals/magazine from the time and/or personal correspondence.

But I doubt a small publisher like Guidon would have released three games on the same date.
 

pemerton

Legend
I agree that there is no proof that Tractics was distributed on the day Lowry claimed it was (day 1 of Gen Con 4). However, Lowry claiming it on a copyright form represents some evidence that it was, and i think that it is also evidence that the other dates he gave were similar approximations of when the products went on sale, rather than arbitrary dates.
I don't see how both these things can be true.

If the date on the Tractics form is not proof, and at best some modest evidence as to the day of distrubition, then how can it also be evidence that other dates are "similar approximation"? You would need some independent evidence as to when Tractics was first distributed which then provides support for your conjecture about the copyright dating practices. Perhaps such evidence exists. Maybe it's even easily available. But you haven't presented it.

He may have remembered the day wrong for Chainmail, and his May 15 date could be an estimation. However, he did claim that date within just 7 months (his copyright form was notarized on Dec. 31, 1971). Therefore, while he may not have gotten the exact day right, he’d have to have been off by 2 months in his estimation to match the March date that many books claim.
Nothing here engages with the points made upthread by @lowkey13 about industry practice. It is conjecture. The way to find out when Chainmail was first distributed is to actually find direct evidence (eg testimony of people as to when they bought it; sales receipts; advertisements; etc). Trying to infer from a copyright date, without any further evidence as to that particular person/firm's copyright dating practices, and in the face of evidence of industry practice that suggests the date is not reliable, does not seem very sensible to me.

Now let’s look at the flip side: what is the evidence of the March 1971 date that everyone has chosen to use? I know of no statement by Arneson, Gygax, or Perren supporting that date. While it appears in many books, none that I have seen offer a citation or explanation from where that date came from. From researching this, as best as I have been able to tell, that March date stems from the 2006 forum post I referenced earlier, which itself offers no citation or explanation.
Have you asked people like Peterson? I'm sure they will be able to tell you how they arrived at that date.

Now given that context, would you agree that the evidence for Chainmail being published in May, though far from a certainty, is still stronger than the known evidence that Chainmail was published in March?
No. The two bits of evidence known to me are your conjecture based on a copyright date, and the date given by Peterson and others. Given what I know of your methodology, and Peterson's methodology, I would trust Peterson's date more. If you can actually tell me why Peterson's date is wrong and his methodology flawed, I'm happy to hear it. But you haven't. As far as I can tell you don't even know how Peterson arrived at that date. You're simply conjecturing that he took it from a website.
 

zenopus

Explorer
I found one data point regarding the publication date of Chainmail. Over on the mostly defunct but still useful Tome of Treasures forum, poster scribe writes that the April 1971 issue of International Wargamer has a full-page advertisement for Guidon Games that includes Chainmail.

International Wargamer April 1971 listing at ToT

Scribe's Musings:

From Guidon Games advertisement bit on Chainmail....

"This Illustrated booklet brings you comprehensive rules for wargaming with your medieval miniatures (such as the Airfix "Sheriff of Nottingham" and "Robin Hood" sets). These rules have been thoroughly playtested by the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association. They are designed for the serious table-top wargamer and combine realism and detail with the playability in just the right mixture.

Special features include rules for jousting and hand-to-hand combat and a large Fantasy supplement for gaming with super-heroes, wizards, trolls, hobbits and (why not) dragons, among others."
Unfortunately there's no image of the ad, which could be useful because it might provide more info like price, ordering info, other games available etc. This magazine does not appear to be available digitally.
 
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zenopus

Explorer
Another data point: Playing at the Word page 42 says that Domesday Book #9 has an "announcement of the publication of Chainmail" including mentioning a "large fantasy supplement for fighting Tolkien-type battles" (the second quote being directly from DB#9). Jon repeated this info on his blog in 2012 ("this issue contains the first notice of the publication of Chainmail in the Domesday Book")

The Acaeum page for the Domesday Book has issue #9 as "Date Unknown" (indicated here as "undated"), but the next issue (#10) is dated "April 1971", which would place issue #9 as earlier than April 1971. PatW page 634 says that issues #8-11 came out "roughly quarterly". The April 1971 date of #10 on the Acaeum seems to be taken from the date of the one of the articles ("Ancients Society Report, Last Issue, 4/30/71"), which since this is at the very end of April might mean this issue was actually published later.

Again, there's no scan available but Jon has pointed out on his blog that some issues of DB, including #9, are available to researchers at Bowling Green State University library.
 
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increment

Explorer
So, having been pointed to this thread a number of times now, let me start out by saying that the OP and I have a bit of history from another forum, and I am weighing in here with due dread of causing cross-forum drama. Sorry for that.

Dates for these early games are nearly always problematic. They were not like blockbuster movies that have a stark "release date" when suddenly you could find them everywhere. If you look at the way I dated the anniversary of D&D, it is all based on things like when the first ads appeared, when "coming soon" notices appeared, and from that really the best I could do was just to sketch boundaries around a period of time. It's hard to say a game was available if no one knows about it, which is why I like ads, especially for things that were effectively mail-order products. But they can also present a sort of a chicken-and-egg problem: advertisements need to be sent in to periodicals in advance, and given how amateurish the hobby was, it is hard to know when periodicals were actually published (as opposed to the month on the cover), whether people advertised things that were actually done, and thus how well advertisers timed the availability of their games versus their marketing.

My Chainmail date is really no better than any of my other dates for these things. I know I spilled quite a bit of ink in PatW on the date for Blackmoor's inception, and I could have done the same for Chainmail. A March date was already around in earlier looks at the history of the game, and what I saw was consistent with that. My date was, following Zenopus's lead above, based in no small part on the earliest advertisements for Guidon Games, which appeared in the April International Wargamer and a few other contemporary places. But that has to be understood in terms of how the IW production schedule operated at the time, and who got which issues when. The short story is that I concluded that the March and April IWs were produced and shipped simultaneously - so effectively, there was no issue shipped in March - and that IW production had a long lead-time, maybe up to six weeks between layout and issues being in people's hands. There are good data points to suggest that the March and April IWs were jointly in subscribers' hand by the third or so week of April. Note that the April IW ad lists Chainmail as available, but suggests that Alex and Dunkirk were scheduled for an April 30 release - something you would not bother to mention if you expected your mail-order ad to be seen like April 18th. But these are ultimately indirect data points, and to be absolutely clear, they don't rule out an April "release" date for Chainmail - if you're counting from when just anyone could have ordered it, it wouldn't be until after they saw an ad.

That was my reasoning ten years ago when I was writing that part of PatW, anyway. I have seen more data points since, but in order to avoid the drama mentioned above, I'll only remark that Dave Arneson was not "just anyone", and that he was surely aware of Chainmail before April. That much said, let me reiterate - dating for these things is really problematic, and arguing for an April "release" is not inherently an untenable position. The month of May, well, that would seem pretty unlikely.

Most else of what I'd say here has already been said.
 

mwittig

Explorer
@increment, thank you for your post. I've been told you have Domesday Book #9, and that there is an ad in that issue "announcing" Chainmail. For the benefit of everyone here, could you please give us another data point and tell us the postmark date of your Domesday Book #9?
 

increment

Explorer
For the benefit of everyone here, could you please give us another data point and tell us the postmark date of your Domesday Book #9?
I wish. My DB#9 does not have a postmark; some were mailed in separate envelopes. It seems pretty random which were and which weren't.
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Here is the advert from DB #9. That issue was undated and thus has to be roughly ascertained by way of the issue preceding it (#8) or proceeding (#10) with the difficulty being the sporadic publishing that caused me to take over the editing starting issue #12. Otherwise, and very strange in fact, is that unlike earlier issues (1-4 for example) later issues of DB were not always folded or stapled and with an outside post mark and address which was even carried on with #12 and #13, but were mailed in envelopes, especially to ranking members, at least, in the 'Society (like Arneson's copies). Then there is the matter of local hand outs to Gary, myself and Terry Kuntz that have no dates. So. Unless the actual mailers were kept there is little chance, currently, of accurately dating when that advertisement by Lowry occurs, though other channels may present themselves as this is being worked on from my end as well.
 

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mwittig

Explorer
The April 1971 date of #10 on the Acaeum seems to be taken from the date of the one of the articles ("Ancients Society Report, Last Issue, 4/30/71"), which since this is at the very end of April might mean this issue was actually published later.
I think this is a great observation Zenopus.

Here is the advert from DB #9. That issue was undated and thus has to be roughly ascertained by way of the issue preceding it (#8) or proceeding (#10)
Rob, thanks for joining the discussion! I agree. I also think Zenopus is right that the April 1971 date given on the Acaeum website is likely earlier than it should be and ought to be corrected. @increment, to help Rob's, Zenopus's, and my research, could you please tell us the postmark date of your Domesday Book #10 (or any that you are aware of)?
 
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