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D&D General Lorraine Williams: Is it Time for a Reevaluation?


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MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
As a counterpoint, we could reframe some of the known facts:

Lorraine hated gamers/geeks.-> First let me tell you, I'm part of this community, but boy some geeks are very hard to love! I mean have you been to an event in an LGS? You will find lots of crass guys with poor personal care, lack of self control and creepy attitude... working everyday with lots and lots of them -especially for a non-gamer- wouldn't be easy. Second, even the anecdotes about Lorraine acting all snob and putting the community down are nebulous. Then we have the facts that, well, Lorraine sold rights for very little if she was on it just for the money. Would a corrupt businesswoman give the chance to a small indie studio (SSI) over bigger companies with larger pockets (like EA)? Would a greedy woman truly give the movie rights to a friend of her brother who needed his first break for "a song"? Why would she keep an employee in deep need in the payroll if not out of the goodness of her heart? In conclusion, she liked geeks, and supported them when it mattered, despite most of them getting on her nerves.

Ousting Gary. Yes, she ousted Gary, and the Blumes. They all needed to go. TSR was in the brink of bankruptcy and about to be taken apart by the banks. She didn't need to go to help manage TSR, she didn't need to put her money into TSR, she could have just gone her merry way. But somehow, she believed in TSR and saw it worthy of being saved and having her money put into it. She saved D&D!

The Buck Rogers fiasco... It wasn't really that farfetched. Take into account there was a relatively recent remake at the time, and it was getting overdue for a revival of sorts. (Heard of the five year rule?) She had to attempt a revival under her watch! (More so with her brother being busy writing movies to be much of a caretaker for the franchise) And as maligned Buck Rogers XXVC was within out community, the fans and collectors of Buck Rogers actually value the line. It didn't pan out, but it wasn't this huge harebrained scheme. Maybe the terms of the actual deal weren't the best possible ones, but it isn't even close to the Blume's mismanagement.

Dungeon Dice, as derided as this product was, it was a successful if overproduced line. Scratch that, they are still being produced to this day! It wasn't that bad of a product or decision. It all came to having proper expectations and not overproducing.

She made an effort to grow the audience. She put D&D into bookshops! She impulsed growth and diversification in D&D. The novel line, the settings, the comics... all of her doing (from an executive point of view). A lot of that stuff kept D&D going in the aftermath of 4e, and If TSR had survived just a little longer into the internet era, they would be making a killing and she would be hailed as a hero. (Couple with this, despite being described as a control freak, she was fairly hands off for a control freak, she allowed the designers free reign to do tons and tons of stuff we still love today!)

And the sanitization in 2e was needed to get new players after the witch hunts. Even the derided "she wanted the movie to sell toys" was a good thing! The reason many beloved franchises die is because there aren't enough children into them. (And really if you love something go buy the effing toys! These are what keeps the lights on in pop culture)

Finally, as bad as the C&Ds were, I can't blame her for them. 1) her family's fortune was always tied into IP, she being overzealous with the IP was expected. Besides, the first instances of D&D in the internet were piracy, at a time when TSR really needed the money. Ok, she -and assuming it was all her- went overboard in the end, but it was kinda justified and few people truly understood internet.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
As a counterpoint, we could reframe some of the known facts:

Lorraine hated gamers/geeks.-> First let me tell you, I'm part of this community, but boy some geeks are very hard to love! I mean have you been to an event in an LGS? You will find lots of crass guys with poor personal care, lack of self control and creepy attitude... working everyday with lots and lots of them -especially for a non-gamer- wouldn't be easy. Second, even the anecdotes about Lorraine acting all snob and putting the community down are nebulous. Then we have the facts that, well, Lorraine sold rights for very little if she was on it just for the money. Would a corrupt businesswoman give the chance to a small indie studio (SSI) over bigger companies with larger pockets (like EA)? Would a greedy woman truly give the movie rights to a friend of her brother who needed his first break for "a song"? Why would she keep an employee in deep need in the payroll if not out of the goodness of her heart? In conclusion, she liked geeks, and supported them when it mattered, despite most of them getting on her nerves.

Ousting Gary. Yes, she ousted Gary, and the Blumes. They all needed to go. TSR was in the brink of bankruptcy and about to be taken apart by the banks. She didn't need to go to help manage TSR, she didn't need to put her money into TSR, she could have just gone her merry way. But somehow, she believed in TSR and saw it worthy of being saved and having her money put into it. She saved D&D!

The Buck Rogers fiasco... It wasn't really that farfetched. Take into account there was a relatively recent remake at the time, and it was getting overdue for a revival of sorts. (Heard of the five year rule?) She had to attempt a revival under her watch! (More so with her brother being busy writing movies to be much of a caretaker for the franchise) And as maligned Buck Rogers XXVC was within out community, the fans and collectors of Buck Rogers actually value the line. It didn't pan out, but it wasn't this huge harebrained scheme. Maybe the terms of the actual deal weren't the best possible ones, but it isn't even close to the Blume's mismanagement.

Dungeon Dice, as derided as this product was, it was a successful if overproduced line. Scratch that, they are still being produced to this day! It wasn't that bad of a product or decision. It all came to having proper expectations and not overproducing.

She made an effort to grow the audience. She put D&D into bookshops! She impulsed growth and diversification in D&D. The novel line, the settings, the comics... all of her doing (from an executive point of view). A lot of that stuff kept D&D going in the aftermath of 4e, and If TSR had survived just a little longer into the internet era, they would be making a killing and she would be hailed as a hero. (Couple with this, despite being described as a control freak, she was fairly hands off for a control freak, she allowed the designers free reign to do tons and tons of stuff we still love today!)

And the sanitization in 2e was needed to get new players after the witch hunts. Even the derided "she wanted the movie to sell toys" was a good thing! The reason many beloved franchises die is because there aren't enough children into them. (And really if you love something go buy the effing toys! These are what keeps the lights on in pop culture)

Finally, as bad as the C&Ds were, I can't blame her for them. 1) her family's fortune was always tied into IP, she being overzealous with the IP was expected. Besides, the first instances of D&D in the internet were piracy, at a time when TSR really needed the money. Ok, she -and assuming it was all her- went overboard in the end, but it was kinda justified and few people truly understood internet.

She went after Gygax as well after she had forced him out.

Gygax was salty but justifiably so. Even if you buy into the hostile takeover she chased him out of the rpg market.
 


As a counterpoint, we could reframe some of the known facts:

Lorraine hated gamers/geeks.-> First let me tell you, I'm part of this community, but boy some geeks are very hard to love! I mean have you been to an event in an LGS? You will find lots of crass guys with poor personal care, lack of self control and creepy attitude... working everyday with lots and lots of them -especially for a non-gamer- wouldn't be easy. Second, even the anecdotes about Lorraine acting all snob and putting the community down are nebulous. Then we have the facts that, well, Lorraine sold rights for very little if she was on it just for the money. Would a corrupt businesswoman give the chance to a small indie studio (SSI) over bigger companies with larger pockets (like EA)? Would a greedy woman truly give the movie rights to a friend of her brother who needed his first break for "a song"? Why would she keep an employee in deep need in the payroll if not out of the goodness of her heart? In conclusion, she liked geeks, and supported them when it mattered, despite most of them getting on her nerves.

Ousting Gary. Yes, she ousted Gary, and the Blumes. They all needed to go. TSR was in the brink of bankruptcy and about to be taken apart by the banks. She didn't need to go to help manage TSR, she didn't need to put her money into TSR, she could have just gone her merry way. But somehow, she believed in TSR and saw it worthy of being saved and having her money put into it. She saved D&D!

The Buck Rogers fiasco... It wasn't really that farfetched. Take into account there was a relatively recent remake at the time, and it was getting overdue for a revival of sorts. (Heard of the five year rule?) She had to attempt a revival under her watch! (More so with her brother being busy writing movies to be much of a caretaker for the franchise) And as maligned Buck Rogers XXVC was within out community, the fans and collectors of Buck Rogers actually value the line. It didn't pan out, but it wasn't this huge harebrained scheme. Maybe the terms of the actual deal weren't the best possible ones, but it isn't even close to the Blume's mismanagement.

Dungeon Dice, as derided as this product was, it was a successful if overproduced line. Scratch that, they are still being produced to this day! It wasn't that bad of a product or decision. It all came to having proper expectations and not overproducing.

She made an effort to grow the audience. She put D&D into bookshops! She impulsed growth and diversification in D&D. The novel line, the settings, the comics... all of her doing (from an executive point of view). A lot of that stuff kept D&D going in the aftermath of 4e, and If TSR had survived just a little longer into the internet era, they would be making a killing and she would be hailed as a hero. (Couple with this, despite being described as a control freak, she was fairly hands off for a control freak, she allowed the designers free reign to do tons and tons of stuff we still love today!)

And the sanitization in 2e was needed to get new players after the witch hunts. Even the derided "she wanted the movie to sell toys" was a good thing! The reason many beloved franchises die is because there aren't enough children into them. (And really if you love something go buy the effing toys! These are what keeps the lights on in pop culture)

Finally, as bad as the C&Ds were, I can't blame her for them. 1) her family's fortune was always tied into IP, she being overzealous with the IP was expected. Besides, the first instances of D&D in the internet were piracy, at a time when TSR really needed the money. Ok, she -and assuming it was all her- went overboard in the end, but it was kinda justified and few people truly understood internet.

Yeah, I mean people seem to forget Gygax-run TSR sacked a higher percentage of its employees than Williams-run TSR did. (though I think Hasbro might have them both beat, look at the designer-to-profit ratio of WoTC now as opposed to TSR in any year. By modern standards the place was overstaffed)
 


MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
She went after Gygax as well after she had forced him out.

Gygax was salty but justifiably so. Even if you buy into the hostile takeover she chased him out of the rpg market.
Ok, I can't think of a way to reframe that!
 


Ogre Mage

Adventurer
Egad. Looking through search results I’ve found a group of folks hating her FOR selling to WotC. That the sale itself destroyed D&D.

Yeah, I never understood that line of thinking either. Granted, Willliams bears significant responsibility for the destruction of TSR. But at the time of sale, TSR was bankrupt. What was the alternative? Let D&D die and fade away into a nostalgia game? It seems to ignore the fact that at that point, most of the ship had sunk beneath the waves. I am glad she sold to WotC.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Yeah, I never understood that line of thinking either. Granted, Willliams bears significant responsibility for the destruction of TSR. But at the time of sale, TSR was bankrupt. What was the alternative? Let D&D die and fade away into a nostalgia game? It seems to ignore the fact that at that point, most of the ship had sunk beneath the waves. I am glad she sold to WotC.

I think they probably wanted an AD&D 3E.

I still think you could make such a game these days and it would be better than 3.0. Hell some ISR games in a lot of ways are AD&D 3E.
 

MGibster

Legend
Gygax gets more credit I suppose because he did creative things and had a pipeline to the fans via Dragon Magazine and forums.
I think he gets more credit largely because he's part of the creative process fans actually care about and most of us don't really care about how the sausage is made. I don't really have a keen interest in the how Paramount Pictures' corporate structure was set up around the time they released Raiders of the Lost Ark, I don't really care who was running Tor when they released Eye of the World, and when I played Wolfenstein 3D I didn't really give any thought to the people working at Id Studios. Don't get me wrong, many of these behind-the-scenes examples might make from some compelling stories.
Lorraine hated gamers/geeks.-> First let me tell you, I'm part of this community, but boy some geeks are very hard to love! I mean have you been to an event in an LGS? You will find lots of crass guys with poor personal care, lack of self control and creepy attitude... working everyday with lots and lots of them -especially for a non-gamer- wouldn't be easy. Second, even the anecdotes about Lorraine acting all snob and putting the community down are nebulous.
You know, to be fair, I find this used to be true. I've seen a marked improvement in the general behavior and hygiene among gamers in general at the FLGS. Cat Piss Man* used to be a known element of every game store and convention I went to but I cannot remember the last time I saw him. Ass cracks used to abound at the local game stores but in recent years they've all but disappeared. (Part of me wants to give credit to 2014's Ass-Gate where someone posted pictures of them posing next to ass cracks at a Magic Tournament looking disappointed.)

*I remember at my first convention I ran into a girl my age (we were teenagers) who had been to several conventions. We got to chatting and somehow ended up talking about this one guy there who was heavy set, crude, and stank to high heavens and she said, "Of course his name is Ogre. And he smells like one. You'll find an Ogre at every convention."
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I think he gets more credit largely because he's part of the creative process fans actually care about and most of us don't really care about how the sausage is made. I don't really have a keen interest in the how Paramount Pictures' corporate structure was set up around the time they released Raiders of the Lost Ark, I don't really care who was running Tor when they released Eye of the World, and when I played Wolfenstein 3D I didn't really give any thought to the people working at Id Studios. Don't get me wrong, many of these behind-the-scenes examples might make from some compelling stories.

You know, to be fair, I find this used to be true. I've seen a marked improvement in the general behavior and hygiene among gamers in general at the FLGS. Cat Piss Man* used to be a known element of every game store and convention I went to but I cannot remember the last time I saw him. Ass cracks used to abound at the local game stores but in recent years they've all but disappeared. (Part of me wants to give credit to 2014's Ass-Gate where someone posted pictures of them posing next to ass cracks at a Magic Tournament looking disappointed.)

*I remember at my first convention I ran into a girl my age (we were teenagers) who had been to several conventions. We got to chatting and somehow ended up talking about this one guy there who was heavy set, crude, and stank to high heavens and she said, "Of course his name is Ogre. And he smells like one. You'll find an Ogre at every convention."

Yeah that's more or less how I see it. No in cares about the suits.
 

Ogre Mage

Adventurer
You know, to be fair, I find this used to be true. I've seen a marked improvement in the general behavior and hygiene among gamers in general at the FLGS. Cat Piss Man* used to be a known element of every game store and convention I went to but I cannot remember the last time I saw him. Ass cracks used to abound at the local game stores but in recent years they've all but disappeared. (Part of me wants to give credit to 2014's Ass-Gate where someone posted pictures of them posing next to ass cracks at a Magic Tournament looking disappointed.)

*I remember at my first convention I ran into a girl my age (we were teenagers) who had been to several conventions. We got to chatting and somehow ended up talking about this one guy there who was heavy set, crude, and stank to high heavens and she said, "Of course his name is Ogre. And he smells like one. You'll find an Ogre at every convention."

I attended a gaming con for the first time in 2009 and there were definite hygiene problems. At one con I went to in the early 2010's they provided "hygiene cards" which you could give to anyone who had offensive body/breath odor.

The last con I attended was Gamestorm in March 2019. I did not encounter any hygiene problems. Possibly I was lucky but the problem does seem to have improved over the years. I speculate the fact D&D has won such mainstream acceptance played a role. As a subculture achieves mainstream acceptance, the more extreme aspects of the subculture get sanded down. I am a member of the LGBTQ community and I have observed similar changes there as LGBTQ have won mainstream acceptance.
 

darjr

I crit!
It helps if your FLGS isn’t afraid to ask people to shower or go home or outright ban folks for a while. Mine does. Many of the offenders would then go to other stores but they then (mostly) followed suite. I think because it was a survival instinct kicking in.
 

darjr

I crit!
This is a must watch. From Ben about his upcoming book.
Note he has a lot of casts and streams about that time at TSR.

it isn’t a positive light on Lorraine but I do think much of the misogyny is gone.

 

GreyLord

Legend
I know what and where Mrs. Williams has most likely been up to, at least as of 2-3 years ago. Also, some of the rest of the family.

However, I've already left the thread for the most part (though, perhaps I should read more of it) as I don't think people are actually interested in hearing personal accounts or anything like that.

They want it sourced from...what...the book?

As I said, I have defended Mrs. Williams in the past in certain areas, but people were so interested in tearing me down (and I think I mentioned it multiple times) because I took a realistic look at the whys and hows that they never stopped to actually listen or read what I actually said or wrote.

That said, it's NOT BEEN a mystery of what they've been up to or what they have been doing.

Mr. Dille and Mrs. Williams may actually be quite big in the News within the next year or two, but NOT for D&D. (or, that's the hope at least). Actually, their names may not be, but they have interests in a Major project that should hopefully show fruition in the next year or two).
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
I know what and where Mrs. Williams has most likely been up to, at least as of 2-3 years ago. Also, some of the rest of the family.

However, I've already left the thread for the most part (though, perhaps I should read more of it) as I don't think people are actually interested in hearing personal accounts or anything like that.

They want it sourced from...what...the book?

As I said, I have defended Mrs. Williams in the past in certain areas, but people were so interested in tearing me down (and I think I mentioned it multiple times) because I took a realistic look at the whys and hows that they never stopped to actually listen or read what I actually said or wrote.

That said, it's NOT BEEN a mystery of what they've been up to or what they have been doing.

Mr. Dille and Mrs. Williams may actually be quite big in the News within the next year or two, but NOT for D&D. (or, that's the hope at least). Actually, their names may not be, but they have interests in a Major project that should hopefully show fruition in the next year or two).
Buck Rogers Rides Again?
 

Willie the Duck

Adventurer
As a counterpoint, we could reframe some of the known facts:

Lorraine hated gamers/geeks.-> First let me tell you, I'm part of this community, but boy some geeks are very hard to love! I mean have you been to an event in an LGS? You will find lots of crass guys with poor personal care, lack of self control and creepy attitude... working everyday with lots and lots of them -especially for a non-gamer- wouldn't be easy. Second, even the anecdotes about Lorraine acting all snob and putting the community down are nebulous. Then we have the facts that, well, Lorraine sold rights for very little if she was on it just for the money. Would a corrupt businesswoman give the chance to a small indie studio (SSI) over bigger companies with larger pockets (like EA)? Would a greedy woman truly give the movie rights to a friend of her brother who needed his first break for "a song"? Why would she keep an employee in deep need in the payroll if not out of the goodness of her heart? In conclusion, she liked geeks, and supported them when it mattered, despite most of them getting on her nerves.

You know, to be fair, I find this used to be true. I've seen a marked improvement in the general behavior and hygiene among gamers in general at the FLGS. Cat Piss Man* used to be a known element of every game store and convention I went to but I cannot remember the last time I saw him. Ass cracks used to abound at the local game stores but in recent years they've all but disappeared. (Part of me wants to give credit to 2014's Ass-Gate where someone posted pictures of them posing next to ass cracks at a Magic Tournament looking disappointed.)

*I remember at my first convention I ran into a girl my age (we were teenagers) who had been to several conventions. We got to chatting and somehow ended up talking about this one guy there who was heavy set, crude, and stank to high heavens and she said, "Of course his name is Ogre. And he smells like one. You'll find an Ogre at every convention."
I think the focus on hygiene was an internet meme (with the potential to have some basis in real life) to go along with body pillows, fedoras, basement-dwelling, and all the rest. I think Moonsong's point about crass, lack of self control, and creepy attitudes are more timeless. This is of course in the aggregate* rather than an absolute, and in some ways speaks to a potentially positive aspect of nerd-dom -- accepting people who don't have all the societal check-boxes ticked off*. Nerdy pastimes are a refuge to the person who doesn't get other people, or such and such societal norm, or when it is or isn't appropriate to make an off-color joke. Unsurprisingly there is a hard-to-define line somewhere between sympathetic levels of social maladaptation and 'seriously, you're making other people uncomfortable/feel unwelcome'-levels, and it's really hard for a group to include one but not the other. Also, those people in nerd-dom who were picked on as teens that never got past that and use it as a sub-conscious justification for their own abusiveness***.
*there are plenty of people in nerd-dom who do not have any of these qualities
**admittedly often thereafter being absolutely horrible to each other for other completely arbitrary sub-distinctions within the social sub-group
***especially to other nerds. Man, are we sometimes worse to each other than anyone could ever be to us (and often for completely arbitrary hair-splitting gatekeeping reasons)!


Obviously I have no idea if any of the instances that inspired the LW-hates-gamers ideas were because of her reacting to gamers-acting-badly (and I've made clear my position that I'm not exactly trusting peoples' takes not at least written down at the time it happened), but I agree with the assessment that, y'know, sometimes we're really hard to love.
I know what and where Mrs. Williams has most likely been up to, at least as of 2-3 years ago. Also, some of the rest of the family.

However, I've already left the thread for the most part (though, perhaps I should read more of it) as I don't think people are actually interested in hearing personal accounts or anything like that.

They want it sourced from...what...the book?

As I said, I have defended Mrs. Williams in the past in certain areas, but people were so interested in tearing me down (and I think I mentioned it multiple times) because I took a realistic look at the whys and hows that they never stopped to actually listen or read what I actually said or wrote.

That said, it's NOT BEEN a mystery of what they've been up to or what they have been doing.

Mr. Dille and Mrs. Williams may actually be quite big in the News within the next year or two, but NOT for D&D. (or, that's the hope at least). Actually, their names may not be, but they have interests in a Major project that should hopefully show fruition in the next year or two).
If it's Buck Rogers, that's been circling around in the back of entertainment new for a bit. Will be interesting to see what actually comes out at the end. I've never really had particularly strong opinions about Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, or John Carter, but the over concept of 'regular (if pretty awesome) Earth dude caught up in the machinations of larger space-culture conflict is a great premise. It'd be nice to see one or all of them return to popular imaginations.

Sorry to hear that people haven't been kind to your personal accounts.
 

I mean, I literally posted links to 5 different sources/journalists with statements from three different individuals (more, if you follow the links) about a chapter of Williams tenure at TSR that had not been discussed a single time in this thread. If the only response you have is to label it as sexist tripe and ignore it, that's not a re-evaluation of anyone.
I remember looking briefly at those. And not finding anything noteworthy. But I would be happy to re-evaluate if you could point me to the parts that you feel are the most significant and lack the obvious sexism and such.
 

The idea of AD&D existing as a fossil preserved in amber, unchanging from the 70s or 80s, appeals to certain people. The idea persists to this day that Wizards is going to sell D&D to some "true fans" that will take it back to what it's supposed to be (whatever that means).

While there's every chance that the D&D sale to Wizards could've fallen through back then, I think that only changes the timeline slightly. Lorraine Williams was going to sell eventually, and it was always likely going to be a big player in the hobby.

Yeah, I never understood that line of thinking either. Granted, Willliams bears significant responsibility for the destruction of TSR. But at the time of sale, TSR was bankrupt. What was the alternative? Let D&D die and fade away into a nostalgia game? It seems to ignore the fact that at that point, most of the ship had sunk beneath the waves. I am glad she sold to WotC.

I have a poor sense of smell, so I often miss the worst of the con stench. Not always, though. Sometimes it's so bad.

You know, to be fair, I find this used to be true. I've seen a marked improvement in the general behavior and hygiene among gamers in general at the FLGS. Cat Piss Man* used to be a known element of every game store and convention I went to but I cannot remember the last time I saw him. Ass cracks used to abound at the local game stores but in recent years they've all but disappeared. (Part of me wants to give credit to 2014's Ass-Gate where someone posted pictures of them posing next to ass cracks at a Magic Tournament looking disappointed.)
 

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