TSR Lorraine Williams, unfairly lambasted?

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The settings didn't destroy TSR, or lead to it's ruin. Getting hit with Random Houses's fees are what did it. That one act dumped TSR with a ton of debt, and those fees are directly tied to overproducing novels and dragon dice. If not for the novels and dragon dice (and therefore the fees), TSR would have been in much healthier financials.

My impression was that it was not "fees" from Random House that did TSR in - it was that TSR was indebted to them and Random House called those debts in.

So TSR sells a bunch of novels to Random House, in exchange for cash. Random House sells them to the mass market. Some portion of those novels don't sell, and Random House presents TSR with a bill for the refunded sales (because mass market book stores get to do that, unlike game stores). TSR goes "Can you take that as credit against the next batch of books?" and Random House agrees. This cycle goes on for a number of years, until Random House goes "Tell you what. You owe us $X million now. No, we don't want credit, because your books don't sell. Pay us back what we're owed." And the next thing we know, TSR suddenly has a "problem at the printer" delaying new releases (including the magazines) - that problem being that the printer won't print their stuff without being paid.

That said, I think a large portion of the ire against Williams comes from her attitude toward the larger gaming community. TSR's baseless lawsuit against Gygax and GDW over Dangerous Journeys and her persecution of fan sites did not exactly win her any popularity contests. I do not gather that she was particularly popular within the company either, given that Sean K Reynolds' (at the time TSR's webmaster) first post online after Wizards' acquisition was "Ding dong, the witch is dead!"

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