This is interesting because it potentially refutes the idea that without Gary Gygax's involvement, D&D would never have come into being as not just a commercial product, let alone become as wildly successful as it did. I say "potentially" because, as a counterfactual, it's impossible to know for sure. Nevertheless, Rob, I want to ask if you can expound on what you've said here.
1) Had Arneson refined his game to the point where it was written down as a whole product (i.e. contained all the rules necessary for play), and said written product would be understandable to someone who had never participated in a role-playing session before?
2) If so, why did Gygax feel the need to rewrite so much of it (was it only due to personal jealousy, as you've noted previously)?
3) With both Don Lowry and Avalon Hill having elected to pass on his game, who was Arneson planning on demoing it for if Gygax hadn't jumped on it?
4) Do you think that Arneson's game, lacking any significant rewriting or editing from someone else, would have reached the same level of popularity and commercial success that Dungeons & Dragons did?
Well it is not meant to refute anything but the fact that he wasn't attempting to publish both it and DUNGEON.
1) He had refined the game so it was playable by what was in his head and on paper and by the players knowledge of this. He had refined it enough to play it and to inform Gary, when asked, how it worked, both in play and by phone. Gary in fact had to go to Minnesota to play again as he did not fully grasp the organization due to Arneson's notes and that he retained some of that in in head. So, Gary finally gasped what Arneson was doing through play and inquiry, just as Dave's players had done. If he hadn't, he could never have written D&D.
2) I suppose that he felt that the mechanics were not aligned to his own preferences. However, some of Arneson's systems were retained, though changed (the source for this is from SoB and another independent researcher reconstructing Armeson's total system from documents).
3) Well one might ask that of anything, as TSR had to (essentially) self publish it; and Gary had been in a better position with Lowry as his Rules Editor and AH as Don Greenwood was acquainted with Gary and respected him. So it was not about if not Gary why Dave? It was about the concept itself. No one could wrap their head around it even though Arneson and his group loved it and so did we, So Dave, like Gary, would have, I suppose and just like Gary, essentially and finally self-published it.
4) Why take away significant rewriting and its future from Dave that is accorded to Gary under such a hypothetical? That he had gotten to that stage after 1.5 years is a plus towards its eventual refinement for print, not a minus.