Rob Kuntz Recounts The Origins Of D&D

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In this interesting article from Kotaku, Rob Kuntz relates a history of early TSR that differs somewhat from the narrative we usually hear. It delves into the relationship between Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (D&D's co-creators) and the actual development of the game, which dates back to Arneson in 1971.

 
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Hi Rob,

You touch on this a little in passing about the Domesday Book being the newsletter of the C&CS, and that C&CS was part of the IFW. This was true for Gen Con originally too, it was the second (?) IFW convention (first on it Pennsylvania. There was another in Madison WI, but I can’t recall if it was before or just after the LG event. Were there other IFW cons?).

To me, it seems that it is assumed the IFW, C&CS and all of the IFW zines and networks (plus some other stuff Gary was involved in, like Don Miller’s game designers guild) were all extensions of Gary and run entirely by Gary.

I’m not looking for a book, but maybe a bullet list of who was actually running these groups and what Gary did.

Also, a totally esoteric question, how long was Gary’s commute to his office in Chicago? I ask be cause I imagine that was prime gamer reading and correspondence time for Mr. G.
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Hi Rob,

You touch on this a little in passing about the Domesday Book being the newsletter of the C&CS, and that C&CS was part of the IFW. This was true for Gen Con originally too, it was the second (?) IFW convention (first on it Pennsylvania. There was another in Madison WI, but I can’t recall if it was before or just after the LG event. Were there other IFW cons?).

To me, it seems that it is assumed the IFW, C&CS and all of the IFW zines and networks (plus some other stuff Gary was involved in, like Don Miller’s game designers guild) were all extensions of Gary and run entirely by Gary.

I’m not looking for a book, but maybe a bullet list of who was actually running these groups and what Gary did.

Also, a totally esoteric question, how long was Gary’s commute to his office in Chicago? I ask be cause I imagine that was prime gamer reading and correspondence time for Mr. G.
My first GENCON was number 2 in 1969. Let me do some kicking around for the rest, as I was also at a Madison and Chicago convention both IFW sponsored eventa.

Gary by every means is the co-founder of the IFW and the C&C Society. But as him running the whole shebangs plus others you mention, a resounding NO. I will concentrate on the IFW. At the time of my meeting Gary in 1968 Bill Hoyer was the IFW president, John Bobek (a long time friend of mine who I met through Gary) was the IW editor (International Wargamer, IFW's newsletter which had replaced The Spartan--google each online for histories); and Len Lakofka was in the wings in the organization, as well. All of the three aforementioned were stalwarts of the IFW and it was a pretty large membership, including myself, Mike Carr, Bill Speer, Tom Webster, Dave Arneson, Paul Cote, Don Lowry and many, many others) contributed to the IFW through creating Societies)such as Tom Webster who ran the Battle of the Bulge Society extension, PBM games based on AH's board game of the same title); there was a Stalingrad Society in the IFW which Gary and I belonged to--I believe Paul Cote ran that but I may be mistaken), and people like Lowry and Bobek also did F/C illos for the IWs, etc. The was a "federation" and everyone received their membership card--I was member #168 IIRC, though Bobek who retains the IFW records to this day could confirm that. This first editor for DB was Gary through issue 5; then Schleicher through issues 6-11, then myself to finish 12 and 13 and make the stencil for 14 (the latter issue, #14, was stenciled but never published). So there are some stabs at your questions, for what you ask would take an extended essay to answer, possibly a small book, in fact. Gary was a primary mover, shaker and designer, in the wargames industry and influenced quite a bit and led the way with quite a bit more. Most people have concentrated on his latter days, but my columns here and Memoirs will be doing some way deeper delving on the subject of pre-TSR times.

Edit: Note this thread by John Bobek: International Federation of Wargaming | Wargames
 
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Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
I am back from shopping and quite exhausted, but managed, through a lot of editing, to post the above post, Really tiring trip as always. Wah!! ;)
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Still. I knew it was close to Chicago not as close as what you seem to be suggesting.

Close is relative as well if it's an hour drive in the USA that might be close, an hour drive here and you can be half way to the Alps.
An hour is commuting distance in many areas of the USA, including Lake Geneva. If I am remembering correctly, Gary Gygax used to commute to his insurance underwriting job in Chicago.

Lot's of people commute an hour, or more, from tertiary cities and small towns in Minnesota and western Wisconsin to work in the Twin Cities.

Personally, I've always endeavored to keep commuting to a minimum. Living near work or working from home.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
An hour is commuting distance in many areas of the USA, including Lake Geneva. If I am remembering correctly, Gary Gygax used to commute to his insurance underwriting job in Chicago.

Lot's of people commute an hour, or more, from tertiary cities and small towns in Minnesota and western Wisconsin to work in the Twin Cities.

Personally, I've always endeavored to keep commuting to a minimum. Living near work or working from home.
My idea if a long commute is across town or about 15 minutes.

Takes us 5 minutes to get to work maybe 10 if traffic is bad.

An hour drive would get me to my home town or central Otago.

Some people here do drive an hour or live in Auckland.
 
Rob,
I am looking forward to your return to Good Old U.S. of A. Wherever you decide to reside, i will make a point of coming to visit. So much stuff to speak about in terms of Game Design and Game Theory.

You might want to look at Minneapolis St. Paul because there is a lot of gaming there. The general community may also provide a good audience for future projects. Between the Source and Fantasy Flight Games, that area is just filthy with gamers.

As to the negative tone of some voices here and elsewhere. When people criticize me, I actually work to clarify the discussion. I sent online screeners to some of the griff griefers. I told them: Feel free to criticize, but not until you can do so with certitude, so here, watch the movie.

Nope not a word from any of the Griff Griefers about the free screener codes and their feelings after seeing the movie. An objective mind will at least be willing to observe counter point in order to learn more, one would think.

Often people ask me about your involvement in the process of all of this. I tend to be vague, because I can't hold all the interviews in my head fully. i just did a Podcast interview, where they wanted to talk about you. This is most likely because we interviewed you and used you in the film. I probably gave about the most vague non answer possible, but I felt I could not fully speak for you despite our extensive conversations over the years. Also, to explain your relationship with Gary is about a 2 hour story unto itself.

Anyway, I need to dig into my copy of El Raja Key so I can learn more about your dungeon designs.

My name is Griff
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
An hour is commuting distance in many areas of the USA, including Lake Geneva. If I am remembering correctly, Gary Gygax used to commute to his insurance underwriting job in Chicago.

Lot's of people commute an hour, or more, from tertiary cities and small towns in Minnesota and western Wisconsin to work in the Twin Cities.

Personally, I've always endeavored to keep commuting to a minimum. Living near work or working from home.
Except Gary did not commute by car (he never had a license or car), he took the train from LG to work every day which lengthened the trip due to stops and the worsening condition of the tracks which forced it to travel at decreasing speeds over its history of use. I rode it as well with Gary, I would say it was, including stops, traveling 40mph tops.
 
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Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Rob,
I am looking forward to your return to Good Old U.S. of A. Wherever you decide to reside, i will make a point of coming to visit. So much stuff to speak about in terms of Game Design and Game Theory.

You might want to look at Minneapolis St. Paul because there is a lot of gaming there. The general community may also provide a good audience for future projects. Between the Source and Fantasy Flight Games, that area is just filthy with gamers.

As to the negative tone of some voices here and elsewhere. When people criticize me, I actually work to clarify the discussion. I sent online screeners to some of the griff griefers. I told them: Feel free to criticize, but not until you can do so with certitude, so here, watch the movie.

Nope not a word from any of the Griff Griefers about the free screener codes and their feelings after seeing the movie. An objective mind will at least be willing to observe counter point in order to learn more, one would think.

Often people ask me about your involvement in the process of all of this. I tend to be vague, because I can't hold all the interviews in my head fully. i just did a Podcast interview, where they wanted to talk about you. This is most likely because we interviewed you and used you in the film. I probably gave about the most vague non answer possible, but I felt I could not fully speak for you despite our extensive conversations over the years. Also, to explain your relationship with Gary is about a 2 hour story unto itself.

Anyway, I need to dig into my copy of El Raja Key so I can learn more about your dungeon designs.

My name is Griff
Well, it's the internet, and I have maintained that in the good majority of instances that one should not base a GROUNDED perspective off of it. Too much politicization going on by leveraging the immediacy of communications to push agendas. We had that in part BiTD with the newsletter editorials and phone comms and convention gatherings, but imagine the mass aggregation of it now with instant knee jerk reactions that are so prevalent and you may get the gist of such a shift. Plus, some where over time (starting with Post Modern thought I reckon) facts became "opinions," which doesn't help either.
 
Hi Rob,

Just back to say thank you for answering my questions. Also thank you for the link to the BGG thread with the IFW folks reminiscing, that was amazing. For some reason, I always pictured Don Lowry as an older guy at that time, but he looks younger than Gary—i think Gary is the oldest fellow in the photos I saw, at I guess around 29–30.
 
Except Gary did not commute by car (he never had a license or car), he took the train from LG to work every day which lengthened the trip due to stops and the worsening condition of the tracks which forced it to travel at decreasing speeds over its history of use. I rode it as well with Gary, I would say it was, including stops, traveling 40mph tops.
Hi Rob,

How long was the train trip? Did Gay generally use that time for gaming (postal and writing) or cathing up on sleep?
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Hi Rob,

How long was the train trip? Did Gay generally use that time for gaming (postal and writing) or cathing up on sleep?
I suspect that the train ride was around 1,5 hours, maybe more, and then he had to walk some blocks to FF after arriving in Chicago. I only rode with him once to a convention in Chicago. I did walk with him to the train several times to see him off. He most likely read SF/F fiction and/or newsletters in transit for he was not one to take naps or such once awake.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Except Gary did not commute by car (he never had a license or car), he took the train from LG to work every day which lengthened the trip due to stops and the worsening condition of the tracks which forced it to travel at decreasing speeds over its history of use. I rode it as well with Gary, I would say it was, including stops, traveling 40mph tops.
I knew he didn't drive but didn't really think about what that meant for the commute. While longer, I'd guess it gave him a good chunk of time to read and perhaps even write and design. When I lived in New York, I enjoyed the train ride into Manhattan and got a lot of reading done over the commuting to and from work.

It still seems strange to me to grow up in that area of the country and not learn to drive. It isn't like New York City. It would be quite inconvenient to not be able to drive in Lake Geneva. I assume that when Gary started making good money he hired a driver. Or perhaps had employees/co-workers drive him around. Reminds me of the Weird Al Yankovich son: "The Boy Could Dance."
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
I knew he didn't drive but didn't really think about what that meant for the commute. While longer, I'd guess it gave him a good chunk of time to read and perhaps even write and design. When I lived in New York, I enjoyed the train ride into Manhattan and got a lot of reading done over the commuting to and from work.

It still seems strange to me to grow up in that area of the country and not learn to drive. It isn't like New York City. It would be quite inconvenient to not be able to drive in Lake Geneva. I assume that when Gary started making good money he hired a driver. Or perhaps had employees/co-workers drive him around. Reminds me of the Weird Al Yankovich son: "The Boy Could Dance."
Gary relied on his mother to help get the family places
Friends like Don Kaye
Then my brother taught Mary how to drive and with Gary's mother's help they purchased an old station wagon
Then, much later when Gary was making the bucks, he got a driver/body guard, Jim, who got him around
 

Parmandur

Legend
Gary relied on his mother to help get the family places
Friends like Don Kaye
Then my brother taught Mary how to drive and with Gary's mother's help they purchased an old station wagon
Then, much later when Gary was making the bucks, he got a driver/body guard, Jim, who got him around
My mom grew up in rural Wisconsin in the 50's, up in Sheboygan County: my experience of people from the area is that knowing how to drive was fairly routine: did Gygax have some particular aversion?
 
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Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
I have finished my fourth installment for my ENWorld column. It weighs in at about 1,500 words (hopefully not causing Morrus to fret, but I was as concise as possible with the breadth of topics covered).

GENCON IX: When Many Sought Adventure

image-8978-galleryV9-ndyj copy.jpg
 

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