TSR Rob Kuntz Recounts The Origins Of D&D

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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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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Warpiglet

Adventurer
Actually he had a combat system for a miniatures game, Chainmail. We never used that system in the play-tests, we started and always used the "alternative" combat system with the d20 spread.

Th reason it was Gygax's style is because he wrote the MS. He stated to me in 1972 (late) that Arneson's rules from his notes had to be rewritten. Some of them were, some of them were inverted and changed. Dave's systems architecture was not changed, only the mechanics which appointed it were as Gary's preferences.

Gary and TSR "attempted" to claim full credit. The courts thought otherwise and a settlement occurred.

People should acknowledge Arneson, Yes. People should acknowledge Gygax, Yes. No one has ever not acknowledged Gary's part, but MANY have disallowed Arneson's part to present (and still) AND by downgrading his part in that history, in fact. What is good for the goose in this case has not been done for the gander. But all of that is changing. Will Arneson's estate get the public and professional apology for all of this whacking his legacy has taken? One has to wonder...

Thanks for the great history. Great to know more about a thing that has enriched my life! I now know more than I did before and am glad that these guys (plural) invented and spread the fun!
 

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No it's genuine. Just dug out legends and lore with your name on it...such good times...

Yep. Great times, many lessons learned, many experiences gone through. The ups, the downs, the inside outs and back and forth(s). It adds up to life. I suppose my grandest achievement was helping save a few lives along the way, one which I know for certain as the chap wrote to me about how D&D actually saved his life from drug addiction and the death spin he was in. The awards that I'd won, the million+ words I'd written, took on a different meaning then. Thanks! And keep rolling them bones...
 

Warpiglet

Adventurer
Yep. Great times, many lessons learned, many experiences gone through. The ups, the downs, the inside outs and back and forth(s). It adds up to life. I suppose my grandest achievement was helping save a few lives along the way, one which I know for certain as the chap wrote to me about how D&D actually saved his life from drug addiction and the death spin he was in. The awards that I'd won, the million+ words I'd written, took on a different meaning then. Thanks! And keep rolling them bones...
I won't hog anymore threadtime...and it's less dramatic of course but I was an uninspired student throughout school. I hated reading my assignments but learned some 10 cent words from D&D! Went on to be a psychologist and all that. I am dead serious---D&D led me to get a higher GRE score and subsequent career. The best part though is I am still playing with my buddies 35+ years later and our kids are friends (and some are playing now too!).

I owe a lot to D&D and the people that made it...
 

I won't hog anymore threadtime...and it's less dramatic of course but I was an uninspired student throughout school. I hated reading my assignments but learned some 10 cent words from D&D! Went on to be a psychologist and all that. I am dead serious---D&D led me to get a higher GRE score and subsequent career. The best part though is I am still playing with my buddies 35+ years later and our kids are friends (and some are playing now too!).

I owe a lot to D&D and the people that made it...

A wonderful story that has now gone generational! There must be others like that out there, for sure. And don't worry about "hogging" thread time. You are a Warpiglet and hogging must certainly be part of your nature... ;) Back to work for me, whip, whip. Take care and see you around the electron-sphere, Warpiglet! :)
 

G

Guest 7015810

Guest
This is an interesting topic. Regarding what Rob said:
Arneson and Megarry had brought those two games, 1972, to showcase to us: The First RPG game we experienced via Blackmoor and then, the same night, what would be renamed the Dungeon (board game). This catapulted TSR forward when D&D was released, and the rest of the Minnesota crowd, as Dave noted, followed suit. Now, Arneson was actually hired as "Research Director [...]"

I collected a photo of Arneson's business card a while ago, and Rob is indeed correct:

Arnesons_TSR_business_card2.png



When I quit as Shipping Manager (but not as Convention Chairman, I did Winter Fantasy 1 as my last after 2 stints with GENCON), Ernie Gygax was brought on board to handle shipping, but when my brother quit, Ernie was moved to Dungeon Hobby Shop mngr and Dave Arneson became the shipping clerk. When he quit it was out of disgust for never having been allowed near design since his arrival.

An interesting question is why someone hired as the Research Director became a shipping clerk. Clearly this was not his own decision; someone must have assigned him that role.

I ask because the typical understanding was that Arneson was given that supplement to design, and turned in "a bushel basket of scrap papers" that went through two editors (Brian Blume and Tim Kask) before it reached a state fit for publication.
Kask discussed the bushel basket here. Kask noted that "I did have to empty the basket that day because Gary’s wife needed it for laundry," which tells us that it was not Arneson who delivered his work in a bushel basket, but probably Gygax, who apparently had put Arneson's work in his wife's laundry basket.

In terms of the contents, Kask said that there were "about 50 odd sheets of mostly handwritten material and charts," which seems commensurate with the number of pages of the final product, which actually has less than 50 pages of text--on half-sized pages (5.25" x 8.5")-- once the artwork is subtracted out. So it appears that Arneson did deliver enough material to produce a supplement-sized booklet.

Now, in terms of whether or not what Arneson submitted was "fit for publication," that is hard to say at this point. Kask noted that it was "mostly handwritten," but that shouldn't have detracted from the content itself; this was the 70's, and an author submitting something in handwriting was not unheard-of. Kask said that he "threw most of the crap away, determined to start over and do it my way," and in an article here, Kask said that "what came out was about 60% my work, 30% Dave Arneson’s and the remainder came from Gary and Rob Kuntz." So it appears that Kask was at least somewhat interested in a design role at the time, rather than just an editing role. Kask also talked about "what has been perceived as a personal animus that I have for Dave Arneson" here. Given that context, its hard to be sure that what Arneson submitted truly was "crap."
 

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