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D&D General SPOILERS: Peterson's Game Wizards

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So I have a full review posted, and after seeing that people are genuinely excited by the book, I thought I'd post a thread for people who have read the book to discuss it!

THIS IS THE SPOILERS THREAD. DO NOT READ THIS THREAD IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK!

So, to start the thread off, I thought I'd throw out a few of the general observations I had, and that I've been thinking about, ever since I finished reading the book-

1. I referenced Arneson in the "Stock Down" part of the review. I will elaborate here- I think Arneson has long benefitted from a confluence of factors (and I still think he came up with the core innovations in terms of tabletop roleplaying), but reading this account, in his words, was brutal. Gygax went through his revisionism already, but Arneson flew under the radar.

Reading this, it really hammers home, over and over again, that Arneson couldn't or wouldn't put together rules. Period. That he continually hurt potential business partners by promising things he just wouldn't deliver. And that he made a ton of money off of D&D despite what appears to be ... well, both a minimal contribution in the original rules (as opposed to concept), and an active campaign against D&D for some time.

This doesn't make him a bad person, by the way- just human. As we all are. But I think that the pendulum might have swung too far in that some people began to view Gygax as stealing all of Arneson's idea and just "copyediting them" and then trying to steal all of Arneson's royalties, whereas the book presents a more nuanced picture- it doesn't exonerate Gygax, but it does show that Arneson kept (to use the expression) biting the hand that fed him. He was singularly interested in the credit, but not as interested in the work.

2. People think of TSR as being formed for D&D; it was funny to see how, in the early days, they kept the pipeline going with wargame rules. They genuinely had no idea.

3. We usually think of 2e as the capitulation to the Satanic Panic; but we can see the formation of task groups to "soften" D&D in the early 80s- leading to, inter alia, Legends & Lore.

4. Gygax did an amazing job in the 70s making TSR (and D&D) a success. Really, He might have been kind of a messianic jerk at times, but he worked it. But the accumulation of details about the 80s- all the missed meetings, all the concentration on Hollywood, everything else going on. Not to mention how he would promise things to TSR employees, then disappear when the Blumes hammered them. Also? There was no way he could keep running TSR. None.

5. The Purchasing Department. My ... goodness. If I had to single out one employee that got so screwed (and trust me, there are a lot) ... poor Mike Carr.

6. Seriously, the Blumes. That's all I'll say.


Okay- have at it, with spoilers!
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I just find it hilarious that some people's enjoyment of a history book would be "spoiled" by knowing what happens ahead of time.

Person A: Oh I see you're reading that book on World War II. . .
Person B: DON'T TELL ME WHO WINS!

:p:ROFLMAO:

Two things-

1. I don't know if "spoiled" is the right word, but some people might want to go in fresh? Maybe?

2. Some people have VERY strong opinions about this!

 

HammerMan

Adventurer
I have not read the book, nor do I know any of the people in it personally. However I am always hesitant to assume any account is unbiased.

Gary Dave (and the rest of TSR) where people they did good and bad things. they both were needed for us to have this game we are still playing and planning on celebrating the 50th anniversary of soon.

I am going to guess based on your review this book is going to kick up a hornets nest of Gary Vs Dave in the fan base...
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I have not read the book, nor do I know any of the people in it personally. However I am always hesitant to assume any account is unbiased.

Gary Dave (and the rest of TSR) where people they did good and bad things. they both were needed for us to have this game we are still playing and planning on celebrating the 50th anniversary of soon.

I am going to guess based on your review this book is going to kick up a hornets nest of Gary Vs Dave in the fan base...

I think the book is as unbiased as it can be- it lets the evidence speak for itself. I do think that anyone that has either Gary or Dave on a pedestal will be sorely disappointed. They were people, like everyone else. As I wrote above, however, I think that for a lot of people, it's more of an eye-opener w/r/t Dave, only because there's been a lot of people taking Gygax down already.

As I wrote before, though, people are what they are. This is great for the history. In the end, the real legacy of both Dave and Gary isn't the lawsuits, or the petty disputes, it's the amazing game (and all the amazing games) that people are still playing, and that have brought so much joy to so many people.

That's a legacy anyone should be proud of!
 



Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
To be fair, you can choose wich evidence to show, and make your biases evident that way. Not that I think this is the case. I'm really curious to read it myself one day.

Yeah, I thought about adding something on those lines, but chose not to.

To put it in simplified terms-

Let's say that there are 10 pieces of evidence that you know about. 3 "pro," 3 "anti," and 4 "neutral." If you simply cite to the 3 "pro" and ignore the 6 other pieces of evidence, then you're letting the evidence speak, but you're putting your thumb on the scale.

That said, I think Peterson strives to present things fairly and accurately, with as little editorializing as possible. For that reason, I'm guessing that a lot of people will take different things from this- for example, I didn't think it was that damning toward Gygax, because I was already aware of most of the negative stuff. But someone else ...

I think the one thing I hope I made clear in the review is that this is really focused on the business of TSR. Which made it fascinating, because the business decisions really illuminated a lot of the other stuff that was going on, and because I don't think we've had that before. But ... it's very much about the business.

(One of the rewards of reading it if you already know some history is that you see a lot of events referenced that make more sense in context now. Seriously, I could have read another 1000 pages!)
 
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Orius

Hero
This doesn't really sound surprising. From what I've read of matters Dave did very poorly at writing rules. His material generally needed a lot of editing to be useable as they generally tended to be rough notes and such without a lot of polish. There was apparently a good deal of conflict between Dave and Tim Kask stemming from Kask's editing work on the Blackmoor supplement. That's not to throw shade on Dave, but the overall impression is that he was an idea guy but not very good at putting the ideas on paper.

Oh yeah early on, they were publishing a lot of wargaming stuff alongside D&D. D&D was just another product in their catalog. I don't think they were really noticing how big it was getting until some time in 1975 or 1976.

And the impact of the Satanic Panic started in the 1e days. Deities and Demigods was rebranded as Legends and Lore because of it. Gary did not approve of that, he had a rant in Dragon Magazine about caving in to people who weren't even buying the game.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
The fact the Dave Arneson needed David Ritchie to type up his notes and detailed the DA Blackmoor series of modules (DA1-4) is very telling.

(Sadly, Ritchie died in 2009, age 58).
 

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