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D&D General When D&D Co-Creator Dave Arneson Asked WotC For A Job!

Back in 1997, after WotC had purchased the failing TSR (and D&D), and just prior to the launch of D&D 3E, Dave Arneson -- who co-created D&D in the 1970s along with Gary Gygax -- wrote to WotC president Peter Adkison asking to be put in charge of TSR. Ben Riggs -- author of Slaying the Dragon -- discovered Arneson's letter to Adkison while researching his history of D&D...

Back in 1997, after WotC had purchased the failing TSR (and D&D), and just prior to the launch of D&D 3E, Dave Arneson -- who co-created D&D in the 1970s along with Gary Gygax -- wrote to WotC president Peter Adkison asking to be put in charge of TSR.

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Ben Riggs -- author of Slaying the Dragon -- discovered Arneson's letter to Adkison while researching his history of D&D.


The letter was full of typos -- Arneson even got Adkison's name wrong! According to Riggs, Adkison did not reply, and Arneson wrote to him a second time.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
And I think that there was a higher tolerance for people who ... admired (is that the preferred word) the Axis in WW2 among the wargaming set than there was in the general population.

So, please realize that to some folks, you are coming very close to calling Dave Arneson a Nazi sympathizer.

That won't end well, so, could we please... not?
 

Dausuul

Legend
I'm reminded of when I was about to graduate from undergrad and sent out any number of resumes with both a line about "keen attention to detail" and a grammatical error in the cover letter.

Since then, I've long believed that the longer you make a cover letter, the more you're just increasing your chances of shooting yourself in the foot, and that has been generally borne out by my experiences hiring people.

I'm also pretty sure that calling your prospective employer "lowly," even in the past tense, isn't great. There are enough warning signs in that letter to disqualify a person from an entry level position, let alone being in charge of one of a company's top lines.
Yeah. You don't talk trash about your former employer when applying for a job, even if everyone knows they were a dumpster fire (which TSR indisputably was). It's like ranting about your ex on the first date... except this is the cover letter, so it's like ranting about your ex in the process of asking for the first date.

(Edit: Just realized Arneson wasn't merely talking trash about TSR--as you note, that "lowly" was directed at his supposed future employer, i.e., Wizards! Dave, man, what were you thinking?)
 
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Wow. I'm generally of the opinion that prospective employers pay too much attention to superficial nonsense and their own egos in the hiring process (often masquerading behind concerns for "professional etiquette"). But, whatever the intentions of "how the lowly have risen" it's not a sentiment that should be expressed by someone applying to be a high profile member of a company likely to give interviews, interact with the public, and otherwise have to be a cheerleader for said company.

Similarly while there are many industries for which I think prospective employers should get over themselves and give the person with the typo-riddled cover letter a chance (as they might well be better at the actual job than many of the people who are better at writing cover letters), when the company is fundamentally a publisher it's a very different matter. Even if as head of the division he had no writing or editorial obligations you don't want someone in charge who is well below average at such a core job skill of most of the people they are supervising, it breeds contempt.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
For what it's worth, there's a coda to this story that isn't mentioned in Riggs' post, which is that once WotC's acquisition was complete, part of Adkison's plan to bring D&D back to health meant buying out Arneson's royalties to "Dungeons & Dragons" as a brand (which was why AD&D had the "Advanced" part added to it: to avoid paying Arneson those royalties under the idea that AD&D was a separate game). I'm not sure exactly how large of a check Adkison wrote, but my understanding was that it was fairly substantial.
And, of course, making sure Arneson got equal co-credit with Gygax as the originators of D&D. Every book since the D&D 3E PHB has both Gygax and Arneson listed as the original co-authors of the game.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Similarly while there are many industries for which I think prospective employers should get over themselves and give the person with the typo-riddled cover letter a chance

I dont think employers, or recruiters even want prospective employees even submitting cover letters anymore. I stopped once applying for a job transitioned to all online applications. All the filter software just made it that much harder to get passed them if you submitted a cover letter.
 

darjr

I crit!
And, of course, making sure Arneson got equal co-credit with Gygax as the originators of D&D. Every book since the D&D 3E PHB has both Gygax and Arneson listed as the original co-authors of the game.
Created by. I know it’s terribly pendant of me.

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I dont think employers, or recruiters even want prospective employees even submitting cover letters anymore. I stopped once applying for a job transitioned to all online applications. All the filter software just made it that much harder to get passed them if you submitted a cover letter.
I assume it would depend on industry and where you are. In my area teaching jobs (the thing I'm generally applying for) almost invariably involve "cover letters" as a required part of the online application and they are always a dumb ordeal.
 

Wow. I'm generally of the opinion that prospective employers pay too much attention to superficial nonsense and their own egos in the hiring process (often masquerading behind concerns for "professional etiquette"). But, whatever the intentions of "how the lowly have risen" it's not a sentiment that should be expressed by someone applying to be a high profile member of a company likely to give interviews, interact with the public, and otherwise have to be a cheerleader for said company.

Similarly while there are many industries for which I think prospective employers should get over themselves and give the person with the typo-riddled cover letter a chance (as they might well be better at the actual job than many of the people who are better at writing cover letters), when the company is fundamentally a publisher it's a very different matter. Even if as head of the division he had no writing or editorial obligations you don't want someone in charge who is well below average at such a core job skill of most of the people they are supervising, it breeds contempt.
Exactly. Good writing is communication. And Dave communicated a lot in that letter that did him no favors.

I remember Tim Kask was given the job of editing Blackmoor, and it was pretty bad. (Link: Interview: Tim Kask (Part I))
 


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