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.

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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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Minor nitpick, but I believe Gary went to Hollywood in mid-late 1982. Looking back through Flint Dille's autobiographical book The Gamesmaster: Almost Famous in the Geek '80s, he says that he met Gary for the first time in Anaheim, CA at the end of May, 1982, and that "a few weeks later" Gary wrote him and said he was moving out to California and wanted to know if Dille was interested in writing movies with him. He also mentions joining Gary in looking to pick out the residence that would become the Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corporation, where Gary would live while he was out there.

Ugh. I meant to write 1983 in the parenthetical. My recollection was that he moved out in 1983, but I'm too lazy to look it up.
 

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darjr

I crit!
I do agree that his stature in the hobby before D&D was large. But it was a tiny hobby. Wouldn’t even fill my local convention. And it was growing hardly at all.
 

darjr

I crit!
The interesting thing to me is if Dave never met Gary would Gary have made a D&D?

I think it’s possible but is it likely that he would have before someone else?
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
The interesting thing to me is if Dave never met Gary would Gary have made a D&D?

I think it’s possible but is it likely that he would have before someone else?

It's one of those unanswerable counterfactuals.

If I had to guess, I would say the following:

But for Gygax, Arneson would never have done anything with his idea.

However, Gygax wasn't even aware of how this type of game would really "work" until he saw it. Once he experienced it, it clicked (and he zeroed in on some of the key features immediately, such as the "zero-to-hero" aspect). So ... yeah, the first-to-market and evangelizing was key.

All that said, it is abundantly apparent that there were many other people doing similar things before Arneson, and if not D&D, something similar would likely have come along. Reading Elusive Shift really hammered home that the reason D&D took off (before Egbert) was because there was already a market for it- there were people that were thinking along similar lines. Sometime I wonder what might have happened if someone had commercialized a version of En Garde instead.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Ahh, I see. So the first RPG designer inducted ;) As it should be.
The interesting thing to me is if Dave never met Gary would Gary have made a D&D?

I think it’s possible but is it likely that he would have before someone else?
That's the sort of thing we can never know. I tend to think, though, that good ideas find a way. RPGs would have happened, one way or the other, even if Gary and Dave ran off together to raise sheep in Nunavut in 1973.

More seriously, though, maybe an RPG historian can answer this question, but I can imagine that there were other groups of people doing similar things, in pockets here and there. When D&D came out in 1974, maybe they thought, "Hey, that's like our game of Beasts & Booty!"

EDIT: Snarf answered my question.
 




One of the big things that got me my job in IT was that I could actually write and document things. But heck, I still catch myself making typos here.

I agree. One thing has occurred to me. With people using computers, phones and computers to text, email, write documents etc., even with grammar and spell check I think people are likely to overlook the occasional typo, or poor sentence structure in a professional setting. Regardless there's no excuse for not knowing basic communication skills. I feel bad for people who went to school at any level during the pandemic as I'm assuming their education at the time was either sub-par or non-existent. Those 2-3 years could leave them lacking greatly in the fundamentals.

Funny thing is, there totally was a "Booty and the Beast." Illustrated by Erol Otus of all people:


It looks like a copy of it will run you about $500.

Just out of curiosity, where can I pick up a copy of Beasts & Booty today?

Asking for a friend.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
The interesting thing to me is if Dave never met Gary would Gary have made a D&D?

I think it’s possible but is it likely that he would have before someone else?
I feel strongly that both Arneson and Gygax are equally important.

Arneson was a paradigm shifter. Gygax was a prolific producer.

D&D wouldnt exist without either.

I suspect the personal wellbeing of both Arneson and Gygax would be better off, if they had better relationships with each other.

I am glad the pioneers of my hobby are both decent people. Human. But alright.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
You kid but I think this gets to the central point. The writing and editing and layout and art for cyborg commando was really good, from my memory. The idea and game ideas were bad.

He didn’t have what he’d had with Dave and D&D.
To be fair, that wasneritten by Gygax, but rather Frank Mentzer and Kim Mohan.

By the late 80's, I don't think Gygax had the energy or the hunger to drive massive design work anymore.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
To be fair, that wasneritten by Gygax, but rather Frank Mentzer and Kim Mohan.

By the late 80's, I don't think Gygax had the energy or the hunger to drive massive design work anymore.
Mythus / Dangerous Journeys came out in the early nineties and it was, IMO, quite a massive undertaking. It surely would have needed far more editing and development, but it was no small creative feat.
 


darjr

I crit!
If RPGs came about a different way would I miss dungeon crawling? Or beholders and green slime? Or settings and the eight? Would I miss them in some multi possibilities parallel universe way?

What am I missing now that could have been?
 

GreyLord

Legend
The interesting thing to me is if Dave never met Gary would Gary have made a D&D?

I think it’s possible but is it likely that he would have before someone else?

If Wozniak had never met Jobs...would we ever have the Ipod or Iphone...or even more specifically...would we even have Windows (laugh as you want, but I feel that Apple's moves in the late 80s and early 90s HEAVILY influenced how Windows 95 was developed and came about in it's evolution from earlier versions).
 

Iosue

Hero
If Wozniak had never met Jobs...would we ever have the Ipod or Iphone...or even more specifically...would we even have Windows (laugh as you want, but I feel that Apple's moves in the late 80s and early 90s HEAVILY influenced how Windows 95 was developed and came about in it's evolution from earlier versions).
Windows 95? Apple sued Microsoft after the release of Windows 2.03 in 1988. (It was the first Windows with overlapping windows.) They lost, but it was pretty obvious and understood by all that Windows 3.x took its cues from the Macintosh OS. Windows 95 was merely the perfected expression of that.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
Windows 95? Apple sued Microsoft after the release of Windows 2.03 in 1988. (It was the first Windows with overlapping windows.) They lost, but it was pretty obvious and understood by all that Windows 3.x took its cues from the Macintosh OS. Windows 95 was merely the perfected expression of that.
Yeah, I remember scratching my head over that when it happened: MS releases Windows OS right after the Mac OS takes the world by storm, Apple flips out over the patent violation, and somehow Gates just walks away grinnin'. Dodgier than the whole QDOS thing, really.

I've never understood it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yeah, I remember scratching my head over that when it happened: MS releases Windows OS right after the Mac OS takes the world by storm, Apple flips out over the patent violation, and somehow Gates just walks away grinnin'. Dodgier than the whole QDOS thing, really.

I've never understood it.
Because Apple stole a bunch of those ideas from Xerox first, so they didn't hold up in court, as I recall.
 


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