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.

Screen Shot 2022-08-29 at 2.22.17 PM.png


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.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


log in or register to remove this ad

Iosue

Hero
Wikipedia has a pretty good summary of the case.

Basically, Apple argued that the entire "look and feel" of the GUI was copyrightable. The court didn't agree and required the infringing elements be "virtually identical." Both parties agreed that a jury trial was not needed giving this ruling, and Apple appealed the ruling of that standard. The appeals court affirmed the district court's ruling, and after analysis of the GUI said that windows, icons of office items, manipulation of icons, menus, and the opening/closing of objects were intrinsic to a GUI, and could not be claimed by Apple. It also rejected the "look and feel" argument because some of the Macintosh GUI elements were licensed from Xerox, and that the whole "look and feel" could not be claimed if parts of it were not original.
 

Cergorach

The Laughing One
The thing people should remember more is: Your heroes are people, people are not perfect, and in 50-100 years you can make many (horrible) mistakes. I wonder how you would like it if people dug up all your past mistakes...

Also understand that judging people and things from many decades ago, from an environment you're not familiar with is very tricky. Having very candid discussions with a parent that is 75 years old about society from 50-70 years ago is very eye opening. Some of the stuff that happened back then is now very not acceptable, but then it was just how reality worked. No matter how angry and sad that makes me, doesn't change the fact that certain misguided people aren't necessarily 'evil', just the product of their generation and environment.
 

Eubani

Hero
The thing people should remember more is: Your heroes are people, people are not perfect, and in 50-100 years you can make many (horrible) mistakes. I wonder how you would like it if people dug up all your past mistakes...

Also understand that judging people and things from many decades ago, from an environment you're not familiar with is very tricky. Having very candid discussions with a parent that is 75 years old about society from 50-70 years ago is very eye opening. Some of the stuff that happened back then is now very not acceptable, but then it was just how reality worked. No matter how angry and sad that makes me, doesn't change the fact that certain misguided people aren't necessarily 'evil', just the product of their generation and environment.
Most of us do not claim he is evil, just an unmotivated person that rode on the cotails of other peoples work and believed he was owed for his one good idea.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Most of us do not claim he is evil, just an unmotivated person that rode on the cotails of other peoples work and believed he was owed for his one good idea.
Ouch. Considering the time and energies he spent on the gaming clubs, learning, tweaking, and running games and the incubator environment he helped create in the Twin Cities, which had a huge influence on the early development of TTRPGs, I think "unmotivated" is an unfair characterization. I've always been surprised at how poor a writer and how disorganized (at least on paper) he was for someone with an education in history from a good program. But whether he was "riding on the coat tails of other people's work" is something I would need to hear more about from the people's whose coat tails we was supposedly riding on.

I mean, other than Gary Gygax, whose relationship with Arneson is well documented. Many of the people who played with and worked with David Arneson have very good things to say about him. Are their people who entered into other projects with him (other, meaning outside of TSR) who have made statements about feeling used by Arneson?

It is common in many endeavors for companies or individuals to partner with or contract people for their creative input. Yeah, sometimes, that is just to get a well-known name in the credits. But people are hired as idea men/women. I've worked with lawyers who will be brought onto a case to just give advice, and are paid well for it. They don't write the briefs or appear in court. They basically get paid for the hiring firm attorneys to bounce ideas off of, get advice on what a case may be worth, etc. What is valuable is their experience, contacts, having been there and done that, and/or their reputation for creative solutions.

Is it that difficult to imagine that some people worked with Arneson because they felt he brought something to the discussion other than his name?
 

rcade

Hero
Honestly, this letter is probably the best indication of why Arneson was never able to publish anything without significant help.

A lot of people are terrible at writing business letters, even some you'd think would be good at the task. Dave Arneson should be judged by things he wrote for publication.

He also did well for himself teaching game design and computer documentation at Full Sail University in Orlando for many years. That place charges a fortune in tuition and working there could've been much more lucrative than opportunities in TTRPGs at the time.
 
Last edited:

Parmandur

Book-Friend
A lot of people are terrible at writing business letters, even some you'd think would be good at the task. Dave Arneson should be judged by things he wrote for publication.
There are very much of a piece, from everything I have seen: he never produced his own RPG product without someone else doing the heavy lifting.

He also did well for himself teaching game design and computer documentation at Full Sail University in Orlando for many years. That place charges a fortune in tuition and working there could've been much more lucrative than opportunities in TTRPGs at the time.
I mean, I sure hope he was a better teacher than a writer.
 

rcade

Hero
I don't understand the motivation for this pile-on.

Why are people so invested in portraying the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons as a sad-sack loser?

He has the greatest co-credit in TTRPG history and worked on a lot of other stuff, continuing to be active in the field until his death. If his collaborators on some projects did more than he did, so what? Most TTRPGs are collaborations.

If he was a rat bastard it would make sense, but Arneson was a revered figure in Orlando among students at Full Sail and gamers at Sci-Fi City, a giant gaming store where he would regularly show up to play on Saturday afternoons.

 

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top