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Thursday, 3 February 2005
Some History from Gary Gygax
Now Playing: Castles & Crusades
The following is the text of a message-board conversation I had with Gary Gygax on ENworld. What's particularly interesting here (other than the pure fun of early D&D history) is the comparison to the Troll Lords' situation right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythmere1
"Actually, I do have a question. In the early days just after publishing the first hardback (I don't know if it was the MM or the PH - they were both out when I started playing, but not the DMG), how chaotic was it? "

EGG:
"The first hardbound AD&D book was the MM published in 1977.

Things at the office were hectic but not chaotic. We were all crowded into an old house, a game shop taking up much of the ground floor, shipping in the former kitchen, inventory on the front porch and in the basement, and the offices upstairs on the first floor."


Mythmere:
"There must have been a severe shortage of cash to get out the hardbacks and the little 1-3 level monsters and treasure books, while also funding Dragon. How did you manage that? Was new money coming in, or were you publishing new books with the proceeds of the published ones. At what point did you realize that the country was going to buy everything that you could afford to print, and how did you react to the realization that D&D was going to be a craze of nationwide magnitude? Fear? Excitement? Repeated glances at checkbook? Frenzied bouts of authorial effort? Did it affect quality control on any of the books or products in your opinion?"

EGG:
"At that time I was the actual CEO of TSR, and money was tight because we had to reprint D&D works and produce new material at the same time, even as we paid employees. Sales were good, so cash flow was key. We borrowed some short-term cash to produce smaller products, and raised funds by offering lifetime subs to the DARGON and also to new game products. While the zine was then a cash drain, the goodwill and advertising/promition were more than a counter-balance.

It was in 1976 that we recognized that the game was going to be a growing one, and planned accordingly. I kept long term debt to about the amount of revenue the company generated in a month, and so the operation was very profitable. Not many customers were slow in paying, as they wanted to keep getting restocks and new product, so cash flow was good.

The main thing that affected quality control was lack of personnel and the need to get product into the pipeline or face outraged consumers. In all, I believe we did a very fine job all things considered."


Cheers,
Gary

Posted by mythmere at 9:10 AM CST
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Wednesday, 2 February 2005
My Crusade - the statement of mission - Let's Roll
It may be quixotic of me, but I'm absolutely determined that this game's going to succeed and flourish. I want my kids to enjoy the kind of game I enjoyed when I was eleven. I have a year before my oldest son turns that age - he's autistic and there's no way he can absorb the 3E ruleset. I'm going to see to it that C&C is firmly established when he's ready for it - with net support, well-edited rules, a large following (preferably with market penetration into his age group), and lots of product. That's my mission statement.

I plan to produce a few little pdfs myself in the service of this goal - which is the reason I haven't signed the NDA. I don't want to be constrained in what I publish while the CKG is still in production.

I urge any and all other fans of C&C to join the crusade not only as a fun game, but as a contribution to the FRPG hobby as a whole. It's worth it to spend a little time promoting the game we enjoyed as children (well, it's a bit more streamlined, but it's essentially the same). The only place where the heart of that original game still beats nowadays is in Castles & Crusades. The motto of the Trolls is "Alea Jacta Est." The motto of my own crusade is a bit more aggressive. I say, "Let's roll."

Posted by mythmere at 11:05 AM CST
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Proofing the PHB
Now Playing: C&C, of course...
I've spent the last 2.5 hours reading through the PHB and writing up some errata for the Trolls to use in the second printing. It runs to two and a half pages - this is the reason why the more grammatically oriented gamers are having problems with the First Printing. Now, it appears that the PHB is going to go to a second printing. The Trolls won't do it until the 1st printing sells out, but that looks pretty darn likely.

As far as I can tell, though, the Trolls' schedule doesn't contain any room for the kind of close read and edit which is ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED for the second printing. This game is already suffering somewhat from a perception of low production values - which is a real shame given the quality of the stitching, cover, price point, art, and of the game itself. The Trolls have put forth considerable expense and effort into production quality, and it's a real shame to have the grammar, style and organization of the text creating a negative impression about the best FRPG that's been published since the original D&D.

Therefore, I'm going to try to ease the Trolls' burden a bit by proofing and editing the PHB for the second printing. I'll continue if the Trolls are finding it helpful.

Posted by mythmere at 10:56 AM CST
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Tuesday, 1 February 2005

Now Playing: Castles & Crusades!
I spent the morning getting kids to the dentist, buying groceries, and sending some DDM minis to complete a trade on maxminis, so I haven't had much of a chance to get my C&C fix today. I did talk briefly with Steve Chenault, and I was pleased to hear that they've already had the chance to use this website with some retailers as a sales point.

I need to do some work on my own campaign, too. The players are in the middle of a tournament and fair, and they're planning to take a quick plane shift to a planar metropolis, drop off a captured Rakshasa in exchange for a ransom, then bop through a portal back into their material plane. The portal will put them down in a dungeon. So, depending on how fast they move, I've got the remainder of the fair, a planar metropolis, a dungeon, and then the city at the top of the dungeon all to develop by Saturday night. No, wait. I don't think we're gaming this weekend. Okay, that gives me another week.

I think I'll use the time between now and the end of the kids' school to write up the stats for my "Greater Ogre." I wanted something that would work well with the Fomorian giant DDM mini, so I whipped up a quick "really big, really stupid, really tough" giant.

Posted by mythmere at 2:25 PM CST
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Monday, 31 January 2005
Finally doing some work on the Website
Well, I've finally gotten down to business and started to convert the Wondrous Resource into a resource for Castles & Crusades rather than D&D.

The first entry is about the game, which is marvelous, and a slight rant about market focus. I mean, a blog's not a blog if it doesn't have some ranting, is it?

The game's the best fantasy RPG on the market. Fast paced and easy to teach. I love it, and I'm a fan. At the moment, I'm very interested in the question of how to grow the game, because I think it recaptures the heroic feel of the original Dungeons & Dragons that I played as a kid (that's AD&D, in my case, not OD&D).

Now, on to the slight rant, which isn't appropriate to the Troll Lords' board. What the heck is Troll Lords' market focus?? I mean, they've got TWO fantasy RPG's that they're promoting: Lejendary Adventures and C&C. Now, I understand that the Trolls have a personal and business relationship with Gary Gygax, whom I admire over any other figure in gaming. But C&C already seems to be gaining enough momentum since the release of the PH this month to SWAMP interest in LA. And you can't market and grow an RPG by offering it as one of two alternatives. "Hey, if you think C&C sucks, how about you try LA instead?" That's pretty weak. They should bite the bullet and drop support for LA, throwing all their resources behind C&C. After all: Alea Jacta Est, isn't it?

I know Mr. Gygax tends to go his own way, and his grumpiness in business dealings is almost a "Lejend" in itself. It might hurt the Trolls relationship with him to ditch support for his game. But if he could be persuaded to throw in his lot with C&C, and become one of the founding fathers of C&C instead of a competitor, wouldn't that be a tremendous boon to the game? I bought "Insidiae" because I somehow missed the fact that E.G.G. wasn't the author. I was really disappointed to discover that his name was just a marketing tool - I'd absolutely read anything he had to say about making adventures, and I'd love to see him produce some C&C material. Love it.

Somebody forward this to Mr. Gygax. I'd like to see him reassume the mantle of FRPGing's grumpy grandfather - and C&C is the place to do it, not LA.

Posted by mythmere at 1:06 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 31 January 2005 1:47 PM CST
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