A DnD What If

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Re: A DnD What If

Postby Havard » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:12 pm



Thanks, that was an interesting read. I am sure 2nd editon would have been different if Gary had still been with the company, but it is hard to say whether I would have liked it better or not. I think Zeb Cook did a great job with the 2nd edition that we got. No edition or RPG is perfect though and it is always fun to speculate on what-ifs.


I really love the Greyhawk Grognard blog not only for the above but aloso for his Beyond the Flannaess maps and for his placement of Aquaria


Nice! I started a separate thread about this map here.

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Re: A DnD What If

Postby ghendar » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:20 am

willpell wrote:
nick_crenshaw82 wrote:Would Gygax sell Dungeons and Dragons to Wizards of the Coast?


If he didn't, then I would likely never have gotten into it, and it would likely never have become as almost-mainstream as it now is. Wotco's take on the game was offensively naked in its mercenarism, but it also effectively leveraged the company's ability to reach a mass market, particularly in 5E. I definitely think the way things went down seems to have gone well, and particularly a version which stuck closer to its original version, staying very grognardy and old-school and not trying to branch out to a wider audience, would almost certainly never have appealed to me in particular. What can I say, I like the shiny stuff.


Are you aware of how popular D&D was in the early 80s? WotC didn't have only magic wand that made the brand big. D&D reached a huge audience before Wizard of the Coast even existed. Had Gary not been forced out and the company not been in the dire financial that followed, then who knows what would have happened. I think it's reasonable to assume that Gary's vision of D&D would not have been what WotC created but that doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't have been good.
Last edited by ghendar on Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A DnD What If

Postby Zudrak » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:37 pm

Havard wrote:
nick_crenshaw82 wrote:Maybe if Gygax had a better partner than Brian Blume than Lorraine Williams wouldn't have had to be brought in in the first place.


Well, D&D was clearly a successful product and quickly became an amazingly popular brand with BECMI D&D's Red Box in 1983 becoming one of TSR's most best selling products ever. So it is pretty amazing that the management kept screwing their investments up over and over again. You can blame the Blumes for this, or Williams or even Dave Arneson. But at some point you have to ask the question of whether Gary was responsible for at least some of the mess himself. Being a great game designer does not necessarily mean you are a great businessman or corporate leader it seems. I didn't know any of these people so I am a little reluctant to pass judgement over any of them.

-Havard

Except Gygax himself?
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Re: A DnD What If

Postby Havard » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:24 pm

Zudrak wrote:
Havard wrote:
nick_crenshaw82 wrote:Maybe if Gygax had a better partner than Brian Blume than Lorraine Williams wouldn't have had to be brought in in the first place.


Well, D&D was clearly a successful product and quickly became an amazingly popular brand with BECMI D&D's Red Box in 1983 becoming one of TSR's most best selling products ever. So it is pretty amazing that the management kept screwing their investments up over and over again. You can blame the Blumes for this, or Williams or even Dave Arneson. But at some point you have to ask the question of whether Gary was responsible for at least some of the mess himself. Being a great game designer does not necessarily mean you are a great businessman or corporate leader it seems. I didn't know any of these people so I am a little reluctant to pass judgement over any of them.

-Havard

Except Gygax himself?


Sorry if it seems like I was criticising Gygax here. He is indeed among the people I never met. My point was not to say that he was to blame any more than the others. I guess my point was that everyone involved probably should share some of the blame*, Gygax included. Fan narratives often place our heroes on pidestals, but ultimately they are all just human beings.


*=blame is probably a strong word here too since it we aren't really talking about a tragedy here, just some unfortunate events within a story of success. D&D lived on and changed the world even though it was a bumpy ride.

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Re: A DnD What If

Postby Big Mac » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:26 pm

ghendar wrote:Are you aware of how popular D&D was in the early 80s? WotC didn't have only magic wand that made the brand big. D&D reached a huge audience before Wizard of the Coast even existed. Had Gary not been forced out and the company not been in the dire financial that followed, then who knows what would have happened. I think it's reasonable to assume that Gary's vision of D&D would not have been what WotC created but that doesn't necessarily mean it wouldn't have been good.


I think that the further we go, in time, after the point where Gary Gygax got ambushed, the harder and harder it is to make any sort of accurate preditions.

In the near period, we can go on the existing 1e product line, and any interviews that Gary Gygax made, but TSR did listen to customers, and change it's plans over time. So without having the next wave of hypothetical Gygax-led D&D products, we can't really tell which exact products would have sold best.

If we can't be totally sure if something like Spelljammer would have existed, then 3e things, like Ghostwalk and Eberron are almost impossible to predict.

I can't imagine us having 3rd Edition AD&D, 4th Edition AD&D and 5th Edition AD&D with Gary Gygax keeping Greyhawk as some sort of time-capsule. He would have done some evolutionary and some revolutionary stuff.

I think that some people would be complaining about some 2e Gygax AD&D product, 3e Gygax products and/or 4e Gygax products "not being as good as his old stuff". And I think that other people would be claiming that every new edition of AD&D was better than Gygax's last version. I know that some of the talk we have had, about different editions and settings, has been related to changes in management, but some of it is down to the way that different products just capture the imagination of individual people.

I can imagine that, if Classic D&D had been kept active, there would also be people saying the same sort of thing about 3rd Edition BECMI or 4th Edition BECMI was better or worse that the original.

Gary isn't still with us, but maybe Frank could speculate on what sort of stuff he would have done if he had been asked to make a new wave of products to follow up his boxed sets and the Rules Cyclopedia. I bet that Frank would be a lot better at guessing than most of us. :)
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Re: A DnD What If

Postby Havard » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:12 pm

If things had been different then the results would have been different. Its fun to speculate, and TSR management containing other people would likely have made different decisions along the way.

A few things would likely have remained unchanged:

1) In the mid 1980s TSR was in dire need of a clean-up. Gary was likely not the person to take most of the blame for this since the Blumes kept sending him to California to manage the Cartoon Show and work out other deals with Flint Dille and others. Briniging in Lorraine Williams was how Gary believed he could reorganize the company. This ended up backfiring for him personally, but if he had brought in someone else then they too would have had to make some tough decisions on where to take the company. A different leadership might have been able to keep Gary on though, giving us more Greyhawk and a stronger influence from Gary on game design for future rules editions:

2) Edition Threadmill: Many people dislike new editions, but unfortunately that's how you make money in the gaming industry. Game design decisions would probably have been somewhat different depending on who were on the design teams, but I have a hard time imagining any reality where TSR was still in business and 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Edition never happened in some form or other.

3) the late 1990s was a hard time for D&D: Increased competition from other gaming companies (White Wolf), CCGs (MtG), video games etc would have lead to difficulties for TSR no matter who were in charge. Under a different management some foolish investments (Buck Rogers, Dragon Dice, TSR West, Audio CD Adventures etc) might have been avoided and TSR might have avoided bankrupcy, but it is hard to manage the company not feeling like D&D needed some kind of invigoration at the end of the century. TSR already had plans for an AD&D 3rd Edition in the works, so it is hard to imagine a timeline where this would not have happened, although a less financially successful 3rd edition by a company without the assets from Wizards of the Coast may have been what had happened.


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Re: A DnD What If

Postby ghendar » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:25 am

Big Mac wrote:
I think that some people would be complaining about some 2e Gygax AD&D product, 3e Gygax products and/or 4e Gygax products "not being as good as his old stuff". And I think that other people would be claiming that every new edition of AD&D was better than Gygax's last version. I know that some of the talk we have had, about different editions and settings, has been related to changes in management, but some of it is down to the way that different products just capture the imagination of individual people.


You can see evidence of this now. Just look at Unearthed Arcana, sometimes referred to as AD&D 1.5. There are plenty of people who don't like that material.
Gygax's post TSR work suggests possible directions that he might have taken AD&D, but who knows if those ideas would ever have been implemented in a newer AD&D version designed by Gary.
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Re: A DnD What If

Postby ExTSR » Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:12 pm

::tossing log on original fire::

Tim Kask and I have actually discussed this. We're fairly sure of the following.

I arrived at TSR in Jan 1980, and Tim left a few short months later. We never met, then.
We met in the mid-2000s and found kindred brotherly souls in gaming but with mostly disparate interests and habits otherwise.

Yet if we had discovered that kinship in early 1980s, Tim might not have departed TSR, and together we might have bolstered Gary's position sufficiently for a compromise (3:2 Gygaxians instead of 2:1 Blumes).

No speculation on results, just a what-if datum. :)

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Re: A DnD What If

Postby Big Mac » Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:43 am

ExTSR wrote:::tossing log on original fire::

Tim Kask and I have actually discussed this. We're fairly sure of the following.

I arrived at TSR in Jan 1980, and Tim left a few short months later. We never met, then.
We met in the mid-2000s and found kindred brotherly souls in gaming but with mostly disparate interests and habits otherwise.

Yet if we had discovered that kinship in early 1980s, Tim might not have departed TSR, and together we might have bolstered Gary's position sufficiently for a compromise (3:2 Gygaxians instead of 2:1 Blumes).


I guess that if Tim left before Gary was ambushed, then you would need to wind back time before he left in order to run this sort of thought experiment.

ExTSR wrote:No speculation on results, just a what-if datum. :)


One thing you might be able to help with (results wise) is a general idea of who left (or was booted out) following the change in management after Gary was ambushed. If any of those people were working on projects that were scrapped (or would have been likely to have worked on projects that followed up earlier projects) we might have a general idea of the alternative direction TSR might have taken with Gary still there.

How about you?

I know you were planning to work on putting Aquaria into Greyhawk. Did you get to the stage of working out if that would be started off with a hardback or a boxed set?

Did you ever have any ideas for a BECMI follow-up?

Was there anything else you were working on at TSR (like RPGA stuff) that you would have continued with?
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