Friday, January 4, 2013

"What If?"...Gary's Second Edition

In 1983, TSR was split into TSR Inc. and TSR Entertainment Inc.  Simultaneously, Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax was named President of this new division while retaining his role as Chairman of the Board *slash* President of TSR proper.  

As the head of this new Entertainment group (which eventually became known as the "Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment Corp.") Gary moved out to California where he oversaw the establishment of a new office and the creation of the warmly-received Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series.  During this time he also worked in close conjunction with writer and game designer Flint Dille on a series of  choose-your-own-adventure books and an embryonic D&D movie script.

Before departing for Hollywood, Gygax had tasked Brian Blume and his brother Kevin with the daily operations of TSR.  Only one year later Gary started to hear persistent rumors that the company was in dire financial straits and the Blume brothers were attempting to sell it.  After returning to Wisconsin in 1984 Gary was horrified to discover that, due to to "gross mismanagement in all areas of the company", TSR was suddenly $1.5 million dollars in hock.   

In an effort to infuse the company with new investment capitol, Gary contacted Flint Dille's sister, Lorraine Williams.  Even though she refused to sink any of her own money into the ailing TSR, Gary was impressed by her business acumen and hired her to run the company.  Unfortunately, it didn't take very long before Gary and Lorraine were at loggerheads over the future of TSR.  Allegedly Williams was somewhat disdainful of the hobby and was opposed to the concept of playtesting games in development.   

As tensions continued to rise between Gary and Lorraine, Gygax managed to have Kevin Blume deposed as the company's CEO.  In what Gary came to describe as an act of "retribution", the Blume brothers immediately sold all of their holdings to Lorraine Williams, instantly making her the majority shareholder.  Gary tried to block this transaction in court but failed, increasing the rancor between the two.  Subsequently, Gary was removed from TSR's Board of Directors in October of 1985.

Gary lingered on as a Director for TSR for three short months but refused to produce any new creative material for them.  On December 31, 1985 he voluntarily left the same company that he'd co-founded with Don Kaye back in 1973.  And we all know what happened to TSR in the end.    

Just a few short months prior to his departure, Gary wrote the following glass-half-full article for Dragon magazine in which he pondered a hypothetical Second Edition for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.  The article offers readers a fantastic opportunity to ponder "what if"?   


So, after reading this, what do you think?  If Gary had stayed at the helm of TSR would Dungeons & Dragons have stagnated or flourished?

 If you're so inclined, I'd love to read your thoughts so post 'em in the comments field below...

No comments:

Post a Comment