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How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D 183

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cast-hostile-takeover dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sunday was the birthday of the late great Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and Futurama guest star. With the fifth edition of D&D soon to come out at Gen Con this year, Jon Peterson, author of Playing at the World, has released a new piece to answer a historical question: how was it, back in 1985, that Gary was ousted from TSR and control of D&D was taken away from him? Drawn from board meeting minutes, stock certificates, letters, and other first-hand sources, it's not a quick read or a very cheery one, but it shows how the greatest success of hobby games of the 1980s fell apart and marginalized its most famous designer."
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How Gygax Lost Control of TSR and D&D

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  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:14AM (#47556227) Homepage

    He lost a Will save.

    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Informative)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:17AM (#47556229) Homepage Journal

      Will saves didn't exist under any of the editions he wrote.

      • Re:Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bytestorm (1296659) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:49AM (#47556369)
        From the way the article reads, it's more like everyone else made their save vs spell... Or perhaps that he lost his save vs PPDM. Seems like after he made his initial critical mistake (allowing investment options to bypass his majority ownership), he couldn't recover without just divesting himself from TSR and starting over before the flagship D&D product was born, which, as a primary creator, he might have been able to pull off.
        The behind closed doors shenanigans, manipulations and backstabbery are about right for any D&D game I've ever been in.
        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          He never really had a majority ownership though, if you take into account unexercised options. Ultimately, he should have purchased from the Blume's when they offered to sell. They were the ones who provided much of the original investment in the company, Gygax was just the creative deparment. As far as creativity goes, remember Dave Arneson the co-writer of D&D who didn't have much stake in the company at all.

          So Gygax sort of set himself up for the fall, and as well his business sense wasn't very go

          • Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson were listed as co-writers, but from what I've seen and gathered the primary creative work was done in Lake Geneva, not the Twin Cities. I wouldn't call Gygax "just the creative department".

      • by halivar (535827)

        This is what I get for coming into D&D as a 3tard. Thanks for the correction. :(

    • Re:Easy (Score:4, Informative)

      by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:33AM (#47556661)

      He lost a Will save.

      The only real saving throw types are

      1. Paralyzation, Poison, or Death Magic
      2. Rod, Staff, or Wand
      3. Petrification or Polymorph
      4. Breath Weapon
      5. Spell

      All the rest are bullshit.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Man, what is it with some gamers where they need to call out things they don't like as bullshit or wrong?

        It's not even the original list, so I'm not sure what you are so uppity about.

      • The classic list, and from someone named "Kelemvor". Kudos.

    • More like failed an Intelligence check...
  • Arneson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:20AM (#47556239)

    After Gygax's treatment of Arneson and the way he attempted to attack other games in the roleplaying hobby, I find it hard to feel much sympathy for him.

    • Yes, I would have to agree. At least from what I've read, it does appear that Arneson, who was as much a "Father" of D&D as Gygax, got screwed sometime in the mid 70's by GG.
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Arneson was at TSR for a year, then left to do his own thing.
        Dave's Blackmoor changed my life.

        When the Made AD&D DAve sued, TSR said it was significanly different, and the courts agreed. INHO the court were right, it was substantially different. Eventual Gary and Dave agreed to credit each other as co-creater.

        Later, WoTC wanted to drop 'Advanced' so they paid Arneson some cash. Since DnD is a hobby game, that cash settlement might have been in to the 10's of dollars. HAHA, that as a joke, I hope it was

    • by hey! (33014)

      After Gygax's treatment of Arneson and the way he attempted to attack other games in the roleplaying hobby, I find it hard to feel much sympathy for him.

      Well, if you put yourself in his shoes you might well play hardball with other games in the hobby.

      D&D as a system wasn't really all special; there were competing systems back in the days he was at TSR which were every bit as enjoyable and arguably easier to play. But D&D had two big things going for it. First, when the three basic manuals for AD&D were published it had by far the best organized and written materials. The Monster Manual was particularly useful. Second it had the network effect

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        I think monster manual was the least important of the books. It was basically more supplemental content than rules. Player's Manual and DM Guide were the core rules. Competing systems tended to put all the rules in one volume then have supplements, or perhaps have an abridged set of rules plus game world in one book. Ie, GURPS or Champions/Hero-System.

        The plusses for D&D and AD&D were the name recognition, a set of pre-built modules, and access to the book stores.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Personally, I count the time that TSR took over D&D as the point at which the game started delcining and rigidifying. Prior to that is was much more creative and interesting.

        OTOH, they did make it MUCH easier to mover characters from game to game.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:21AM (#47556247)

    I can surmise that immediately after being ousted from Dungeons & Dragons, he immediately got laid.

  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:22AM (#47556249) Journal

    This should serve as a cautionary tail of what can happen when you go into business with friends and or relatives. As soon as big money starts being made...unfortunately the greedy side of human nature tends to rear it's ugly head.

    • This should serve as a cautionary tail of what can happen when you go into business with friends and or relatives

      I could see how that would be an issue. After all, as we saw in Spaceballs, that tail can get in the way sometimes.
    • by JosKarith (757063) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:38AM (#47556329)
      IIRC Williams went on to sink as much of TSR's money as possible into buying up the rights for the Buck Rogers RPG ... which flopped and sunk without a trace, crippling TSR's finances. Rather than invest in it to turn its declining fortunes around as she was supposed to she effectively asset stripped it - her family owned the Buck Rogers franchise rights...
      All in all a classic carpetbagger move by Williams that everyone except Gygax fell for.
      • Read some of the "memoirs" of those who worked at TSR at the time. Williams couldn't stand gamers, D&D or pretty anything "geek/nerd".
        She saw $$$ and tried to cash in. I would suspect a low level Illusionist may have been behind it...
      • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @12:01PM (#47558715) Homepage

        IIRC Williams went on to sink as much of TSR's money as possible into buying up the rights for the Buck Rogers RPG ... which flopped and sunk without a trace, crippling TSR's finances.

        TSR's finances were in perpetual disarray from about '83 forward... when the D&D bubble popped.* TSR had built itself around the assumption that growth would occur at the same rate as it had during the bubble, and was screwed when it didn't. It never fully recovered. Even though Williams' mismanagement didn't help, by the mid 80's significant percentage of gamers had moved onto computer gaming and their purchases of hardcopy games dropped precipitously. They stumbled on long enough to be around when WOTC came into bucketloads of cash, but they were anything but a healthy company.

        Not to mention the Buck Rodgers RPG is far from only "flopped and sunk without a trace", whether from TSR or elsewhere in the industry. (Even games that were huge successes (by the standards of the day) are by-and-large completely forgotten today.) At the height of the bubble ('82-'83) it seemed a new RPG was coming out every week, and the premises of the games were increasingly specialized and/or outlandish. By 1983, the market for tulip bulbs was beyond saturated**. By 1984 it was busted. By 1993, when the Buck Rodgers RPG was released, it would have taken a miracle for any RPG to be a breakout hit.

        *The largest problems that hardcopy gaming (board, pen-and-paper, etc...) companies face are the replayability factor and the scaling factor. For the first, you can buy a set of rulebooks and literally play for years without further purchase. For the second, one guy can purchase a set and then ten or more others can play using that set for years. Once a significant proportion of your userbase has a set of your products, you're screwed. There's a reason why every gaming company of the era got into supplements and expansions and ancillary products and media as fast and deep as possible - it's the only way to survive. WOTC didn't create the idea of endless supplements and expansions (as many seem to think), they merely perfected the implementation by convincing players they were vital to continued gameplay rather than being optional.

        ** I remember a meeting of our gaming group in 1983 where we were deciding which GM/game would be added to our rotation to replace one that was moving away... we literally had twenty or thirty different RPG's in hardcopy physically sitting on the table. When I attended Dracon I (or was it Hexacon I, can't remember as there were so many start-up gaming cons back in the day) in 1984 I took something like ten different games from my personal collection to the con. (Met Tracy Hickman there, out stumping the then newly released Dragonlance.)

      • by Shadowmist (57488)

        All in all a classic carpetbagger move by Williams that everyone except Gygax fell for.

        Oh? Keep in mind that it was Gygax himself who brought her in. Much how like Steve Jobs brought in Sculley, who later led the move to oust Jobs from Apple.

    • by ledow (319597)

      Going into business with friends or relatives is not a problem.

      Just treat it like a business. When your cousin comes to work for you, you're under no different obligations as an employer than you would be if they weren't you cousin.

      Similarly, business is something which people do for "profit". Whether than be salary, experience, shares, or literal profit - each person is there because they have something they want out of the business. As such, pretending that because they are family makes things differen

      • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @07:54AM (#47556403) Journal

        That SOUNDS a lot easier than you think.

        Firing a relative or friend has repercussions outside of your business relationship. It simply isn't easy for most people who love and cherish their family and friends to toss them out on the street along with their kids.

        Do you really think that a nasty money fight between friends and relatives with contractual obligations in a business would not affect the personal relationships between them?

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          They aren't your friends if it does.

          Relatives are a little different depending on who they are and what your relationship with them is.

          I've had no problem mixing the two but then again, if someone can't behave themselves in the business relationship I don't really consider them a friend so I can't really consider it any sort of loss of a friend either.

        • Firing a relative or friend has repercussions outside of your business relationship.

          Yes it does. Which is why you need to exercise caution when hiring relatives or friends. Just as important you need any appropriate contract outlining the terms of their employment. If things go south (as they sometimes do) then you follow the contract to the letter. I've been business partners with friends and family and we took the time to agree how things would work up front. Some of the businesses didn't work out but they were dissolved amicably because we were clear up front about how things would

      • by plover (150551)

        Going into business with friends or relatives is not a problem.

        Just treat it like a business. When your cousin comes to work for you, you're under no different obligations as an employer than you would be if they weren't you cousin.

        Actually, that's a real problem for most of us. A familial bond is one of care and protection. Family means that you defend other members of the family, even when they're stretching boundaries. And we have different levels of permission based on context, where the boundaries outside of the family are different than the boundaries inside the family. For example, if a kid gets into a schoolyard fight, the father might defend the kid's behavior; but if the same fight occurred between siblings, he might pun

        • Actually, that's a real problem for most of us.

          Shouldn't be in general. When your children misbehave or under-perform in school do you have a problem disciplining them? You did set out expectations in advance right? If you didn't then shame on you. Same with going into business with family. Set out expectations right up front and then hold them to those expectations and communicate how they are doing in relation to those expectations. If you do that things usually work out ok.

          A sociopath has no problem flipping the switch, to decide that they can ignore the family ties.

          Very few people are sociopaths but also too few are good at keeping busi

          • I've seen many family businesses that preach what you're saying, but when push comes to shove the family member magically emerges unscathed while some other unlucky fool gets disciplined/canned/hung out to dry.
            I think a lot of family businesses like to pretend that the family is successful because every member is inherently talented, when they're not. Reality shows up, and they choose to overlook it.
            I can STILL remember at one company, the owner's son whining about how everyone hated him and set him up whe

      • Except that you're talking about a business as an attempt to make money. Lots of small hobby companies at that time (and probably a whole lot more) were efforts to support a hobby and not suffer too much financially.

        In this case, people are not in the business for the money, as most competent people could make more money doing something else and gaming in the evenings and on weekends. People are in for a sort of vision, and the visions aren't necessarily shared. Neither is commitment; one person might

    • by pla (258480) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:39AM (#47556705) Journal
      This should serve as a cautionary tail of what can happen when you go into business with friends and or relatives. As soon as big money starts being made...unfortunately the greedy side of human nature tends to rear it's ugly head.

      The arrangement made sense right up until TSR actually started making real money. When you and your friends bust your asses to build a business, and have no substantial income or assets to fight over, running it as a labor-of-love makes perfect sense. But once they started bulk-hiring new staff and pulled off 5000% growth over five years - Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

      No one in the inner circle had a clue about how to run a business, because they all wanted control to remain in the hands of gamers - Hey, cool, most of us can appreciate that concept. But they could have avoided all the acrimony and eventually selling out to Wizards-of-the-CCG simply by bringing in someone with a clue in a non-shareholding executive capacity.

      Sad, really.
      • by Chas (5144)

        The arrangement made sense right up until TSR actually started making real money. When you and your friends bust your asses to build a business, and have no substantial income or assets to fight over, running it as a labor-of-love makes perfect sense. But once they started bulk-hiring new staff and pulled off 5000% growth over five years - Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

        It's a NORMAL pitfall in hobby companies.

        It starts out as a hobby/lark. And there's a certain looseness in how the company is run.

        However, once the company starts employing dozens of people and pulling in multiple millions a year, it's definitely NOT the best way to run the company and things DO need to change. It's just very difficult to see where that jumping-off point is when you're in the middle of things (especially if you haven't encountered this sort of managerial divide before).

        This is speaking fr

      • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @09:31AM (#47557261)

        Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

        It's a good question and more common than you might think. Part of the problem is that bringing in competent outsiders can be uncomfortable for company founders. Gygax clearly had a problem with involving anyone who was not a wargamer but the people who are competent at finance don't overlap heavily with people who are gamers. Plus when things are going well it is easy to think that you can handle it. After all, it's gone well this far right?

        One of the big challenges in growing a company is that the skill sets for founding a company and the skill sets for running it when it gets larger overlap far less than most people think. For every Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos there are thousands of people who simply cannot make the transition from small company founder to big company manager. The founders of Google were actually smart enough to bring in some outside management relatively early because they knew they didn't really have the skillset at the time to manage a company with a stratospheric growth rate. It would be like hiring a guy who has never managed a network larger than 10 computers to suddenly take charge of Amazon's data warehouses. The skills needed are just on a completely different level.

      • The arrangement made sense right up until TSR actually started making real money. When you and your friends bust your asses to build a business, and have no substantial income or assets to fight over, running it as a labor-of-love makes perfect sense. But once they started bulk-hiring new staff and pulled off 5000% growth over five years - Why the hell didn't they hire a competent CFO???

        Well, because this was the early 80's not the early 00's and they hadn't lived through the dot bomb as we all have. (Seri

      • Another issue is that it's hard to make sure you're hiring somebody competent. I know of one company who got a new well-recommended CFO, who took over a year to figure out that the HR head was robbing the company blind. Seriously, the founders of a company like that are going to be reluctant to give up that much control, even to an employee, if they don't know the guy personally.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually it is more a warning about what happens when growth slows.
      As long as people are getting richer everything is good. It is only when thing slow down that the problem start.
      Greed is satisfied when it is fed, put in on a diet and it gets ugly.

  • Lemme guess... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ryanrule (1657199)

    The reason is spelled MBA.

    • Wow the problems of the world are based on a particular Academic degree?
      You know Slashdot blame the MBA for a lot of the problems of the world. However I haven't ran into too many of them. A lot of the bosses making these type of decisions don't have an MBA, but some other degree. BA in History, or Arts, BS in Computer Science or Physics...

      Also a lot of those MBA are not the ones in charge, but can be the Tech guy next to you doing coding as well.

      • by Ryanrule (1657199)

        ok. how bout the business drone who gets the MBA? that is the lot these days.
        personally, i think a BS should be REQUIRED for an MBA, no soft degrees.

  • 5thed is irrelevant. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016)

    Everyone has moved away from it to either Pathfinder or 13Th age. DnD is on it's way to becoming another savage worlds for lovers of crunchy dice rolling only.

    • by Exitar (809068)

      Yeah sure, and nobody plays World of Warcraft or eat at McDonald's anymore...

    • by Gibgezr (2025238)

      Some moved to Pathfinder, for sure, but many of us just kept playing 3.5 with house rules. The DnD sessions I participate in are fast'n'loose and fun as hell.

      Almost nobody plays 13Th age (not dissing it, just am unfamiliar with it because ...er, nobody plays it).

    • Pathfinder is a joke, as is any edition past 2nd.
      Anything made by WoTC isn't D&D, you can be assured of that.
      Just because they have the rights to the name doesn't mean squat.

      I play in a hybrid 1.5/2nd ed campaign that is a blast, easy to play, and doesn't have the "I'm going to run a half dragon Priest/Archer/Wild Mage with psionics" vibe that the WoTC "editions" have. It is old school D&D and fun as hell.
      • by Yosho (135835)

        Pathfinder is a joke, as is any edition past 2nd.

        You may not personally like Pathfinder, but you're kidding yourself if you think it's not the king of tabletop RPGs right now. Game shops stock more PF books than any other rules setting, and gaming conventions are dominated by Pathfinder Society tables -- and, honestly, Paizo has exerted better quality control over PF than WotC ever did over D&D. They've had a few duds, but overall the quality of their supplements and adventure paths has been very consistent.

        • Yes, I'm quite aware of Pathfinders popularity, especially among the 20-something crowd who thinks they are playing D&D. I don't argue that point. Believe me I've tried it, and 3.5 and 4... They are all, as another person mentioned, "video games on paper".

          Really the thing about Pathfinder I couldn't stomach was how the story and character actions were just too "guided". It reminded me of playing Everquest for the first time and running into the edge of the map("wow, I can't keep going?!?). Sure,
      • by halivar (535827)

        Is anything after the Model-T a Ford?

      • oh, stop it. Do you know what not really DnD? Telling other people how they should enjoy their DnD.
        Why are you reaping animosity among gamers? It's stupid and you need to grow up.

        "Anything made by WoTC isn't D&D, you can be assured of that. "
        well, that's just a stupid statement.

        "Just because they have the rights to the name doesn't mean squat. "
        It means everything. I would also add the Gary also approved of WOTCs D&D
        .
        "I play in a hybrid 1.5/2nd ed campaign that is a blast, easy to play, and doesn't

        • by castle (6163) *

          I hear tell that from out of Gary's own mouth when asked about D&D 4e, his response was Paper [expletive deleted] Video Game. Unconfirmed. :) I tend to agree though... with that opinion. I like video games too, but it's definitely a light on player crunchiness mode of roleplaying, which suits the method actor gamer types because their tactical senses are abstracted away into various quick and easy card-based recipes for success.

          I personally am a git'ard crunchy grognard favoring gamer. 4e is good fo

          • by halivar (535827)

            4E was not a video game, or even remotely like one. The interrupt and reaction stack cannot be modeled in a modern CRPG.

            No, 4E was a CCG. Dungeons & Dragons: The Gathering.

            • I think it was like an unholy merging of WOW and MtG-CCG-like-mechanics with D&D's setting and backstory.
          • which suits the method actor gamer types because their tactical senses are abstracted away into various quick and easy card-based recipes for success.

            Bingo!

        • I've been doing RPG for 38 years

          Great, because you've been playing that long I'm supposed to agree with you about Pathfinder and WoTC. Sorry, I don't. You don't have to agree with me either. Thats the beauty of slashdot. Also, if EGG approved of WoTC that is fine, thats him. Not me.

          I see WoTC/Hasbro as a corporate profit generating system, whereby a new and more lame version of what used to be D&D comes out every few years, more expensive with more books and supplements to have to go out and buy. Thats the reality as I see it

          • You seem to think that Pathfinder Society is Pathfinder. That's like saying the RPGA is D&D. Pathfinder as a system can be run any number of ways by any number of GMs, like many other RPGs. However, it may be that you've not met a Pathfinder GM that will run the game like a sandbox, which it sounds like you prefer.

            Now, given your other comments, Pathfinder has a similar feel to 3.5 and 4th so you probably wouldn't like it on those grounds.

      • Easy to play? I guess you guys don't use the initiative rules as written :p

      • FWIW, with the original three books and the third supplement, it was entirely possible to play a half-dragon priest with psionics. (There weren't rules for half-dragons, but a good group of players would make something up and go with it.)

    • by shaitand (626655)
      Pathfinder is a lot more D&D than anything else on the market right now. That other crap just got the trademark.

  • Naturally Gary was heavily engrossed with play testing and had a hardcore group of gamers. Unfortunately over time the group developed tension and animosity. Specifically, the relationship between Gary and the game referee became very difficult...

    The Demented Mofo that sat all day in his mom's basement and thought up new ways to kill Gygax's character. This is because Gary had really good rolls throughout his game-play that foiled the DM's plans and made his encounters look too easy.
    Even when it came to
  • by Anonymous Coward

    His perspective appeared in _The_Familiar_, a very small RPG magazine published in North Carolina (only lasted 4 issues).

  • The article says:

    "This raised his total holdings to 1,371 shares, which fell just slightly below half (49.6%) of outstanding TSR shares, then numbering 2,761. But the 40 shares owned by Gygax’s son Ernie, when combined with his father’s holdings, secured controlling interest (51.1%) in TSR.

    Then there is a bit about the Blume family wanting to sell their shares, Gygax not biting, and Williams et al. purchasing them instead. This suddenly gives them a greater controlling interest in the corporatio

    • by leonem (700464) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:47AM (#47556773) Homepage

      The Blume family also exercised options -- which means creating new shares at a price agreed previously.

      They needed money to do this, and conveniently Williams' downpayment for their other shares was exactly the same amount.

      This is pretty standard: a company will often reserve X amount of notional 'shares' to be issued as options, and the existing investors are aware that their own holding will be diluted when these options are exercised. Until the options are exercised, however, they do not actually exist as shares. *

      * There are various caveats on all of this, as shares may be held in treasury by the company, converted from one type to another and various other things in order to avoid tax / split control differently to the profits.

      • The Blume family also exercised options -- which means creating new shares at a price agreed previously.

        Not necessarily. The options may have been in the form of warrants [wikipedia.org] which allowed them to purchase existing treasury stock [wikipedia.org]. When a warrant is issued new stock is issued at the same time.

    • by halivar (535827)

      From my understanding, they had an option to purchase more shares (if this works like ESO's), and they exercised those options to purchase shares and then sell them to Lorraine Williams, giving her controlling interest.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Blumes exercised their options to buy more shares, which reduced Gygax's interest below 50%. They then sold all of their shares to Williams, who now controlled the company.

      The key issue is that the company was in a downward spiral at that point in time, losing money and having just laid off a huge percentage of their employees. Boardroom politicking like that often happens when a company is in that sort of situation. The knives all come out when the company has trouble finding the cash that it needs

      • if Gygax had kept his eye on the ball better as far as the company went.

        If memory serves me correctly, part of how things ended up in this state for TSR was because EGG was busy in Hollywood trying to get a D&D film made during 1985, and he actually took his eye off the ball while TSR was bleeding money. His heart was in the right place but he wasn't a smart businessman it appears. Also his ego was probably in the way of any clear thinking regarding business decisions.

        The Blumes probably just wanted TSR to get back on track and saw EGG as a roadblock to that. Then the

    • But if Gygax already controlled 51.1%, it doesn't matter how many shares they buy; unless Gygax sold some of his own, they should never have more than 48.9% and thus never have been in a position to oust him.

      What you are overlooking is treasury stock and stock warrants. Treasury stock is stock owned by the company itself (often through buybacks) and most companies have some. I'm guessing the options held by the Blume family were in the form of warrants to buy treasury stock (or something very similar). A warrant is a form of an option. When a stock warrant is issued shares for that warrant are created but held by the company until the option is exercised. This means that the shares already existed and were

  • by imikem (767509) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @08:49AM (#47556781) Homepage

    Gygax, and TSR in general, got what they deserved in my opinion, following their "acquisition" of board wargame publisher SPI. Screwed thousands of longtime gamers such as myself (I played both RPGs and wargames extensively), who then like myself voted against them with our wallets, never spending another dime on that company. What goes around, comes around.

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @09:46AM (#47557401) Homepage Journal

      TSR loaned SPI money. SPI defaulted n the loan. TSR got SPI.

      SPI would have died completely had they not gotten the loan in the first place. TSR was the only group that would lend them money to even try.
      TSR could have refused to give them the loan, and then just bought all there stuff during bankruptcy. They would have gotten it cheap because no one else wanted it.
      Yeah, you're not the only old person here.

      • by imikem (767509)

        Granted on the (very large) technicality. However, TSR sent me a letter afterward basically saying, "Haha, sucks to be you. We got the company, but we are going to do nothing at all for the S&T magazine subscribers, despite continuing to publish it. You want it, pay up again."

        Well, gee, thanks but, go to hell TSR.

  • Company is make money, so some genius gets control and decide they can make more money by changing all the things their customers enjoyed.

  • Ubiquitous, how did Gygax steal D&D from Dave Arneson by putting an A in the name? Calling Gygax the creator of D&D is like calling Stalin the creator of communism.

  • TLDR Version (Score:4, Informative)

    by wienerschnizzel (1409447) on Tuesday July 29, 2014 @09:54AM (#47557493)

    TSR, a small company dealing in the fringe hobby of "war gaming" got hugely popular at the beginning of 1980's thanks to an unexpected publicity from a hoax that got propagated by the national media.

    The company owners and executives, Gygax and the Bloom brothers were no skilled businessmen and they projected this sudden jump in the company's revenue into the next years, expecting it to grow tenfold in a year. They went on a hiring and acquisition spree accordingly.

    As the miraculous growth didn't come, TSR ran into financial problems, running on a $750k deficit by the mid 80's

    The Bloom brothers tried to get a big outside investment to get the company out of the red numbers but Gygax opposed - he didn't want non-gamers to control the company. To this effect he executed an ancient option he got when the company was formed, gained a (very narrow) majority of the company's shares and thus the power to strip the Bloom brothers of their executive positions and void the investment by the outsiders.

    In response the Blooms wanted to execute the option of selling all their shares back to the company for a large (but not outlandish) sum of some $500K but TSR could not afford it.

    Half a year later the Blooms executed the same option Gygax did before to gain a slight majority in the company and sold all of their shares to Lorraine Williams for a third of the price per share, making her the largest and a majority shareholder.

    One day later Gygax was stripped of all his executive positions in the company

    He fought the decision in court, but really had no case and eventually sold off his shares in order to finance his new business.

    How Gygax lost his copyright to D&D and Grayhawk the article does not say

    All in all a really boring story

Chemist who falls in acid is absorbed in work.

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