After reminding everyone that it's been nine months since Gary died, Mrs Gygax adds that "I want you all to know, Gary and I discussed his wishes for his works prior to his passing and I am following the road map he left for me. Many of you are unaware how close we were, I was devoted to him." This is intriguing. Firstly, I think it's good to see Mrs Gygax laying claim to this message. Whether or not she actually wrote it, the fact remains that, by speaking directly to the point that what is happening is happening because her husband wanted it to be so, she helps to dispel rumors that she has no idea what is going on and is being manipulated by others. Gail Gygax is now a known quantity rather than some abstraction in the background. Secondly, her mention of a "road map" implies that she's acting on the wishes of Gary himself and it's vital she get people to believe this.
Now, I personally have no difficulty at all in believing that Gary, in the months leading up to his death last March, got all his affairs in order and discussed with his wife what he wanted to be done with his various properties and projects. I recall Gary's frequent allusions to his eventual demise on various message boards as early as the summer of 2007, if not before. I think it highly likely that he did in fact produce some kind of a "road map" for his wife to follow. What is unclear and probably always will be is the actual content of this road map and the extent to which Mrs Gygax is following what is laid out in it. By that I mean that I can believe Gary might have laid out what he wanted to see done with the Castle Zagyg project after his death, but I'm not certain that he specified, for example, that the license be revoked from Troll Lords and given to someone else. I'm not saying it's impossible (and I'll expand my thoughts on this shortly), but I'd like to see more evidence.
Mrs Gygax further explains her role: "To that end, after Gary passed, I asked Spencer Wright and Jon Creffield to help me. They have given freely of their time, we should all thank them. I am grateful for their help. They are not advising me what to do, but helping to maintain the integrity of the IP and continue its development." I've italicized the key bit there. Again, Mrs Gygax says the buck stops with her and, by implication, that it stops with the road map that Gary laid out before his death. She then concludes with these words:
Gary would want us all to be kind to each other during this time of transition and especially kind to each other during this holiday season. After all, that’s what his life was all about – creating environments for the enjoyment of others –That conclusion rings very true. I didn't know Gary Gygax personally -- we were, at best, infrequent email correspondents -- but I like to think I understood him. In recent years, he was a much more pacific and less cantankerous personality. He remained strong-willed, even opinionated, on many topics, but he was also much more giving and indeed forgiving than popular caricatures would have us believe. He had a keen sense of his role in the hobby and he was genuinely -- and regularly -- touched by the outpouring of affections he engendered. Consequently, toward the end, he seemed to me to be very interested in fostering fun and enjoyment and ensuring that it was those things that were his legacies.What is now very clear to me is that Mrs Gygax has decided to step out from the shadows a bit and boldly state that what is happening now is happening in accordance to a plan she is following, a plan laid down by Gary before his death. I think it was important that she do this, but stating it does come with some risks, not least being the likelihood that many might not believe her. After all, while he was alive, Gary spoke highly of Troll Lords and, so far as anyone knows, never considered pulling the Castle Zagyg license out from under them, despite all the delays and missteps that were undoubtedly their fault and not his own. As I'll explain in my upcoming review of Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works, late as it was, the product shows many signs of having been rushed and less well produced than it ought to have been and surely Gary knew this would be the case. Yet, he continued to work with the Trolls without any public hint of displeasure or unhappiness. So why would Mrs Gygax now revoke the license when Gary never did so during his lifetime?
I plan to continue his mission.
I have no answer to that question. I suppose it's possible that Gary was simply unwilling to pull the trigger on such a move because of his personal affection for the Trolls. On the other hand, why set up his wife to look like the bad guy after his death? Whatever else he was, Gary was no coward and I find it hard to imagine he'd planned to go to the grave without voicing his dissatisfaction like that. This is the part of the whole affair that still rankles me, not because I think it impossible that someone else might do a better job with Castle Zagyg -- depending on what approach is taken, it's quite possible, in my opinion -- but because it seems somehow "un-Gygaxian." As I say, I didn't know the man personally, so I could be wrong; I hope, though, that, if he had genuine problems with the Trolls, he'd have made them plain while still alive. Indeed, it's also possible that he did and it was because of this that he instructed his wife to pursue other avenues for the project after his death.
We may never know the truth, but there's now more evidence to sift through that might get us closer to it. I'll be paying careful attention to what happens next and will have some additional thoughts relating to this when I complete my own review of The Upper Works.