Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Waiting

Nearly two and a half years after the death of RPG founding father Gary Gygax, Gygax Games is still promising us "something good in the works." At this stage, I'll be amazed if we ever see anything out of Gygax Games, but then, as the years drag on, I find myself caring less and less. Once upon a time, I, like a lot of Gygax fans, would have lapped up almost anything the company might have produced, but, speaking only for myself, I think the window of opportunity for that has passed.

Interested though I am in the early days of the hobby, I no longer feel as if I need Gary's "lost works" in order to understand the past. I'd certainly be interested in them if they ever managed to surface, but will they? Indeed, are there even any lost works to surface at all? The mounting evidence is that there isn't in fact a huge store of, for example, unpublished old Greyhawk campaign materials lying around. Even the levels of Castle Greyhawk used in the Lake Geneva campaign seem likely to be less substantial than many of us assumed all these years.

And I'm OK with that. We don't need anything more from Gary than he's already given us. Truth be told, I doubt that, even if there were a storehouse of Gygaxian maps, background information, adventures, and other such stuff, it could make more of a difference to the hobby than those three little brown books he wrote with Dave Arneson more than 35 years ago. Everything after 1974 is gravy as far as I'm concerned -- and that includes anything Gary might have written but not released in the years after his departure from TSR.

68 comments:

  1. I sort of understand where you're coming from with this - although I also sort of disagree. I think the problem with every Gygax publication is that, fundamentally, he always edited for publication rather than putting out the real source material for the game, creating a false impression that Gygaxian D&D was all about the stuff he wrote for tournament modules. Something in print that broke with that assumption, that gave us a bit more of Gary the hobbyist and not Gary the publisher, would be valuable. But we've come around to being hobbyists instead of consumers by the roundabout path, and that works too.

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  2. If the idea was to build up anticipation by waiting, I link they've waited too long at this point. It's a shame too. Nostalgia is a great thing and very marketable, assuming the market is still there.

    I have my doubts that anything Gygax Games puts out at this point or later will be all that marketable.

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  3. Something in print that broke with that assumption, that gave us a bit more of Gary the hobbyist and not Gary the publisher, would be valuable.

    I'd certainly be interested in such a thing, although I'm increasingly skeptical that such a thing even exists, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.

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  4. Have any of you guys read through any of the books that Gygax wrote for Troll Lords, like Living Fantasy, etc.? They're technically for the d20 system, but I don't think there are really many mechanics in them.

    I only have Living Fantasy but lately I've been kind of interested in picking up some of the other volumes, just to get a more clear sense of the Gygaxian way of building a fantasy world. However, they're out-of-print, as far as I can tell, and seem to command very high prices on the secondary market.

    Are they worth it?

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  5. Martin,

    The Troll Lords "Gygax" books are a mixed bag, most of which were in fact written by people other than Gary (though under his direction, I think). I don't own any of them myself but I have read or skimmed most of them and I don't find them anything special, but tastes vary.

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  6. Living Fantasy is the best book of the bunch, as that is a pure EGG manuscript--expanded notes that were originally intended for either Lejendary Adventure supplements or magazine articles.

    Canting Crew was the only other one that was not primarily done with a co-writer. Of the ones with co-writers or lead developers, World Builders Guide and Book of Names are probably the best utility ones.

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  7. Actually, I was dreaming last night of writing a short public letter in this regard. This is inspired by Allan Grohe pointing out this photo to me yesterday:

    http://www.philotomy.com/images/GenCon07_GygaxGame_dungeon.jpg

    JUST PHOTOCOPY THE CONTENTS OF THIS BINDER AND WE WILL PAY GOOD MONEY FOR THEM. SERIOUSLY.

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  8. James, I'm talking more like what Delta notes above - raw, unedited Gygax. The final result would likely be rough but worth a thousand books where all the magic of the original is polished out of them.

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  9. I think people are overestimating things...

    Txx Lxxxxx Ixxxxxx (XXXXX) Dxxxxxx Mxx #25, 15xx Lxxxx (5 xxxxx xx xxx xxxx) —xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxx Ixxxxxxx Wxx, xxxx xxx xxxxxx xx xxxxx 14 xxx xxx xx xxxxx 16.

    Mxx Txxxx: Txxx xxxxx xx x xxxxx xxxxxx xx xxx Exxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx, xxx Dxxx, xxxx xx xxx xxxxxx xx x xxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx xx Sxxxx. Ix xx xxxxxxxxxxx xx x xxxxxxx, xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxxxxxxx, xxxxxxx xxxxx xx xxxxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxx xxxxx xx xxxx xxx xxxx xxxx. Mxxx xx xxx xxxxx xx x xxxxxx, xxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx xxxx. Wxxxx xxxx xxx xxxxxxx xxxxx, xxxxxxx xxxx 10’ xxxxx xxxxxxx. Txxxx xxxxxxx xx xx x xxx xxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx xxx xxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxxx 30 xxxx xxxxxxxx xx xxxxxx.

    That's a castle level right there from some old correspondence. (Well, sufficiently obfuscated so I don't violate any agreements). Granted, this was from 2006 before Jeff started work, but my guess is this would reflect the state of his notes.

    That's why I think the quest for the "original unadulterated" notes is folly. It wasn't that which most of us fell in love with, it was the finished product. Raw unedited Gygax--at least IMO--is more like a block of wood instead of the master craftsman's furniture or eating raw ingredients instead of a Chef's specialty dish. I really can't see anybody but a few real die-hard fans paying that money, and it might not be worth the publishing process.

    I think some people are looking for a "hidden truth" or some "what might have beens". If Gary had lived longer, done this earlier, etc., things might have gone that way.

    I think it more likely if GG releases anything it will be unpublished finished stuff for Lejendary Adventures, as that is in the best shape. Maybe a few other manuscripts. As a Gygax fan I want this shared with you. I just don't think the Castle Zagyg might be the project that's ideal to share.

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  10. Personally, I don't think I'm overestimating anything. I'm aware that the dungeon level in the picture I linked above (1) has most of the rooms empty and un-keyed, (2) has just 18 keyed notes on the left-hand page, and (3) each keyed note is one single line (e.g., "1-6 Goblins"). Yes, that's enormously more sparse than any classic published adventure.

    And STILL I would buy a photocopy of it. In fact, from a historical standpoint I think there's an argument that someone's possibly obligated to release this at some point (before it disappears for all time). Donate his rough notes to a museum or library at some point, or something. Don't let them just rot away or get lost.

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  11. Yeah. I and others been openly wanting the “work in progress” notes of Gary as practical DM for years. We know that this is going to look nothing like his published works, and that’s the point. We want to see what we haven’t. We want a better idea of how Gary actually ran the game.

    And not just so that we can slavishly follow it. We want to see that because you can always learn from the masters even though you end up following your own path.

    Well and just because we’ve read so much about it we want to actually see the real thing. Truth is we know generally what to expect at this point.

    There are two other things I’d like to see from GG.

    First, the compilation of “back in the day” stories. These were the fuel that fired my own “old school renaissance”. I don’t think anything gets me pumped about playing as much as stories from the Blackmoor and Greyhawk campaigns.

    I think it’s a real shame that we don’t see those kind of stories from others of the “founding fathers”. Where are the tales from Marc Miller’s Traveller or Steve Jackson’s GURPS home campaign?

    The other thing I’d like to see is a revamped Lejendary Adventures.

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  12. Dude- chill and be patient, the work of the great Gygax will eventually see the light of day and it will blow away anything you could come up with.
    No offense.

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  13. First, the compilation of “back in the day” stories. These were the fuel that fired my own “old school renaissance”. I don’t think anything gets me pumped about playing as much as stories from the Blackmoor and Greyhawk campaigns.

    The odds of our seeing this are slim now that Gary's gone. Who's going to tell these stories?

    I think it’s a real shame that we don’t see those kind of stories from others of the “founding fathers”. Where are the tales from Marc Miller’s Traveller or Steve Jackson’s GURPS home campaign?

    That's an interesting point and one with which I agree. Sadly, not many creators seem all that keen to share the stories of their home campaigns.

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  14. Dude- chill and be patient, the work of the great Gygax will eventually see the light of day and it will blow away anything you could come up with.

    I think if Gary taught us anything it's that nothing beats what you come up with yourself. So, while I'll certainly look carefully at anything Gygax Games eventually publishes, assuming they ever do, I'm beyond the point of waiting with bated breath for it.

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  15. “The odds of our seeing this are slim now that Gary's gone. Who's going to tell these stories?”

    They were already written. There were the ones written by Gary and Rob for Dragon during the 3e years. Those were going to be the basis for it. I had suggested including some others. Like the “City of the Gods” episode from Oerth Journal and the one reprinted in the Maure Castle issue of Dungeon. If they had or could get the rights to them.

    So, nothing we don’t “have”. (If you search hard enough.) It would have been nice to have them all together in one volume.

    After the issues between Gary and Rob over CZ, it looked like Rob’s wouldn’t be included. (I think someone asked Rob about his recently, but I don’t remember his response.)

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  16. I thought it was curious that GG let their website registration lapse recently. I see that it is back now with a promise of "something good in the works." I am dubious. But at the same time I'm eager to see what they produce.

    I agree with Delta. If they just scanned the contents of all the notebooks pertaining to Castle Greyhawk that would be enough. People would buy it. If printing it is too much trouble, sell PDFs.

    The bottom line is that Gary's materials are of historical significance. Their loss would be tragic.

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  17. I'm actually far more interested in Arneson's stuff than Gygax. We're inundated with Gygax's vision of what is D&D, and Arneson's vision gets very cursory treatment.

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  18. This might sound really weird, but from a "preservation" standpoint, perhaps some of these materials could be donated to a library like the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at UC Riverside.

    I haven't been to the Library, but I've heard good things, and they have a huge collection of pulp literature and magazines which were, as James has pointed out, of seminal important in the foundation of our hobby.

    That doesn't help the people who just want to see the notes to use as inspiration for their game-building, but I have a feeling that many of the notes that are left are probably more interesting from a "historical" standpoint than from a "it will help me with my game" standpoint. I could be wrong, though.

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  19. Hm. There was supposed to be a link in there. Well, here it is:

    http://eaton-collection.ucr.edu/

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  20. What Delta said.

    It would be the work of an afternoon to scan all of Gary's Castle Greyhawk stuff, convert it to PDF, and then put it on the internet for sale. Even if each PDF was only $10, that would still be a nice payday for Gail Gygax. After all, my CARCOSA has sold about 340 copies, and I can guarantee that Gary's dungeons would sell more than CARCOSA. Even if Gary's dungeons sold only 400 PDF copies, multiplied by $10 would get Gale Gygax $4,000, or about $3,700 once Paypal took their cut.

    Like myself, Gale Gygax is a real estate agent. That $3,700 is equivalent to a commission, in exchange for one afternoon's work. I honestly don't know why this isn't done before month's end. I know that if I could make thousands of dollars simply by scanning and converting for a few hours, I'd do that tonight before going to bed.

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  21. Like I said yesterday in the comments of my own blog, the fact that someone bothered to renew the site says something. Maybe not much because domain registration, etc isn't that expensive in itself. But, it is something.

    I feel like James does to a degree; the anticipation has mostly fled (sort of like the Sopranos when they kept delaying seasons, etc. You wait too long and the burning firs cool down. I click on the GG link just to see if anything does develop, probably with as much interest as checking the lottery numbers just to see what numbers came out even if I didn't play them.

    I am interested in reading and seeking out some of EGG's writings & works. It's one reason why I started doing my Gygax Legendarium posts. Mostly it is just to shed some light on what came before EGG's D&D and after. If nothing else, it makes for an interesting collector's list.

    I have hope that Gygax Games will do something. I don't expect it to be earth (or Oerth) shattering, but hopefully it will add to the legacy we've been given so far.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  22. "In order to satisfy some parts of the current fan base, I have negotiated a non-exclusive contract with a well known RPG publisher for the release of my original Castle Greyhawk levels; this will fulfill at least that prior commitment to the fans. A suitable press release is forthcoming regarding this."

    This was said by Rob Kuntz, 22 July. He posted this on his blog (Lord of the Green Dragons) on the day that he made it clear all this pigeonholing of him and his muse by the slavering hoards of OSR was really becoming just too much. He taking his muse away to where he won't be oppressed by people linking him to the past. I just checked, and there is no press release so far. This could take a while. The poor dear sounds traumatized. :p

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  23. Hey, never rub another man's Muse! :)

    It must be like an actor who's typecast; known for a really memorable role, and that is all people want from you. I am surprised sometimes that EGG, RJK, and others made time to still converse on old game topics and the like. After 30-40 years, who could say as much?

    Okay maybe William Shatner, but he's just so good at living off of his own stereotype anyway! :)

    Of course, we don't need anything more to enjoy our "old school" or even "new school" gaming. But it never hurts to have an appreciation for one's past. We have all come to enjoy our gaming lives in many ways, and we have these men and others to thank for it. So, as celebrity demands, we have a curiousity of the things we never got to know. But, there's always a hope at a chance to see that fleeting glimpse.

    In a world of fantasy-reality programming, I still prefer to choose real fantasy.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  24. "Sadly, not many creators seem all that keen to share the stories of their home campaigns."

    You guys need to get out more....to conventions! At NTRPG Con the last two years, Tim Kask, Rob Kuntz, Paul Jaquays, Dennis Sustare, Frank Mentzer and others were only too eager to speak (sometimes for hours) about their home campaigns and much more. A couple of my favorites: The 2009 con, Dennis and Paul (who used to work together and are old friends) sitting in the dining area of the La Quinta (with a handful of very interested listeners) talking of the old days for upwards of four hours. Topics ranged from favorite video games, favorite SF movies, working at Coleco, writing for Judges Guild, Dennis "inventing" the druid class, playing D&D in college, and tons of other subjects. Then, this year three of us sat up until 2 am one night (with a six am wake call for me, ugh) listening to Rob talking about playing D&D with Gary, working at TSR, and other interesting topics.

    A lot of these guys are still out there, but they won't be forever. Those complaining about not hearing the stories are losing opportunities each year to hear them in person at places like NTRPG Con, Gary Con, Gen Con, and other places.

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  25. The bottom line is that Gary's materials are of historical significance. Their loss would be tragic.

    I agree. My biggest worry is that the original materials might eventually be sold off to a collector, much in the way that other early gaming materials have been in the past. It'd be a shame if, for example, whatever survives of Gary's notes wind up in private hands never to be seen by anyone else and I can easily see such a turn of events.

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  26. I'm actually far more interested in Arneson's stuff than Gygax. We're inundated with Gygax's vision of what is D&D, and Arneson's vision gets very cursory treatment.

    Sadly, I fear there's probably even less of Dave's material to be found and published than there is of Gygax, but I'd love to be wrong.

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  27. This might sound really weird, but from a "preservation" standpoint, perhaps some of these materials could be donated to a library like the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at UC Riverside.

    That's not weird at all. I guess it depends on exactly what sorts of notes and other materials are actually to be had, of course. If they're extensive enough and go back some distance in time -- say to the 1970s or even early 80s -- I think they'd definitely be of great historical interest to many institutions.

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  28. I honestly don't know why this isn't done before month's end.

    A very good question. If I had to hazard a guess, I expect it's because there's hope for a bigger return on the effort than just a few thousand dollars, but that may be an unfair assumption.

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  29. It must be like an actor who's typecast; known for a really memorable role, and that is all people want from you. I am surprised sometimes that EGG, RJK, and others made time to still converse on old game topics and the like. After 30-40 years, who could say as much?

    Actually, I think it's more like an actor whose career consists of his playing a single role. The only reason anyone even knows him at all is because of that role. While I can certainly understand the frustration in this fact, having had one, good, memorable role in one's career is more than many actors get.

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  30. You guys need to get out more....to conventions!

    Hey, if someone wants to foot the boot to get me there, I'd love to go :) In the meantime, I content myself with the interviews I've been doing, since they have the benefit of being available to everyone who reads the blog, not just the few folks at a particular con lucky enough to spend many hours listening to the old guys tell their war stories.

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  31. @Geoffrey: Great observation.

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  32. “You guys need to get out more....to conventions!”

    Well, Mike, NTRPGCon is the first con that I’ve both been able to make it to and which I had such a blast at.

    Yeah. I kind of lump all those guys into the “D&D family” with Gygax on this topic. The farther you get away from D&D, though, the fewer the stories seem to become. Especially when it comes to the “bigger names”.

    Another thing is that Gary and Rob, et al. did more than just talk at cons and actually published a number of their stories. Gary and Tom Moldvay, e.g., specifically used such stories to help sell the game. It’s odd that so many other companies didn’t.

    I think SJ did actually include a little bit from an actual game in Melee, but not quite the kind of thing I look for. Dr. Kromm—who is more the GURPS guy than SJ these days—does actually post updates from his campaign, but I still wonder what SJ’s GURPS games were like.

    “A very good question. If I had to hazard a guess, I expect it's because there's hope for a bigger return on the effort than just a few thousand dollars, but that may be an unfair assumption.”

    If so, I think that’s probably a mistake. Such a project wouldn’t hurt sales of the more developed product as they are really different things. Plus, putting out anything is better than developing a reputation as a purveyor of vapor.

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  33. If so, I think that’s probably a mistake. Such a project wouldn’t hurt sales of the more developed product as they are really different things. Plus, putting out anything is better than developing a reputation as a purveyor of vapor.

    I agree and, as I said, this may be an unfair judgment on my part. I honestly have no idea what's holding things up, but there is a company out there calling itself "Gygax Games" and it issued press releases and canceled licensing deals and implied "big things" were in the works, so I think it's reasonable to wonder.

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  34. "If so, I think that’s probably a mistake."

    And it's been an ongoing mistake for what, 30 years now?

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  35. First of all, a few facts.

    1) "Something Good in the Works" refers to the memorial project.

    2) The domain was down due to Gail being out of town and not having access to e-mail.

    3) At this time she has no plans to publish, and will make announcements when she is ready.

    There's a few things people need to consider.

    First of all, nobody is considering the author's or the owner's feelings on the issue.

    Gary has stated to me (and other fans have confirmed it) that he'd rather destroy some of his old work then let it be shown. And I know he didn't want his unpublished material released for nostalgic purposes. Other authors take that stance--Harlan Ellison has stated all unpublished works need to be destroyed after his death. Should we not respect his wishes? And who better to know Gary's wishes--including likely contigency plans that he would only tell Gail. (And yes, I know there was a plan, but I also believe Gary either gave Gail contigency plans in case of something happening and/or gave Gail carte blanche power--if not a simple declaration in the Will would have taken care of this).

    Secondly, regarding Gail, as both the legal heir of Gary's property and the property owner (as she, not Gary, owned Trigee Enterprises), I think her feelings are being ignored. Out of everybody in the hobby and the industry, if anybody deserves to decide the fate of Gary's works, it is her. She made the most sacrifices and put in the most work to keep Gary working on his projects without having to compromise important principles.

    There's a little bit of an odd dichotomy from this armchair advice. I see people saying that the work will not get a lot of money if released into the market, and yet she'd make a ton of money if she quickly released raw notes. The way I see it is this is somebody private property, pure and simple. Nobody is obligated to do anything with it. The Gaming Community isn't "owed" anything--at best this comes across as armchair quarterbacking, at worst it comes across as a bit rude and selfish. Imagine if your spouse or parent died and your town's citizens were demanding that she give up her house for the good of the town--that's exactly what this feels like to me. I know I'd be skeptical if I had a valuable product and all the buyers came to me eager and said I should just give it up or sell it off on the cheap.

    I suspect most people are fearful not that the material won't be preseved, but that they will never see it. (If Gail decided to put Gary's binder in a time capsule that would be sealed in Lake Geneva for 100 years, so future generations could view it, but you'd never see it before you died, would you approve of that?). The publish immediately meme has never been the reality. In the grand scheme of things--Greyhawk Castle was created almost 40 years ago. Hints of publishing it came 30 years ago. Serious plans were made 7 years ago. Meantime, it took Gary 4 years to get from the last NIPI publication to Mythus, it look 4 years from Lejendary Adventure to go from a test beta to print, and some of Gary's manuscripts to anywhere from 3-8 years from completion to full products.

    So, all these delays to me, seem like a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme.

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  36. > Mike wrote:
    > You guys need to get out more....to conventions! At NTRPG Con the last two years, Tim Kask, Rob Kuntz, Paul Jaquays, Dennis Sustare, Frank Mentzer and others were only too eager to speak (sometimes for hours) about their home campaigns and much more. A couple of my favorites: The 2009 con, Dennis and Paul (who used to work together and are old friends) sitting in the dining area of the La Quinta (with a handful of very interested listeners) talking of the old days for upwards of four hours. Topics ranged from favorite video games, favorite SF movies, working at Coleco, writing for Judges Guild, Dennis "inventing" the druid class, playing D&D in college, and tons of other subjects. Then, this year three of us sat up until 2 am one night (with a six am wake call for me, ugh) listening to Rob talking about playing D&D with Gary, working at TSR, and other interesting topics.

    All of which was recorded on tape for posterity, right?

    > James wrote:
    > I agree. My biggest worry is that the original materials might eventually be sold off to a collector, much in the way that other early gaming materials have been in the past. It'd be a shame if, for example, whatever survives of Gary's notes wind up in private hands never to be seen by anyone else and I can easily see such a turn of events.

    If that's your biggest worry in general (and not just referring to EGG), James, I'm not following your logic: what's the difference between sitting in the original author's "vault" - quite possibly unused, unseen and unvalued - and sitting in a collector's "vault". I'd suggest from personal observation that the "historical material" is far more likely to be neglected or binned in the former case, especially after the death of the author.
    That there is no "museum of roleplaying" or even networking of relevant individuals and encouragement towards public accessibility is blatantly obvious but what have you ever done with your leverage in the OSR community to encourage that? (Getting anyone to think outside the EGG box is a challenge in its own right; even to get them to think of EGG as a player rather than a GM, as noted before...).

    > Martin wrote:
    > This might sound really weird, but from a "preservation" standpoint, perhaps some of these materials could be donated to a library like the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at UC Riverside.

    Preservation is just one part of the story, of course: drawing out the wider scope and contexts obviously has potential to benefit from input from those "inside" the hobby rather than archivists in a different field.

    JM-02c, anyhow. :)

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  37. Good points, as always, David.

    Allan.

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  38. I was over wanting "new Gygax stuff" after reading Dangerous Journeys.

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  39. @JRT: "Gary has stated to me (and other fans have confirmed it) that he'd rather destroy some of his old work then let it be shown... Should we not respect his wishes?"

    No. Not in this regard.

    "If Gail decided to put Gary's binder in a time capsule that would be sealed in Lake Geneva for 100 years, so future generations could view it, but you'd never see it before you died, would you approve of that?"

    Yes. Definitely, if that's the only way to ensure non-destruction.

    "Imagine if your spouse or parent died and your town's citizens were demanding that she give up her house..."

    This is classic IP rhetoric. Intellectual property is not the same kind of good as a house. If it is photocopied and distributed, the Gygax estate still owns it.


    Anyway, the thing that seems entirely beside the point to me is the chatter about "someday in some years some great thing will be published". (a) My level of skepticism after 30 years of this talk is as deep as the sea. (b) I actually don't care about any work co-authored or inspired by Gary (or, more generally, for anyone working in any IP other than the original creator him/herself). I didn't buy Castle Zagyg, and I will even more not-buy anything written after Gary's death. I think I'm not alone, so the business case for "someday somehow" looks more and more absurd over time. I have money in hand to exchange for all-Gygax authored materials -- even raw notes -- and not a penny for anything with his name attached posthumously.

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  40. No. Not in this regard.

    Why not? It's not your decision to make. A creator has the fundamental right to destroy his or her work as well as create it. Anything else to me comes across as "anti-IP rhetoric".

    Advocating anything else comes across as downright selfish to me. People have actually written to Gail demanding all Gary's materials be released to the public domain.

    For all we know, he might just want the binder to remain with the family.

    This is classic IP rhetoric. Intellectual property is not the same kind of good as a house. If it is photocopied and distributed, the Gygax estate still owns it.

    Ah, but here's the fundamental difference. When the work is unpublished, it is under additional protection. If, for instance, you stole the binder with the intent to publish, you would be guilty of theft of physical property, and more likely to go to jail, in addition to violated copyright (which also protects unpublished works).

    And that's the ultimate power to have--to not publish. To choose when it is the right time. It's not up to you or me.

    I have money in hand to exchange for all-Gygax authored materials -- even raw notes -- and not a penny for anything with his name attached posthumously.

    Well, then, I'm sure you'd appreciate getting his last unpublished Lejendary Adventures work, because unlike the "raw" CZ notes, its completed and has been since 1997, and it's probably in the best shape to be a commercial product. The average person would get a lot more fun out of that than you would from the castle.

    But I suspect most people have the post-script of being interested "if it's D&D or Greyhawk related".

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  41. JRT: "Gary has stated to me (and other fans have confirmed it) that he'd rather destroy some of his old work then let it be shown... Should we not respect his wishes?"

    Should Max Brod have destroyed Franz Kafka's manuscripts after his death as he requested from him?

    I personally think yes, out of personal integrity, but tell that to the literary establishment. And imagine a world without The Trial, The Transformation, Amerika, The Castle and more.

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  42. Melan, it's a good hypothetical question, to be sure. Believe it or not, I understand the other side. I disliked how long it took for Hall of Many Panes to get published, and I'm still frustrated that Gary's last sourcebook has been unpublished for over 13 years. While I know I've seen stuff most of you haven't, I strongly desire that stuff to be shared with an audience who is interested.

    But then again, things brings up whether or not games are "art". From Gary's own words, he did not consider gaming to be a "fine" or "high" art, and thought any analysis akin to that was pretentious--he always considered it a "low" art or a commercial craft. I happen to agree with that view. The game industry is much more commerce than art.

    And--much of what I see in game drafts is more tables and charts, sketch notes with the "stat shorthand", not the same as a half-finished novel or a rough draft of a short story. I really can't see a bunch of literary critics going over the notes to an unfinished game manuscript and giving it the same literary value as the unpublished works of Dickens or Lewis or Lovecraft. Gary's campaign was wonderful, but to the best of my knowledge he didn't spend a lot of his free time committing to paper non-commercial stuff. (Which is a major reason why we didn't see a lot of his Castle).

    The gaming community would likely get a little more satisfaction if Ed Greenwood, MAR Barker, or Greg Stafford's notes were placed in a museum, as from what I've read they spent a lot of time creating this stuff "just for fun".

    I think if people want to learn about Gary's creative process the Internet has a good archive of his personal correspondence, and other sources may come through. I don't see that coming from half-finished or outlines of actual games though.

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  43. JRT said...
    First of all, a few facts.


    1) "Something Good in the Works" refers to the memorial project.

    Okay, there is a seperate site for that. As this is common knowledge, one would think Gygax Games' site was intending something in addition to that. Simple error.

    2) The domain was down due to Gail being out of town and not having access to e-mail.
    Okay, not common knowledge. If we don't know, we can speculate, right?

    3) At this time she has no plans to publish, and will make announcements when she is ready.
    Again, not common knowledge. If the site even gave a say so of this, we wouldn't bother with speculating.

    There's a few things people need to consider.

    First of all, nobody is considering the author's or the owner's feelings on the issue.

    Not entirely true. Has everyone been bombarding the family with emails & letters etc? Is there a harassment brigade going on? If so, shame on it. But speculation such as is occurring in this blog doesn't qualify as such.

    Gary has stated to me (and other fans have confirmed it) that he'd rather destroy some of his old work then let it be shown. And I know he didn't want his unpublished material released for nostalgic purposes.
    Again, not entirely common knowledge. While you are up there on your soap box looking down, consider our feelings to. The man gave us something near and dear to our hearts. We are a little passionate about it, okay? Of course, there is the family to consider. If they came out and said all materials were to be put in a time-capsule, loaded in a shuttle and shot into space, sealed in concrete, thrown into the fires of Mount Doom, then so be it.

    Then there would be abit of honest closure. Apart of Gygax's legacy would have left this plane of existence with his spirit. Kind of appropriate actually.

    We're also human. We like to cling to things. Sorry if that offends some, but such is a price of the celebrity the man & his family enjoyed. So, don't get all defensive when the entire facts are not known to everyone. YOU may know, but don't beat on others because they are ignorant of what "Gary told you".

    I honestly do wish Gygax's family well and will respect whatever they decide to do.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  44. GW,

    While I admit I can come across as condescending at times, I think that in part comes from constant repeating of things. I have said it elsewhere on places like ENWorld, but then again the fan base doesn't gather in one place. And people do blur, while some people are polite and civil, others make statements like "Gail is Lorraine Williams 2.0". This has been going on since October, 2008. And also no matter what I say, people will still be skeptical. Maybe with justification.

    (At the end of the day, I don't know either Gary's Will or Publishing Plans, nor Gail's current plans--I simply have faith that Gail knows best based on their 25 year marriage and her being the co-owner and heir).

    It also comes from seeing how passions can turn dark and ugly at times. I think the true measure of virtue is not how we treat people when they give us what we want, but how we treat people when we are denied that. And I guess that brings out a combination of grief, bitterness and anger in me. So I apologize if it seems like I am soapboxing a lot.

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  45. If, for instance, you stole the binder with the intent to publish, you would be guilty of theft of physical property...

    Like... if we got a party together, kicked in their door and took their stuff?

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  46. Gary has stated to me (and other fans have confirmed it) that he'd rather destroy some of his old work then let it be shown.

    I can understand and even respect that to a certain extent. So, is that what has happened? Has any of Gary's old work been destroyed and, if not, why not?

    I suspect most people are fearful not that the material won't be preseved, but that they will never see it. (If Gail decided to put Gary's binder in a time capsule that would be sealed in Lake Geneva for 100 years, so future generations could view it, but you'd never see it before you died, would you approve of that?).

    That's a plan that would make me very happy, actually. As I see it, Gary's notes and works have historical value. They may also have commercial value, which is what's complicating this situation and why, I suspect, nothing has yet been done.

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  48. To the best of my personal knowledge, nothing has been deliberately destroyed, although only Gail knows 100%. (There's the case of old TSR manuscripts accidentally lost, as well as disks that did not recover).

    I should however, clarify, that in the contexts I've heard, he said I would rather destroy X than have Y happen to it.

    I remember once suggesting that he find his Savant and Mystic notes and adapt them for a d20 supplement, and he brought up a variation of that statement.

    Which is not, say, the Harlan Ellision command I referenced.

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  49. but what have you ever done with your leverage in the OSR community to encourage that?

    Oh, right, I forgot that I can just issue a bull and the crowned heads of Christendom will snap to attention to do my bidding, lest I place their realms under interdict.

    Seriously, what kind of "leverage" do I have that could possibly achieve this end? A great many of the people associated with the early days of the hobby have actively (and foolishly, if you want my opinion) distanced themselves from the old school renaissance. Some, like Rob Kuntz, seem to want to distance themselves from the old days entirely.

    Given that, what is it exactly that you think I could be doing that I haven't?

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  50. But I suspect most people have the post-script of being interested "if it's D&D or Greyhawk related".

    This is almost certainly true and I don't think anyone should feel bad about it. It was D&D that earned Gary his lasting fame. It was D&D that earned him the respect and adoration of his fans. And I daresay it was D&D that made it possible for Gary to publish other games at all. I don't think anyone should be ashamed of being primarily, or even solely, interested in Gary's D&D-related materials.

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  51. The gaming community would likely get a little more satisfaction if Ed Greenwood, MAR Barker, or Greg Stafford's notes were placed in a museum, as from what I've read they spent a lot of time creating this stuff "just for fun".

    That may well be, but, speaking for myself, the frustration comes from the fact that we have a business entity, Gygax Games, that, in the wake of its namesake's death, seemed to imply that it would be working toward the publication of materials written by him. And, given that Gygax Games ended its license with Troll Lords for Castle Zagyg, I don't think anyone can be blamed for assuming that, among the materials Gygax Games would publishing, some version of the long-promised Castle Greyhawk would be among them.

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  52. To the best of my personal knowledge, nothing has been deliberately destroyed, although only Gail knows 100%. (There's the case of old TSR manuscripts accidentally lost, as well as disks that did not recover).

    I should however, clarify, that in the contexts I've heard, he said I would rather destroy X than have Y happen to it.


    Thanks for the clarification, though, without the specific context, it's hard to know what to make of it. I have increasingly gotten the sense, though, that Gary's feelings toward his own creations weren't all that similar to my feelings toward mine. They weren't simply creative expressions he felt compelled to produce and that may explain why he was always so reticent to share them with others.

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  53. @Robert Fisher
    "First, the compilation of “back in the day” stories. These were the fuel that fired my own “old school renaissance”. I don’t think anything gets me pumped about playing as much as stories from the Blackmoor and Greyhawk campaigns."

    Robert, recently I purchased back-issues of Troll Lord Games "The Crusader" magazine. I mainly purchased them because Gary wrote a regular column titled "How It All Happened". If you love hearing about how the hobby took shape - especially from the founders mouth - then check it out.

    - James, kudos to you on a great blog site! Unfortunately the old layout/theme was friendlier to my phone. ;)

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  54. > James wrote:
    > Oh, right, I forgot that I can just issue a bull and the crowned heads of Christendom will snap to attention to do my bidding, lest I place their realms under interdict.

    A simple "not interested" would've sufficed but a sardonic response is better than silence, thank you. :)
    I'd rather not have to use pointy sticks, too, but those are required sometimes.

    > Seriously, what kind of "leverage" do I have that could possibly achieve this end? A great many of the people associated with the early days of the hobby have actively (and foolishly, if you want my opinion) distanced themselves from the old school renaissance. Some, like Rob Kuntz, seem to want to distance themselves from the old days entirely.

    To quote; "Then, this year three of us sat up until 2 am one night (with a six am wake call for me, ugh) listening to Rob talking about playing D&D with Gary, working at TSR, and other interesting topics." -- in this /same thread/, above.
    *
    That Rob does not wish to spend the next twenty years feeling obligated to rework and publish old material is simply NOT the same as saying that he's "[distanced himself] from the old days entirely", that he somehow doesn't care about those any more or whether the history/bigger story is carelessly written by those who weren't there and/or are out to make a name for themselves. Easy enough to ask him for clarification...

    As to "leverage"; well I guess pretty much everyone will continue to say/do nothing or, if they do, that they'll say they're not personally in a position to continually call for and encourage the preservation and study of the origins of the hobby, and leave it up to someone else. It should be fairly obvious how well that approach has worked in the past decade or so.
    *
    In material terms, a few hundred thousand dollars would go a long way or, failing that, actually trying to get those reviled "bank vault" collectors on-side to help work towards the bigger picture rather than alienating them continually... all of which would be rather more encouragement for the likes of the Gygax family to buy into any such plans for overarching preservation, research, study, public access and further general building/outreach of the hobby than anything anyone can put on the table at present, no?

    > Given that, what is it exactly that you think I could be doing that I haven't?

    Any thoughts, now?

    Thanks for reading, James: you're far from powerless in anything relating to such matters, although you can choose to be so if you wish.

    > JRT wrote:
    The gaming community would likely get a little more satisfaction if Ed Greenwood, MAR Barker, or Greg Stafford's notes were placed in a museum, as from what I've read they spent a lot of time creating this stuff "just for fun".

    Barker's already reasonably well taken care of, thankfully; not least because of the sheer bulk of material.
    Others such as Bledsaw and Owen have had virtually zero community interest it seems, which I find rather strange given that JG had huge input into "D&D as it was played" back in the day, especially before TSR got their act together on the publications side. (Heck, even a long run of early A&Es or TWHs says more about the hobby amongst the masses than a stack of Dragons, IMHO, since we're not just talking about "unique" items).

    > JRT wrote:
    > I think the true measure of virtue is not how we treat people when they give us what we want, but how we treat people when we are denied that.

    Heh, heh... that's a good quote to find amidst many frustrations.

    Cheers,
    David.

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  55. Unfortunately the old layout/theme was friendlier to my phone. ;)

    I'm still toying with it, so I hope the final version I adopt will be better for readers who use mobile devices.

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  56. Oops, sorry, Moorhawk: bad timing on my longer-than-planned reply there.

    >> @Robert Fisher
    "First, the compilation of “back in the day” stories. These were the fuel that fired my own “old school renaissance”. I don’t think anything gets me pumped about playing as much as stories from the Blackmoor and Greyhawk campaigns."
    > Robert, recently I purchased back-issues of Troll Lord Games "The Crusader" magazine. I mainly purchased them because Gary wrote a regular column titled "How It All Happened". If you love hearing about how the hobby took shape - especially from the founders mouth - then check it out.

    Aside from EGG (whose thought processes and motivations we actually know /far/ better than those of virtually anyone else in the hobby), the likes of the "My Life and Role-Playing" series in the early DWs ( http://www.diffworlds.com/dw_01-12.htm ) were also good, continual encouragement to keep an eye on why I first took an interest in the hobby, rather than /primarily/ as a walking source of funds to keep companies in business. (Call that a never-ending OSR if you wish... :)

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  57. In material terms, a few hundred thousand dollars would go a long way or, failing that, actually trying to get those reviled "bank vault" collectors on-side to help work towards the bigger picture rather than alienating them continually... all of which would be rather more encouragement for the likes of the Gygax family to buy into any such plans for overarching preservation, research, study, public access and further general building/outreach of the hobby than anything anyone can put on the table at present, no?

    That sounds like a great plan, but getting people to cough up "a few hundred thousand dollars" isn't something I've got the skills to accomplish.

    Thanks for reading, James: you're far from powerless in anything relating to such matters, although you can choose to be so if you wish.

    My "power" is limited primarily to being a cheerleader, a role I happily pursue. The kind of project you're suggesting requires someone with genuine management skills that I simply do not have. I don't think recognizing my limitations is a matter of "choosing" to be powerless. In fact, I rather resent that implication.

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  58. To keep on leading cheerily in such a capacity is good work I'd've thought, and a darn sight better to encourage others to take an interest in working together to help conserve and bring out the historical context from those old/original sources rather than fall back into negative, divisive contemplation as above ("I agree. My biggest worry is that the original materials might eventually be sold off to a collector, much in the way that other early gaming materials have been in the past").

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  59. rather than fall back into negative, divisive contemplation as above

    If I have to refrain from expressing my genuine feelings to be an effective cheerleader, then I'll pass. I believe the collector mentality is damaging to many hobbies, not just this one and have no plans to cease saying so when I feel it's appropriate.

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  60. The mainstream museums and libraries had almost precisely zero interest in SF&F for decades: it was almost /exclusively/ the fans/collectors who kept the source material (published and mss.) together and wrote the histories.

    In what way do you think RPG/wargaming is any different?

    > If I have to refrain from expressing my genuine feelings to be an effective cheerleader, then I'll pass.

    I'm not asking you to refrain from anything, James, I'm simply observing that such comments of yours are generally negative and divisive without offering practical, positive solutions/approaches or encouraging those amongst others.

    If you read back, you asked /me/ "Given that, what is it exactly that you think I could be doing that I haven't?" and rather than appear to armtwist you I simply outlined one possible avenue of approach, to which I get "I don't think recognizing my limitations is a matter of "choosing" to be powerless. In fact, I rather resent that implication" thrown back at me.
    *
    I deliberately only used the word "encourage" in the first place...

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  61. I think irbyz is correct that private collectors have probably done more to preserve the various hobbies than you'd think. A lot of mainstream universities would likely be resistant to something regarding popular culture.

    A lot of people with clout and money have tried to create museums for other hobbies that might be consider more artistic. I'm a comic book fan, and I know private collections have been donated to museums in the past.

    It's harder however, to maintain interest. Both Kevin Eastman (co-creator of TMNT) and Mort Walker (creator Beetle Bailey) both founded museums dedicated to comic art, and they ended up both folding as organizations and having to donate the collections elsewhere.

    One thing--and this is a slightly depressing thought mind you--is that as time goes on the minor stuff gets left behind. For all we know, the Romans might have beat Gary and Arneson by 2000 years, but that didn't survive the decades and centuries since. When I once mentioned the Beatles would always be remember, Gary brought up Al Jolson. It's humbling to think that time changes things. We think the existence of electronic media will preserve more things than the older days, but that stuff decays as well.

    In this case, I think Gail's goal of having a memorial to EGG would have the most longevity, as 250 years from now, people may not remember D&D or even the RPG, being replaced by Augmented or Virtual Reality games, but assuming civilization as we know it doesn't collapse, there will likely be the small memorial to EGG in the park.

    After all, it worked for Andy Gump. How many people remember him? (Or "it", as this is a fictional character).

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11771

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  63. > In this case, I think Gail's goal of having a memorial to EGG would have the most longevity, as 250 years from now, people may not remember D&D or even the RPG, being replaced by Augmented or Virtual Reality games, but assuming civilization as we know it doesn't collapse, there will likely be the small memorial to EGG in the park.

    ... not that far from the Tomb of Yarlan Zey, in a "few" years time? ;)
    Whilst the rest of us might even be able to help ensure their augmented VRRPGs don't only have cozy, railroady new-school plots, eh? :p

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  64. JRT said...
    It also comes from seeing how passions can turn dark and ugly at times. I think the true measure of virtue is not how we treat people when they give us what we want, but how we treat people when we are denied that. And I guess that brings out a combination of grief, bitterness and anger in me. So I apologize if it seems like I am soapboxing a lot.
    Thanks for saying so, I understand better where you're coming from. It can get pretty dark.

    It's too easy for many to become little Gollums sometimes. We wantsss the presciousssess. Squabble squabble. The Mount Doom scenario is starting to look pretty good. :)

    As for funding a Gygax Preservation, The Tomb of Honors as it were, is a great idea. As James says, it would take alot of dedicated effort, research into doing it right, etc. Sounds like a call to any and all persons interested to run the idea, respectfully, by the Gygax family. Has similar support been going well for the Memorial Statue? There's an indication of how successful it may be. No answers are necessary now, but it should be something for those serious and talented enough to consider doing.

    Until then, patience and support for the Gygax clan should be paramount. Time will tell.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  65. @JRT: "If, for instance, you stole the binder with the intent to publish, you would be guilty of theft of physical property..."

    It's possible that, in my old age, I know better than to respond to ridiculous bait like this.

    Look, after some due-diligence elsewhere, I can tell that your dug-in position will be, "Nothing Gail Gygax does can be wrong, even if I don't actually know what she's up to". My only hope is that she's not actually taking advice from you, because frankly, it's really bad. In fact, it's broadly reminiscent of the insularity, lack-of-focus, and overreach that lost Gygax control of TSR in the first place.

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  66. If you read back, you asked /me/ "Given that, what is it exactly that you think I could be doing that I haven't?" and rather than appear to armtwist you I simply outlined one possible avenue of approach, to which I get "I don't think recognizing my limitations is a matter of "choosing" to be powerless. In fact, I rather resent that implication" thrown back at me.

    Point taken. My apologies for that. I must admit to being very touchy about this topic, because, as so often happens, I seem to catch flak from both sides on issues like this, being told by one group that what I think doesn't matter and by another that I need to be careful what I say or how I say because I exert so much influence. It's frustrating and occasionally disheartening, because, at the end of the day, I'm just a guy who loves RPGs and likes to shoot his mouth off about them, nothing more.

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  67. One thing--and this is a slightly depressing thought mind you--is that as time goes on the minor stuff gets left behind. For all we know, the Romans might have beat Gary and Arneson by 2000 years, but that didn't survive the decades and centuries since. When I once mentioned the Beatles would always be remember, Gary brought up Al Jolson. It's humbling to think that time changes things. We think the existence of electronic media will preserve more things than the older days, but that stuff decays as well.

    Nothing is ever guaranteed to last, but that's not a justification for not trying. In all likelihood, anyone reading this blog and everything they ever do will be forgotten within a few years of their deaths. Yet, we all carry on nonetheless -- or at least I hope we do -- and try to make what small differences we can, without regard for whether we'll be remembered in 100 or 1000 years.

    The odds of Gary's being remembered in the future is assuredly much greater than any of us. So, from where I'm sitting, why not try to preserve their notes, writings, and other materials for posterity? I really don't see a downside, at least not one that makes sense to me.

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  68. Thanks for saying so, I understand better where you're coming from. It can get pretty dark.

    Yes. I think at times I've lashed out at the "old school fans" because, from my own perspective, the more casual fans seem to be nicer and more supportive than the die hards who can't get the material--which seems a little surreal to me. That's a character flaw I need to work on.

    I think a virtual archive is the best thing, because, really, at least from where I am standing the most accessible and analyzable stuff is Gary's decade of correspondence with the fan base. Thank Heaven's for the Internet, you wouldn't have gotten this from the TSR days.

    My only hope is that she's not actually taking advice from you, because frankly, it's really bad.

    No, she's not. :-)

    The big problem is there's a lot of things the fans can't know. Business issues, financial, personal, legal, etc. Those are the things we are not seeing, and there's more to it than just "what the fans want", or "what's good for the hobby". And really, only Gail's in a position to see the big picture.

    So, from where I'm sitting, why not try to preserve their notes, writings, and other materials for posterity?

    I agree. My musings were more aimed at the bigger picture--as I think gaming is a small thing in the big tapestry of Fate. I was also frowning on the suggestion that she just give away Gary's stuff gratis.

    I think this will be done, but seeing it happen is gonna just take time and we won't see it immediately.

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