Monday, June 14, 2021

Sage Advice by Theronius

I'm a big fan of "lost" or at least forgotten art from the early days of gaming. When I was poking through issue #6 of Strategic Review (February 1976), I came across the illustration.

According to the credits, this issue's illustrations are the work of John Seaton, whose name occurs once or twice in the pages of Dragon but about whom I can otherwise find no information. Fond as I am of wizards with pointed hats, this piece grabbed my attention, as did the fact that the inaugural installment of the venerable "Sage Advice" column was attributed to someone called "Theronius." 

I immediately began to wonder about the identity behind this pseudonym. A quick search online revealed at least one claim that Theronius was Gary Gygax, which I find plausible, though, if true, it's a rare example of his using a pen name (more knowledgeable people can correct me if I'm mistaken in this). Likewise, if it is Gygax, is there any evidence of this publicly available online? That's why I started to think that perhaps Theronius was a collective pseudonym for several TSR staffers and hangers-on, though, again, I have no way of knowing if there's any truth to my hunch.

Does anyone else have insights in this mystery?


  1. He did use "Garrison Urnst" when he wrote "Gnome Cache", but I'm struggling to think of another example.

  2. The most likely candidate for "Theronius" other than Gygax is Tim Kask, who used at least one pseudonym (Omar Kwalish) when writing for The Dragon. Upon looking at the column, though, I'd guess it is Gygax just because of the subject: errata for Greyhawk. Rob Kuntz is the only other likely source for such errata, so it could be him; both he and Gygax had other articles credited to them in this issue, which would be one reason to use a pseudonym.

  3. According to the index in Playing At The World, Terry Kuntz's full first name is Theron. He was working for TSR at the time, so seems the most likely candidate for the author.

  4. Most likely suspect for Theronius is Theron "Terry" Kuntz, Rob Kuntz's older brother who was an active member of the LGTSA and an employee of TSR at the time (I believe he ran the shipping department and was also the first manager of the Dungeon Hobby Shop).

  5. I think Shining Knight and Trent have nailed it. I even seem to recall that Terry was responsible for answering rules queries, at one point.