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Old 02-29-2016, 04:39 PM
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Default 29 February 2016 and GDW

I just remembered a somewhat melancholy fact about 29 Feb for this year - it was the 20th anniversary of Game Designers Workshop closing down.

Although statements from GDW staff members say that the closure was voluntary and resulted from the staff "burning out" after too many years of producing too many games, some of us feel they were being deliberately polite and politic in there public responses.
There's no doubt in many people's minds (me included) that the heavy handed actions of Lorraine Williams, who was then in charge of TSR, in her desire to stop Gary Gygax from making any competitor games to D&D*, battered GDW into financial difficulties to the point where they had little choice but to close up shop.


* At that time Gygax had been working for GDW producing his Dangerious Journeys fantasy RPG (originally planned to be named Dangerous Dimensions but given a name change due to the threat of lawsuits from TSR claiming that Dangerous Dimensions, i.e. DD, was too similar to D&D). Rumour has it that Williams wanted to prevent Gygax from making any more games and her pursuit of this lead some to speculate that she hounded & harassed GDW to the point where they simply didn't have enough money left to pay all the ensuing legal fees and hence, they closed down - TSR was left in financial troubles as well and the year after (1997) TSR, facing insolvency, was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. It would appear that Williams, in her desire to remove Gygax from the gaming industry so as to stop once source of competition, actually caused the closure of her own company (along with GDW).
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Old 03-01-2016, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StainlessSteelCynic View Post
I just remembered a somewhat melancholy fact about 29 Feb for this year - it was the 20th anniversary of Game Designers Workshop closing down.

Although statements from GDW staff members say that the closure was voluntary and resulted from the staff "burning out" after too many years of producing too many games, some of us feel they were being deliberately polite and politic in there public responses.
There's no doubt in many people's minds (me included) that the heavy handed actions of Lorraine Williams, who was then in charge of TSR, in her desire to stop Gary Gygax from making any competitor games to D&D*, battered GDW into financial difficulties to the point where they had little choice but to close up shop.


* At that time Gygax had been working for GDW producing his Dangerious Journeys fantasy RPG (originally planned to be named Dangerous Dimensions but given a name change due to the threat of lawsuits from TSR claiming that Dangerous Dimensions, i.e. DD, was too similar to D&D). Rumour has it that Williams wanted to prevent Gygax from making any more games and her pursuit of this lead some to speculate that she hounded & harassed GDW to the point where they simply didn't have enough money left to pay all the ensuing legal fees and hence, they closed down - TSR was left in financial troubles as well and the year after (1997) TSR, facing insolvency, was purchased by Wizards of the Coast. It would appear that Williams, in her desire to remove Gygax from the gaming industry so as to stop once source of competition, actually caused the closure of her own company (along with GDW).
I am glad I am not the only one who believes this...I wish GDW had passed on Gygax...they might still be around if they had.
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:57 PM
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Two good companies down the drain because of just one person.
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Old 03-01-2016, 11:41 PM
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Gary didn't kill GDW, GDW killed GDW. Dangerous Journeys would've been huge. Lorraine Williams' continued legal threats against Gary were "covered" by GDW. At the end of the day, he told her: if you're afraid of DJ beating out D&D, why don't you buy DJ from us and publish it, that way you'll have everything. Lorraine, being a megabitch, said no we'll see you in court.

TSR sued, TSR lost. That's right, they lost. GDW won. Part of TSR's settlement with GDW was to - Ta Da! - buy DJ. But rather than publishing it they buried it. Lorraine Williams shot TSR in the foot, calf, knee, thigh, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms and head.

I knew Gary and worked with him, and the idea that he is somehow responsible for GDW's failure is pretty silly. He liked GDW, and wanted them to succeed. Before TSR's interference there were plans for a whole CRPG series of DJ games. Remember, TSR tried to get Gary to sign a non-compete that said "I won't put my name on any RPG products." (Wizards of the Coast attorneys found it in TSR's documents - unsigned).
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Old 03-02-2016, 03:27 AM
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I don't think anybody here is implying that Gygax is responsible for the loss of GDW, certainly not me and as far as I read it, not Jason or Leg either.
What I am saying though, is that I believe Lorraine Williams is pretty much the one and only person responsible. Her single minded (almost obsessive and even spiteful) desire to get Gary out of gaming saw her display some very poor leadership and the results for both companies were, as we know, terminal.


Edit: While the discussion about Williams is interesting enough, my main motivation for starting this thread was the recognition that it has been two decades since GDW ceased operations.
Twenty... 20... years!
I was so looking forward to Armor 21, their RPG of war for resources in the 21st century and throughout that first decade after 1996 I scoured the gaming press and then the internet for info about it only to finally learn that no progress had been made on the product when the doors closed for the final time. And the same applied for any expansions to the Cadillacs & Dinosaurs RPG.
Twenty years folks, where has the time gone? At least we can still get some Twilight: and Merc: 2000 games going and even Cadillacs & Dinosaurs if you have the one and only book for it.
But Damn! I still want Armor 21 haha!

Last edited by StainlessSteelCynic; 03-02-2016 at 03:39 AM. Reason: adding some thoughts
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Old 03-02-2016, 03:48 AM
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Further to my nostalgia for Armor 21, here's a brief but enlightening blurb from an email sent to Wayne's Books about what GDW were thinking of.

Quote taken from here (the last entry for the page, right at the bottom) http://www.waynesbooks.com/2ndedaccessories.html
"Satellite-beamed power down to mobile converters that recharged light, mobile AFVs with active, electro-static armor and ETCs and/or rail guns as the top tier for national Army intervention/rapid-deployment forces, advanced "conventional" vehicles for second-tier and mercenaries, and lots of M1, Challenger II, Leclerc-class vehicles in the "Third World."

One of the wrinkles was going to turn the tables on environmentalism, that preserving rain forests and biodiversity was huge business for big pharmaeutical and bio-tech companies, and they would be defending them via merc armies against the usual Twilight/DarkCon marauders. So it was going to have a lot of Merc 2000/Dark Con "areas of chaos" zones.

Oh, and Frank wanted Africa to be depopulated by AIDS, but I suggested it might be a little more sensitive, and more SF if we went with all of the flesh-eating bacteria stuff that everyone loves so much.
And that way we wouldn't have to talk to kids about STDs, which would save us some arguments.

There would have been tri-hulls like the LCS 2 Independence in the navies. Tilt-rotor carriers to bring the mobile electrically-powered AFVs into battle, big solar-powered battle management and power-relay vehicles circling for weeks at umpteen thousand feet."
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Old 03-02-2016, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by StainlessSteelCynic View Post
I don't think anybody here is implying that Gygax is responsible for the loss of GDW, certainly not me and as far as I read it, not Jason or Leg either.
Exactly right. Everything points to Williams as the destroyer. A woman with little to no real interest in gaming besides the money it brought in, and with a direct, personal benefit from the ramping up of the Buck Rogers game. She knew anything Gary put his name on was going to be big competition to whatever pies her own fingers were in, so she did everything she could to get rid of him.

Or at least that's what the evidence seems to imply.
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Old 03-02-2016, 08:29 AM
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A few pieces I've read over the years claim that Williams believed gamers were inferior or that she believed she was superior to anyone who "played games".
One claim in particular was that she loathed gamers and didn't want any of them working for TSR. A counterpoint was made by one former TSR worker who was also a gamer, he claimed that as unpleasant as she was, it was also decisions such as borrowing money from Random House against future sales, the promotion of her own IPs and so on that really killed the company.
Regardless of the truth of that, she did set about trying to remove the old guard and pretty much dogged Gygax's every step to try and hound him out of the industry. Even Dave Arneson, the often forgotten co-created of D&D, felt her spite.

The following is from an interview with Dave Arneson by Ciro Allessandro Sacco of the now dead www.dungeons.it/ website.
The full transcript can be found here http://www.thekyngdoms.com/interviews/davearneson.php

Sacco: In 1986 TSR published the first module of the DA (David Arneson) series, Adventures in Blackmoor. This module introduced D&D fans to the past of the Known World (then Mystara) and especially to its pecular technomagical society in its very beginning. This series was surely the most unusual D&D line ever produced, with starships and laser swords. How was born this unusual idea?

Arneson: The published modules represented actual adventures and areas from my Blackmoor campaign. Because of the adventures that were chosen, there is a popular misconception that technology was a major part of my original campaign. It was not that way. Rather, technology was always there but generally in the background.

In 1986 Gary Gygax had taken over the leadership of TSR and approached me to do the series. The modules that were published were the first ones submitted. Yet, even these were heavily edited. Since within a few months Gary lost control of TSR, the series was terminated. Up until that time, the modules sold as well as any other TSR modules.


But the new president (Lorraine Dille Williams, the infamous "Dragon Lady" N.d.R.) did not want Gary or me involved with TSR in any way anymore. So, no more Blackmoor modules. By then I was out in California becoming quite involved in computer games and so I 'turned my back' on paper & pencil games for several years."

** Emphasis mine **
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