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rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ: 3/9 -- TSR

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7 - Part8 - Part9 )
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Archive-name: games/roleplay/dnd/part3
Posting-frequency: monthly
Last-modified: November 2004
URL: http://users.rcn.com/aardy/faq/rgfdfaq.html

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                           REC.GAMES.FRP.DND FAQ
                                  Part 3

                                 TSR/WOTC
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
* designates topics which have been updated.
+ designated topics which have been added.

* C1: What is the history of the D&D game?
  C2: What did "TSR" stand for?
* C3: What does "T$R" stand for?
  C4: What is WotC's e-mail address?
  C5: What is WotC's snail-mail address?
  C6: What is WotC really working on in the way of TV shows and movies?
  C7: What's the deal with WotC's copyright policy?
  C8: Did TSR really try to trademark the word "Nazi"?
* C9: Didn't TSR just "borrow" everything from J.R.R. Tolkien's works?
  C10: How can I submit my latest work of literary genius to WotC?
* C11: Where's Gary Gygax these days? 
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

C1:  What is the history of the D&D game?

A:  E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson were tabletop wargamers; that is, they 
    used lead miniatures to reconstruct historical battles or construct 
    their own battles.  Their favorite era to set their battles in was the 
    medieval period.
      Gygax, along with Jeff Perren, codified a set of rules for 
    conducting both individual and group combat.  Then, along with Brian 
    Blume, they published these rules through Guidon Games (which 
    consisted of Gygax, et al. and was run out of Gygax's basement) in 
    1969 under the name Chainmail.
      At some point, their battles received an injection of fantasy.
    Originally, the fantasy elements in Chainmail were limited to special
    military units for "wizards" and "heroes".  Eventually, however, the
    basic concept behind the existing idea of the play-by-mail military 
    campaign, where each player took the part of a ruler who sent out 
    armies as well as engaged in diplomacy & intrigue, was soon combined 
    with the game.  Soon, the "wizard" and "hero" were removed from the 
    battlefield and sent upon individual quests of mythic proportions, as 
    Gygax and Arneson discovered that playing a single character was just 
    as fun, if not more so, than playing an entire military unit or army.
      One of the first times this occurred was in 1970, when Dave Arneson
    (apparently before he knew about Gygax's fantasy supplement for
    Chainmail) created a scenario in which a group of adventurers had to
    sneak into a castle and open the gates from the inside, only to discover
    that many of the castle defenders were inhuman, fantastic monsters.  He
    brought his scenario to GenCon 4 (1971), and Gygax--who already had some
    individual adventuring guidelines of his own, mostly in the form of the
    brand-new fantasy supplement for Chainmail--was one of the people who
    played it.  Gygax and Arneson then pooled their efforts to create a game
    specifically intended for fantasy adventuring.
      From there, the concept of character advancement was added, via 
    "experience points and levels of proficiency" in combat and spell use, 
    as well as a few other refinements.  Thus individuals could grow in 
    character and power, instead of just being anonymous members of battle 
    units.
      This game was now far beyond wargaming, or even Chainmail.  The 
    group called it "The Fantasy Game," and proceeded to take it around to 
    all the game manufacturers, including Avalon Hill.  Every single 
    company turned the game down, usually because it seemed too 
    open-ended, without a way to "win".
      Not about to let mass rejection stop them, in 1973, Gygax and Don 
    Kaye, later joined by Blume and Arneson, formed their own company, 
    named Tactical Studies Rules (named after a local wargaming club, the 
    Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association) to market their "fantasy 
    wargame to be played with paper and pencil", which they renamed
    "Dungeons & Dragons" after a suggestion by Gary's wife, Mary.  The 
    game first appeared at the 1973 EasterCon, had a limited availability 
    throughout 1973, and the first print run of 1,000 copies was 
    officially released in January of 1974.  It sold out within the year.
      The game consisted of three booklets: Men and Magic, Monsters and 
    Treasure, and Wilderness & Dungeon Adventures.  It was also 
    recommended that owners get a copy of Chainmail as well as the Avalon 
    Hill game "Outdoor Survival."  There were three classes: Fighting Man, 
    Magic User, and Cleric.  The terms were intentionally vague--much 
    research was done to prevent putting anything into the game which 
    actually resembled real-world "magic" systems.  They eventually 
    decided to base the game's magic system on the fantasy writings of 
    Jack Vance; thus magic users must memorize spells daily and once cast, 
    the spells are erased from the magic user's mind and must be 
    rememorized.  There were also four different races: human, dwarf, 
    hobbit, and elf.  Subsequent complaints and legal threats from the 
    Tolkien estate caused "hobbit" to be changed to "halfling" later on.  
    Humans could be any class, and could attain any level of proficiency.
    Dwarves and hobbits were limited to being Fighting Men, and were 
    restricted in the levels they could reach.  Elves could alternate 
    between Fighting Man and Magic User, but could only switch classes at 
    the beginning of an adventure.  Finally, there were three alignments, 
    based on the fantasy writings of Michael Moorcock and Poul Anderson: 
    Law, Neutrality, and Chaos.  The original intentions of the game 
    equated "law" with "good" and "chaos" with "evil".
      At this point, both Gygax and Arneson were running their own 
    campaigns using the game.  When the game started getting somewhat 
    popular after the first year or so, they decided to publish some of 
    the details of their campaigns, along with some expansion rules for 
    the game.  This product was the original "Greyhawk".  It introduced 
    the Thief character class, and had notes on magic, monsters, and more.
    Then they published "Blackmoor", which introduced the Monk and 
    Assassin classes, and included the very first module: Temple of the 
    Frog.  Then came "Eldritch Wizardry", which introduced the Druid 
    class, as well as Psionics.  The last book of this series was "Gods, 
    Demigods, and Heroes", which listed several pantheons for use with the 
    game.  During this period, TSR also began publishing two magazines; 
    The Strategic Review (note the creative acronym) in spring of 1975, 
    and The Dragon (soon renamed to Dragon, and then to Dragon Magazine
    in the middle 1980's) in summer of 1976.
      In 1975, Arneson and Gygax split ways, and Don Kaye had a heart 
    attack; Kaye's wife decided, along Gygax and Blume, to break up the 
    company.  Gygax & Blume went on to create TSR Hobbies, Inc. later 
    that year.
      At this point, there were a lot of rules, spread throughout books, 
    supplements, and magazines.  In addition, Gygax had amassed a pile of 
    campaign notes and new rules which he wished to add to the game.  So 
    it was decided to create a new edition of the game.  However, instead 
    of calling it a second edition and discontinuing the first, TSR 
    produced the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set in 1977 as a simplified
    revision of the original rules (also called Basic Dungeons & Dragons
    or "the blue book"), and launched Advanced Dungeons & Dragons that
    same year with the release of the Monster Manual. The Monster Manual
    was followed in 1978 by Player's Handbook and in 1979 by the Dungeon
    Master's Guide.
      The original rules and Basic D&D left many rules up to the
    Dungeon Master, which meant gamers from different groups might use
    completely different rules for the same situation.  AD&D was
    originally intended to be a standardized system which included all
    of the new and updated rules in one location, and whenever feasible,
    included a rule for every possible situation, thus making it what
    they hoped would be the version of choice for tournaments, as
    everyone would then always follow the same set of rules.
      The "Advanced/Basic" idea was apparently done the way it was because 
    of money.  When Arneson and Gygax had split ways in 1975, Arneson, 
    under the terms of the original partnership, still held some royalty 
    rights to the D&D game, and Gygax went ahead with the new edition 
    without paying Arneson the additional royalties which possibly would 
    be due him.  Arneson took TSR to court in 1979, and the matter was 
    settled in 1981 when both parties signed a mutual agreement. 
      Advanced Dungeons & Dragons skyrocketed in popularity.  So much so 
    that TSR came out with sourcebook after sourcebook, and published most 
    of the now-classic modules, set in the World of Greyhawk.  
    The first issue of Polyhedron was published in 1981.  Then, in 1984, 
    TSR released the Dragonlance Saga.  This was followed in 1986 by 
    the first issue of Dungeon.  The very next year, Ed Greenwood's 
    campaigns first saw light as the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
      By the end of the 1980's, the game was enormous, with rules and 
    campaign information spread out further than it had been when AD&D was 
    first created.  After Lorraine Williams bought a majority share of the
    company, TSR (by this time, the word "Hobbies" had been dropped from
    the name) decided to once again create a new edition and roll a lot of
    the new rules into the core books, as well as revamp many of the
    existing core rules.  In this way, gamers would have all of the
    necessary rules in one place, and tournaments once again would not
    have to worry as much about gamers coming in with various backgrounds
    of house rules.  (And a company that was having some monetary problems
    would hopefully turn a tidy profit in the bargain.) Thus was AD&D, 2nd
    edition born in February 1989.
      However, just as it had previously, the game ballooned out with the
    release of various additional sourcebooks and several new campaign
    settings. Rather than create a third edition or try to reference rules
    spread throughout some twenty books, TSR revamped the look of the 2nd
    edition books in 1995 and came out with three sourcebooks designed to
    be "optional" changes to the system.  With these books full of optional
    rules, DMs could use rules written, playtested, and somewhat offically
    supported to more easily fix many perceived problems with the "core"
    system as found in the PH and DMG.  In so doing, TSR put off the need
    for a third edition of the game for several years.  (They also hoped
    that convincing gamers to buy the D&D core books again would bring
    sorely needed profits rolling in.)
      In 1997, after ceasing publication and considering the possibility
    of declaring bankruptcy, TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast,
    best-known for the collectible card game Magic: the Gathering.
    Shortly thereafter, the design of a third edition, bits of which had
    been rumbling around TSR's offices since before the second edition had
    reached store shelves, was transformed from an informal project worked
    on by a handful of designers into an offical design project of premier
    importance, which was released in August of 2000.  Since "Basic" D&D
    hasn't been actively supported in almost a decade, the word "Advanced"
    had little meaning and was dropped from the game's name at that time.
      In late 1999, Wizards of the Coast was bought by Hasbro, the second-
    largest game & toy manufacturer in the United States (after Mattel).
    Hasbro is possibly best known for owning both Parker Brothers and
    Milton Bradley, and thus Monopoly, Risk, and Scrabble are all Hasbro
    properties. Hasbro also bought Avalon Hill in the mid-1990s, which
    makes the purchase of Wizards of the Coast--and thus TSR and Dungeons &
    Dragons--mildly ironic, given that Avalon Hill turned down Gary Gygax
    when he was originally looking for a publisher for his little "Fantasy
    Game."  Under the buyout agreement, Hasbro supposedly would take a
    hands-off position for the first year, and after that, maintenance of
    that position would depend on how well Wizards of the Coast is doing.
    How separate from Hasbro's management Wizards of the Coast will be
    allowed to stay remains to be seen.

C2:  What did "TSR" stand for?

A:  No, it didn't stand for "They Sue Regularly."  As outlined above, it 
    originally stood for "Tactical Studies Rules."  When the company 
    incorporated, it changed its official name to "TSR Hobbies, Inc.," and 
    later to "TSR, Inc.," which wasn't short for anything--especially now
    that it has been completely absorbed into Wizards of the Coast and
    Wizards of the Coast, in turn, has been bought by Hasbro.  As of
    August 2000, the "TSR" logo and company name is no longer used on *D&D
    products.  (More than twenty-five years of habits die hard, however;
    with all the buyouts that occurred, some people took to using "TSR"
    to refer to "whatever company is currently publishing *D&D or has ever
    published *D&D.")

C3:  What does "T$R" stand for?

A:  For some, the dollar sign is a pretty good ASCII representation of 
    TSR's dragon logo.  For others, it is a way of referring to TSR 
    without using any of their trademarks. However, "T$R" is more commonly 
    used by disgruntled gamers to refer to the Great Undescribable 
    Bloodsucking Lawful Evil Force which possessed the *D&D game 
    market and created oppressive policies, ever-more-expensive and ever-
    lower-quality products, had no care for the common gamer, and any 
    other Truly Evil acts one can imagine which had the end result of 
    alienating customers and making money.  TSR, on the other hand, was a 
    company made up of a bunch of hard-working people who genuinely cared 
    about the game and what happens to it, in it, and how people feel 
    about it. They occasionally made mistakes, but generally did what 
    they thought was the best job they could.
      Please note that the employees working on the D&D product lines
    generally don't take kindly to being referred to as employees of
    "T$R."  At best they will ignore any post that features this
    epithet, which  means that it is not an effective way to get the
    attention of the company being railed against; at worst, they will
    be very offended by it and tell you so in no uncertain terms before
    ignoring whatever point you were trying to make. (The same goes for
    "Wizards of the Cost" or "Wot[cent].")
      In most cases, it is an outlet for people who are otherwise fed up
    with what they feel to be lack of respect for customers and the game
    itself and need a way to thumb their nose at "T$R, the unfeeling,
    uncaring megacorporation". Those people who feel the need to resort to
    what is essentially petty namecalling rather than try to conduct
    rational discourse about their grievances should find the newsgroup
    alt.flame.tsr interesting reading; request that your newsadmin add it
    if your site doesn't already get it.

C4:  What is WotC's e-mail address?

A:  WotC, and TSR before it, have been active on the Internet for some
    time now.  Several WotC staffers and ex-staffers lurk on the 'net.
    A couple are even regular or semi-regular posters in rgfd,
    alt.fan.dragonlance, and on the various RPG-related mailing lists.
      Here is a list of some addresses with which one may reach WotC.
    
      Corporate Accounts:
      custserv@wizards.com      WotC's Customer Services Dept.
      question@wizards.com      Games rules division of WotC's Customer 
                                  Services Dept.; any questions about 
                                  game rules for TSR's games
      scalemail@paizo.com       Direct line to Dragon magazine
      Dungeon@paizo.com         Direct line to Dungeon magazine
      sageadvice@paizo.com      Sage Advice submissions; he does not
                                  always send personal replies
      RPGAhq@wizards.com        Main RPGA address
      webmaster@wizards.com     WotC's Webmaster

      If you plan to send e-mail to WotC or WotC employees and would like
    to receive some sort of response, it's a good idea to refer to the 
    company name long-associated with the D&D game as TSR, not T$R.  You
    may be disgruntled with the company, but that's not a reason to rub it
    in the employees' noses--especially since the company that publishes
    D&D no longer uses the name "TSR".

C5:  What is WotC's snail-mail address?

A:  To send regular mail to someone at WotC, address it to:

      <person's name>
      <optional: person's position>
      Wizards of the Coast
      PO Box 707
      Renton, WA 98057-0707

    Or, for those in Europe:

      Wizards of the Coast
      PB 34
      2300 Turnhout
      Belgium

C6:  What is WotC really working on in the way of TV shows and movies?

A:  Current Productions:
      WotC has licensed Fireworks Television, a subsidiary of CanWest
    Entertainment, to develop a live-action television series based on
    the Forgotten Realms game setting and novels.  No target start date
    has been announced.  Fireworks has been involved in developing and/or
    distributing such TV shows as _Mutant X_ (for Fox & Marvel Comics) and
    _Gene Rodenberry's Andromeda_, as well as feature films such as
    _Rat Race_.

    Dead Productions:
      MCA/Universal, TSR, and Ground Zero Productions were at one point
    working on a live action + computer animation TV show basically set
    in the Spelljammer campaign setting and entitled "Wildspace."  This
    project is dead.  Some of the footage from the pilot may have been
    included in the Sci-Fi Channel's "Masters of Fantasy" episode about
    TSR; if so, it was approximately the same production quality as TSR's
    videotape-based Dungeons & Dragons board game.
      The Dragonlance movie, which was being animated by Nelvana, is no
    more.  The deal between TSR and Nelvana fell through, and all work on 
    the movie ceased.  For further information, read alt.fan.dragonlance
    or check out the alt.fan.dragonlance Dragonlance Movie Web page at
    <http://www.cinemagine-ltd.com/dlmovie/>.

C7:  What's the deal with WotC's copyright policy?

A:  The deal is that when TSR started to develop a real presence on the
    Internet, some of the things they found were scans of their books and
    artwork, many trademark violations, a number of additional copyright
    violations, and other such infringements of their intellectual 
    property.
      In August 1994, TSR announced a very restrictive policy regarding
    the use of TSR-copyrighted information, as well as the use of TSR's
    trademarks.  This was followed by several years of fairly regular
    flamewars and general hard feelings all around on the subject.
      Almost exactly three years later, in September 1997, TSR
    radically changed this policy, giving a lot more free reign to
    the creation and distribution by gamers of *D&D material.  Now, as
    long as you don't make any money off of it, don't use TSR's graphics,
    don't misuse TSR's trademarks, don't quote a lot from TSR's books,
    and don't mislead anyone as to the "officialness" of a file or web
    page, you're basically in the clear.  The current policy can be
    found at <http://www.wizards.com/contactinfo/TSR_Online_Policy.html>.
      If you are interested in creating D&D adventures, sourcebooks, and
    the like, WotC has released much of the 3rd edition ruleset under an
    "open gaming license" (OGL), similar in concept to the GNU software
    license, so that you can create (and even sell) such products as long
    as you adhere to the terms of the license. More information on how
    "open" the OGL is as well as what parts of D&D are covered by the OGL
    can be found at the Open Gaming Foundation's website, at
    <http://www.opengamingfoundation.org>.
      For more information on the history of this touchy subject, see the
    World Wide Web site at <http://members.aol.com/jimvassila/cr.htm> 
    which has some information on the topic.  Note that this resource
    has not been updated recently, but it does give a good background of
    the early days of the situation, as well as why some people still hold
    grudges against TSR.
      You may also want to check out the actual statutes in question, 
    in which case a trip to the Library of Congress' Copyright 
    information page at <http://www.loc.gov/copyright> is in order.
    For on-line texts of the U.S. copyright code and the Berne Convention,
    see the various pages at <http://www.law.cornell.edu/> or the links at 
    <http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/nsf/copyright.html>.  You may also find 
    that the (unofficial) opinions of practicing IP lawyers in the 
    misc.int-property newsgroup are a good resource, as well.

C8:  Did TSR really try to trademark the word "Nazi"?

A:  No, though that is a popular rumor, especially among people who are 
    looking for any excuse to hate TSR.  This incident comes out of the 
    Indiana Jones RPG.  The statement in question actually says 
    "NAZI(TM)*; (TM) & (C) LFL 1984; *trademarks of Lucasfilm, Ltd. used 
    under authorization."  In other words, TSR has never made any claim
    to a trademark on the word "Nazi," but Lucasfilm, Ltd. has made such
    a claim.
      However, before anyone decides to start railing on Lucasfilm, 
    realize that the trademark in question is of the word and the 
    associated artwork.  That is, there is no claim that the word
    "Nazi" by itself is a trademark, but there is apparently a trademark 
    on the word when accompanied by the specific artwork that was seen with
    it in that module.
      In any case, if you must flame someone over this issue, please 
    take it to rec.games.frp.misc, where discussion of the Indiana Jones
    RPG goes, or to rec.arts.movies.starwars.*, where most discussion of
    Lucasfilm goes.

C9:  Didn't TSR just "borrow" everything from J.R.R. Tolkien's works?

A:  No.  See the section on books below for a long list of books which
    influenced the creators of the game.  Medieval fantasy was a popular 
    genre during the time when the creators of D&D were growing up. 
    Tolkien's books are simply the most widely known of the core of fantasy
    books which directly influenced Gary Gygax and friends.  Indeed, the
    magic system was based on the fantasy works of Jack Vance, and the
    green, rubbery, regenerating trolls were taken from Poul Anderson's
    _Three Hearts and Three Lions_.  Before the third edition of D&D,
    halflings were based on Tolkien's Hobbits (they were actually called
    "Hobbits" until the Tolkien estate demanded that the practice stop),
    and while the elf varieties are similar to Tolkien's various elf races,
    the general description of elves is a jumble of several different
    influences.  These are but a few of the influences on D&D and the ideas
    from which D&D elements are derived; a perusal of the books listed as
    "the basis for D&D" in Section 7 will turn up many more.  So no, *D&D
    is not a direct outgrowth solely--or even primarily--of Tolkien's
    Middle Earth (which has its own roleplaying game).
      For a more complete (though not exhaustive) list of literary
    elements that were "borrowed" by D&D's writers, see the "Literary
    Sources of D&D" document at <http://www.geocities.com/rgfdfaq/
    sources.html>.

C10:  How can I submit my latest work of literary genius to WotC?

A:  Information on submissions is available via WotC's web page
    at <http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=company/jobs/faq#other1>.
    Detailed writer's guidelines for Dragon magazine and Dungeon magazine
    are available at <http://www.paizo.com/writersguidelines/dragon.html>
    and <http://www.paizo.com/writersguidelines/
    dungeon_writer_guidelines.pdf>, respectively.

    1)  Do not, I repeat, do not e-mail a complete product either to any 
        WotC or Paizo staffers, or to a WotC "official" e-mail account.
        They cannot look at it at all, as they might end up in hot water
        if WotC or Paizo happened to be already working on a similar
        product or article.

    2)  Do not e-mail a "complete proposal", for the same reasons as #1.

    3)  Do send a "query letter"; ethically and legally, any WotC staffers
        reading your message can then actually follow up on and look into 
        your query.  This makes life that much easier for all involved, 
        and makes you seem that much more professional.

    A query letter spells out an idea for a project in very vague terms, 
    whereas a complete proposal gets into the nitty-gritty to some extent, 
    and a complete product is the finished work.

    Here is an example of a query letter (Thanks to Bryan Maloney for the
    letter):

      TO: Bigshot Avalon Hill Gaming Guys
      From:  The EGG of Coot

      Dear sirs:

      I have been working on a variant upon the classic model of the 
      wargame that I believe to be both innovative and entertaining.  It 
      concentrates upon the play of individuals and their day-to-day 
      conflicts in a heroic or mythic setting.  The working title of this 
      game is "Dungeons and Dragons".

      I believe that this product will fit well into an untapped market 
      niche, specifically that of the "fantasy" or "science-fiction" 
      literature fan, who may not be interested in strict military 
      simulation but might be willing to purchase a product that permitted 
      them to enact and create their own "adventures" similar to those in 
      "fantasy" literature, a la J.R.R. Tolkien.

      The sales of this sort of literature have been on the upswing in 
      recent years, and I think that my product would be able to 
      capitalize upon this potential market.

      In addition, since it addresses the concept of conflict-gaming from 
      an original angle, it may open up an entirely new marketing niche 
      altogether.

      I hope to hear from you soon.

      Thank you for your time,
      The EGG of Coot.

      EGG of Coot
      0000 Coot St., Apt. 0
      Cootvile, WI, 00000

    The appropriate response would be, if Avalon Hill has any brains, to 
    send out a release form and a response letter saying that they'd be 
    interested in taking a look.  However, it is also likely that the
    company decides that that is not a direction they wish to go at this
    time and send you a refusal letter, at which point you take your 
    material to another company.  

    When submitting anything to TSR, the following rules apply:
                                 
      1) Dragon & Dungeon will likely accept query letters via e-mail, 
      but any further correspondence must be via snail-mail.  They will 
      also accept query letters via snail-mail.

      2) TSR does *not* accept unsolicited query letters for game 
      products; such letters should be sent to Dragon or Dungeon.

      3) TSR will accept query letters for fiction, but only via snail-
      mail (Attn: Book Dept.).

      4) With any snail-mail correspondence, people must enclose a 
      legal-size self-addressed, stamped envelope if they want any sort 
      of response.

    The description of the rest of the submission process is taken, in a 
    slightly edited form, from a very informative post by Bryan 
    Maloney (bjm10@cornell.edu):

    Okay, so you get the release form.  Look it over--the first thing you 
    should note is that it claims what you do is "work for hire".  That 
    is, even if you originated the idea and wrote it all yourself, TSR 
    will get the copyright upon paying you.  Don't wail and moan, you 
    aren't important enough to demand copyright.  However, if TSR tries to 
    claim any further legal rights upon your work in addition to that 
    single product, this is excessive.  Cross out any such lines and 
    initial them.  No corporation has the right to demand that you sign 
    away rights to works you have not yet presented to them unless you are 
    a regular employee and have signed an intellectual property agreement. 

    TSR does have the right to insist that the specific product you are 
    proposing is "work for hire".  Wait until you've written an Origins 
    Award-winning game and/or gotten the Hugo or Nebula in SF/Fantasy 
    before you start to demand copyright.

    Now, don't worry about how much they'll pay you, it won't be crap, 
    believe me.  You're not important enough to pay well, and the game 
    industry is the worst possible market of any fiction market.  You're 
    taking a shot at publicity, the money is just gravy.

    Okay, so you've got the release forms.  You'll notice that they ask 
    for a "brief description" and give you a little space.  Type "see 
    enclosed proposal" on that space.  Write a real "complete proposal".  
    What is that?  A complete outline (with estimated page counts) and two 
    chapters.  If you can't do an outline and two chapters, you're not 
    ready to write.  Also, include a proposed schedule for you to be able 
    to complete the product upon TSR's acceptance of your proposal.  Be 
    realistic, not "impressive".  Deadlines that are made are better than 
    early deadlines that are missed.  If you're feeling daring, try some 
    sample ad copy or back-cover copy for the proposed product.  This is a 
    great way to show that you understand the target audience.

    Mail the forms, typed, signed and dated, with your proposal.  Check 
    the proposal for spelling errors and grammatical errors.  TSR gets so 
    many proposals that they can afford to chuck most of them.  Have the 
    proposal typed or laser-printed.  Don't use a daisy wheel.  Rule of 
    thumb: It should be able to go through a fifth-generation Xerox copy 
    and still be legible.

    Now, why send a proposal and not the whole shebang?  Two reasons:

    1)  If you can do a credible proposal, you have shown that you have a 
    little organizational skill.

    2)  A proposal is less work than a complete product, and TSR can then 
    evaluate your work with less effort from you.  If they think it's 
    crap, it won't matter if it's from a proposal or the whole thing, 
    likewise if they like it.

    If TSR turns you down, don't cry about it--they're allowed to turn you 
    down.  Every great author's dream house was built upon a foundation of 
    rejection slips.

    If TSR turns you down and you see "your idea" three months later, they 
    didn't steal it.  There is no way that anything can go from proposal 
    to publication in only three months.  Believe me, I have encountered 
    so many ideas that I had, jotted down, told nobody about, and 
    found on the shelves a few months later.  You are not a genius, 
    nothing you think of is unique--somebody else will think of it, too.  
    If you were a genius, you wouldn't need to read this.

    If TSR accepts your proposal, get it to them under deadline.  With 
    this "draft final", include a letter letting them know that you would 
    be happy to help with any editorial or revisions they would like to 
    do.  Don't expect them to go for it.  The majority of amateur game 
    designers are prima donnas who get all huffy if their sacred words are 
    meddled with.  TSR knows this, and is leery of giving amateurs too 
    much authority.  Also, like most game companies, TSR has a production 
    schedule that would make any other publishing company fire its 
    production managers and hire somebody with a grip on reality.  
    Editorial is not the evil part of TSR, the guys who set the production 
    schedule are the evil ones.

    So, get your final draft in under deadline, and don't complain when 
    TSR changes it without consulting you.  I'd wager that they don't even 
    have their production/editing apparatus completely networked, yet.  
    Once that happens, designers might get more input, but I doubt it.

    So, when do you get paid?  You don't for a while.  You'll probably get 
    paid after TSR gets into the black on your product, so you'd better 
    make it very good.

C11:  Where's Gary Gygax these days?

A:  Mr. Gygax and TSR parted ways in 1986. Gary went on to create the
    Cyborg Commando game for New Infinities, which never really caught
    on, and the Dangerous Journeys game for GDW, which started to catch
    on, then ended up in court; as a result of an out-of-court agreement,
    Dangerous Journeys became owned by TSR, who promptly shelved it.  Gary
    also wrote two books on how to role-play, titled _Role-Playing Mastery_
    and _Master of the Game_.  He is now rumored to be living in the
    Oregon back country with the Sasquatch and Elvis.  Actually, he still
    lives, works, and games in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; he's even been known
    to pop up in various places on the internet.  He is also active in
    writing new RPG material for various companies and game systems.

***End Part 3***


-- 
Aardy R. DeVarque
Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Rec.games.frp.dnd FAQ: http://users.rcn.com/aardy/faq/rgfdfaq.html

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM