Gygax gets back at T$R by destroying their world

Come Endless Darkness - Gary Gygax

This is one of those books where the world pretty much is destroyed and from what I can remember most of Gord's companions are killed, but in the end he comes along with his trusty sword, slays the bad guy and saves the day. As I understand it this book was written after Gygax had left TSR (and I believe that the parting of ways was not that pleasant) and it has been suggested that this book was simply written to get back at TSR in relation to the dispute that they had, which I believe was the rank commercialism in which the company was heading.

The problem with running such a company in a capitalistic system is that one is always motivated by profit, and the fact that the continual accumulation of profit is necessary not only to pay the wages of the staff, but also to expand into bigger and better things, it ends up cramping experimentation and art for the sake of art. In the end TSR was bought out by Wizards of the Coast (which had invented the roleplaying version of crack-cocaine, that being Magic the Gathering) and Wizards in turn was bought out by Hasbro, which my understanding is pretty much a profit making entity that simply exists to please the shareholders (which turn out to be superfunds and banks).

One of the things that gripped me about Dungeons and Dragons was the continual revamping of their products. The more commercialised that it became the more painful it became dealing with the product. Granted, the evolution from 1st edition to 2nd edition, and then on to 3rd edition was probably necessary to attempt to stream line the rules and to develop new concepts and make it more appealing to a growing fan base. However, when they scrapped what I considered a perfectly reasonable rules system (namely 3rd edition) into what my friend considered to by a dumbed down rules system (namely 4th edition) I became rather annoyed.

Another thing that is noticeable is the plethora of books that are forever released, almost on a weekly basis. The problem is that aside from the initial rule books, the system ends up suffering from the law of diminishing returns. Every new book that is released will end up having less sales than the previous book, particularly since people will look at it and consider that these books are really unnecessary for running a game. I remember a time as a teenager when I would load up with almost all my rule books (being two bags) plus miniatures, to make a one hour bus trip across town to play a game. Then I realised that as I grew older than first of all I did not need all those books, and secondly the complexity of the rules ended up subtracting from the game as a whole.

Anyway, I think I have gone way off topic here, but at least I have kept within the discussion of a roleplaying game. I want to finish off with the fact that the one way to attempt to halt the law of diminishing returns (though it still kicks in in a way) is to revamp the system and to release a new edition, which takes the company back to square one by simply having the market go back to the shops and fork out money for the new rules. At least by 3rd edition they decided to use an open gaming license, which probably had something to do with a massive backlash they received when they attempted to copyright their product and attempt to clamp down on gamers creating their own products using the TSR (or T$R as it was then known) rule system.