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Designers & Dragons

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13 Aug 2014 23:37 - 13 Aug 2014 23:38 #184813 by Mr. White
I am interested in this series of books:

www.kickstarter.com/projects/evilhat/designers-and-dragons

I read the free chapter on TSR and really enjoyed it. I do think some parts could have been fleshed out a bit more (specifically why the art in Palace of the Silver Princess caused the module to be recalled, no mention of cthulhu in deities and demigods, etc.) and I'd like to have seen some more photos of the personalities, but it was a nice read.

That said, I feel like the TSR and the WotC sections will be the lion's share of text. Has anyone read the original single volume book? Are these worth it?

(I dig the four covers...I think they correctly targeted the defining genre's of their respective eras.)
Last edit: 13 Aug 2014 23:38 by Mr. White.

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14 Aug 2014 05:51 #184817 by bryce0lynch
Replied by bryce0lynch on topic Re: Designers & Dragons
Mine, from 2011:

While perusing the Mongoose booth at GenCon I came upon a large black hardcover book, Designers & Dragons. This is a huge 438 page hardback book that covers the history of the RPG industry. That's a tall order however the book certainly succeeds. It's a very readable history of the various companies and trends in the RPG industry from it's proto-history to the present day. It covers the history of roughly 50 companies in a major way and has 1/2 to full page histories of quite a few more. The author points out that he is trying to cover the major movers & shakers, either by size or by innovation, and he doesn't try to cover all of the publishers who released one or two books and then disappeared ... unless they had a major impact on the industry.

The book is broken down in to seven sections, roughly based on the various trends in the industry. Part 1, at 30 pages or so, covers TSR and the beginnings of the industry. We get all the details of the creation story, the various major staffing and policy changes, and the political issues inside, and how TSR weathered the various storms throughout it's history. Major products and releases for each company are covered, as is some mention of supplements, however the book is not a catalog of the individual publications. Staff move around and jump from company to company while the companies themselves merge, buy each other, and then break apart again.

That basic formula is followed through the other six sections of the book: first wave, second wave, third wave, the CCG years, the D20 years, and the Indie revolution. Interspersed throughout the histories are sidebar mini-histories of related game companies and breakouts on other interesting areas. TSR & WOTZ get about 30 pages each, while Yaquinto gets about 2 pages, and mini-histories might get a half page to a page. Some of the interesting breakouts cover the history of RPG fiction, the publication history of Blackmoor , Greyhawk, the Wilderlands, and Kalibruhn, and the role of computer games and the internet on the publishers.

How the companies used their magazines as house organs or as general product was something I found very interesting. In addition, the issues related with the Canadian & English publishers was very interesting as well. This just came up again recently when I saw a video of an English gentleman railing on D&D and extolling the virtues of Runequest. This book covers the reasons why Runequest, and a few other games, are more popular in the UK than in the US.

I can't recommend this history enough. It's a fabulous read and has absolutely consumed my time for the last week. The author promises more to come at www.rpg.net/columns/designers-an ... ons1.phtml. It appears that my copy is a pre-relase for GenCon, and the general printing is still to come.


Here's a list of the major sections:

Part 1 - TSR

Part 2 First Wave
FBI
Games Workshop
GDW
Judges Guild
Fantasy Games Unlimited
Metagaming Concepts
Chaosium

P3 - Second Wave
SPI
Steve Jackson Games
Task Force Games
FASA
Gamelords
ICE
HERO
Palladium
Yaquinto
Mayfair
Bard
Avalon Hill
Columbia
West End
Pacesetter

P4 Third Wave
Skyrealms Publishing
Digist Group Publications
R Talsorian
White Wolf
Lion Rampant
New Infinities
Creations Unlimited
Pagan Publishing
Atlas Games
AEG
Phage Pree
Dream Pod 9

P5 - CCG Years
WOTC
Hogshead
Kenzer & Co
Last Unicorn
Grey Ghost
Holistic Design
Pinnacle Entertainment
Imperium
Guardians of Order
Eden
FFG
Margaret Weis
Green Knight
Issaries

P6 D20 Years
Necromancer
Green ROnin
Troll Lord
Pelgrane
Goodman
Privateer
Mongoose
Adept
Paizo

P7 - Indi Revolution?
Evil Hat
Cubicle 7
Catalyst


Mini-histories & Breakouts
Wee Warriors
D&D&Computers
Greyhawk
Adventure Games
Worlds of Warhammer
EDU-Wares Space Games
Settings - Wilderlands
Different Worlds Magazine
Different Worlds Publications
Impressions Advertising
STrategy & Tactics Magazine
Fiction of Starfire
Amarillo Design Bureau
Great Licenses - SF
Little Soldier Games
Phoenix Games
Great License - Fantasy
Comics
Morrigan Press
Avalon Hill COmputer Games
Kelestia Productions
Eon Products
54 40 Orphyte
Fiery Dragon
Jefferson Swycaffer & the Rise of RPG Fiction
Settings - Kalibruhn
Eos Press
Arc Dream Publishing
Daedalus Entertainment
Ars Magica Fanzines
Crafty Games
Nightfall Games
D20 Firsts
Netbooks
Decipher
Glorantha Fanzines
Moon Design
Retroclones
Ronin Arts
Hekaforge Productions
Settings - Blackmoor
Storytelling Games
Fantasy Heartbreakers
Indies of Note
Otherworld Creations
Fred Hicks - Marketeer
One Bad Egg
The following user(s) said Thank You: allismom3, jpat, Rafael Silva

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22 Aug 2014 07:30 #185653 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Re: Designers & Dragons
There used to be several free chapters at RPG.net and I read them all. As you say, it's kind of rough sometimes and from time to time it makes you wish somethings were better explained or were more detailed but it was interesting and fun because it's actually researched not just an opinion piece. There's a historical base that drove the articles and I really appreciated that.

Do you guys know if there's going to be a cheap paperback edition?

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22 Aug 2014 09:44 #185677 by Mr. White
Replied by Mr. White on topic Re: Designers & Dragons

Erik Twice wrote: Do you guys know if there's going to be a cheap paperback edition?


Yeah, not sure how frequently I'll read these, so not sure I want to be in for $80.

I think there's a $15 option for the four in pdf. I might do that.

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