Q&A with Greg Stafford
Post new topic Reply to topic Page 4 of 1312, 3, 4, 5 ... 111213
Author


Prolific Collector

Posts: 107
Joined: Jun 12, 2006
Last Visit: Aug 19, 2015
Location: Arcata, CA

Post Posted: Sat Jul 22, 2006 8:16 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:How did the Thieves World project come about?  For instance, how did Chaosium become involved with Robert Asprin's shared world project?

I had met Robert at a game of SF convention. He told me how his TW project had come about because he had played roleplaying games. One day he and a bunch of writers were complaining how difficult it is to make up a new fantasy setting every time they wanted to write a story, and he suggested the series, with him as the co-ordinator (GM) and everyone could contribute, as long as they followed the rule (i.e.- no killing each others main characters, etc.)
Well, I thought, "Hey, let's turn it back into an RPG then!" I worked with Bob and Lynn and got the license. I wanted to keep the whole spirit of cooperation, and I knew it could be a fantastic example of the "early days" of RPG if I did it right. I wanted it to have all the major systems extant at the time, so later folks could compare them and write a master's thesis or something, after RPG gaming took over the world entertainment. :)
The industry was small in those days. I knew everyone involved, and set to to get licenses from everyone. I got ahold of almost all the original authors of the products to contribute. But I nearly had a breakdown with all the hassles, though. Seven companies, nine games, nine game authors, five fiction writers, a bunch of artists, and just about 300 egos. I've related above how I managed to get the then-impossible TSR to let me use their license.
Thieves World is one of my proudest achievements from the early days. It was the first multi-game product, and encompassed just about everyone, and a pretty nice product.

  
What kind of impact did Thieves World have on the RPG genre?  Did it sell well?

It was very well received. Maybe because everyone in the industry was in on it, :) or perhaps for its high quality. It sold really well. TW was a hot book at the time, which certainly helped. We had information in the game supplement that was not available in the books, including the map. I think it won a couple of notable awards.

Were there any conflicts with Gamelords over their Thieves Guild products? ("Haven" and "Sanctuary" seem too coincidental, for instance.)

Nope, none. I didn't think it was a threat to our product. Things were pretty friendly among us all, even to the extent that when we released our RQ Borderlands supplement another company also released one with the same title. We just laughed over it and had a picture taken with both of us holding our product, and it ran in some newsletters.

   
Also, how did FASA come to publish a series of Thieves World adventures?

FASA was pretty new then. They may have licensed it from us at first. I remember not liking their decision to use the same illo on all the covers—too much product confusion. I probably would not have had any reaction if we had not been connected to it somehow. But you can see, it was not a big thing then since I remember so little of it now.


Greg Stafford
Game designer, Creator of Glorantha

 WWW  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Jul 24, 2020

Post Posted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:12 pm 
 

What is the etymology of the name, "Issaries?"  How did Chaosium come to split into three companies...Issaries, Chaosium and Wizard's Attic?


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  


Verbose Collector

Posts: 1649
Joined: Sep 03, 2003
Last Visit: Jan 05, 2021
Location: Portown

Post Posted: Mon Jul 24, 2006 11:58 pm 
 

Mark, you are a great interviewer! Keep it coming, I knew almost nothing about Chaosium & reading all of this history is fascinating.

 WWW  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 107
Joined: Jun 12, 2006
Last Visit: Aug 19, 2015
Location: Arcata, CA

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:00 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:What is the etymology of the name, "Issaries?"  

Issaries is, of course, the Gloranthan god of trade, so when I started the new company I chose that. I always figure it is easier to name a company with an original word than it is to do a title or TM search to not conflict.
For most Gloranthan deity names I start with a known terrestial deity name and play with it over and over until I discover the one I want. I believe that Issaries began as Hermes, a similiar entity of terrestial origin.


Greg Stafford
Game designer, Creator of Glorantha

 WWW  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 107
Joined: Jun 12, 2006
Last Visit: Aug 19, 2015
Location: Arcata, CA

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 12:21 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:How did Chaosium come to split into three companies...Issaries, Chaosium and Wizard's Attic?

Four, actually. You omitted Green Knight.
It was a matter of money.
We made big money with the CCG Mythos. It is a great game, being much, much more than just two teams bashing each other. Charlie did a great design job on it, and he did most of the artist assignments and coordination. I handled the administration, getting investors and so on. It is REALLY expensive to make a CCG. But it paid off, and we were all very, very happy.
But we had differences of  opinion about what to do as a follow up. I lost the discussion, and several supplements and extensions were made for the game. I was very, very unhappy with the resultant financial situation.
Debtors came a-knocking, and when the other partners decided to give away the Pendragon line rather than pay off the paltry debt that it was being used as collatoral for, I decided to leave Chaosium, the company I had started. I negotiated to take out with exactly what I came in with: Glorantha and its games. I left everything else to them.
However, other debtors came too, and rather than go bankrupt or engage in long and fruitless legal battles, the decision was made to pay off the major debtor (Eric Rowe) by giving him the retail end of the business, Wizard's Attic.
Thus Green Knight was formed, to publish Pendragon.
Issaries, Inc. was created to publish Gloranthan materials, which culminated in HeroQuest.
Chaosium continued with its lines, of which Call of Cthulhu has continued to be the flagship.
Wizard's Attic acted as the retail outlet and Fulfillment House for all three of us, and also then expanded to be the fulfillment house for the multitude of d20 products that subsequently flooded the market.


Greg Stafford
Game designer, Creator of Glorantha

 WWW  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Jul 24, 2020

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:08 am 
 

Ok...let me check my facts:

   The four-way split of Chaosium must have taken place in 1998. (Which was eight years ago, as you have mentioned and is the year that Green Knight was formed.)

    I believe that you have described the split as amicable...there was even a sort of breakup party...and at least three of the companies were located near each other for a time on a former military base.

    Of the four, Chaosium is still publishing both Call of Cthulhu and what is left of the Stormbringer line from San Francisco.  The current incarnation of Chaosium appears to be a partnership that is very active in promoting Call of Cthulhu.  The main people at Chaosium appear to be Dustin Wright, Lynn Willis and Charlie Krank.

    Peter Corless is still publishing Pendragon titles for Green Knight...although the Pendragon line has been sold to Arthaus (White Wolf)...and Green Knight is also located in San Francisco.

    Issaries is still distributing HeroQuest and Glorantha materials out of the Berkely area.

    But Eric Rowe's Wizard's Attic has gone under quite recently...within the last year or so.  The collapse of Wizard's Attic stranded at least one Stormbringer project...the Corum and Hawkmoon titles published by Darcsyde.

    How are my facts so far?  

    Was the split really amicable?  Was Issaries located for a time very near to the other two businesses?  Did anyone from Chaosium go with you to Issaries, or did you become a staff of one?


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Jul 24, 2020

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:26 am 
 

I notice that you have always taken steps to defend the Glorantha world setting.  You protected it from Avalon Hill and you seem to have formed Issaries for the specific purpose of keeping control of your creation.  Clearly, in your mind it is your foremost creation.

    Was the protection of the Glorantha setting also one of the reasons that White Bear Red Moon was inspired by the Glorantha matierals, but not actually set in Glorantha until you published it yourself?  Were you making sure that your core creation was not sold to a game company along with that game?

   Dragon Pass was a successor to White Bear Red Moon and was actually published by Avalon Hill.  Did your contract to publish Dragon Pass specifically protect Glorantha as your intellectual property?

    Also (yes...I have many many questions), how does Lords of the Middle Sea connect to the Glorantha materials?


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 107
Joined: Jun 12, 2006
Last Visit: Aug 19, 2015
Location: Arcata, CA

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 10:25 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:I notice that you have always taken steps to defend the Glorantha world setting.  You protected it from Avalon Hill and you seem to have formed Issaries for the specific purpose of keeping control of your creation.  Clearly, in your mind it is your foremost creation.

Actually, that would be my children.:)
I've been working on Glorantha since 1966, so yes, it is quite important to me.
Was the protection of the Glorantha setting also one of the reasons that White Bear Red Moon was inspired by the Glorantha materials, but not actually set in Glorantha until you published it yourself?  Were you making sure that your core creation was not sold to a game company along with that game?

I guess I must have not been clear before. I initially designed a non-Gloranthan fantasy game, but White Bear Red Moon became Gloranthan in its first iteration. I had submitted it as a Gloranthan game.
   Dragon Pass was a successor to White Bear Red Moon and was actually published by Avalon Hill.  

Just for the record, Chaosium retitled White Bear Red Moon to be Dragon Pass  long before we licensed it to Avalon Hill. No one seemed to be able to remember what was white and what was red. I am pretty sure that it was used for the first version that had the rules developed by Bob Corbett.
Did your contract to publish Dragon Pass specifically protect Glorantha as your intellectual property?

Probably not specifically, but the contract probably prohibited them from meddling with the game or using it for other products. That was pretty common in our contracts at the time.
Also (yes...I have many many questions), how does Lords of the Middle Sea connect to the Glorantha materials?

Not at all.
Lynn Willis had had a couple of board games previously published by, I think, Metagaming and Game Designers Workshop. We met at a convention and he showed me a test copy of Lords of the Middle Sea that he was shopping around, and after a reading and test play, we decided to publish it.


Greg Stafford
Game designer, Creator of Glorantha

 WWW  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 107
Joined: Jun 12, 2006
Last Visit: Aug 19, 2015
Location: Arcata, CA

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:15 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:
Ok...let me check my facts:
The four-way split of Chaosium must have taken place in 1998. (Which was eight years ago, as you have mentioned and is the year that Green Knight was formed.)

I believe that is correct. Green Knight was started a bit earlier, hence got product out by '98. The first Issaries issue, Hero Wars and Glorantha, were in 2000.
I believe that you have described the split as amicable...

I left Chaosium to maintain my friendship with Charlie Krank. We are still friends, although because we don't share the company anymore, we see each other less. But on occasions when we are together, we are friends.
there was even a sort of breakup party...and at least three of the companies were located near each other for a time on a former military base.

No, no breakup party. We did have a party when we moved into new quarters on the old Oakland Army Base. All four of us, in fact. The space was large, and pretty cheap. I didn't work at Chaosium but I got in there and scrubbed the oil off the floor of the old motor pool to get it into shape. And then we had a party after we moved in.
Eric's Wizard's Attic was warehousing, selling and billing for all of us. Basically, Issaries had one large office, Green Knight one, Chaosium one Huge one, and Wizard Attic a huge office, a really huge warehouse space for wholesale, and another smaller one for retail. Green Knight shared its space with whatever company Dana Lombardy was running at the time, too, and for a little while there was another outfit with a tiny office there, though I never was quite sure who they were. A regular little gaming ghetto!
Of the four, Chaosium is still publishing both Call of Cthulhu and what is left of the Stormbringer line from San Francisco. The main people at Chaosium appear to be Dustin Wright, Lynn Willis and Charlie Krank.

Chaosium is now in Hayward, a little town a couple of cities south of Oakland. Four-way partnership? Yes, those three are 3/4 of the staff for Chaosiu, as I understand it.
Peter Corless is still publishing Pendragon titles for Green Knight...although the Pendragon line has been sold to Arthaus (White Wolf)...and Green Knight is also located in San Francisco.

I'm not sure exactly where Peter works out of. He is south of here, somewhere between Oakland and Hayward because he has a 650 area code. I ran into him at my local (Berkeley) grocery store recently, and we were both at a couple of local events.
I understand he is still publishing the Green Knight Fiction line, and yes, White Wolf now has my dear beloved Pendragon game, for which they have hired me to do some fantastic new product.
Issaries is still distributing HeroQuest and Glorantha materials out of the Berkeley area.

Almost correct. First, right in Berkeley, my apartment, to be precise. And we no longer produce. We are a licensing outfit, with licenses to Moon Design and Mongoose. I don't manufacture anything anymore. I write.
But Eric Rowe's Wizard's Attic has gone under quite recently...within the last year or so. The collapse of Wizard's Attic stranded at least one Stormbringer project...the Corum and Hawkmoon titles published by Darcsyde.

The collapse of Wizard's Attic brought down a lot of small companies. Eric's ambition outran his good sense. He was a mainstay in allowing a LOT of the tiny d20 companies to be in business. But of course, it seemed that a glut of inferior d20 product was choking the market anyway, so perhaps it was inevitable, and a good thing. I only have opinions and rumor to base this on, not real facts. Darcsyde was one of those little companies, though not d20 of course and not inferior, that was sucked under in the maelstrom of Wizard's Attic's subsidence.
How are my facts so far?

If this was Pendragon, I'd say, "Check your Intrigue skill."
Was the split really amicable?

If we are measuring it on an "amicable or not amicable" scale, it was amicable. Of course, there are degrees of amicability. When businesses fail, crashing the decade-long dreams of the participants, feelings are often hurt. But although I cannot speak for anyone else, I do not have hard feelings for anyone anymore. And although, occasionally, we may have rubbed each other the wrong way a bit in our independent paths, I don't think it has been enough to rupture old friendships. Charlie and I are on good terms, Peter and I are. Eric has moved to New Zealand, so who knows how he feels?
In my life, I don't really have time to waste by being angry.
Was Issaries located for a time very near to the other two businesses?

In the Bay Area, nothing is really too far from anything else. San Francisco is a 20 minute drive from Berkeley, which is on the north Oakland border, which is 30 minutes north of Hayward.
Did anyone from Chaosium go with you to Issaries, or did you become a staff of one?

I was a staff of one. I had an employee for a while. I am a staff of one now.
_________________
Greg Stafford
Game designer, Creator of Glorantha


Greg Stafford
Game designer, Creator of Glorantha

 WWW  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Jul 24, 2020

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:36 pm 
 

The Call of Cthulhu line is remarkably extensive, with branches into mutiple subject areas and even multiple timelines.  

    There are even branches of the game into the writings of the other members of the Lovecraft circle, modern Cthulhu writers (Ramsey Campbell, for instance) and some of Lovecraft's own influences, such as Robert Chambers.

    How did the idea for a  Call of Cthulhu RPG come about?  (I mean, when I say a "Call of Cthulhu RPG" it makes me wonder what I'll be doing besides burning all the books, running away from things and refusing to read the notes of missing professors.)  What was your first thought when the idea was presented?

    How did Chaosium acquire the license for for such a huge literary phenomenon?  Was it negotiated directly with Arkham House?  (And, did the people at Arkham house have scary voices or extra appendages?)

    There must be some potential for real problems in dealing with a writing project shared by so many well-known and little-known authors...?

    How does a company like Chaosium decide what to do next with such a successful publishing project as the Call of Cthulhu RPG?  Also, do you have any recollection of average print runs for some of those editions and modules?

Mark   8)


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 288
Joined: Feb 27, 2005
Last Visit: May 19, 2014
Location: San Diego, CA

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 3:51 pm 
 

Hi Greg, out of curiosity, are you gonna go to SoCal GenCon this year?

  


Active Collector

Posts: 59
Joined: Nov 07, 2005
Last Visit: Jan 22, 2014

Post Posted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:23 pm 
 

In the Bay Area, nothing is really too far from anything else.


Unless they're separated by the Bay Bridge at rush hour.  :evil:

This is great stuff, Greg. Greyhaven! That brings back memories - I used to date a woman who was a regular at those parties...another thing I never went to, like Hargrave's game...damn. Never been to gencon either. Someday I'll actually leave the house.


Looking for your old-school fantasy roleplaying fix? Don't despair...Fight On! Check it out at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FightOn.

  

User avatar

Grandstanding Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 6720
Joined: Jul 16, 2005
Last Visit: Jul 24, 2020

Post Posted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 12:47 am 
 

Hi:
 
   Greg contacted me and asked me to pass along that he will be incommunicado for a couple of weeks:

   He's going to Continuum and traveling overseas.

   So, check back here in a couple weeks for more updates.

Mark   8)


"But I have watched the dragons come, fire-eyed, across the world."

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 276
Joined: Feb 26, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 28, 2011

Post Posted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:55 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:Meaning no disrespect at all to Rob Kuntz and his latest project, but this idea I would pay to see developed.


Thanks for liking the concept.  It always seemed to me that the classic quests in Camelot ought to be available from all three perspectives in the game, so that you can seek the grail, or the sword/spear, or the true cross/world tree or ... and that whoever succeeds affects the shape of the kingship and of the land.

These days I just don't have the time, though with OSRIC I'm tempted to sell the remaining material I've kept around (my old brown boxed set, that sort of thing).

Even more, I'm excited to see what Greg does next.


Regards,



Stephen

  

User avatar

Sage Collector

Posts: 2544
Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Last Visit: Nov 07, 2020
Location: San Francisco, CA

Post Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:49 am 
 

I'll post a question in Greg's absence and eagerly await a possible answer...

Does Pendragon second edition exist?

Seems pretty simple on the surface.  It makes sense that after first edition would come second edition, before moving on to third.  Except that the only reference to it is in the Noble's Book, and I can't find any information about it in Net searching...

Thanks!

  

User avatar

Verbose Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 1709
Joined: Feb 04, 2004
Last Visit: Aug 23, 2016
Location: Chandler, AZ

Post Posted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:08 pm 
 

TheHistorian wrote:I'll post a question in Greg's absence and eagerly await a possible answer...

Does Pendragon second edition exist?

Seems pretty simple on the surface.  It makes sense that after first edition would come second edition, before moving on to third.  Except that the only reference to it is in the Noble's Book, and I can't find any information about it in Net searching...

Thanks!


Sorry, I don't have a pic, but Pendragon 2nd edition does exist.  It contains 3 books in a box set.  Book's are entitled:  Squire's book, Knight's book and King's book.  Also came with dice.


"Gleemonex makes it feel like it's seventy-two degrees in your head... all... the... time! "

  

User avatar

Verbose Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 1291
Joined: Nov 24, 2002
Last Visit: Dec 25, 2020
Location: Brescia, Italy

Post Posted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 12:21 pm 
 

I have some question about Different Worlds: why did Chaosium decide to publish its own magazine? Was it successful? What was the average print run of an issue, especially the later ones? Why did DW left Chaosium along Tadashi Ehara? Was the split amicable?

  


Prolific Collector

Posts: 276
Joined: Feb 26, 2005
Last Visit: Feb 28, 2011

Post Posted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:41 pm 
 

Alexander1968 wrote:I have some question about Different Worlds: why did Chaosium decide to publish its own magazine? Was it successful? What was the average print run of an issue, especially the later ones? Why did DW left Chaosium along Tadashi Ehara? Was the split amicable?


It seemed successful, and Tadashi acted as if the split was amicable.

He's around, someone should ask him.


Regards,



Stephen

  

User avatar

Verbose Collector
Acaeum Donor

Posts: 1291
Joined: Nov 24, 2002
Last Visit: Dec 25, 2020
Location: Brescia, Italy

Post Posted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 4:20 am 
 

Ethesis wrote:
It seemed successful, and Tadashi acted as if the split was amicable.

He's around, someone should ask him.

I asked him for an interview a couple of times, but he declined  :(

  


Active Collector

Posts: 10
Joined: Aug 12, 2006
Last Visit: Aug 28, 2008

Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 3:11 am 
 

Greg Stafford wrote:Ah yes, that was another version of the same game.
The interior never appreciably changed, just the box.
I remember that for that one we never had a finished box cover, just a black color separation and the colors on another one.


Greg just poitned me toward this discussion, and I wanted to offer some info on this old question.

There were three printings of the Elric board game.

The first was called "Elric" and it was published in 1977 by The Chaosium. THe game was sold in a ziplock bag wiht a digest-sized rules book, cardstock sheets for the various countries (mine are laminated, though I don't know if they were originally) and a glossy full-color map of the Young Kingdoms, with the balance track running along the top.


The second was "Elric: Battle at the End of Time" and was published in 1981, the same year as the Stormbringer game. It comes wiht a new full-color paper map of the Young Kingdoms with the balance toward the right. Much of the rulebook is identical with reorganization, except the new game adds several scenarios. This edition is sold in a box labeled 1003-X.


The third was "Elric" published in 1984 by Avalon Hill. I believe it's a substantially identical game too, but my rulebook has gone missing from last time I was reading through the rules. It's Avalon Hill item 850.

  
PreviousNext
Post new topic Reply to topic Page 4 of 1312, 3, 4, 5 ... 111213