Q&A with Greg Stafford
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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 3:14 am 
 

MShipley88 wrote:I wonder if you have any recall of the early versions of Stormbringer.

The first box was two inches thick.  

The second box was a one inch box and the contents had been combined in a single book.

As far as I can tell, the two versions were published very close together.

Can you recall why the change between editions, or any other details?


I detailed both of these here:
http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?mainid=1074

Click on the "first" and "second" editions in the edition sections. The main difference is organization. However, there are a full 4 years between the publications.

  

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 4:46 am 
 

This is a very interesting website...surprised my searches have not turned it up before.

Elric! is treated as an entirely separate game from Stormbringer.

Interesting to find that there was such a gap between the first two versions of the game.  I know of at least one alternative booklet...but the version I am thinking of was French, and so might have been very different indeed.

One piece of information that eludes me is why Chaosium did not continue publishing the D20 version of their game.   They put out Dragon Lords of Melnibone and Slaves of Fate, and then abandoned Straits of Chaos and Cults of Law and Chaos before publication.

Then, in the very same year (2001), Chaosium put out a fifth edition of Stormbringer, which they almost immediately ceased supporting.

Why?

[/i]


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 12:11 pm 
 

MShipley88 wrote:Elric! is treated as an entirely separate game from Stormbringer.


Elric! was rewritten from scratch and is a very different game. Stormbringer Fifth edition is the same game as Elric! with a lot looser layout and some additional cults & info on later books.

Interesting to find that there was such a gap between the first two versions of the game.  I know of at least one alternative booklet...but the version I am thinking of was French, and so might have been very different indeed.


Yep, the RPGnet Gaming Index is explicitly English only at this point.

One piece of information that eludes me is why Chaosium did not continue publishing the D20 version of their game.   They put out Dragon Lords of Melnibone and Slaves of Fate, and then abandoned Straits of Chaos and Cults of Law and Chaos before publication.


I couldn't tell you that. Charlie Krank and/or Lynn Willis would be the ones to ask.

Then, in the very same year (2001), Chaosium put out a fifth edition of Stormbringer, which they almost immediately ceased supporting.


Again, dunno, though one thing to keep in mind is that Dragon Lords of Melnibone and Stormbringer Fifth edition use almost exactly the same text, with just the game mechanics changed.

I'd always assumed that it was an attempt to use the d20 license to draw people back into the BRP-system game. And for that the BRP system game needs to be in print, hence at least a new printing, but as Greg said a new edition is even more likely to get lots of books out into shops.

So they put out Dragon Lords (March), then Stormbringer (dunno when as my copy is with my game group), then Slaves of Fate (December), and then (this is speculation) the d20 supplements sell weaker than was hoped, and the idea is abandoned. This was two years before the d20 market went weak, but it would still be easy for individual books to sell poorly.

SHannon

  


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 12:32 pm 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote: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.


Have you actually touched a copy? I've never seen one here in the Bay Area,  or even in Chaosium's archive, so my guess has long been "no".  What you describe, however, is definitely what the 2nd edition was supposed to contain.

Greg thinks it might have been swallowed up by the Chaosium decision to step away from boxes due to the labor issues of collation.

  

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 12:44 pm 
 

ShannonA wrote:
Have you actually touched a copy? I've never seen one here in the Bay Area,  or even in Chaosium's archive, so my guess has long been "no".  What you describe, however, is definitely what the 2nd edition was supposed to contain.

Greg thinks it might have been swallowed up by the Chaosium decision to step away from boxes due to the labor issues of collation.


That's what my research has turned up too - the only mention of those contents seems to be in the Noble's Book.

Also, the first paragraph of the Designer's Notes in 3E reads:

"First edition Pendragon was released in 1985 and met with rave reviews, rapid sales, and immediately upon its heels, financial and personal crises which kept it out of print until this revised release."

That's not conclusive either, but I think that leans toward "no".


I'm crossing it off my list unless someone can prove it exists. :D


Thanks for the response!

  

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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:34 pm 
 

By the way, Shannon...I don't know your connection to Chaosium.  How about an introduction?


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Post Posted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 1:50 pm 
 

I've been a fan of Chaosium since about 1985 when I started running Stormbringer (I still have my beat-to-heck second edition box) and playing RuneQuest.

In 1992 I started editing the Chaosium Digest, an Internet-based compendium of all things Chaosium. I ran it until 1997 or so, when I handed it off. I also ran RQ-Con2 in 1994 with my friend Eric Friend and lots of support from Greg & Chaosium.

In 1996, in the wake of Mythos bringing new money into Chaosium, I started working for them and continued to do so for two and a half years. I mostly did layout & editing work for the Call of Cthulhu game, though I did development for Mythos, a tiny bit of Pendragon work, and took care of our web site, mailing list, and Internet FAQs.

I've since stayed in touch with Greg & Issaries, Pete & Green Knight, and Eric & Wizard's Attic and to a lesser extent Charlie & Chaosium. I also recently helped to get Arkham Horror back to market with the company I work for now, Skotos.

Right now I'm doing some writing for HeroQuest and am also working on a history of Chaosium that's going to get published on RPGnet at the start of September. (I recently published a Wizards of the Coast article there this month.)

  


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:36 am 
 

Greetings,

I am backhome now from Continuum, whose convention report ought to be on the glorantha.com website soon.
My internet connection was not working when I arrived, and it's taken almos a week to sort that out, but I'm here now and will be replying to the questions.
Keep 'em coming folks! This is fun.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:41 am 
 

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?

The original suggestion for it came from a freelancer who wanted to do the game. My first thoughts were, "Oh man, that overrated writer?" That is, I was an English major snob, and thought that HPL's writing was terrible. But nonetheless, I have always admired the debt we owe to the "three biggies" of the early fantasy American literature (R.E.Howard, H.P.Lovecraft and C.A.Smith) After some discussion,  I was happy to go for it.
The original author failed to meet the deadline several times. We had already contracted with Arkham House for the rights and paid a huge (for its time) advance so I was distressed at the thought of losing that.
I was fortunate, though, that I was in correspondence with Steve Marsh at the time over the HeroQuest project, and he mentioned that he'd been in a great RQ horror game at college with a guy who had werewolves, ghosts and Lovecraft monsters in it. I asked who it was and learned it was Sandy Petersen, who'd just submitted a book that was afterwards published as the RuneQuest Gateway Bestiary, which included Lovecraft monsters. I asked him if he wanted to take a stab at creating an entire game, and he agreed. We sketched the barest requirements, waited, and Sandy submitted the game to us.
It was on time (a real rarity in gaming!) and well written (another real rarity!) and more importantly—to our delight—was original in that it added Sanity. That was entirely Sandy's idea.
We sat down to test play it. After the first game we agreed, "It works, but boy are we depressed!" We played it again, and thought, "It really does work, but why would anyone want to play this more than once?"
So we changed one thing: we made a way to regain Sanity. Then we edited it and got it into print.
How did Chaosium acquire the license for such a huge literary phenomenon? Was it negotiated directly with Arkham House?

It was pretty easy, since no one was doing anything like this in those days. We did negotiate directly with Arkham House for the rights, which we acquired after payment of a significant advance payment. We paid them royalties regularly and I am pretty sure we financed an entire reprint of the HPL works by them with our royalty payments.
(And, did the people at Arkham house have scary voices or extra appendages?)

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

Sure was, and we stepped on some toes at first. The rights are pretty complicated and we messed up a couple of times so we had to go back and negotiate with individual writers. They were all, eventually, amenable, and we ploughed forward.
How does a company like Chaosium decide what to do next with such a successful publishing project as the Call of Cthulhu RPG?

Well, first we decided to print it. Sandy sent us the first supplement for it, and it pretty much took off by itself after that. That was the biggest sign of success: it generated its own submitted scenarios. We've never had to pull teeth to get scenarios, like we did for other games. It just sailed on its own. Our decisions to expand the line to modern, Victorian, etc. eras most often came right from the authors. Our decision was whether to agree or not.
Also, do you have any recollection of average print runs for some of those editions and modules?
Not exactly, but in those days we almost always printed 5,000 of an item. We generally had an autoship of 2,000-3,000 and gauged the success on how quickly the rest of the print run sold out. Cthulhu items sold out quickly, in less than a year, so we generally did reprints of about 3,000.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:42 am 
 

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

No. I only attend conventions now when I am paid air fare, food and lodging. But I almost always attend those where I get that! So please, organizers, invite me!


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:43 am 
 

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...

I'd forgotten about this until I read one of Shannon Applecline's essays. When we were testing a new Gloranthan boardgame I asked him, and he reminded me of the facts.
I hate to contradict Beyondthebreach but, in fact, there is no real 2nd edition! We had intended to do one, being a boxed set with new organization. But that was right at the transition point where we shifted from boxing everything to having larger books. So even though Nobles Book says there would be such an edition, there was none, and so we went right from 1st to 3rd ed.
Except for Nobles Book, which would have been part of the 2nd ed. Fortunately, it fit equally well with 1st and 3rd edition, and we forgot to fix the reference subsequent printings.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:43 am 
 

I have some question about Different Worlds: why did Chaosium decide to publish its own magazine?

In those days just about every successful publisher ad its own magazine. Tadashi Ehara liked the idea and wanted to do a magazine, so we agreed.
Was it successful?
Yes, moderately so. It always paid for itself, and it was very popular since it was quite eclectic in its scope.
What was the average print run of an issue, especially the later ones?
This I am not sure about.  
Why did DW left Chaosium along Tadashi Ehara? Was the split amicable?
I am not sure why Tadashi departed from Chaosium. I believe that it had been his first post-graduation job, and that he had a better offer or opportunity elsewhere. No one at the company wanted to keep editing the magazine. It was easy to publish another supplement as a magazine, and a supplement would sell for a year or two, but a magazine is good only until its next issue. Tadashi wanted to keep the 'zine, and we were glad to let him. The departure was amicable.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 8:48 am 
 

Greg Stafford wrote:
I'd forgotten about this until I read one of Shannon Applecline's essays. When we were testing a new Gloranthan boardgame I asked him, and he reminded me of the facts.
I hate to contradict Beyondthebreach but, in fact, there is no real 2nd edition! We had intended to do one, being a boxed set with new organization. But that was right at the transition point where we shifted from boxing everything to having larger books. So even though Nobles Book says there would be such an edition, there was none, and so we went right from 1st to 3rd ed.
Except for Nobles Book, which would have been part of the 2nd ed. Fortunately, it fit equally well with 1st and 3rd edition, and we forgot to fix the reference subsequent printings.


No problem contradicting me!  I'm actually taking the info out of Heroic Worlds.  Thanks for clarifying it.


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Post Posted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 11:25 am 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:
No problem contradicting me!  I'm actually taking the info out of Heroic Worlds.  Thanks for clarifying it.


We were both going on tidbits of information.  We're just lucky to have an authoritative source to set us straight.  Thanks, Greg!

  

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Post Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:09 am 
 

Greg Stafford wrote:I am not sure why Tadashi departed from Chaosium. I believe that it had been his first post-graduation job, and that he had a better offer or opportunity elsewhere. No one at the company wanted to keep editing the magazine. It was easy to publish another supplement as a magazine, and a supplement would sell for a year or two, but a magazine is good only until its next issue. Tadashi wanted to keep the 'zine, and we were glad to let him. The departure was amicable.

Thanks. I have quite a good collection of game magazines and I must say that Space Gamer and Different Worlds are, for me, the best ones in English. I still enjoy opening my Magazine Vaults and perusing them from time to time. I especially like re reading The Sword of Hollywood column in DW and Where We Are Going by Steve Jackson in Space Gamer (mr. Jackson will be in Italy this november so I plan to bring my Very Rare SJG books for signing - especially Murphy's Rules 1st edition and Game Design Theory and Practice  - because I plan a looooong interview with him).

  


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:19 am 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:No problem contradicting me!  I'm actually taking the info out of Heroic Worlds.  Thanks for clarifying it.


I think HW included a lot of stuff that was set to come out at the time the book went to press (but for whatever reason was never released). It listed RJK's City of Brass as being released through Creations Unlimited in 1987.



  


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Post Posted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:52 pm 
 

dcas wrote:
I think HW included a lot of stuff that was set to come out at the time the book went to press (but for whatever reason was never released). It listed RJK's City of Brass as being released through Creations Unlimited in 1987.


HW got a lot of its information from gaming magazines, catalogues, and other secondary sources. The book was clearly fact-checked well, and it's 99.9% accurate as a result, but when the error creep in, this is probably why.

  

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Post Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:53 am 
 

Hi Greg,

I'm not sure if you automatically get sent a notification when something gets posted here but I thought I would give it a shot anyway.  I purchased an old catalog from one of your Ebay auctions and inside was this photo:

http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mdtpetri/chaosium.jpg

From the pics on Tadashi's Different Worlds website, I can figure out that is him on the right.  I imagine that is you in the middle although I can't seem to find any recent photos of you on the net.  Who is that on the left?  The picture is from Origins 78.

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Post Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:50 pm 
 

Greg:

I have a zip lock bag version of RB&WM with no real recollection of how I got it except that I think I got it for free for some reason at one of the early Origins as a door prize or something.  Do you recall giving any of those out back then?

  


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Post Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 10:29 pm 
 

Mars wrote:I'm not sure if you automatically get sent a notification when something gets posted here but I thought I would give it a shot anyway.

Apparently not. Shame. I'd love to respond in a timely manner. I strumbled upon this. But am happy to answer!
 I purchased an old catalog from one of your Ebay auctions and inside was this photo:
http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mdtpetri/chaosium.jpg
From the pics on Tadashi's Different Worlds website, I can figure out that is him on the right.  I imagine that is you in the middle

Boy, that's me. Quite the hippy, eh?
although I can't seem to find any recent photos of you on the net.  
I'll have to post some. You can look at my new web site, still in progress, www.weareallus.com, for one.

Who is that on the left?  The picture is from Origins 78.

That is Cam, my first wife.


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