Monday, April 29, 2013

Tactical Studies Hobbies, an Oddity in Letterhead

In mid-1975, the partnership of Tactical Studies Rules underwent a transformation into TSR Hobbies, Inc. A number of factors motivated this transition, including the need to reorganize following the death of Don Kaye, as well as the company's increasing ambitions in the mail-order and retail hobby sales business (the first steps towards the Dungeon Hobby Shop). The newly-constituted TSR Hobbies, Inc. acquired the assets of Tactical Studies Rules, and work on game development proceeded under the TSR Hobbies, Inc. umbrella. If, however, you received mail from TSR at just the right time in 1975, you might have found the oddity shown here: the transitional name "Tactical Studies Hobbies." To explore the territory around this curious company-that-never-was, let's take a tour of TSR's early letterheads.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Dalluhn Manuscript: In Detail and On Display

[EDIT: This post has now been superseded by several more recent articles, most importantly this one about how the CONTAX group in Duluth created this document. Prior to that, it was also superseded here by a post about the "Mornard Fragments," a partial 1973 Gygax working draft of D&D. The rest of this post is left here for people interested in the history of the research around this draft.]

It's been a few months since I've discussed the Dalluhn Manuscript here. In the intervening time, I have conducted a more thorough study of the document, consulted with forensics experts and early gamers, and assembled my findings to date into a paper that I present here along with a few exhibits [updated December 2015]. Those brave few who have complained that they found PatW too short may take solace in this substantial addition. Like the book, this appendix is dense, scholarly reading, but I'm working on a friendlier account that I hope will appear soon (EDIT: in issue #2 of Gygax magazine). For the impatient, I provide a high-level introduction to the evidence below. I believe the paper establishes that the Dalluhn Manuscript preserves the earliest currently known version of the game of Dungeons & Dragons.

The publication of this "interim appendix" coincides with a development in the availability of the Dalluhn Manuscript: I have loaned the original copy of this to the National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. It goes on display there this coming weekend, on April 13th, 2013, as a feature of their Game Time! exhibit, along with many other interesting artifacts from the history of modern gaming. If want to see it first hand, do drop by; there are plenty of other amazing pieces of history on display.