Wishing a Happy Birthday to Dave Arneson, we wish you were still with us!
So are you one of the few people celebrating today? One of the few that are in the know as to who Dave Arneson is and what he did in creating a new kind of game, in creating Dungeons & Dragons and in creating an entire hobby which has spawned countless imitators?
I have a new question today and that is, "When you found out that a significant part of Blackmoor Supplement II for OD&D was not written by Arneson and was not Blackmoor stuff, did you wonder why that was?"
The answer to that is pretty easy and the answer is IMO Tim Kask. What is IMO the deep, unabated, bitter hatred that Tim Kask has for Dave Arneson is well documented all over the Internet, much of it in Tim Kask's own words. The real reason that Tim Kask hates Dave Arneson is IMO pretty darn obvious and doesn't need to be spelled out here.
Here are the facts as best I can determine them.
At the Dragonsfoot forums Tim Kask has a Q&A thread and it is mostly very entertaining. When you look at the forum as a visitor (i.e. not logged in) the relevant passage for what happened to the Blackmoor Supplement is on page 8 towards the bottom of the page Tim Kask posted on Fri May 25, 2007 at 4:33 am. I am not going to quote the whole thing you can read that for yourselves. Here is the IMO perfect storm that derailed the potential of the Blackmoor Supplement.
Upon going into work that fateful morning I was greeted by the grinning visages of Brian and Gary, looking like siblings from the same litter of Cheshire cats. Sensing that something was up, and that it undoubtedly involved me, and that furthermore, I might not be thrilled about it, I got ready to fill that day’s orders. At that point, I was handed one of the aforementioned baskets, filled with what I mistook to be orders. Seldom have I been so wrong. Over the sound of Brian nearly chortling to death, Gary informed me that they were now going to find out just how well I could edit. The basket contained what was destined to become Supplement II of D&D: Blackmoor
So here we are, the two don't like each other (and won't work together) and so Blume and Gygax IMO decided to mess with Kask and Arneson at the same time.
Sifting through about 50 odd sheets of mostly handwritten material and charts, I asked for clarification. Again I was informed that what I held in my hands was the next supplement to D&D.
Here the shoe drops
So here I am, next week, and I sit down to go through the file. Uh oh, something seems to be amiss. I tried sorting the stuff; I re-sorted the stuff. I cataloged, alphabetized, prioritized and sanitized,all to no avail. This was a file folder full of repetitions, contradictions, duplications and complications. But not a supplement. I found three different versions of one idea, and two different approaches to another that are at odds with each other, as well as previously published guidelines. After two evenings of trying to make heads or tales of anything at all, I went to Gary and told him something to the effect that I couldn’t make heads or tails of the whole mess. And he replied something to the effect that it just needed some editing. About this time, I realized I was in deep dung.
Yeah, here the other shoe drops
When I made an effort to get clarifications and explanations, I got none, or worse, what I got in response to my questions were responses that intimated that I must be mentally deficient if I couldn’t understand them. Finally I said to hell with that and threw most of the crap away, determined to start over and do it my way.
IMO all the previous strife between these two now came together to rob the world of what could have been a wonderful supplement. He threw it away, really, he threw it away. In that one sentence any chance of my ever having any respect for Tim Kask was extinguished. I already had zero respect for the Blumes due to IMO the disaster of having them anywhere near D&D and TSR and the respect for Gygax was greatly reduced by this chain of events. Granted Dave should have sucked it up and explained things to Kask and made the attempt to get his supplement out the door with more of his stuff in it.
But here is what we missed out on, a real supplement, an idea supplement, I don't care if there were 30 different versions of an idea, it would have been awesome to have seen all the different ways that you could look at an idea, maybe in ways that most of us would never have seen. We had a chance to peer into the mind of a genius and we lost it. It is a shame that all of this stuff did not end up published in some form, but I am betting that those were unique originals that were thrown away. The same way the originals that Dave originally gave to Gary were lost or thrown away.
This was a file folder full of repetitions, contradictions, duplications and complications.
But not a supplement. I found three different versions of one idea, and two different approaches to another that are at odds with each other, as well as previously published guidelines.
Yeah, I wanted to see all of that, all of that, all of that!!!!
Here is where TSR (and later WotC many times) missed the opportunity to provide the kind of supplement that old school players wanted, raw ideas, who cares if one thing contradicts another, ideas a valuable. Especially the ideas that a Gygax or a Kask would discard.
Many of us have talked and one guy says that Dave Hargrave is the only published guy that really understood Arneson and did stuff a lot like Arneson. Both understood the grab bag of ideas good and "bad" and that any idea triggers other ideas. Most people look at a supplement and think they have ot use all of it, only a few realized that all rules are optional guidelines, especially from supplements.
Dave here is a toast to what might have been in a more perfect world.!