How does the company that started it all with D&D go from scrappy publisher to media giant only to lose it all in the end? We're taking a look back at how it all began.
Dungeons & Dragons defines the roleplaying game industry as we know it. It is the continental shelf upon which the rest of the tabletop RPG ecosystem rests. But its massive footprint wasn’t always as secure as it was. The company that created it--and founded an entire industry--has since faded into obscurity. The story of Dungeons & Dragons is the story of the rise and fall of TSR.
In 1974, a single publishing company would launch an entire industry with just one thousand copies of a game. For the next nine years, the industry grew by leaps and bounds, and it all started because a couple of hobbyists couldn’t find a company to publish their amateur wargame rules. The creation of TSR is wrapped up in the creation of D&D, so let’s take a brief look at how that came to pass.
Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, miniatures wargaming was on the rise in America, complete with its own conventions. Gen Con (a convention whose name you’ll recognize) first debuted in 1968 through the International Federation of Wargamers. That’s where the first influences for D&D come about. At this first Gen Con, Gary Gygax gets involved in medieval miniatures games, checking...