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Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:25 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
MShipley88 wrote:
Could you comment on Moorcock's contention that the license contract no longer applies?

No, I don't know anything about the current state of Chaosium's licenses.
I've not been involved with them for over seven years. I don't even know what Chaosium is publishing these days.
Sorry.
Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:31 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
MShipley88 wrote:
What is the relationship between the Chaosium game, Elric, and the Avalon Hill version...and/or the Japanese company's version.?

When Chaosium became successful with rpg's we decided that we couldn't spend any more energy on boardgames. They took twice as long to create as an rpg, cost twice as much to publish, and sold half as much.
I'd always dreamed of having a boardgame published by Avalon HIll. I played my first AH game in the 50's I think--I'd have to look up the date (it was U-Boat. I still have it, with the little metal ships!).
We thought it'd be a waste to leave the boardgames to die, so we went to AH to sell them to them. We made the deal and they began publishing the games. Then the licensed it to the Japanese. I never actually saw a copy of the Japanese version. Wish they'd sent us some.
   
Quote:
Also, is Elric, Battle at the End of Time another version of the same game, or a different game?

Hmmm, I don't know off hand. I'd rather expose my ignorance on the subject than act out of ignorance. So, what can you tell me of it? Date, publisher, etc?
MShipley88
Verbose Collector


Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Last Visit: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 1891
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:22 pm Reply with quote Back to top

http://cgi.ebay.ie/1981-Chosium-wargame-ELRIC-Battle-at-the-End-of-Tim e_W0QQitemZ8827291366QQcategoryZ2531QQssPageNameZWD2VQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewI tem

    Here is a link to an Ebay sale for this item.  It certainly looks like the Elric game.

    Was there more than one Chaosium edition...possibly under a different name?

Mark   Cool
Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:57 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
darkseraphim wrote:
First off, I'd like to say that Chaosium was, to me, the paragon of quality RPG design.  

That was always our object. We often had an internal struggle of Art vs. Business. IN general, Art won. It's too bad hat Business had to lose--it'd have been nice to have some commercial success too. Smile
   
Quote:
So in short, thanks!

You are welcome. As the Art Guy, it's gratifying to know we were successful.    
Quote:

Can you speak at any length about the average print runs Chaosium products went through?  .

You're asking or info from decades ago, and I never much memorized that data. I have no access to the ancient records, but I still recall the most pertinent facts.    
Quote:

Average number of copies produced, sell-through, reclamation, editions etc.?  Even something as simple as the average print run (excluding sales if need be) of an average CoC, Pendragon, Elric or RuneQuest supplement vs. ruleset would be very helpful

Here's the basic data: For the first decade or so that we were in business, when we got out of the ziplock bag era (which was pretty quick) our average initial print run was usually 5,000 copies. We almost always sold at least 2,000 on the autoship, and almost always sold it out in the first year or less. We reprinted at that level for quote a while, then we learned about that strange thing called cash flow, and generally cut down the reprints to 3,000. Nonetheless, we generally sold that in a year too. When we couldn't anymore, we realized the market had started to decline.    
Quote:

The reason why I ask is this:  It's of immense interest to collectors, because print runs directly influence surviving copies and therefore rarity.  Some RPG items (cough TSR Demigods w/Cthulhu cough) tend to develop a mystique that causes their perceived value and rarity to go through the roof, when the actual print history tells another story entirely. For Chaosium products specifically, I've often gotten into long and fruitless debates over just how rare XYZ is and how much/little we as collectors should be buying and selling it for.  The financial and rarity aspects of the hobby are of interest not only to sellers, but also to collectors on a budget.  It's one of the first questions newcomers to the hobby always ask me, and my answer is always necessarily partial and ambiguous.

Yes, I understand that. I wish I could rattle off all the numbers you want. So it goes, though. Of course, the answer is "However much you can bear, and how badly you want it." And of course, some people just don't want to let go of their prizes, so that raises the price too. But yes, I understand.    
Quote:

I do realize that this information is sensitive to procure, because it speaks directly to a company's profitability.  

Profitability? Gee, it'd have nice to have some of that! Smile
Exaggerating, actually. We were a strange little company in those days, and we did make a good profit for decades. We went broke twice, but becasue we were strange, we got through it anyway.    
Quote:

If you can give us some idea of how many copies of various things may be out there, that would be great; if not I fully understand.
Personal items of particular interest would be:
RuneQuest 1st Ed
CoC 1st Ed
Masks of Nyarlathotep boxed
Pendragon Knights Adventurous

I am pretty sure all of hose had an initial print run of 5,000. I can't make a realiable estimate of how many times they were reprinted, but I know there are experts out there who could tell me that.
   
Quote:
Thank you for your time.

You are welcome. I hope these vague answers are helpful.
Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:00 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
MShipley88 wrote:
Here is a link to an Ebay sale for this item.  It certainly looks like the Elric game.
    Was there more than one Chaosium edition...possibly under a different name?

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.
Alexander1968
Prolific Collector


Joined: 24 Nov 2002
Last Visit: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 331
Location: Brescia, Italy

PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:15 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
Greg Stafford wrote:

Thanks!
I'm here to answer questions about Chaosium products from the time that I was president there, share stories from the "old days" and offer whatever else I can that is of value to this group.

GREG STAFFORD!  Shocked  Very Happy Wow! Internet never stops to surprise me!
Ethesis
Prolific Collector


Joined: 26 Feb 2005
Last Visit: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 197

PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:58 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
Greg Stafford wrote:
   
Ethesis wrote:
Pendragon is still ground breaking, after all these years.

Thank you. I think so too. Smile
And if anyone hasn't seen the new 5th edition from White Wolf, go out and get it! There will be naother of my "life works," The Great Pendragon Campaign coming out for it soon, too.


I always wanted to do a grail quest for Pendragon -- with the grail having a Christain, a Celtic and a Viking meaning, and whoever brought it home determining the future history of England along the model of the meaning that was brought home.

I'm glad to hear the new 5th edition is praiseworthy, thanks for the tip.
Xaxaxe
Valuation Board


Joined: 04 Nov 2004
Last Visit: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 1128
Location: Biggest Little City

PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:09 am Reply with quote Back to top

   
Ethesis wrote:
I always wanted to do a grail quest for Pendragon -- with the grail having a Christain, a Celtic and a Viking meaning, and whoever brought it home determining the future history of England along the model of the meaning that was brought home.

Meaning no disrespect at all to Rob Kuntz and his latest project, but this idea I would pay to see developed.
MShipley88
Verbose Collector


Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Last Visit: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 1891
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:06 am Reply with quote Back to top

But, of course, the Viking Age was 200 years in the future in Arthur's time...and Celtic England was Christian England....they were the same thing.  How about Saxons versus Celts versus Picts?

Mark   Cool
grubbiv
Active Collector


Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Last Visit: 25 Jun 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 12:19 am Reply with quote Back to top

Hi Greg,

If you are still responding to questions, I would be interested to know whether you are a Carlos Castaneda fan, and whether he had any influence on Glorantha.
MShipley88
Verbose Collector


Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Last Visit: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 1891
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 4:38 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
grubbiv wrote:
Hi Greg,

If you are still responding to questions, I would be interested to know whether you are a Carlos Castaneda fan, and whether he had any influence on Glorantha.


And, if you are a fan, how did the album Hotel California affect the development of Runequest?

Mark   Laughing
Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:03 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
grubbiv wrote:
If you are still responding to questions,

Sorry to take so long to reply. Somehow or other (my new window washer program?) I got bumped off of the "automatic notification" for this forum.
   
Quote:
I would be interested to know whether you are a Carlos Castaneda fan, and whether he had any influence on Glorantha.

As for Carlos' books, I was a fan, back in the 60's when it was new stuff. But I noticed that the books were always so trendy that it made me suspicious.
AND as I studied shamanism and practiced more closely, they got even more dicey. I never finished reading the series.
Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:05 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
MShipley88 wrote:
   
grubbiv wrote:
If you are still responding to questions, I would be interested to know whether you are a Carlos Castaneda fan, and whether he had any influence on Glorantha.

And, if you are a fan, how did the album Hotel California affect the development of Runequest?
Mark   Laughing

Actually, I was even less of a fan of the Eagles than of Carlos.
Calithena
Active Collector


Joined: 07 Nov 2005
Last Visit: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2006 11:34 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Hi Greg -

If you're still on this thread...I was wondering about a couple of things relating to your relationship in the early days with Dave Hargrave. First, it's sometimes rumored that the first Arduin Grimoire was meant to be a system for Glorantha/Runequest that you opted not to use (sensibly IMO - Hargrave's strong suit was bursts of imaginative vision and re-vision, at least to judge from his writings - I'm a huge fan of his work but have never been tempted to use most of his mechanics, even back in the seventies).

Second, did you two have a falling out? I remember an article from New West in 1980 that sort of implied that. Did you ever patch it up afterwards? Any interesting anecdotes to share about Hargrave in general?

Any light you could shed would be much appreciated. You two (along with EGG and Paul Jaquays) were pretty much my gaming heroes when I was a kid, so I've always been curious about this.
Greg Stafford
Active Collector


Joined: 12 Jun 2006
Last Visit: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:09 am Reply with quote Back to top

   
Calithena wrote:
I was wondering about a couple of things relating to your relationship in the early days with Dave Hargrave. First, it's sometimes rumored that the first Arduin Grimoire was meant to be a system for Glorantha/Runequest that you opted not to use

Dave was a local guy, so I knew him through the early D&D circle here. Just about all the RPGers knew each other in those days (Perrin, Pimper, Henderson, Hargrave. Not me, really...)
When Chaosium began began publishing rpg material I asked Dave about Arduin (in which I had played a bit) and he assured me it was a "complete game system." I said I'd publish it then, but when I got the manuscript it clearly was not a complete game system. I went ahead and had someone start to lay it out (which, in those days, meant using a selectric typewriter), but the typist found it to be impossible, what with all the tables, his horrid spelling and the general awkwardness of a non-gamer trying to write not just game but Arduin stuff. He kept promising to turn in the rest of the complete system. It never came, and coupled with the typist's problems, I told him I wasn't going to publish it.
   
Quote:

Second, did you two have a falling out?

Yes. He was pretty angry about me "backing out." He stopped talking ot me and pretty much badmouthed me afterwards for years. People--you know the troublemaking sort of gossipers--would tell me about it. I just let it slide. Oh yea, look in one of his spell lists too, for somethign about "Staffor'd Selective Rainbow" or somethign, which drops people out of the sky when they least expect it.
   
Quote:
I remember an article from New West in 1980 that sort of implied that.

Local then, are you? Great article, eh? Moria Johnson, it was. She wrote that thing to make me a hero of RPG and Dave a villian (remember his comment about bodybags? He was never very tactful)
   
Quote:
Did you ever patch it up afterwards?

Years went by. One day we wanted to do a sort of commemorative Call of Cthulhu supplement, so I contacted him and asked him to contribute. He'd been having a pretty bad time--divorce, bad health. He was surprised, but sent in a sort of Cthulhu dungeon. It was almost rejected, but I wanted it in even though it was really contrary to the game. Then next time I saw him he came up and apologized, etc. I was glad for that. Why hold grudges for pete's sake? He died a short while after that.
   
Quote:
Any interesting anecdotes to share about Hargrave in general? ... Hargrave's strong suit was bursts of imaginative vision and re-vision, at least to judge from his writings - I'm a huge fan of his work but have never been tempted to use most of his mechanics, even back in the seventies).

Your analysis is pretty good, though his "bursts" could be pretty sustained.
As I said, Dave was a local gamemaster and, frankly, one of the best. He could narrate really well, keeping just enough suspense and surprise to make everyone enjoy it.
He had a regular group he played with and they got to umpty-ump levels of power. I remember one of my friends telling me about the climax of an adventure wherein they were in a bolo tank fighting off Smaug and Shelob. I think that was the one where the player, Rory Root who owns a local comic store now, rolled three or five criticals in a row and destroyed the monsters and brought the entire umpty-levels of the dungeon crashing down on them all.
Dave's Arduin had just about everything in it. You'd just tell him what kind of adventure you wanted and he'd direct the characters to wherever was appropriate. He also had the Arduin Sex Tour, a rather gross but nonetheless amusing series of encounters across the land, before which you would roll for certain body part stats for all the characters. But that was just a lark, not the emphasis.
He didn't give a hoot about realism or consistancy, except within the terms of the game. No one who played in his games cared about that anyway. It was great fun.
Also, as you said, his style didn't appeal to me too much either, and I was into RuneQuest and didn't play too much with him.
   
Quote:

You two (along with EGG and Paul Jaquays) were pretty much my gaming heroes when I was a kid, so I've always been curious about this.

Thank you.
MShipley88
Verbose Collector


Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Last Visit: 19 Aug 2006
Posts: 1891
Location: Washington State

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:34 am Reply with quote Back to top

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?

Mark   Cool
Xaxaxe
Valuation Board


Joined: 04 Nov 2004
Last Visit: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 1128
Location: Biggest Little City

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:21 am Reply with quote Back to top

Greg,

First, let me say I'm glad you've stuck around after what was, I'm sure, an unsettling introduction here.

My question:

I've always been curious about whether the designers and industry leaders from, say, the mid- to late-70s, knew each other and what their level of communication was.

You mentioned a fairly strong gaming scene in the Bay Area ... but did any of you guys know anyone in the "Phoenix group" (the Tunnels & Trolls gang)? Were the names coming out of Lake Geneva just shadowy legends, or did you actually know some of them? Were you familiar with Howard Thompson and Steve Jackson down in Texas?

And, in an era of no internet and no e-mail, I'd imagine conventions were a big key, as much a social gathering as a chance to sell games. Would that be accurate? Also, the magazines from that era: it seems like a lot of you guys designing games actually took the time to contribute to each others' magazines is that how you remember it?

Finally and this will sound lame but did you write a lot of letters back then?** I mean, I'm not sure I can remember my last letter that wasn't actually an invoice I was sending out. E-mail has made me pathologicially lazy in that regard ... Smile I'm curious as to the level of so-called "snail mail" that you sent out.

Thanks in advance.

+++++

** [late addition: that should have been re-worded somehow to reflect that I'm only really asking about gaming-related correspondence ... your personal letters, of course, are none of my damn business. Smile ]


Last edited by Xaxaxe on Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
Xaxaxe
Valuation Board


Joined: 04 Nov 2004
Last Visit: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 1128
Location: Biggest Little City

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:59 am Reply with quote Back to top

   
Xaxaxe wrote:
My question:

I've always been curious about whether the designers and industry leaders from, say, the mid- to late-70s, knew each other and what their level of communication was.

As many of my English teachers said throughout the years: "That's not a question." Smile
Calithena
Active Collector


Joined: 07 Nov 2005
Last Visit: 08 Aug 2006
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:16 am Reply with quote Back to top

Thanks for the information, Greg!

Xaxaxe, you might be interested in this thread:

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=181356&page=1&pp=10

in which I and others discuss the early years of gaming in the Bay Area...there was a really interesting big meta-group. These years of 'open gaming' had their drawbacks, but having started out in the tail end of this period on the West Coast, I remember there were some great things about it too...in some ways it seemed like everyone was playing the same game, just with different rules. (This is I think one reason for the ambiguity D&D/FRP/RPG that persists to this day, the other being D&D's overall market dominance of course.) IYou could easily bring the same characters from table to table even though the published rules in force might be very different at each one.

Greg,

   
Quote:
Oh yea, look in one of his spell lists too, for somethign about "Staffor'd Selective Rainbow" or somethign, which drops people out of the sky when they least expect it.
 

This is actually a subtle bit of humor I never noticed, not knowing the story. In The Arduin Grimoire we find:

Name: STAFFORD'S STAR BRIDGE Level: 9th Mana Cost: 18 plus 1 per minute after 10 minutes Range: 120' Area Affected: Variable  Effects: A rainbow-hued bridge of coruscating light 5' wide and 20' long per level over level needed for use. It will carry any weight, cannot be hit by non-magikal things, and can be keyed to support any single type (or more), letting all others fall through selectively.

If the story behind this is as you say it's a rather sad and poetic lament, after its fashion: here you were, offering 'the bridge to the stars', but Dave had been let fall through 'selectively.'

   
Quote:
Local then, are you? Great article, eh? Moria Johnson, it was. She wrote that thing to make me a hero of RPG and Dave a villian (remember his comment about bodybags? He was never very tactful)


I know that Dave also read it that way and was very hurt by the article, but actually reading it as a ten year old kid it made me want to play with both of you (even as a kid I wasn't much for the 'family' concerns that she raised about Dave's game and which he went to so much length to combat by getting a 'Christian' endorsement for The Arduin Adventure later on, which is actually a rather nice rules-lite fantasy game off the basic template). I remember lying in my grandmother's guest bed dreaming of exploring Snake Pipe Hollow with your players...

   
Quote:
He was surprised, but sent in a sort of Cthulhu dungeon. It was almost rejected, but I wanted it in even though it was really contrary to the game.


The infamous Black Devil Mountain if I recall correctly. It's quite a good dungeon in its way, but the problem of course is that Call of Cthulhu isn't in most applications a dungeoneering game. As I recall that same volume had another one by Hargrave, Dark Carnival, which was a little more in the CoC spirit. I always loved reading his writing and actually solod some out-powered characters through BDM, so it did get some use.

   
Quote:
Your analysis is pretty good, though his "bursts" could be pretty sustained.


Oh, I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. You and M.A.R. Barker were always the models for integrated world-builders, but there's a lot of pure gold in Hargrave's stuff. So many of those spells, magic items, treasures and the like exhibit a kind of raw creativity which was a real gift of his and which have a wonderful sort of old-school S&S feel. Also, the lists he published of inns, calendars, NPCs and so forth were a big influence on me and many other GMs (some now with famous published worlds) - copying this stuff was a practical route to making your world come alive in a time when there basically wasn't much like that out there unless you were reading the 'zines. And then, also, his general GMing advice and 'take a troll to lunch' philosophy seems ever more important to me the way that RPG gaming seems to be going, with these highly managed product lines and intricately interconnected systems. I know that my DMing style owes as much to Hargrave's writings as anyone else's, even though I tend to run more low powered and aesthetically unified stuff.

Those first three Grimoires sold a great number of copies and influenced a lot of people - as just one example Jon Tweet and Monte Cook both paid homage to them not long after 3e was published.

Thanks for the stories about Dave's GMing. I had a chance to play in one of his games once, but I didn't know the middleman very well and being a South Bay product and underage with no car I didn't feel comfortable trying to make my own way out to Concord or whatever it was. I'll always deeply regret not following up on that, since there aren't going to be any more chances now.
Xaxaxe
Valuation Board


Joined: 04 Nov 2004
Last Visit: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 1128
Location: Biggest Little City

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:26 pm Reply with quote Back to top

   
Calithena wrote:
Thanks for the information, Greg!

Xaxaxe, you might be interested in this thread:

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=181356&page=1&pp=10

Holy guacamole check out the guy with 29,000 posts! Shocked

That's more than even Al's total. Smile
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