Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Gygax Memorial Fund - I Was Asked to Give Gail "a couple of weeks" - It's been 2 1/2 Months

So, just over a month ago the Gygax Memorial Fund posted their 2015 tax return. Before you ask, why so late, it wasn't submitted until June 10th (she was meeting with the accountant in the first week of May - see conversation down below)

We were promised an audit after the taxes were filed. I guess time will tell on that.

The 2 year delay has been blamed on the fight with the city council on the actual location of the monument. That fight is still ongoing. Here we are, 2 1/2 months after the last update of the Fund's Facebook page, promising a "call to order". I hope Gail realizes that she will get very little response to her call when she can't even bother giving fans, friends and backers regular updates.

Now, how about part of a conversation that I had with someone that claimed to have talked directly with Gail via phone. He (who shall currently remain nameless, but I have have screenshots of the entire Facebook chat) told me the following back on April 29th (just posting highlights of what was told to me):

Ahoy ahoy! Got a sec? 
I spoke to Gail today and made some headway. 
She's going to have an audit done of the memorial and share it with the public in the next week or so. (That never happened)
Please don't quote that. Let's see if it rolls out within the next week or two. 
Speaking/exchanging messages with her is frustrating but I made some big progress today. 
I hammered her today and finally got through. Let's give her a couple of weeks. She meets with the accountant next week and told him to get a third part auditor to do the audit. 
If she fails on deliverables I'll take our entire conversation public via youZ 
She "gets it" now about why silence is failing her. 
Have had two different people confirm she's in negotiations for print. (Games, maps, notes.) 
She gets it now. 
As I said I hammered her. 
Gamers. She has been burned. Badly. 
My advice is let me share my conversations with Ken Whitman with you and change the conversation for a couple of weeks. (WTF, right? I mean, Whitman writes his own updates. Is this considered bribery in the world of Journalism?)
Let's give her a chance to do right. She's asked for my help in writing updates. 
Told her she misses a deliverable I walk away. Publicly. 
I will keep you updated. Would like to trade notes. 
I think she gets it.
No, I don't think "she gets it." I don't think she ever will. I think the gaming community is seen as a tool for Gail to fund the Memorial and have it placed where she wants it, but that the Memorial was never about the gaming community. Personally, I don't think Gail has much respect for the gaming community. I could be wrong, but actions speak louder than words, and she has very little of both for the gaming community that she needs the support of.

No updates.

No deliverables.

No public walking away.

This is no longer "a couple of weeks." It's now 2 1/2 months.

All in all you're just another brick in the wall - Pink Floyd

About those bricks...


  1. What more is there to be said about Ken Whitman? At this point we all know more than enough about him.

    1. That's what so many of us said almost 15 years ago.

      And yet...

  2. Isn't it about time to have the suckers....errr, fans....start buying those bricks? All of those who don't keep close watch on what is happening here....which, admittedly, is most of fandom....would gladly fork over the bread for a personalized brick to nowhere.

  3. The Gygax syndicate have treated fans and the gaming industry like crap since the early 1980s. Why did any of you think they would start acting differently now? I realize that E.Gary (and Dave Arenson) created the first rpg, but TSR was poorly run and was used as a cash machine for that family, with little concern for fans or the industry.

    1. That statement is so full of crap that it qualifies as fertilizer.

  4. By this time, anyone putting faith in Gail, or believing anything she says, is seriously delusional. I'm sorry if anyone is offended by that, but it's the simple truth.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Nothing I do lets me comment unless I choose "Unknown (Google)". *sigh*

    I object to the use of "Gygax Syndicate." Luke and Ernie are not a part of these shenanigans and, in fact, have been targets for lawsuits for daring to use their own name in gaming products.

    Hans Cummings
    VFF Publishing

    1. They did not dare to "use their name" in products. The worked with a third person to attempt to trademark the surname which could have prevented Gail from exercising her legal rights--the right that Gary knowingly and willingly gave to her.

      I think the Gygax brothers are nice people and mean well, but that attempt IMO was a foolish mistake and they paid the price for that.

    2. Actually, no.

      Gail asserted a Trademark on the name for the purposes of periodicals AFTER Gygax Magazine had been launched. So no, get your facts straight.

      As for Gary "giving" her the trademark? She's pretty much abandoned them for the purposes of use and seems only interested in using them for litigation. Pretty soon they'll all be moot since you have to actually USE a Trademark to be able to defend it.

    3. Actually, your only speaking about the Federal Trademark. When Gygax magazine media were launched, they were attempting to use the common law TM. So yes, they made they attempt, which IMO forced Gail to go on the defensive. (And that makes you wonder why they never filed for federal in the first place, which is legal stuff 101).

      To be honest, Gary never wanted his name trademarked while he was alive because due to legal stuff like Bankruptcy if you lose the trademark you actually lose the rights to your name. It was this attempt to trademark the magazine that caused this kerfuffle--and quite frankly, it could have been avoided if they weren't insistent on just using the surname, which is not famous in the gaming world from Luke and Ernie, but from Gary. I'm sure if they used Gygax Brothers, or the full names, this wouldn't have been an issue.

    4. First, just because it is a pet peeve? "You're" If you want to talk about legal matters, a little care helps perceptions.

      Now then...that isn't how it works. "TM" is indeed a common law mark that shows that you are asserting a trademark but have not registered it. It can be used to establish first use in commerce when going for registration and is also grounds to BLOCK a registration attempt. Registering a trademark is advantageous, but is not a legal requirement. Trademark protection depends on use in commerce, not registration.

      In the meantime, Gail had no existing trademark for magazines or periodicals and instead filed for one AFTER Gygax magazine existed. So no, she didn't go on the defensive at all, she went on the offensive. She was not protecting a trademark, she decided to undermine a legitimate mark and supplant it with her own. BIG difference.

      Now, due to the settlement, she has Gygax Magazine's publication dates as her recognized first use in commerce.

      But hey, one more thing added to Gail's dragon-like horde of things she didn't create and doesn't use. I don't mind that she didn't create the IP, people inherit IP all the time. I think that many of us are pretty appalled by her treatment of the family as well as her ongoing promises to do X followed by nothing at all.

      You can defend her all you want. That's your right after all. But me? Not a fan...nor will I ever be.

    5. Everyone in the hobby knows who I am. Who are you, JRT? From your inferences, you would have us believe that you are an intimate in Gail's circle of mis-advisers. Why do you hide behind initials and a blog site with no info? Are you a paid PR-shill for Gail?

      Your mis-information concerning Gygax Magazine is appalling.

      Your defense of her actions in denying Luke and Ernie their birthright, their surname, is indefensible.

    6. If you do a search on this subject you get threads going back years on Dragonsfoot and EN World. One of the threads on Dragonsfoot mentions a John Troy. Not sure if that is the same person.

      Whoever he is, JRT does appear to be a self-appointed white knight for Gail.

    7. I don't "hide", JRT are my initials, for John R. Troy. It's like "kaskoid".

      Also, what does your status in the industry have anything to do with an argument? Being well known in the industry doesn't make your statements better or worse. As far as my "status", here's Gygax's statement on the matter.

      "The author once again give thanks to John R. Troy for several encounters contained herin. As usual, the stalwart "JRT" was free with comments, criticisms, and creative contributions. I keep encouraging John to write a work of his own, but he is reluctant, preferring, I suppose, to assist in smaller ways on many projects of mine and other authors too. So her is yet another acknowledgement of John's efforts" (Yggsburg, page 255)

      So, yeah, that's who I am. Of course, it's not as "sexy" as a guy who was there from the mythical beginning, when things were better and all was happier with the world, which seems to be the bent of the Internet nowadays. And yes, I am friends with Gail--but I don't have anything to do with her publishing or involve myself with that.

      As far as being a "paid shill", nope. Never ever got paid by Gary or Gail in my life. In fact, Gail has suggested I adopt her take and just let you guys rant on and on and not let it get to me. Unfortunately, I do feel the need to defend her since I think Gary would be appalled at the behavior of some of the people out there. Quite frankly, all this really does for me is give me an ucler and some Internet hatred.

      I'm curious as to my "misinformation" of Gygax magazine. I've tried to stick to the facts as best as I can. A few people wanted to do a magazine. Gail objected. The people behind the magazine for whatever reason didn't apply for federal registration, Gail did, legal words were exchanged, the majority share of TSR decided to make a deal with Gail, Luke and Ernie left, shortly after the magazine folded. The rest is a debate about the ethics involved--who should have the rights to commercially exploit a trademark that gets its power from Gary Gygax's fame.

      As far as denying their "birthright", their "surname". Well, nothing prevents them from putting their names on the product, despite all the attempts others try to frame that misinformation, nothing prevents them from using their full name. They just can't trademark the surname by itself so they can sell more stuff. (And usually surnames are considered weak trademarks anyway).

      And let's remember something, if we are talking about Birthrights--it's based on what Gary Gygax wanted and merit invovled. I had good knowledge of what Gary worked on since 1993. In that time, Gail was always involved with Trigee, doing a lot of the business stuff, working a day job so Gary wouldn't have to compromise and do that himself, working on accounting, legal, etc. Meantime, outside of being "playtesters", none of Gary's kids were seriously involved in writing or assisting in any of the post TSR stuff (nor, quite frankly, were they very involved in the creation their own works during the TSR days). Those are easily verifiable facts, if you look at Gary's bibliography and Internet history. The other Gygax's have never challenged the Will, for instance (we probably would have heard about it if they did).

    8. So, ignore what you think is "right" for the material--who should get priority here? If it was somebody outside of gaming, how would you vote.

      I can't speak for anybody's motives. I mean, whether you are Gail or Luke, for instance--you could have the most noble of intentions, you could truly believe in your cause, or you could be actually defying Gary's wishes and wanting to do your own thing. We can't read minds, other may have biases as well--I have an extreme cynical take because of what I've seen in the first few years since Gary passed--I think anybody who wants to publish or commercially use Gary's works might be "corrupt". Because I don't believe publishing is inherently noble in and of itself--I simply have to go with who Gary ultimately picked.

      As far as "white knighting" goes, well, let me say why I pop in and do that from time to time. It's because I think there's a warped perception going on. For the few contrarians like myself, you have probably 100 people willing to "white knight" Luke and Ernie, not based on whether they actually knew them well, but because they are the legendary Tenser and Melf, and not based on actual knowledge of what Gary wanted--they see a headline, "Gail sues Gary's kids, gets TSR magazine cancelled", get mad, and join the bully brigade without even trying. I saw Alex defend his Mom and get eviscerated by fans, and it just shows how ugly the fandom gets.

      I think people are more motivated by what they want to read rather than how Gary might have felt or what he truly wanted. At the very least, I want people to think and do some research, and not let their passion for the material overshadow things.

  7. Steve Crompton: That's a poor history of the failings at TSR. The omission of the Blumes and Ms. Williams -- and their running TSR into the ground both before and after Mr. Gygax's ouster -- shapes a different picture than the truth.

    As to the current misadventures, Gygax Games/Gygax Memorial Fund are to Gary's legacy as Saul Zaentz/Tolkien Enterprises (now Middle-Earth Enterprises) are to J.R.R. Tolkien's legacy.

    1. That's also a flawed analogy, because Saul Zaentz basically got an open-ended licensing deal from Tolkien, which was kept in perpetuity.

      Gary chose Gail, nobody else. Not his kids, not his former co-workers, and not the fans.

  8. I've never met a Gygax that I didnt like. Gary and his sons/daughters have always been wonderful to fans in my experience. And I have fond memories of my interactions with Gail and Gary. They were gracious hosts, opening up their front porch to gamers.

    I don't know enough about the memorial or the details to comment.

    I do hope it works out for everyone concerned.

    1. Thank you, Jolly. I could not have said that better myself.

    2. One of the reasons I've defended Gail for these years (and gotten plenty of flack for that), is basically based on what Jolly has said. People who actually knew and interacted with Gail in the past have had nothing but nice things to say about her. So, most of fandom didn't have any problem with her--heck, the ENWorld guys were amazed how gracious she was letting Gary play games with them at GenCon during their anniversary.

      Then, she decides to do something different (and unpopular) and all the sudden, the anger.

    3. I keep my focus on the Fund for certain reasons, not the least of which is has to have a certain amount of transparency as a non profit entity.

      The Trust is a whole different entity and operates under different rules.

    4. Sadly those memories have faded since Gail used her unilateral control of the fund to waste years pushing for "her" vision over those of fans or the people of Lake Geneva. Thus we have nearly a decade with no memorial, no publications celebrating the Gygax name and no plan for anything at all. Sad state of affairs.

    5. Except that for some, the memories haven't faded. I've never seen the ENWorld folks who had that game turn against Gail. Guys like Jolly seem to not let the current arguments affect their respect for the people. I know of a few people other than myself who still have the good memories. It seems the people who are the most mad about this are those who dislike Gail either stopping the publications, or getting Gygax magazine cancelled, mostly the hard core old-school gamers, I guess.

      As for the memorial, I don't think this is a big deal to most people right now--the people who tend to comment here tend to focus more on the other stuff, and I have a gut feeling most commentators never donated to it at all. As for Lake Geneva--well, I doubt any of the citizens are upset or offended at this taking so long or Gail desire to move the final location. And the delays haven't affected other things like the plaque to Gygax elsewhere in the town.

      I have to wonder, if a person's good memories can easily be erased by a subsequent disagreement--that's kind of a vert shallow reaction.

    6. Hard core old school gamers are, of course, the main audience here that would support this project...and they are the ones most alienated by Gail's actions.

      I've heard from people who are in the know that LG people (aka the City Council and Preservation Committee) do not like Gail or her insistance on getting the location she wants, and they will hold this up for forever and a day, or at least until they feel Gail has "paid her dues" so to speak. Yeh it's petty but that's human nature, I have no clue if a more humble approach would have done anything different, to be honest. But certainly whatever is being done now isn't working.

      The plaque was paid for by Gary's children, and it's placement wasn't in any way controversial.

    7. Hardcore old school gamers seem to have an incredible sense of entitlement that they should tell others how to run their businesses. Not just with Gail Gygax, but every gaming company ever.

  9. I council continued patience. The most significant news is that talks about publishing are underway. The memorial will grow from that. Publishing is a better, and longer lasting monument anyway.

    1. Meh, these talks have been "going on" since she pulled all the licenses. It has been years and she's done nothing with IP that would, LITERALLY, sell itself. Of all the things one can accuse Gail of, greed is not one of them.

    2. I agree, the publishing avenue is a dead end. At this point, even if Gail or someone in charge gave the go-ahead to publish "Gygax Approved" material, I have little faith it would be anything a fan of old school D&D would be purchasing.

    3. Really? I think if she put the PDFs up on drivethru RPG people would flock to it in droves. That's just one man's opinion but I know I'd buy the stuff if it was available. At the end of the day, Gary's IP is valuable because people want it. That it isn't available?

      Like I said, one cannot accuse Gail of greed.

    4. No, but that leaves plenty of room to question her business acumen, understanding of the industry, understanding of the fans or understanding of the game. The woman just does not get it.

      I would be willing to wager that at least 35% of those playing RPG's today have no inkling of the significance of the name. Gail caused that when she pulled all of Gary's IP.

    5. The problem is, for the fans that want the material, there's several factors. First of all, how many copies would be sold. The only person who'd have accurate figures would be Gail based on Trigee's sales, unless one of the other publishers published figures for us to analyze.

      But the other problem is that I think no matter what the old schoolers are gonna not be happy. Most of the unpublished material was, quite frankly, not any sort of D&D stuff. The biggest thing was an unpublished set of source books for LA written in 1997 and never released. Perhaps re-releasing Gygax Fantasy Worlds, but only a few of those are Gary's. Gord books, perhaps.

      Castle Zagyg seems to be the "holy grail", but that was a troubled project. First and foremost, after Gary had his stroke, his output significantly decreased--Yggsburg was the last full manuscript from him I remember, and that was finished before that happened. Usually, Gary with a co-writer means the project isn't as passionate as the ones he writes solo. To be honest, the D&D stuff wasn't as important to him as his newer creations. And considering fans reaction to Yggsburg, I think no matter what there'd be some disappointment.

      Then we have to figure out how big his audience would be. The best guess would be taking a Kickstarter audience--if we went by Ernie Gygax's one, that one got I believe over 1,200 backers--but that had an average backer cost of $100 or more. Unless there were "whales" to back up this, I'm not entirely sure Gary's audience is large enough to make enough profit for it to be worth the effort.

      Perhaps Gail is taking her time because she needs a big deal for it to be worth it.

    6. As far as 35% of the RPG audience not knowing who Gary Gygax is, 90% of lies are made with statistics! LOL.

      Seriously, like I've repeated several times here, Gary is well remembered by Internet culture--he's got a very large Wikipedia entry, he's a character on Futurama, etc. No offspring or spouse of Gary Gygax can really influence this much for good or bad--more people read and were familiar with Gary's old TSR work than anything published by Gary in the post-period.

      If people start forgetting who Gary Gygax is, it's because there's a fundamental change in the popularity of RPGs itself--nobody is remembers forever.

  10. I council continued patience. The most significant news is that talks about publishing are underway. The memorial will grow from that. Publishing is a better, and longer lasting monument anyway.

  11. This truly is a sad state of affairs. All we the fans want is a place where we can come and pay tribute to the man. He and Arneson, created a truly unique and genre changing game. Not only was it genre changing (All we played prior to this was Monopoly, Scrabble, Boggle, etc) it inspired us to read, write, draw and use our imaginations. It inspired us to think way out of the box and share this with others. How many of us remember sessions from 10, 20, 30 years ago or longer like they were yesterday? oh here is a thought, how many of us blew our parents minds, when we were in school, before the net, from asking to go to the library?

    Gary was the first person of my considered celeb status that ever interacted with me. I wrote him an email just to say thank you for making this wonderful game and he replied back. Not only did he reply back we exchanged further emails here and there for a time. Nothing earth shattering or at any length but none the less he was a great guy for responding, in person and with great humor and thoughtfulness in each exchange. I was in my late twenties/early thirties at that time. I will be 47 in a few days and I just wanted to say thanks again to him for the greatest game ever made and my fellow players from all over the world for not letting his memory, game or name slip in to the wells of time to be obscured.

    Karl Schulz

  12. I think the memorial is looking more and more like a Whitman Kickstarter. Not delivering anytime soon and most likely never at all.

  13. Publish, publish, publish. Publish and all this goes away.


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