Dragonlance: Enough Dungeons… More Dragons!

TSR Designer HickmanI had not been working at TSR Inc. for very long before all of the designers and artists were called into a meeting in the old hotel. This was a very special gathering: a presentation of the results of a consulting firms perspective on our company.

Outside perspective was considered helpful. This was the early 1980s and at that time (and for all I know it continues today) it was very fashionable for companies to hire outside consulting firms to come in and analyze their business. TSR was no exception and, desiring to properly grow their game company on a foundation of solid business principles, had hired such a firm at great expense to analyze the business from the outside, to tell them what was working and, more importantly, to tell them what they needed to fix.

While no one I associated with was aware of the exact figures, the scuttlebutt around the office was that the company had paid a considerable amount of money and spared no expense in order to discover the best way to fine-tune their company into a well-oiled industrial and marketing juggernaut.

Penny Williams had been called upon to review the final, glorious document and present a summary of its findings to us that day. With rapt attention the creative personnel listened to her report. The artists, editors, mapmakers, writers and game designers were eager to learn these arcane secrets and how they might participate in this new vision and direction.

After exhaustive research, the report boils down to the following items:

  • Item 1: The business of TSR is Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Item 2: You have enough products with dungeons.
  • Item 3: You need more dragons.

Really? The company paid someone to tell them that?

Still, the information was from a consulting firm and therefore business gospel. So it was at that meeting the call went out for proposals from the creative staff for product that would have lots of dragons in it. There were several game designers and artists who had ideas that they would like to submit. One of them was a relatively new designer — me — ¬†who had already forged with my wife the foundations of a series of story based adventure modules centered around dragons.

With the mandate of a real, live consulting firm, the door had been opened for Dragonlance to become reality.

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