Sunday, July 13, 2014

D&D: A Documentary versus The Great Kingdom: Update 2

I’ve had some further communications on the subject. Nothing serious or earth shattering by any means (wow…talk about reeling in the readers, eh?), but a few items I feel I can pass on.

First, I’ve been assured there is no animosity even though I’ve been asking a few, how shall we say, uncomfortable, questions. That is a relief, and I’m not being sarcastic about that. One thing I did not want to do was make people upset; I’m just looking for some answers…and a hard copy of the new movie.

Second, I’m afraid we’re not going to get many answers because it is clear by both the complaint and the emails that this is really going to be a lawyers’ battle. Nobody wants to make any claims or say anything because now IT MATTERS.

Third, I’m not adding anything to the completion of either movie. And while that stings a bit, it is true. I’m just an onlooker and the distraction keeps the point of all of this from getting done. This is not to say we can’t or shouldn’t continue to ask questions; however, given point two – that this is now a bona fide legal fight – it’s unlikely we’ll get much but platitudes and obfuscations.

It appears this thing got some more legs soon after I wrote the first blog post – again “coincidences” heh. First, there was this article in the examiner. Now the inestimable Tenkar’s Tavern has posted about it.

On top of that, one of the folks I’ve known for years online has apparently decided to throw his support behind The Great Kingdom – and looks like he’s been prepped to talk about it.

Now comes the part where this fight that started between three people making a documentary about D&D breaks bad all over the Internet.


  1. If you are talking about me Jim, I have not been "prepped to talk about it". I am thoroughly talking from the bottom of my heart, as a gamer and a person who cares for his friends, their families and the history of the game. Please lend me some credence in thinking I might not do this on the invective of some third party or whatnot. Ernest Gary Gygax Junior and I support this kickstarter, and it is out of our own free will. We have not be "talked into" or "coached" into saying one thing or the other. We are speaking our minds, as we always did, and always will. Thank you.

  2. If you are looking for answers when it comes to the legal stuff Jim, the best place to go is here.

    You'll have to just enter past a Captcha and then search for WESTPAW and you'll find all the current filings in the system (they are a little behind, they don't yet have the order denying the injunction), but it's probably the best place to find out independently on the disagreements.

  3. All the court documents summarize is what one party has against the other. It is not factual, but alleged. I wish some people would make the difference. Moreover, I wish people would concentrate on the goal itself, which is to tell D&D's story to the world.

    Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary and the Great Kingdom both need to happen, because these are documentaries focusing on different aspects of D&D's history, both of which deserve to be seen and heard. I know this is how Andrew Pascal and the crew of the Great Kingdom feels - that both documentaries should succeed, not one or the other.

    I do not know first hand how Anthony Savini (who is behind D&D: A Documentary) feels about this, but judging by his filings, I'd say he disagrees on that particular point.

    At the end of the day, that dispute doesn't matter to me. What matters is that we have a chance to see a part of the history of the game told by the people who were there. The children of Gary, Mary Jo, Gary's former wife, Rob Kuntz, Jim Ward, Jeff Perren and many more sat in front of the camera for hours each to tell their stories. How many more times do you think these types of efforts can happen with the same people assembled? If the Great Kingdom does not happen, who will then try to tell the story from the same angle, which is not the one D&D: A Documentary chose to explore? When would that happen - 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road? Who then will remain? Who will still be alive to talk about what happened?

    The Great Kingdom is a unique documentary that needs to happen. If it happens with D&D: A Documentary, I'll be thrilled. I want to make sure both happen, and for the moment, that means helping the Great Kingdom kickstarter cross that finish line.

  4. I provided the court documents not to provide a "he said, she said" thing, but at the end of the day, people who back Kickstarters are investing in a project and they need to have all the facts, and that URL is probably the best place to find out what specific disputes both parties have against each other, especially since Jim was looking for direct answers.

    1. These documents are factual reports of "he said she said" since these are summaries of the accusations of one party against another, i.e. allegations, not facts themselves.

  5. First things first: Benoist – you are correct that you are the individual to whom I was referring in my last post. You have to understand, from my point of view you are speaking with much more authority about this subject than I could muster...whether you intend to or not. For example, in the comments of the previous post you say "If The Great Kingdom does not happen, who will then try to tell the story from the same angle, which is not the one D&D: A Documentary chose to explore?"

    How do you know this? What are the differences in the angles? Who told you this information?

    This is what I meant by "prepped" in short for "prepared". Even if you had only one conversation about it with Ernie, who seems to have a more open channel of communication with the people in charge of The Great Kingdom than I do (and perhaps rightly so), it's 1000% more than I've had with anyone involved and willing/able (due to legal reasons) to share. I assume you had a conversation because you are a principal in GP and GP is supporting goals…

    But when I press you on this front, you retreat back to a position of "I don't know any more than you. I'm just speaking from my heart and I think this movie needs to be made."

    Now, you seem pretty passionate about The Great Kingdom getting made..and I'm not here, despite what it may see, to tell you it shouldn't. I do not ask these questions lightly – I’ve seen the list of names involved…gamed with many of them at GaryCon. Hell, I'm trying to figure out if I can support them given looming GenCon and the new KickStarter from Goodman Games for DCC. I just don't know if I have the cash.

    And this makes me sad...and here's the point I've been trying to make from the beginning....because I already gave these very same people some of my cash to make a documentary about the history of D&D.

    Second, I want to thank JRT for the links in comments across several posts. I think the legalities are interesting. Alas, they also interfere with me gaining a clearer understanding of just what the situation is – because accusations do not equal the truth. And now, because of the legal claims, nobody can/will talk openly and honestly about the very thing I used as an example above. So while interesting, I’m not using the legalities to make a determination about what many are asking me to do – offer more money.

    No…here’s the thing…and it’s one of the two things I asked for in my original post on this subject way before (in Internet time) this thing exploded in the last week or so: an explanation. What is the difference? Why is there a second movie? What angle was so important that it could not be fit into the existing movie? Why couldn’t these adult professionals find a way to make it work all together as one…and with the money I already gave them? Give me a damned reason to give you more of my money!

    I have to say that I’m not exactly pleased with the answers I’ve received so far.

  6. "How do you know this? What are the differences in the angles? Who told you this information?"

    I know this because this is something that the folks of TGK been very open about. This is not some privileged information or anything of the sort. The "creative differences" happened because a story emerged while doing the documentary which then caused the split, one side wanting to explore that emerging story, while the other didn't want to pursue it. I can't link it to you but that's something that's been talked about publicly before.

    Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary was envisioned as a general documentary about the game, its evolution through the years, and so on, whereas the Great Kingdom focuses on the early years of the inception of the game, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the rise of TSR, the conflicts with the Blumes, etc, up to Gary Gygax getting fired in 1985, roughly.

    To quote: "The time period that The Great Kingdom focuses on is from 1972 -1985 - from the inception of the game through the point when Gary Gygax is fired from his own Company, TSR. We picked that timeline because we felt the flashpoint of the story happened between those years. The story of Dungeons and Dragons is a big story, bigger than a feature length film. We didn't want to be the definitive documentary about Dungeons and Dungeons. There's a compelling story about the triumph and heartache that came with the development of the game - this is the film we wanted to make."

    See this Q&A for more information:

    I hope this provides you more of the answers you are looking for.