Lorraine Williams

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A bitch who thought she was better than us raging neck-beards. The saltiest of nerds believe her to be responsible for destroying TSR Games.

A fine example of executive arrogance and incompetence, Lorraine Williams was the person who ended up running D&D after Gary Gygax, like many artists, proved to be a less-than-perfect businessman. She hated her nerdy customers, though not, perhaps, as much as they hated her, and it all managed to drive the most popular and famous role-playing game in the world into another company's hands.

How'd she get so much power anyways?[edit]

Kind of Gary Gygax's fault, mostly the Blume Brothers' fault. TSR was truckin' along in the early 80's, things were looking up enough that Gary hopped out to California to oversee licensing on the Dungeons & Dragons brand for the Saturday morning cartoon, drum up some support for producing a movie, and get away from running a company so he could write more books. There he met Flint Dille. Dille and Gygax wrote those Sagard the Barbarian choose-your-own-adventure books together.

Meanwhile, Gary left TSR in the hands of Kevin and Brian Blume, who mismanaged the place to the tune of $1.5 million in debt. When Gygax found out that the Blumes were looking for someone to buy out TSR so they could pay off the debts, Gary said "fuck that shit" and hopped the next plane to Lake Geneva.

After a look at the books and how Blume and the gang were running the place into the ground, he asked his writing buddy Flint Dille to help out. Well, Flint was more of a writer, but his sister was really business-savvy and might want to invest. She said no, but she had plenty of experience in running a company, and could help her brother's buddy to get the business back on its feet.

Flint's sister was Lorraine Dille-Williams... who, it turns out, thought gamers were pathetic losers and D&D was anti-Christian. Note, Gary himself was openly Christian. To the point that he considered Christmas to be a pagan holiday instead of a true Christian tradition (which view, the Catholics and Orthodox will tell you, is extreme). The ultimate irony is that TSR, being founded by such a one, was destroyed by someone even further out. Gary should have sent word to the Syrians. But we digress.

Gary told the Blumes and their herp-derp buddies to take a hike. In a clear-as-day act of retaliation, Blume & co. sold all their shares to Lorraine to make HER the majority shareholder instead of Gygax. Gary was all "wait, what?" and tried to void the sale, but it was too late. Lorraine was bwa-ha-ha-ing about how Gygax was a gamer, Gary was "fuck this shit, I don't have to work alongside this bitch," sold the rest of his stock, and left TSR in 1985.

What was the damage?[edit]

  • Lorraine went on to sue Gygax and publishers who tried to print Gygax's new role-playing stuff, making sure that Gary's future career would be stopped and stalled at every turn.
  • She removed any references to "Christian-hostile" ideas in sourcebooks, renaming devils to Baatezu and demons to Tanar'ri, among other things (this would prove to be the least harmful, if at all, thing she did since it replaces the public domain "devils" with the trademark-friendly Baatezu, and all that demon / daemon / demodand shit needed clearing up anyway)
  • D&D, the flagship product, had to be remade, thus was born 2nd Edition. This was to stop Gary from getting any more royalties from the sale of D&D products originally designed by him.
  • She forbade TSR employees from playtesting their work, or as she called it, "Playing games on company time." What the fucking fuck. Predictably, this had a long-term knock-on effect on the quality of all future sourcebooks.
  • She railroaded Buck Rogers stuff through TSR because her fortune was based on inheriting the license from her grandpaw. (Campy science fiction has since made a comeback, but at the time no one wanted it and the lack of playtesting meant it wasn't a product anyone enjoyed playing anyway.)
  • She gave an executive order to make a sci-fi setting for Dungeons & Dragons... but it had to be done NOW, so no playtesting before taking it to the printers. The authors knew it was doomed to fail, so they went off the deep-end with ridiculous shit (turns out the only difference between editorial immunity and pumping out a product editorial doesn't care about is your attitude) and everything went better than expected. Although it got no love at first, it did get some updates in one of the 3.5e supplements, when a Spelljammer ship crashed into the campaign setting and some neogi pop out to raid, trade, and be raided. And in 5th edition, the authors sneak in a few more monsters from Spelljammer every sourcebook and have expressed interest in bring the setting back. So there's that.
  • She saw the money that Wizards was making off Magic: The Gathering and said TSR had to get a piece of that pie, so she pushed out a forgettable collectible card game and the Dragon Dice products... and made far more than the distributors could sell, costing millions of dollars in returns from distributors.
  • Under her watch, TSR increased their novel publishing tenfold... which also undersold in record numbers and cost money to be sent back. Rose Estes - 'nufsed.
  • In 1996, eleven years after she took over, she sold TSR to Wizards of the Coast.

The horror...