Uncounted alternate histories have been written, launched from those two words.
Wizards of the Coast in 1992 begs us to play the What If? game. It was the year where the first generation's dream of forming a successful RPG company almost came true.
For about eight months in 1992, from April 1st when the boxes filled with The Primal Order arrived from the printers until December 28th when Wizards distributed their last paychecks for a while, it was an RPG company inching ever closer to success. Had other factors not intervened, Wizards would have been in the black before the end of the year.
|The Scent of the Beast|
Anyone who decides to become an entrepreneur and start up a company is in for a lot of stress and unpleasant surprises on the way to success or failure. Companies start in the red and continue to bleed money rapidly long before they ever produce any income. Keeping up with the new business's urgent hunger for funds to keep it operating keeps the executive and often many of the staff distracted from being able to fully attend to the actual business of the company, because if you look away from the problem of raising funds for too long you're out of business before you realize what happened. During that period of distraction, most organizations make embarrassing mistakes because of the lack of executive oversight. If you've never tried to start a business you may be surprised that the statistic that 90% of new businesses fail in their first year of operations is so high, but if you have tried then the surprise is that the failure rate is so low. It's tough work.
|Pawns, The Opening Move|
|The Archaen Codex|
Later, when we go back and cover the early history in detail, I'll get firmer dates for the 1992 releases (I'm sure some of these are wrong), but here are my guesses so far based on studying ads, the books themselves, and Internet sites:
April 1st: The Primal Order
May: The Talislanta Guidebook
June: Talislanta Geographica
August: The Scent of the Beast
September?: The Primal Order: Pawns, The Opening Move
October: The Archaen Codex
October: Tales of Talislanta
November: The Compleat Alchemist
|Tales of Talislanta|
Likewise, although the year began with their in-house organizational systems still being cobbled together - in January they were just beginning to shift from individual assignments to the concept of formal teams, and in March George Lowe was going back and entering their basic financial data from the previous year to try to get it all recorded in one place - by the end of the year their organization although simple was coherent and productive.
|The Compleat Alchemist|
That would have been more in accord with their dream for their company than what actually happened next. Until their train went off the tracks, their dream seemed to be coming gradually true. As Peter wrote in 1993:
After the Guidebook, Geographica, Tales, Pawns, and the Codex seemed to just fly out the door. Once we had Jesper, we had an incredible team and we started to really get into synch.