|Cathleen Adkison, one of the three original principals|
The second topic is Talislanta, which dominated Wizards's activities in 1992, but which Peter's 1993 narrative dispenses with in three sentences. We'll take a closer look at Talislanta next post.
The first topic is the other people who made it possible for Wizards to produce The Primal Order, the ones who he didn't have to bring in from the outside because they were already present. There are three in particular I want to pick out in this post for how central they were to helping support Wizards of the Coast between late 1991 and early 1992, the time frame when TPO was being finished.
Cathleen Couch, Beverly's childhood friend in Walla Walla since fifth grade, married Peter Adkison on Saturday, 11 August 1990. Peter and Cathy had been together for years before that, and their families and friends were present, including most of the early Wizards gang. Understandably, one of the topics of discussion was Peter's new company. Beverly, as one of Cathy's bridesmaids, and I shared a table with Peter and Cathy. This was when Peter first told Beverly that he was starting up a game company and told her who all was doing it with him. After a pause during which she thought to herself "But none of you can write!", Beverly diplomatically asked "Do you have anyone who knows anything about how publishing works?" In the conversation that followed, Peter learned that Beverly had studied publishing arts at Pacific Lutheran University under Megan Benton. It was this conversation at Peter and Cathy's wedding that set the stage for Peter later seeking out Beverly's help in reviewing the early Wizards manuscripts and eventually recruiting her as an employee.
This also might have been the first time I learned about Wizards. It probably didn't come up in our conversations before then, but you never know. Human memory is unreliable.
|Michael Cook, quality-improvement guru|
Mike Cook never starred in a lead role at Wizards (no media exposure, that is), but contributed much over the years in important supporting roles. Like Cathy, at Boeing he studied the work of William Edwards Deming and brought Continuous Quality Improvement, Plan-Do-Check-Act, meeting facilitation, and many other tools for focusing on and improving quality at Wizards of the Coast. Cathy and Mike worked hand-in-hand to keep Wizards focused on learning from their mistakes and always searching for ways to do better. This focus on high and improving quality made Wizards of the Coast attractive to top-notch game designers like Richard Garfield and Jonathan Tweet and to other game professionals like Lisa Stevens. What many organizations fail to realize is that the very best professionals feel stifled in organizations that focus on delivering the minimum quality for the maximum return and long for the chance to do their best work. Mike Cook helped turn Wizards into the kind of company that could give them that chance, and they noticed and responded. Without Mike and Cathy pushing this core focus of the company, many of the things that Wizards did right over the years could not have happened.
|George S. Lowe, "Primal Caterer" (and friend)|
We'll spend more time with the early Wizards personnel in the writing to come, but I felt it would be inappropriate to move on to a new chapter in the history of Wizards of the Coast without bringing Cathy, Mike, and George back into the spotlight so they could begin to be recognized for their early crucial roles. When we finish with Peter's 1993 narrative, we'll go back to the beginning of our history to get to know each of the original actors better, including many so far unnamed in these posts.