Wilmark Dynasty; Lee McCormick Interview

Lee McCormick along with John Corradin founded Wilmark Dynasty. We are fortunate to have been able to find Mr. McCormick over the Internet. We invited him into Tome of Treasures for a short interview with the Scribe. This interview is in question - answer format. Enjoy! -- March 12, 2004


Did you distribute your WD products widely to game shops? What was the primary method of selling these?
Did these only sell along the Northeast corridor?
-- John handled most of the sales and distribution.  I know we sold through the Armory and Chessex, both of
whom were national/international distributors.  We also sold them in our store.

How many copies were printed of each of our publications?
-- The first edition of Melanda, I'm not sure, but may have been 250 copies.  The second edition and all other products were produced at 1000 copies each.

Would you say the pre-Melanda material was made with D&D specifically in mind? If not what are the differences in the gaming mechanics, in your opinion?
-- Yes.  John produced a product called Roomscapes which was specifically designed with D&D in mind.  Some of our early releases were compatible with multiple RPG systems with adaptation info inside.  The more married we became to Melanda, the less compatible pieces were because of the tremendous differences in gaming mechanics and philosophy.

What sort of contact did you have with TSR good or bad?
-- The Wilmark Dynasty was originally formed as an organization to train and supply gamesmasters to conventions.  We ran tourneys of board games, tabletop games, and RPGs (and still do!).  Our relationship with most of the large game producers usually centered on seeking prize support for running tourneys of other companies games.  I'm not aware of problems with any company in that vein except Steve Jackson Games.

Could you expand on the Steve Jackson Games situation?
-- Everybody and their brother was into some of the larger steve jackson games (car wars jumps to mind). But, we had fallen in love with his mini-games. Undead (one of my all time favorites), kung fu 2100, one-page bulge, raid on iran, etc.  We even named him game designer of the year when we opened the Days of Knights and celebrated with a full window display and a week of demo-ing his game products. 
We sent him copies of the publicity we'd gotten on the opening including articles and a few shots of his product featured.  We were putting together a playtest for some games for running at a summer con.  We were going to try to get him to come as our featured speaker and highlight his product line.  We asked for prize support for the tourneys.  He turned us down flat.  We provided our own support, held off on inviting him as speaker, and when we met him at the con (my initial meeting with the guy) selling his own stuff, we found we were glad we hadn't continued with our plans to feature him.  You'd have thought he was Gary Gygax and had single-handedly set off this entire wave of gaming resurgence as an industry.  He made it quite clear that he didn't 'give' product to anyone, if we were running his games at a tourney it was because we knew they would fill and make us money, if we were doing demos of his games it was because we could see their obvious superiority to other material on the market and were, in fact, in his humble opinion, quite correct to make such a choice.

Of the prominent gaming personalities, who do you remember from the gaming circuit and what impressions did you get from them? (east coast cons might include folks from GAMA, game clubs, Lou Zocchi, folks from TSR, folks from other publishers of fantasy material, etc.)
-- We knew the owners of the Armory and Chessex (in fact we physically helped Chessex build their first
warehouse in Phoenixville), Lou Zocchi, game designers Ken Rolston and Martin Wixted (who helped us maintain good relations with Games Workshop and West End Games), Scott Bizarr(sp?) (Fantasy Games Unlimited) loved for us to run his stuff and I wrote a module for him many years ago, Forest Brown and the founders of FASA worked with us closely to help us encourage a raised level of convention role-playing and tabletop tourneys, Don Greenwood and the early owners of Avalon Hill were very friendly and supportive of many of our tournament efforts. Once John took over the retail store, he moved into a more intimate working knowledge of and relationship with game publishers, distributors, etc.

Did you ever run any tournaments at Gen Con? 
-- Gen Con East in the early 80s was one of our favorite cons. We ran games in a number of role playing systems and boardgames.

It would seem as though your energies switched from game company to game store in the early eighties. Would you characterize this as the end of Wilmark Dynasty?
-- Not at all.  As mentioned above the publication aspect of the Wilmark Dynasty was a sideline.  Our primary reason for existing was convention planning and management.  We are currently running two conventions a year--a larpe and a pot pour ri of relaxing game styles and systems. 

-- For my money, the most valuable thing we accomplished as a group was to raise the consciousness of gaming clubs and organizations regarding the responsibilities of running tourneys at cons.  Our goal was to bring prices down while raising the level of design and play- test of scenarios while encouraging an emphasis on in- character roleplaying in games, fairness in 'GMing' (anyone can run a dungeon - it takes a 'gamesmaster' to run quality, rewarding roleplaying events).  We ran seminars and demos in design, play, team play, mastering the classes, how to step outside the system without screwing the balance of the game, etc.


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