Here it is:
It's been twenty years already?
Actually, it's been more than twenty years. You've been building the Realms since you were, what, eight? And it was twenty-plus years ago when I opened my mouth and got us into this mess.
Here's what happened (for the benefit of those assembled here). Twenty-Plus years ago, Management was afraid that Dragonlance would be a flash in the pan. OK, stop laughing. They were serious. They were honestly asking the question: What would come after Dragonlance?
And, young naif that I was at the time, I pointed out that you had been writing articles for DRAGON, mentioning the Realms and its chief wizard, Elminster. Maybe there really was a world behind all this. Would they want me to check?
The rest, as they say, is Hysteria.
Had I but known then what I know now, I would have fled into the night. Instead I got reams of your notes and descriptions, wrapped in that heavy vinyl-like Canadian plastic wrap that they use up there for riot gear. Wrapped, re-wrapped, and wrapped again. At one point, I was spending an hour a week just unwrapping your notes. We used the discarded wrap for shingles, and hundreds of Wisconsin families thank you.
In addition, these were written on your ancient "Flintstone-era" typewriter, which was missing the "T" key. So you would go over the manuscript afterwards with a ball-point, drawing in the "T"s. The end result looked like a little graveyard on the page.
And, in the days before "Cut-and-Paste" computer technology, you would literally cut up your notes and paste them back together, then photocopy the result. This would create, interesting pages where the text would travel along the bottom of the page, then up the sides in the margins, and then flip over on the top of the page.
And yet, despite it all, we managed to distill all of Elminster's notes into a single great grey box and release it on an unsuspecting world. And I have to say I am proud of it after all these years. I am proud of Shadowdale and Waterdeep and Westgate. I am proud of making the gods and priests cool (though every time someone tries to simplify the pantheon, we end up with more gods than when we started). I am proud to have worked in this world.
I am proud of the great art we got out of the TSR bullpen. I am proud that I convinced Clyde Caldwell to draw a woman in full plate mail for once. I am proud of Karen and Julia and Steven and Doug and everyone who has built upon the Realms. I am proud that to have hosted the "Elminster's Notes" panels at GenCon for so many years, and kept a (mostly) straight face. And I am proud that so many people have enjoyed and still enjoy what we put together twenty years ago.
I am proud of the foundation we created. I am proud of where it has gone.
Congratulations on the past twenty, Ed, and here's to the next twenty.
Keep your swords high!
In other GenCon news, the ENnies, Gencon's version of the Origins awards were given out. Ars Magica, which took best RPG for the Origins Awards, took the "Best Rules" ENNie (its always nice to be have your own choices backed up), but more importantly, a double fistfull of awards went to some of the gang on the righthand side of the page, in particular Monte, Nikchik, and Chris. The ENnies are supported by EN World, but here's a full list and a couple photos here. Congratulations to all!