William "Bill" Hoyer

These items were acquired during the last 46 years of Bill's amateur and professional involvement with miniature wargames, roleplaying games, strategy games, and board games, several years of that time spent as an employee of TSR, the company that founded the roleplaying game industry.

Bill first became involved in wargaming back in 1961 playing Avalon Hill's Gettysburg (the hex version). Several years later, in 1966, after seeing a classified ad seeking wargaming opponents in Avalon Hill's General, Bill met up with Gary Gygax. After a letter or two and then a phone call they met up to play Chancellorsville and Afrika Korps at Gary's house in Lake Geneva. The two quickly struck up a friendship becoming allies and opponents at the gaming table for many years to come.

In 1967, Bill was invited to an informal gathering at Gary's house one Saturday in Lake Geneva. About 20 people were invited to this wargaming get together and all of them showed! Gary decided that they should make it an annual event and thus was born the Geneva Convention or Gen Con. Remarkably, Bill went on to attend every GenCon held in Wisconsin. Yes, that's right, 35 years in a row!

The very earliest Gen Con's were sponsored by the International Federation of Wargamers, also founded by Bill Speer, Scott Duncan, and Gary Gygax. Bill was appointed as Vice President of this influential organization in 1968 for about six months and was then elected as president. He held the position for several years and then continued to serve as Secretary for the organization. During this time the IFW promoted the formation of a number of smaller clubs including the Castle & Crusade Society and it's newsletter The Domesday Book. Bill was an early member and made a knight of the Society.

His articles, letters, and reviews appeared in the IFW Monthly, The Messenger, Avalon Hill's General, as well as numerous Diplomacy and play-by-mail campaigns. His game design credits include Dien Bien Phu, a play-by-mail game, and Search and Destroy, published by the IFW and sold to members.

Bill also holds the distinction of belonging to the Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association, a small group of gamers, also founded by Gary Gygax, that got together in the Lake Geneva area. The LGTSA participated in the playtesting and development of a set of Medieval warfare rules created by Jeff Perren. Gary Gygax expanded the rules and began implementing them in games played by the LGTSA and the Castle & Crusade Society. This set of rules eventually became Chainmail, first published by Guidon Games in 1971. The Fantasy Supplement of those rules set the stage for the creation of an entirely new hobby and industry - that of the roleplaying game. Dungeons & Dragons was born!

This new game helped Gygax's fledgling game company, Tactical Studies Rules, to take off at an amazing rate. Dungeons & Dragons spread across the country and the world. Gygax saw that in order to promote the spread of the game and secure the continued support of its existing fans he needed to create a new hobby organization. That organization was the RPGA. Founded in 1981, Frank Mentzer was brought in to run the organization and Bill was brought on as the Assisting Coordinator. During this time, Bill helped to organize conventions and tournaments, processed membership applications, contacted tournament DM's, aided in the design and selection of prizes and promotional items for RPGA members, as well as, print and mail out the special R and RPGA series modules available only to members.

Bill took part in the formation of the games and hobby we all love. Participating in such legendary games as Sturmgeshutz & Sorcery, where German soldiers pass through a strange bank of fog only to stumble into such bizarre creatures as trolls, orcs, giant scorpions, and wizards! This scenario became legend as it was described by Gary Gygax in The Strategic Review, the predecessor to The Dragon. Bill also playtested Dungeons & Dragons before it was even published! One Saturday afternoon in September of 1973, Bill co-DMed Greyhawk Castle with Gary Gygax! With the rules only in manuscript form Gary exhorted Bill to, "Just wing it!" Bill did and was immediately hooked!

Bill's professional and amateur involvement in gaming weaves into the very history of the creation of the roleplaying game hobby. Quite a legacy!

  • April 1, 2007

    Items comprising the eBay Auction of Sunday, April 1st, 2007

  • August 2, 2009

    Items comprising the eBay Auction of Sunday, August 2nd, 2009