One of the great things about this blog is that it's given me the opportunity to "think out loud" in the presence of hundreds of people, many of whom have then asked me questions, pointed out flaws in my thinking, and -- occasionally -- told me that I was on to something of value. One area of my thought that's been greatly clarified as a result of discussions engendered by my posts is the overwhelming influence Gary Gygax has had over both my conception of Dungeons & Dragons specifically and fantasy roleplaying games generally. I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise; this blog was birthed in the immediate aftermath of Gary's death and it is, in many ways, a fan letter to the man I'm not ashamed to say I idolized as a younger man.
And, like any idol worth its salt, people enjoy casting it down -- I know I have on more than one occasion. I went through a phase in the late 80s and early 90s when I rather strongly rejected the Gygaxian conception of both D&D and fantasy RPGs and even mocked his purple prose and bombast. It all feels so adolescent now -- because it was -- but I suspect it was a necessary part of my eventual coming to terms with just how much this one man and his writings have influenced me. So much of who I am today, from the books I've read to the things I eventually took up to study in college and graduate school, are the direct result of my having played D&D -- and not just D&D but AD&D, the most Gygaxian version of the game.
Which brings me to my intended point. While I retain an intense love for OD&D in its pristine little brown books form, the fact is that, for me, AD&D will always be what I think of when I think of "Dungeons & Dragons." Certainly, I'm none too fond of thieves. Neither am I keen on AD&D's initiative rules. I'm sure I could probably nitpick my way through the game and point out dozens of instances where I dislike the way AD&D does this or that and that I don't use in play. Yet, for all of that, I can't deny that AD&D remains my One True Love. It's the version of the game I've played the most and about which I have the fondest memories.
Another thing this blog has clarified for me is that, while AD&D and its general approach may be my preferred version of the game, I've learned immeasurably from studying OD&D and its way of doing things. I remain as skeptical as ever of the deep meaning many see in OD&D's lacunae, but I nevertheless appreciate the do-it-yourself sensibility the game necessarily engenders in any who wrestles with its text. AD&D can be played in such a fashion too -- I largely did, even as a kid -- but I won't deny that it's a large cobblestone on the road to perdition, at least as TSR (and Gygax) often promoted it and as many players understood it.
This realization has little to no effect on the future development of this blog, as I intend it to remain as catholic as ever in its old school tastes. Still, self-knowledge is always a good thing, even in someone of my age. Knowing now some of the subconscious influences and inspirations for my thoughts is valuable to me and I expect that future posts here will benefit greatly from this knowledge.