Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prelude to a Post

The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them. Yet, there are always certain exceptional and brave members of humanity, as well as similar individuals among its allies - dwarves, elves, and halflings - who rise above the common level and join battle to stave off the darkness which would otherwise overwhelm the land. Bold adventurers from the Realm set off for the Borderlands to seek their fortune. It is these adventurers who, provided they survive the challenge, carry the battle to the enemy. Such adventurers meet the forces of Chaos in a testing ground where only the fittest will return to relate the tale. Here, these individuals will become skilled in their profession, be it fighter or magic-user, cleric or thief. They will be tried in the fire of combat, those who return, hardened and more fit. True, some few who do survive the process will turn from Law and good and serve the masters of Chaos, but most will remain faithful and ready to fight chaos wherever it threatens to infect the Realm.

You are indeed members of that exceptional class, adventurers who have journeyed to the KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS in search of fame and fortune. Of course you are inexperienced, but you have your skills and a heart that cries out for adventure. You have it in you to become great, but you must gain experience and knowledge and greater skill. There is much to learn, and you are willing and eager to be about it! Each of you has come with everything which could possibly be given you to help. Now you must fend for yourselves; your fate is in your hands, for better or worse
--Gary Gygax, The Keep on the Borderlands (1979)


  1. Man this is awesome. Inspiring, yet simple. Sadly, when I present some players with this type of intro, they assault me with questions like, "But what is my character' motivation for batting Chaos?" "Where's the drama?" "Will I be offered opportunities for character development?"

    Man, I hate that shit. This isn't acting class. Let's game, interact with some NPCs, explore, bash beasties and see what's on the other side of the mountains.

  2. Makes me want to trade my cubicle for a horse, sword, and shield!

    Then again, I'd trade my cubicle for a lot of things.

  3. "If not for a stout few..." Is that a fat joke? How does Gary know I wear "husky" sized blue jeans?


    Christian, show your motivation guy the line "...and you are willing and eager to be about it!" Right there, that and the following lines gives them reason enough to be there.

  4. Gygax will always be the master of writing in such a way as to make you want to play RIGHT NOW. Not later, NOW.

  5. I don't know. I think that Gygax is just dressing up an adventure in a wargame, which has been stripped of the conflict between the good and evil and instead, retained "Law versus Chaos". Having re-read Gygax books just a year ago, he was definitely a thinker, a cut above subsequent writers of the D&D materials, and probably a cut above most sword and sworcery pulp writers, whose works he was emulating. I haven't replayed the B2 module as an adult DM yet, by all indications it is a classic, but compared with some of the stuff he wrote in PH and DMG, this isnnot his best or his most insightful. BTW, how am I going to fit the B2 into my campaign? A distraight merchant hires the party to rescue his daughter, who was kidnapped by the acolytes from the Temple of Evil Chaos, in REALITY, daughter runs off on her own to join the temple as an acolyte, with the priest as her boyfriend...

  6. These are literally the first paragraphs I ever read in a D&D product. Needless to say they captured my imagination and I never looked back. And when I came to the part later on about the module being suitable for use with AD&D with little modification, I went right out and bought the PHB, DMG, and MM. I don't know that I ever got around to reading the Basic Rulebook that came in the box with B2. IMO this module is the best A/D&D primer ever, bar none.

  7. With that as the prelude I am really looking forward to the real thing!

  8. Sadly, when I present some players with this type of intro, they assault me with questions like, "But what is my character' motivation for batting Chaos?" "Where's the drama?" "Will I be offered opportunities for character development?"

    I'd respond, "Wake up -- you're being presented with a character development opportunity right now. You know your character is caught up in the struggle against Chaos -- it's your character, you tell me why."

    "This isn't a novel with a predestined story. You create the story with your actions, and I riff off you, and provide the world framework in which your character to acts."

    "Your character is a prospective hero. Play him well, and with luck, he might become a legend. On the other hand, his story might end with a quick death at the hands of some nameless bandits in the first hour of play. Finding out is where the fun is at."

  9. This makes me think strongly of the current generation of game designers struggling to say pretty much the same thing about DnD 4th ed. It takes them two-three pages to say this and makes me want to email this to them and say 'See? here's your Points of Light right here.'

  10. Lament, I think that today's D&D writers and designers are two generatuins removed from the type of gamer that Gygax and his writers used to be. Original players were college dorm/grad school set who actually discovered Tolkien and the rest of the literary Canon - Poul Anderson, and others. Today's D&D is marketed towards Teens and Tweens, written by corporate fuzzies with an eye towards kids' bucks, making WOTC richer and competng with videogames.


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