Wednesday, March 4, 2009

One Year

16 comments:

  1. Insane. It feels like it was just a couple months ago.

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  2. I remember finding this blog and wondering where you were going to go with it. A blog about the history of gaming? IT CAN'T BE DONE! Well that is what I thought. I do love being surprised. Please, keep up the good work.

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  3. Just to be clear: it's been one year since Gary's death. The anniversary of this blog won't be for a few more weeks.

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  4. I cannot think of a more fitting way to sum up the lost this industry took with Gary's passing. Less is more in a lot of ways -- hell James you know how sparse I write -- but this is the perfect way to pay tribute to his memory.

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  5. A year already? Time flies when you're having fun (and a lot of that fun is thanks to EGG).

    What a gift he and his gaming buddies gave us.

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  6. March 4th...should be commemorated as "EGG Game" day. Play a game in remembrance of the original Dungeon Master.

    Maybe someone should set up a blog about that...and people can submit their stories and photos of their EGG Game day experience / game. Call it the 'EGG Experiment'. ;-)

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  7. Gygax was a visionary. In the study of the new technology development, they have isolated distinct stages, Stages Zero and One being "Sci Fi Authors" and "Visionaries, Cranks and Con Man". Apparebntly the development of a the D&D as a marketable commodity followed the same pattern. Gygax got the worst of the trabsition to stage 3 (Entreperneurs and Managers) when the Blumes brought in whatever that publishing industry woman's anme is, who forbade all playtesting on company time and hated "D&D geeks". Despite that, Gygax was the creative engine that kept TSR viable for as long as it lasted. Development of AD&D aside, his real contribution was to popularize the concept while in California. I don't know if Gygax had any blame in Arneson's early ouster, but give the depth with which Gary Gyxas has written his AD&D, unmatched by any D&D writer since than, I can only wonder what would have happened if the Blumes weren't in the equation, if the moneyman was someone more enlightened and receptive of gamers, and if Gary Gygax was allowed to write without having to worry about the economics and the power struggles within the TSR.

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  8. One of only a handful of people I admire that it actually pains me to never have met. I've met and talked at length with Stan Lee, Mel Blanc, Henry Rollins...but I'd give them all to have played in a game run by Gygax. Probably the only thing that would get me to game as a player instead of DM these days.

    As a Simpsons fan, I was never more excited at an animated cameo as I was by Gygax showing up with Al Gore. "It's a..." (rolls dice) "...pleasure to meet you!"

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  9. I don't know if Gygax had any blame in Arneson's early ouster

    Given the fact that Dave and Gary never really reconciled their differences, even years later, I'd hazard to guess that Gygax wasn't blameless in the affair. That's not to criticize him unduly, because I'm sure there were a lot of factors that went into the way things fell out with Arneson.

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  10. GYGAXIAN NATURALISM
    If the chest full of dire possums doesn't eat you, then the chest will, -unless the ceiling gets you first.

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  11. It's a sad day today :(

    Allan.

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  12. James, what WERE their differences as far as tghe vision for the game is concerned? I read a bit of Arneson's websiote, and he was criticising powergaming and adventuring for the sake of levels, but what was Arneson offering instead? I played Arcanum, and it was so horrible, since they could not use D&D monsters (copyrighted stuff?) and then I realised that with all their spells,monsters, treasure generators and vision, TSR/D&D became the standard oil of the fantasy role playing.

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  13. James, what WERE their differences as far as tghe vision for the game is concerned?

    The differences to which I alluded weren't about the vision of the game (though that might have factored into it somewhat), but had more to do with business matters and the relative "value" each of them brought to bear on the creation and subsequent development of D&D. To be blunt, I think Gary probably felt Dave's contributions were meager and that he'd done him "a favor" by giving him co-authorship of OD&D, whereas I think Dave probably felt that Gary was a grandstanding thief who'd "stolen" his ideas as passed them off as his own.

    It's naturally more complex than that and I have no special insights into the matter, but that's my take on it.

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  14. Oh, the fight over the spoils...
    Arneson contributed the Blackmoor and the sci-fi twist, from what I read. Having read the Temple Of the Frog God in the Supplement II, I guess his was a Sci-Fi twist. I think that any fantasy is a reflction of out world, as in a carnival mirror, or maybe it's just "bad" fantasy. Great War was reflected in Tokien's LOTR, realities of the cold war and the nuclear weapons and Mutually Assured Destruction are present in Greyhawk, with the Sea of Dust and the two empires that caused it. Internecine warfare and hatred of Balkans is reflected in the much later produces Forgotten Realms Seeting "Time of Trouble". more recentle, the obssession with the Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction is echoed in the Icewind Dale CRPG. Which brings us to your review of the T-1 module. I am playing it on computer. Amazing rendition, but it lacks the brooding feel of the impending doom that you mentioned in the review. Actually it's an amazing observation, because it refers to something else. Historically, in static warfare, US civil war, WWI and WWII there was always a sense of an impenbding "breakthrough" or an offensive, after weeks or month long life in the trenches. For the defenders it typically meant being overrun and a certain death along the "sector". In civil war pickts we are talking about hundreds of soldiers dead, in more recent times, thousands dying i bombardments and close quartes combat. Typically, everyone along the battle line, hundreds of miles, entiore armies, felt thats ense of impending doom, but when it came, t was usually along a "narrow"/"small" sector. And if that similarity bears out, then D&D at heart, is wargame and "adventuring" is basically combat patrols by another name, amazingly, Herbert Macbride, and American sniper, who fought in the trenches of WWI with Canadian army, as an "adventure" and having considered himself as a "professional adventurer" (amazing tale of Hemingway-esque childhood and later stories of military adventuring and survival only to die of old age and alcohol abuse), anyway, he was remembering how soldiers would break into small teams that would cross the no-mans land to the enemy trenches, where they would destroy, kill and take prisoners. When writing about this, Macbride remembered that these soldiers looked on these patrols as a sport, a exciting game, and ADVENTURE as they were sharing their exploits with their friends and with each other.

    The reason I am bringig this up is because to my imagination AD&D is about exploring and the unknown and wild sunsets over mystical forests, however, I keep seeing the military/wargame roots of D&D not just subjectively, but also in the modules (B2) and in the direction in which the game as been going for me. First adventure was a 14 level dungeon based on the Haunted Keep scenario example from the Red Moldway basic rulebook (my entry into the D&D world). I am not sure if 14 levels would qualify for a multi-level dungeon or a mega dungeon, took a year and a hal to play at the rate of one weekend of gaming every six weeks, and THAT turned, unexpectedly for me, into a Dungeon siege. A wargame. Tiresome. The plan is, to take the players through N1 Forest Oracle to B1 to B2, at some point, the DMG dungeon map as a side adventure for the local thief,, until they can take on the A,G,D, and Q series, all in the context of my own campaign setting. I ws thiking of running a T-1 as soemthing separate, but all the intrigue you have mentioned, has intrigued me. The biggest challenge is to keep at an exploration/role playing game and to keep it from becoming a military campaign. To me, playing through that story arc will reveal something of the Ggaxian vision and of the essence of D&D rom the 1970's. What do you think. Are modules exemplary of Gygax' Greyhawk vision, and also do you think there are others that should be included (aside from the Tomb Of Horrors, Plume Mountain, Barrier Peaks and Ghost Tpwer of Inverness?)

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  15. Are modules exemplary of Gygax' Greyhawk vision, and also do you think there are others that should be included (aside from the Tomb Of Horrors, Plume Mountain, Barrier Peaks and Ghost Tpwer of Inverness?)

    It's difficult to answer this, because Gygax's vision of Greyhawk changed over time and with the demands of selling products. The G and D-series modules predate the publication of The World of Greyhawk, for example, and the published version of the setting was very different than the original one that Gary created for his home campaign. I certainly think that modules eventually became an important part of his vision, but I'm not sure they started out that way.

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