Monday, June 15, 2009

The Origin of the Thief

N.B. At the request of Allan Grohe, the link to his transcription has been removed.

Gaming historian extraordinaire, Allan Grohe, has once again done us a great service by obtaining a copy of issue 9 "The Great Plains Game Newsletter" from 1974, in which Gary Gygax first presents the Thief class for inclusion in OD&D. Allan's transcription is invaluable for having not only preserved a pre-Supplement I version of the class (which differs slightly in certain of its abilities), but also in having attached a name -- Gary Schweitzer -- to the original inspiration for the class. Schweitzer apparently told Gygax about the class in a phone conversation, resulting in the class Allan has now made available to us through his transcription.

I may have more detailed comments about this remarkable find later. For now, I'm just amazed that we've got hold such an important piece of gaming history. My hats off to Allan. Bravo!

15 comments:

  1. I wonder if anyone knows who this "Gary Schweitzer" is? The reason I ask is that the name is awfully close to "Gary Switzer," who owned Aero Hobbies in Santa Monica and was a long-time fixture in the Los Angeles gaming scene before passing away a few years ago. They're most probably different people, but the coincidence in time-frame, location, and names makes me wonder if EGG didn't mis-transcribe a name he heard over the phone pronounced with a "long i." Lee Gold might know the answer to this. Hmmm....

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  2. I found this particularly fascinating: "however he cannot open the lock (the referee rolled above 40%) so it must be forced
    open -- a very time-consuming process."

    Because this answers the question, "what did adventurers do before the thief class when they encountered locks?" They forced them!

    Being unable to pick the lock is not the end of the process, but rather just the beginning.

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  3. I was thinking the same thing as Anthony.... He's right in that Lee Gold might be one of the only people who could confirm it too.

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  4. Anthony,

    If you do find out that "Gary Schweitzer" and "Gary Switzer" are indeed the same person, do let me know. That would be very useful, since I'd never heard of Schweitzer before and knowing that he was a game store owner in the early days of the hobby would provided some additional context.

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  5. James,

    I thought I had an email address for Lee, but I don't. Do you get A&E? Her contact information should be in there.

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  6. I'll drop her a line and see what I can find out.

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  7. To me, the interesting thing is the "example" -- particularly the fact that the thief here apparently automatically finds the two traps, and can then subsequently try to disable them.

    Not how I play it, but a reasonable approach. Better than an additional thief-only "find" skill, IMO.

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  8. Lee informs me that she can neither confirm nor deny that Gary Schweitzer and Gary Switzer are the same person, since the information we have is too scant.

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  9. Hmmm... At least that gives me a reason to drop in at Aero this weekend to talk to the current owner. He was good friends with Gary for quite a while and might know something.

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  10. I'm definitely curious about the two Garys, if they are in fact the same person: please keep us posted Anthony.

    Allan.

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  11. 404 error. Has anyone else encountered the same, or am I just failing at internet today?

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  12. Nope. I'm getting a 404 on the document link, too.

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  13. I was asked---for legitimate reasons---to pull down the file. Sorry.

    Allan.

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  14. What's the status of this document? Has it been lost?

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  15. The document still exists, but Allan had to pull it down for undisclosed but legitimate reasons.

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