Monday, March 19, 2012

Things You Never Noticed Before

Anyone who owns and adores Gary Gygax's AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide knows well that one of its appeals is that, no matter how thoroughly you think you've read it, the next time you pick it up you'll find some little tidbit you're pretty sure you've never read before. Case in point: today, while hunting down all the Will McLean cartoons in the DMG, I chanced upon a line at the end of the description of the cloak of poisonousness that I can't recall ever having read.
After its effects are known, a small label saying "Nessus Shirt Company" might be seen at your option.
Another fine example of Gygaxian drollery!

22 comments:

  1. Ha! Nice spotting James- I never noticed that one before... :)

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  2. That was always one of my favorite little references tucked in the Guide. Helped keep the "oh-so-serious" tone the game could sometimes take in check.

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    1. I agree. I think D&D -- and the hobby in general -- could do with a lot less self-seriousness. Somehow, though, I don't anticipate we'll see Will McLean commissioned to do any new cartoons for 5e ...

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    2. Out of curiosity, what brought on your desire to catalog McLean's cartoons, James?

      Allan.

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    3. Allan,

      I recently purchased a T-shirt that had his "Papers & Paychecks" cartoon on it and I was trying to remember how many other cartoons he did for the DMG.

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    4. IIRC McLean did some work for another zine too (perhaps it was Adventure Gaming??). If I run across it again while reorganizing things, I'll let you know.

      Allan.

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  3. And, it's another example of how AD&D was catnip for smart, nerdy kids who wanted a taste of the rewards for paying attention in school...especially those who went beyond the basic requirements.

    If you knew the reference, you smiled. If you had to look it up, you felt smarter for having done it--because the book you chose to read assumed that you'd know what it meant...and now you did!

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    1. Absolutely! The things I learned, directly or indirectly, from my AD&D are beyond number. I'm pretty sure I was the only kid in my 7th grade class who not only knew what "q.v." and "i.e." and "e.g." meant but could use them correctly!

      Thanks, Gary.

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    2. Couldn't agree more. I come from a very working class background, and my avid reading as a kid was very much frowned upon. Gary for so many of us had this iconic status as creator of this awesome game that we loved- and the refusal of my hero to "dumb down" was an excellent goad to my curiosity and sense of enquiry as a scholar. The value of that for an otherwise wayward and rebellious kid was pretty huge. To some extent I have Gary to thank for the fact I ever made it to university at all.

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    3. Agreed. D&D played a huge part in keeping me out of trouble during my teens. Without that kind of hobby to focus on, I would have much more readily fell for the pitfalls that many of my friends experienced. The amount it taught me and encouraged me to learn is also incalculable. Considering some of the negative press D&D received at the time, it was incredibly positive and trans-formative for many of us.

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    4. Yeah, that sums it up nicely arcadayn. I lacked for positive male role models as a kid, so I just used my heroes as foster dads in a way. Mr Gygax somehow validated the head-in-the-clouds boy I was. Most grateful for the lifetime of fun and creativity he opened up for me. :)

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    5. I have said for a long time that most of the useful stuff I know I learned from gaming, either directly from the game books or research inspired by the game.

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  4. Absolutely. Not only my vocabulary, but my knowledge of literature in general increased dramatically by a careful reading (and re-reading, and re-re-reading, etc.) of the books.

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  5. Wow, I just was reading the Misc. Magic Item charts in the DMG last night and chuckling about how delightfully evil the Brazier of Sleep Smoke is. I ran across the "Nessus Shirt Company"as well and wondered what it was in reference to and wrote it down to google search!!

    Get out of my mind Maliszewski!

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  6. Actually, I named my blog Nessus Shirt Company in tribute to the Great Gygax in the sky.

    http://nessusshirtco.blogspot.com/

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  7. It's strange that for so long I had thought of GG mainly as a game designer and a passable writer at best. As the I have matured I have come to appreciate his writing style. Unfortunately I can't say I find AD&D a good design. I prefer the clarity of the retro clones.

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  8. We noticed it way back when; got a good laugh out of it, too. :)

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  9. I remember having to look up in the unabridged dictionary at the library what in the hell a 'satyriasis' was.

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  10. That reminds me of the "II NEDRAW" in C1. That was the first AD&D module I got, but I didn't understand the reference until a few years later. I also enjoyed the material components for spells, like a copper piece for ESP.

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  11. I suspect I owe a lot of my personality to a two-week stay in the hospital with nothing but the DMG for company...

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  12. Crazy. I just noticed this the other night after looking up a Cloak of Protection. Don't ever remember seeing it previously.

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