Saturday, September 20, 2008

Truly Gygaxian

But perhaps it was the tension between anarchic and rule-bound play that made Gygax such a potent designer. Whether digital or non-digital, games are constantly walking the fine line of "constrained freedom." Gary Gygax was one of the first designers to walk that line with unabashed confidence. Perhaps that -- more than 20-sided dice, or stacks of rulebooks, or dungeon-crawling elves -- can be considered truly Gygaxian.
This is a quote from a little article I missed in the immediate aftermath of Gary Gygax's death earlier this year. I largely agree with its insight and I think it's key to understanding Gary's unique genius as a designer. I know it's that tension that keeps old school D&D fresh for me after all these years.

1 comment:

  1. Well put.
    I personally think Gygaxian rulings died with AD&Ds rules fixation, which made it pretty dang impossible to make up consistent rulings on the spot. Which let to loads of books that are basically guidelines for running the game, instead of cool ideas you might just use for the heck of it.
    D&D 3.0 and 4e are only the most recent developments of a long-running trend for D&D.