Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Laws of Fun

In the run-up to the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons in 2014, Wizards of the Coast did a series of reprints of older editions of the game, including some of its most iconic adventure modules. Dungeons of Dread was a book that reprinted all the AD&D S-series modules: Tomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. As these things go, it's decent enough, particularly if you never owned (or no longer owned) copies of these classic modules. 

More interesting, though, was the foreword by former TSR employee, Lawrence Schick, who offers an overview of the four modules. When discussing the third one, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, he says the following:

Vegepygmies and robots. What more could you need to hear? Let’s go! S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks was Gary in full-on funhouse mode, having a high old time mixing elements of Jim Ward’s Gamma World with fantasy to create a rollicking and memorable AD&D adventure. Some remember Gary Gygax as the stern pontiff of AD&D, ruling on what was and wasn’t proper and decrying all heresy. What I remember is Gary the game designer, a mischievous man with a firm grasp on the Laws of Fun, who knew how to offset threat with humor, and who understood that players valued most what they worked hard to earn.

What a lovely tribute to one of the founding fathers of our hobby! For that matter, what terrific advice for referees to bear in mind as they run their own campaigns.

(Thanks to Quinton Baran, who recently reminded me of this passage)

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