05 March 2008


GOOD RIDDANCE to that clown for fostering upon us the most crappy of all roleplaying game systems, Dungeons and Dragons. Good that he died. He has done enough damage.

YESYESYES! This calls for a celebration!

Credit, though, must be given to Gary Gygax for co-inventing roleplaying games. Beyond that, his undue influence until 1985 was harmful. He had also created a monster, TSR, which was responsible for churning crap worlds* (settings) and RPGs until lately.

*Dragonlance by Weis and Hickman must one of the most vomit-inducing worlds ever, including the novels.


Adam said...

Gygax created a framework. It was up to the various DMs to create the game.

Though, I have to agree about the awful fiction that resulted.

Chuang Shyue Chou said...

When one was roleplaying in the early 80s to the late 80s, the Gygax influence was all-pervading. He had legions of worshippers no less. Anything Gygax was snapped up and viewed uncritically. That total dominance was not unlike the Microsoft of the mid- nineties if not more oppressive. New RPGs were utterly overlooked and died on the wayside due largely to player inertia and critical mass in something as awful as AD&D.

That influence of course eroded after he left TSR in 1985 though it persisted until around 1990.

A class-based and level-defined framework did harm RPGs for a long time as did the issue of alignments. It's still here today. Quite a few other concepts like AC were utterly detrimental for a variety of reasons which I won't go into.

benjamin said...

Ultimately it comes down to the players. I think for every slack-jawed minion who lapped up TSR, there were others out there who were inspired to create their own campaigns and stories.

I don't know about "legions of worshippers" but apart from the early books, most of D&D from 2nd edition onwards was written and developed by other people, usually working in a committee. (Kind of like Gene Roddenberry and the later Star Trek series... but I digress.)

I grew up with D&D/AD&D (until the much-improved 2nd Edition came out, and much later, 3.0/3.5) - but I never uncritical about
the quality or content of TSR's in-house products and settings which supported the game.

Not everyone, after all, has the imagination and/or time to create their own fantasy settings from scratch, and not every DM enjoys "world creation." If nothing else, TSR's products were at least accessible, and provided a starting point.

I've used a great deal of the settings of Krynn and Rokugan myself, with bits of Lankhmar thrown in, tailoring "around the edges" to suit my specific campaigns. (I'm also a veteran of the "Against the Giants" mini-campaign, though, and I'm glad I have that story to tell.)

Among other "house rules" we also dropped the whole nonsensical idea of alignments, revised the whole system of magicuser having to memorize spells out of spellboooks, and made other tweaks as necessary (as long as it was consistent) to make our games easier and more streamlined.

On the other hand, I never went for much of the TSR-published novels - from the likes of Gord and Drizzt to Elminster and Dalamar. Some of them were truly dire, but maybe that's just me. I think by then I was already spoilt by Tolkien and LeGuin and Bradley Zimmer...

TSR/WOTC did have a habit of saturating the market with too many books and supplements - but that's just the company being business-minded (which they're entitled to), and has no bearing on the merits and flaws of the game system itself.

For all its flaws as a game system, D&D nonetheless has provided a lot of players around the world with positive experiences and memories.