Men & Magic
At the end of the very first paragraph in the Forward to Men & Magic, Mr. Gygax’s enthusiasm is evident with this sentence:
"Its possibilities go far beyond any previous offerings anywhere!"A boastful assertion, perhaps? Far beyond any, anywhere? These are the strongest words possible, and ones I believe were carefully considered and chosen by Mr. Gygax. I am certain that no one can dispute these claims, not in 1974, nor in 2008.
"While it is possible to play a single game, unrelated to any other game events past or future, it is the campaign for which these rules are designed."In my opinion, what Mr. Gygax is saying here is that the rules for fantasy conflict are explained, and that it is possible to use the game for determining the outcome of opposing sides in such a melee. When I first read this sentence, I assumed that it referred to one-offs or one-shot adventures, much like those one might enjoy at a convention. I now believe this statement references D&D’s CHAINMAIL roots. In other words, the mechanics of resolution are presented within, but the thrust of D&D is the ongoing game, the world in which such conflicts occur, the surroundings with which the player characters will interact, the obstacles to be overcome in order to gain experience and wealth, the methods of progression within the setting that reflect success, and how continued play influences the fantastic world within which the characters adventure, this then is the campaign.
"The campaign referee will have to have sufficient time to meet the demands of his players, he will have to devote a number of hours to laying out the maps of his “dungeons” and upper terrain before the affair begins."The term campaign is further defined here. It is not simply a wargame or table-top miniatures simulation. It is, in fact, what we now consider to be D&D. A predetermined setting, mapped out, and ready to be explored by the player characters. What is not specified is the magnitude of work or time required. Then a one-shot or convention game can be referred to as a campaign? Not quite. I don’t believe the concept of using D&D in such a way had even been considered when this Forward was written. This was Mr. Gygax making a clear distinction between D&D and other wargames. Battle simulation, ala CHAINMAIL, was only one possibility of D&D.
"The longevity of existing campaigns (notably “Blackmoor” in the Twin Cities and “Greyhawk” in Lake Geneva) and the demand for these rules from people outside these campaigns point towards a fantastic future."Indeed it did. But why? Anyone opening Men & Magic in 1974 would still not be clear on the points Mr. Gygax was making. Is it a wargame, or not? Indeed D&D was written for wargamers. The concept developed by Gygax and Arneson had not, at that time, carved out its own gaming niche. In 1974, it was a wargame, albeit one that was written with the campaign in mind. Within a few years, D&D had certainly created its own gaming genre.
"But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers."I cannot argue with this assumption whatsoever. D&D has, for me, assuredly lived up to these expectations. The idea of a campaign, which is the concept of a referee detailing and mapping a fantasy world, and allowing players to explore it with their characters, has undoubtedly provided me with decades of enjoyment. It is a creative outlet which provided endless possibilities like no game before it. What made it reasonable to claim that “Its possibilities go far beyond any previous offerings anywhere!” was this very distinction. I thank Mr. Gygax and Mr. Arneson for publishing this innocent little wargame that changed the gaming world forever.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee