As a follow up to yesterday’s post discussing Truths and Expectations, I wanted to discuss briefly that other list I threw together during my exploration of D&D concepts and categories.
Sham’s Essentials of D&D
1. Characters (Race/Class)
2. Ability Scores
3. Hit Points
6. Adventuring Groups
8. Hazards/Challenges (Monsters/Traps/Tricks, etc)
9. Treasure (Monetary/Magic)
10. Fantasy Setting (Dungeons/Wilderness)
I began thinking about the concept of D&D in earnest when I learned of Dave Arneson’s passing. I hate to admit it, but I suppose it is human nature to react this way. I did the same with Gary’s passing, reflecting upon his body of work and appreciating it more once he was dead than before. Surely there is a term for this state of mind. The sudden realization that there will be no more. It’s rather pathetic, honestly.
As I mentioned before, the above Essentials were all present in Dave Arneson’s formative Blackmoor games (not to be confused with Supplement II, Blackmoor). From what I gather, much of what is considered D&D was defined by Gary Gygax into the form we recognize today. For that matter, Blackmoor was influenced by Gygax’s own Chainmail game. But as far as the nuts and bolts of D&D, I am under the impression that Gygax applied his vast war gaming know-how to Arneson’s Blackmoor features. Not to say that Arneson was not an accomplished war gamer. The fact of the matter is that Gygax was simply better at explaining things with the written word. And he owned a typewriter, as Dave put it.
Gygax’s Greyhawk campaign, which preceded OD&D, was born of Blackmoor. Gary heard about Dave’s Blackmoor game, and that it used some bits of Chainmail, and he witnessed the game for himself. Gygax returned home and began his own Blackmoor inspired game named Greyhawk. Thus Blackmoor and Greyhawk became OD&D when the two agreed to publish some rules. Perhaps it is best that the events transpired this way. Accomplished game writer meets visionary gamer, and the two agree to turn the idea into a reality.
Unfortunately, Arneson’s planned D&D add-on, Supplement II, Blackmoor ended up being something not quite expected. I cannot remember the exact details, but if I have it right Arneson submitted reams of handwritten notes for the Supplement. The story I hear is that it would’ve taken many man hours to make heads or tails out of the disorganized pages. Someone else extracted some bits and threw a book together, but in my opinion really screwed the pooch. Get your hands on Arneson’s First Fantasy Campaign to see what Supplement II probably should have looked like.
Dave later took a position with TSR in what would turn out to be a very short-lived period of employ. It ended rather abruptly, and then the lawsuits began over the future use of the D&D name in other TSR publications. Sadly, history threatens to forget that Dave Arneson created the Essentials of D&D, the concept itself.
The above list must be credited where credit is due. Thank you Dave Arneson for creating and sharing this concept with us. Your presence in the gaming world will be missed, but your impact will never be forgotten. I hope that the next time you log into World of Warcraft, dear reader, you will realize that the concept is all Dave Arneson’s. WoW is an MMO that in fact blends all ten Essentials of D&D together. There would be no such game were it not for that creative college kid from Minnesota who dreamt up the perfect, heady concoction for endless entertainment.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee