Thursday, November 13, 2008

D&D Cover to Cover, part 3

Being a series of articles in which the author reads the indelible words of Gygax and Arneson as presented the Original Collector's Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, published by Tactical Studies Rules. Beginning with Men & Magic, and concluding with The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, the author will consider those earliest passages, adding elucidations and interpretations along the way for your consideration.

Men & Magic

"…DUNGEONS and DRAGONS will provide a basically complete, nearly endless campaign of all levels of fantastic-medieval wargame play. Actually, the scope need not be restricted to the medieval; it can stretch from the prehistoric to the imagined future, but such expansion is recommended only at such a time as the possibilities in the medieval aspect have been thoroughly explored."
Again, the distinction of D&D as a role-playing game has not yet been established in the industry. This is a wargame, set apart from its brethren by the D&D campaign concept, and its creative potential. It is a “basically complete” framework for such campaigns, which need not be restricted to the medieval. This is an important reference, in that Gygax and Arneson are hinting around at the role-playing concept, while still managing to not go so far to say that no actual, official rules are needed for such an undertaking. When I first read this passage, I assumed that the authors were referring to versions of D&D in other time periods, whether that might mean the wild west, or a high tech future ala Boot Hill or Metamorphosis Alpha, respectively. In reading this now, I take it to mean that the campaign has the potential to actually cover multiple epochs, eras and ages of that same world. I have never before heard of such an effort, where a campaign spans various cultural and societal evolutions, but it's an idea that I myself have been considering with the three major Ages of Solstice. Perhaps that is why I actually read it this way now.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


Jonathan Jacobs said...

Oh... my head just exploded with thoughts of campaigns spanning multiple game systems that all take place in the same imagined, shared space - at different points in the timeline. Excellent. You've just ruined my day... I doubt I'll be able to think about anything else for a while...

is this the wrap up of this series? Its a nice pillar for your blog - are you planning on a "All-in-one" repost of the material?

Sham aka Dave said...

My plan is to read all three volumes cover to cover, and consider each passage, then quote and comment on the items of interest, whether it be from a rules interpretation prespective, or just a 'hey, that's cool' one.

So far I have covered the first 2 1/4 pages of volume 1. If I have the intestinal fortitude to make it through, this might take a long while.

That said, I have scheduled 10 more posts, and I'm just getting to the spells in volume 1. I will probably offer conclusions after each volume, and then figure out exactly what, if anything, I am going to do with this (if I finish) mountain of text.

There's going to be a lot of rules interpretations that might generate disagreements and 'whats the point of all this' type of comments in the days and weeks to come.

Anonymous said...

Keep this thoughts coming!

- Zulgyan

Sham aka Dave said...

Thanks, Zulgyan. Good to see you round these parts and back at Fin's place. I respect your takes on OD&D (I learned a lot from many of your posts at the forum). I'll be interested to see what you think of the future parts of this series.

Robert said...

I’m finally getting around to reading this series of posts. They were a great idea.

A couple of notes:

1. In my neck of the woods, “wargame” had become a pretty generic term at the time. Games like Outdoor Survival, Diplomacy, and Baseball Strategy would have been included.

2. From reading comments by Gary, Rob, and Gronan; I got the distinct impression that there had been at least a form of role-playing in the wargames played around Lake Geneva. Perhaps the role-playing aspects of D&D didn’t really seem like an innovation to them at the time.

Sham aka Dave said...

Thanks for the comments, Rob.

The term Wargame for me always meant bookshelf games in the Avalon Hill tradition, as well as mini-games in the SPI tradition. For the most part, games found in a hobby shop as opposed to a toy store. I have to agree that the term is used loosely by many enthusiasts.

None of these were RPGs that I had personally encountered before discovering D&D.

In my semi tongue in cheek post "The Real History of RPG's" I touched on some of the milestones of our hobby's roots, including a pair of games that might have introduced role-playing (in traditional terms, not the modern sense of role-playing) with "Modern War in Miniature" and of course "Fight in the Skies".

There were probably other examples, as well.