Saturday, November 15, 2008

D&D Cover to Cover, part 5

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

"The referee bears the entire burden here, but if care and thought are used, the reward will more than repay him."
Readers are beginning to grasp the notion that the referee has a lot of homework to do before actually playing this D&D.

"First, the referee must draw out a minimum of half a dozen maps of the levels of his “underworld”, people them with monsters of various horrid aspect, distribute treasure accordingly, and note the location of the latter two on keys, each corresponding to the appropriate level."
It is assumed that the campaign will begin with the classic dungeon crawl. Perhaps if the players decide to explore the countryside rather than enter the referee’s carefully planned six level upper regions of the “underworld”, they will immediately be thrown into a game of Avalon Hill’s Outdoor Survival? Astute readers will remember that in the FORWARD, the following advice was offered, that the referee will have to devote a number of hours to laying out the maps of his “dungeons” and upper terrain before the affair begins. Regardless, the thrust is clearly with the “underworld” at this point. The name of the game IS DUNGEONS and DRAGONS, after all!

"When this task is completed the participants can then be allowed to make their first descent into the dungeons beneath the “huge ruined pile, a vast castle built by generations of mad wizards and insane geniuses”."
I’m not sure how insane geniuses got lost over the past few decades, but the other guys, those mad wizards, are still behind pretty much every dungeon when it comes right down to it. Simple, straightforward, and an approach which proved to be a flawless entrĂ©e to gaming greatness in the many years that followed. In my gaming circle, it's still a perfect recipe for challenges, exploration, adventure and dice-rolling fun.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


Jonathan Jacobs said...

"insane geniuses" -- reminds me of Ming the Merciless. OK, now I've got to add an insane genius to my current campaign as the "new villian" in town.

Patrick W. Rollens said...

Interesting that the classic castle was almost entirely ruins above-ground -- nothing to explore up top, but the dungeon is still intact.

I prefer my castles to have a bit of excitement above-ground. That way characters can have a meaningful session adventuring through the ruins before heading down into the depths.

Michael Curtis said...

I went the "insane genius" route with Ol' Nameless - actually more "inspired artist" but the two are synonymous - and thought I was breaking new ground.

Nothing new under the sun, I guess.

And I agree, patrickwr. Why ruin a perfectly good castle when it can serve as ample adventure fodder?

Sham aka Dave said...

Good point, Patrick. I normally prefer towers as dungeon toppers, myself. But yeah - just finding the dungeon entrance can be an adventure.