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System doesn't matter, as narrated by E. Gary Gygax

Started by Clinton R. Nixon, May 09, 2001, 11:57:00 AM

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Clinton R. Nixon

(from a recent interview at">

Interviewer: There are quite a few "freeware" role-playing games on the Internet these days...

EGG: Right. And they're worth every penny you pay for them. I mean, there are really only two basic approaches that you can take. One is the archetype class system, and the other is the skill-based system. And permutations thereof. My new game, Lejendary Adventure, is a skill-based system. It's a rules-light system, so I've lumped certain skills together and said 'well, if you already know this, then go ahead.' Then I've created certain 'orders,' so if you have this ability and this ability and this ability, you are recognized as a mage, or a warrior, or whatever. So you get the archetypes too. I'm trying to cheat and use both approaches, but ultimately there are just the two basic types.

So it's less about the rules and more about the type of game that you build around them?

Yeah, right. There are only so many mechanics that you can use. A game is just mechanics and presentation, and presentation is probably the most important thing. Does it really matter if you roll a d20, or a d100, or 3d6... anyone can figure out the probabilities. All you're doing is generating random numbers.

Those people who say 'I don't want any randomness in my game' just aren't living in the real world, because you don't know whether or not it's going to rain tomorrow. The weather people don't. They're what? 85% or 90% right? Hey, that's life. Accidents happen. Good fortune, bad fortune, that's what random number generation and chance are all about. You slip and fall. Whoops.


This isn't all that relevant, but I thought it was a good example of outright stupidity in game design. Discuss at will.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games


I will quote Key20 Jason now:


Two approaches?  So, then, what are the rest of us?  My game doesn't exist anymore according to Gygax... I'm crushed.


Ron Edwards

Geez ... old-school Simulationism, as I live and breathe.

Reminiscent of the title character's checklist of possible verbal responses in "The Terminator," I shall take a peek at all my options.

1) Launch into a point-by-point refutation. Yeah, right.
2) Go "sput! sput!" in frustration.
3) Recall which of us, me or Gary, actually writes, publishes, sells, and plays role-playing games.
4) Repeat #3.

Whew! That calls for a beer, or perhaps two.



Actually, I don't think it's outright stupidity, just short-sightedness. His examples are valid, but he just doesn't accept that there are other options. It's like saying "birds fly. Men don't fly" - which is true to some extent, but misses "men can build flying machines".

One quarter of the time, Gygax is right. Half the time, he's woefully out of touch with "our" ideas about gaming.

The remaining quarter of the time, he's a muppet.

Jason L Blair

Whew... pass me a beer, Ron. If you have any left.

Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer


One quarter of the time, Gygax is right. Half the time, he's woefully out of touch with "our" ideas about gaming.

The remaining quarter of the time, he's a muppet.

I absolutely MUST borrow is screaming, "Make me into a .sig line!"  May I?

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio