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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 69 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: New D&D article  (Read 8024 times)
ethan_greer
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« on: June 05, 2003, 07:16:46 AM »

Hey Ron, that's a thought-provoking and well-written analysis.  Well done.

 Unfortunately, I can't really comment to the specifics since I wasn't into gaming until mid-90's when 2nd edition AD&D was well entrenched.  Still, I remember talking to various people about how 2E had "screwed up" 1st ed.  Depending on who you talked to, you'd get wildly varying reasons.  From that perspective, the article makes sense to me.

Oh, and here's a link so there's no ambiguity about what article I'm referring to:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/20/
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Cadriel
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2003, 07:34:55 AM »

I've been lurking here a while, and I posted some in the past, but there's something that interests me enough to coax me to de-lurk, at least for the present.

Specifically, it's this line in Ron's article:

Quote
Not to put too fine a point on it, Gygax's Simulationist priorities did not blend well with Arneson's goals, which to my possibly biased eyes smack of Narrativism, or with the parallel development of a lively, even fierce competitive Gamist culture.


I'm curious as to that "smack of Narrativism" bit, what the specific line of thought behind it was, and whether anybody knows of any significant undercurrent of Narrativist priorities in the early days of D&D.

-Wayne S. Rossi
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2003, 07:36:34 AM »

Hi there,

Thanks! One of my reasons for writing it was to get some institutional memory established at the Forge - not only regarding a few of our best "history of gaming" dialogues, but also regarding the hobby itself. A lot of us were there. A lot of us were involved much closer than me, personally. It seems right for further discussions here to be using that as a position of strength, and to avoid what amounts to urban legendry as the history of what we do.

Best,
Ron
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Maurice Forrester
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« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2003, 10:30:49 AM »

Quote
Not to put too fine a point on it, Gygax's Simulationist priorities did not blend well with Arneson's goals, which to my possibly biased eyes smack of Narrativism, or with the parallel development of a lively, even fierce competitive Gamist culture.


It would be interesting to look at Dave Arneson's "Adventures in Fantasy" (1982) game in this light.  Unfortunately, I got rid of my copy years ago and I don't remember it well enough to comment.  But maybe someone else has a copy?
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Maurice Forrester
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2003, 10:55:30 AM »

Hi there,

Wayne wrote,

Quote
I'm curious as to that "smack of Narrativism" bit, what the specific line of thought behind it was, and whether anybody knows of any significant undercurrent of Narrativist priorities in the early days of D&D.


I admit I'm going out on a limb with the passage you quoted. It's based on my reading of "The First Fantasy Campaign," which at the very least verifies that the textual content of any published D&D wasn't representing tons of the system actually being employed in the basements across the D&D belt.

Here's one of the things that caught my eye in the text, about their experience point system. Each character had "areas of interest," stuff like politics or art or vintnering, stuff like that. Their rule was that you gained EPs by doing typical dungeon-y stuff, but you couldn't spend them for character improvement unless your character went and contributed in some way to his area of interest. So say my character was into old paintings and sculpture; in order to use these EPs, I had to play him such that he went and gave money to a struggling artist, or took steps to ensure that some old museum got restored, or somethin like that.

Now, was this a Gamist constraint in terms of slowing down rates of improvement? Was it a Sim constraint in terms of "what the character would obviously do"? Or was it a Narrativist opportunity to define what your character's new adventure was going to be about? Again, I'm possibly speaking from preferential bias, but in combination with some of the other rules, and with the way that they were obviously building setting through play itself, it looked like a Narrativist-facilitating application to me.

Best,
Ron
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Cadriel
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« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2003, 11:36:44 AM »

Ron -

I don't know where my copy got to, and I'm coming from long after the time, but is it possible that some of the prescriptivist text in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide leans toward quashing this style of play?  Gygax was, after all, the king of all "One True Way"ers in roleplaying, and if you look at the text, it was devoutly opposed to non-class skills, and discussed bonus experience awards for acting according to class (both of which, I think, are making classes a very heavy-handed Sim construct).

I'm fascinated by the "some assembly required" system, and I think some artifacts of it remain in the roleplayers who make a habit of rearranging systems as they see fit.  I'm starting to think that the 1st edition DMG might be the template for RPG books as they've emerged over the years:  rules as accretion and rearrangement of prior rules, with novelties by player fiat, but always with the rules setting up how play would happen.  And I think it's the acceptable corporate model, because most of the fan base won't be turned off by the fairly "safe" system design, and it generates the topics for lots of supplements.  I also think that emergent systems, rather than prescriptive, will become more and more de rigeur as roleplaying slides into a comfortable niche as a hobby and not a business.

It's probably a bit too much by way of speculation, but it's something I see approaching in RPG history.

-Wayne
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2003, 11:41:50 AM »

Hi Wayne,

Quote
... is it possible that some of the prescriptivist text in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide leans toward quashing this style of play?


That's definitely my reading as well.

Best,
Ron
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jrients
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2003, 01:55:51 PM »

Quote from: Cadriel
I don't know where my copy got to, and I'm coming from long after the time, but is it possible that some of the prescriptivist text in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide leans toward quashing this style of play?


As a younger player Mr. Gygax's "thou shalt not" haunted my group.  Any addition or alteration to the game had to come from a properly sanctified source or it was forbidden in local play.  If it wasn't in a TSR hardback or Dragon we considered it suspect.  This attitude prevailed despite starting with '81 Basic D&D, which specifically encouraged people to do their own thing.  Heck, even settings beyond Greyhawk and the Expert set's Known World were often sniffed at.  To some extent I still approach D&D type gaming in this way.
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Jeff Rients
AmarPK
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« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2003, 03:19:08 PM »

Small technical note.  The Castle Blackmoor link points to the Blackmoor golf course.  The real link is: http://www.jovianclouds.com/blackmoor/.
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Amar
Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2003, 04:06:42 PM »

Quote from: Cadriel
. . . and whether anybody knows of any significant undercurrent of Narrativist priorities in the early days of D&D.

Tons, tons of Narrativist priorities in the early days of actual PLAY of D&D for me - in junior high, we took the "use Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival game map as a world to set your dungeon & overland adventures in" advice and did so, as a shared-GMing endeavor.  We pulled info from any source we could to use in our creation - an adolecent and silly creation, but ours none the less.  One odd but major source that sticks in my brain is Greg Costikyan's "Swords and Sorcery" SPI boardgame/RPG hybrid - an old-school SPI game in some ways, but the first few pagea are introductory fiction like so many pure RPG products that followed it.  And the odd blend of fantasy tropes and silliness was perfect for our age (and maybe for D&D in general).

In high school (a mostly different set of people), we used AD&D and the Giants/Drow modules in a more Gamist way, but with strong Nar bits as well.  I believe Paul Czege has pointed out from time to time how those early modules were very "protagonizing" - your characters were the center of the action in that world, so a degree of Nar was quite reasonable to persue.

But I think the bottom line answer to the question is - Nar priorities are implicit in the very existence of an RPG, just like Sim and Game priorites are.  Nar has always been one of the things you could do with a shared, imagined environment, and so there have always been some people who do so.  "Create a world for your adventures" - is that a Sim instruction to have verisimiltude/fidelity/whatever in your play?  A Game opportunity to include a broader set of challenges than just what lurks in the dungeon or on the battlefield?  Or is it a Nar invitation to get authorial and bring "real world" issues of moral/ethical/psychological significance into your play?

You CAN take it in any of those ways, and I take Ron's point about early D&D play to be that the guidance was sufficiently minimal in early books that people did, in fact, take their play to all those places, and more.  That certainly matches my memories of the late 70's/early 80's.

Gordon
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Cadriel
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« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2003, 04:52:10 PM »

Quote from: jrients
Quote from: Cadriel
I don't know where my copy got to, and I'm coming from long after the time, but is it possible that some of the prescriptivist text in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide leans toward quashing this style of play?


As a younger player Mr. Gygax's "thou shalt not" haunted my group.  Any addition or alteration to the game had to come from a properly sanctified source or it was forbidden in local play.  If it wasn't in a TSR hardback or Dragon we considered it suspect.  This attitude prevailed despite starting with '81 Basic D&D, which specifically encouraged people to do their own thing.  Heck, even settings beyond Greyhawk and the Expert set's Known World were often sniffed at.  To some extent I still approach D&D type gaming in this way.


Well, I think the biggest problem was that Gygax repeatedly decreed from on high, essentially, that Exploration of Character was not necessary.  Modules of the era were initially dungeon crawls, though after I6: Ravenloft it changed dramatically - I think toward Sim Exploration of Story and Setting.  This shift is something I'll leave to part 2 of Christopher Kubasik's "The Interactive Toolkit," which describes quite well why story-based modules, in a word, stink.

But I think that the lasting problem is that Gygax's approach, which continued almost unquestioned for nearly two decades, filtered down into acceptable practice for the rest of the "industry" as it were.  Many games make their rules as judgments on how play ought to be instead of on how it is.  From where I am, it looks like most of the movement away from that is going on in places like the Forge, while the vast majority of the RPG world soldiers on with the load of 25 years of not necessarily valid assumptions.  And I think that it's the future of roleplaying - as in, what will be able to survive any decline the publishing end of the hobby may see.

-Wayne
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Jeff Klein
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2003, 07:03:28 PM »

A few corrections courtesy of The Acaeum and elsewhere:

The 1971 first edition of Chainmail did have a http://www.acaeum.com/DDIndexes/SetPages/Chainmail.html">fantasy section.  Arneson was using a pre-publication version circulated among the Castles & Crusades Society in http://www.acaeum.com/Library/Domesday.html">Domesday Book; Gygax added the fantasy section after Arneson reported about his Blackmoor campaign (http://groups.google.com/groups?q=g:thl2415341259d&dq=&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&selm=33675AF1.4D12%404dintsys.com">Ross Maker - though he writes that the '71 edition had no fantasy?)

The Moldvay (red-box) Basic Set was released in '81, along with Dave Cook's Expert (blue-box) Set.  They were revised in '83 by Mentzer, and preceded in '77 by J. Eric Holmes' original Basic (blue-book) D&D.  The Holmes book presents itself as a lead in to AD&D, while being rather different from it; the Moldvay set carries on those differences and presents itself as a separate game from AD&D.  Gamer legend relates this to TSR challenging Arneson's rights to AD&D in some way.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2003, 09:28:38 PM »

Quote from: Jeff Klein
The Holmes book presents itself as a lead in to AD&D, while being rather different from it; the Moldvay set carries on those differences and presents itself as a separate game from AD&D.  Gamer legend relates this to TSR challenging Arneson's rights to AD&D in some way.

I've seen a court decision related to the later case which makes reference to the earlier one. From the court decision it appears that:
    [*]TSR attempted to distinguish AD&D from D&D so that they could promote the new game and not pay Arneson royalties on it;[*]Arneson won in court, and was guaranteed royalties on all copies of PH, DMG, and MM(1), and any books derived from them, and any future editions thereof;[*]The second case arose when TSR balked on paying Arneson royalties on MM2, and the court concluded that this was included in the original decision.[/list:u]So that's a bit more solid than gamer legend.

    --M. J. Young
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    Jeff Klein
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    « Reply #13 on: June 08, 2003, 05:15:53 AM »

    Yeah, that's http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&selm=jhahn.814.00C64B24%40nslsilus.org">here, but since TSR made the first settlement in 1981 there's little rationale for supporting Basic/Expert past then.  The legend I'd heard was that if they let "Original" D&D go out of print, Dave would be able to publish it elsewhere, but I can't find any references for it now.
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    Jack Spencer Jr
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    « Reply #14 on: June 08, 2003, 08:08:04 AM »

    Quote from: Jeff Klein
    The Moldvay (red-box) Basic Set was released in '81, along with Dave Cook's Expert (blue-box) Set.  They were revised in '83 by Mentzer, and preceded in '77 by J. Eric Holmes' original Basic (blue-book) D&D.  The Holmes book presents itself as a lead in to AD&D, while being rather different from it; the Moldvay set carries on those differences and presents itself as a separate game from AD&D.  Gamer legend relates this to TSR challenging Arneson's rights to AD&D in some way.

    Actually the Moldvay 2nd ed Basic Set is "red book" Not "red box" mostly because that particular box is not red. The box front is taken up completely by the cover picture and the side are a pinkish-purple. "Red box" refers to the 3rd edition Basic set with the Larry Elmore illustration on the cover.

    Holmes's Basic Set was written while Gygax was working on AD&D. Holmes approached Gygax with an idea for an introductory set for the original 3-booklet set. Much of the text in that book is taken directly from the original 3-book set. However, some elements from AD&D wormed their way into the Basic Set, notibly the Alignment chart which adds the good-evil axis. This axis is derived from a concept made evident in Suppliment III Eldrich Wizardry where by asterixes (asterii?) Mind Flayers  ar "highly evil but otherwise lawful."

    While I'm nitpicking, I might as well note that the title of the article "A Hard Look at Dungeons and Dragons" spells out the word "and" instead of using the "&" that appears on all of the covers of any book with that title and is the trademarked name. This is an annoyingly petty nitpick, but it does amount to a mispelling. The name of the horse that had a near miss at the triple crown is Funny Cide, not Funny Side. does "Dungeons and Dragons" refer to D&D or the two suppliments from, I believe Atlas Games: one called "Dungeons" the other called "Dragons."

    There. That's out of my system.
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