The Gygax story is starting to fade from the headlines by now, but if you can stand to read just a bit more about the Man and his Legacy, here are two items worth checking out:
First up is D&D 0: a fun look at the very earliest incarnations of what would become Dungeons and Dragons. This observation about the rules of proto-D&D struck me as interesting:
The rules themselves were barely there. You had to make it all up. This put so much responsibility on the GM. He had to be entertaining, imaginative, fair, rational. In many ways the steady march away from original D&D has been a sustained effort to remove the effects of a bad GM on the game. The more game elements are objectively determined, written down in books, the less you have to rely on the GM. The less you need a really good GM to run the game. And yes, the more of a science it becomes, and less of an art. Running this game was an art form and only a few people could do it really well. There’s something magical about that. Newer versions become more systematized and therefore more people can play. Mediocre GMs can run good games. But, if I’m being honest with myself, something of the magic is lost. That feeling that most of this game lived in your mind. Because of that, I think, it was more real. As more and more of the game lived in the rules and on character sheets, it became a game instead of a world in your head.
I think that’s definitely something to that. I like the more systematized, rules-complete modern versions of D&D myself. But I’ll also admit that by refining and revising the game over the years, we’ve lost some of the “I can do anything I can imagine!” magic that was present in the very earliest editions. And looking at the vast array of nostalgic early-D&D recreations popping up these days, a lot of people agree.
(That said, I for one am happy we now have games where Elf is not a character class, the GM has a bit of help from the rules, and thieves are not the only type of character that can attempt to be sneaky.)
The second item is The Seven Stages of Gygax over at Chris Pramas’ blog. I’ve definitely been through most of those. Funny stuff.by