Nicht bin ein Gygaxian
Well, that's a bit strong I suppose. To come out, as a long time D&Der and say that you're not a strong fan of the personality behind published D&D, is probably not the best way to ingratiate oneself in the grognard community, but it's true to a certain extent. I never got to meet the man in person, which I have always regretted, and have only gotten to exchange a sparing few emails with him where he told me I was more than a bit of a lunatic. I certainly admire his body of work, even his novels which I could never read.
But in the end, I'm not terribly fond of things overtly Gygax.
For the most part, it has to do with the fact that AD&D 1e (and less so OD&D and BECMI) was thick with Gary's overwhelming force of personality on the written page. I cannot speak for the man in person, but in words, his presence is palpable, like a tap on the shoulder. I've always believed that one of the greatest strengths of D&D was its insistence that it be made one's own, that it be adapted to the group that was playing it, and the first AD&D books always struck me as Gary's game less than mine.
Why is that? I don't know really. Perhaps I'm even wrong here, but whenever I pick up my early printing PHB with the adventurers prying rubies from the idol and dragging lizard man corpses into a pile, I can almost feel a glass of scotch being pressed into my hand and a friendly voice telling me not to worry about it because my fighter character won't last too long anyway. And I tend to get swept up by it, to go with the Gygax flow to visit the Shield Lands or Furyundy, anticipating the inevitable trap that will be found easier by a ten foot pole than the roll of a thief's skill. Everything in it is Gary's.
Many denigrate TSR's 2nd edition because it excised everything that was uniquely Gygaxian about AD&D, that the books had become bland and flavorless in comparison, and that's entirely true. And that's why, in the end, AD&D 2e will probably always be my choice system. It is far less front loaded with the original Game Master's notes and style and becomes much easier to mold and modify and make into my own.
It's a strange feeling, really, to look at D1-3 and realize that they are fabulous modules, but that I'll never go there as a DM or as a player, and that I probably won't ever miss it except from the perspective of nostalgia.
More Little Treasures
11 months ago