Gary Gygax Q&A: Part XI - Page 22





  1. #211
    Hi Ya Gary!
    Just stopping in to say greetings to you and yours!
    Llaurenela
    Llaurenela

    OD&D The One True Game & Forever the Best One!!
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  • #212
    Quote Originally Posted by Llaurenela
    Hi Ya Gary!
    Just stopping in to say greetings to you and yours!
    Llaurenela
    Hey -- nice amazon avatar. Strategically cropped.

  • #213
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    So, Garymeister, can you give us any word on what you're working on with TRS (no, not T$R! Total Reality Studios!)?

  • #214
    Are memes enough to constitute involvement?

    Context: Stross claims Gygax is the world dictator of gaming vision at:
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog..._dictator.html

    I frequently find myself in the minority because I often claim that Gygaxian writing extends far beyond D&D. I often claim that Gygax deserves to be credited with involvement -- good and bad -- for many good and bad aspects of culture. For example, I'll claim that the power-ups in Final Fantasy X have Gygaxian memes.

    Most folks claim I'm playing far too fast and loose with notions of what constitutes cultural involvement. But now that Stoss has named Gygax as the world dictator of the gaming culture, I guess I'm only the second-most-extreme theorist on the planet.

    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    The term "meme" (IPA: [mi?m]), coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins, refers to a replicator of cultural information that one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind. Dawkins said, Examples of memes are tunes, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Other examples include deities, concepts, ideas, theories, opinions, beliefs, practices, habits, dances and moods which propagate within a culture. A meme propagates itself as a unit of cultural evolution analogous in many ways to the gene (the unit of genetic informaion). Often memes propagate as more-or-less integrated cooperative sets or groups, referred to as memeplexes or meme-complexes.
    Source:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

    Rules A,B, and C (below) are intended to describe role-playing for engineering simulations and technical training. I don't know much about professional wargames: I know that they are used by warfighters to train for battle. But I believe professional wargames follow rules A,B, and C below.
    Rule A: The purpose of role-play is a better-functioning organization. (This obviously contradicts the purpose of D&D, Lejendary Adventures, etc. because those are intended as pure fun, not as art, education, etc.)
    Rule B: The designer is responsible for a realistic, scientifically accurate simulation that will allow the client to avoid guesswork, judgement calls, and inconsistencies. (This contradicts Rules 1, 2, and 3 below.)
    Rule C: Imagination requires effort: therefore the exercise should regard imagination as a limited resource to be conserved if possible. Standard operating procedures should be instinctive, although creative adaptation is welcome if the worker is well-grounded in SOP. (I believe this contradicts Rule 4 below, at least somewhat.)


    Of course, as I mentioned, I started out as a wide-eyed boy on the threshold of Basic D&D around 1980 or so. Over the intervening quarter-century I think I've found certain memetic rules of Gygaxian design:

    Rule #1: Realism is limited to the level of a ripping yarn. The game will make some weird and arbitrary approximations for playability (such as experience points for adventuring instead of for training), and the whole thing will have simple math, not a detailed statistical spreadsheet. This is imagination, not military history or any other serious topic. (This rule requires many judgement calls and runs contrary to the design philosophies of Marc Miller and Steve Jackson, IMHO.)

    Rule #2: The DM will not give very large amounts of detail about the world so that players can investigate it like scientists and exploit its natural laws like engineers. The world is detailed -- it has backstory and often it has illustrations and maps. The world has neat interactive puzzles and weird monsters with special powers and behaviors. But the world is not meant to be understood, it is meant for ripping yarns of high adventure. The players are not investigators, they are swashbuckling risk-takers. (I think Arneson published an anecdote about how his players tried to build steam engines but always failed; eventually they learned to trust magic swords.)

    Rule #3: Even if an analysis of a game phenomenon is possible, the nature of the phenomenon is frequently determined by a random table that is sufficiently wacky to prevent effective exploitation. (This can severely frustrate physicists and engineers at the table, since it runs counter to their real-life intuitions. It can also frustrate hardcore military gamers, since real-life history of warfare often includes learning the enemy's tricks. The coolest stuff frequently is not analyzable or reproducible, e.g. a set of stone cogwheels that trigger an exotic door cannot be copied or imitated. The DM can spring numerous tactics on the party (including ambush, bizarre technology, etc.) but refuse to allow the party to learn and use the same tricks. Some tricks, like animating zombies, can simply be ruled off-limits.)

    Rule #4: It's really cool to give the party a surface description and let them try to search, asking for more detail. Magic items often require extensive research into command words. This assumes that a party is willing to take the time to do the searching. Many players are not patient enough. Many DMs don't communicate well. (This is where less personal, more standardized experiences like "World of Warcraft" gain a foothold.)

    Rule #5: It's cool to hand the party a problem such as how to transport bulky treasure. (I am confident this is fun when a highly skilled DM uses it. Many less-skilled DMs give highly portable treasure and/or big transportation advantages like Heward's Handy Haversack.) This has inspired games like Dungeon Siege, where the most distinctive element is the fact that most parties have at least one packmule.

    So, I'm following Stross' lead in making extreme claims. I claim that Rules 1 through 5 have profoundly altered the popular imagination and the popular standards of reasoning, to the point where Colonel Gygax is culturally involved in works tangentially inspired by his work.

    If this sounds like fulsome praise, bear in mind that whenever I voice this sentiment, I usually get two kinds of objections: a) that I'm blaming Colonel Gygax for problems that aren't his fault, and b) that I'm praising him for achievements he didn't do or even claim to do.

    If it's of interest to anyone, I could develop my hypothesized memetic connections between Gygaxian role-play and games such as Traveller, Ars Magica or Mage: the Ascension.

    Sorry for the long-winded post.
    Last edited by riprock; Friday, 21st July, 2006 at 01:46 PM.

  • #215
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    Apologies Fellows!

    I was not ignoring your posts here. Somehow I was not notified that there were new ones, and I just happened to check and found this long string of them...

    Time for me to get bust responding!

    Cheers,
    Gary

  • #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfdart
    My nickname on the web boards comes from the old English term for back spasms (which I suffered several years ago) being labeled "elf darts" because the ancient Germanic peoples thought sudden pains and spasms were caused by invisible darts from the elves. On the other hand, Tolkien nerds are more of a pain in the a$$.
    Interesting origin of the name, and something I had not read before. thanks.

    Happy for you that the spasms have ceased. I injured by back when I was working as a mover in my late teens, and had many a chiropractic treatment before a kinesiologist one cured the proble,

    Cheers,
    Gary

  • #217
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elfdart
    Supposedly, that's what the Pechs are, as well as the Brownies.
    Yuppers,

    But two distinct takes on their nature...

    Cheers,
    Gary

  • #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treebore
    You are a cool guy indeed! Ignore the ignorance and only repsond to what little was of any interesting merit. I hope I meet you in person some day.
    So much to accomplish, so little time in which to do it...

    Come to Lake Geneva and meeting me is easy. The Lake Geneva Gaming Convention gives you a good excuse to make the trip, not to mention more to look forward to.

    Is there a chance you'll be going to the Troll Con they are putting together down in OK. in March/April of next year? Or this GenCon? I'll be at both.
    Sorry, but no. I hve cut way back on my traveling the last couple of years.

    I also finally got my Troll shipment Monday (1 full week after my B-day). I was immediately hooked by the Castle Zagyg book. Excellent stuff. You are still the best, IMO. I haven't read LA:Essentials or Hall of Many Panes yet, still reading Castle Zagyg! I also bought World Builder. Haven't read that yet either, but my daughter has started to. If Castle Zagyg is any thing to go by I have a lot of very enjoyable reading ahead of me.
    Happy that you are enjoying the CZ work

    The LA Essentials game is just what it calls itself, the LA RPG in a relative nutshell. Do not be thinking D&D when you read it, as the system is not at all similar to the latter, save in spirit and potential enjoyment. The differences will be rather plain when you read Hall of Many Panes, compare the LA material to that for D20. The World Builder is a most useful book of lists and "descriptionary: as my co-author Dan Cross coined a word to describe it.

    I hope you have a couple of decades of more creativity ahead of you. Take care.
    Well, I'll drink to that!

    Although I am semi-retired, not able to spend 70 or so hours a week doing creative work, I am still active about half as much each week, the main trouble is that more than half of that time is spent on business matters, email, or board posts

    Cheers,
    Gary

  • #219
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Mouser
    There's nothing like a good slaughter to liven things up; and to get rid of that pesky angst!


    Noah Chin just sent me his latest Fuzzy Knights strip in which the players do just that at the conclusion.


    The Grugach based on the Picts? That's pretty interesting and yet another reason why I hate that you lost control of A/D&D. What I'd give to see what could have been published!

    Gray Mouser
    Elfdart noted that the pech and the brownie were derived from the Picts. I am not sure of the origin of the grugach, but it might well have been another foklore take on them. As a matter of fact I did much enjoy reading through texts dealing with mythology and folklore, the medieval bestiaries and all, translating what seemed interesting into material for the AD&D game. What seems to be lacking now is a real love for fantasy and the game system...

    Cheers,
    Gary

  • #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brooklyn Red Leg
    ...

    Bah, no more so than any other group of nerds, say like Star Trek, Star Wars, Macross (well, almost all anime fans now) and any other number of situations that have spawned fan followings.


    As demonstrated by Steven Colbert when he was on the Conan O'Brien show a few nights back.

    As a matter of fact rabid RPG fans can be as boring as any Tolkien buff, Trekkie, or like devotee if all they talk about is that single subject.

    Cheers,
    Gary

    P.S.

    Damn! I could have sworn that there was at least one Michigan regiment in the Iron Brigade...

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