D&D General Dave Arneson: Is He Underrated, or Overrated?

I remember thinking Monte Cook was the greatest man alive when 3rd Ed came out. I even bought his World of Darkness D20…. Yeah…
I had the same reaction to Invisible Suns -- 'really excited, this guy is so renowned and the premise of this is so exciti...<starts reading, and then playing>... okay, who edited and playtested this?!' Still one of the best ideas guys in gaming today.
Talking about credit, Zeb Cook designed 2nd edition, and he was almost as influential in 1st edition. Arguably he influenced D&D for longer than Arneson or Gygax.

Don't forget the B/X Expert-Set, which he is also tesponsible for.
Please remember poor Tom Moldvay. He and Dr. J. Eric Holmes both kept something of a lower profile than the Gary, Dave, Zeb (admittedly mostly in computer games these past 25 years or so) or the WotC-era guys, and sometimes I think they get lost in the shuffle (excepting that 'B/X' is alternately known as 'Moldvay-Cook').

Well, I do know of one (in)famous case of a fantasy writer being someone's professor, but it's a little OT (spoilered to avoid thread derail)...

The Gor guy was a philosophy professor at CUNY Queens. He retired, but you can still find his RateMyProfessors ratings.
For that matter, a people a few years younger than me at U of MN could have studied linguistics and south Asian studies under MAR Barker(someone else who needs the Jon Peterson treatment).
 

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Considering Basic D&D outsold both 1e and 2e combined, I'd say that the people that put those various sets together are definitely an example of "underrated."

Please remember poor Tom Moldvay. He and Dr. J. Eric Holmes both kept something of a lower profile than the Gary, Dave, Zeb (admittedly mostly in computer games these past 25 years or so) or the WotC-era guys, and sometimes I think they get lost in the shuffle (excepting that 'B/X' is alternately known as 'Moldvay-Cook').

I would love to see an examination of Tekumel's creation, its earliest days, and how the fans interfaced with such an alien and detailed fantasy world.

For that matter, a people a few years younger than me at U of MN could have studied linguistics and south Asian studies under MAR Barker(someone else who needs the Jon Peterson treatment).
 



I’ve only just stumbled across this old thread but thought it worth adding my tuppence worth of understanding.

DA was running Blackmoor as a distant adjunct to GG’s Chainmail fantasy campaign (though with the addition of the Strategos ‘active referee’). GG had heard interesting stories about the Blackmoor group’s activities (probably the ‘skirmish level’ exploration of the dungeons below the ransacked castle) and invited DA to visit and elaborate on them. David Megarry accompanied DA because he wanted to see whether GG could help produce a boardgame he had developed inspired by the Blackmoor explorations – Dungeon!

GA was very taken with Dungeon! but realised that it could take some time to get the finances together to put it into commercial production. DA’s campaign was a little more difficult to explain, given that the players’ roles covered the strategic, tactical and individual level conflicts (along with the Strategos mind set) and he didn’t have the necessary range of participants with him to demonstrate the full scope of it, so he led GA through the essence of the dungeon exploration experience. GA saw potential in replicating this experience commercially.

However, GA alighted upon the idea that by stripping out the wider Blackmoor campaign he could potentially produce a ruleset that would replicate the Dungeon! game but with a much reduced, upfront production cost. By removing the exploring characters’ relationship with the surrounding world (the Blackmoor characters were, in part, seeking loot to bolster their nations military treasuries) GA created the game of murder hobos with a rule system, rather a system to encourage meaningful rulings, that restricted the active participation of the DM.

One can see why DA was less than fully enamoured with GA’s ‘product’ and recognise the value of exploring the development history of roleplaying to appreciate the approaches abandoned in the name of commerce that could foster a more engaging relationship around the table.
 

Game Wizards gives you the idea that Arneson was a great 'idea guy', but really lacked the drive to write and finish products... the book has numerous stories of his failures to finish up stuff. EGG, for all his faults, at least had the drive to complete products....
 

It would have been interesting to see what might have been produced if Arneson had had access to a half decent 'ghost writer' who could have helped him collate and organise his thoughts into a meaningful treatise on creating and running games.

Credit to Gygax for producing a product that could sell. Its just unfortunate that it baked in a rules-focused, murder hobos approach as the industry standard for decades.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Having actually listene to Game Wizards now...Arneson comes across pretty terribly, when the story is told neutrally and from period documents on all sides. For all of gygaxes considerable flaws, I can understand why he lost patience with all of Arneson's behavior.
 

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