• Resources are back! Use the menu in the main navbar. If you own a resource, please check it for formatting, icons, etc.

Rob Kuntz Recounts The Origins Of D&D

hl9tabacful74fpqzzkx.png

In this interesting article from Kotaku, Rob Kuntz relates a history of early TSR that differs somewhat from the narrative we usually hear. It delves into the relationship between Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (D&D's co-creators) and the actual development of the game, which dates back to Arneson in 1971.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

Comments

AriochQ

Explorer
Wesley should always get a tip of the cap for his role in the beginning (Braunstein, Blackmoor, Greyhawk, get it?).

But he wasn't really down with RPGs. I know! And Braunstein wasn't really designed for the roleplaying- that was player driven. So, I think he gets just the right amount of credit- the mention.
Personally, I feel the 'Eureka' moment was Braunstein, and everything that followed was a logical progression.

Strategos N added the role of a very active referee, rather than just a rules arbiter or scenario designer. This was the first glimmer of what would become the Dungeon Master.

In Braunstein, players were assigned different roles within the town. Each differed in their powers, goals, and abilities. As told in Secrets of Blackmoor, Wesley intended this to play out in a more traditional fashion, with players submitting 'moves' to him verbally in sequence and he determining the outcome of the 'turn'.

But, and here is what I consider the turning point, the players ended up interacting more with each other (when they were together waiting for their turn to interact with Wesley) than they did with Wesley. Essentially, they played out their characters 'roles', pursuing their individual goals utilizing their unique abilities. This was a surprise to Wesley. I would posit because it was a radical departure from how all games up until then had been played. Hence, the 'Eureka' moment.

Once that barrier was broken, everything else follows sequentially, character advancement, world expansion, codification of rules.

 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Personally, I feel the 'Eureka' moment was Braunstein, and everything that followed was a logical progression.
shrug The difference being that Wesley did not want, or hope, for that to happen. And expressly did not like the direction it went, and, more importantly, did not like RPGs ("escapist fantasy" or the like?).

So, yeah, I am quite familiar with the history, and believe it should be given a footnote. But Wesley, while an interesting footnote in the history, wasn't Arneson or Gygax in the story of RPGs.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Okay, I want to talk about this.

For the last several years, I've become intensely interested in the history of D&D, and have made a dedicated effort to read up on it. I've acquired and read copies of the little brown books, supplements I-IV, Swords & Spells, Outdoor Survival, First Fantasy Campaign, the collector's edition of Kuntz's own El Raja Key Archive and, of course, Chainmail. I've likewise read through Playing at the World, all four volumes of Designers & Dragons and its "Platinum Appendix," Empire of Imagination, Heroic Worlds, Of Dice and Men, Art & Arcana, and Kuntz's book Dave Arneson's True Genius. (I've also got a copy of C. A. L. Totten's Strategos, but that's proving much harder to read, as are those first few dozen issues of Alarums & Excursions I bought a while back.)

Call me a +2 bonus to your Strength score, in other words, because I'm a buff.

I have a lot of things I could say about Kotaku in general, and the writer of this piece in particular, but since the profanity filter isn't working I'll limit my focus to what's written here.

A new documentary out last week, Secrets of Blackmoor, attempts to get to the bottom of who really incepted the world of fantasy role-playing.
I'm going to be extremely pedantic and note that, when it was posted, the makers of Secrets of Blackmoor admitted that that was the "find a flaw" version, asking the backers to let them know if they made any mistakes, errors, or omissions that they could then update for both the digital copy of the film and the physical copy being sent to backers. Since they said they'd have that done by the 22nd, what's at that link is presumably the final version.

If the ideas of “innovation” and “iteration” hadn’t been so co-opted by corporations today, Arneson’s little gaming group may have been more deeply inked into the history of Dungeons & Dragons.
Sentences like this are why I have such little regard for this outlet and this writer. The entire article goes into some detail about the falling out between Arneson and Gygax, making a decent (if, in my view, less than holistic) showing of how "'innovation' and 'iteration' being co-opted by corporations today" had nothing to do with it. It had to do with clashes of personality, issues of money, and other much more personal concerns, rather than the corporatization of hobby gaming.

Chainmail, or more specifically its fantasy supplement, is widely considered to be the prototype of D&D.
This, right here, goes to the heart of the current "Team Gygax or Team Arneson" nature of the disagreement among D&D historians. It's a debate that has been around for quite some time among those who look into the game's history: if you read Lawrence Schick's Heroic Worlds, published in 1991, you'll find an essay from Gary Gygax himself talking about how Chainmail was fundamental to the development of D&D, and another essay from Dave Arneson about how Chainmail had very little influence on the development of D&D! In more recent characterizations, Shannon Appelcline, author of Designers & Dragons agrees with Gygax that Chainmail played a pivotal role in the creation of D&D (and calls those who disagree "Chainmail denialists"), whereas Paul Stormberg disagrees. This is the dividing issue among D&D aficionados!

Despite all of this, Chainmail was decidedly not a role-playing game. It wasn’t structured around campaigns. There were no experience points.
Interestingly, Jon Peterson says in Playing at the World that the use of the same individual character over multiple adventures and having them gain experience to become more power/competent as they do is one of the defining characteristics of what makes a role-playing game a role-playing game. Which always makes me wonder if the original edition of Traveller was an RPG or not.

That said, we tend to think of "campaigns" today as involving a progressing narrative, rather than just having the same characters take the field in subsequent adventures, and in that regard the early years of D&D were notable for being far more picaresque than that.

With the release of Secrets of Blackmoor last week, documentarian Griffith Morgan is pushing back against the popular narrative that Gary Gygax was the primary figure behind the creation of what we know today as the tabletop role-playing game, “the mythology that Gary Gygax created everything,” as he told Kotaku.
As other people have noted, this is the point that's going to remain divisive, because while Gygax and Arneson both deserve credit - the game wouldn't exist without both of them - the issue is largely one about who deserves the lion's share of the credit (though I'll admit that a lot of casual fans probably haven't heard of Arneson at all, which is certainly a shame and something that should be corrected).

To reiterate, while Arneson came up with the core concept of the table-top RPG as we now understand it, there's no indication that he had the inclination of aptitude to market what he'd made. Gygax was the one who cleaned it up for general publication and pushed to get it out onto the market. Personally, I think that makes his greater recognition, if not deserved then at least justifiable. Good ideas alone aren't enough; they require follow-through.

“People turn it into a thing,” Morgan said. “This guy Dave had a couple ideas, Gary saw what he was doing and was a genius, and figured out how to make it 20 times better. That’s the narrative. Actually, they were working on this role-playing thing for 10 years before Gary was even there. He came in late 1972. He still [didn’t] know how to do it until early 1973.”
The dates in this article make me question the "10 years" thing, as it sounds like less time had passed since Arneson started drifting towards what we'd now think of as running a role-playing game. Even then, that wasn't "working on it" in the sense of developing it with the intent of releasing it to the public, the way Gygax was working on it after he'd gotten involved. Rather, it was a hobby pastime, which I don't think can be honestly compared to trying to make a business work.

“Arneson set up his 3-ring binder as a screen between us and him,” wrote Kuntz in an unpublished work called A Tale of Two Daves, Two Gygaxʼs and Two Kuntzʼs, which he shared with Kotaku.
Fellow D&D history buffs likely noted this with raised eyebrows, since Kuntz has been teasing the release of a new book for a little while now. I don't recall this particular item in the El Raja Key Archive (though I could be wrong; it's a big archive), so I'm hoping we see this later.

Arneson, who referred to himself as a “hunt and peck typist,” wasn’t much for polished rulesets. “The game was in Dave’s mind, in practice with his home players. It didn’t exist as a full-blown set of rules,” said Stormberg. “It was a eureka moment for Gary.”

Gygax read through Arneson’s notes. “Halfway through the reading,” Kuntz said, “Gary… nonchalantly said, ‘This needs to be rewritten.’ Not one nice thing to say about Dave, the adventure the rules. This is when it all switches.”

“He was jealous. Just stone-cold jealous.”
The first paragraph there underlines, at least to me, how unfair that "jealous" characterization is. Now, I wasn't there, so maybe Kuntz's take on it is correct, but the fact is that all indications are that Arneson's notes really did need to be rewritten. Shannon Appelcline's history on Supplement II: Blackmoor notes how Tim Kask could barely make heads or tails of what Arneson gave him back in 1975. While that might be an issue of the corporate culture at TSR, I'm disinclined to believe that there were any office politics going on with regards to how unusable Arneson's rules were for anyone who wasn't Arneson. The reason is because First Fantasy Campaign, the collection of Arneson's notes on Blackmoor published in 1977 by Judges Guild, is such a cryptic document. I'm being somewhat hyperbolic; the first part that overviews Blackmoor and its major characters is straightforward enough, but the parts that cover the actual dungeon and notes on things such as magic swords are very arcane in terms of trying to actually use them.

All of which is to say that the quote section above feels to me like it's minimizing what Gygax brought to the (proverbial, as well as game) table. He was the 99% perspiration to Arneson's 1% inspiration.

The spell system was inspired by Jack Vance’s book The Dying Earth. The trolls, from Poul Anderson’s book Three Hearts and Three Lions. The character alignment system, from the novels of Michael Moorcock.
Nitpick again, the alignment system (though it was just the Law and Chaos dichotomy, to be fair) came from Poul Anderson too, and Gygax's list of titles in Appendix N make it hard to imagine that he didn't know that.

Kuntz was co-dungeon master of the original Greyhawk game, which involved “constant expansion and reiteration and experimenting with Arneson’s architecture,” he said—“fast and furious, trying to let no stone go unturned.”
Another point of order: my understanding is that Kuntz did co-DM Greyhawk, but only after it had reached the point where Gygax couldn't run the thing on his own due to having too many players. Back then, Greyhawk was run as what we'd think of today as an "open" game table. People just showed up and did their thing, in different groups at different times, and all of it was consistent within the campaign world. Hence why Gary wrote his now semi-famous note in the AD&D 1E DMG about "YOU CANNOT RUN A CAMPAIGN WITHOUT ACCURATE TIME RECORDS" (paraphrasing from memory, there). Since he needed to remember how long characters were recuperating, if someone else had already been to a particular dungeon floor and how long ago, etc.

Kuntz, it should be noted, also was running his own campaign setting, Kalibruhn, with its own major dungeon above which a castle rested: the aforementioned Castle El Raja Key. Notably, Gary was a player in that campaign, which is where Mordenkainen came from (fellow history buffs take note: Mordenkainen wasn't technically from Greyhawk first).

In 1973, Gygax and his Lake Geneva friend Don Kaye founded their own company Tactical Studies Rules, or TSR, to publish Dungeons & Dragons. Gygax would become the editor and co-founder. Arneson was creative director.

[...]

Arneson would work at TSR for just 11 months. If he produced any manuscripts there, their existence, and the reasons they were not published, remains unknown, although in 1975, a 60-page Blackmoor supplement was produced for D&D.
Okay, this part needs some clarification, because it's not very clear. Everything I've seen says that when TSR was founded, Arneson didn't work there in any formal capacity (though I can certainly see him as working there informally) until 1976, after Supplement II: Blackmoor had been published. During that time, he didn't seem to produce anything for the company, and the article notes that most of what he did make during this time was for further hobbyist activity. I can't say if there were any office politics going on with that, but given how Blackmoor apparently needed such heavy editing, I'm partial to thinking that Arneson simply wasn't very good at working in a corporate environment.

Robert Kuntz has written, but not yet published, a dense text called Dave Arneson’s True Genius.
This is simply wrong. Dave Arneson's True Genius is a seventy-page book that you can buy here. Now, it's certainly difficult to read; Playing at the World is literally ten times the size of this, and nowhere near as tough to get through. That's largely because Dave Arneson's True Genius reads like a thesis on system design...not game system design, but system design in the abstract. It's extremely illuminating if you can grok what Kuntz is saying in it, and his point about how original D&D (or "Classic D&D," as he calls it, which is also what TSR called it when they sold the game after AD&D 1E came out) combined the elements of an open system and a closed system, whereas AD&D was entirely a closed system, offer some startling insights, but I suspect that most people won't get through the material (or will simply dismiss it as a grognard looking back through rose-tinted glasses) to reach that conclusion.

The only reason I can think of to say that the book hasn't been published yet is that, throughout the text, Kuntz alludes to a much larger book in the works. I have no idea if that will have the same title, though.

It was an early stockholder’s meeting. Dave Megarry said that, to the best of his memory, this meeting was where he and Arneson suggested moving TSR to Minnesota to capitalize on local talent. Gary was not on board. “Gary suggested that we poll the department heads present about whether there was misdirection with the company,” said Kuntz.

After the vote, toward the end of the meeting, Gygax “bolted from his seat,” said Kuntz, and “screamed at the top of his lungs in my face.” Hearing all the complaints and suggestions from various staffers, it seemed, had pushed him over the edge. Today, Kuntz thinks Gygax feared that Melvin Blume, the father of Gygax’s business partner Brian Blume, would be brought on and potentially overtake the company, while Megarry thinks that “Gary thought Arneson and I were trying to take over the company.”
Okay, this is one of the two (that I recall) anecdotes from Dave Arneson's True Genius, and I'm of the opinion that there's important context that isn't being noted here. The exact date of this meeting isn't specified, but the reference to Melvin Blume being brought on gives us a clue.

TSR was originally formed as a partnership between Gygax and his childhood friend Don Kaye, as the article notes. What it doesn't say is that Brian Blume came in as a third partner two months later, with money he received from his father, to give the fledgling TSR the cash necessary to publish the first run of D&D. A short while later, in early 1975, Don Kaye died of a heart attack, and his widow (who had been acting as TSR's accountant, as I understand it) knew exactly how much it would cost to buy Kaye's shares out, since D&D was booming by that time and neither she nor the remaining principles wanted her to stay on.

Gygax didn't have the money to do that, but Blume did (or rather, his father did), and that's what happened. It resulted in a shift in power that later saw Gygax "exiled" to California during the mid-80's while the Blumes ran the company into the ground. When Gary came back, and brought Lorraine Williams on board to try and regain control of the company, the Blumes cut a deal with her behind Gygax's back that eventually gave her the controlling interest in the company, and a short while later she forced Gygax out.

All of which is to say that, at the time of the alleged screaming incident, Gygax might very well have known that a power struggle was underway. If the Blumes were already moving to take control of the company that they'd acquired a controlling interest in, it's more understandable that Gygax would be wary of any sort of attempt to try and push him out, rather than him sounding like a paranoid tyrant.

Megarry soon resigned. Kuntz wrote a memo to Gygax with his request to be moved to design. He said he got it back a day later with NO! written on it in red ink.
It's worth noting that Kuntz wanted to publish his Kalibruhn setting as Supplement V for original D&D, and Gygax didn't let it happen.

To be sure, there would be no Dungeons & Dragons without Gary Gygax. Chainmail is a clear influence for D&D’s famous combat rules, and Gygax’s particular tastes in literature and voracious reading habit helped populate D&D’s world with monsters, gods, and legendary beasts. Gygax saw the potential in Blackmoor, or the aspects of Chainmail it happened to bring out, and moved quickly and purposefully enough to put the idea into a publishable format. But what gets lost is that neither would there be D&D without Dave Arneson. And indeed, the things that D&D fans love the most about the game—the things that distinguish “role-playing” from “fantasy wargaming”—were Arneson’s vision.
This is probably the single best summary of the article, and the entire controversy regarding Gygax and Arneson. As I said, I agree that Gygax has largely eclipsed Arneson in terms of fame, and that Arneson deserves more credit for what he did. But I worry how some attempts to do this seem to operate as though Gygax's contributions need to be minimized, and the man himself diminished (rather than humanized), in order for that to happen.
 
Last edited:

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
Yeah, this was the first I’d heard of it. I think Arneson had a point, though I’m not sure the trajectory of TSR would’ve changed all that much in the long run.

It’s an interesting article; I’m glad to see Kotaku getting more involved in covering D&D.

I’m really looking forward to watching Secrets of Blackmoor. But at this point, barring some absolutely revelatory archival documentation coming to light, I don’t know how much it can shift the narrative beyond what we now know.

For me, the new and really interesting information is Kuntz being the first to give specifics on the exact cause of falling out: Arneson suggesting that the company would do better by moving to a major city, namely St. Paul, than staying in Lake Geneva. That would have been legitimately a better business decision, and it is fascinating to consider the alternative reality possiblities of a big city Minnesota TSR.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Yeah, this was the first I’d heard of it. I think Arneson had a point, though I’m not sure the trajectory of TSR would’ve changed all that much in the long run.

It’s an interesting article; I’m glad to see Kotaku getting more involved in covering D&D.

I’m really looking forward to watching Secrets of Blackmoor. But at this point, barring some absolutely revelatory archival documentation coming to light, I don’t know how much it can shift the narrative beyond what we now know.
Being in a major metropolitan area (over 2 million at the time) would have majorly changed the hiring pool: for creatives definitely, but for the trajectory of the company far more importantly on the business side. Competent business practice may have been far easier to come by, but how knows? It may have ended up more like Chaosium, in terms of surviving in some form or another for the long term.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
It’s certainly possible. TSR’s history is filled with What Ifs. I think that’s part of the reason all these articles, books, and documentaries are so interesting. Had this or that changed, what could have happened?

Being in a major metropolitan area (over 2 million at the time) would have majorly changed the hiring pool: for creatives definitely, but for the trajectory of the company far more importantly on the business side. Competent business practice may have been far easier to come by, but how knows? It may have ended up more like Chaosium, in terms of surviving in some form or another for the long term.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
It’s certainly possible. TSR’s history is filled with What Ifs.
All of history is filled with What Ifs.

Heck, Kevin Kulp wrote Timewatch, a role playing game that is entirely about What Ifs! You wanna What If this, go run timewatch, in which something in history changes, and D&D never happens, so the game you are playing never happens!
 

talien

Community Supporter
Okay, I want to talk about this.

For the last several years, I've become intensely interested in the history of D&D, and have made a dedicated effort to read up on it. I've acquired and read copies of the little brown books, supplements I-IV, Swords & Spells, Outdoor Survival, First Fantasy Campaign, the collector's edition of Kuntz's own El Raja Key Archive and, of course, Chainmail. I've likewise read through Playing at the World, all four volumes of Designers & Dragons and its "Platinum Appendix," Empire of Imagination, Heroic Worlds, Of Dice and Men, Art & Arcana, and Kuntz's book Dave Arneson's True Genius. (I've also got a copy of C. A. L. Totten's Strategos, but that's proving much harder to read, as are those first few dozen issues of Alarums & Excursions I bought a while back.)
With the exception of Dave Arenson's True Genius and the El Raja Key Archive, I own and have read all those books in detail as well. My assessment matches yours almost exactly -- the biggest flaw in the article is that major emotional flashpoints are cited without the context of WHEN they happened, and that matters quite a bit in the history of TSR, Gygax, etc.

Thank you for your detailed analysis, well done!
 

Celebrim

Legend
To a degree. But, it looks like Gygax was the one who actually took the ideas, wrote them down, codified them, and then got them to market.
I think it is clear and has been clear for decades and was known to be back even in the '80s that Gygax was the co-creator of D&D along with Dave Arneson.

Looking back at both men's life, it's clear that Arneson was a brilliant man who played the first true RPG ever played - in part using Gygax's rules. But it isn't the fact that he used Gygax's tactical combat rules that made Gygax the co-creator. For all of Arneson's brilliance it's clear that there was one area he was deficient in, and that was communicating the ideas in his head to anyone except through first hand examples. He never was a great writer, and you can tell that by looking at the body of work he ultimately produced. Arneson could only distribute and disseminate an RPG by having people play one with him. When he showed that to Gygax, it was Gygax that formulated how to tell people how to do this new thing called an RPG for the first time just by reading some rules, and the act of doing that meant that those idea inherently became in part Gygax's.

I disagree that Gygax was motivated by jealousy of Arneson. Indeed, I think Gygax initially probably saw Arneson as the expert and at least an equal if not senior partner in the project to make Arenson's ideas distributable (and sellable), and the two had intended an amicable and equal relationship from the start. It's only after Arneson doesn't meet Gygax's standards for being prolific and productive that the relation starts breaking down and the two men begin to annoy each other severely and ultimately an acrimonious relationship develops. Gygax would go on to build a bunch of stuff. Arneson had the pedigree to be just as productive, even without Gygax's name, but never produced anything that had a bunch of impact. Gygax got the acclaim not because we didn't know Arneson had been first and had the ideas first, but because it was Gygax's stuff that we gravitated to playing. It's not judging between the two, but simply a fact of their varied talents. Partnerships are hard. Writing is hard.

Honestly, I thought the piece didn't do a lot of credit to the people quoted in it. Trying to tell the story as if one side or the other was the villain I think misses the point. Mistakes probably were made on both sides. But I don't think there is a black and white story here, that the writer of the piece seems to want to tell, and to the extent that they want to tell it that way, I think it is a matter of their personal biases and not good history.

See similar stories about the invention of Calculus, or who is The Founder of McDonalds.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I think it is clear and has been clear for decades and was known to be back even in the '80s that Gygax was the co-creator of D&D along with Dave Arneson.

Looking back at both men's life, it's clear that Arneson was a brilliant man who played the first true RPG ever played - in part using Gygax's rules. But it isn't the fact that he used Gygax's tactical combat rules that made Gygax the co-creator. For all of Arneson's brilliance it's clear that there was one area he was deficient in, and that was communicating the ideas in his head to anyone except through first hand examples. He never was a great writer, and you can tell that by looking at the body of work he ultimately produced. Arneson could only distribute and disseminate an RPG by having people play one with him. When he showed that to Gygax, it was Gygax that formulated how to tell people how to do this new thing called an RPG for the first time just by reading some rules, and the act of doing that meant that those idea inherently became in part Gygax's.

I disagree that Gygax was motivated by jealousy of Arneson. Indeed, I think Gygax initially probably saw Arneson as the expert and at least an equal if not senior partner in the project to make Arenson's ideas distributable (and sellable), and the two had intended an amicable and equal relationship from the start. It's only after Arneson doesn't meet Gygax's standards for being prolific and productive that the relation starts breaking down and the two men begin to annoy each other severely and ultimately an acrimonious relationship develops. Gygax would go on to build a bunch of stuff. Arneson had the pedigree to be just as productive, even without Gygax's name, but never produced anything that had a bunch of impact. Gygax got the acclaim not because we didn't know Arneson had been first and had the ideas first, but because it was Gygax's stuff that we gravitated to playing. It's not judging between the two, but simply a fact of their varied talents. Partnerships are hard. Writing is hard.

Honestly, I thought the piece didn't do a lot of credit to the people quoted in it. Trying to tell the story as if one side or the other was the villain I think misses the point. Mistakes probably were made on both sides. But I don't think there is a black and white story here, that the writer of the piece seems to want to tell, and to the extent that they want to tell it that way, I think it is a matter of their personal biases and not good history.

See similar stories about the invention of Calculus, or who is The Founder of McDonalds.

It seems odd to me that you'd dismiss and not believe the people who were actually there, but instead think it's something else you think might have happened, based only on speculation of who knows what because I don't think you were there either.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I also think it's unfair to tar Gygax as the Ray Kroc of this situation- someone ho just took someone else's idea and marketed it.
Well, I personally think it's unfair to tar Ray Kroc, because that situation if you look at the details turns out to be really complicated as well, and neither Ray Kroc nor the McDonald's Brothers come out as being as clean as a paladin in that one. First of all, the McDonald's brother didn't invent the fast food concept. They had gone to New Jersey and patterned their store after White Castle, whose techniques, marking, limited menu, and cooking hardware they had themselves shamelessly stolen. The brother repeatedly tried to screw Ray Kroc as well, including tricking him to sign a deal for "exclusive" franchising rights to a part of the country without telling him that they'd already signed away those rights to someone else and leaving him having paid for a useless piece of paper. If it were me, I would have immediately hit them up with a law suit for fraud, but Ray Kroc instead took the hit and bought out the other person they'd sold the franchise rights to and continued to try to work with the brothers even after he had learned that they were dishonest (intentionally or otherwise) as the day is long. Point is not that Ray Kroc is some shiny pillar of honesty and integrity, but that the sordid story about how McDonald's came to be is not a simple story of honest hard working brothers swindled out of their idea by a crooked villain either.

So, even if Gygax was the Ray Kroc of this situation, my sympathy wouldn't be entirely one way or the other. Mistakes were made on both sides of that relationship. It's likely that they were made on both sides of the Arneson/Gygax relationship as well. Gygax and Arneson at least were able to work their differences out better than Kroc and the McDonald's brothers.
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
While I tell myself that they were in whole new territory with D&D and that it’s easy to judge the stuff decades later, yeah. The OD&D texts would have been pretty inscrutable to me without my knowledge of later editions. For someone back then coming to it without a person to explain it to them, I can only imagine how that would’ve gone. Clearly, though, that didn't stop it from becoming a lightning-in-the-bottle phenomenon.

"Gary took all of Dave's notes and organized them in a publishing format."

Have you seen the way OD&D was written?! ;)
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
While I tell myself that they were in whole new territory with D&D and that it’s easy to judge the stuff decades later, yeah. The OD&D texts would have been pretty inscrutable to me without my knowledge of later editions. For someone back then coming to it without a person to explain it to them, I can only imagine how that would’ve gone. Clearly, though, that didn't stop it from becoming a lightning-in-the-bottle phenomenon.
When we say D&D was written in the 70s, we don't mean the 1770s ;). By comparison of other game rules there were published at the same time D&D was, it's obvious Gary was not a very good writer or layout specialist or editor. Those OD&D rules, even by 1970s game standards, were awfully written and presented. We can say that and also agree that the game took off. People are weird that way, with what catches on and what doesn't. I love me some 1e. Favorite edition of all time. I even like the odd way Gary presented things in the 1e books (with fancy words I had never heard before like "milieu"). But it's OK to admit that he wasn't the best writer or presenter of rules.

If Gary gets credit for packaging and presenting Dave's ideas, just imagine what would have happened with D&D if someone who was actually skilled in writing and presenting did it.
 

Jay Verkuilen

Dogsbody Waghalter
I even like the odd way Gary presented things in the 1e books (with fancy words I had never heard before like "milieu"). But it's OK to admit that he wasn't the best writer or presenter of rules.
The 1E DMG was an awesome SAT word study guide. There is a surprising number of statisticians of my rough cohort who first learned about statistics due to it, to---while the field is hot now (in the guise of "data science") that was certainly not the case back in the day.
 

Advertisement

Latest threads

Advertisement

Top