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D&D 5E The D&D Multiverse Part 2- The Remix Culture of the Gygaxian Multiverse

see

Pedantic Grognard
In connection with this, I've been wondering how the change from D&D (and TTRPGs) as a Midwest thing to a fairly significant Pacific Northwest thing (e.g., WotC, Paizo, Green Ronin, Monte Cook Games, etc.) has also affected D&D and the wider TTRPG hobby.
Having lived through the acquisition and geographic move of TSR, I don't recall any obvious "regional" effects.

(Similarly, when the World of Darkness hit the hobby as a major phenomenon published out of the Atlanta area, I didn't notice anything that suggested it marked a particularly "Southeastern" influence on gaming.)
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Having lived through the acquisition and geographic move of TSR, I don't recall any obvious "regional" effects.

(Similarly, when the World of Darkness hit the hobby as a major phenomenon published out of the Atlanta area, I didn't notice anything that suggested it marked a particularly "Southeastern" influence on gaming.)

Well, I was hopeful that we could find something similar to an East Coast/West Coast rap feud!

You are now about to witness the strength of game knowledge

Straight outta Lake Geneva, crazy wargamer named Gygax
From the gang called Tactical Study Rules
When I read off, players should be warned off
Roll the dice, and characters are hauled off
You too, boy, if ya enter the Tomb with me
Acererak is gonna go off on a killing spree
 

Similarly, when the World of Darkness hit the hobby as a major phenomenon published out of the Atlanta area, I didn't notice anything that suggested it marked a particularly "Southeastern" influence on gaming
Had it originated in the north east, might it not have been more Stephen King and less Ann Rice/Charlaine Harris?
 

Bolares

Hero
Well, I was hopeful that we could find something similar to an East Coast/West Coast rap feud!

You are now about to witness the strength of game knowledge

Straight outta Lake Geneva, crazy wargamer named Gygax
From the gang called Tactical Study Rules
When I read off, players should be warned off
Roll the dice, and characters are hauled off
You too, boy, if ya enter the Tomb with me
Acererak is gonna go off on a killing spree
Yeah, you are totally not a bard...
 



I think that a lot of the gonzo we see in various OSR properties is, in a lot of ways, a celebration of some of this original weirdness. Some people love it, some people don't. I like that D&D (and adjacent games) can do both.
Definitely.

I think there was, and to some extent still is, a movement in the OSR to be all about the dungeons and classic Orcs and modules and such. But there's also been a strand going back to the mid to late 2000s birth of that movement which has also been all about the Weird and the Gonzo. Anomalous Subsurface Environment 1 came out in 2012, but there were earlier writers digging into the Weird stuff earlier. Geoffrey McKinney's "Supplement V: Carcosa" came out in 2008. And of course there were folks blogging the weird stuff before people were publishing it.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Definitely.

I think there was, and to some extent still is, a movement in the OSR to be all about the dungeons and classic Orcs and modules and such. But there's also been a strand going back to the mid to late 2000s birth of that movement which has also been all about the Weird and the Gonzo. Anomalous Subsurface Environment 1 came out in 2012, but there were earlier writers digging into the Weird stuff earlier. Geoffrey McKinney's "Supplement V: Carcosa" came out in 2008. And of course there were folks blogging the weird stuff before people were publishing it.
ASE is awesome. Into the Odd and Troika spring immediately to mind for me. Some LL stuff too, especially Slumbering Ursine Dunes and Fever Dreaming Marlinko, and a bunch of the DCC stuff. LotFP does a bunch of pretty gonzo stuff too, but their gonzo isn't really my gonzo in most cases, although there are some gems in there. My OSR collection has a significant percentage of gonzo generally, a lot of it at least somewhat Spelljammer indexed.

Edit: How could I forget Electric Bastionland?
 

Yup. I think the gonzo strain has gotten more prominent and widespread in recent years.

Which only makes sense, given that the really creative folks who want to publish their own original ideas were/are only going to get so much juice out of the Gygaxian Vernacular.

Troika digs into a different mine (the Fighting Fantasy books from England and related fantasy).

DCC has been mining Lankhmar and Wellman's Silver John stories, and The Dying Earth (among others) directly. Which, to be fair, has been part of their mission for years- draw from and build on the old Appendix N stuff directly, not as filtered through Gary's interpretations.

They started out doing Old School modules for 3E ("Remember the good old days, when adventures were underground, NPCs were there to be killed, and the finale of every dungeon was the dragon on the 20th level? Those days are back. Dungeon Crawl Classics don't waste your time with long-winded speeches, weird campaign settings, or NPCs who aren't meant to be killed. Each adventure is 100% good, solid dungeon crawl, with the monsters you know, the traps you fear, and the secret doors you know are there somewhere."), and then they embraced the weird full-throttle. Robots and ape-men and mutants and laser guns and aliens galore.

Now we've got all sorts of folks publishing stuff like Slumbering Ursine Dunes, Fever Drinking Marlinko, Electric Bastionland, Yoon-Suin, Ultraviolet Grasslands, Veins of the Earth... All sorts of cool projects have taken us into weirder and newer terrain as the movement has progressed.
 
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see

Pedantic Grognard
Well, I was hopeful that we could find something similar to an East Coast/West Coast rap feud!
As the tale was later told to me by older gamers, in the late 1970s, there was tendency for Arduin to be associated with West Coast gaming groups. I won't swear to the accuracy of those tales, but the existence of the tale itself is a sort of evidence.
 

I think Dark Sun absolutely ties into the rising environmental concerns of the early 90s, whereas Planescape represents the countercultural explosion of the mid 90s. 4e's Points of Light setting shows a world beset by threats, but not without light, not without hope.

Going further back, maybe Greyhawk, with its shades-of-grey rulers, comes from a post-Watergate world, or maybe the conflict between nations from the Cold War.

I wonder about the specific ways in which D&D has changed over time, not just staying the same (in terms of D&Disms) but also reflecting the zeitgeist of the era; one thing I think is true is that there is certainly a lot more anime and cosplay within the groups that play D&D now than in time prior, and I'm curious what effect people think that has had on 5e.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
I think that trying too hard to make connections between fantasy setting and the real-world politics of the day is fraught with peril and misunderstanding. There are perhaps some broad things one could say there, but I think to press it too hard is probably a mistake, much like trying to read Lord of the Rings as a straight WWII analogy.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I think that trying too hard to make connections between fantasy setting and the real-world politics of the day is fraught with peril and misunderstanding. There are perhaps some broad things one could say there, but I think to press it too hard is probably a mistake, much like trying to read Lord of the Rings as a straight WWII analogy.

Oh, c'mon.

Someone has to write the 10,000 word essay on how Planescape and Ministry's Just One Fix are essentially the exact same thing!

AggravatingClosedDormouse-max-1mb.gif


Smash the control images.

...smash the control machines.
 

Some DMs like to create modules as parodies famous franchises. Other times the PCs are rip-off or homages of the favorite characters from videogames.

The main reason for not more crossovers is because modern tech can break too easily the power balance.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
1. OD&D and Gygaxian 1e Were Too Weird to Live, and Too Rare to Die
One thing that I think often gets lost when discussing early D&D is how truly bizarre it could be. And the reason for this is that it wasn't "pure." It wasn't just Tolkien-esque high fantasy. Nor was it simply appropriated Howard/Leiber swords & sorcery. It wasn't extrapolated wargaming. And it wasn't the myths of a particular country.

It was all of it, and more. Because there were no particular preconceptions as to what had to be in D&D, or what had to be excluded. Where did your monsters come from? Well, anywhere! Little bit of Arabian mythology? Put in a djinn. Want to put in a little John Carter homage? How about some carnivorous apes, or giant white ones? Did you see some cool toys? Why not a ankheg, or an owl bear? Do you like 50s monster movies? How about some giant ants? Rakshasas, dinosaurs, critters from Japanese or Irish or Egyptian mythology? They were all fair game.

Everything was put into a blender, and became "D&D."
I miss this so much. So, so much.
These ideas were further explored in the overall weirdness that we saw in early D&D; early modules referenced dinosaurs, space travel, and parallel or pocket universes.
Time travel, different dimensions, space armadas, lasers, power armor, crashed spaceships, robots...there were robots on the wandering monster tables. There were creatures from Burroughs' Mars books...tharks, white apes, etc.

If you think OD&D and AD&D were weird, you should check out B/X and BECMI. Especially Mystara...and the Immortals rules in various incarnations. If you think OD&D and AD&D were weird...B/X and BECMI were utterly gonzo.

Mystara has a second, invisible moon with samurai cat people living on it. An ancient crashed spaceship. A buried nuclear reactor. An ancient Blackmoor device exploded, tilting the world. The Hollow World. The spell of preserving. Kalaktatla, the Amber Serpent...aka Ka the Preserver...an Immortal T-Rex who preserves ancient civilizations by moving them to the hollow world, including faux Romans and faux Aztecs. Flying continents. Flying cities. Crashed flying cities. Flying ships. Flying gnomes. A city of Immortals on the moon. Vast galactic empires. Time travel. Aliens. Genetic manipulation. Alternate dimensions. Thar. All the unique races and monsters. Immortals. Slowly dying magic. Shadow elves. The denial of the Hin. Bargle. Threshold. The Isle of Dread. The modules. I could almost swoon just thinking about it all.
3. Weirdness and 5e
This is where I get to the more interesting, and likely controversial, part of my general thoughts; what does any of this have to do with 5e?

Here's the thing- there are times when I feel that for some people, OSR (and OD&D / 1e specifically) is viewed as a reaction to 5e.
That would be odd as the OSR started at least a decade before 5E.
To put this in a more specific context:
In OD&D/1e terms, you might have a campaign setting that was generally medieval tech, but an individual might have a firearm or even a laser rifle.
In 5e, it is generally seen that the campaign setting itself would have to allow the specific tech for most DMs to approve it.
Well, in the older games it's still down to DM approval because the DM would have to put the high-tech item into the world for the PCs to find it. The player likely wouldn't ask for a laser sword or powered armor during character creation. They would be found in game.
In short, while I think that overall 5e has done an amazing job of incorporating numerous diverse cultural cues and viewpoints, the one thing it is not so great at is allowing the "weird" exception. Something which has long been baked into D&D's DNA.
There's a few more things WotC D&D has lost along the way, like zero to hero, fragile 1st-level characters, having to earn cool abilities, xp for gold, etc. Most of that's tweaks that can be put in or house ruled out, but the weirdness is definitely missing...and a lot of OSR stuff is almost laser-focused on delivering that content.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
There's a few more things WotC D&D has lost along the way, like zero to hero, fragile 1st-level characters, having to earn cool abilities, xp for gold, etc. Most of that's tweaks that can be put in or house ruled out, but the weirdness is definitely missing...and a lot of OSR stuff is almost laser-focused on delivering that content.
Very much on purpose, IMO, and that's part of the reason I own so much of it. (y)
 


Li Shenron

Legend
Interesting discussion.

How many people still use alternate material worlds for adventures? Do the rest of you guys ever dangle plot threads that lead to different planets or planes-that-are-other-worlds-but-mostly-earthlike?
I kind of do it, but perhaps in a not so obvious way: I have had adventures in outer planes such as Arcadia, Mechanus and Acheron, but treated them as alternate material worlds instead of proper outer planes.

The motivation for me was the fact that, outside the standard Planescape setting, many of those known outer planes are pretty interesting adventures locations, but they are dysfunctional as "afterlife" options. So I turned them into "thislife" options.

Since the last summer, I have also entertained the idea of starting to make a more traditional use of alternate material worlds default in our games, by assuming that many famous published settings world co-exist in the same universe: Abeir-Toril, Athas, Krynn, Ravenloft... I've been actually planning to start a [+] thread on options to also make their different cosmologies co-exist, but haven't yet wrapped my head around on how to formulate such thread.

I do not particularly like the "everything exists" approach however. From a game designer's point of view is a great idea, but in your own game it tends to give too much dispersive feelings for my tastes. I'd rather have a finite known multiverse with the usual backdoor open for discovering more worlds in the future.
 

Thunderfoot

Adventurer
I think back in the days of the 70s we were exposed to so few outside influences to our sci-fi/fantasy that our games reflected that. In the early 80s nerd/geek culture started to really bloom(nothing like the 00s) but while it was still 'wrong' to be a nerd it was no longer unusual. And as that culture bloomed, like most cultures, it divided. The Science Fiction Book Club became the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club and then two seperate entities.

The extreme view of all things geek became my personal nerd world of 《X》 (where X was the subset of what you enjoyed.) Star Trek or Star Wars (never both), DC or Marvel, Sci-fi or Fantasy. In many ways it was the acceptance that was the issue. And why 2nd ed became so much more 'pure' when it came to crossing into other genres, it was also during that time that a lot of the 'specialty' games started to spring up (Warhammer 40k, TMNT, Paranoia, etc). Quick and dirty version since I'm heading to bed, but hopefully my point wad made. 3e and 4e further divided. 5e while not back to the old days I think is at least doing what the rest of the world is failing at. Looking to the past to see what worked without throwing the baby out with the bath water. Here's hoping.
 

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