D&D General Understanding the Design Principles in Early D&D


log in or register to remove this ad

Undrave

Hero
Gygax was brilliant. Those "extra paragraphs" were vastly important world building. Kids today learn the DnD world through movies like Lord of the Rings where they visually see the world and "get it', and only need to learn mechanics. Gygax built the same world through his descriptions.

Back in my day when I read 1e I already read the Iliad by Homer, so yeah reading his writing wasn't hard. I don't think most kids read much nowadays, everything is down to one sentence at a time, anything longer needs to be provided as a meme or anime.
Geez, elitism much?

Gygax was verbose and eloquent, but good at conveying rules? Not really. If I want to play a game, I don't want to start doing literary analysis on the rules.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, uh, "concise" is not a word I'd use when talking about Gary, just saying.

Here's a classic example where he explains how to make a treasure hoard.
 

Attachments

  • Gygax.jpg
    Gygax.jpg
    130.5 KB · Views: 55

Dausuul

Legend
Gygax was brilliant. Those "extra paragraphs" were vastly important world building. Kids today learn the DnD world through movies like Lord of the Rings where they visually see the world and "get it', and only need to learn mechanics. Gygax built the same world through his descriptions.

Back in my day when I read 1e I already read the Iliad by Homer, so yeah reading his writing wasn't hard. I don't think most kids read much nowadays, everything is down to one sentence at a time, anything longer needs to be provided as a meme or anime.
I grew up with TSR D&D, and Gygax's writing still makes me go cross-eyed.

I don't object to long-winded writers--I mean, here I am in a Snarf thread! But Snarf is writing essays, not rulebooks. More to the point, his prose is pretty clean and straightforward; there's just a lot of it. Gygax's writing was full of false starts, overuse of the passive voice, irrelevant parentheticals, and obscure words used in not quite the right way. (In Snarf's example, Gygax clearly thought you could just drop in "weal" anywhere you'd normally say "good." The two words have very similar meanings, but "weal" typically requires an indication of who or what is benefiting.)

Gygax seems to have aspired to Dickensian style, but he did not have the mastery of the craft and the sense of timing that allowed Dickens to pull off his baroque half-page sentences*. Also, there are some people who should on no account be allowed access to a thesaurus.

*I am not a Dickens fan. But I can appreciate his skill even if I don't usually like the results.
 
Last edited:


I grew up with TSR D&D, and Gygax's writing still makes me go cross-eyed.

I don't object to long-winded writers--I mean, here I am in a Snarf thread! But Snarf is writing essays, not rulebooks. More to the point, his prose is pretty clean and straightforward; there's just a lot of it. Gygax's writing was full of false starts, overuse of the passive voice, irrelevant parentheticals, and obscure words used in not quite the right way. (In Snarf's example, Gygax clearly thought you could just drop in "weal" anywhere you'd normally say "good." The two words have very similar meanings, but "weal" typically requires an indication of who or what is benefiting.)

Gygax clearly aspired to Dickensian style, but he did not have the mastery of the craft and the sense of timing that allowed Dickens to pull off his baroque half-page sentences*. Also, there are some people who should on no account be allowed access to a thesaurus.

*I am not a Dickens fan. But I can appreciate his skill even if I don't usually like the results.
Gygax is more like a character in a Dickens novel, perhaps one used to satirical effect, like to mock the stylings of insurance underwriters.
 

Hussar

Legend
I think Gygax was incapable of writing anything without adding at least an additional paragraph, if not two. Just look at the second paragraph of the Assassin's description-
/snip

ETA- admittedly, my own posts tend more to the High Gygaxian than the styling of Hemmingway.
This just made me laugh so much reading this. :D Totally no offense intended at all. Not a shot in the slightest. Just unbelievably funny.
 

Hussar

Legend
I tried playing The Sword and the Flame once, a wargame based on British colonial wars. I left thinking "man, and I thought Battletech and Warhammer 40k had funky rules".
As someone who grew up playing Yaquinto board games, I feel your pain. Oh, the cardboard chits. I still have nightmares about all those freaking cardboard chits.
 



Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yeah, uh, "concise" is not a word I'd use when talking about Gary, just saying.

Here's a classic example where he explains how to make a treasure hoard.
TBF, though, that excerpt IS evocative and full of world building. It's certainly the opposite of concise, but it does give good examples of how treasure can be more than coins and gems.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Oh no doubt, it does show how you can create an encounter to be more than just "here there are monsters". Though the lavish attention to detail in both making the treasure hard to loot, hard to sell, and what happens to stuff they don't take is classic Gygax.

Those pesky players think they are entitled to treasure because they beat my super Ogres, do they?!
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top