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D&D 5E Why D&D is not (just) Tolkien

How influential was Tolkien on early D&D, on a scale from 1-5?

  • 1. Not influential/ minimal influence.

    Votes: 1 0.6%
  • 2. Very little influence / no more important than other fantasy writers.

    Votes: 19 10.9%
  • 3. Moderate influence.

    Votes: 65 37.4%
  • 4. A great deal of influence/a large amount of D&D is borrowed from him.

    Votes: 71 40.8%
  • 5. Exceptionally inflential/no D&D without him.

    Votes: 18 10.3%

  • Total voters
    174
  • Poll closed .

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
In this case, we also have the mechanics of the game match up exactly with what he was saying. D&D mechanics are all about shorter, fast paced adventures and larger than life heroes. Those are things that clearly support exactly what he said because that was most assured not how Tolkien wrote, but match Liber, Howard, et all.

And yet Adventure in Middle-Earth, a D&D 5e OGL product, is doing a bang up job at my table of giving us very Tolkien paced adventures with repeatable, down to (middle)earth heroes. Go figure.
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
And yet Adventure in Middle-Earth, a D&D 5e OGL product, is doing a bang up job at my table of giving us very Tolkien paced adventures with repeatable, down to (middle)earth heroes. Go figure.


We’re talking about OD&D, when it was created. Not a current iteration of it. And the original game was clearly designed to emulate the stories and heroes of Howard and Lieber (fast paced and over the top heroes), and clearly not those of Tolkien.

Or you (general you) could assume he always lied about everything, even when the evidence supports his claim of what inspired him to write the game. Just don’t expect me to take you seriously.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Or you (general you) could assume he always lied about everything, even when the evidence supports his claim of what inspired him to write the game.
I wouldn't specifically do that. General Me might though.

Just don’t expect me to take you seriously.
I firmly believe no on should ever take me seriously. It should be on my lawfully required warning label.

But yes your point is taken. I think you make a very good case that Tolkien works, whatever influence his work as had on the game, are a far cry from "go into the dungeon and get loot, if necessary fight monsters."
 

Hussar

Legend
[MENTION=15700]Sacrosanct[/MENTION] - I don't know what pulp stories you read, but, stories about dozens of protagonists dying like flies certainly doesn't scream "big bad heroes here" the way pulp stories do. And funnily enough, endless converstations about who is setting watch, and when, worrying about every day of food and water and avoiding encounters does sound a lot like The Hobbit or AD&D.

I have to admit though. Watching you complain about "evidence" while completely ignoring the mountain of evidence pointing to the huge influence of Tolkien on the game is amusing as all get out. Talk about forests and trees.
 

Arilyn

Hero
We’re talking about OD&D, when it was created. Not a current iteration of it. And the original game was clearly designed to emulate the stories and heroes of Howard and Lieber (fast paced and over the top heroes), and clearly not those of Tolkien.

Or you (general you) could assume he always lied about everything, even when the evidence supports his claim of what inspired him to write the game. Just don’t expect me to take you seriously.

But it's not fast paced...Conan would not creep down dungeon corridors poking things with a ten foot pole. I can't see him and any buddies he might have mapping out every square inch either...Those d4 thieves and magic users certainly aren't over the top. "I'm a thief with no real ability to do my job, and I'll die if I trip down a small flight of stairs." "Yeah, well I'm a magic user with my one and only spell, and guess what? I rolled Detect Magic. And, yeah I can die from tripping too!"

It's not short adventures either. What about those long campaigns where players spent their whole career exploring one long mega dungeon? That was pretty common. And not at all swords and sorcery, or epic fantasy.

DnD doesn't emulate anything very well. It's not epic fantasy. It's not swords and sorcery. It's DnD.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
[MENTION=15700]Sacrosanct[/MENTION] - I don't know what pulp stories you read, but, stories about dozens of protagonists dying like flies certainly doesn't scream "big bad heroes here" the way pulp stories do. And funnily enough, endless converstations about who is setting watch, and when, worrying about every day of food and water and avoiding encounters does sound a lot like The Hobbit or AD&D.

I have to admit though. Watching you complain about "evidence" while completely ignoring the mountain of evidence pointing to the huge influence of Tolkien on the game is amusing as all get out. Talk about forests and trees.

Perhaps you can point me to the stories where Conan, Fafhrd, the Grey Mouser, and Elric kept dying. You know, those larger than life heroes that Gary specifically said he designed the game so players could emulate them.

It’s also nice to see that you still haven’t been able to distinguish between influence on the game, and what inspired its creation.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
But it's not fast paced...Conan would not creep down dungeon corridors poking things with a ten foot pole. I can't see him and any buddies he might have mapping out every square inch either...Those d4 thieves and magic users certainly aren't over the top. "I'm a thief with no real ability to do my job, and I'll die if I trip down a small flight of stairs." "Yeah, well I'm a magic user with my one and only spell, and guess what? I rolled Detect Magic. And, yeah I can die from tripping too!"

It's not short adventures either. What about those long campaigns where players spent their whole career exploring one long mega dungeon? That was pretty common. And not at all swords and sorcery, or epic fantasy.

DnD doesn't emulate anything very well. It's not epic fantasy. It's not swords and sorcery. It's DnD.

Compared to Tolkien, it absolutely is fast paced. The overwhelming majority of D&D adventures were completed in a couple sessions that took from a day to maybe a week or so to complete—the same amount of time as most of the individual stories of Elric, Fafhrd, and Conan. But MUCH different than a year and a half of game time found in Tolkien’s stories. Seriously, it’s obvious which style D&D was meant to emulate. And I think you greatly overestimate the number of adventures in a mega dungeon in the 70s as compared to the number of adventures in one shot modules. Just go look at what was being published in the 70s.

I think you’re also being disengenous about comparing level 1PCs to over the top heroes. By the time PCs gained a few levels (fighters were called heroes at 4th level), they very much were doing over the top things. And when they reached name level, there is no question. PCs were fighting and beating dragons, fighters could take as much punishment as several war horses, magic users were throwing around fireballs and polymorphing, thieves and assassins were scaling sheer walls and were near invisible.
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
the fact that the mechanics of OD&D emulate a fast paced adventures with PCs larger than life (which emulates Howard and Lieber, and NOT Tolkien)

I don't know what "fast paced" means here. I've never played OD&D, but D&D battles can take hours, longer than one of the movies. And you can emulate the same thing at many different speeds; you can race through WWII in 3 hours in Axis and Allies, or take 100 hours on a careful simulation of the same war in World in Flames.

Larger than life is a little clearer; it has something to do with going toe to toe with a balrog, right? Or Legolas doing those unbelievable archery stunts? I wouldn't say that it has anything to do with dying in combat with a housecat. Characters bringing down dragons is more Tolkien than Howard. It's hard to compare Howard, Tolkien and D&D in power levels, but Conan seems right in the heroic range with the non-hobbit fellowship members, less than Gandalf and more than the hobbits.
 

Arilyn

Hero
Compared to Tolkien, it absolutely is fast paced. The overwhelming majority of D&D adventures were completed in a couple sessions that took from a day to maybe a week or so to complete—the same amount of time as most of the individual stories of Elric, Fafhrd, and Conan. But MUCH different than a year and a half of game time found in Tolkien’s stories. Seriously, it’s obvious which style D&D was meant to emulate. And I think you greatly overestimate the number of adventures in a mega dungeon in the 70s as compared to the number of adventures in one shot modules. Just go look at what was being published in the 70s.

I think you’re also being disengenous about comparing level 1PCs to over the top heroes. By the time PCs gained a few levels (fighters were called heroes at 4th level), they very much were doing over the top things. And when they reached name level, there is no question. PCs were fighting and beating dragons, fighters could take as much punishment as several war horses, magic users were throwing around fireballs and polymorphing, thieves and assassins were scaling sheer walls and were near invisible.

Yes, but at no point were swords and sorcery heroes ever like beginning DnD characters. Conan started out very powerful and got better, but the difference was not like the difference in levels with DnD characters. On the flip side, Conan never got as tough as the highest level characters either.

And all that careful dungeon crawling? The maps, the long lists of equipment?, the players spending an hour figuring out the best way to get through a trap laden room? Not swords and sorcery. Another missing trope is the fluctuating fortune of the characters. Rich warlord in this story, destitute slave in the next. It's not a slow accumulation of wealth, which the characters eventually can use to build strongholds and hire followers. It's up and down. That Dragon hoarde you just won? Not going to last...

About what was being published in the 70s? Tournament dungeons. Weren't meant to be part of your main campaign. Besides, it was still a lot of dungeon crawling, where characters weren't worth the paper they were written on. Not Swords and Sorcery. Not Tolkien. More like a puzzle. Now, I'm sure players tried to make it Swords and Sorcery or Tolkien, but game wasn't emulating either one very well at all. Course, Gygax originally didn't want role playing in his game anyway. I'm not sure, but I think the term, role playing, might have been originally coined by the California group. Anyone know?

Anyway, it's not like Tolkien either. The heroes did not explore Moria, looking for loot, they just wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. There's long political conversations, and Gandalf has a lot of power he is not supposed to wield.

DnD is DnD. And, especially in the old days, I didn't feel like I was in any of those Appendix N stories.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Yes, but at no point were swords and sorcery heroes ever like beginning DnD characters. Conan started out very powerful and got better, but the difference was not like the difference in levels with DnD characters. On the flip side, Conan never got as tough as the highest level characters either.

And all that careful dungeon crawling? The maps, the long lists of equipment?, the players spending an hour figuring out the best way to get through a trap laden room? Not swords and sorcery. Another missing trope is the fluctuating fortune of the characters. Rich warlord in this story, destitute slave in the next. It's not a slow accumulation of wealth, which the characters eventually can use to build strongholds and hire followers. It's up and down. That Dragon hoarde you just won? Not going to last...

About what was being published in the 70s? Tournament dungeons. Weren't meant to be part of your main campaign. Besides, it was still a lot of dungeon crawling, where characters weren't worth the paper they were written on. Not Swords and Sorcery. Not Tolkien. More like a puzzle. Now, I'm sure players tried to make it Swords and Sorcery or Tolkien, but game wasn't emulating either one very well at all. Course, Gygax originally didn't want role playing in his game anyway. I'm not sure, but I think the term, role playing, might have been originally coined by the California group. Anyone know?

Anyway, it's not like Tolkien either. The heroes did not explore Moria, looking for loot, they just wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. There's long political conversations, and Gandalf has a lot of power he is not supposed to wield.

DnD is DnD. And, especially in the old days, I didn't feel like I was in any of those Appendix N stories.
5E isn't just better at doing Tolkien, it's also better at doing Howard, Leiber, Anderson, et al. But then, like you say, genre emulation wasn't really the name of the game.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Well, I’ve already defined what fast paced is. Or rather, Gary did in that interview. It was to have in game time pacing to match Conan, Lieber, or Elric’s pacing. I’ve never had an OD&D battle take hours, or anywhere close. But that’s not relevant, because it’s in game pacing we’re talking about, not real time. It’s obvious, even without Gary’s own words saying as such, that D&D was created to match the pacing of those stories and not Tolkien.

If you think those stories did not have zero to hero, with clear advancement, then it’s obvious you never have actually read any Lieber or stories about Kull. Kull is literally about as much zero to hero as you can get.

Also, if you think Conan, Kull, Fafhrd, The Grey Mouser, or Elric never fought powerful monsters, then it’s very obvious you never read those stories.

And lastly, I highly suspect those archery feats you’re talking about regarding Legolas aren’t actually in the book, but are Peter Jackson’s additions. The only thing really in the book are him shooting two orcs in the throat.
 
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prosfilaes

Adventurer
in game time pacing to match Conan,

Like the Queen of the Black Coast, that happens over months?

if you think Conan, Kull, Fafhrd, The Grey Mouser, or Elric never fought powerful monsters,

That's reversing the argument. The statement was that Tolkien's characters fought powerful monsters, therefore they were larger than life.

And lastly, I highly suspect those archery feats you’re talking about regarding Legolas aren’t actually in the book, but are Peter Jackson’s additions. The only thing really in the book are him shooting two orcs in the throat.

In other words, in adapting the Lord of the Rings for other media, it's entirely natural to make Legolas more "larger than life", and thus it's a poor feature to try and measure what the origin of D&D is.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Book-Legolas is way more Sword & Sorcery heroic than the film version:

"He was tall as a young tree, lithe, immensely strong, able swiftly to draw a great war-bow and shoot down a Nazgûl, endowed with the tremendous vitality of Elvish bodies, so hard and resistant to hurt that he went only in light shoes over rock or through snow, the most tireless of all the Fellowship."
 
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Sacrosanct

Legend
Like the Queen of the Black Coast, that happens over months?

If you can only come up with one example from several authors and dozens of stories that do fit that pace, then it doesn’t exactly support your position. The bottom line is that the vast majority of stories and adventures from those heroes would fit perfect in a D&D adventure of the day, both in pace and and in duration. Tolkien has none of those. Tolkien was all about a massive epic slow paced campaign that took years

That's reversing the argument. The statement was that Tolkien's characters fought powerful monsters, therefore they were larger than life.

You do realize that Tolkien’s characters didn’t fight dragons either, right? Have you even read the stories you’re citing? The sun took out the trolls, they didn’t fight them well. None of the dwarves fought Smaug. It was an NPC with one lucky arrow. The whole freaking point of the Hobbit was to make the least assuming, least heroic, least powerful character the actual hero. Not only is that not larger than life, but Tolkien intentionally tried to avoid larger than life. Compared to the creatures Conan, Fafhrd, The Grey Mouser, and Elric were fighting on a regular basis, Tolkien characters were very much not the larger than life epic heroes. In fact, the most powerful creatures defeated in Tolkien’s works were by one off NPCs and not by the actual party members for the most part.

In other words, in adapting the Lord of the Rings for other media, it's entirely natural to make Legolas more "larger than life", and thus it's a poor feature to try and measure what the origin of D&D is.

You can’t use Jackson’s additions in 2000 as a way to justify Tolkien’s characters as larger than life in 1974 when D&D was created. I can put out fanfic where Frodo shoots lasers out of his butt and blows up mountains, but that doesn’t mean Frodo was a larger than life super hero if those things didn’t actually exist in the book.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Conan would not creep down dungeon corridors poking things with a ten foot pole. I can't see him and any buddies he might have mapping out every square inch either
at no point were swords and sorcery heroes ever like beginning DnD characters.

<snip>

And all that careful dungeon crawling? The maps, the long lists of equipment?, the players spending an hour figuring out the best way to get through a trap laden room? Not swords and sorcery. Another missing trope is the fluctuating fortune of the characters. Rich warlord in this story, destitute slave in the next. It's not a slow accumulation of wealth, which the characters eventually can use to build strongholds and hire followers. It's up and down. That Dragon hoarde you just won? Not going to last...
Agreed.

In the closing pages of his AD&D PHB (before the appendices), Gygax gives advice under the heading "Successful Adventuring". The advice is all about preparation (equipment, spell load outs, putting together the right team of PCs), then careful exploration and mapping, and about the importance of setting and sticking to a goal for the mission. A game played along those lines won't resemble REH Conan stories one bit: Conan rarely has any equipment, does not carefully explore or map (eg Queen of the Black Coast starts with him jumping his horse onto a ship bound who-knows-where to escape pursuing guards; The Tower of the Elephant has him decide to loot the wizard's tower virtually on a whim), and rarely has any clear goal that he sticks to (eg in Tower of the Elephant he starts out wanting to loot the tower but ends up saving an alien being from enslavement and becoming an instrument of cosmic justice).

Then there is his example of play in his DMG, which looks absolutely nothing like a Conan story.

Classic D&D, played in a way the reflects the advice and adventures written by Gygax, looks like a tactical wargame. (Which hardly seems surprising.)

About what was being published in the 70s? Tournament dungeons.
Which don't look S&S-ish. They are wargaming scenarios, either literally (the Giants) or in dungeon-exploration mode (Tomb of Horrors, Ghost Tower, etc).

stories about dozens of protagonists dying like flies certainly doesn't scream "big bad heroes here" the way pulp stories do. And funnily enough, endless converstations about who is setting watch, and when, worrying about every day of food and water and avoiding encounters does sound a lot like The Hobbit or AD&D.
As you point to, resource management is a huge part of classic D&D play. It factors very heavily into the "exploration" aspect of the game. And resource management figures barely at all in Conan stories.

D&D mechanics are all about shorter, fast paced adventures and larger than life heroes. Those are things that clearly support exactly what he said because that was most assured not how Tolkien wrote, but match Liber, Howard, et all.
The overwhelming majority of D&D adventures were completed in a couple sessions that took from a day to maybe a week or so to complete—the same amount of time as most of the individual stories of Elric, Fafhrd, and Conan.
If you can only come up with one example from several authors and dozens of stories that do fit that pace, then it doesn’t exactly support your position.
Hour of the Dragon is another REH Conan story that unfolds over a significant period of time. A Witch Shall be Born is another. This is from memory - I haven't gone back to look over them to see how many others fit this description. (The Scarlet Citadel happens over multiple weeks, but is not as extended as the others I and [MENTION=40166]prosfilaes[/MENTION] mentioned.)

The quote you posted from Gygax didn't use the phrase "fast paced", but if he did use that phrase I would assume him to be talking about the writing rather than the rate of passage of ingame events. REH's writing is manifestly more fast-paced than Tolkien's. Presumably Gygax would have agreed with Moorcock's criticism of JRRT in "Epic Pooh".

Compared to the creatures Conan, Fafhrd, The Grey Mouser, and Elric were fighting on a regular basis, Tolkien characters were very much not the larger than life epic heroes.
REH's Conan fights humans, giant snakes, the occasional undead wizard, were-hyenas, living statutes, and the odd abomination from another dimension (eg the demon in Phoenix on the Sword, the plant with its roots in hell in The Scarlet Citadel). JRRT's characters fight orcs (ie humans in funny make-up), worgs (comparable to were-hyenas, I guess), trolls (comparable to living statues, I would say), some ancient undead kings, and ancient abominations like Shelob. I don't see the huge contrast, to be honest.

By the time PCs gained a few levels (fighters were called heroes at 4th level), they very much were doing over the top things. And when they reached name level, there is no question. PCs were fighting and beating dragons, fighters could take as much punishment as several war horses, magic users were throwing around fireballs and polymorphing, thieves and assassins were scaling sheer walls and were near invisible.
An 11th level AD&D thief has earned 220,000 XP, similar to a name level fighter's 250,000.

That character has the following thieving skills:

Pick Pockets 90% (+ DEX mod, up to 10% at 18 DEX, -5% for each level of the target above 3rd);
Open Locks 72% (+ DEX mod, up to 15% at 18 DEX);
Find/Remove Traps 70% (+ DEX mod, up to 5% at 18 DEX);
Move Silently 86% (+ DEX mod, up to 10% at 18 DEX);
Hide in Shadows 70%(+ DEX mod, up to 10% at 18 DEX);
Hear Noise 35%;
Climb Walls 99.1% (which, if the DMG rules are used, becomes 98.2% on slightly slippery walls, and 91% on slippery walls - a failed check means "the thief has slipped and fallen");
Read Languages 55%;
Read Scrolls 75%.

That character is not "near invisible" (a Cloak of Elvenkind is a fairly common item that the treasure tables present as being at the lower power level which generally gives better chances of hiding in shadows); and if scaling a slippery sheer surface has a good chance to take a fall.

AD&D thieves and assassins are not really "larger than life".
 

Hussar

Legend
Perhaps you can point me to the stories where Conan, Fafhrd, the Grey Mouser, and Elric kept dying. You know, those larger than life heroes that Gary specifically said he designed the game so players could emulate them.

It’s also nice to see that you still haven’t been able to distinguish between influence on the game, and what inspired its creation.

Umm. That’s my point. In ODnD pcs die like flies. Pulp heroes certainly don’t. So odnd doesn’t really play much like pulp stories.


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Hussar

Legend
Never minding that time keeping in Adnd was supposed to follow real time. If you went a week between sessions, a week of in game time passed.


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Sacrosanct

Legend
Hour of the Dragon is another REH Conan story that unfolds over a significant period of time. A Witch Shall be Born is another. This is from memory - I haven't gone back to look over them to see how many others fit this description. (The Scarlet Citadel happens over multiple weeks, but is not as extended as the others I and [MENTION=40166]prosfilaes[/MENTION] mentioned.)

Ah, nothing like some good old fashioned goal post shifting in the morning. The claim wasn't that S&S stories never had adventures that took a month or so, but that the vast majority of those stories were shorter, and are what directly let to how D&D is designed: the shorter adventure "module", in contrast to Tolkien, who was only about the huge long epic that lasted years of game time. It was one example (of many) that show that Gary used other authors as the inspiration for how he created the mechanics of the game. By his own words even. And yet, you seem to assume he was just a liar, even in spite of the evidence of how the game is actually designed.

The quote you posted from Gygax didn't use the phrase "fast paced",

If you aren't even going to follow the link I provided where he gives his interview, and does in fact say that, then you shouldn't keep commenting on things you clearly don't know. You keep making these false assumptions, and maybe if you even bothered to look at the evidence I'm showing, you'd see how you are not correct.
REH's Conan fights humans, giant snakes, the occasional undead wizard, were-hyenas, living statutes, and the odd abomination from another dimension (eg the demon in Phoenix on the Sword, the plant with its roots in hell in The Scarlet Citadel). JRRT's characters fight orcs (ie humans in funny make-up), worgs (comparable to were-hyenas, I guess), trolls (comparable to living statues, I would say), some ancient undead kings, and ancient abominations like Shelob. I don't see the huge contrast, to be honest.

The part I was responding to was how Tolkien's heroes are just as larger than life because of the monsters. And I was pointing out how the biggest baddest monsters in Tolkien (Smaug, Witch King) aren't even fought by the heroes, but are by NPCs. Yet another point to show how that is very much NOT D&D. Can you imagine a campaign where you finally reach the dragon's lair, only to have me as the DM say, "The dragon flies off in a rage, and Joe Schmo the NPC from a neighboring town shot it down with one arrow." Talk about anti-climatic. At least in those other stories, when the heroes fight epic monsters (and gods), they do it themselves. It's also in the context that one of the whole points of Tolkien's writings was to show how the unassuming, smaller (literally) then life protagonist is the hero. Again, the opposite of how D&D was designed, both by Gary's own words, and how the mechanics are structured. And I'll also note that we're not talking about just Conan. I find it disingenuous of you to keep cherry picking or limiting it to Conan (or whatever is most convenient for you) while ignoring all of those other heroes mentioned as the real inspiration behind how the game was designed.

An 11th level AD&D thief has earned 220,000 XP, similar to a name level fighter's 250,000.

That character has the following thieving skills:

Pick Pockets 90% (+ DEX mod, up to 10% at 18 DEX, -5% for each level of the target above 3rd);
Open Locks 72% (+ DEX mod, up to 15% at 18 DEX);
Find/Remove Traps 70% (+ DEX mod, up to 5% at 18 DEX);
Move Silently 86% (+ DEX mod, up to 10% at 18 DEX);
Hide in Shadows 70%(+ DEX mod, up to 10% at 18 DEX);
Hear Noise 35%;
Climb Walls 99.1% (which, if the DMG rules are used, becomes 98.2% on slightly slippery walls, and 91% on slippery walls - a failed check means "the thief has slipped and fallen");
Read Languages 55%;
Read Scrolls 75%.

That character is not "near invisible" (a Cloak of Elvenkind is a fairly common item that the treasure tables present as being at the lower power level which generally gives better chances of hiding in shadows); and if scaling a slippery sheer surface has a good chance to take a fall.

AD&D thieves and assassins are not really "larger than life".

Compared to everyone else, yes they very much were. No other PC could do those things, certainly not regular common folk. You also seem to be forgetting that the thief's stealth also protected against things like infravision. Also factoring in how many HP, the attack matrix, and the backstab modifier, and that level thief is very much larger than life. And when you throw in the ability to read magical scrolls and pretty much any language? Arguing that they aren't larger than life is just silly at best.



Never minding that time keeping in Adnd was supposed to follow real time. If you went a week between sessions, a week of in game time passed.


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This is very much not true. Again. Not only that, it's so silly that it could never actually be achieved even if it were a rule.
 

pemerton

Legend
Never minding that time keeping in Adnd was supposed to follow real time. If you went a week between sessions, a week of in game time passed.
Sacroscanct seems to have just blocked me despite replying to my last post, but anyway the same timekeeping advice is found in Book 3 of OD&D (Undeworld and Wilderness Adventures): p 38 says that "1 week of actual time = 1 week of game time". At least as far as Conan is concerned, this emphasis on precision in time-keeping is quite different from the "time passes" approach REH takes to the narration of Conan's life; but it is fairly integral to the non-pulpy resource-management aspect of classic D&D play.

As a sidepoint, Sacorsanct also asserts that a thief's hide in shadows protects against infravision, whereas the AD&D rules actually make the opposite clear - infravision detects a hiding thief unless there is a nearby heat source (PHB p 28); whereas a Cloak of Elvenkind gives a 90% chance of invisibility against infravision regardless of whether or not a heat source is present.

The idea that hide in shadows makes a name-level thief "near-invisible" is simply not borne out by the actual AD&D rules. (I don't have the Greyhawk supplement, and so can't comment on whether thieves were stronger in that book than in AD&D.)
 

prosfilaes

Adventurer
the vast majority of those stories were shorter, and are what directly let to how D&D is designed: the shorter adventure "module", in contrast to Tolkien, who was only about the huge long epic that lasted years of game time.

Yes, Tolkien wrote novels, and short stories exist. Yet I'm sure MERP and other Tolkien RPGs have had short adventure modules, because that's inevitable. Dragonlance, the Pathfinder APs, and huge heavy works like the Zeitgeist AP appear later because they're more intimidating and more expensive, both to make and in shelf price.

The part I was responding to was how Tolkien's heroes are just as larger than life because of the monsters. And I was pointing out how the biggest baddest monsters in Tolkien (Smaug, Witch King) aren't even fought by the heroes, but are by NPCs. Yet another point to show how that is very much NOT D&D.

You can’t use Jackson’s additions in 2000 as a way to justify Tolkien’s characters as larger than life in 1974 when D&D was created. I can put out fanfic where Frodo shoots lasers out of his butt and blows up mountains, but that doesn’t mean Frodo was a larger than life super hero if those things didn’t actually exist in the book.

Changes that naturally happen as part of adaptation aren't great evidence of outside influence. Of course D&D was going to make the PCs front and center and give them the abilities the players saw in their mind's eye when reading LotR.

To quote from the third OD&D booklet, "Underworld and Wilderness Adventures":
A good dungeon will have no less than a dozen levels down, with offshoot levels in addition, and new levels under construction so that players will never grow tired of it. There is no real limit to the number of levels, nor is there any restriction on their size (other than the size of graph paper available). “Greyhawk Castle,” for example, has over a dozen levels in succession downwards, more than that number branching from these, and not less than two new levels under construction at any given time. These levels contain such things as a museum from another age, an underground lake, a series of caverns filled with giant fungi, a bowling alley for 20’ high Giants, an arena of evil, crypts, and so on.

One can get a hint of Moria in that, but not much Tolkien. I'm sure if I had read better in early 20th century fantasy, I might peg "an underground lake, a series of caverns filled with giant fungi" to something, but ultimately that does not read of literary fantasy at all. It's gamey (game-like, I guess?), and it doesn't feel coherent in any literary way. Instead of calling on Howard and Leiber, it feels a much stronger claim that Gygax was creating something very different from literary fantasy, without a necessity of being nice, neat and coherent. It doesn't seem to have many echos in the future D&D, though.
 
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