Thursday, April 10, 2014

Papyrus, Parchment, Vellum

Gygax identified three permitted materials for the manufacture of magic scrolls -- papyrus at 2gp/sheet, parchment at 4gp, and vellum at 8gp, with respectively increasing chances of success for each (AD&D DMG, p. 117). How likely do you think it is that he was inspired by this line from Clark Ashton Smith's "The End of the Story" (actually the first in the Averoigne cycle of short stories):
Truly, he had not exaggerated the resources of the library; for the long shelves were overcrowded with books, and many volumes were piled high on the tables or stacked in corners. There were rolls of papyrus, of parchment, of vellum...
Or: How often are these three materials listed together, in exactly that order? (Read the whole story here, if you like; recommended.)


10 comments:

  1. Good find. In addition to being pleasing to the ear in that order, 'papyrus, parchment and vellum' are also in aphabetical order.
    I remember discovering that some of the tables in the DMG and other 1e books were, if I remember right, almost word for word the same as certain entries in Roget's Thesaurus... although it's been several years since I've seen my copy of Roget's so please double check me on that. I seem to remember that the 'level titles' in the AD&D books (Theurge, Adept, Sorceror, etc.) also appeared to be drawn from Roget's.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very nice, I never thought of that before. (Although I wrote at least one song in college that was basically iterations on a certain word like that.)

      Delete
  2. Interestingly, the AD&D 2e DMG changes the material from scrolls, replacing vellum with paper, and putting it before the others so they are still in alphabetic order.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I vaguely remember that. So much less evocative.

      Delete
  3. Unfortunately Gygax wasn't influenced directly by Smith, since he hadn't read him yet when D&D was published (and didn't in fact read him until c. 1980; see Kuntz's blog @ http://lordofthegreendragons.blogspot.com/2009/03/origin-of-black-pudding-roots-in-ca.html for some details).

    A more probable influence is the placement of parchment and vellum (but not papyrus ;) ) in The Glass Harmonica by Barbara Ninde Byfield (later reprinted as The Book of Weird); for some info/excerpts see JeffB's blog @ http://intothedarkdimension.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-book-of-weird.html

    Allan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, well I'm glad you brought that up, and it is news to me that CAS isn't in the AD&D DMG Appendix N. But isn't Rob Kuntz's point in that blog there that it's likewise really hard to account for black puddings without the CAS connection (irrespective of absence in the credits and bookshelf)?

      Delete
    2. I thought that Arneson was generally credited with creating the various cleanup crew monsters, rather than Gary.

      Allan.

      Delete
  4. About the invention of the black pudding:

    http://blackmoor.mystara.net/svenny.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Delightful, thanks for posting that! Makes it sound like the black pudding was the very first monster ever encountered in a dungeon adventure with Arneson.

      Delete