Saturday, March 30, 2019

Presumed Axiom for AD&D

A poster on the Facebook AD&D shared this comment from Frank Mentzer earlier in the week, in which he recalled a rules discussion with Gygax on the issue of magical light. Here it is:


Now, I'm not super thrilled about this (baroque?) ruling, and I wouldn't use it in my game. However, the way it was reasoned was considered a "real eye opener" for the person re-posting it on Facebook. Namely this part:


Probably for us here this is not very surprising; we've read enough of Gygax's writings, and his close associates, to at the very least interpolate that this was their standard thought process. Gygax would frequently write "O/AD&D" as a game system in the singular, and so forth. Many essential rules were not bothered to be copied forward from OD&D, even though the AD&D text in places just doesn't make sense without them, etc. But to some other gamers this may in fact be quite jarring, who want different editions clearly delineated and compartmentalized in a completely Cartesian fashion. So it's nice for Mentzer to clearly state this for once in exactly in the fashion here.

Actually, I wish that Gygax or some other editor had been willing to be more free about cutting out or overwriting certain bits when transitioning from OD&D to AD&D; treating the work as purely additive in all respects creates something... occasionally fossilized and burdensome. In software engineering we recognize the need to sometimes surgically cut out bad stuff as "refactoring". But nonetheless, it's useful to recognize the mind-state of the original designers in this regard, when interpreting the AD&D rules and associated writings.


6 comments:

  1. Sorry for not being on the topic but I have made something today that I think you may be interested...
    I have compiled the chance of random encounter with monster for every dungeon level from the tables of the AD&D DMG.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_Zm28pDwBR0VBGUMImS7KuKPnURP7ae9

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    1. Holy gamoley, that's amazing! Especially looking at the full downloaded chart, that's a heck of a bunch of work and a fascinating visualization. Thanks so much for sharing it here! I'm going to make a main post out that next week if you don't mind.

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    2. That is the reason I shared it with you. I'm sure you will have nice insights on dungeon ecologic extracted from this.

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    3. You may be way out ahead of me on this one. :-)

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  2. That "state of mind" tracks with my own experience as a gamer at the time. None of us thought of AD&D as fundamentally "game changing", so much as an attempt to "tidy up" the system. The rollout of the books over a period of time, such that the Monster Manual and Players Handbook were effectively used as oD&D supplements for the couple years before the DMG appeared, underlined that perception.

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    1. Yes, that's another really excellent data point, thanks for that reminder!

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