Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Well, it never died, but not for lack of of certain companies trying, it seems. Most people know that I am an Elder (not Old School, never quite agreed with the many, too many connotations associated with that word, though I let it pass when applied to me, whatever) of the creative sort. My grounding was in games: miniatures, board games, parlor games, then RPG with OD&D (but also AD&D 1E & 2E, 3E, 3.5, C&C). Most people today would take that OD&D part and run with it, figuring I was some old fart or such (well, at times, but I thought I closed the blinds then when nodding off with my wool blanky and rocking chair)... I was the youngest of the three who shaped the game early on. When asked by Flint Dille at GaryCon1 what exactly had I contributed to the game, and in front of Luke and Elise Gygax, I related a part, that when Gary was stuck balancing the upcoming classes for Greyhawk Supplement #1 to D&D that he called me at Don Kaye's house, requesting help (I had already handed in my parts for the MS, but was still there for my ole buddy and pal, of course). He was worried about hit dice. Every class in OD&D got a d6 per level, so MU's seemed on par with fighters but had spells (our biggest worry). Well it simply blurt from me over the phone that we should use d8 for fighters, d6 for clerics and thieves and d4 for MUs (later changed in AD&D to d10 for fighters and so on).

Boy has the game come a "long way" since then. I must admit to sharing the view here expressed at this fine blog hosted by Tim Knight, and that about D&D 4th Rendition. It's not that we can't reinvent the wheel whenever this is needed, but why? Errr. Money? Again, I embrace free enterprise (just don't want it to embrace me too hard), so I am not against companies who creatively and earnestly seek dollars. But at what expense has this been bought in the past?

I am afraid these days that such appellations as "Fantasy Role Playing Games," and as compared to D&D here and present, are losing ground as by-products of their two most important words: Fantasy & Games. Fantasy is the enchantment that led us to play to begin with; and the game is what keeps us there. Drain the life out of either of these two ideas and you are left with a shell, a ghost of both at best, and those that attach to it and call it the "gift," their eyes perhaps twinkling all the way to the bank.

In my upcoming book of interrelated essays (The Rise and Fall of TSR Hobbies: It's Impact Upon the Fantasy Fiction and FRPG Markets) I most strongly assert the above statements and then some, while offering remedies. Unfortunately, I have yet another essay to include in that book as the tally is in and WotC once again proves that their fantasy and Games are lacking. One could take exception with this as always, and one can always find the road that is best suited to travel. But I must voice ever so strongly that with the push on to rediscover our roots in gaming, and especially RPG, and then distill from those roots and streams and springs what has fed our industry for so long, that the Coastal Wizards might have learned their lessons if they had cared to. Such are the machinations of those whose plans are laid in the future and not the present or past.

There is a person here on this blog who passed along a book title to me. It is not fantasy, but it contains a lot of what is part of it. So besides WotC's managers reading the "Art of War," I suggest a perusing of it as well: "Defending Ancient Springs," by Kathleen Raine.

In between, I hope you never get caught in a dead end by an iron golem!

Rob Kuntz


Heruka said...


Tim Knight said...

I second Heruka's "amen" to this.

Coming to this post a bit late (sorry, don't know how I missed it earlier), but thanks for the name check - very flattering.


Rob Kuntz said...

The amens have it. Not a problem, Tim, as you have a very fine blog that folks should take note of. Do keep us up to date on your "new" FRP campaign as well, as I love reading about such stuff.--Rob