The Death of the Gygax: Why Rules Exist

I found that a very interesting read…

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So, wait, the writer of this piece invokes Death of the Author (and hey, I also think Salinger didn’t have a clue about the meaning of his books), but then writes a treatise on a snippet that he himself says Gygax may or may not have said, instead of perhaps basing conclusions on the game itself? Er, ok.

The problem with Gygax is that he apparently said a great number of contradictory things, usually while shooting the breeze at conventions, and it’s hard to tell his true thoughts on any number of subjects. Sheesh, he at times even contradicts himself on broader points within the same book. But I think that if you look at the games he created, it’s safe to say that he does understand the relevance of rules in RPGs. He’s certainly been criticized enough for overvemphasizing them, hasn’t he?

I know that bashing Gygax is hip, and there’s a fair amount that’s perfectly justified (bards come to mind), but the more I read, the more I’m impressed by how much he understood and how much he got right on the first try.

I also think the criticism of Tomb of Horrors misses the mark. It’s certainly a minority opinion, and seems a bit unfair considering the reasons for its design, its reception, and the way it shaped the game. And crappy story? Sure, you can see it that way (and the story definitely wasn’t the main objective in its writing), but you can also see it as the ultimate sword & sorcery tragedy. I’ll take that over the umpteenth cliché-laden save-the-kingdom plot any day.

As to the broader point, isn’t it somewhat obvious why rules exist? I mean, it’s right there in the label: Role-Playing Games.

One bit I found interesting was the part about players not being able to exert control over the outcome and employ strategy given a universal 50-50 chance, because when we tried that here a couple times, it turned out that the weakness of the system is that it’s far too easy for players to exploit the system. Clever playerses …

In any case, yes, an interesting read. My main takeaway from all this: We really ought to play Tomb of Horrors sometime. We’ve never done that in this group, right?

The writer bashes Tomb of Horrors twice in that article. Once at the beginning and another time in a Tweet. What’s his problem? :smiley:

I remember reading somewhere that people who’d played Gygax’s Modules at Cons began to complain with how easy they were. So, Gygax got revenge in the form of Tomb of Horrors and people stopped complaining! Wasn’t it also one of the first modules to not focus on just killing hordes of monsters and instead shift the focus to traps and puzzles?

A lot of authors/painters/musicians put their work out and don’t intend for there to be a hidden meaning behind it. Other people then make it their life’s goal to analyse everything about that work and try to come up with a reason for it (as the writer points out.) Maybe the creator really doesn’t understand what he created or maybe it’s just everyone else who doesn’t understand? It’s just opinions at the end of the day.

I’d love to play through(?) Tomb of Horrors with you guys. Let’s wait for the 5e edition for it in a couple of months… :wink:

I always wanted to try Tomb of Horrors as well!

Such rant, much wow.
Did Gygax understand modern RPGs? I don’t know and I don’t really care. Same goes for his alleged contradictions. He came up with a genre/game that brought fun and adventure to thousands/millions of people. He certainly did something right.

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[quote=“Neil, post:3, topic:1857, full:true”]Let’s wait for the 5e edition for it in a couple of months… :wink:
Oh, do let’s!

And maybe while we’re waiting we could get together and watch a movie or something. How about the 1998 version of Psycho? :grinning:

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It is a bit of a rant. I found the bit where he attacked the “narrate your characters actions and results” as a group as writing a shitty novel interesting as the few times we’ve tried it it has been very good. I wonder if he has actually ever tried it (I know I was sceptical the first time I tried it)