Monday, March 07, 2011

Maximum Gygaxian

Old-school gaming blog Grognardia commemorated the 3rd anniversary of the passing of Gary Gygax by inviting readers to submit samples of "Gygaxian" prose. Here's a classic one commenter submitted from D3: Vault of the Drow:
The small "star" nodes glow in radiant hues of mauve, lake, violet, puce, lilac, and deep blue. The large "moon" of tumkeoite casts beams of shimmering amethyst which touch the crystalline formations with colors unknown to any other visual experience. The lichens seem to glow in rose madder and pale damson, the fungi growths in golden and red ochres, vermillions, russets, citron, and aquamarine shades. (Elsewhere the river and other water courses sheen a deep velvety purple with reflected highlights from the radiant gleams overhead vying with streaks and whorls of old silver where the liquid laps the stony banks or surges against the ebon piles of the jetties and bridge of the elfin city for the viewers' attention.) The rock walls of the Vault appear hazy and insubstantial in the wine-colored light, more like mist than solid walls. The place is indeed a dark fairyland.
The D&D prose of today often seems so ordinary in comparison.

For my own Gygaxian tribute, I'll quote what I wrote three years ago:
When people ask me what D&D is, sometimes I tell them it's "formalized make-believe": When kids play cops and robbers, they often get into arguments about who shot who first, and whether you missed, or how many bullets your gun had, etc. At its heart, a role playing game is a system for arbitrating such arguments. I think Gygax's fundamental contribution was providing a framework through which child-like fantasy could be a more shared, participatory, sustained, grown-up, and exciting experience. Almost as important, he and Arneson proved that such a system could be written down, packaged, and sold as a successful commercial product. Without the success of the industry it spawned, Dungeons & Dragons would just be a curio rather than a phenomenon.


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