Legacy of Gary Gygax Attacked on Slate.com

Read this article, then come back and read my rant.

Orc Holocaust

I cannot stand it. Once again a mainstream journalist spews forth on “Dungeons and Dragons” with little understanding of the game. Let me distill his key points.

1. Violence is rewarded, both with XP and equipment.

2. “D&D” is not role-playing friendly.

3.  GURPS is better, because the DM awards XP, without violence.

4. “Cyborg Commando” was bad.

1. This is absolutely true, as far as it goes. I have also been rewarded with both gold, equipment and XP for non-violent actions. I have snuck into a castle to steal a macguffin and never drawn a weapon. I saved some innocent children from a demon.  I killed said demon. All of which got me a reward. The author “cherry picked” one aspect of the game and pushes it to the fore. It is deceptive and a disservice to gamers everywhere.

2. Huh? Role-playing comes from the players, not  the rules.  Rules are a framework, people make the game. Bad rules can still lead to good role-playing.

3. GURPS is the role-playing game of “intelligent” gamers who do not need to slaughter “a family of orcs” to get their treasure. Then the author drops this little item.

“Of course, players could still take out their real-life bitterness in a fictional killing spree, and the game master might end up with a bumbling and incoherent story line.”

The author speaks the truth.  The game is only as good as the players.  Sadly, his argument assumes this is unique to Gary’s games. It is not.   I wonder why he honed in on “D&D?” Did someone kill his favorite PC in his first game?

4. “Cyborg Commando” sucked. I have no argument. This is the truth, but remember that no author gets it right every time. Shakespeare wrote “Titus Andronicus” and no one is attacking his writing ability. Look at the whole of a game designers life, not just a prominent failure.

Rest in peace, Gary. You deserve better than this hatchet job.

Trask, the Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.