When I read the news on the Story Games forums, I actually started to cry.
“Wait,” I hear you say, “you don’t even LIKE D&D.”
Well, I don’t really, not the system anyway, but to all the Geeks born since Mr. Gygax and Mr. Arneson created it, D&D really means more than just that one system. Over on the Story Games board, there are a few people (very few) who think that everyone is giving Mr. Gygax and D&D too much credit. I completely disagree. I really do credit them with inventing my favorite hobby. There hadn’t been anything like D&D out there.
The beauty of D&D is not D&D itself, it is what D&D spawned. It spawned years of imitators, that actually can only be called imitators in the broadest possible sense. There are a raft of games out there that hardly bear even the faintest of faint similarities to D&D, but D&D spawned them by creating the niche.
I also feel that D&D spawned the fantasy wargaming market as well, by introducing the fantasy miniatures with which you were supposed to play the game. Yes, historical wargaming had existed for aeons, however there are a few really forbidding things about historical gaming. One is the price. Historical minis frequently cost as much, if not more, than fantasy ones. The second is that it requires you to intimately research a particular time period, and establish a knowledge base to rival any college military history professor, and if you think the fights on gaming forums about what’s correct for various armies get venomous, try checking out some of the historical wargamer forum discussions on how many buttons on a Prussian military officer’s jacket. Oh Lord, they could give RPG.net lessons in flaming. For those not inclined to read military history books obsessively for fun, this can be off-putting. However, with fantasy wargaming, you get to read fiction to learn about the worlds where the battles will take place, and you can do things like the Hello Kitty Sisters of Battle Regiment someone created for Warhammer 40K.
There is no Hello Kitty in historical wargaming.
The thing is, Gary Gygax’s influence is far greater than the one game he created, and I thank him for that. Like I said, there is currently only one D&D game I will even consider, and that’s because I’m being bribed with the Spelljammer setting. I don’t like D&D. I find it inelegant, certain editions of of it needlessly complex, and I will never, ever be able to wrap my head around armor making you harder to hit.
As to the charges of Gygax’s misogyny… Maybe yes, maybe no. But right now that doesn’t matter. Wagner was an anti-semitic asshole, but I still think “Ride of the Valkyries” is one of the most stirring pieces of music ever written. Maybe Gygax didn’t think girls should play D&D, it didn’t stop us, did it? And a thread where people are mourning a loss is NOT the place to start sniping about it. Really. Way to marginalize everyone’s feelings. Have some fucking decorum. Good Lord, even RPG.net and the Forge waited a week before people started ripping him apart.