To start with, doesn’t Gygax sound like a monster or wizard in a Gygax-style world? 

 Besides one campaign with Lore, the only D&D I’ve played is Gygax’s last version– 1st edition AD&D, the quintessential pre-corporate RPG, complete with mostly lousy black & white art, Gygax’s oddly pedantic prose (“The locale in which the non-player character henchman is being sought, the racial distribution in that locale, the race of the prospective liege, and the manner of seeking henchmen, will all bear upon the race of any possible henchmen”), and tables, tables, tables… everything from NPC dress sense (roll 8 for “foppish”), to the cost of holy water vials, to the type of harlot you might encounter (look it up, DM Guide p. 192).

As a game, it’s outrageously complex and arbitrary… the three basic books total almost 500 closely-printed pages.  If you’re used to video games based on D&D, whether directly (e.g. Neverwinter Nights) or indirectly (e.g. Oblivion), D&D offers slow combat, excruciatingly slow levelling-up, a dizzyingly complex and incoherent magic system, and the constant possibility of debilitation by dice roll.  (The rules are packed with nasty things DMs can do to players, many of which will simply kill or incapacitate you, leaving you to sit there watching the rest of the party have fun.)  In some ways D&D is the Esperanto of games: just good enough to get people fired up, just bad enough to spark endless attempts to do better.

 But it’s fun, and surprisingly social for a geek activity.  I spent most of college in one long D&D campaign (hi Chris), and I’ll hear no gibes about meeting girls instead: half the group was female, including my girlfriend. 

That campaign also inspired Verduria, and of course Verdurian and other Almean languages, which led to the LCK, which led to the ZBB, so you can blame Gygax for all that too.

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