Tuesday, January 5, 2010

DM Practice?

We had "that discussion" again in my AD&D game last time. You know the one:

"Gandalf carried a sword!"

Le sigh.

Much has been made about whether Tolkien was a big influence on D&D or not. I think it's pretty obvious by now that Gygax included rather a lot of Tolkienisms, despite later claiming that the Professor wasn't that big of an influence. And I think I know why, or at least partly why:

Remember, we think we play a lot when we have a game every week. Sometimes it seems too much (but in a good way...) when I have two games in one day. But Gary Gygax would run his game every night of the week! (Or at least six days a week -- he had to have some time to add on to the dungeon and the world.)

Can you imagine how many times he had to put up with the whole "Gandalf carried a sword!" thing? How about level limits on Elves? That sort of thing would put me off the whole "This game is based on the Lord of the Rings" thing.

(I'm not saying that's what happened, mind you. I'm just speculating.)

But when people talk about Dungeonmasters, they usually include Gary among the greats. And part of that is the broad base of fantasy literature he had to fall back on. But another reason is that he just did it an awful lot.

Practice makes perfect, y'know. But in this case it's not "I'm practicing the piano," but rather "I'm a practicing DM." (which I'm not, currently, but it could happen...) I really never looked at the phrase like this before, so it's a bit of an enlightenment for me. I always understood it to mean "practice" as in "rehearsal". Funny how things go like that.


clovis said...

was an immortal or angel
not merely a human mage of 17th level (never read about Gandalf cast wish)

Anonymous said...

Ah but people who read only LotR and Hobbit probably didn't catch that. You need the Silmarillion and such to get the background. Otherwise you get the "Gandalf was a 5th level M-U" argument because he never really does anything huge.

Anyway, on-topic, you can definitely see the truth in this argument when you take a long break from DMing, or gaming in general.

The Frothy Friar said...

You also have to remember that magic was a rarity in Middle-Earth, so someone making his staff glow was a huge deal...not like in D&D.

Also, I think the "practice makes perfect" statement is still relevant in D&D. You really need to practice speaking in front of people so you're not stumbling over words and also so you can work on expanding your vocabulary to Tolkien-like proportions