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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Appendix N: conclusions

Jeffro has completed the initial pass of his quixotic masterpiece. Some of his conclusions:
  • Tolkien’s ascendancy was not inevitable. It’s really a fluke that he even became the template for the modern fantasy epic.
  • A half dozen authors would have easily been considered on par with Tolkien in the seventies.
  • Our concept of “Tolkienesque” fantasy has little to do with Tolkien’s actual work. Likewise, the “Lovecraftian” stories and games of today have little to do with what Lovecraft actually wrote. Our concepts of swords and sorcery have had the “weird” elements removed from them for the most part. Next to the giants of the thirties, just about everything looks tamed and watered down.
  • Entire genres have been all but eliminated. The majority of the Appendix N list falls under either planetary romance, science fantasy, or weird fiction. Most people’s readings of AD&D and OD&D are done without a familiarity of these genres.
  • Science fiction and fantasy were much more related up through the seventies. Several Appendix N authors did top notch work in both genres. Some did work that could be classified as neither.
  • It used to be normal for science fiction and fantasy fans to read books that were published between 1910 and 1977. There was a sense of canon in the seventies that has since been obliterated.
  • Modern fandom is now divorced from its past in a way that would be completely alien to game designers in the seventies. They had no problem synthesizing elements from classics, grandmasters of the thirties, and new wave authors.
  • Ideological diversity in science fiction and fantasy was a given in the seventies. We are hopelessly homogenistic in comparison to them.
  • The program of political correctness of the past several decades has made even writers like Ray Bradbury and C. L. Moore all but unreadable to an entire generation. The conditioning is so strong, some people have almost physical reactions to the older stories now.
And at Castalia House, Jeffro has posted a not-unrelated retrospective on the topic of Tolkien's influence on Dungeons & Dragons:
This list has been held up as conclusive evidence of Tolkien’s influence on the formation of original D&D.² Taking all of the game’s influences into account it’s just not that convincing, however. Certainly, players of this rule set would have been able to recreate The Battle of Five Armies and The Battle of the Morannon. And unlike anything you’d see in the coming D&D rule sets, Bard the Hunter’s ability to take out a flying dragon with a single shot is accounted for here. But while wraiths here are clearly inspired by the Nazgul, raising the morale of their allies, causing their foes to make morale checks, and paralyzing men with fear, these special abilities also failed to survive the transition from miniatures supplement to role-playing game.


Other staples of the D&D zeitgeist are in evidence even at this early juncture: the chromatic dragons are out in force, along with the chlorine gas breathing variety from the de Camp and Pratt’s The Roaring Trumpet. The clearest example of Tolkien’s diluted authority in Gygax’s views would be in the matter of Trolls. “What are generally referred to as Trolls are more properly Ogres,” he explains. To Gygax, “true Trolls” are more in line with the one in Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions.
 
Similarly, the wizards of the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement are unlike anything from Tolkien’s corpus; they unleash “Cloudkill” on enemy armies, create hallucinatory terrain, “haste” friendly units while “slowing” enemies, and disrupt the opposing force’s command and control with “confuse”. Tolkien’s stark contrasts between good and evil are replaced with Poul Anderson’s and Michael Moorcock’s Law to Chaos alignment spectrum, with the most surprising implication of this system being that the question of whether Elves will come in on the side of Halflings or Wraiths is determined entirely by the roll of the dice!
It's very easy for wargamers to see the wargaming roots that underlie all role-playing games, but rather less easy for non-wargamers to recognize them. This is actually something I cover in my game development course; the students tend to be very fascinated to see how one can trace the developmental lineage of some of today's biggest games all the way back to the arcade games of the 1980s. As for literature, I always find it amusing when people assert that Warhammer was an influence on Selenoth because I don't play Warhammer or any miniatures games nor have I ever read even a single book from the Black Library. The influences they think they are seeing actually stem from board-and-counter games that influenced both Games Workshop and me.

Selenoth began life as a wargame called "Warleader" which was my attempt to write rules for Fantasy Advanced Squad Leader. Perhaps one day I'll return to it.

Speaking of Castalia House, we are looking for some more high-quality writers to join Jeffro, Morgan, and Daniel there, but we are only interested in potential contributors who already have a blog and a track record. If you're a book reviewer or a game writer interested in expanding your audience, touch base.

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51 Comments:

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 12:10 PM  

This would be a canonical troll from the Finnish mythology.

Another famous troll, Antero Vipunen, vomiting out Väinämöinen whom he had eaten.

Blogger tihald October 13, 2015 12:23 PM  

Fantasy ASL? What an intriguing thought.

Blogger Ostar October 13, 2015 12:47 PM  

@1 I know that Tolkien claimed the Kalevala was a major source for the Silmarillion. I've read both, and it's clear that Turin Turambar owes much to the character of Kullervo. I believe you are Finnish. How much, if any, "Finnish" influence do you see in Lord of the Rings?

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 12:53 PM  

Only the new generation of deliberately ignorant D&D players are unaware of those influences, though. People my age, who played the game when it first hit the mainstream in the very early 80s, or even before, were very much aware of the corpus of literature that informed the game and the war-gaming roots (which were often times a source of frustration for folks who wanted to do more roleplaying but didn't really have a game which supported it very well; a source for all kinds of fantasy "heartbreaker" copy-cats that meant to "fix" D&D to be more like whatever the author envisioned it should be like, etc.)

In any case, suggesting that anyone is inspired by Warhammer better be pretty dang specific, because very little in Warhammer is original. Warhammer as a setting, at least as much as D&D if not more, is a mish-mash of existing elements all thrown together.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 12:55 PM  

The elven language is based on Finnish, to a degree that we can just plain read it as Finnish, and pronounce it the way intended by Tolkien.

But apart from that, quite little. The spirit of the story is not similar. Kalevala is just plain melancholic and pessimistic. LotR is hopeful.

For example, in the Finnish mythology, everybody goes to the equivalent of Hell when they die. Doesn't matter what you have done in life. That doesn't even enter the picture. Tuoni and his twisted family rules the nether regions and he doesn't care any of that. He's just a tyrant. Not really evil, like Sauron-style evil, but an entity that doesn't know of anything other. He is the lord of death, and his thought patterns function accordingly.

In Kalevala, there may be moments of happiness, but that's just random. Everything will eventually end with eternal pain.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 1:00 PM  

I can imagine the first contact of Christianity with Suomenusko

-You will go to Hell! You will suffer forever!
-Yes?
-I don't think you are reading me. Suffer. Forever.
-Yes?

Blogger Harry Spitz October 13, 2015 1:11 PM  

@5
I can see that.
Finnish winter forever vs. Hell.
Probably pretty hard to choose between them.

In any case, lead with "Wanna go to Heaven, where the weather is always great, the company good, and the game plentiful?"

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 1:12 PM  

To be specific, one of the Elvish languages is influenced by Finnish. To quote Tolkien himself: "The ingredients in Quenya are various, but worked out into a self-consistent character not precisely like any language that I know. Finnish, which I came across when I had first begun to construct a 'mythology' was a dominant influence, but that has been much reduced [now in late Quenya]. It survives in some features: such as the absence of any consonant combinations initially, the absence of the voiced stops b, d, g (except in mb, nd, ng, ld, rd, which are favoured) and the fondness for the ending -inen, -ainen, -oinen, also in some points of grammar, such as the inflexional endings -sse (rest at or in), -nna (movement to, towards), and -llo (movement from); the personal possessives are also expressed by suffixes; there is no gender."

On the other hand, the more day-to-day Elvish was Sindarin, which was more specifically influenced by Welsh.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 1:17 PM  

I think that quote simply doesn't address the issue of pronunciation. Because the canonical way to pronounce both the Elven and the Mordor language, is to just read it as plain Finnish.

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 1:21 PM  

You could pretty much say the same for pronouncing it as if it were Latin, though.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 1:22 PM  

Yes, Latin and Finnish are also quite similar. Very easy for us to read Latin too.

Blogger LAZ October 13, 2015 1:36 PM  

"The program of political correctness..."

When I first saw this I thought it said "pogrom". Although sometimes it does feel like that.

Blogger buwaya October 13, 2015 1:39 PM  

I remember this list !
It was a bit late in my D&D career, that started with the three-booklet boxed set. There was a reading list in that one too if I recall correctly. We did use "Chainmail" too, for improvised miniatures games, but not fantasy ones. We had other miniatures wargame rule sets as well, we used Airfix mainly. Well, that dates me I suppose.

Of this later Appendix N list I think I am short only of
Bellairs, Gardner Fox, St. Clair, assuming that I have read substantially of the works of the writers without specific books mentioned.
So I suppose those are things to track down.
Thanks for the link, this is very interesting.

Blogger BigFire October 13, 2015 1:54 PM  

What about Jack Vance's Dying Earth series which heavily influence some of the mechanics of D&D, such as preparing spells for future uses and rest for restoring mana?

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 1:55 PM  

The Face in the Frost by John Bellairs is a truly excellent story. Quite short, too. Highly recommended.

I read much of the Appendix N on my own in the 80s, without knowing that it was part of the Appendix N. The notion of a shared fantasy corpus still lingered, at least to some degree, back then. The Face in the Frost is one of the few that I tracked down specifically because it was listed on the Appendix N.

Blogger buwaya October 13, 2015 1:55 PM  

Vance is in the Appendix N list.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 1:56 PM  

What about Jack Vance's Dying Earth series

Way ahead of ya

OpenID anonymos-coward October 13, 2015 2:06 PM  

'Kalevala' is not an ancient Finnic myth. People treat it like the Finnish equivalent to the Eddas, but in reality 'Kalevala' was written by Elias Lönnrot in 1835, a significant reworking of the folk traditions of finnic-speaking peoples of Russia. (The main source was a guy named Arkhip Ivanovich Perttunen, from a place called Ladvozero.) The 'Kalevala' also includes obvious allusions to the Virgin Mary, so to say that it preserved any sort of ancient pagan 'purity' would be wrong.

Also, D&D is obviously based on Jack Vance, not Tolkien. The random and ill-considered Tolkien references in D&D are there only to make it more palatable to normies; Tolkien is a classic and timeless author with universal appeal.

OpenID anonymos-coward October 13, 2015 2:11 PM  

What about Jack Vance's Dying Earth series which heavily influence some of the mechanics of D&D, such as preparing spells for future uses and rest for restoring mana?
Oh no, it goes much deeper than that. The philosophy of D&D is Vancian philosophy, the cosmology of D&D is Vancian, and D&D gameplay is based on Vancian characters doing Vancian adventures.

Ultimately this is what made D&D successful -- roleplaying Cugel is fun, while roleplaying somebody like Aragorn or Conan not so much.

Blogger Red Jack October 13, 2015 2:12 PM  

What strikes me is, well, the loss of all this.

I read many of these stories. My maternal grandfather read some of them. My children will probably not. Many have mentioned that the linage of some games goes back to the 1980's, but how many will recognize that in 20 years? Most of the recent works I have read or played are watered down stories of things I had seen years ago.

I mentioned on Wright's blog a number of months ago that we are sliding into a Dark Age. Nothing new in culture or art is being made, and much is being lost.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 2:12 PM  

'Kalevala' is not an ancient Finnic myth. People treat it like the Finnish equivalent to the Eddas, but in reality 'Kalevala' was written by Elias Lönnrot in 1835, a significant reworking of the folk traditions of finnic-speaking peoples of Russia.

That is just plain ignorant. Lönnrot compiled the songs by traveling the land, and only composed a small amount of poems himself so that they would connect the story better. It is quite similar to the structure of the Bible. The oldest songs (for example, the creation of the world) are very old, and the newest ones have been composed after the arrival, and cultural domination of Christianity.

You are a very ignorant man, anonymous coward.

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 2:19 PM  

@18, @19 'Kalevala' is not an ancient Finnic myth. People treat it like the Finnish equivalent to the Eddas, but in reality 'Kalevala' was written by Elias Lönnrot in 1835, a significant reworking of the folk traditions of finnic-speaking peoples of Russia. (The main source was a guy named Arkhip Ivanovich Perttunen, from a place called Ladvozero.) The 'Kalevala' also includes obvious allusions to the Virgin Mary, so to say that it preserved any sort of ancient pagan 'purity' would be wrong.

You could say the same thing about the Eddas and Snorri Sturluson. You could say the same thing about the Iliad and Homer. Just because that's when they were written down doesn't mean that they don't reflect a much older tradition.

Also, D&D is obviously based on Jack Vance, not Tolkien. The random and ill-considered Tolkien references in D&D are there only to make it more palatable to normies; Tolkien is a classic and timeless author with universal appeal.

Depends on if you mean D&D as written by Gary Gygax alone, or D&D as interpreted by all kinds of writers at TSR even as early as the early to mid-80s. Tolkiens influence may have been somewhat limited in the very early years of the game, but it very, very quickly grew.

Oh no, it goes much deeper than that. The philosophy of D&D is Vancian philosophy, the cosmology of D&D is Vancian, and D&D gameplay is based on Vancian characters doing Vancian adventures.

Eh. I'm not impressed. Much of that is as likely to have come from Howard of Leiber—probably a good deal moreso, actually—than from Vance.

Ultimately this is what made D&D successful -- roleplaying Cugel is fun, while roleplaying somebody like Aragorn or Conan not so much.

That's not true at all. All kinds of people like roleplaying characters that are more like Aragorn or Conan. It's generally assumed so, in fact.

You're projecting your own tastes into everyone else a bit too much.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 2:20 PM  

There is a raison d'être for the continued existence for the songs, so that they were preserved until Lönnrot's time. But I won't tell it to you yet, because I expect more amusing theories from anonymous coward.

Blogger S1AL October 13, 2015 2:26 PM  

Because Finns were reading barbarians with only the barest semblance of a written language?

:D

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 2:27 PM  

We were, but that's incidental.

Mikael Agricola is to be thanked for the existence of written language, and then Aleksis Kivi for giving it prestige.

Blogger S1AL October 13, 2015 2:30 PM  

Being largely of British (Isles) and German ancestry, I mostly have the Romans to thank. And, sadly, the French to some extent.

Blogger L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright October 13, 2015 2:35 PM  

Wasn't Jack Vance a stronger influence on D&D than Tolkien? They even used his spell system (memorizing spells you then forget.) The earlier versions even used some of his spell names.

Blogger L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright October 13, 2015 2:37 PM  

Lol I see a dozen other people said the same thing. I think Vance is not read as much today, but he is one of John's favorite authors. The Vancian influence in the original D&D is pretty obvious, but I can see the point that Tolkien has had an effect on the way players interpret the game now.

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 2:39 PM  

Wasn't Jack Vance a stronger influence on D&D than Tolkien?

Arguably.

They even used his spell system (memorizing spells you then forget.)

Sort of. Calling D&D magic "Vancian" is kinda a thing, but its debatable the degree to which D&D magic actually resembled magic in Jack Vance.

The earlier versions even used some of his spell names.

A handful. Most of the Vancian influence was superficial and cosmetic, in my opinion. Vance was one of many influences, and his influence is often overstated.

Blogger L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright October 13, 2015 2:39 PM  

Interesting that you say Finnish is like Latin, Markku. I had heard quite the opposite that Finnish and Hungarian were like each other, but were two of the very few European languages not based on Latin.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 2:41 PM  

In pronunciation. Finnish is also almost exactly like Japanese. It is an obvious way to map the written to the spoken, independently invented by many different people.

However, Hungarian is also similar in its structure, to a degree where it is obvious we have had same ancestry.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 2:46 PM  

Well, unless you go to certain esoteric theories in which they aren't independently invented.

If you do, then Finns are the tribe of Levi of Israel, and the Japanese are Nestorians.

I'm sure Automatthew would LOVE to discuss all this....

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian October 13, 2015 2:55 PM  

@6

I can imagine the first contact of Christianity with Suomenusko

-You will go to Hell! You will suffer forever!
-Yes?
-I don't think you are reading me. Suffer. Forever.
-Yes?


HA! Nice show.

Blogger Harry Spitz October 13, 2015 2:56 PM  

This is cool!
I remember all of that stuff and have read most of the books listed under "inspirational reading." Is there a book attached to this appendix?

Blogger buwaya October 13, 2015 3:01 PM  

"I mentioned on Wright's blog a number of months ago that we are sliding into a Dark Age. Nothing new in culture or art is being made, and much is being lost. "

All those ... moments will be lost in time, like tears...in rain. Time to die.

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 3:09 PM  

In pronunciation.

That's a bit of a red herring, though. English has migrated in pronunciation from Old English considerably due to various well documented sound shifts: i-mutation, the Great Vowel Shift, etc. English is unusual in its pronunciation of the alphabet that is common to most of Europe. Most other languages, on the other hand, use the alphabet very similarly. It's not to suggest that Latin and Finnish have much in common other than their alphabet, which lacking any major sound shifts such as happened in English after spelling started to become standardized, would be true for any other alpabetic European language.

If you do, then Finns are the tribe of Levi of Israel, and the Japanese are Nestorians.

I'm sure Automatthew would LOVE to discuss all this....


I would! Although I have to agree that this probably isn't the venue...

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 3:12 PM  

Swedish and German are quite unlike Finnish in pronunciation too. Italian is somewhat similar.

Blogger Markku October 13, 2015 3:16 PM  

And French...

Let's not even talk about French.

Blogger Gaiseric October 13, 2015 3:33 PM  

Well, yeah. French pronunciation makes no sense whatsoever unless you've specifically studied it.

OpenID cirsova October 13, 2015 4:47 PM  

@Harry
It's the appendix to the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master Guide http://amzn.com/0935696024

@Markku I can't hold a candle to Jeffro, but I talk about old pulp stories and gaming at Cirsova.

OpenID anonymos-coward October 13, 2015 4:49 PM  

There is a raison d'être for the continued existence for the songs, so that they were preserved until Lönnrot's time. But I won't tell it to you yet, because I expect more amusing theories from anonymous coward.

You missed the point, which is that the 'Kalevala' is neither ancient, nor Finnish. (Finnic, not Finnish.) Sorry to burst your nationalist bubble.

Eh. I'm not impressed. Much of that is as likely to have come from Howard of Leiber—probably a good deal moreso, actually—than from Vance.

You've obviously never read Howard nor Vance. Your impression of Howard seems to be formed by the stupid Schwarzenegger movie. Real-world Howard was much closer to what we today consider Lovecraft to be like. (Meanwhile the real Lovecraft is not at all like how he's seen via all those Cthulhu memes.)

That's not true at all. All kinds of people like roleplaying characters that are more like Aragorn or Conan. It's generally assumed so, in fact.

The problem is that it's impossible to roleplay Aragorn in D&D. The system doesn't support characters making moral choices or being guided by honor, for example. No matter who you roleplay you end up playing a cugelian tragicomic immoral guy who is an object of blind fate's practical jokes. (The fact that the sole purpose of the game is to kill monsters and steal treasure should clue you in. No option to rule a kingdom or run a temple.)

Blogger buwaya October 13, 2015 5:57 PM  

"The problem is that it's impossible to roleplay Aragorn in D&D. The system doesn't support characters making moral choices or being guided by honor, for example. No matter who you roleplay you end up playing a cugelian tragicomic immoral guy who is an object of blind fate's practical jokes. (The fact that the sole purpose of the game is to kill monsters and steal treasure should clue you in. No option to rule a kingdom or run a temple.)"

Mine could and did - rule cities, build castles and the like. And had good reasons to build characters and stay in character. This is entirely up to the DM. One with an imagination and a devotion to building a world and telling a story, and not as a facilitator for some point-accumulation process or legalistic adjudicator of rules. The system is there as an aid and a framework to the story-builder, not for its own sake.
That was the 1970's approach, when the rules were minimalist. I can't imagine taking the later massive tomes full of tables and complex rules seriously. It seems to me that all just gets in the way.
Oh well, havent DM'ed in 35 years, I don't know how they do it now.

Blogger buwaya October 13, 2015 6:01 PM  

Well, I lie, at various times when the kids were younger and wanted to play D&D we did a few dungeons with no rules, I just winged it with six-sided dice and memories.
The story is everything.

Blogger Pseudotsuga October 13, 2015 6:18 PM  

Part of the brilliance of ueber-linguist Tolkien is that he worked out a system by which Quenya evolved (or devolved) by regular "rules" into Sindarin, as if Finnish had become Welsh over centuries. As Quenya and Finnish match in pronunciation, so do Sindarin and Welsh. As a Welsh student (non-native), I find that I can read Sindarin smoothly, and I can identify parts of speech (although the vocabulary is, obviously, not the same at all)
@41: Your statement about the Kalevala seems hung up on its compilation or publication date, rather than the age of the collected pieces. So, yes, the Kalevala as a single work is not ancient--that's Lonnrot's work. But the elements which he collected, and then deliberately constructed to create his own "mythology" (exactly as Tolkien did) are of varying ages, so your criticism is only partly valid.
I would also disagree that it is impossible to roleplay figures like Aragorn in D&D. It is true that the rules were conceived as a way to re-enact "low-fantasy" stories (sword and sorcery, pulpish stuff). But it is also entirely possible for a DM and players, if they so desire, to become Lords and Kings in a "high fantasy" setting by modifying the campaign/dungeon setting and some of the rules. This is what Ed Simbalist's Chivalry and Sorcery (from 1977) was trying to do. (I used to have those rulebooks...I wonder where they went?)
So if players treated the D&D books as reference guides rather than rule books, it was entirely to, as you say, rule a kingdom or run a temple, rather than the standard adventuring tropes: travel to far places, meet interesting monsters, and steal their treasure.
How often was this done? I don't personally know any campaigns that developed this way, but my personal experience is very limited, and is not reliable here.

Blogger Cail Corishev October 13, 2015 7:07 PM  

I don't know about the newer systems, but in the Basic (BECMI) set, Gygax and Arneson repeatedly say the dice and rules are just a tool, and the DM should always feel free to ignore them in favor of making the game enjoyable. You can roll a crapload of dice, especially if you use all the optional rolls for things like morale, but you can (and should) ignore rolls and substitute your own decisions where it makes sense.

One thing that surprised me when playing for the first time in nearly 20 years was how fragile the characters start out (especially compared to computer games), so it takes so little bad luck to wipe them out. My four PCs had about 4hp each, AC between 2-7. Typical. I grabbed a module for levels 1-2, and the first encounter they have is with 8 kobolds armed with short bows: 1d6 damage each. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, my guys are dead. It was a bloodbath. I said, "Okay, have you learned a lesson now about peeking and listening before you charge in? Good, let's roll time back 10 minutes and start over." But even with the advantage of surprise, they would have been wiped out again if I hadn't made some decisions on the fly to adjust some numbers. It made more sense to assume the module was just too hard for the party and needed adjustment, than to bore them with repeated death scenes.

Anyway, it does become more work for the DM as the players become higher level and want to advance from dungeon crawling to leading armies and maintaining strongholds. They did introduce rules and charts for those things in the C and M sets, but there are so many more possibilities that the DM really has to build more of a story on the fly. Role-playing lieges and vassals is trickier than rolling dice on behalf of zombies, but they definitely wanted people to feel free to expand the game into those things and any other scenario they wished.

Blogger Cail Corishev October 13, 2015 7:26 PM  

Pseudotsuga, it was in high school 30-ish years ago, so my memory is hazy, but we did some of that. (We used the BECMI rules with some monsters and weapons borrowed from AD&D.) My players were able to get involved in a war and use some of the siege rules, and they also explored another plane of existence one time.

It takes a while to get PCs to that point. In BECMI, 9th level is called "Name" level, where a PC is generally considered to have developed enough reputation to start attracting vassals and build a power base of some sort, so he can start getting involved in the political side of the world. Say you play weekly, so your PCs level-up about once a month, that means it'll take them most of a year to get to that point -- assuming your group holds together and sticks with the same campaign, they don't get killed, and their players don't get bored with them and switch to someone new.

With experienced players, you could start at higher levels, but I think most people prefer to build their characters up from the start. (I do, anyway.) And some people just prefer dungeon crawling, and want to fight bigger, badder stuff rather than changing to a different type of game.

Blogger Desiderius October 13, 2015 11:46 PM  

Pseudotsuga,

"Part of the brilliance of ueber-linguist Tolkien is that he worked out a system by which Quenya evolved (or devolved) by regular "rules" into Sindarin, as if Finnish had become Welsh over centuries."

Well, yeah, that was his field - philology. It used to be a thing before proto-SJWs killed it in the early 20th century. Tolkien fought a rear-guard battle in that war.

Blogger Pseudotsuga October 14, 2015 12:06 AM  

@47:
Tolkien was one of the reasons I learned Old English, and Middle English, and Welsh. (Not Finnish, though...sorry Markku!)
He was, in many ways, a philologist's philologist. Hey, he contributed to the OED, after all!
But his form of classical liberal arts education which gave rise to him (and the other Inklings) disappeared in the roaring inrush of the modern after WWII. His rear-guard action was as heroic as Beowulf's last defense against the dragon-- glorious, but fated to die nonetheless. Much of that sadness permeates MiddleEarth.

Blogger Desiderius October 14, 2015 12:27 AM  

"Much of that sadness permeates MiddleEarth."

Agreed. It's ironic that Markku seems to miss that aspect.

There is indeed a hope, but just a fool's hope. In much of the Silmarillion, there is little enough even of that.

Blogger Desiderius October 14, 2015 12:31 AM  

"fated to die nonetheless"

There is just enough of the divine spark in it that I wouldn't count on it staying dead...

Blogger Dirk Manly October 14, 2015 12:08 PM  

I would mark the start of the fall being when the wargame company Avalon Hill went ouf ot business. Video games were not only appealing to the larger segment of the public which can't handle a game with a 10-page rule book, but also provided the easy route for those who have the brain power but who are just plain lazy.

Show an AHGC catalog to a modern 25-year old, even IN THE ARMY, and they are just flummoxed. What do you mean, it's not a video game?

No, the demise of Simulation Publications, Inc (SPI) isn't in there, because the decision to offer lifetime subscriptions to a magazine with a game in every issue doomed the company to bankruptcy. One-time fee for unlimited future costs (and even your deceased customers don't necessarily get unsubscribed!) which cannibalize product sales (the games in the magazines were a substantial portion of the SPI catalog) is not the road to financial success.

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