Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Classic Priming

It's been nearly a week since my last three posts, and I've been using my (little) free time since then to think about my "theme" and just exactly what I want to write. It's tough, because there's a lot going on in there "world" of D&D gaming.

Hold that thought.

First, let's start with someone else's blog. If you haven't read The Retired Adventurer's essay Six Cultures of Play, you really should. I've read it multiple times over the last couple months, trying to absorb it; yesterday, I listened to a podcast reading of the essay (while doing household chores), and feel like I've got an even better grasp of these concepts...trying to see how they fit with my own experiences AND those reports from others that I've read about. With regard to Dungeons & Dragons, two thoughts keep drumming in my brain when I consider the development/evolution of role-playing:
  1. Is it too late to close the barn door?
  2. Should I even be worried about the escaped horse?
I know several, very respectable minds who would say the answer to #2 is a definitive NO, and thus #1 isn't even worth bothering about. This is the mindset of, "hey, I have my game, I'll run it how I want, and everyone else can go to hell." Other, less respectable, minds feel the same way...or at least reach the same conclusion: "it is what it is," they say.

And, yes, there are folks who just want to find a way to make money off whichever way the wind happens to be blowing. A war profiteer can sell guns to both sides of a conflict, after all.

But I am a jackass. And I have made a bit of a rep for myself railing against (and failing to accept) just "what is." Shouting in the darkness is pretty much what I let's fucking go!

In recent days, I have come to the conclusion that there is only ONE TRUE edition of Dungeons & Dragons. This is, of course, patently and provably false, as any gamer with half a brain can tell you: people of all stripes continue to play every edition (and variant) ever published (by my count: about 13) IN ADDITION TO two dozen or more various hacks, heartbreakers, retro-clones, and homages. Yes, I agree...I am an f'ing idiot to make such a statement.

There is only ONE TRUE (published) edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, I suck and I'm wrong, and I can feel the rotten fruit and garbage folks are pelting me with, even as I write this. And the HATE...the venomous hatred that folks will have for hearing me say such a dastardly thing. Because I'm guessing a lot of folks (well, my readers anyway) know in their heart of hearts the truth (or suspect the truth) of my statement, and it won't necessarily sit well with them for a VARIETY of reasons. And the harder that sits with you, the more pushback and resentment and hatred I expect to receive. 

[maybe some puzzlement, too...but those folks have been puzzled throughout this series. I have an inkling of WHY that is, but I don't want to address it...not in this post, anyway]

So, go ahead, say it with me. You all know what the "one true edition" of D&D is, don't you? I don't even need to write it (though I will), because for anyone who's reading this blog post, there's probably a particular image of a particular edition that comes to mind when one hears the term "Dungeons & Dragons," a color illustration that (for whatever reason) is thoroughly branded in your brain in association with the game. Probably. I'd guess at least 90%. Even if the image has NOTHING to do with the edition (or game) that you currently play/run.

AD&D. The "first" edition. Gygax's opus. That's the one: the one true game. 

Not OD&D (all respect to Arneson's legacy and Rob Kuntz's opinion...yes, I've read your book). The original books were a proto-game, something in it's formative stages, an add-on to Chainmail, a rules-ifying of Braunstein. Not B/X (although that's still the best introduction to learning/teaching the game) nor any of the other "basic" versions. And definitely not Cook's cleaned-up 2E or any of the later, innovated versions. Certainly not the currently published 5E which (in my opinion) makes a mockery of earlier systems with its attempt to compromise on all fronts. 

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, that hoary, draconian, curmudgeonly trilogy of tomes (DMG, PHB, MM) crystalized the "system" first begun with three Little Brown Books...three books that were so woefully incomplete that they led to half a dozen supplementary volumes and countless variations of The Game across college campuses in the U.S. and military bases throughout the world. AD&D by itself...with no additional volumes necessary...was whole and complete. Everything else added later...the Fiend Folio, Deities & Demigods, Unearthed Arcana, Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, etc....were at best ICING and, at worse, blatant ca$h grabs. Whether you like them or not (I like several), ALL are superfluous to the game. Many do more to BREAK the game's function than actually aiding it.


It is not a perfect game...there are few (if any) games that ARE perfect. It has inconsistencies and missteps. Polymorphing undead. Alignment language. Sex-based limitations on ability scores. Color spray. Many examples abound...nearly all are eminently correctable without destroying functionality (i.e. without breaking the game). And while not perfect...and definitely a tad on the "complex" is a wonderful game. Extremely playable. Incredibly enjoyable. My favorite game of all time, and one of the greatest games ever created.

And one of the most misunderstood.

And I'm not talking "misunderstood" because of inherent misogyny or colonialist attitudes or whatever. The misunderstanding I'm talking about is How To Play The Game and What The Game Is About...basic foundational pieces of game play, in other words. Part of this is due to ineptitude on the part of the author (Gygax). Part of this is due to a grandfathered community of OD&D gamers already playing with wide variation prior to AD&D's publication. Part of this is due to new entrants to the hobby, coming in with incoherent ideas of what D&D play IS and not being disabused of their notions by a publishing company (under ANY banner or ownership group) whose aim has been and continues to be turn a profit from this "thing" (Dungeons & Dragons) that we don't quite understand ourselves

John Bell's essay (cited at the beginning of this post) fails to address it within any single one of his "six cultures of play," but of the six it is the Classic model that comes closest, specifically with this line:
The point of playing the game in classic play is not to tell a story (tho' it's fine if you do), but rather the focus of play is coping with challenges and threats that smoothly escalate in scope and power as the PCs rise in level.
[emphasis added by me, as usual]

Bell may have been more accurate in stating that "classic" play is not meant to "tell a story" in the same way as a trad, neo-trad, or "story gamer" tells a story, but the point of play is NOT limited to wandering around (and blundering into) challenges of proportionately increasing progression. D&D, as played in the proper style, is not a video game, and does not operate under the assumptions of video game play. Or rather, it has SOME similarity to...generally RPGs (here I'll cite The Bard's Tale and SSI's Phantasie III: The Wrath of Nikademus) which took their cues from Dungeons & Dragons, but which were limited by their particular medium...namely, the requirement of being finite and requiring an endpoint to their "story."

Correct play of D&D (and, yes, again, throw your tomatoes at me and insert your own air quotes every time I write "correct") involves the telling of not one but THREE stories, only two of which matter much, and NONE of which require any sort of "emotional satisfaction" from an unfolding narrative structure. These are:
  1. The Setting Background
  2. The PCs Actions
  3. The Campaign's Development
The setting background is all the DM-facing stuff that goes into preparation before the game is played. It is the creation and outlining of lands and power structures, determining the whys and wherefores of any dungeons, "histories" of the world, thoughts on why monsters exist, and conceptualizing how magic functions. It's all the various bits and pieces of "fluff" that the DM must add to make a setting suitable for running a D&D game; it can be amorphous or specific or gradually built-up over many sessions of gaming. It can be based on real world stuff, fiction novels or film, or anything else. This particular story matters far less to the players than the Dungeon Master, as "sensibility" of a setting is only a secondary concern compared to the action at the table, assuming the DM is competent at their craft (i.e. if the players are more thrilled discussing the setting's background than "what's going on" in play, then there's a major issue with the DM's ability to generate engagement).

The second story being told, and the one of most immediate concern for everyone at the table, is the story of the player characters' actions. This is game play itself and (as I've written before) it should have all the narrative structure and theming of a really crazy camping trip...which is to say: not much. It is simply the story of what the PCs did during any particular game session. It is not concerned with PC backstories or drama, it is concerned with ACTIONS. Was there a fight? Was a dungeon explored? Did anyone die? Was there a really noteworthy victory won? Was a PC transformed into something "unnatural?" Was the shopkeeper a surly cuss? Did the goblins become unexpected allies? Etc. D&D, correctly played, provides player engagement in the moment because of the circumstances of the game, not because of any "meaningful constructed narrative." And it is that player engagement that leads to emotional investment of a much deeper sort than one pre-constructed prior to play.

The final story being told over the course of a true and proper D&D game is that of the campaign's development. This is the story...the legacy really...of a DM's setting/world after having been met by the players. As in real life, no one knows when the game begins just who will end up being the hero, who will be the goat, who is destined to die in tragic (or humorous) fashion or how the history of the campaign world will be written. Depending on the length of the campaign being played, the setting may be RADICALLY changed over time, with kingdoms rising and falling, regions getting "nuked" with magic or monsters, old dungeons being cleaned out, and new dungeons being discovered...not to mention all the failures and successes along a path littered with the corpses of dead (and raised and re-killed) adventurers. By the end of such a campaign...IF it ends...a common theme may be discovered, but just as likely one may find an interesting "world history" featuring the antics of many important (player character) individuals of a minor or major impact.

The problem with "classic" play as defined by Bell...and ONE of the reasons behind the shift to "trad" when imagination and/or effort on the part of the Dungeon Master fails the players at the table. When there is NO engagement, because the world is too simplistic, boring, undefined, unrealized...when the game is nothing but a scaled up version of the Dungeon! board game, then yes, players will try to find their OWN methods of having fun, creating dramatic backgrounds to spice up a bland setting, inventing funny voices and quirky personalities for bland avatars that represent nothing more than a collection of numbers scribbled on paper. Gygax himself recognized this and wrote about in his section The Ongoing Campaign (DMG, p. 112):
"...there must be some purpose to it all. There must be some backdrop against which adventures are carried out, and no matter how tenuous the strands, some web which connects the evil and the good, the opposing powers, the rival states and various peoples. This need not be evident at first, but as play continues, hints should be given to players, and their characters should become involved in the interaction and struggle between these vaster entities. Thus, characters begin as less than pawns, but as they progress in expertise, each eventually realizes that he or she is a meaningful, if lowly, piece in the cosmic game being conducted. When this occurs, players then have a dual purpose to their play...their actions having meaning above and beyond personal aggrandizement."
"Classic" play is thus NOT limited to "challenge-based play," solely for the sake of progressing to fighting bigger monsters with larger treasure hoards. Good play on the part of players does lead to advancement, earning them the right and (hopefully) ability to take on such challenges, but this isn't the endgame of play itself...not by a long shot!

Likewise, please note that Gygax's text is NOT relating to the establishment of domains and strongholds. As he writes in the paragraph just preceding: "...even your most dedicated players will occasionally find that dungeon levels and wilderness castles grow stale, regardless of subtle differences and unusual challenges." He is talking about sustaining campaigns through something more, in order to stave off "participant attrition" and "enthusiast ennui." The complete envisioned by Gygax and codified in his AD&D tomes...was supposed to be more than that.

What is was never supposed to be, though, was what it would become after his ouster from the company in 1986. Every iteration has of the game since Gygax closed his formulation of the DMG (circa 1979), every variant...even Gygax's own!...have taken the game farther and farther away from the fashion in which it was meant to be played. This drift in the game's design parameters cannot entirely be laid at the feet of the publisher, of course (more on that in a second), but it is the publishers (TSR, WotC, Hasbro, etc.) who ultimately bear responsibility for how the game is played. Only the publisher, as owner and caretaker, have real authority and influence over the customer base.

And the current publishers have, largely, abdicated their responsibility, instead focusing on marketing and selling their brand. "Have fun! Make the game what you want!" they say [so long as you continue to put money in our pocket...that's the unspoken bit]. Consider this: if they ACTUALLY came down and said "this is the way you're supposed to play D&D" would there be the confusion and arguments and misinformation about the game being spread far and wide on Ye Old Internets? Would there be blogs and talking heads decrying one edition or another? Would there be youngsters turning to Matt Mercer when trying to figure out HOW one is supposed to play this D&D game?

So, instead, you have people buy the game...and then abandon it on a shelf. You have people that "dabble" a bit...and then move on to other hobbies. You have enthusiasts who lose their enthusiasm...and drift into RPGs that better facilitate their priorities of game play. 

And you have a plethora of people screaming bloody murder at each other over something that should be the most amazing, innovative game ever invented!

NOW...when I write that there is only ONE TRUE edition of D&D, I'm not being facetious. Nor am I being judgmental of your particular preferred edition of play. Heck, I'm about to publish another supplement for the B/X game myself (before the end of the year, fingers crossed), so it would be great for me personally if you were open to other versions of the rules!

I'm not trying to denigrate your tastes, your style, or anything else. And I'm not saying that AD&D is a perfect game, nor that E. Gary Gygax was a perfect designer. I'm just saying it's the greatest game I've ever encountered, and Mr. Gygax was largely responsible for its best iteration. And I'd like more people to play it...and play it in the manner it was intended, which is neither "classic" nor "trad." Nor is it (generally) in the fashion of the OSR, nor of the OC/Neo-Trad school.

Right at this very moment, I have a post-it stuck to my DMG with 7 elements of "true D&D" jotted down. In a way, these elements are the things I'd like to institute as a replacement for the mythic Old School ethos I rebutted in a prior post. They are not meant to function as a new "primer"...I suspect none of my readers need such elementary instruction in D&D game play...but they are meant to "prime" the reader, as in to make ready (e.g. "prime the pump") for game play, both as a player and as a Dungeon Master.

That will be tomorrow's post, since this one has already gone long. Please feel free to post your scathing denouncements in the comments section.


  1. As much as I want to disagree and say that OD&D is the one true edition, I must grant that it is AD&D wherein miserly characters who choose to live in squalor can randomly die of disease or parasitic infection. Which pretty much makes it the best rpg ever.

    1. This makes absolutely no sense to me, though I am glad it is appreciated.

  2. The One True Edition, for you certainly.

    Objectively there are 10 (or so depending on how you want to count it) True Editions of D&D. Whether or not they don't "feel like" D&D is immaterial.

    Subjectively the only "one true edition of D&D" is the one on your table that gives you joy at that time.

    Trying to find a "pure" or "true" edition of any game is folly and doomed for failure. Gygax didn't even play his so-called one true edition of D&D as it was written.
    Hell I have been to conventions where I have played in games I have written at cons and wondered what the GM was doing. Note, not always in a bad way.

    You mention "blatant ca$h grabs" but wasn't AD&D an attempt to not only isolate Arneson from future money but also to cut out the burgeoning DIY market growing at the time?

    So, sorry. "One true-wayism" is fine for religions, not for games.

    Tell me about your favorite edition and why it is your favorite and I am all ears and enthusiastic.

    Tell me there is only one edition and I assume you just haven't experienced any other game.

    1. "Feel like" has nothing to do with it, man.

      - OD&D was a proto-game, an add-on, constantly evolving.
      - Basic versions were designed to be incomplete introductions.
      - Later editions became something OTHER than the original, complete version.

      You can...and whatever flavor suits your fancy (and those of your table) at any given moment. I'm NOT telling you to follow MY WAY or I will spit on your grave or something. I'm not even say it is a TRUE WAY. Just the TRUE D&D.
      ; )

      My posts to follow will stem (in part) from this idea. Apologies if it ruffles feathers...can't be helped.

      [BTW, I wouldn't even say "One True Way-ism" IS "fine for religions." Different people/cultures need different belief systems. I'm happy to discuss my religion with interested parties, but I'm not an evangelist for it. Personally, I've always been turned off by pushy proselytizing]

  3. I mentioned before I was a kid with blue book basic and a PHB and a copy of ready ref sheets.

    We played AD&D but it was what we could grasp, chose to grasp and invented or perverted. It had HPs, d20s and AC. The rest was there ish. I know we said fuck level limits as they didn't make sense to us, we ditched the antipathy tables as they were someone else's world ideals, we had continual light shit everywhere, we tracked food and water, encumbrance was made up on the fly to make carrying 100,000 GPS seem hard to do.

    What were we playing? It was and wasn't D&D. We thought we were playing D&D. I think we were playing D&D.

    I know this thing you grasp at is important this meaning or foundation or something. It will work for you. I feel it won't prove, solve nor enlighten anyone else save this is how you see play. Thats cool but in the end it's going to be Blackrazor sees this, a metric shitton of people will see different. That's not bad its just how it is.

    I think this journey is deeply personal and being such may fail to translate well beyond your perspectives.

    D&D isn't a platonic form, there is no true d&d in our human experience. It is all wonderful shadows on the wall. These shadows sparked our imaginations- our shared imaginations.

    But trying to ferret out what shadow is more substantial than another... it's your quest Mr. QUIXOTE.

    I hope your journey ends with more play more fun and more imaginings I can steal warp and use in my own shadow play.

    1. Certainly my journey isn’t everyone’s. Thanks for reading and best wishes on YOUR journey.

  4. I love bringing young players, or "modern" players into B/X. It's truly cleansing and eye-opening for players who grew up with 3.5e, 4e or 5e. But my preference is AD&D (simplified). My simplifications seem to be in line with Gary's own: "I did not use psionics, generally ignored weapons vs. armor type and weapon speed." – Gary Gygax, ENWorld Q&A, 24th January, 2003

    1. B/X…especially the “B”…is extremely well crafted, even in terms of the presumptions it instills. All due respect to Holmes (who first pioneered the idea of such a work), Moldvay’s text is, in my opinion, the best introduction to D&D ever published. I still refer ALL newcomers to it, young and old.

      But AD&D is king.

      One thing about that EGG quote Sir Rob…a quote I’ve read before, and don’t doubt as far as “truthful intent:” GIVEN that Gygax was the final arbiter of what actually went into the AD&D books (from OD&D, supplements, Strategic Review mag, etc.) then Why O Why would he include things that he never used? Certainly there are OTHER rules in the OD&D books that failed to make it into AD&D (hit locations, for example, certain SR monsters, ten second segments, etc.). Other things were edited, changed, added and subtracted. Why leave on these “useless appendages?” The psionic rules are fairly well-detailed, for example…why devote a whole appendix and page of combat tables for such a system that never saw use?

      My GUESS is that Gygax liked the idea of such things but that such rules fell by the wayside in the heat of play, as often happens…that his quote is a summation of play as it occurred, not as it was desired or designed. But maybe I’m wrong and that was NOT the case…maybe other folks at TSR insisted on the inclusion of such systems and EGG was striving to appease them?

      It’s a mystery I doubt I’ll ever solve, but I do wonder about it.

    2. I expect managing people and expectations led to Gary not being more editorial. Especially when so much detail has been developed, it's hard to bring down the cleaver. I pulled the Gary quote from here:

      Additional quotes on that page provide more insight:
      There is often player pressure to add complexities and complications to rules and systems, such additions being urged in areas that the players like and believe to be critical to enjoyment of the game. I did that for some writing in OAD&D and regretted it considerably thereafter – mainly weapons vs. armor types and psionics. – Gary Gygax, ENWorld Q&A, 24th July, 2003
      In all, I included the details because of insistance of some avid palyers that were in touch with me, regretted listening to them, for the RPG is not suited to combat simulation... As I noted above, we never used the weapons vs. armor type adjustments. – Gary Gygax, ENWorld Q&A, 7th September, 2005

      Seems like he's throwing some people under the bus. Who are these "players" who had so much content influence on the original AD&D printing?

    3. Yet another mystery for sure.

      Re: weapon vs. AC (specifically): surely THAT is a holdover from Chainmail, where the chance to kill an individual in a man-to-man duel was largely linked to weapon vs. armor. Such things DO matter in granular simulation…which D&D (and AD&D) largely does away with.

      Much as I’m inclined to streamline (i.e. “excise”) systems, the use of 21st century technology (specifically spreadsheets) makes it pretty simple to incorporate all the fiddly bits. Just as an aside: I’m currently writing up individual sheets for every class using A) the available weapon proficiencies (per the PHB) and B) the tables themselves to make an easy to use macro-list. I admit it’s a lot of work if only concerned with human v. human conflict (unless your PCs aren’t fighting many monsters), but at least the set-up will prevent ME from crying “Ugh! Too hard!” Let the Swiss Army Knife fighter revel in his/her weapon choice!

      [also: we always played with psionics back in the day. Although I’m not currently doing so, I plan on incorporating those rules once I’ve had a chance to kit-bash some spreadsheets for them, too! I mean…seriously…why not? Verisimilitude? The game has dragons, “medusae,” mind flayers, demons, and otyugh. Why not mental powers? F**k it…let’s roll]
      ; )

  5. Sadly much of this post is too dense and arcane for me to completely understand it. It seems written in a foreign tongue by a learned scholar and I am neither a native speaker nor an academic.

    AD&D was both the game that solidified my interest in the hobby and completely turned me off to Dungeons and Dragons. The more I played other games the more flawed AD&D seemed.

    It may be the king of D&D but it no longer rules it's kingdom and its people have largely fled. I am curious as to why that is.

  6. Luckily, I don't have half a brain... so I'm with you on there only being one true published version of D&D. However, I claim that it's actually B/X and the 3 AD&D books are apocryphal supplements that go into exhaustive, though unnecessary, detail.

  7. It's a point that I've struggled to put into words before, but your third "story that matters" is, I think, the essential one that's lost when discussing how D&D campaigns are meant to work. The story that matters, long term, is the story of the campaign - everything from shifting political winds and the rise and fall of kingdoms, to the little adventures that take place when this or that band of rave-robbing ne'er-do-wells loots a dungeon. But the key thing is that the "story" isn't about one chosen hero, or a tight fellowship of protagonists. It's about the whole tapestry; the whole tableau.

    "Middlemarch" and "Game of Thrones" make for poor analogies to what I'm talking about here. Even less apt is the notion of an ant farm, but at least that idea reminds me of the concept of the "sim" game (like SimAnt, SimCity, and the like). We could, perhaps, conceive of a proper D&D milieu as a "Sim Fantasy Land," but instead of the nameless flashing tiles of SimCity, we know the names of all the many adventurers and faction leaders running around this world. And the world itself is a proving ground: while many of the adventurers will die, some will rise up and become mighty heroes (or villains), conquerors, kings, archmages, planes-travelers, demigods…

    Meh. I still haven't quite finished puzzling out what I mean by this. Which is why it's just a comment and not a blog post of my own.

    1. I am not familiar with “Middlemarch,” but I have at least watched the GoT TV series. It’s not a bad analogy to a D&D campaign unfolding…if you remove the predestination of the Stark family characters (and to be fair, most of them DO die…and fall by the wayside, over several seasons worth of “adventure”).

      But no…GoT, despite having elements of “fantasy adventure” isn’t very representative of D&D.

  8. And of course I just can't help but quibble with your take on the edition wars. (It's a pet issue, sue me.) :Þ

    I agree with you that there's only one definitive edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and that's Gygax's First Edition. 100% on board with you there. Every later edition in its lineage is just increasingly injurious and insulting to the kind of game that Gary built.

    But Dungeons & Dragons is another matter entirely. If your contention is that the white box is an unfinished proto-game… well, I disagree, but let's grant that contention for the sake of argument. I'll further add that Holmes Basic and B/X are equally unfinished. (I'm not keen on B/X precisely for its liminal position in the OD&D lineage.)

    The D&D game has its highest expression in Frank Mentzer's BECMI, which easily holds its position alongside AD&D 1E as a fellow tour de force of game design. A twin "greatest game ever." Slightly less iconic perhaps than AD&D, but decidedly more functional at higher experience levels.

    Put that in your dice bag and roll it! :D

    1. @ JH:

      I have a rebuttal for you (re BECMI), but it deserves its own post.

  9. I can chum the water with polemics as well.

    AD&D is a mess. The DMG is a mostly random set of poorly collated notes and sometimes conflicting mechanics.

    The majority of AD&D's decent aspects are found in the first three LBBs. Sure the extra spells are nice but the combat is a broken mire of Gygax's obsessive maximalism and his strange ahistorical weapons obsessions (e.g. spears are bad because primitives used them, but every type of polearm must have a distinct statline). OD&D (The first 3 only - again Gygax ruins stuff with his weird house rules).

    It's precisely because it's not a compleationist mess that OD&D functions -- yes it has voids, but voids are unavoidable, and at least OD&D has a solid simple base set of rules to help referee's fill them. AD&D requires at least as much work to function -- and while I think it can, as a product it's tournament D&D focused on designer control as much as any Chris Perkins' railroad 5E adventure.

    Otherwise I'm on board with your discussion of story and classic play.

    1. I had to look up the word “polemics.” You learn something new every day.
      ; )

      I disagree with your analysis of and comparison between OD&D and AD&D. I didn’t really want these posts to become a discussion / argument between editions, but I was stupid to just assume I could throw out something like “this is it” and not provide additional elaboration / explanation.

      I guess that will be next week’s posts.

    2. I puzzle over the cognitive dissonance that allows the same reader in the same short paragraph to ad hoc deride one system for it's shortcomings - without giving real examples - while alternatively forgiving another system other shortcomings - again, without giving examples - on no more stable a premise than talking with authority.

      It's a sure way to recognize someone talking right through their hat.

    3. Yeah.

      Look, everyone's got their reasons for liking what they like, and I get that. I was just looking at purchasing a French "sword & planet" RPG that has a delightful premise and evocative artwork that I would (probably) never play.

      But my assertion that AD&D is the "best, true edition" isn't based on just personal preference or "what JB likes;" truth be told, there's much about AD&D that doesn't thrill me.

      But I needed a baseline for my thesis. AD&D, in my analysis, is it.

    4. And I support that. Any serious meaningful discussion of the problem at hand - deconstructing and thus understanding the game - HAS to supercede phrasing like, "such-and-such is a mess." This is a completely useless and non-fruitful line of dialogue and I'd like to see the participants of D&D adopt a more practical stance on the subject.