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Monday, 6 June 2016

Appendix N is the Most Useless DMG Appendix

Appendix N is the most useless of all the 1e AD&D DMG appendices.

Back when 1st edition was the newest edition, which was when I started playing, we used the crap out of Appendices A to E. A, B, and C probably saw the most use. These were the ones with random dungeon terrain, random wilderness terrain and random monster encounters. They were immediately useful in the preparation for and application during actual play. You used the fuck out of these; in fact, outside of the sections on magic items and gems, those three appendices were undoubtedly the MOST used sections of the entire book for me.  It was a big part of where I got my love of random tables, and also learned the lessons about using them properly (for example, making a dungeon with Appendix A 'by the book' would almost never work right, so you needed to learn how to adjust tables to fit what you actually wanted and what actually worked).

Appendix D was for "lower planes creatures" and became a huge inspiration for weird and crazy monsters.
Appendix E was purely a practical section: it listed in pure stat-block all the monsters, which seems not that sensible but was in fact essential for a young kid that didn't own the Monster Manual yet, or for someone who didn't want to carry both books around with him.  In the days when a D&D game might happen anywhere, and where you already had a backpack full textbooks, that was damn useful!

Even beyond these key choices, though, ALL the other Appendices had some basis in actual PLAYABILITY. Be it tricks, traps, summoned monsters, or the gambling rules; they were all for using.

All except Appendix N.  In actual history, as I lived it at least, Appendix N was the one you just skipped over. The only memory I have of it was once or twice comparing with friends as to how many of the books on it we'd read, and it was always a near-tie, because we'd mostly all read all of the books that were actually popular and none of those that weren't.

Now, even if you were to believe the nostalgia and ideologically-driven delusions of certain OSR segments, even then Appendix N wasn't for using; it was for ruminating on, and thinking deep literary thoughts about, and assigning a seriousness to D&D that in no way matched how we tended to play.  But no one I knew did that kind of bullshit back then; not until "Vampire: the Masquerade" showed up.

Which kind of makes sense, because the retroactive "importance" of Appendix N was largely invented by a reject White-Wolf fanboy and total johnny-come-lately to Old School D&D: James Maliszewski.

Appendix N's popularity only arose because of this entryist, "JMal": an internet kickstarter fraud, World-of-Darkness fanatic and pretend OSR guy, who only got into it when he had the sense to see that White Wolf was dead and that there was rubes to fleece and money to make off the OSR.  It makes sense Maliszewski would claim to love and promote the endless study of the minutiae of Appendix N: it has no play content, but tons of pretentiousness-potential. Appendix N itself was nothing more than just a list of 'cool shit Gygax liked', but in the hands of Maliszewski and his cohorts it was all about pretending to be literary critics and getting to be judgmental about what is "real old school", and finding some kind of quasi-esoteric "primordial UR-D&D" to show you're more old-school than anyone else.

It's all about trying to push an OSR that's exclusionary and reactionary, rather than innovative and creative.

If you want to do stuff that's about creativity, look at EVERY OTHER Appendix in the DMG. Let those inspire you. Let the random tables and the lists and the ideas for play inspire you, rather than looking for some kind of bible of Gygax-Approved books to tell you the only right way to play D&D.

Nobody is suggesting that you not read the books on the list! I've read quite a lot of the books and authors there myself, though certainly not all.

What I am saying is that the J. Maliszewski Serial Wankers Club For Talmudic Studies that has formed around the least-useful appendix in the DMG has chosen to dedicate hours to the study of that Appendix N, and not to Appendices A, B, C, D-M, or O or P, because N suits a goal of creating the attitude that the way one group thinks old-school should be run is the 'right', 'true', 'original' version of some kind of primordial Ur-D&D of which all other versions are just sad falls from some golden age that never was.

If you think the OSR should be about innovation and creativity, about how to create, within the 'box' of the design rules of old-school, amazing NEW stuff, instead of rooting through the Gygax family home's garbage bags in search of old shopping lists to try to get some grasp of how to play D&D as 'purely' as possible, then I would strongly recommend you try to put some real hard time into carefully examining, studying and experimenting with every appendix in the DMG except for Appendix-fucking-N.


RPGPundit

Currently Smoking: Italian Redbark Billiard + Argento Latakia


79 comments:

  1. "You can buy our fond OSR game memories for wholesale!"

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  2. Actually ANYONE, regardless of age, could begin with 1st end. AD&D as long as they started playing after 1977 (isn't that the publication date of the DMG?). Broose, FYI, they didn't publish a limited edition that you committed to memory and were then required to burn so no one else could use it. Used copies are actually quite easy to find and inexpensive. So I don't know if you are a liar but you may be a moron.

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  3. Sorry, I have to disagree about Appendix N. When I started playing at the age of 10 back in the 80s, pretty much all I had read up to that point was Lord of the Rings and a few random fantasy novels that have had so little impact that I can't even remember them. Appendix N got me into the works of Poul Anderson, Fritz Lieber, Michael Moorcock, et. al. While I agree that there's a certain element of navel-gazing in the OSR and that here in 2016 we have a lot more to choose from in terms of our literary inspirations, Appendix N was immensely helpful to me as a young kid just getting into the game.

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    1. Did you live in the countryside?

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    2. Nope. Suburbs of Atlanta.

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    3. Well then I don't understand it. I guess Atlanta was particularly backward.
      Because I started gaming when I was 11 back in the '80s in the suburbs of Edmonton (a city in western canada much smaller than Atlanta), and in libraries, bookstores, garage sales, etc, there was a huge wealth of sci-fi and fantasy readily available.

      I read Leiber and Moorcock and Tolkien and other stuff, but not because of having been saved by the glory of appendix fucking N, but just because those books were out there. I could go to my local public library and walk out every day with fifty sci-fi/fantasy books if I'd wanted to.

      Maybe the public library system in the US is way, way worse than Canada's?

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    4. Okay, let me reiterate this since it seems to have escaped you: I was frakking TEN in the mid-80s. I had previously worked my way through Heinlein and Asimov, but Tolkien was my first taste of fantasy as such. The market was just starting to get over-saturated by Dragonlance and other RPG-based novels. Appendix N broadened my horizons considerably and made me realize that there was a whole world of literature what wasn't knock-off Tolkien-pastiche that had influenced the game I had fallen in love with.

      If it didn't have the same impact on you, fine! We're two different people with two different backgrounds. But don't fall into the kind of condescending left-wing BS that you normally decry to hold up your point just because not everyone agrees with you here.

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    5. And I was about your age at roughly the same time. I mean, great that you actually looked at Appendix N and it enriched your reading experience, but that doesn't change the question of Appendix N's utility in actual play. In my own experience, I did NOT look at Appendix N as a way to find books, but I found a lot of books that were on appendix N either just before, during or shortly after playing D&D, but I found none of them because of Appendix N.

      But even if I had, that wouldn't make Appendix N somehow the most important thing in D&D. For years now a faction of the OSR has treated appendix N as if it was the single most important thing in the entire DMG, maybe in all of AD&D 1e! And that's just bullshit. People should be spending their time asking what lessons they can get from Appendix A, or from the magic item tables, or from the random encounter tables, or whatever. That's what I'm saying.

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  4. “The only memory I have of it was once or twice comparing with friends as to how many of the books on it we'd read, and it was always a near-tie, because we'd mostly all read all of the books that were actually popular and none of those that weren't.”

    That may be part of why you found it useless. I read all the fantasy and science fiction in our local library, which probably took me a few months in one summer. I was older than Michael Bugg when I started gaming, but lived in a very small town. We had no bookstore; I acquired my books from the local supermarket, which was about a 45 minute drive. We went about once every month or two, and I would pick up one recently-published book each time.

    The only books on the list I had read when I got the DMG were the Tolkien books, which I had picked up at a town-wide outdoor book sale one town over. I had read some August Derleth, but it was a Solar Pons book. The only fantasy in that was that August Derleth could write a decent imitation of Sherlock Holmes (I kid, a bit; as a kid, I enjoyed Solar Pons, but not enough to search out more Derleth; more as, geez, I could write this).

    Even after reading the list, I was able to get only a handful of books on it. I just didn't have the resources to search for older books until I went to college, and discovered bookstores. But reading H.P. Lovecraft, Roger Zelazny (newer ones, not mentioned on the list, unless you include “et. al.”), and Conan (comic books, not the Howard stories) did help, I think.

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  5. First of all, I'd love to hear how you tweaked Appendix A, if you think that would be worth a blog post.

    But, regarding Appendix N, you seem to be painting a false dichotomy. I agree that it does not represent any sort guidelines for playing a supposed "true" D&D. But that doesn't mean its inclusion is useless. You may not have found anything useful in it for your games, but I have, because I hadn't read most of those works before. They've given me some ideas for my game. And, aside from that, I enjoyed them, and probably wouldn't have tried tracking down some of these long out of print books otherwise, which in turn led me to reading even more. And that takes me to my next point - Gygax's purpose in adding Appendix N was to inspire people to read, and not just for what it can add to the game. We see the same thing in Chainmail, where he says that he hopes the game might inspire people to study medieval history. The particular list of books he gives just happens to be the ones he likes - what else would a person recommend?

    I agree that the game shouldn't be over-intellectualized, but let's not be anti-intellectual in reaction.

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    1. I am not being anti-intellectual. I strongly encourage people to read many of those books. But the idea that the lists's presence in the book serves as some kind of course of study of Required Reading to "understand True Old School", is White-Wolf-Style bullshit of the worst kind.

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    2. For what it's worth, I googled "appendix n osr", to see if I could find any other things you're talking about, and the first link it gave me turned out to be a post you wrote on this topic on October 31, 2014. It was a much lengthier post, and I think I understand your point better now.

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  6. I was about to agree with you that Appendix N is still the “most” useless appendix, since “most” makes it a relative term, but on looking through the appendices, the most useless for me was appendix E, the alphabetical monster listing. By the time I got the DMG, the Monster Manual was out. And within a year, the Fiend Folio, whose monsters weren’t in the list. I don’t think I ever used appendix E. I looked at it a couple of times, but found it difficult to read across the landscape listings. But that’s just me. I expect some people did have a use for it.

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    1. If you didn't have the Monster Manual though, it was really worthwhile.

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  7. I found Appendix E very useful indeed. The MM was of course the source for monsters, but then when you were plotting out your game environment it was far easier to consult the stats and XP and treasure using Appendix E

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  8. Pundit, The key here is your "as I lived it at least".

    I started playing in 79. I been pretty much playing ever since and all editions. While my group back then looked at Appendix N as just "suggested reading" there was a group of older kids in town that took as "required reading" and pretty much didn't let anyone into their group that had not read all or most of the books.

    I personally was introduced to Lovecraft, Leiber, Vance and Zelazny because of this list.
    It was never to be taken as "holy writ", and I have said as much before.

    It is still useful and I do admit rereading some of these titles as an adult has given me some more insight to the roots of the game.

    So maybe it is just not useful to you.

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    1. It is not useful in the sense of PLAYABILITY. It is for background study, for "theory", or for entertainment purposes. But it can't be used in the middle of a game the way every other appendix can.

      I just find it very notable that the Swine who made the big deal out of that appendix picked the one and only appendix you CAN'T PLAY WITH.

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    2. Actually. After reading some more "Appendix N" books I made subtle shifts in my own gamin style and I began to understand why particular tropes and styles were often used. So yes, for me there was a playability element as someone who had up to that point been mostly interested in horror.

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    3. What I mean by "playability" is that there's no moment in a D&D session where you can say "just a moment, let me consult Appendix N here", like you could with any other appendix in the DMG.

      All the others are mostly random tables or other ways to quickly generate material for actual play AT THE MOMENT.

      Appendix N was intended, as we have now heard from someone was there, to serve as a bibliography of recommended reading. It was not meant to be THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF D&D or holy scripture like the Appendix-N Assholes of the Maliszewski Taliban try to make it out to be.

      Appendix A is VASTLY more important than Appendix N. That's why it's "A" and N isn't.

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    4. Funny, because their are plenty of moments in a Call of Cthulhu game where I can go; "you know what would be cool here, if I stole X from Y story by Z author, and mixed it with A, from B story by C author, I am sure glad I read widely around the Mythos Cannon."

      http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/106251/Stealing-Cthulhu?filters=0_0_0_44502_0

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    5. Call of Cthulhu is a game about a specific literary setting.

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    6. I'd argue about a genre, not setting, though it did fictionally position itself with one setting of the many it took insperation from.

      DnD was a game about a specific genre. Knowing the genre conventions IS useful.

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    7. Even if you look at the books in Appendix N, it would be quite a stretch to claim these were part of a specific genre, at least not anything more ridiculously broad as 'fantasy'.

      On the contrary, D&D BECAME a genre in its own right. A whole bunch of fantasy books AFTER D&D came about ended up drawing from conventions of D&D.

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    8. It was a novel and synthetic genre. But it took almost every single convention from somewhere, you know, Like Tim Kask pointed out down thread.

      Its novelty does nothing to detract from the usefulness of fictional models for what the mechanics are about.

      In fact it only nakes them more useful, as it provides a point of commonality for players, so they have a common language and experience to talk about an idea.

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    11. But that's only something to look at where individual ideas came from. There was no pre-existing "D&D genre". In fact, if you want to look at the origins of the D&D Genre in a literary way, what you need to look at is the RULEBOOKS themselves.

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    12. 'The second was in response to a slew of questions that sort of boiled down to "Where are you (D&D) coming from?" We thought that if more people read Vance's Dying Earth, for example, they would know where the memorizing your spells thing came from.'-Tim Kask(2016)


      Intertextuality is important because it transforms the way we interact with a text.

      Knowing the source of vancian spell casting changes the way we see vancian spell vasting.

      You might find this prima useful http://humanities.wisc.edu/assets/misc/What_Is_Intertextuality.pdf

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    13. AD&D isn't a novel, it's a game.

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    14. Kill Bill is not a novel, it is a film. We can still apply intertextual analysis to it with regards to other films.

      The Thing is not a novel, it is a film. We can still apply intertextual analysis to with regards works of literature that have informed it.

      Call of Cthulhu is not a novel, it is a game. We can still apply intertextual analysis to with regards to the works of Cthulhu Mythos writers and game texts.

      Shadowrun is not a novel, it is a game. We can still apply intertextual analysis to with regards to the works of Cyberpunk fiction, fantasy literature and game texts.

      To steal a line from Dutch in preditor, 'If it parses we can usefully intertextually analysis it.'

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  9. I applaud the fact that by the time you had discovered AD&D, you had already read through the source material that did so much to inspire it. I was 7 when I got the DMG. I knew Tolkien, kind of, and little else. Much of my fantasy reading in my formative years was guided by what was in Appendix N. That, in turn, played a central role in my becoming a professional RPG writer for a number of years.

    Appendix N might not have meant anything to you. But it sure meant something to me. To dismiss the entire thing with a tetchy handwave and then to denigrate those who find value in it falls into that trap of telling people how they should and shold not enjoy their role-playing games. Gygax kind of threw the kitchen sink at us at the end of the DMG. I'm glad he did, even if there are appendices I really don't care for. I'm still glad they are there because I imagine somebody out there likes them as much as I like the ones *I* like.

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    1. I quite like what work of yours I've seen in RPGs, first. So thanks for writing.

      How up are you on what goes on in the OSR, though? Do you know the context of where this post is coming from? Because it's not really about someone like you, personally, having read books from Appendix N. It is about the people who used Appendix N as a way to fight against the idea of an OSR that did innovative stuff and centering it on this backward-looking exploration of "what did Gygax really mean by '1d6+1 rounds'?" or shit like that. And using this to shit on the idea of people taking old-school design concepts and making new stuff, and looking through what amounts to "apocrypha" as a way to find "proof" that there was one and only one way to play old-school.

      Long before I shat on the people who have turned Appendix N into a cult of holy relics, these assholes were telling me that I wasn't an old-school gamer, my games weren't OSR games, and the way I ACTUALLY PLAYED D&D in the actual 1st-edition era was "not the right way to run old-school". All because a guy who spent most of his career as a fanboy and writer for White Wolf (the least old-school thing in the universe outside of the Forge) sold them a fantasy before ripping off their money and vanishing.

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    2. Argument built on the premise that 'Because A, not B.' I.E. Someone who likes white wolf(or the forge) cannot like OSR.

      Something can be both A and B.

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    3. Something can be, it's true. But in this case it wasn't. Maliszewski himself admitted he wasn't an old-school gamer, and claimed to have had a kind of road-to-damascus conversion at a convenient moment that the OSR was picking up steam. Right on time for him to try to be its guiding light.

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    4. A, That makes him no less a OSR fan than you.
      B, That makes his approach to OSR no less authentic than your.
      C, That Maliszewski is in no way the only DnD fan anywhere who has an appreciation.

      In A and B, your going with a 'no true scotts man', in C, your cherry picking people who are interested in Appendix N.

      -The guys at Paizo took efforts to re-publish a fair number of Appendix N stories.

      -Tome Show's appendix N podcast( guests include Bill Webb and Matthew Finch).

      The guys at the Save or Die podcast were into appendix N if memory serves.

      It isn't just those awful hipsters you hate so much. Through out the DnD community, Appendix N is something that is widely looked on upon fondly.

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    5. Yes, it does make his approach less authentic, when he's claiming authenticity while rejecting the accounts of LITERAL OLD-SCHOOL GAMERS who were there in the time.

      Let's say you had a guy who toured with the Grateful Dead in the 70s. And then you have someone else who only listened to his first Dead album in 2005, but decides HE should be the world's foremost expert on the Grateful Dead, and explains the real significance of them to others and what the 'real deadhead experience' was.
      And when the first guy says "I was there, and that's not what touring with them was like", he claims that the first guy was doing it wrong, even back then.

      Who has a more authentic claim there? Who's story should we listen to? A nostalgic fantasy by someone who was not there, or the actual account of someone who was?

      As usual, your claims that it's all the same are full of shit, Wenham.

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    6. If your example were representative of what is happening here, you might have a point. Tough anacdotal evidence people present at events is often far less useful to understanding an event than other forms of evidence, so you know, it would be close run.

      But as ever, you would rather build a stawman.

      He started playing in the first five years of the games life. He WAS there. His experiences just didn't match yours.

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    7. Oh man...this just got so much better...You started playing after he did!

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    8. Maliszewski is a pretentious fraud. Dwimmermount was sold as a dungeon he'd been running for years, and when it became clear that he hadn't even written it yet, he took the money and ran. Why should we believe anything he has to say?
      But even if everything he said about his own history was true, that wouldn't change anything. The point still stands: Appendix N was NOT some kind of great central lynchpin on which all D&D stands, without which none can know the 'pure' way to play, it was a minor detail added to the end of the book, surrounded by FAR MORE IMMEDIATELY USEFUL material.

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    9. Why take Maliszewski at face value about when he started playing. For a start, Parsimony. It might be hard for a 'wizard' to grasp, but it is more likely that a man of his age started roleplaying with an early edition of DnD in the very early 80s or late 70s, and tell the truth about when he started playing than basicially any other explination of how he came to make that statement. It is more parsimonious. So, in the absense of evidence which supercedes it, I am prepared to accept his own satements about how and when he started gaming. Perhaps you should consider reading up on Occum's Razor 😉

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    10. Is that anything like Ockham/Occam's razor?

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    11. LOL.It is, but "Occum's Razor" is one that assholes use when they want to try to pretend they know concepts they don't.

      Anyways, it IS highly likely Maliszewski played some kind of D&D in his early roleplaying days, because almost EVERYONE did! It's because D&D was so important and so enormously successful that almost everyone has played it. But there's a difference between having been a dedicated D&D-fan and having played it a bit before moving on to other things and going on to have an anti-D&D attitude.

      The point stands that Maliszewski was mainly defined by his rabid White Wolf fandom for almost all of his career until the moment he noticed that White Wolf's relevance was dead and old-school was on its way up.

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    12. Yeah, I never believed Dwimmermount was an actual campaign he had played based on his inability to provide much information about it. Seemed more like a hypothetical "game I wish I played" and then once the money was in, the goods weren't there. Then again, what he described as Dwimmernount sounded pretty uninspired anyway so I never understood the fawning and fussing over this nonexistent megadungeon. Maybe less time writing about games he never played but saw an ad for in Dragon and more time actually writing up his dream campaign...oh well. Still, I don't really understand why Mr. Pundit is beating this particular dead horse. I don't know what he can do to Maliszewski that Maliszewski hasn't already inflicted on himself.

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    13. One can only try one's best.

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    14. It is in point of fact exactly the same thing. turns out dyslexia is a hell of a learning difficulty. I am sorry that my spelling mistake gave you such difficulty. But since you appear to have understood the content of the statement, would it not have made more sense to respond too it than go for a cheap point.

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    15. Pundit uses ad hominim attack, it is not very effective.

      Pundit uses no true scottsman, it is not very effective.

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    16. oh, and doing it to gate keep too. Which is exactly what your supposed problem with Maliszewski is.

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    18. I'm not sure what an "ad hominim" attack is. I imagine it would not be very effective. Ad hominem attacks are surprisingly effective against morons, however.

      I've never met a "scottsman", but I have met a few scotsmen, and you sir are no true scotsman.

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    19. Pundit, I am not a moron. I do however have a Neurological condition that effects my spelling. You know, one I had literally just mention in this thread.

      So yeah, classy on you part to continue trying use clearly trivial spelling mistakes (after all you understood my meaning well enough to make jokes based on it ) to undermine my argument, rather than you know, putting forward a rational argument.

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    20. "...and pretend OSR guy, who only got into it when he had the sense to see that White Wolf was dead and that there was rubes to fleece..."

      Ooh, you make grammatical errors, too! Let's all point and laugh!

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    21. Wenham: your nitpicking at rhetoric is no different than my nitpicking at grammar. I mean here you are complaining that by focusing on your spelling error, I'm ignoring the actual core of what you're saying; but that's how almost all of your posts on here go toward me.

      It's ok, though, today's classic rant is dedicated to you:

      http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/2016/06/classic-rant-anatomy-of-pundit-hater.html

      Remember those names of other pundit-haters I mention there? Probably not. I barely did. No one does. They were people who were what you are right now; and in a few years someone else will be here in your place and no one will remember your name either. You are just filling a function in the process of my fame.

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    22. A spelling mistake does not may my arguments less sound though it might, to the irrational make it less persuasive.

      Your Rhetorical use of Fallacious arguments does however make your arguments less sound, though to the irrational it might make the more persuasive.

      For instance, you are calling James Maliszewski an Entryist, and go on to attack his character, rather than what appears to be his position that "Pulp Fantasy DnD is awesome, and reading Appendix N will help you play in that subset of DnD."

      I mean, I do not believe you have provided evidence that his position was anything other than that, and his earliest comments do seem to suggest that he was talking specifically about a subset of DnD, and that he was quite open to other people playing the way they enjoyed.

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    23. No, you are focusing on my 'meanness' as a way to avoid my fundamental points and the truth of what I'm talking about. What you're doing is just another rhetorical tactic, pretty well like mine only more under-handed.

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  10. I seem to have used the appendix backwards. Whenever I read a good Fantasy book I checked to see if it was in the appendix and then frowned when it inevitably wasn't there (Karl Edward Wagner for example)

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    1. Or Clark Ashton Smith as another example...

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  11. Oh man, I love Appendix N! Big source of inspiration for me since 1979 when the DMG came out. I was 8 at the time and it shaped my reading for the next 15+ years. To this day, I am still inspired by that list.
    -=A

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  12. I would like to know how this subject came up. Because this just seems to be a blog post meant to stir up the pot. I've read most of the books in Appendix N, but I lived in a ultra rural town serviced only by a bookmobile. So I read lots of useless crap as well.

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    1. It's pundit. Doesn't that describe most of hist posts ever.

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    2. He's looking for attention by naysaying, but Appendix N is still what it says.

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  13. Personally, I think Appendix N is very useful. Not from a practical standpoint of running a game, but from a more inspirational point of view. I have been working on reading from this list for over 30 years, a bit at a time. I have gotten much more into it recently. Although I don't think Appendix N reading is necessary to play "old school" style...I think there is definite value in understanding the source material that Gary Gygax and his peers were reading that influenced the creation of the game. Too many of the more modern games feel like they rely on 21st century influences like movies and video games. 1st edition AD&D and other games from the 70's and 80's have a different feel to them specifically because of the influences of those books listed in Appendix N. Maybe I am misunderstanding your point to this post, but I think there is great value to going back and digging through this source material. That is probably why I love Dungeon Crawl Classics so much. Joseph Goodman read everything he could from Appendix N before designing his game...which is probably why it is a great blending of old-school feel with modern game mechanics. Just my two cents, for what it's worth!

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  14. The subject came up because the author hates being told what to do, and gets annoyed at people talking about a book-list written in the late 70s, so he writes an irate blog about it. I looked for an April 1 time-stamp on this post before commenting. Maybe I missed the irony or something.

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  15. Appendix N serves the same purpose for me as published modules: to find (gameable) ideas I couldn't have come up myself.

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  16. While I agree with you that Maz is often a douchebag, and his reverence of Appendix N as though it were graven on tablets a bit absurd, many of you are missing the point, but some have hit the nail on the head.

    I helped compile that list. They were not just Gary's favorites. We both had nominations that did not make the list in the end.

    We made that list for two reasons. The first was an encouragement to read; both Gary and I were sort of annoying in that regard.

    The second was in response to a slew of questions that sort of boiled down to "Where are you (D&D) coming from?" We thought that if more people read Vance's Dying Earth, for example, they would know where the memorizing your spells thing came from.

    At that point in gaming history (sort of pretentious-sounding, I know) we were encouraging players to lift and modify things from books and movies; Appendix N was meant to serve as a starting point for good sources.

    It is so damned easy to sit and pontificate about something we did 40 years ago, and quite frankly I am tired of people second-guessing and speculating on what we did without once asking anyone who was there.

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    1. Ok, and did Gary (or you) intend that people should spend years and years talking about Appendix N and studying it carefully as a key to the UR-D&D, and thinking it was more important than any of the other appendices?

      Or was it put near the back the appendix lists because it wasn't really that important?

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  17. "because N suits a goal of creating the attitude that the way one group thinks old-school should be run is the 'right', 'true', 'original' version of some kind of primordial Ur-D&D of which all other versions are just sad falls from some golden age that never was."

    I'm not really sure how a list of the work that inspired D&D could NOT be descriptive of the "primordial ur-D&D". And the golden age happened; I was there and it really was golden. Maybe you should play something else if the style of the game offends you? Much as you probably shouldn't read the blogs of people who annoy you. This whole post is a rant against your own irrational behaviour.

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    1. Fuck you. I was there too. The real 'golden age' had nothing to do with some kind of pre-D&D or with "fantasy fucking vietnam".

      The worst thing about the OSR-Taliban is that they make the past so fucking tiny. They reduce the huge variety and possibility that was happening in the Old-School period into playing ONE edition of D&D in ONE particular style (which was by far not the most popular style, I should note). And use absurd interpretations of scripture to justify it.

      That's why I call Maliszewski's movement the OSR's TALIBAN.

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  18. Appendix N is plenty useful when it comes to playing the game. It gave the DM (this was in the Dungeonmaster's Guide after all) a whole bunch of ideas for adventure design or even just cool things to use in a random encounter.

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    1. NO IT DOES NOT.

      READING THE FUCKING BOOKS gives the Gm ideas. Reading the list of books does nothing at all. Unlike every other appendix, where the APPENDIX ITSELF is actually and immediately useful!

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    2. So it's useless because an intermediary step is required?

      Seems lazy to me.

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    3. I find it interesting that you get to tell other people what they can or cannot find useful.

      Does that make you the OSR's ISIS?

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    4. I'm making a factual statement: every other appendix has IMMEDIATE utility for play purposes. That's just a fact.

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    5. It would br factual if adjusted to:

      Every other appendix has immediate utility for play purposes, for someplay styles.

      But even that misses that for someone who had read everything in it, Appendix N would have Immediate utility thanks to Intertextuality, and that immediate utility is not the only kind of utility.

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    6. Since the OSR Taliban claim to be the preservers of pure D&D, you can't defend their idea of the centrality of one single playstyle by invoking the "different people play in different ways" clause, Wenham.

      The fact is that the way MOST people played D&D, it was stuff like making your own dungeons, random encounters by terrain, and the sort of material in the other Appendices that was extremely central to old-school D&D. No one back in the 1980s was spending ages ruminating on the mysteries of what Appendix N taught us about how to play properly. They were too busy making up dungeons, inventing worlds, designing random tables and house-rules, and thinking they could do it better than Gygax (rather than blindly worshiping him).

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  19. I miss the Grognardia blog, James Maliszewski had good breeding.

    He did not accost passers-by with a finger poke to the ribs and seek to spray spittle in their faces to convey his roleplaying game intensity. James Maliszewski's joy for the D&D game was serene, his manner mild and decent. As a man, he regarded his remembered fondness for the game with placidity.

    The Pundit is like an aged urchin, a vicious tramp who starts and bristles at every sound, 'Who goes there? Thou shalt not steal my breadcrumbs!' The pain and spasm in Pundit's dirty face, a face filled with fear as his beard spittle, begs pity from those he solicits.

    I, Kent, do pity you Pundit now that I see you. Calm yourself.

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    1. Go back to YDIS, Kent, if they'll have you.

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  20. Does no one realize this is how to get 50+ comments on your blog? Wild West campaign updates don't do it!

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  21. Pundit is the village idiot of the OSR. Only problem is he has such a loud mic, that you can't get him to shut up.

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    1. Naw, he's just deliberately insulting and overshoots the mark. He's often his own worst enemy, at least when it comes to convincing anyone to take him seriously. That said, if you can parse out what he's trying to say underneath all of the bluster, he's actually correct in this instance. There IS an element of "OSR Taliban". Although I don't know that they're IMPORTANT, but they certainly are kinda loud.

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