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Thursday, March 18, 2010


Back in the day, before the oceans drank Atlantis, when there was "Dungeons and Dragons" and "ADVANCED Dungeons and Dragons," we had an adjective, and that word was "Gygaxian."

Y'see, the Dungeon Master's Guide was an interesting thing. It contained much useful information. It also contained tables you'd never use, rules one never consulted, and detail upon detail upon detail. Who remembers the dreaded Potion Miscibility Table? Or perhaps the Harlot Chart? Ol' Gary must have had a serious thing for percentile dice. Anyway, we referred to rules that were complicated to the point where they could be ignored without impacting the game as "gygaxian," as in "Man, I don't know anyone who plays a strict gygaxian game."

I found it interesting that today on I found that my little knot of geeks wasn't the only one to have drawn the man's name into an adjective... he's part of the language now...

Gygax, Gygaxian
An adjective form of the name of one of the founders of the role-playing hobby, E. Gary Gygax. When used as an adjective, Gygax's name indicates that the item so modified breaks some commonly held assumption about the world (often pertaining to the logical construction of an area). Notable RPGnet member Steve Darlington once observed that a Gygaxian dungeon, for instance, often resembles a game of Let's Make a Deal as re-imagined by a homicidal SCAdian on PCP. ("What's behind door number 1? A monster! Door number 2? Instant death! Door number 3? Treasure!") This style of design is generally earmarked by the following:
1.Dungeons apparently designed solely for adventurers to adventure in, rather than a structure built for another purpose which has now been lost, forgotten, or re-purposed.
2.The presence of monsters who, logically, have no business being where they are and would have starved to death without a constant stream of adventurers stumbling into them.
3.Monsters which seem designed specifically to kill adventurers, such as a metamorph which lures prey by imitating a treasure chest.
4.A profusion of remarkably deadly traps, particularly ones serving as punishment for seemingly random, innocent, and even logical actions; for example, a throne which automatically kills any character who sits in it without wearing the crown and holding the scepter, then proceeds to destroy said character's soul to prevent his resurrection.
5.Traps which would tend to kill any residents who made a minor mistake such as stepping on the wrong tile or forgetting one's key.
6.Cursed magic items which automatically kill or permanently harm a character attempting to use them, usually designed to function as expected until the user is in mortal danger, with the curse utterly undetectable until activated.
7.An extremely overblown writing style which seems to imply excessive use of a thesaurus. This "Gygaxian prose" is best exemplified by his work in the AD&D 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.

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