Monday, August 24, 2020

And Confirmation from Skip Williams

The boys at Grogtalk did it again with their excellent Skip Williams interview! Good work on the depth and breadth of questions, and their respectful and insightful way of interacting with the old guard of the game. Skip has a unique perspective in that he has stayed in the business up to 3rd edition and beyond. And Grogtalk, being focused on Advanced Dungeons & Dragons pre-1985, often probes for insights into the time of transition between Original D&D and the Advanced edition. Getting to know Skip was a delight. I knew his name primarily from 2e, which sported numerous titles by his hand, and then of course in the 3rd edition, which he helped develop. But it's always cool to hear about how one of the old guard like Skip got into the game and his early days with TSR. The interview is a fun watch or listen, and I highly recommend it. 

This time, however, instead of a play by play, like I did with Tim Kask's interview, I just wanted to point out Skip's reply to James' question about the evolution of AD&D and how Skip perceived the shift. This is not an exact quote, but he put it even more directly than Tim's opinion. Skip said he saw AD&D as an effort to codify the way that D&D was being played among TSR employees and early pioneers. Where Tim was a bit more vague in alluding to guys didn't know how to DM like they DM'ed, Skip was more direct in his opinion. AD&D was the game they recognized, with the rulings they were using encoded now in a new edition. 

I don't want to stretch Skip's words, in fact, I don't want to to seem to be implying that everyone was playing by AD&D rules. I don't assume this is what Skip was saying either. Many of the old guard, Tim Kask and Frank Mentzer seem to prefer the earlier original version, and run this version when they are running games at conventions. I think the AD&D rules encapsulated a generally defined region within which DM's responsible for the evolution of the game generally ran their sessions. Now, having said that, there was also sort of a gonzo ethos among early gamers that I also think influenced their playstyle. They weren't beholden to rules in hard and fast fashion. Which brings up a truly interesting discussion point for another time--the most recent KODT issue played some with this very idea. 

Today, I just wanted to call out the point that my view that AD&D encapsulated the game as it was intended and played by the early founders seems to be backed up by more than one voice.   

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