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Old 03-29-2024, 09:29 AM   #1
b-dog
 
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Default Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

I think the secret of the Gygax adventures was that he uses the quaint Tolkien Town that is sort of like the Shire and then when they find out about the dungeon then it turns into a Moorcock type super high fantasy situation. The Drow series starts with various giants and eventually goes underground into a dark fairy realm of the Drow who are reminiscent of the Melnibonéans in their amoral chaotic behavior. The realm of the Drow is fantastically beautiful in a dark way instead of the ugly oppressive orc forces of Sauron. The same is true for the Tomb of Horrors where the Demi lich has constructed a beautiful artistic lair to await delvers trying to get to his treasure. The The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth has all sorts of teleportation nodes and the final treasure is guarded by the beautiful vampire Drelzna. This is my opinion of why Gygax had such good adventures, instead of a dark oppressive dungeon he made the dungeon the most fantastical part.
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Old 03-30-2024, 01:26 AM   #2
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

An interesting thought. But the law/chaos split also can be found in Poul Anderson's Holger Dansk novel, Three Hearts and Three Lions, in which the fair folk (a) are on the side of Chaos and (b) are inhumanly glamorous. That might also have contributed to the contrast you point to—which is not to deny the possible influence of Moorcock.
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Old 04-01-2024, 03:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

Michael Moorcock acknowledges Poul Anderson's fantasy novels as a major influence on his own work. He especially admires the Broken Sword, but also likes Three Hearts and Three Lions.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG incorporates the notion of a cosmic struggle between Good and Evil, but doesn't do much with the moral ambiguity inherent in a cosmic struggle between Law and Chaos. Part of Moorcock's approach was to depict Law as being just as undesirable as Chaos. Law is depicted as intolerance, sterility, and authoritarianism.
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Old 04-01-2024, 05:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

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The Dungeon Fantasy RPG incorporates the notion of a cosmic struggle between Good and Evil, but doesn't do much with the moral ambiguity inherent in a cosmic struggle between Law and Chaos. Part of Moorcock's approach was to depict Law as being just as undesirable as Chaos. Law is depicted as intolerance, sterility, and authoritarianism.
DC Comics used that same opposition for some of their superheroes, though they tended to equate Law with goodness.
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Old 04-01-2024, 05:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

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I think the secret of the Gygax adventures was that he...
was the first?

Maybe that makes more sense, or is that just me? The only reason D&D is the RPG leader nowadays, is because it was the first. And as any software developer will tell you, first is never going to be the best. Obvious faults will be fixed in the second iteration (aka, Rolemaster's way of handling Classes, for example), and add countless other examples of countless other things, after 1975 here...
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Old 04-01-2024, 12:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

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DC Comics used that same opposition for some of their superheroes, though they tended to equate Law with goodness.
Leading to the moment in the original Books of Magic where John Constantine explained the law/chaos dichotomy, and Tim Hunter muttered that it sounded like the basis for a series of bad fantasy novels. I always did think that was a bit on the nose.

Gaiman did have some nice moments in Sandman where both Law and Chaos were depicted as manifestations of inhuman principles with no apparent moral element. A Lord of Chaos manifested as an annoying pre-teen girl, a Lord of Law manifested as a cardboard box, and Morpheus didn't seem overly impressed by either of them.
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Old 04-01-2024, 04:08 PM   #7
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Gaiman did have some nice moments in Sandman where both Law and Chaos were depicted as manifestations of inhuman principles with no apparent moral element. A Lord of Chaos manifested as an annoying pre-teen girl, a Lord of Law manifested as a cardboard box, and Morpheus didn't seem overly impressed by either of them.
Yes, I remember them. Was that officially part of DC continuity, or was that during the phase when Vertigo was officially its own thing?

There are also appearances of Law and Chaos in PS 238, as I recall. Of course, PS 238 has pastiches of everything!
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Old 04-02-2024, 09:17 AM   #8
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

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Yes, I remember them. Was that officially part of DC continuity, or was that during the phase when Vertigo was officially its own thing?
I didn't keep track.

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There are also appearances of Law and Chaos in PS 238, as I recall. Of course, PS 238 has pastiches of everything!
Come to think of it, Marvel has or had Law and Chaos as personified cosmic phenomena at times. I think they were mostly on good terms, and took responsibility for deciding Peter Parker's destiny at one point.
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Old 04-02-2024, 11:48 AM   #9
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

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was the first?

Maybe that makes more sense, or is that just me? The only reason D&D is the RPG leader nowadays, is because it was the first. And as any software developer will tell you, first is never going to be the best. Obvious faults will be fixed in the second iteration (aka, Rolemaster's way of handling Classes, for example), and add countless other examples of countless other things, after 1975 here...
Maybe but I feel that Gygax really made the bad guys have style. The regular folk living above ground were pretty plain Jain while those living in the dungeon were decked out in the finest of attire. If you read the Elric series you see the bad guys have all the luxury goods like in the novels. They have beautifully worked stone and furniture, gems and jewelry of the finest grade and exotic magic items. Rod of tentacles, wand of viscous globs etc. Basically the creatures in the dungeon were much advanced than those living above ground. I think the law and chaos thing is not really that important because good vs evil can be similar but the whole the deeper you go into the dungeon the more fantastical it gets is pretty much a Gygax trait.
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Old 04-04-2024, 07:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Gygax Adventures: Tolkien Towns and Moorcock Dungeons

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DC Comics used that same opposition for some of their superheroes, though they tended to equate Law with goodness.
That was the more or less acknowledged convention in BECMI D&D as well - although IIRC in the original brown/white box editions the Elves were part of the "chaos" faction list.

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Gaiman did have some nice moments in Sandman where both Law and Chaos were depicted as manifestations of inhuman principles with no apparent moral element. A Lord of Chaos manifested as an annoying pre-teen girl, a Lord of Law manifested as a cardboard box, and Morpheus didn't seem overly impressed by either of them.
See also the D&D modrons, that look like Gary gave up on dime store plastic monsters and started gluing legs to his spare dice and the Slaad ... where apparently the infinite variety of chaos expresses itself entirely as a small range of colour coded frogs*.

*although someone, somewhere on the interwebz has postulated that this is actually chaos as insanity, that real insanity tends to be maladaptive and that somewhere in limbo is so mad that the answer to everything really is "giant frog", and Slaadi are only destructive because they are confused and frustrated to be in everywhere else where "giant frog" doesn't help.

Last edited by The Colonel; 04-04-2024 at 07:49 AM.
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