Thursday, March 27, 2008

Everything New is Old Again

So like everyone else, I've been inspired by the back-and-forth on D&D's 4th edition to poke at making my own fantasy heartbreaker. Part of my effort involved reworking combat. I was thinking about damage by class, while your choice in weapons dictated armour penetration. This was inspired by thoughts that I articulated recently over at

Anyway, checking Jeff's Gameblog today, I came across this:

"Why would you ever wield a two-handed sword if it was just as deadly as a dagger?" is the inevitable question. Any OD&D ref using the weapon-versus-armor chart and weapon speed rules in Chainmail can handily answer that question...

I knew that 1st edition AD&D had a weapon-versus-armour chart that nobody, not even Gygax, apparently, ever used. But I had no idea that was the default back as far as Chainmail.

I've been walking in a giant circle, so large I thought it was a straight line, that had been trod down decades ago. This, boys and girls, is why it's important to know what has come before.


Anonymous said...

Indeed it is, but you'll find passingly few game designers who care about, let alone know, the history of our hobby. I've spent the months since the 4e announcement collecting and re-reading OD&D, old issues of the Strategic Review and (the) Dragon, as well as interacting with guys who were there at the beginning. It's fascinating stuff and you're right: we are walking in a big circle -- but only a few of us realize it.

trollsmyth said...

My wife got me the Dragon magazine archive CDs for Christmas a few years ago. It's amazing what you can learn from "flipping" through those old issues. Even just looking at the ads, and seeing what was new and exciting in the hobby back in the day is fascinating.

If you're the same James Maliszewski who writes over at the Schizonomicon (, I'll be reading for your thoughts there. If not, I'd still be curious to hear what your research has revealed to you about where we've been and where we're going as a hobby. I can't shake the feeling that the next two years are going to be extremely important to RPGs as the D&D community forks and the growing number of designers takes greater advantage of the small press revolution.