Sunday, March 24, 2019

Larry DiTillio Dies

So, I was sorry to hear the news from the Chaosium newsletter (Ab Chaos) that gaming legend Larry DiTillio has died. I never got to meet DiTillio -- one of those legendary figures like Greg Stafford (whom I did meet) or Sandy Petersen or Tom Moldvay -- but I highly recommend his work. Among his many achievements, he wrote what I consider the best rpg adventure ever -- and not the one you're thinking of, either.

That is, DiTillio is famed as the author of the legendary MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP, widely considered to be the best adventure ever written for CALL OF CTHULHU, one of the most widely loved and highly respected of all roleplaying games (now in its thirty-eighth year and seventh edition). But I personally think that, good as MASKS is, there are other CoC campaigns that are even better (including THE FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH and especially SHADOWS OF YOG-SOTHOTH).*

More importantly, DiTillio wrote another rpg adventure that is even better: THE GREY KNIGHT, for PENDRAGON. The first adventure for a new game is all-important to that game's success: it tells the players and DM what sort of things their characters will do in the new game.  In the case of THE GREY KNIGHT, the adventure runs the whole range of knightly activity: jousting in a tournament, courtly intrigue, flirtation, combat against fellow knights, magical trickery, and more. DiTillio's adventure deserves particular praise for not making a too-common mistake of setting the adventure around the margins of the game: Here player-character knights get to meet and interact with major characters in the setting, like Sir Gawain and Sir Tor and Morgan le Fay.  A brilliant piece of work.

Here's a tribute to DiTillio from Chaosium:

--John R.

*I might modify that position if I'd ever actually played MASKS; as it is I've read it (a long time ago now) but only played a small part of it.

1 comment:

grodog said...

I was saddened to hear about Larry's passing, too.

Larry introduced me to the games Incan Gold and Groo (the card game), and I played Cosmic Encounter for the first time with him and Tadashi Ehara at DunDraCon.