Saturday, November 23, 2019

A Comment on a Post (re. Arneson)

So, I just got a comment on my post back in September on the new film documenting Arnesom's role in the creation of D&D. Since the comment seems to come from the filmmaker himself, thought I'd feature it here so as to give the filmmakers a better chance to have their say. Here's their comment:

Secrets of Blackmoor: A D&D documentary said...
Good to see a review.

Not being fully familiar with how Kotaku spins everything, that article was somewhat of a surprise even to myself. I felt some of my comments were a bit out of context as I am sure Rob Kuntz likely feels about his, yet any PR is good PR as the old adage goes.

Arneson is still being vilified by people who have no idea of the extent of his own works in leveraging Role Playing. All they go off of are some really spurious editorials in the Dragon. All those have been disproven, such as Arneson not making anything, How come I have seen piles of his unpublished works? How come Gygax has to see Blackmoor before he offers to collaborate with Arneson on D&D? If D&D is based on Chainmail why is there no role playing it Chainmail?

And if Gygax is such a complete genius why is his company leaking money like a pasta colander and then why does he lose his share in it? I am more partial to saying that Gygax was a genius in his own right, but he had some blinders just as Arneson did in some areas

Anyone who says it's either Arneson or Gygax is really missing the point of studying history. I have my little brown books and they say Gygax and Arneson on them. With our Movie we don't say bad things about Gygax because our focus is how RPG's are invented. The only path of invention goes from Totten to Wesely to Jenkins to Arneson to Gygax.

Because of how Gygax and TSR made Arneson the Target of thes attacks completely erases everyone else. I bet none of you know how Duane Jenkins is. Or Pete Gaylord who played the first wizard.

One can argue rules, but rules are not Role Playing. I could just as easily run an RPG with a chart from Panzer Blitz as any other mechanic and the experience is the same. hmmm... the Panzer Blits dungeon might be a fun spin off.

I hear a lot of people say that the film is skewed. Yet there is no evidence that Gygax invented RPG's. What can we say about Gygax before he works with Arneson? There's no mystery there and nothing to explore. In fact a lot of the stories are just plain hyperbole. The film is about how the play method for RPG's is invented which happens in the Twin Cities between 1963 when Wesely begins to referee weird wargames, and 1971 when Arneson creates Blackmoor, until 1974 when D&D is published.

If you have a problem with our choice of era, go make your own film. Expect to spend about 5 to 10 years and around 200k on it. In fact, consider that others have tried to make an all encompassing D&D movie and they failed because the subject is just too huge to cover it all. The only films to get finished that are D&D related are those that chose to focus on one small portion of a massive event. i.e. Eye of the Beholder only covers the artwork - Smart business people and film makers.

If you want to argue with me, I'm on Facebook at Blackmoor Secrets and Twitter @blackmoor_film. I will say there is little to argue about because Arneson invented the play method we now call the RPG.

The trailer is here:


Having already had my say, I don't have anything to add to this other than to observe that I don't think
I "vilified" Arneson in my post, nor do I put much stock in Gygax's later editorials. In fact most of the filmmaker's comments seem to be directed more towards things I didn't say than what I did. Still, an interesting piece and well worth sharing.

--John R

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