Friday, August 25, 2017

Matt Colville's The Map is Not the Territory

Matt Colville, "The Map is Not the Territory"
It's rare to see this much truth packed into one video. Matt Colville makes an excellent point--D&D is not what is written in the rulebooks, D&D is what happens at the table. 

This has actually always been true. Gary Gygax didn't run AD&D by the books; by all accounts he never used all the cruft in that edition. From the numerous accounts of house rules he used with OD&D, it's clear that the D&D at his table wasn't the D&D in the little booklets either. When people made characters for his games he gave them all sorts of extra stuff, like unearned levels, bonus hit points, higher ability scores, spells per day, etc.; the game he played wasn't quite the scumbag murderathon people make OD&D out to be.

Side note: this is why I don't trust any primer, manifesto, forum, or movement that claims that there is a traceable way (via Talmudic study of rules minutiae or received wisdom of D&D's Golden Age) to play D&D as it was intended. It was never intended for long, never written down, and constantly in flux. Like all things.

This has continued to be true for other people that are looked to and questioned to find the True D&D. In the mid-period, it turns out that Rick Swan, long-time rpg reviewer for Dragon Magazine, didn't even use dice in his D&D games. (See his review of Everway in Dragon Magazine if you don't believe me.) 

In the modern moment, Mike Mearls admits that he only uses some of the rules from the edition he helped create; despite the Forgotten Realms focus in 5e, Jeremy Crawford runs his games in a homebrewed setting; if you watch Dice, Camera, Action you know that Chris Perkins rules things on the fly all the time. 

"You bought the books, own them."