D&D: The Secret Arneson Gift Exchange

The Escapist Staff | 27 Jul 2010 17:36
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Zak Sabbath DMing
Zak Sabbath DMing

In honor of the birthdays of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, two of the creators of Dungeons and Dragons, Zak Sabbath, the dungeon master of I Hit It With My Axe, is running a fun little activity on his blog, Playing D&D with Pornstars. Basically, Sabbath called for requests for game-related material, like a dungeon, monster or spell. Sabbath collected all of the requests and sent them out to all of the people who submitted, and those people are supposed to fulfill the request and turn them in by July 27th, Gary Gygax's birthday. It's like a secret santa, except for D&D stuff.

Sabbath calls it the Secret Arneson Gift Exchange or SAGE for short. It's a pretty great idea, and the perfect way to commemorate both the two men who made roleplaying games happen but also the viral nature of how RPGs are created and spread. The SAGE finished up today and Sabbath has posted some of the responses. The Escapist sat down with Zak and found out how he came up with the idea, what the funniest response has been so far and whether Gygax would be proud.

The Escapist: What was the impetus for running SAGE? What was your inspiration?

Zak Sabbath: Well I was thinking "Why do I bother blogging about my D&D games in the first place?" and I decided it's because if you talk about what you're doing in the game you get a lot of people who offer ideas and tell you where to find interesting things you can use in your games. It's practical, basically: you go "What's that module published in '87 where they have the chariot with giant rats in hamster-balls pulling it?" .... and then someone tells you.

And on the first anniversary of Dave Arneson's death, I was just thinking about how Gary Gygax thought up roleplaying games and then Dave Arneson ran with that idea and then thought up the idea of dungeons and then Gary Gygax ran with that idea, and back and forth and back and forth. Which was sort of the same thing the bloggers do - trade ideas.

The heart of the hobby isn't the material that publishers actually put out, it's the homegrown ideas players and DMs come up with. Just like, y'know, hardcore music was never about some big touring band that everyone knew, it was about how there were all these little scenes in every city where people had their own bands - even if nobody outside Minneapolis or whatever knew about them. So I wanted to do something to shine a light on that.

The Escapist: Do you think that you will do this again next year?

Zak Sabbath: To be honest, I'm kinda hoping someone else will run it. Or that lots of different people will run their own - it's not that it's hard, it's just I feel like this is the perfect way to celebrate some people who invented something cool that everyone who plays owes a debt to. Like you give people Cadbury creme eggs to celebrate our lord and savior ascending to lich-hood every Easter, you should make up a new kind of goblin or a catapult-backfire table every year to celebrate the guys who invented D&D.

The Escapist: What has been the funniest/weirdest request that you received?

Zak Sabbath: Someone asked for a Random Awkward Interaction Chart for when you try to talk to a non-player character and screw up. I'm quite looking forward to seeing how that one comes out.

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