Drizzt-Creator Prefers First Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Drizzt-Creator Prefers First Edition Dungeons & Dragons

image

R.A. Salvatore was recently asked which edition of tabletop Dungeons & Dragons he prefers, 4th or 3rd, and he responded that he didn't like either one.

You might think that the creator of one of the most iconic D&D characters, the conflicted dark elf ranger Drizzt Do'Urden, would toe the party line. Wizards of the Coast, the gatekeepers of the Dungeons & Dragons line of games since it bought out TSR in 1997, are heavily invested in the newest edition and R.A. Salvatore is still writing books based on the worlds of D&D so it would make sense for him to publicly embrace the new ruleset. Even though he plays in a 4th edition campaign with his son, Robert Salvatore told students during a Q&A session at Northeastern University in Boston that he prefers the rules as written by Gary Gygax back in the 19070s.

A student asked, "Do you prefer 3.5 or 4th edition?" referring to the last two editions of D&D.

"One," Salvatore said. "I'm serious. If I'm DMing, we're playing first edition. Because that's the game that I grew up with. That's a game where you really have to improvise and think on your feet. You have to make up your rules as you go along." He thought that 2nd Edition was well done, but that the 3rd, released in 2000, defined too much. Salvatore didn't like that you had to look up every detail or obscure rule in 3.5 because he thought that killed the role-playing aspect of the game.

"Now I'm playing 4th, my son is running a game," he said, which made him realize something important about playing that game. "4th Edition only works if you have creative players. First Edition can work with a creative dungeon master. 4th Edition will turn into a card game like Magic the Gathering where you just say, 'I'm using my daily power' and click, you turn over your card. If you play the game like that, it fails.

"But when you have creative players, who instead of saying what daily power they are using, but can actually describe what they're doing in the combat, then the game really sings," Salvatore said.

Check out the whole lecture that Salvatore gave to Northeastern students and cue up to 35:40 in to hear him talk about D&D. Salvatore is also building the world of Amalur for the upcoming MMO from 38 Studios, and I've gotten a chance to talk to him a few times. Don't let his heavy Boston accent fool you, he is a gamer through and through and he knows what he's talking about.

I have to say that I agree with Salvatore one hundred percent. I've played all editions of D&D and the game just dies when it becomes about what phat sweet loot or power you are using. Luckily, I have a pool of really creative players in The Escapist office who always describe their actions in game, often to hilarious effect.

That reminds me, I've got to go prepare for my lunchtime 4th edition campaign...

Soruce: Grognardia

Permalink

People usually like things the way they were when they first encountered them, this isn't really a new concept.

EDIT: 3.5 is a bit of a mess with regard to sheer weight of rules.

I love 1 and 2 for the creativity. I think 2 and 3 work decent. My friends and I could come up with all kinds of interesting loopholes for items and spells. It was always great

I like 1st ed because it was the first RPG system I was exposed to. I like 2nd ed AD&D since I grew up with it. I like 3rd ed because it's an open-ended system that strikes a solid balance between complexity and acessability. I like 4th ed because I like the streamlining they did which makes it a great entry-level system.

Also, I like Salvatore because damn he can produce some fun light reading!

manythings:
People usually like things the way they were when they first encountered them, this isn't really a new concept.

EDIT: 3.5 is a bit of a mess with regard to sheer weight of rules.

I think you'd be surprise that that's not always the case though.

My first experiences with D&D was reading through the 2nd edition books and later finally playing 3rd edition. None of the D&D campaigns I am playing in or starting to look at running use either of those systems, one is b/x and the others are 4e.

AD&D first edition is still the best edition out there. If you can't improvise, then what's the point? I'm not saying that 1st has everything, but when it doesn't- you make it up, then you go back and refine what you made up. I've played 1st for just about everything and, well, it's just plain fun.

The problem I can see with 1st (Note: I don't play this game. Never really had anyone around who did, so I made due with videogames instead) is the malicious DM. However, at the same time, too many rules and it loses the immersion (like how when I decide to change my chat in MMOs to battle instantly made it impossible to get into the role anymore, if only because I wasn't performing moves or attacking, but rather using powers that dealt out numbers).

Also, slightly off topic, but still a bit relevant: Are Salvatore's books really that good compared to the rest of the genre and if so which should a new reader start at (I know some authors who write for novelization of tabletops are actually really good, but sometimes they fall into the trap of depending on previous knowledge, either from their books or the games, such as not describing creatures or people that well, never elaborating on events, etc.)?

Greg Tito:
Robert Salvatore told students during a Q&A session at Northeastern University in Boston that he prefers the rules as written by Gary Gygax back in the 19070s.

I knew it... D&D is just too advanced for most of our culture at this point in time. Gygax was from the future!!

I'm just giving you a hard time Tito.

I would love to get in on a 1.0 D&D campaign. I think that would be so much fun. I'm stuck with 3.5 right now because none of us are very experienced.

Delock:
Also, slightly off topic, but still a bit relevant: Are Salvatore's books really that good compared to the rest of the genre and if so which should a new reader start at (I know some authors who write for novelization of tabletops are actually really good, but sometimes they fall into the trap of depending on previous knowledge, either from their books or the games, such as not describing creatures or people that well, never elaborating on events, etc.)?

Treat his book like fantasy slash fiction. You won't get the expansive stories and worlds of Martin, Erikson, Jordan or Abercrombie, and the writing isn't as good.

But his books are just fun to read. The Drizzt ones usually involve the party of super-tough characters he created (Drizzt, Wulfgar, Bruenor Catti-Brie, etc) going and messing with some evil persons shit. The stories are often a bit repetitive and you'll be described the "fluid motion of Drizzt's scimitars" or the "power of Wulfgar's mighty arms" so many times your eyes soon gain the ability to skip large parts of paragraphs, but in the end you get to read a good story with some characters who have many books of development in each of them. He's also getting better at introducing strife to his series, which makes a change from his earlier books where the main cast is nigh invulnerable.

I'd recommend you pick up the Icewind Dale trilogy or the Dark Elf trilogy. ID came first, but DE goes into Drizzts past and upbringing while not requiring knowledge of the ID events.

First Edition D&D: So awesome it transcended the mere concept of the space-time continuum.

Another reason to love that guy.
1st edition was always my favorite too.

Those dark elf books were my favorites when I was in High School. Drizzt was very cool. Always dug Jarlaxle too.

To be fair, I don't like Drizzt, so does that make us even?

Salvatore's argument that you need creativity falls flat, because you needed creative players in 1 and 2E as well. I'm not saying I'm a fan of the "power" system, because I'm not. But I think he's more focused on the action of using a power card, when the same was true of earlier editions without cards.

ANY RPG benefits greatly from player imagination.

It's funny that even Salvatore's fans describe his stuff as not that great, which makes me wonder why anyone buys or reads it. I suppose if you've literally read everything else out there and are looking for something to fill your idle hours between some other bad fantasy (because believe me, he's not the only one) then he fits the bill.

I don't blame the guy for enjoying the games he grew up with the most, but it does really come down to whether or not you want a game that actually has consistent rules and outcomes, or if you want a mere framework full of ambiguities.

I'll have to disagree there - I prefer 3.5 myself, even though I started out with 4th. 3.5 just strikes the right balance and is very accessible yet complex and flexible enough to have some fun with. 1st and 2nd edition, while not bad, are less preferable for meg because they feel...incomplete and strangely limiting, I suppose. Explain, baldur's gate (2nd ed rules), why can't my half-elf be a paladin?

Or something like that.

Also, 3.5 is pretty nice to DM once you get into it. 4th...it felt shallow, becoming more and more like an MMO.

I can't get into 4th Ed, even with excellent GM and players. Same way I can't get into Magic: The Gathering past 7th Edition. I never liked WoW, and having D&D play exactly like WoW just feels very, very wrong to me. It takes away most reasons to roll play, and seems to base itself around a credo of "The Player Always Wins". There's no fun in a game if the character you've slowly leveled from first to 11th+ never comes into a dire situation. It's HILARIOUS when your mid-to-high level character can still get taken down by a bad roll and a pack of kobolds, even more so if you just dropped a Big Bad.

I'll stick with the AD&D games I play in.

If I'm running, it's modified 3rd Ed, simply 'cause that's what I started on and know best, but playing?

I'll take a 35% chance on my hide check over infinite magic missile any day.

Jandau:
I like 1st ed because it was the first RPG system I was exposed to. I like 2nd ed AD&D since I grew up with it. I like 3rd ed because it's an open-ended system that strikes a solid balance between complexity and acessability. I like 4th ed because I like the streamlining they did which makes it a great entry-level system.

I think we had almost the same trajectory.

By the time I started with 1st ed it had become an unwieldly mess. 2nd ed tried to clean that up a bit but quickly became a mess itself. 3rd acknowledged from the get-go that it would become a giant mess and basically drew a few lines in the sand allowing anyone to add their own clutter to the mess. Now with 4th, the mess will be sorted and organized into bins and boxes by Wizards, but at least new players can jump in without being too overwhelmed.

As for Salvatore, I never got into his stuff. The only characters I liked in the Icewind Dale books were a few of the villains, and I couldn't stand any of the heroes. It seemed (like a lot of Realms-stuff at the time), I was supposed to think the good guys were good because I was told they were, not because they acted substantially more decent than their adversaries. The first Dark Elf book was okay, but it didn't inspire me to finish the trilogy.

1st Edition had the fewest direct rules interactions, so there is something to be said about its brevity.
2nd Edition was most "swingy" in terms of mortality, but there was always a hard solution to a problem or potential abuse.

3rd Edition...ugh. While it made D&D more approachable to new players, it shit the bed up and down on balance due to the sheer volume of rules and power-creep-classes.

4th Edition. On release, it was essentially a watered down version of 3rd edition.
The power creep is already setting in as Wizards of the Coast releases book after book with class after class, each one driving the original classes a bit more into obscurity (or rather, wrecking the initial level of balance).

I honestly cannot stand to play D&D anymore.
The playerbase I have in my area all want to try out these new "strictly better" classes/feats/builds, and that leads to a lot of new rules that I have to learn on top of keeping the labyrinthine Core Rules straight (And this is coming from someone who played Rifts).

Nobody is really interested in roleplaying anymore; they just want to see how badly they can fuck the game world up with their newfound bullshit powers.

That sort of game is fun when it's meant to be that sort of game. It's more than a bit aggravating when people do this after you (the DM) put actual effort into making the world more defined.

This sort of thing might not be exclusive to D&D, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that D&D isn't the most conductive system (due to its relatively huge playerbase) for this behavior.

I honestly cannot blame Salvatore for thinking back to simpler times.

The playerbase I have in my area all want to try out these new "strictly better" classes/feats/builds, and that leads to a lot of new rules that I have to learn on top of keeping the labyrinthine Core Rules straight (And this is coming from someone who played Rifts).

You could just make a rule that they're not allowed extra sourcebooks (or some other restriction on their use, like...core classes only, but can use feats from sourcebooks or something).

I'm not a huge fan of restricting players, but I'm even less of a fan of people being dicks trying to break the game, which is especially bad if you have other people in the group who don't do that, as it makes balancing encounters a bitch to do.

In related news, he's old and hasn't had any good ideas in 22 years.

With all due respect to both Bob Salvatore and 1st Edition fans, anyone who thinks 1st Edition was simple isn't actually playing 1st Edition. 1st Edition is, by far, the most complex edition of D&D. It includes initiative measured in segments, weapon v. armor class adjustments, weapon speed factors, secondary skills, random chances of illness per in-game month, an entire subsystem of rules for pummeling and psionics, and more.

In 30 years of playing D&D, I've never played a single game that used any of those rules. Virtually everyone who says they are playing 1st edition AD&D is actually playing OD&D or Basic D&D house-ruled to include content from 1st edition thrown in, such as the classes or alignments or magic items.

The title of this article is just... bad. Of all the things Salvatore has created, he gets known as "Drizzt-Creator". Ouch!

Salvatore is spot on. 3rd edition rules are ridiculous. Making an NPC takes 20 to 30 minutes each, if you want to do it properly. That's just silly. First edition D&D was indeed more about imagination and flexibility. My favorite is first edition AD&D as well. Now shut up, or I'll roll an assassin and kill you!

Totally agree. THAC0 sorts the men from the boys. ;)

I'm with him, but I play AD&D moreso.

I find it amusing that his preferred edition of D&D is the one in which his iconic character is bleeding illegal.

accidental double-post. Deleted

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here