04 January 2015

Invalid and ubiquitous; D&D’s key innovation

Jon Peterson’s year-in-review linked to this article about mana that he had contributed to.

How could the concept of mana as a generic spiritual force become invalidated and ubiquitous at the same time?

That kind of thing strikes me as utterly normal.

The first modern role playing game, D&D’s key innovation was to combine the rule systems of tabletop wargaming with the setting of fantasy fiction and the interpersonal improvisation and role-playing that had been percolating in gaming and fan communities for years.

That may be the best, most concise explanation of what D&D did that I’ve ever read. It is clear (especially if you read Jon’s book) that all the elements were in play before D&D. D&D brought them together. Which ought to be unsurprising, because that’s how these kind of things usually happen.

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