Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Annotated OD&D

Continuing my annotation of the OD&D booklets (previously), I've accumulated these notes on the Forward of Men & Magic. As always, I'd appreciate your corrections and additions.

  • The OED dates the stock phrase “once upon a time” to 1385 or earlier. By the time of the first English translations of Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, “once upon a time” acted as a clear signpost to establish a story as fantasy or fairy tale.
  • Gygax started the Castle & Crusade Society in 1968, as a local chapter of the International Federation of Wargaming. Rob Kuntz and Dave Arneson joined.
  • The Great Kingdom eventually evolved into Greyhawk.
  • The C&CS newsletter Domesday Book published the first account of Arneson’s Blackmoor in July of 1972 (issue 13).
  • Greg Scott played in Arneson’s 1969–70 Napoleonic campaign. Allegedly, unhappy with the switch from Napoleonic to fantasy gaming, Scott played a nasty and expensive prank on Arneson. In retaliation, Arneson immortalized Scott as the “Egg of Coot”, a reviled villain in Blackmoor. Some have erroneously speculated that the Egg was a gibe at Ernest Gary Gygax. The Egg of Coot was first mentioned in the Domesday newsletter in 1972.
  • Gygax remembers that “ the members began to get tired of medieval games, and I wasn’t, I decided to add fantasy elements to the mix, such as a dragon that had a fire-breath weapon, a hero that was worth four normal warriors, a wizard who could cast fireballs, [which had] the range and hit diameter of a large catapult, and lightning bolts, [which had] the range and hit area of a cannon, and so forth.”
  • Between 1912 and 1948, Edgar Rice Burroughs, best remembered as the creator of Tarzan, wrote nearly a dozen planetary romances featuring the adventures of American Civil War veteran John Carter on a fictive planet Mars.
  • Robert E. Howard published seventeen Conan stories in the pulp magazine Weird Tales from 1932 to 1936, and is widely credited as the father of the swords & sorcery genre.
  • L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt collaborated on a series of stories between 1940 and 1954, in which psychologist Harold Shea journeys to a parallel world where magic works and earth’s myths and legends really exist. The tales of de Camp and Pratt are less well regarded today than the others Gygax cites.
  • Fritz Leiber published numerous tales of the thief Gray Mouser and the northern barbarian Fafhrd between 1939 and 1991. Leiber coined the term “swords & sorcery”.
  • Gygax and Donald R. Kaye founded TSR, Inc. in 1973. Kaye created Murlynd, one of the first characters to delve in Gygax’s Castle Greyhawk campaign. Soon after founding TSR, Kaye and Gygax brought in Brian Blume as a third partner. Kaye unexpectedly died of a heart attack in 1975. Following Kaye’s death, Melvin Blume, Brian’s father, bought Kaye’s share of the company. TSR, Inc. was re-formed as TSR Hobbies.


  1. The Egg of Coot is referenced as early as 1972? I did not know that.

  2. According to aldarron and Finarvyn. I haven't seen the it myself, unfortunately.

    1. If correct, that's great. Maybe it'll fine put paid to all those rumors that it was a reference to Gygax.


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