May 22, 2011

A Cryptic Statement

Reading through an old The Dragon magazine (#27) I read this mysterious passage by Bob Bledsaw (overseer of the Judges Guild).
Dungeons & Dragons is the universal language of fantasy role playing (being the grandfather of the third generation systems).
This was published in July 1979. What exactly does he mean by the "third generation systems"?


  1. Maybe:

    1st Generation - straight chit-based wargaming

    2nd Generation - miniature/hybrid unit-based wargaming (chainmail, etc.)

    3rd Generation - straight RPG

  2. wow! what took you so long to answer? ;)

  3. Haha, I just happened to log in and this post was at the top of my feed so I stopped by :)

  4. If D&D is the grandfather of the 3rd generation systems, that would make D&D the 1st generation.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. So speaking in 1979, does he mean 1e is 2nd generation and Holmes is 3rd? Or maybe he considers the supplements 2nd generation and 1e AD&D is 3rd?

  7. I obviously don't know precisely what Bledsaw was thinking when he wrote that, but my guess is that he considered D&D -- in all its forms -- the first generation. The second generation would consist of those games produced in the immediate aftermath of D&D's popularity, so those games coming in '75 through '77. Nearly all these second generation games are either imitations of, reactions to, or commentaries on D&D. 1978 is a big year for the hobby, as the number of new games explodes at that point and many of the new games aren't directly inspired by D&D at all but either wholly new or inspired by second generation games.

    That's my guess.

  8. Taketoshi's explanation makes a lot of sense to me.

    James: your interpretation sounds like hindsight from a POV that just wasn't available in 1979.

    Though, like Spawn suggests I see how it could be: Original D&D = 1st gen, Holmes = 2nd, and AD&D = 3rd. I'm still convinced by Taketoshi's explanation though.

  9. I'm still convinced by Taketoshi's explanation though.

    The problem is that, if that explanation were correct, D&D couldn't possibly be part of the first generation, since it's not a hex and chit wargame and never was.

  10. I think we're assuming that he's using the term "grandfather" precisely in its familial context, rather than as a colloquial indicator of early-and-great status. To be the grandfather or grand-daddy of any given field, you don't necessarily have to be two generations removed from a thing, you just have to be the biggest and have the most direct influence on the behavior or reception of the others.

    I think trying to take the term "grandfather" too literally in that statement is what causes it to be confusing.

    And assuming that RPG designers are somehow able to use language clearly and unambiguously (or even consistently) in 1979 is a big leap of faith, right in the face of all the evidence :)

  11. Can you give us more context for the quote? That might help...

  12. Chainmail's fantasy supplement is 1st gen, then?

    First, let me state that while we are licensed by TSR to produce playing aids for Dungeons &Dragons, none of that which I have written below has been edited by them. Our relationship has been quite amenable
    and businesslike from the beginning. Dungeons & Dragons is the universal language of fantasy role playing (being the grandfather of the third generation systems). Judges Guild has benefitted greatly by it’s
    association with this popular game and we in turn have benefitted Dungeons & Dragons by publishing sorely needed complementary playing aids. The net effect has been to create a larger economic pie for all concerned and boost the sales of all fantasy role playing systems.

    TSR has the right to accept or reject specific designs for approved use with Dungeons & Dragons. To date, only one project has been rejected and then with appropriate comments to permit it’s revision to acceptable standards. We do not coordinate projects which aren’t meant for use with the D & D system. Judges Guild is an independent firm which has no direct ties to TSR except the license agreements for Dungeons &
    Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons which we hold. TSR does not provide financing, design, or layout help to Judges Guild. We receive no special considerations in the form of kickbacks, advertising rates, or reduced prices. In fact, Judges Guild has received sparse notice in any game reviews or articles by TSR Periodicals except in our paid advertisements. (Ed. Note: We have shied away from reviewing TJG
    products for one primary reason. In the past, I was the TSR person approving their designs. A definite conflict of interest existed.) Our arrangement has benefitted both parties . . . . it is in the nature of complementary products! To those who abhor such an arrangement, an Archie Bunker salute! It works! And the end beneficiary is the consumer! Judges Guild has expanded the horizons of D & D campaigning,
    supplying playing aids which: promulgated a more desirable method of play, permitted novices to examine the design of functional dungeons and wilderness adventures, and provided a transition or bridge between wilderness adventuring and dungeon adventuring which many judges chose to ignore, due to the lack of definitive guidelines and examples of application. Since the inception of my campaign shortly after the first
    publication of D & D, our group has been adventuring in wilderness as 4. Emphasized a more “humane” relationship between the players and the judge wherein the judge was slightly more limited in his god-like powers to following guidelines in the more subjective areas of the game.