In 1987, Gary Gygax put out a book entitled Role-Playing Mastery, which gave instructions on how to excel as a player in role-playing games. At that time, there were essentially two versions of Dungeons and Dragons. The Original, or ‘Basic’ game, had evolved under Tom Moldvay’s rules development. Gygax, meanwhile, was focused on Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, or ’AD&D’. They were marketed as separate rules systems and 2nd Edition AD&D would not be released until 1989.
Gygax had been pushed completely out of TSR (the company he cofounded to print the first set of D&D rules) by December 31, 1986, so he was no longer associated with D&D when this book came out.
In an interview not long before he died, Gygax was asked how he’d like to be remembered and replied:
“I would like the world to remember me as the guy who really enjoyed playing games and sharing his knowledge and his fun pastimes with everybody else.”
This book, which he wrote about twenty years before his death, reflects that philosophy. On a side note, he wrote a companion book that came out in 1989: Master of the Game, which focused on the Dungeon Master/Game Master side of role-playing. They are both interesting reads; partly because he takes the subject so seriously. And bear in mind that PC gaming consisted of titles like Ultima IV, Wizardry and Bard’s Tale. Pool of Radiance, the first of the gold box series, was a year away. MMORPGs weren’t even conceived of yet (yes, I know MUDs existed). But computer gaming was a very different world. People RPGd by sitting around a table together. And Gary Gygax suggested how they could be very good at it.
So, next post will begin a look a Gary Gygax's 17 Steps to Role Playing Mastery.