Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day of the Dwarf: A Retrospective

I'm not sure why, but today I thought about the short story "The Day of the Dwarf," by Roger Moore, from Dragon #42 (October 1980). A copy of the story was transcribed on the WOTC website here, but I think I saw a few typos; find the original if you can. This story had a big impact on me back in the day, and upon rereading it I noticed a few noteworthy things...

First, as brief as it was, it was the first narrative example of high-level "domain game" play that I was exposed to. This was clearly free-wheeling OD&D back in the day of experience levels exceeding 20th, or 30th! They had henchdragons, artifacts, superpowers inspired by both Marvel and DC, and Melnibonean swords. And they lived up in the sky on the "Battlecloud Galactica!"

Second, it showed that player characters were often highly portable from campaign to campaign. I don't know if that's notably an "old school" phenomenon that's no longer so widespread, but it shows a level of trust between players and DMs that I suspect has diminished in the community.

Third, the "big reveal" at the end of the story (which I won't spoil for anyone who hasn't read it) was something that I should have picked up on, but didn't. When I read "dwarf" in a D&D context, my mind went right to the Tolkienesqe archetype, but those aren't the only ones!

Fourth, the story showed male and female players at the same table. To 13-year-old me in 1980, that was a mind blowing idea!  :-)  As fate would have it, I was only a year and a half from beginning a long-term AD&D campaign that would involve me DMing a group that included several college-age girls, but that's another story....

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