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Has Pathfinder given up on being fantasy?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Shadow Lodge

Despite the protests about steampunk in this thread, there hasn't really been much "technology" that I've noticed that goes beyond gunpowder that has the (Ex) tag slapped on it rather than being (Su) or (S), which makes the overwhelming majority of it magic with a brass gear sloppily duct-taped to it.


CunningMongoose wrote:
If that makes you a poseur, then we both are. Count of Monte Cristo is, IMO, a work of art, and arguably the best novel ever written. LotR is a good fantasy epic, a good read from a fine writer, but it's out of its league when you try to compare it with Dumas' masterpiece.

Where do we draw the line? Dumas was just a prolific hack of his day; it's only the ongoing popularity of two of his many works that makes him a "classics" author... as opposed to say, Lord Dunsany who remains a "fantasy" author (and IMO a more important one than Tolkien). More recently, Robert B. Parker ("Spenser") was unabashedly a pulp author, churning out formulaic novels by the dozen, but his All Our Yesterdays is nevertheless every bit as good a work of literature as a lot of classics I can name. So you sort of have to compare every book with every other book, not claim that a certain comparison is "unfair."

But that brings us pretty far afield from the topic of why people go into nerdrage when the game moves away from Tolkien a bit, or when other people point out that not everyone played it as being all that close to LotR to begin with.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
meatrace wrote:


I'd never downplay Tolkien and LotR's influence on the landscape of fantasy today, that would be foolish. But with a historical perspective in mind, D&D has always been very much a throwback to pulpiness. It almost has to be. Even the corners of the hobby that are more "epic fantasy" like Dragonlance read very much like a pulp writer's perspective on the events of an epic fantasy. And I mean the original adventures and novels.

I think a lot of people forget where Gygax, Arneson, and company came from. They weren't literary masters meeting in Edwardian smoking rooms. They were essentially war gamers looking to put some depth into a particular hobby and were heavily influenced by what was popular fiction for the day in both fantasy and science fiction. It was also the time when the medium was dominated by pulp giants such as Analog, Galaxy, and Fantasy and Science Fiction, all gone from the scene now.


The White wrote:
@ TOZ. Fantasy in this case meaning High Fantasy, generally something akin to Tolkien.

Personally I think Tolkien is decidedly low magic ... Raymond E Feist is more in the right direction as far as the "classics" go.


Pinky's Brain wrote:
Raymond E Feist is more in the right direction

But that's circular, since he basically started off writing about his D&D campaign.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32 , Star Voter 2014

I removed a post and a few replies that were not helpful to maintaining a work-safe, PG-13 environment.


Kirth Gersen wrote:


Pinky's Brain wrote:


Raymond E Feist is more in the right direction

But that's circular, since he basically started off writing about his D&D campaign.

Well, that and ripping off EPT... *sigh* sorry had to say it. It's a knee jerk reaction to Feist's writing. One of those old grognard complaints...


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CunningMongoose wrote:

I disagree when you say his influence was "minimal and secondary" - Don't forget that Gygax, even with the denials, had to change the name "Hobbits" for "Halflings" because of a lawsuit by Tolkien's rightholders, and it's difficult to deny the races of the games (tall elves living for centuries, orcs who are Tolkien's invention and that you can't trace back to previous mythology, etc.) were laregely drawn from Tolkien. That being said, other large parts of the game are inspired by other authors, but I think saying Tolkien's influence was "minimal and secondary" is really pushing your thesis too far the...

Well, TBH, the elves seem a lot more like Melniboneans to me.

Ok, so you can point to a couple races. Also D&D orcs are so different from Tolkien orcs it isn't funny. Also there are many kinds of dwarves in D&D, some of which are distinctly Tolkienesque, some not. Duergar? How about Drow?

I can point to: the alignment system, the classes (Paladin specifically from 3 Hearts and 3 Lions) and Barbarian/Rogue (Conan and Gray Mouser). The original Elf class was much more like Elric than like Elrond. The way that adventures were written that mimic short stories. The perennial adversaries like cultists and evil necromancers. I can point to the spell system (Vance) as well as specific spells. The monsters, oh the monsters, which are overwhelmingly not taken from LotR. Etc.

If I had to say what percent of D&D was unequivocally Tolkien, I'd say about 8%. Which is significant, considering the plethora of sources tapped for inspiration throughout the years, but it's by far not a majority.


meatrace wrote:

Well, TBH, the elves seem a lot more like Melniboneans to me.

Ok, so you can point to a couple races. Also D&D orcs are so different from Tolkien orcs it isn't funny.

Please expand on this point.

Silver Crusade Dedicated Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
R_Chance wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:


Pinky's Brain wrote:


Raymond E Feist is more in the right direction

But that's circular, since he basically started off writing about his D&D campaign.

Well, that and ripping off EPT... *sigh* sorry had to say it. It's a knee jerk reaction to Feist's writing. One of those old grognard complaints...

Who is EPT?


Abraham spalding wrote:
meatrace wrote:

Well, TBH, the elves seem a lot more like Melniboneans to me.

Ok, so you can point to a couple races. Also D&D orcs are so different from Tolkien orcs it isn't funny.
Please expand on this point.

Which one?

OK so D&D elves seem like a mishmash of tolkien elves and moorcock's melniboneans. Moon Elf vs. Sun Elf as it were.

Tolkien orcs are short, squat, squalid creatures. The race was born of elves and evil torment. D&D, as they are now, are taller than men, strong, stubborn but not subhuman. They're tribal and are organized. You can say they're Uruk-hai, or some bastardization thereof, but they're not regular Tolkien orcs.


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:


R_Chance wrote:


Kirth Gersen wrote:


Pinky's Brain wrote:


Raymond E Feist is more in the right direction

But that's circular, since he basically started off writing about his D&D campaign.

Well, that and ripping off EPT... *sigh* sorry had to say it. It's a knee jerk reaction to Feist's writing. One of those old grognard complaints...

Who is EPT?

EPT is Empire of the Petal Throne. It's a 1975 RPG, by M.A.R. Barker, published by TSR Hobbies and using a variant of the original D&D rules. The invaders from another plane in Feist's novels seem to be from Barker's setting with minor name changes to avoid lawsuits. It's been a major gripe among fans / players of EPT (and subsequest games based on the setting) for years.


I meant the second one -- I'm going to have to go back and do some reading but that's not how I remember them being -- could simply be faulty memory though -- there were goblins in the hobbit that were described like that but I thought the orcs were described differently.

Dark Archive

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Gorbacz wrote:

Tolkien's writings, maybe except Hobbit, are dreadfully boring and uninspired. No character development, little in the way action and mind-numbing focus on purely academic stuff such as genealogy and linguistics. Oooh this tree here, it grew up from an acorn that fell down from a tree that has a story of it's own, and the trees that were before it remember blah blah bleh.

Of course, there's much to owe to the Professor for the role which his works played in making the genre go mainstream. Ironically, his academic background helped out, as thanks to it he was much more respected than any pulp fiction writers.

Funny, I have read the books a good number of times (1: I like them and while I respect others' tastes might differ, nothing will change that, and 2: I wrote my dissertation on the Mythic Structure of Tolkien's Subcreation), and I don't remember any scenes of "Oooh this tree here, it grew up from an acorn that fell down from a tree that has a story..."


meatrace wrote:


Which one?
OK so D&D elves seem like a mishmash of tolkien elves and moorcock's melniboneans. Moon Elf vs. Sun Elf as it were.

Tolkien orcs are short, squat, squalid creatures. The race was born of elves and evil torment. D&D, as they are now, are taller than men, strong, stubborn but not subhuman. They're tribal and are organized. You can say they're Uruk-hai, or some bastardization thereof, but they're not regular Tolkien orcs.

In the beginning D&D Orcs were described exactly like Tolkein's Orcs. Good thing to, because the use of "orc" to mean a humanoid race of militaristic evil types is pretty much original to Tolkein. Prior to him "orc" was an Old English term for demon or ogre iirc. For Tolkein Goblin and Orc referred to the same general race with Goblins being smaller varieties. The Uruk Hai of Tolkein compare more to the 3E Orcs. Once upon a time AD&D had "Orogs", preseumbly a orc-ogre hybrid, sometimes decribed as "great orcs".


Skaorn wrote:
Fantasy covers a lot and, on this thread, there are plenty who believe that Sword & Sorcery was a larger influence on D&D then High Fantasy.

Maybe, but that was not the point. Again, the fact that Tolkien influence was not the only influence on the game is very different from the affirmation that D&D would be the same without Tolkien. You are shifting your thesis again.


meatrace wrote:
Well, TBH, the elves seem a lot more like Melniboneans to me.

Moorcock was influenced by Tolkien. He said so himself, even if Tolkien was not his favourite author, it's difficult to deny he drew inspiration from Tolkien.

meatrace wrote:
Ok, so you can point to a couple races. Also D&D orcs are so different from Tolkien orcs it isn't funny. Also there are many kinds of dwarves in D&D, some of which are distinctly Tolkienesque, some not. Duergar? How about Drow?

D&D orcs are different, sure. But they still are largely inspired by Tolkien. Inspired by does not mean identical to.

Duergar, Drows? Sure, interresting variations. But would these variations had been if not for Tolkien?

Again, influence is not resticted to the assumption eveything influenced is to be identical the source.

8%. Fine. I would have said maybe 15-20% Certainly not 100%, certainly not less than 10%. 1/6 to 1/5 seems right to me.


Genre is...a funny thing rooted in semantics and fanaticism. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but That's where I'm going to begin.

Fantasy, as a word bereft of any cultural nuances and subculture interpretations, is just a synonym to 'imagined," since a fantasy is just an imagined reality. If you're going to define something as a fantasy, you only really need to ask a few questions:

1) Is the fantasy in question capable of being replicated in real life, right now?
2) Based on the understanding of history provided by competent individuals who are well versed in the topic in question or synergistic topics, how probable is it that the events transpiring in the alleged fantasy, have occurred, can occur, or will occur in the objective reality known as "Life on Earth, AD 2012?"

If you answered in the negative for either question, you're dealing with fantasy in a literal sense--an imagining of something.
From there, you can dice or cut or flash grill or saute or broil or broast or skin or grind or grill the core concept into a thousand million different potentials, but at its core fantasy is anything that exists partly as an abstraction of the real world. Speculative fiction (sci-fi or alternative history included)? Fantasy. Hi-fi? Fantasy. Harlequin romance novels? fantasy. Women on naughty magazines, websites, and shows? Fantasy.

As we inculcate ourselves with certain forms of fantasy (Tolkien, Narnian, Lovecraftian, Star Wars-ian, etc.), we back ourselves into a corner as far as genre goes, and end up with these sort of debates where we try to say what kind of Fantasy is better than the other, or if one kind of literal fantasy qualifies as part of the Fantasy genre. Companies like Paizo benefit immensely from this argument--The Inner Sea and the whole world of Golarion is this kitschy amalgam fantasy world with everything any fan of fantasy could potentially want, so long as fantasy's fans continue to say "fantasy is X and I'm willing to buy products that look like X". This isn't a bad thing--perhaps a bit intellectually stagnating, since popular fantasy, if I understand correctly, is synonymous with Hi-fi, and hi-fi is just the hero's quest--but it is absolutely essential to Paizo in order to thrive.

So, to answer the question originally posted: No sir, Pathfinder has not abandoned fantasy. Pathfinder is a product, and thus incapable of sentient decision. However, should you turn your gaze on the Pathfinder developers, you shall still find that the answer is "no," followed with a big fat ", BUT:" and the following phrase following that preamble:

Pathfinder is not giving up on Fantasy in the sense that it is moving away from it into bigger, more fantastic things; Pathfinder's developers are capitalizing on the human tendency to fixate in order to gobble up your imagination and strain it through their interpretation of fantasy. You will be exposed to different strains of fantasy while you are being digested and processed by the Pathfinder monster, and when you are inevitably expelled from the beast, you'll realize that the state of Fantasy as a genre is to Paizo's developers what oxygen is to your conscious self: vital, but taken entirely for granted.

As an afterthought: I sound a bit like some sort of Rush Limbaugh/Glenn Beck railing against Paizo. To clear up any discrepancies, I feel it should be known that I am quite smitten by Paizo's products. Aside from a homebrewed d6 system for Cthulhu games, it is the only tabletop game I enjoy playing. I also think the developers made some very smart moves as far as playing their industrial Go board.


It really depends on your definition of "fantasy." As far as I'm concerned, something can be pretty far removed from the Tolkienian model and still count.

For one, I'd consider it entirely unnecessary for the technology to be quasi-medieval. Ditto sticking to the standard-issue races, or even using them at all.


CunningMongoose wrote:
Skaorn wrote:
Fantasy covers a lot and, on this thread, there are plenty who believe that Sword & Sorcery was a larger influence on D&D then High Fantasy.
Maybe, but that was not the point. Again, the fact that Tolkien influence was not the only influence on the game is very different from the affirmation that D&D would be the same without Tolkien. You are shifting your thesis again.

Now I get to accuse you of exactly what you accused me of.

So, because Moorcock was influenced by Tolkien, then everything that is derivative of Moorcock is derivative of Tolkien. But we're not allowed to say D&D is derivative of the Odyssey, or the Kalevala, or Beowulf, or Arthurian legend, etc., because Tolkien mined those ideas first?

Come on now.

The plain fact is that plenty of people enjoy fantasy who never read LotR (like myself) and insisting that D&D was SO inspired by Tolkien, despite first hand evidence (the linked interview with Gygax) to the contrary looks foolish.

But seriously, other than a few of the races, what about D&D is so distinctly Tolkienesque to you?

If D&D were like Tolkien, there would be months of sessions where no one does anything but argue, and traveling would be done in real time, and the DM would describe every patch of moss on every rock along the way. *zing*

I've never played in a D&D game that felt like epic fantasy. Most D&D tropes are kill the monster, take the loot, get to the next level of the dungeon. It's action action action. It's a game with rules largely pertaining to combat that, surprise, evolved from a skirmish war game. Pulp fiction is, was, and will be more compatible with that style than epic fantasy.


meatrace wrote:

Now I get to accuse you of exactly what you accused me of.

So, because Moorcock was influenced by Tolkien, then everything that is derivative of Moorcock is derivative of Tolkien. But we're not allowed to say D&D is derivative of the Odyssey, or the Kalevala, or Beowulf, or Arthurian legend, etc., because Tolkien mined those ideas first?

Come on now.

The point was about elves, not about everything Moorcock wrote. You really like to take a perticular propositions and make them universals claims, don't you. ;-)

I really try not to talk from a general and global point of view if I am not really sure about it, and to restrict myself to concretes, positives, perticulars facts when I can. I think there is enough for a link between Tolkien's elves and Moorcock's. That is no way a claim that everything Moocock contributed to the game backgroud is from Tolkien. The alignment system, for one, is directly drawn from Elric.

meatrace wrote:

The plain fact is that plenty of people enjoy fantasy who never read LotR (like myself) and insisting that D&D was SO inspired by Tolkien, despite first hand evidence (the linked interview with Gygax) to the contrary looks foolish.

But seriously, other than a few of the races, what about D&D is so distinctly Tolkienesque to you?

As I said, maybe 15-20%. Races for sure. Rangers? Mithral? A couple of spells (pyrotechny, etc.) Balrogs (Pit fiends) etc.


meatreace wrote:
Ok, so you can point to a couple races. Also D&D orcs are so different from Tolkien orcs it isn't funny. Also there are many kinds of dwarves in D&D, some of which are distinctly Tolkienesque, some not. Duergar? How about Drow?

One could make an argument that Eol (Silmarillion) was the original dark elf. Everyone called him "dark elf," he almost never came out into the sunlight, he was a sociopath... Sure he didn't have black skin and white hair, but I can see him making someone's imaginative gears turn.

Quote:
If D&D were like Tolkien, there would be months of sessions where no one does anything but argue, and traveling would be done in real time, and the DM would describe every patch of moss on every rock along the way. *zing*

Only if the moss is arranged *just so.* Which it always would be.

Dark Archive

Duergar are right there in Tolkien's world, just not as a separate subrace of dwarves.

The word comes from or is related to Mercian (duerg) and Old Norse (dvergr, pronounced, to the best of my knowledge more or less like "duergar") and simply means "dwarf". In Old Norse and proto-/old Germanic mythology, which Tolkien mined heavily, both mythologically and linguistically, dwarves could be both "light" and "dark" (and weren't really that different from the elves, so lets put svartalfr/drow into this batch as well), often going "dark" because of greed for gold.

In Old Norse, the dwarf Fáfnir killed his brother Hreidmar to get all the gold made by the ring Andvarinaut for himself. He became very ill-natured, so he went out into the wilderness to keep his fortune, eventually turning into a serpent or dragon (symbol of greed) to guard his treasure.

Tolkien has several instances that are at least inspired by the Old Norse/Old Germanic concept, such as when Thorin almost goes insane at the Battle of Five Armies (not actually turning into a dragon, but certainly "turning" into a monster).

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Actually having read and reread LOTR, and having played this game for a long time, I would reliably say that Gygax was pretty much technically accurate in his statements.

Neither Tolkien, or Moorcock for that matter invented fantasy. Moorcock in particular actually was fairly active in deconstructing what had been considered classic tropes in sword and sorcery, including both elves and sword heroes for that matter.

What I've also read are a good deal of the sources that were included in the Bibiliography for AD&D in particular, Vance. If anything, the claims to Tolkien in this thread should be thrown out and Jack Vance's name inserted instead, when it comes to mechanics... and especially tone of the game and the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor settings.

As to Orc, before Tolkien, Orc was a proper name used in the extremely funky and fantastic literature of William Blake.


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Jack Vance is pretty f@#!ing awesome. :)


@LazarX
You are 100% correct about Jack Vance. Everyone who plays this game should read the Dying Earth and find out where this game we love really came from.

Maybe the new John Carter movie will help introduce some of the younger generation of gamers to the science fantasy/sword & planet influences of this game. Or even better just read Princess of Mars then go watch the movie when it comes out.

Just because someone chooses to view the genre through the lens of a Tolkien fan doesn't make the many other influences less important.


LazarX wrote:
What I've also read are a good deal of the sources that were included in the Bibiliography for AD&D in particular, Vance. If anything, the claims to Tolkien in this thread should be thrown out and Jack Vance's name inserted instead, when it comes to mechanics... and especially tone of the game and the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor settings.

Sure, Vance was awesome! Sure, he did leave his mark on the game, as much as, maybe even more than Tolkien.

But that is in now way sowing Tolkien did not himself influence the game. The game had many major influences, among wich Tolkien is an important one.

Vance and Moorcock and Howard, and Leiber and others too influenced the game. But trying to remove Tolkien from this list is absurd.


AdAstraGames wrote:

...

... there are 0 magical swords in the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard.
...

Aehm, see "The Phoenix on the Sword"


CunningMongoose wrote:
LazarX wrote:
What I've also read are a good deal of the sources that were included in the Bibiliography for AD&D in particular, Vance. If anything, the claims to Tolkien in this thread should be thrown out and Jack Vance's name inserted instead, when it comes to mechanics... and especially tone of the game and the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor settings.

Sure, Vance was awesome! Sure, he did leave his mark on the game, as much as, maybe even more than Tolkien.

But that is in now way sowing Tolkien did not himself influence the game. The game had many major influences, among wich Tolkien is an important one.

Vance and Moorcock and Howard, and Leiber and others too influenced the game. But trying to remove Tolkien from this list is absurd.

Which, as far as I can tell, literally no one is trying to do. As you've pointed out, the races are likely straight from Tolkien.

What I'm trying to say is that Tolkien is LESS of an influence than any one of those writers. Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, Anderson, Vance, and a couple others.


meatrace wrote:
Tolkien is LESS of an influence than any one of those writers.

Wow, just wow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Tolkien fanboy. I like his work, but I do prefer other's. You could add Lewis Caroll to the list (Vorpal sword, Jabberwock, etc.) for an example, and in my opinion, he is a far more interresting author than Tolkien.

But please, let gives credit where credit is due. His work is AT LEAST on-par with those other author's!

I get it some people are tired to hear Tolkien did it all by himself, which is blatantly ignoring a large part of the litterature that was an influence on the game. I agree with all that, and I know Tolkien's influence is far too often seen as being larger that it should be.

But making Tolkien a "minor player at best" and downplaying the influence his work had to make that point seems to me like dishonestly going too far in the opposite direction.


CunningMongoose wrote:
meatrace wrote:
Tolkien is LESS of an influence than any one of those writers.

Wow, just wow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Tolkien fanboy. I like his work, but I do prefer other's. You could add Lewis Caroll to the list (Vorpal sword, Jabberwock, etc.) for an example, and in my opinion, he is a far more interresting author than Tolkien.

But please, let gives credit where credit is due. His work is AT LEAST on-par with those other author's!

I get it some people are tired to hear Tolkien did it all by himself, which is blatantly ignoring a large part of the litterature that was an influence on the game. I agree with all that, and I know Tolkien's influence is far too often seen as being larger that it should be.

But making Tolkien a "minor player at best" and downplaying the influence his work had to make that point seems to me like dishonestly going too far in the opposite direction.

Them show me, other than a couple of races, where Tolkien has such an influence on D&D. I've posted my points. All you keep saying is "but the elves...". But you won't believe me, and neither will you believe Gary Gygax himself on this subject, so I doubt you can be swayed.


meatrace wrote:
Them show me, other than a couple of races, where Tolkien has such an influence on D&D. I've posted my points. All you keep saying is "but the elves...". But you won't believe me, and neither will you believe Gary Gygax himself on this subject, so I doubt you can be swayed.

Don't forget, for example that the "races" may be a minor point now, but that in basic D&D, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings where all the non-human races you could play and were also accounting for more than half of the character classes (playing an elf was playing the class elf also.)

Sure, Tolkien's influence got diluted after more races and classes were added, and the game expanded, but when you go back to the basic set, Tolkien's influence is rather large.


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CunningMongoose wrote:

Sure, Vance was awesome! Sure, he did leave his mark on the game, as much as, maybe even more than Tolkien. But that is in now way sowing Tolkien did not himself influence the game. The game had many major influences, among wich Tolkien is an important one. Vance and Moorcock and Howard, and Leiber and others too influenced the game. But trying to remove Tolkien from this list is absurd.

If we cede Tolkien the 20% (!!!!) you want to give him, and allow Vance another 20% ("as much as, maybe even more"), then only half the game can possibly be from other sources? That sounds flat-out wrong to me.

Look, we can calculate percentages, not just pull them out of the air. Let's look at AD&D for starters.

  • Races: Tolkien gets hobbits (er, halflings), half-orcs, elves (even though they appear in Poul Anderson as well, and a lot different from Tolkien's), dwarves. Humans are ubiquitous, and a gnome-like henchman appears in Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions. That's 4/6, or 67% to Tolkien, ceding him ties.
  • Classes: Say we give you Aragorn as the ranger (despite Robin Hood, etc., etc.). The paladin is, again, from Three Hearts and Three Lions. The rogue is modeled on Cugel the Clever, from Vance. The assassin as a core class is from Burroughs' The Swords of Mars. Give Howard the barbarian. Druids and bards are fantasy-ized Celtic figures. Monks are a product of the 70s Kung Fu craze. Fighters, wizards, clerics, are ubiquitous -- although the wizard's mechanics are from Vance. That's 11 classes, of which Tolkien gets part of one, or 9%.
  • Monsters: Tolkien gets treants, black willows (1e MMII), and orcs; we can give him goblins as well. And red dragons, of course, and Type VI demons (balrogs), wights (although they appear in Poul Anderson as well), intelligent giant spiders, werebears, and possibly wraiths (although the ringwraiths bear little resemblance to the D&D wraiths). The regenerating troll is straight from, again, Three Hearts and Three Lions. The bulk are from mythology and bestiaries; only a very few (e.g., beholders) are spun from whole cloth. On the whole, 10 monsters runs about 1%.
  • Magic items: ring of invisibility, crystal ball (because the D&D one acts like a palantir), "elven chain" (mithril) go to the Prof. The robe of eyes and rope of entangling are from Vance; magic carpets and genie rings are from Arabian Nights; magic swords are all over Three Hearts and Three Lions, more so than in Tolkien (who had only one of them). In fact, out of hundreds of items, I find no more that are Tolkien. That's again about 1%.
  • I intentionally didn't include spells, considering them part of the wizard and cleric classes, but if we include them then Tolkien gets even less influence: things like pyrotechnics get swamped by the sheer number from Vance.

    Take the geometric mean of races, classes, monsters, and magic items, and you get 5% (contributed mostly by the races). That's respectable, but nowhere near the 20% you want to give him.


  • Kirth Gersen wrote:
    CunningMongoose wrote:

    Sure, Vance was awesome! Sure, he did leave his mark on the game, as much as, maybe even more than Tolkien. But that is in now way sowing Tolkien did not himself influence the game. The game had many major influences, among wich Tolkien is an important one. Vance and Moorcock and Howard, and Leiber and others too influenced the game. But trying to remove Tolkien from this list is absurd.

    If we cede Tolkien the 20% (!!!!) you want to give him, and allow Vance another 20% ("as much as, maybe even more"), then only half the game can possibly be from other sources? That sounds flat-out wrong to me.

    Look, we can calculate percentages, not just pull them out of the air. Let's look at AD&D for starters.

  • Races: Tolkien gets hobbits (er, halflings), half-orcs, elves (evenm though they appear in Poul Anderson as well), dwarves. Humans are ubiquitous, and a gnome-like henchman appears in Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions. That's 4/6, or 67% to Tolkien, ceding him ties.
  • Classes: Say we give you Aragorn as the ranger (despite Robin Hood, etc., etc.). The paladin is, again, from Three Hearts and Three Lions. The rogue is modeled on Cugel the Clever, from Vance. The assassin as a core class is from Burroughs' The Swords of Mars. Give Howard the barbarian. Druids and bards are fantasy-ized Celtic figures. Monks are a product of the 70s Kung Fu craze. Fighters, wizards, clerics, are ubiquitous -- although the wizard's mechanics are from Vance. That's 11 classes, of which Tolkien gets part of one, or 9%.
  • Monsters: Tolkien gets treants, black willows (1e MMII), and orcs; we can give him goblins as well. And red dragons, of course, and Type VI demons (balrogs), wights (although they appear in Poul Anderson as well), and possibly wraiths (although the ringwraiths bear little resemblance to the D&D wraiths). The regenerating troll is straight from, again, Three Hearts and Three Lions. The bulk are from mythology and bestiaries; only a very...
  • Again, I'm talking about the Basic set. Open the red box, and see for yourself! Almost all what you are attributing to others did not exist at first. The basic set is rooted in Tolkien (and Vance).

    Sure, the game expanded, and Tolkien's influence was diluted. But to say his influence was not at leat 20% at the beginning seems downplaying it a lot.


    Yeah. And neither elves nor dwarves, as presented, were unique to Tolkien. Perhaps other works (Anderson's Dwarves in 3H3L and the Meliboneans) are derivative, but then so are Tolkien's elves.

    Again, you just have the races. The races aren't the entire game. The game play, the monsters, the class system, the alignment system, the spell system, the system of discrete adventures (as opposed to long campaigns) are all FAR more indicative of influence from the other writers. That's the bulk of what the game was, short of pure mechanics. Dismissing ALL THAT because "psh tolkien elves..." is absolutely disingenuous and a slight on the authors that actually DID influence Gygax and Arneson.

    Again, Tolkien has an IMMENSE influence on the fantasy genre of fiction. But it IS possible to be a fantasy fan without having read Tolkien. I am. It's entirely possible Gygax never read all of LotR, let along Silmarillion, et al. Saying, then, that 20+% of his creations were directly influenced by a book he never really understood and claimed not to like as early as 1974, is absurd.

    When I play D&D, when I have played D&D, I have almost never been reminded of LotR in story or gameplay style as much as I have hack and smash Sword and Sorcery novels.


    CunningMongoose wrote:
    stuff

    See, now you're talking nonsense. If anything it's the reverse. D&D started out virtually devoid of Tolkien influence, and it grew as the clearly Tolkien derivative settings became the more popular ones (Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms).


    meatrace wrote:

    Yeah. And neither elves nor dwarves, as presented, were unique to Tolkien. Perhaps other works (Anderson's Dwarves in 3H3L and the Meliboneans) are derivative, but then so are Tolkien's elves.

    Again, you just have the races. The races aren't the entire game. The game play, the monsters, the class system, the alignment system, the spell system, the system of discrete adventures (as opposed to long campaigns) are all FAR more indicative of influence from the other writers.

    Red box. Half the classes are from Tolkien (because half the classes are also races.)

    "Just the races" was in the basic set accounting for a LOT. Not for all. As I said again and again.

    Go back to the basic set and read the Halfling description - you may understand why there was a LAWSUIT filled against Gygax from Tolkien's rightholders. You may say I ignore what Gygax said, but this fact alone is enough I think to have serious doubt about his honesty in this case.

    meatrace wrote:
    That's the bulk of what the game was, short of pure mechanics. Dismissing ALL THAT because "psh tolkien elves..." is absolutely disingenuous and a slight on the authors that actually DID influence Gygax and Arneson.

    I did not. I said again and again those authors were at leat ON-PAR with Tolkien. I did recognise in almost every post I wrote that these authors were very very importants to understand the game. I did not dismiss anything, please read my posts again. You certainly are caricaturing my position now.

    meatrace wrote:
    Again, Tolkien has an IMMENSE influence on the fantasy genre of fiction. But it IS possible to be a fantasy fan without having read Tolkien. I am. It's entirely possible Gygax never read all of LotR, let along Silmarillion, et al. Saying, then, that 20+% of his creations were directly influenced by a book he never really understood and claimed not to like as early as 1974, is absurd.

    Again, your ONLY source is from ONE guy under a lawsuit for intellectual property infrigment against what he was then downplaying. Don't get me wrong, I like and respect Gygax, but he was then under attack, and most probably following the advices of his lawyer when talking to the press.

    meatrace wrote:
    When I play D&D, when I have played D&D, I have almost never been reminded of LotR in story or gameplay style as much as I have hack and smash Sword and Sorcery novels.

    Oh, so because you never had the feel of Tolkien in your personnal gaming experience, that should be a proof he did not had an influence? Sorry, but I did play in campaigns with a large Tolkien feel. Is that a proof? No. You playing style is in no way something you can use to argue here.

    Again, open the red box, read it again. Tolkien's influence was large, and the fact it was diluted with 30+ years of adding to the game is not a proof it was not when the game was created, a very large influence.


    meatrace wrote:
    CunningMongoose wrote:
    stuff
    See, now you're talking nonsense. If anything it's the reverse. D&D started out virtually devoid of Tolkien influence, and it grew as the clearly Tolkien derivative settings became the more popular ones (Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms).

    !!!

    Ok, lets just agree to disagree. If, opening the basic set, you can't see Tolkien's influence, well... I can't argue anymore. I'll just drop it, because being accused of talking nonsense when you can blatantly tell just by reading a few pages is not only unfair, it's also insulting.


    CunningMongoose wrote:
    If, opening the basic set, you can't see Tolkien's influence, well... I can't argue anymore.

    We can all see it; it's just that not everyone agrees with your assessment that Tolkien represents a fifth of the game. Tolkien was a trailblazer in terms of making major nonhuman characters in fantasy (Dunsany's King of Elfland's Daughter (1924) beat him to it with elves, though); that aspect definitely shows his touch.

    Then again, the major use of nonhuman "party members" was arguably lifted by Tolkien directly from E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series from the 1930s -- does that make Tolkien a Smith derviative, and hence shift the percentage?

    I'm also surprised no one has mentioned Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros (1924), as I always felt that a good deal of the early game owes it's "Zeitgeist" to that work as much, if not more so, than Tolkien. Then again, Leiber cites Eddison as an inspiration, and Gygax cites Leiber, so there you have it.


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    CunningMongoose wrote:
    If, opening the basic set, you can't see Tolkien's influence, well... I can't argue anymore.

    We can all see it; it's just that not everyone agrees with your assessment that Tolkien represents a fifth of the game. Tolkien was a trailblazer in terms of making major nonhuman characters in fantasy (Dunsany's King of Elfland's Daughter (1924) beat him to it with elves, though); that aspect definitely shows his touch.

    Then again, the major use of nonhuman "party members" was arguably lifted by Tolkien directly from E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series from the 1930s -- does that make Tolkien a Smith derviative, and hence shift the percentage?

    I'm also surprised no one has mentioned Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros (1924), as I always felt that a good deal of the early game owes it's "Zeitgeist" to that work as much, if not more so, than Tolkien. Then again, Leiber cites Eddison as an inspiration, and Gygax cites Leiber, so there you have it.

    Tars Tarkas, man. Tars Tarkas!

    It's fun to sit around and list which influences of your favorite writer you can find in your favorite RPG. Trying to assign numerical value to such flights of fancy is silly in the extreme.

    Has Pathfinder given up on being fantasy? Well, it was never all that committed to the genre to begin with.


    Hitdice wrote:
    Tars Tarkas, man. Tars Tarkas!

    Seriously -- run with that -- the fighter class arguably owes far more to Burroughs than any other single influence. The assassin base class is from ERB. Hell, the whole idea of "dungeons" as places to adventure is from ERB -- and that's the root of the game! I'd therefore give him a much higher fraction than Tolkien!

    But your point regarding percentages is dead on, because if I keep Tolkien as 20% based on races, Vance 25% for magic and so on, Burroughs 50% for dungeons and so on, Anderson and Leiber and Howard and deCamp & Pratt for their major contributions, I very quickly end up with totals a LOT higher than 100%!


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    But your point regarding percentages is dead on, because if I keep Tolkien as 20% based on races, Vance 25% for magic and so on, Burroughs 50% for dungeons and so on, Anderson and Leiber and so on for other stuff, I very quickly end up with totals a LOT higher than 100%!

    No one said the "percentages" were base 10 :P

    I'm sad about ERB though: I've seen the movie previews and the red martians, up to and including JC, are wearing way too many clothes.

    Edit: Not that JC, this thread's already strayed far enough...


    I'm actually okay with a percentage of higher than 100%.

    Overlap in areas counts could mean contributors provided in the same area simply reinforcing what is already there.

    After all while ERB might be presented as presenting dungeons as a place to adventure Tolkien provided ruins, the over world trip, mountains, fortresses, and no less than 4 dungeons (dwarves at the elves, Gollum at Mordor, Gandalf at the tower, and Frodo and Sam after the cave).

    It simply helps reinforce ideas already presented -- yes its redundant but its still very important in helping the idea stick.


    Abraham spalding wrote:

    I'm actually okay with a percentage of higher than 100%. Overlap in areas counts could mean contributors provided in the same area simply reinforcing what is already there.

    After all while ERB might be presented as presenting dungeons as a place to adventure Tolkien provided ruins, the over world trip, mountains, fortresses, and no less than 4 dungeons (dwarves at the elves, Gollum at Mordor, Gandalf at the tower, and Frodo and Sam after the cave).

    Yet Tolkien is given sole credit for the overlap, at the expense of those who preceded him? A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars were written in 1912-1914, with their ruins, over-world trips, mountains, fortresses, and innumerable dungeons.

    Overlap is fine, but not when used to make claims that Tolkien is somehow more important than the sources that he drew upon. Norse mythology (obviously), but also Burroughs, Eddison, and "Doc" Smith all predated Tolkien's major contributions.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.

    Not at all I'm just saying I'm good with the overlap, credit them all at 100% and I'm go for it.

    It reminds me of the quote I'm about to butcher, "If I see a little farther than most men it is only because I stand on the shoulders of the giants that came before me."


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    CunningMongoose wrote:
    This text will explain my point better that I can do: Is Google Making us stupid

    I stopped reading that article half-way through. Mostly when I realized he had a bunch of rambling anecdotes with little data to back it up. People have lost patience for pointlessly long writing. Because we now have a plethora of information sources available.

    Is the Internet making us stupid? I say no. I know more now than I ever did. I'm learning more on my own time than I ever did in college. Do I always sit down and do deep research on any topic I become interested in? No. But the breadth of knowledge I've acquired from "power browsing" is astounding.

    Is the Internet changing the way we research and think? Yes. It's making us smarter.


    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
    meatrace wrote:
    But seriously, other than a few of the races, what about D&D is so distinctly Tolkienesque to you?

    Even if Gary Gygax was only passingly influenced by Toklien, it doesn't matter. Toklien had a huge influence on the culture of fantasy and that impacted every writer who ever worked on Dungeons and Dragons afterward.

    Every once in a while people make a conscious move away from Tolkien (see Dark Sun, etc), but influence isn't a one-way street that can be easily mapped. Even a writer who has never read Toklien is influenced indirectly by other authors who were inspired by him. But inspiration is a mix of multiple sources, and there are many fine writers who shaped the genre during its history.

    Doing statistical analysis to try and trace exactly what % of D&D came from any one source seems like a pointless exercise to me.

    Grand Lodge

    Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
    CunningMongoose wrote:
    meatrace wrote:
    Tolkien is LESS of an influence than any one of those writers.

    Wow, just wow. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Tolkien fanboy. I like his work, but I do prefer other's. You could add Lewis Caroll to the list (Vorpal sword, Jabberwock, etc.) for an example, and in my opinion, he is a far more interresting author than Tolkien.

    But please, let gives credit where credit is due. His work is AT LEAST on-par with those other author's!

    I get it some people are tired to hear Tolkien did it all by himself, which is blatantly ignoring a large part of the litterature that was an influence on the game. I agree with all that, and I know Tolkien's influence is far too often seen as being larger that it should be.

    But making Tolkien a "minor player at best" and downplaying the influence his work had to make that point seems to me like dishonestly going too far in the opposite direction.

    We, at least I aren't talking about the quality of Tolkien's work, but the sources that Gygax and Arneson drew upon for inspiration in creating Chainmail and D&D.


    1 person marked this as a favorite.
    deinol wrote:
    Is the Internet changing the way we research and think?

    The research I'll give you, that's obviously (like, obviously) true.

    Changing the way we think? I really don't know; I don't think I think any differently from someone with out a interwebz terminal in their house, but then, I'm the one thinking it, so all bets are off, right?

    I certainly don't think the internet is making us stupid, but we (the human race) have never set a particularly high bar on that one...


    Kirth Gersen wrote:
    We can all see it; it's just that not everyone agrees with your assessment that Tolkien represents a fifth of the game.

    I'm not an english speaker, but I am wrong in understanding that when you use the expression "devoid of" it means you see NO infuence at all?

    As for 1/5, I was the first to say trying to quantify was pointeless, but when pressed to do so, I droped this number as somehow making sense for me. We were talking about 5-6 major authors by this point in the discussion.

    As I said, and reapeated, my only point was that Tolkien's influence on the game, even after taking into account the countless other sources, was a very strong one in the basic set, at leat ON-PAR (whatever the number you want to use) with other major writers.

    Meatrace's affirmation that the basic set is "devoid of" tolkien's influence and that saying otherwise is talking "nonsense" - well, I can't argue with that. Have it your way.

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