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Lessons from the Aether: The Gygaxyan Lens


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The multiple incarnations of Dungeons and Dragons serve and continue to serve as inspirations for many writers in and beyond the Speculative Fiction sphere.

But why?

There are many reasons why I think Dave Anderson and Gary Gygax creation has such a powerful influence over those writers that played it. For many it was one of many firsts: the first time they held a magic sword, the first time the encountered a dragon, and the first time the haggled with a merchant. Second, it coalesced and organized a myriad of influences from Alighieri, Milton, Lovecraft, Howard, Tolkien and Moorcock, to name a few. It provided neat classifications for monsters and races into accessible archetypes/stereotypes with numbers to match. It also created a definable structure to the Hero’s Journey, this time through the flowchart like dungeons and wilderness areas. The rules became a laboratory of creation. Players created not only characters for themselves, but entire universes composed of pastoral villages, busy metropolis, dark deities, and endless dimensions. And finally, they also provided a ready made group of people that would critique and share in the action of creation.

For all these reasons. the Gygaxian Lens shaped the fantastic worlds of today.

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