"D&D encourages inventiveness and originality within the framework of its rules. Those who insist on altering the framework should design their own game."
"Why can’t magic-users employ swords...On the surface this seems a small concession, but in actuality it would spoil the game!"
"Each character role has been designed with care in order to provide varied and unique approaches to solving the problems which confront the players...This same reasoning precludes many of the proposed character classes which enthusiasts wish to add to D&D. Usually such classes are either an unnecessary variation on an existing class, are to obtuse to be interesting, or are endowed with sufficient prowess to assure that they would rule the campaign..."
"The “critical hit” or “double damage” on a “to hit” die roll of 20 is particularly offensive to the precepts of D&D as well."
"Any fighting man worth the name made it a point to practice daily with all forms of arms....The truth of the matter with respect to weapon expertise is, I believe, another attempt to move players closer to the “instant death” ability.
"...[Amateur Press Associations] are generally beneath contempt, for they typify the lowest form of vanity press. There one finds pages and pages of banal chatter and inept writing from persons incapable of creating anything which is publishable elsewhere. Therefore, they pay money to tout their sophomoric ideas, criticise those who are able to write and design, and generally make themselves obnoxious...they are unprofessional, unethical and seemingly ignorant of the laws concerning libel...When I first got into this business, I felt that the APA-zines might be good for the hobby...Now I know the error of my thinking. They serve no useful purpose."
"Additions to and augmentations of certain parts of the D&D rules are fine. Variants which change the rules so as to imbalance the game or change it are most certainly not. These sorts of tinkering fall into the realm of creation of a new game, not development of the existing system."
"Spell points add nothing to D&D except more complication, more record keeping, more wasted time, and a precept which is totally foreign to the rest of the game."
"Many seek to trade on D&D’s popularity by offering “new” or “variant” systems which fit only with D&D, even though the game is not actually named. Buy them if you have money to throw away, but at peril of your campaign; do not use material which alters the basic precepts of the game."
He uses "framework" and "precepts" as if they are unalterable, or sacrosanct. But what are the precepts of D&D? Roll a d20 and interpret the results the way the rules tell you? Randomly generated ability scores? Experience, level, and class systems? Spell memorization? Some combination of the above, or none of these?
I can understand why a designer might think his design choices are best, but to publicly lambast someone else's design choices is purely unprofess-ional. I may not like AD&D nor the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th editions. I can tell you at length why I do not like them, but I'm not going say that their design choices are bad. I can tell you without a doubt that they are not for me.
What's funny is that, as time progressed, D&D changed:
- Everyone used the "natural 20" rule, and it made it into 2E as an optional rule, and into 3E as an official "critical threat" roll.
- Weapon expertise found its way into all editions as "Weapon Mastery" (in BECM), "Weapon Proficiencies" in 1 and 2E, and through various Feats in 3E.
- Character classes were added, first in the form of "Kits" in 2E, then 180+ "base classes," and over 700 Prestige Classes in 3E (this is according to the Wizards official site).
- Bulletin Board Services sprang up, host to a number of house-rules, and then this ballooned to blogs and retro-clones, each touting his or her own "variant system which fit only with D&D."
- Spell Points made it into the Wheel of Time game published by WotC.
I've played with mages who used spell points and found it refreshing and new. It brought a flavor to the game that somehow the spell slot system lacked. I know the way Vance describes it is fantastic, but in D&D it was cut, dried, clinical, and limiting. I've since found variants to make it less limiting and more flavorful, but still use basically the same system.
It's pretty interesting to see Gygax violently defend a game that later on, even under his watch, changed immensely. True, even before 2E, he was ousted and even hunted by TSR's legal team. But it's also strange to see such venom being spewed at people who simply were trying to add rules to a game they loved. It is even more interesting if you consider he had a hand in Castles & Crusades decades later, itself a variant of D&D.
Regardless of the "angry young man" showcased here, we owe Mr. Gygax a debt we cannot repay, and I'm glad that he was able to continue to ignite our imaginations and inflame our passions about the hobby up until the end.