Sunday, June 12, 2011

Essential Grognards: Philotomy Jurament

Philotomy's OD&D Musings                                 

For many D&D grognards, Philotomy Jurament's website Philotomy's OD&D Musings remains a philosophical and conceptual reference that helps to define the way we think about old-school-renaissance role playing. He writes clearly and concisely about how and why he was drawn back from the more recent versions of D&D to the older ones, and more importantly about what the specific gaming experience is that these older versions capture for him. Many of us do not much write about these topics mainly because he has already captured the way we feel about it.

Contrary to the way I just described it (that is, contrary to the net effect it has upon us) his website is structured like a toolkit rather than a philosophical narrative. His site is not a blog but a simple, static website with a four-item menu across the top and a index of just thirty-six main posts. It has not been updated during the several years I've been returning to it, but remains a potent force in the community perhaps because of rather than despite its stasis.

It is not the production of new entries but the thinking within the existing ones that keeps his site fresh. Although he writes with authority about the rules, he eschews false objectivity in favor of a personal approach, always writing about gaming nondogmatically, always in terms of how he and his players like to game and what he has discovered in the rules. For those of us immersed in the details of the game over the decades, the results are insightful.

I will now fail my test of originality by agreeing with most of his fans that my favorite post is his antidote to Gygaxian naturalism, The Dungeon as Mythic Underworld, a short, evocative essay that helped me break through the straightjacket that was suffocating the life out of my games.

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