Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gary Gygax On Jack Vance And The Dying Earth


"The Dying Earth is a marvelous, dark far-future world setting. The earth is no longer our world, just as the sun is no longer the Old Sol we see. It is a planet so ancient that its earlier history has been lost and forgotten. Of the later ages, a staggeringly long series of epics, information is revealed only in tantalizing snippets. All of its places are striking in that they are strange yet somehow familiar, and there is no question that something startling and new will be revealed at each turn. To my thinking, this milieu is creative far beyond the bounds of what has been offered in any material previously written....

In considering the Dying Earth milieu, one must be prepared to accept some differences between it and the standard world of fantasy derring-do. While much has been forgotten, the whole of the race of mankind has matured and grown ancient and cynical. Naivete there is aplenty, but behind it there is cynicism, duplicity, and treachery ... So the milieu is one where Machiavelli would be considered the norm in civilized places, while in the hinterlands the oddest of things are to be expected....

Does this mean that the Dying Earth can not expect some altruism, bravery, even a sense of wonder in its leading characters? Hardly! While such are rare enough here and now to be remarkable, these traits are definitely human, will persist as long as Homo sapiens in whatever evolved form remain extant. The trick to survival for such individuals on the Dying Earth must be cunning....

The Dying Earth is the perfect place for a sophisticated, whimisical, and enthralling fantasy campaign. It can be on virtually any scale, and feature whatever the participant group enjoys most. Combat and magic? Of course. The same is true of story and intrigue. To be forthright, the milieu is so broad as to invite any and all aspects of the RPG into play, and those in whatever mix and degree of emphasis is desired. Simply put, the Dying Earth milieu is just about a perfect one to transfer from fiction to game. The caveat is, don't think along 'conventional' fantasy lines. It is a place where long ages have altered things, even magic and the human archetype to some degree."

-- Gary Gygax, "Jack Vance and the D&D Game", from The Excellent Prismatic Spray, Volume 1, Issue 2

7 comments:

Kent said...

Good find. Gee, the old devil had a clear mind and wrote well. Where's the map from?

A Paladin In Citadel said...

The map is part of the dying earth map of The River Scaum and its environs. This is but a tiny portion of the map.

Kent said...

I gathered that. More explicitly, where is the map from? Who created it?

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Pelgrane Press. There are 3 maps, of the Scaum Valley, the City of Kaiin, and the Dying Earth, created by Sarah Wroot. Each map is roughly 12" x 18"

http://www.dyingearth.com/products.htm

I don't think they are still for sale on the Pelgrane Press site, but I know that my FLGS, The Sentry Box, still has one set of maps left. They do mail-order.

Kent said...

Thanks for the info. I was curious about the provenance as I have never seen an attempted map.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

These are "sanctioned" maps.

Check out the website, they have thumbnails that you can look at.

The maps are quite gorgeous.

Tequila Sunrise said...

I have to read Vance again sometime. I liked his work enough to name my campaign the Fading Earth, but I don't have a clear sense of his world and characters.