Thursday, December 07, 2006


So I've been thinking about the effects of D&D on Fantasy.

Stop laughing, I'm serious.

There are certain things about fantasy that were not true before 1975 that have become true later on. I'm not sure that D&D is specifically responsible for these tropes, but they have spread like wildfire. For example:

A multiplier of monsters: Certain creatures of myth and legend that were unique are now full races of the beast. I'm thinking of minotaurs in particular. Once there was a single Minotaur, connected with his maze. Now there are huge hordes of them (or in World of Warcraft, guilds of them).

A rainbow of dragons: The first Pern books showed up in the late 60s, but even given this, D&D did a lot to promote the idea that dragons come in flavors, like a box of Crayolas. In addition, the various flavors all breathed stuff other than fire. Do we have a reference to a chlorine-breathing Green before 1975?

Transforming a God: Tiamat was a many-headed serpent in Babylonian myth, a hydra-like deity pretty much forgotten. Now she (and definitely she) is a five-headed dragon, made up of the primary color prism of evil dragons.

A technology of gnomes: Yeah, I claim responsibility for turning the D&D gnome from short humanoid who speaks to burrowing mammals to its current Mad Scientist incarnation (something else you see a lot of in WoW). But I was making fun of engineers in general (as I am/was one). Previous incarnations include destructive gremlins of WWII and kindly cobbler elves. Were there the crazed inventor short people before Dragonlance lumbered onto the scene?

This is just what I've been thinking about. Are there others?

More later,