Damned by Faint Praise, and False Advertising

Damned by Faint Praise, and False Advertising

DMR recently published two reviews of Bugman's Appendix N, one strongly taking the stance that the new one fatally misunderstands what it is dealing with, and not worthy of even beaing a torchbearing peasant to Jeffro's work, the other, kindly, being best described as "damned by faint praise."

What nevertheless sticks in my craw, is something almost pointed out, but not critiqued, in the "positive" review:

Peter Bebergal is the editor of Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons and Dragons. In this collection he introduces the reader to D&D, Gary Gygax, and Appendix N. Bebergal explains his introduction to D&D and how he came about choosing titles for this collection. I'm sure this was an arduous task, because no matter what there are always critics waiting in the wings. He explains that everyone has their own list, or Appendix N, based on the stories they have read and enjoyed. I liken this to the bit “7 Dirty Words” by the late George Carlin. Carlin explains that there are seven words you cannot say on television and radio, but goes on to say that everyone has their own list of 'dirty' words. Much is the same with works of fiction. Everyone has different preferences for what is to be included and what is to be excluded.

What is overlooked here is that the viewpoint Bugbearbegal brings to his collection is fundamentally at odds with the premise of the title. I'd already discussed this "false advertising" aspect in my earlier post, but I think this aspect bears a bit more scrutiny.

What does Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons and Dragons tell you? Namely that this is a book involving the AD&D DMG Appendix N - because it's not until recently that it was generalized in any way with D&D5's "Appendix E" , which you'll note is not called "Appendix N" - and how it relates to the "eldritch roots of D&D."

Not the "Eldritch roots of Bugberbegal's storygaming campaign," or the "eldritch roots of Gary Gygax's campaign", or "eldritch roots of inspirational reading for Moldvay Basic", but of Dungeons and Dragins, period. That game system that had been through several revisions before culminating in AD&D, and has had at least four more major versions since, sharing a lot of the same DNA and structure. You look at D&D5 and you will see something that shares a common heritage with the basic edition with Keep on the Borderlands, with the OSR in general, including specific editions such as the Adventurer, Conqueror, King system.

The title promises to show you the foundation shared by all of D&D, as seen through these stories.

If only the content delivered on that.

Unfortunately, as I noted in my first post on this FakeN book, and as even DMR noted, Bugman believes the opposite. As the review states, supported by Bugbearman's statements in interviews that there are few, if any, fundamental links between the stories and the game mechanics and rules: "He explains that everyone has their own list, or Appendix N, based on the stories they have read and enjoyed."

The title of the book, and that above position, cannot both be true. That position dilutes appendix N to "a list of stuff that inspired Gary's campaign", and "stuff that inspired my campaign," and not, as promised, the roots providing the underlying assumptions and foundation of an entire series of interrelated games and cultural touchstones spanning decades.

The book is fake, and the cover is a lie.

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