March 4th - aka March Forth - is GM's Day. It's the 8th anniversary of the death of Gary Gygax.
I thought I would reflect on some specific ways Gary Gygax has influenced my current GURPS Dungeon Fantasy game.
Besides the really obvious one, of course, in that I got my start with D&D and Dungeon Fantasy cheerfully romps through the tropes and cliches of the genre spawned by that game.
There are very specific homages in my game. Here are a few:
A megadungeon right outside a growing city? Obvious source. Here is a little background written by Gary.
Pickup game with a rotating cast of PCs? Right out of the original approach I'd heard Gary Gygax used.
Black Jans the wizard pulls from many sources, including my own previous games (Zavian, Jans Yama, and a few others - my players will know). But putting him in a tower in my city? That's partly from the idea of the Wizard in the Tower from Greyhawk. Scroll down to "Getting Even Puts the Other Guy Ahead" in the link.
Orcs taking tolls from the PCs in return for safe passage? The PCs actually initiated this (Session 35), but it's something I had in mind to use based on the elves in The Black Reservoir. That story is written in Gygax's signature fantasy prose.
A dark, water-filled level (first plummeted into during Session 19) also partly inspired by The Black Reservoir. There is yet another inspiration from that story in my game as well.
The gem in the statue trap (Session 40) is partly from Traps & Treachery but also partly from "Lesson #6: Dungeon Hospitality - Falling for the Obvious."
Prisoners you can rescue? That's a Gygax feature I copied out of B2 The Keep on the Borderlands but also from G1-3 Against the Giants. Several of the guys in my campaign were just fleshing out Gary's NPCs from the original sources.
There are more, of course. But those are some the players have interacted with and might recognize. I deliberately drew on Gary Gygax's material to help populate my dungeon so I could pass on the enjoyment to my players. It's one thing to pass the stories on - another to turn them into my own bits and pieces and then make them into new experiences.
Stories like The Magician's Ring and The Giant's Bag are very cool, but didn't get any direct homages.