Last week I read Temple of Elemental Evil.

TOEE was an ordeal. I found many parts of the text uh, how do I put it? Trite? Pedantic? Condescending? I don’t know enough of either Gygax or Mentzer to really tell their writing apart, but Gygax’s name is first.

Actually, I just finished reading the AD&D DMG too, and that one pretty much only has Gygax’s name on it. The issues I had with the writing are also in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, so I’ma blame Gygax.

The DMG is longer than it needs to be — and so is TOEE. It’s apparent, at least to me, that these were written and not uh, “designed.” Gygax likes to carry on for pages about stuff that isn’t really relevant to the game, about how you should talk to your players and stuff. Very authoritarian-like.

Both of them need editing pretty badly. You can see how these were written before anyone really knew what to put in a rulebook for something like a “roleplaying game.” You could call them a ‘labor of love’ to be… nice.

These products both seem like early drafts.

Now, the cool stuff to me was all the things I learned about TOEE and other adventures that came out around the time. I hadn’t realized that most of the adventures I knew from the ‘early days’ were all part of the same series.

Sure, I had heard of TOEE and Against the Giants and Vault of the Drow, but I didn’t know they were supposed to be part of one continuity. That was a fascinating find. And reading little connections between them was cool.

But, wow. TOEE doesn’t stand well on its own. I think the only reason I got through it was because I’ve played the Troika adaptation twice. And I only recognized any of the NPC names after the second play-through.

I guess it just goes to show you that you really have to be part of the zeitgeist when an adventure comes out to ‘get it.’ I’m still holding out hope that one of these days I’ll get to play through either Age of Worms or Savage Tide.

I also read Stars Without Number, but that deserves its own post.