James M. Ward, I Want to Play at Your Table!
After I had been running for a few years I began to have some issues with style. You see I had this glorified image of the perfect Dungeon Master in my mind and it deeply bothered me that I was coming up short. In my mind the perfect Dungeon Master knew all the rules and held to them by the letter. He was creative, but only within the confines of the well defined parameters of the established game.
For six months I tried to pull that line and hold to it. I studied the rules, the errata, and even got certified by Wizards of the Coast to be a Dungeon Master. But my games weren't coming together the way that I thought they should. Here I was trying my damnedest to remember every rule from over 900 pages of text and I was finding myself stammering. My game began to deteriorate and the world that I had worked so damned hard to create was falling to pieces all because I had forgotten the most basic of rules: the rules of Dungeons and Dragons are just guidelines, not scripture set in stone. Use what you want, discard the rest, and remember to enjoy the game.
It was around that time that I read an article by James M. Ward titled Magic and Science Are They Compatable in D&D? (Dragon Vol 1, No 1, pg 8 and 10). The article started a renewal in my creative juices and reminded me that just because Monte Cook thinks the game should be played this way or Gary Gygax thinks it should be played that way doesn't mean that my way is wrong.
I believe it is a real mistake to think that just because there is a world created by D & D type thinking where magic and magical monsters exist, there is no room for technological type devices and all they imply. Many times while discussing rules with other judges and players I have heard statements like “magic and its uses denies science and its uses.” I myself usually loudly clamor that, “a lightning bolt wand is just a static electricity generator,” or, “many magical potions are simply advanced chemical formulae,” but my words are usually swept away in the magic tide. In response to this, I created a race of people who had transported their Island land Atlantis to another nearby dimension. This race called “Artificers” has a high degree of technology and are very aware of magic and have devices to counter any magical effect. I present some of their creations to those who have some players in their game that are too powerful and need a challenge.I love the cantankerousness of these two paragraphs. In the first Mr. Ward is talking about how he's always drowned out by those who would hold that magic eliminates technology and then goes on to argue his point with a simple, but intelligent argument that would actually hold more water in my campaigns than most others I've heard. Then he creates a race (whose name I hate) and technological devices to fuck up those that are drowning him out with their incessant ramblings.
There are three powerful devices used all the time by the Artificers: a hand held weapon much like a small catapult made of unbreakable crystal and spring steel, a mobile “blue sphere,” and a computer. The pistol shoots a two inch sphere for a maximum range of 50 yards. These spheres only upon being released from the pistol emit their stored power on contact . . . (Dragon Vol 1, No 1 Ward pg 8)
By god the man could be family!
At any rate, after reading the article I was reinvigorated and went back to my game with a new perspective on my hobby. And a new item to add to my bucket list: I want to game with James M. Ward.