I have never played Dungeons & Dragons. I had never heard of Gary Gygax until he died last week.
I write fantasy and I have never written a novel that was secretly a book version of my D&D campaigns. That’s because I never had any. What’s more none of my writer friends have ever done that either. Even those who do play D&D.
I do not dispute that Dungeons & Dragons has had a huge influence on role playing and video games. I’m less convinced of its impact on fantasy books. So unconvinced that the next person who claims that all fantasy writers—really? all?—are deeply influenced by Dungeons & Dragons gets violence committed upon their person by someone mean and cranky I will hire for the purpose.
It’s simply not true. Fantasy is a huge field. Vast and wide. I’ll buy that some High Fantasy has been influenced by D&D, but not anywhere near the scale of the J. R. R. Tolkien influence. That man made High Fantasy. I’ll even go as far to say that D&D is more influenced by Tolkien than High Fantasy is influenced by D&D.
I am not knocking D&D. Some of my best friends play it. I’d even let my sister marry a D&D player. But me? I’m not a role-playing kind of girl. I’m just saying that the people making these vast claims for D&D are the ones most influenced by it and perhaps don’t have sufficient perspective. There really are plenty of fantasy writers who’ve written books entirely outside the land of D&D. Oodles of them!
Not all fantasy writers are geeks.1 I even know a few non-geeky science fiction writers. Shocking, but true.
- And not all geeks play D&D. [↩]