Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Q is for Quartz

You're thinking, "Quartz?! That's a TTRPG stretch for the A-to-Z blogging challenge. And you would be right. But not really much of one when we look at those mechanics at the edge of play.

First edition (1e) AD&D's Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) included a section on types of gemstones and the reputed properties of them. The DMG, in classic High Gygaxian1, then cautions the Dungeon Master about these properties as follows:

Note Regarding the Magical Properties of Gems, Herbs, et al. 2
Regardless of what qualities gems, herbs and the other substances are purported to possess, the mere possession of a score of a type of gem or a bale of some herb will convey absolutely no benefit of magical nature to the character concerned. These special qualities are given herein merely as information for the Dungeon Master use in devising special formulae for potions, inks, &tc. The information might also prove useful in other ways, particularly with regard to description of magic items, laboratories, and so on. Under no circumstances should you [the Dungeon Master] allow some player to convince you to the contrary!3
Gygax is particularly opinionated about allowing gemstones and herbs to possess properties that would be in all contexts magical. Oddly, this "note" is in a game where gods and goddesses walk the world, miracles and magic are observed and practiced, but "we" must not allow "purported properties" of gemstones and herbs to be manifest...?!

Me thinks there is a disconnect here. 

Yet at my tables, "Yes! Please!," tell me the properties that you ascribe to gemstones. Maybe these properties perform as advertised. Or your character's culture got it wrong in some insignificant way, but the properties are there, just not as strong or as expected.

  1. [1] High Gygaxian is an honorific given to the "voice" of earlier D&D editions where the co-creator, E. Gary Gygax, takes an authoritative, often admonishing, and one without room for interpretation, language directed at the reader in a context that might not be obvious on first, or second, read.

  2. [2] I think et cetera, etc., is more appropriate here, but hey, Latin notations like this are littered throughout the DMG.

  3. [3] Emphasis mine.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:38 PM in d10