Dave Arneson's True Genius by Robert J. Kuntz!
Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 9:39PM
Paul Stormberg

Howdy All,

I just got done reading a fantastic book: Dave Arneson's True Genius by Robert J. Kuntz!

I was fortunate enough to get an advanced reading copy of the book (actually a whole lot of them because I volunteered to help with stateside fulfillment) and I must say I am beside myself with excitement!

Rob has discussed his intensive research with me over the last several years and I was thrilled by the conclusions he drew but reading it all laid out for the first time is simply stunning. In fact I read it cover to cover before bed and exclaimed, "Wow! Wow!" My wife seeing I had just read the last page and flipped closed the book she said, "Pretty good, huh!" I nodded and she smiled and turned out the light to go to sleep. I quickly sat up out of bed and she asked, "What I was doing!?" I said, putting on my slippers, "I am going to read it again!"

As I read through it again, she asked if I was ever coming to bed and I said, "I have to finish reading it!" And I did...

The roleplaying game has been around now for over 45 years and many attempts have been made to define it. Rob has done what hasn't been done before. He has analyzed and identified the true genius of Dave Arneson's creation from the perspective of a game designer. Rob explores and demonstrates how Dave broke with two millennia of game design.

The book is three linked essays titled: From Vision to Vicissitude: The Rise and Reversal of Arneson's RPG Concept, Dimensionality in Design: An Examination of Dave Arneson's System of Systems Thinking, and Debunking the Chainmail/Braunstein "Derivation" Claims.

In these three essays Rob lays out just what Arneson created before ever showing the game to Gary Gygax and explains just why is is such a phenomenal leap, not only in game design, but in systems thinking. He also presents the event horizon of Arneson's genius leap and the lost opportunity and loss of historical significance of what had happened. Rob includes several vignettes that showcase what both Dave and Gary knew and how Gary changed his thinking on the phenomenon in order to monetize the idea. It is an incredible look into the minds of both Dave and Gary.

The last essay is Rob's dissection of Arneson's design-leap and demonstrably proves how both Chainmail and Braunstein are related to Dave's creation but in no way have any relationship to Dave's genius systems thinking that becomes the first fantasy roleplaying game.

In addition to these distinct essays the book has a section of sample text from Rob's forthcoming book A New Ethos in Game Design: The Paradigm Shift Created by Dungeons & Dragons, 1972-1977. Given the chapter samples, I can not wait to get that book too!

This book goes way beyond just a roleplaying audience and is a fantastic read for any type of gamer (board, computer, video, wargamer, etc.), game designers of all walks should be required to read this!, social scientists, historians, teachers, and just about anyone who has ever had experiences with roleplaying in everyday life -- gaming, training, education, acting, you name it!

I think Rob said they were going to start offering it on Thursday (but it looks like it might already be available!) through his Three Lines Studio store at:

I can't wait until some more people have read it so I can partake in the discussions with the thoughts brimming on my mind!

Futures Bright,



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