Thursday, May 30, 2013

Jack Vance, R.I.P.

A reader is not supposed to be aware that someone's written the story.
He's supposed to be completely immersed, submerged in the environment.
                                                                                  -- Jack Vance

Map of Lyonesse obtained from somewhere on the Internet.
Probably protected by copyright.
Last Sunday, Jack Vance passed away.  In terms of gaming, he is perhaps best known as the person who inspired the concept of “Vancian Magic,” upon which the D&D magic system is based.  However, Vance's notions of magic went well beyond the limited paradigm that bears his name.  For instance, sandestin magic (which I touched upon previously) is far more intriguing.  Even if we remove the magic system from consideration, Vance's influence on D&D was still considerable.  Gygax was quite a fan and Vance even named a (minor) character after him in one of his books – Trullion: Alastor 2262 if I recall correctly.

Vance's fantasy works are well represented in role-playing games.  Other than D&D, there is The Dying Earth RPG and in 1999, a French role-playing game was published based on Vance's Lyonesse Trilogy.  Also, Talislanta was inspired by Vance's works (so much so that The Chronicles of Talislanta was dedicated to Vance).

Strangely, Vance's science fiction isn't represented in role-playing games.  His science fiction settings are just as colorful as his fantasy settings.  Any of his worlds offer abundant inspiration.  Vance was a man of many interests and he was able to call upon them all to describe vivid and entertaining worlds for his readers.

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