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Lost in The Wood -- Leonard and Ann Marie Wilson

Ed Greenwood Still Owes Me an Apology

I recently threw out as a one-liner joke on Google+ that, "I blame many things on Ed Greenwood. Some of them might even be justified." After that, another participant in the conversation observed that he didn't "get the anger toward Ed".

I can't speak to any issues other than my own, but personally, I'm waiting on an apology from him. Of course, I've never told him that, so you know... whatever. It's just that I realized -- while trying to put into words what I have against Mr. Greenwood -- that his name conjures up the sorts of ill-feelings that drove a wedge between me and my older brother. My brother did some things in his life that I was never able to forgive because he just couldn't seem to grasp that he'd done anything that might need forgiving. In short, he never apologized, so I was never able to let it go. There was exactly one time in the last few years of his life that -- after he'd made me so angry that I got up and I walked out of a family-reunion to sit in the restaurant parking lot while everyone else ate -- that he admitted he had gone too far, and he offered me a simple apology. Those few words made a world of difference, and I'll never forget that gesture.

As for Ed, I never met him personally. I know very little about his business dealings. I know him only by his game writing, and back in college, I actually used his Forgotten Realms as the setting for a Fantasy Hero campaign that became quite popular and would eventually introduce me to the love of my life.

When all is said and done, there are exactly two things attributed to Ed Greenwood that really make me angry. The first one is Elminster. Please pardon my bluntness, but I loathe the character. He's everything I hate about the Merlin archetype rolled up together with everything I hate about the pet characters of game designers. When Dumbledore died in the Harry Potter books, I was not the least bit moved; I was just relieved he would no longer be there to cheapen the decisions and accomplishments of the characters I actually liked. And any time a game designer introduces a heroic NPC whose power levels would break the game were it a player character, he's entreating every GM who ever picks up his work to run a campaign in which the players will envy the awesomeness of the author's creation, and live forever in its shadow. Sorry, but when I want to be astounded by someone else's heroism, I'll go read a book or watch a movie. When I sit down to a game table, it's the players' turn to be awesome.

The second thing is also what elevated my dislike for Elminster to real loathing, and that's the Avatar Trilogy of adventures used to introduce 2E-rules to the Forgotten Realms. I saw on a forum just now that someone remembered reading somewhere that Mr. Greenwood actually hated writing those adventures -- that he had his arm twisted in writing the worst parts -- but his name is the name that's on them, and they're not merely awful: they're the toxic waste of adventure design. Don't take my word for it, though. Google the adventures and see what the internet has to say about them.

My brother had taken over that Forgotten Realms campaign by the time the Avatar trilogy came out. He insisted on running it, despite the fact that we were playing Fantasy Hero instead of D&D. We slogged and we slogged and we slogged miserably through it, week after week, because we loved those characters and that campaign and we all just wanted to get to the other side of that mess and start playing the game again. And in the end it was for nothing, because by the time it was behind us we couldn't put it behind us. No one cared about the campaign anymore. No one cared about the characters anymore. No one even wanted to give the thing a decent burial. We all just kind of turned our backs sadly and asked, "Well, what do we play now?"

Bad game adventures get written all the time, but that wasn't just a bad set of adventures. That was personal. So two decades later, I'm still waiting for my apology.


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