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Identify: Unknown Female Druid or Aristocrat :: Resolved


Thrym
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the sad thing is, I used to really love Drizzt and company, and then suddenly, I didn't.

 

It's like listening to "Top 40" songs. First few times ... okay, you can stand it, might even enjoy it. Then ... hammer the song over and over ... the song is now dead to me.

 

However, I was tired of the noise before I even read the first book. That was enough for me.

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Drizzt and his popularity is really down to a few factors, but mainly due to the writing of R.A. Salvatore. He is also a product of his time, both in terms of D&D and generally.

 

First, if you were a D&D gamer when he first appeared, he was something very different. At the time, Drow were evil, and not just evil like orcs and goblins, but truly, irredeemably, evil, almost on a par with demons (and of course, they famously worshiped a demon). Heck, thanks to alu-demons, even demons didn't seem quite as evil. So the idea that one could be something else really caught people off guard, and help us see things a little differently. Players at the time might occasionally ally themselves with a group of bugbears, or even negotiate with a red dragon, but Drow served only one purpose, to be implacable villains whilst looking good in chainmail. This was a time period in general when the D&D game was transitioning from more of a combat game to more of a role playing game, a progression that can easily be seen looking at modules from different decades. Of course this one character and his creator didn't start the evolution, but there is no question in my mind that he was a driving force in the direction gaming took in the 90s.

 

Salvatore was a fan of the game as well as a writer, and so his books, more than any others I can think of, were really consistent with the game. He drew very evocative battles; ask a fan of his what they like about his books and they will usually point at his combats first. He made battles with a couple kobolds or orcs seem like life and death struggles. He also expanded our ideas of the game at the time. He had a rogue who used a mace ("Impossible! It says BACKSTAB right there in the name! Maces aren't stabby!" - every gaming group in the late 80s). He had a Drow Ranger ("Impossible! Fiend Folio, page 33, Drow can be Fighters, Mages, Clerics! Not Rangers!"). He even made a Dwarf Druid in another novel, and his ideas directly influenced 2nd and 3rd editions.

 

As well, he created a wonderful setting. His adventuring party was a family (and a non-traditional family at that), rather than a group of individuals with a common goal, as was typically the case with gaming novels of the period. Of course he got to explore themes of racism and discrimination thanks to his making Drizzt a good guy and having a romance with a human. But also, even though Drizzt was a good guy, he was very much in the anti-hero vein that is so commonplace now. Anti-heroes have been around a long time, but they weren't really common until the late 80s, early 90s. The first novel with Drizzt came out only a year after Lethal Weapon and Watchmen, and predated Stone Cold Steve Austin by several years. So, his time was just right for the rise of the anti-hero in popular culture.

 

Plus Drizzt and Guenhwyvar just look cool.

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I won't comment on how Drizzt/Salvatore impacted Suden's game or the games of his friends. I trust that what is said above is an accurate impression of his experience.

 

That said, if you were to attempt to apply that to the gaming industry as a whole, it does not match my experience at all.

 

Drizzt was not the first anti-hero in roleplaying and he certainly wasn't even an early example of anti-hero in fiction as a whole. The concept of characters that didn't match the narrow tropes of D&D was no novelty either in role-playing games or certainly in fiction. Most of the second-gen RPGs that came out in the late 70s and early 80s had beaten those paths thoroughly, and that's true even in TSR products (see Empire of the Petal Throne, for an early example).

 

IMO, Drizzt lived (and possibly lives) on the same dynamic that romantic vampires (True Blood, etc.) live on now: power fantasies and bad-boy/girl fantasies.

 

I don't necessarily say this as a negative. Catering to that very real market is a reasonable choice. I read that sort of thing when I was young too. But it's not evidence that Salvatore was a great writer, either, or especially that the Drizzt books were deathless prose.

Edited by Doug Sundseth
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I really enjoyed the first couple, three Salvatore Trilogies/Stories. Icewind Dale was decent. I liked Cleric Quintet because he showed us a priest who was a heavy hitter, and the supporting cast was amazing (Ivan and Pikel ftw). I think he really hit his stride with The Dark Elf Trilogy. Now all of this said, these novels were some of my first forays into fantasy fiction, shortly after I discovered AD&D 2e. Until my parents bought me the Gold Box PoR my sole exposure to fantasy had been through The Hobbit. As I read more and more fantasy, my tastes changed, and matured. I still appreciate those first three arcs for what they were. I think Salvatore is not a bad writer, I just think he's a writer who likes to sell his work, and power to him, so he writes what the masses want. I moved on to other works like Tad Williams, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and many others. I found and read LoTR. All these things shaped who I am, and I won't deny Salvatore his place up there with Weis, and Hickman, and the rest. Having said that, I look back with amusement on my teenage angsty self, and my fanboyish fervor. I have an excellent friend who continues to read and enjoy Salvatore's new work, and that's a good thing. In my mind anything that gets anyone reading, for any reason is a good thing in this day and age. So rock on Drizzit. As for me, pass the Fahfrd and Grey Mouser, and I'll take another side of Elric please.

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As an RA Salvatore / Drizzt fan, I have to say I have loved every book I read, and as a D&D player, I personally think that Salvatore was directly responsible for shaping how we viewed Dark Elves in general, because of the series.

 

With that being said, why in the h*** would they sculpt that miniature with only 1 scimitar???

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