The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Sage ,and not so Sage, Advice

Poking around today I had a wave of nostalgia for Skip Williams and his long running column in Dragon magazine Sage Advice. For a quarter of a century Williams wrote Sage Advice answering just about any obscure question readers could come up with about Dungeons and Dragon. The things that made his column great were:

  • As a major participent in the creation of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd edition rules Skip was very much in the know; he was almost always right, and willing to admit when he wasn’t
  • The questions he choose to answer for the column were often obscure and non-obvious
  • He not only gave the answer he explained why it was true and how to find it

The three of those turned what should have been a boring subjuect (rules queries) into an always enjoyable read. He picked hard questions, he knew the answers and he explained why the answers were true.

Because he tended to pick such obscure questions very few of the questions ever had any direct applicability – at least for me. But because he always explained how the reader could have determined the answer, his coulumn was a great way to learn how to answer your own questions.

But like all good things it had to come to an end and a few years ago he gave up writing the column, it was only then it became clear just how good he was. His replacement picked easy questions, which he somehow managed to frequently get wrong, and worst of all he rarely explained why the answer was true.

More recently the column has stopped being in print (because Dragon Magazine itself has), and has gone to being just a section on wizards website. The questions on the website are absurdly easy, and yet still poorly explained. On the bright side I don’t see any answers that are wrong, though that may just be because you can edit a website after the fact, unlike a magazine you’ve mailed out.

That’s my bit of nostalgia for today.


September 22, 2010 - Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs

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