Let's try a thought experiment. I'm going to send you, dear reader, back in time to December 3, 1973. You can't take anything with you, but you retain all the memories you have now, including what's going to happen in the world. You can arrive anywhere in the world of your choosing (including the changing room of a clothing store), and you can be any age you choose to be when you arrive. Naturally, it'll be up to you to obtain some money and a place to live, but let's presume you're able to do that, since my readers tend to be in the brightest 10% of humanity.
For this experiment, let's further presume you're never coming back. Perhaps, in the present, you're dying of cancer or you're rapidly nearing your eighties ... and we can further postulate whatever else that might make a permanent trip to 1973 seem like the greatly preferred option.
Now, wherever you are, you're completely aware that, this being 1973, Gygax, Arneson and others are rapidly getting their first publication together ... but apart from that very small community, no one in the world knows of the existence of D&D. Except you.
What would you do? You could, possibly, take yourself to Chicago as soon as you had the means in the hopes of approaching the publishers before the actual publication. You could confess what you know, or freak them out by demonstrating a knowledge of the game that would startle the creators ... that's up to you. Alternately, you could simply wait for the first booklet to be published. You could considerably jump well ahead of them and "invent" an alternate roleplay version using rules that won't be published until after 1977 ... literally stealing the game out from under their feet before they'd even conceived of things they haven't yet written. You've got a good two years on the Dragon magazine, and a full year before the Strategic Review. Plenty of time to become one of the "founders" of the role-playing community, if that's your bag.
But let's shelve that. There are a lot of things you could invent that would make you richer than D&D, and better ways for you to get famous, if being Mr. Tannen is your bag. I'd like to impress the reader with a somewhat different thought.
It's 1973, and given everything about how you play D&D, including all the rules with which you're familiar, and products, and races and monsters and so on ... you're the only person in the entire world who has any idea of the game's title or it's potential. Just you. Would you be interested in teaching other people how to play?
Nobody you meet has the least preconception; none of the players you might obtain will have come to you because they're "heard of the game" and have always wanted to play it. However you get players, however old you are, and they are, you've got to convince them to play, you've got to describe the concept itself from a cold start, and you've got to convince them as a DM that they've just been introduced to the best game the world has ever seen.
Could you do it?
How would you do it? Would you change the name? Would you still include rules that you more or less accept but have never been keen about? Would you use all the classes, all the races, all the monsters?
Remember, if you did want to start, you'd have to create the tables and details yourself, without any template to work from except your memory. That's a lot of work ... and the players you present it to will obviously suppose you've invented everything out of your own head. You'll have no "official" status as a DM (no one's heard of that) or be able to rely on ideals like, "This is how it's always been done."
Of course, you could just wait around until the various games you like come out. You don't have to play D&D. You can do without it for a few years. It won't take long before the various official creators do all the work for you, producing the game you're familiar with.
But would you wait? Or would you want to start playing right away?
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