At last, the poll is completed. Let me print out all the results, since I will be removing the poll from my sidebar. Altogether there were 84 votes; the number of votes for each answer is in brackets. The question was,
What best describes your familiarity with the White Box original D&D set of books?
11% - I don't know what it is. (11)
42% - I've heard of it, never seen it in reality (36)
10% - I've had a few moments to glance through the three principle books (9)
8% - I've extensively read at least one of the books (7)
21% - I've read all the books in depth (18)
9% - I have Played a game with the books (8)
13% - I have Ran [run] a game with the books (11)
5% - I play or run White Box games occasionally (5)
1% - I only run games using the White Box (1)
23% - I am vaguely familiar with the Blackmoor supplement (20)
21% - I am very familiar with Blackmoor (18)
33% - I am vaguely familiar with the Chainmail miniatures rules (28)
11% - I am very familiar with Chainmail (10)
I love when a set of numbers concurs with my general expectations. I had tried not to balance the statements to prejudice the responses - if anyone thinks so, they should indicate this in the comments section of this thread. Then I can perhaps run a different poll with different questions to gain more insight. The negative precedes the positive in every case, so there might be justification for another questionaire.
First and foremost, please note that this poll only describes my readers, and not the general community. Thus, I presume with this post I am preaching to the choir. I notice that when I look at the responses I get on Reddit (which I've been looking at lately), there are very different perceptions and motivations for how the rules are to be interpreted. I'm well aware that 84 people on this site do not speak for the D&D community.
Still, 84 isn't a bad sampling. I would have preferred 500 ... but meh.
Let's understand from the above that those people claiming the White Box remains 'important' to the game are full of shit. 63% of those answering have little or no direct experience with those original books - 53% have never actually SEEN the books. There will be those who argue that without the original books, there would be no D&D, but that is like arguing that without the rotary phone, twittering wouldn't exist. Yes, A led to B - but nearly two thirds of the people out there have received their knowledge of the game from sources that altered or improved these original books - which means the small number of pundits slapping their bellies about "original D&D" are making claim to an influence which has long since been made redundant.
Note also that none of the questions of the poll discuss any value judgement of the material. There may be 10 people very familiar with Chainmail, but this does not say that they all like it or hate it. It only means that they've taken the time to read the book. It could be argued that becoming "very familiar" suggests interest ... but at the same time, many of those "vaguely familiar" may have read the first two pages and thought, wow, this is shit.
For example, at this point I would say I am vaguely familiar with Blackmoor. In the last week I opened the book to read it, having had it built up in my mind that Blackmoor is a very important influence on D&D culture. Now, 38 of those polled (44%) did answer some knowledge regarding this book - for the 46 people who did not, let me say this. It's just another module.
Oh, I'll be going into it in depth later, when I can force myself to read every word of the obvious crap written within. I only read it for about 30 minutes, so Iike I say, I'm only vaguely familiar with the crap. I'm sure that people preach its importance on the basis of it being the FIRST or nearly first scenario published for the game, but this is something akin to being the first cheap pocket detective novel or the first issue of Boy's Life magazine. If the material is crap, I'm not sure a claim that it was crap never before produced makes it praiseworthy.
A substantial portion of the community worships modules. If you worship modules, and you're reading this blog after three years of my disparaging modules, you're not very bright. Either that, or you're vaguely masochistic.
This poll, however, does not necessarily support my point of view. Perhaps some of the 11% who've never heard of the White Box, or the 42% who've never held it in their hands would LOVE it. It's just so obscure and difficult to find that they've never been able to slip on rubber gloves to protect the books from their greasy fingers. My best argument that the world is not bound for a resurgence of OD&D (which was a popular cry last year but has since dried up) is the 1 responder who plays nothing but White Box D&D. I love that he or she couldn't find a player to come on the blog and double that number. Perhaps they didn't feel the need to prove a point ... but it does make the existence of players joining this responder suspect.
Isn't it fabulous that 11 people have run White Box games, but only 8 people claim to have played in them? Nearly half who have run a game continue to run them occasionally ... 5 of 11. Since we must assume all 11 of these have read all the books in depth (I hope you would if you're playing the game), that would mean only 7 in 18 people have studied the books without running a campaign with them. I would think this might be due to not being able to find players ... since less than half the people who've really read the books have ever played.
It's too small a sample to be sure, but doesn't it sound like the White Box phenomena is something DM's like but not players? Oh, I know the numbers prove nothing, zip, zilch. But at least three DMs above have never actually played.
I'm encouraged to discuss the books at length, since 66 of you have never extensively read the original three books or become very familiar with Blackmoor, and 74 of you have never dug seriously into the Chainmail miniatures rules. My goal, from the perspective of doing something positive, would be to enable the gentle reader to BECOME familiar. That would be a positive action on my part, to balance against the many probable negative things I'm going to write.
I hope it's understood that my purpose in writing negatively regarding the original material is to STRESS why it needed to be changed and improved. I am disinterested in preserving crap for the sake of its sympathetic or sentimental value. If it doesn't work, or doesn't promote the best possible game, then it should be parsed, deconstructed, improved upon AND THEN THROWN IN THE WASTEBIN.
It's continued presence only slows the benefits of progress.