October 2, 2001
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In baseball, most great players start out with great tools -- speed, dexterity, a good throwing arm. A few players (most famously Pete Rose) manage to thrive even though they lack the tools; they find a way to succeed even though they aren't naturally capable.

Among writers, is there any better example of a no-tools player than Gary Gygax, the originator of Dungeons and Dragons? D&D, after all, is just a book. The rest of the marchandising came later, and hardly matters. Gygax is not a talented writer. His sentences are often ungraceful, his organization is frequently awkward. Yet the original D&D pamphlets had tremendous impact on culture (and cyberculture); few books have had greater long-term impact on cyberculture.