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thing of the past | thing to come

the most beautiful typo: "Dawizard"

What: The global replacement of the word "mage" with the word "wizard" in 16 pages of the 1994 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons book Encyclopedia Magica, Volume 1. Here is the entry for the Cube of Frost Resistance.

Why: 1994 wasn't a good year for the legendary roleplaying game company TSR, Inc. With its player base fragmented into a dozen sublines, TSR started to lose ground to new games like the RPG Vampire and the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. Though lurching toward bankruptcy, TSR still possessed the richest game-based intellectual property on the planet. Its dragonload of magic items would be collected in a leatherette-bound series of four tomes called the Encyclopedia Magica. While proofing the volume spanning A–D, a design director noted that, contrary to TSR's house style, the word "wizard" had been replaced by the word "mage." So the director directed a lowly editor to change it all over. Which the editor did, but he neglected to specify a space before or after the search string "mage." So, for 16 straight pages, the book was filled with side-splitting passages like
The user may look into the ball, concentrate on any place or object, and cause the iwizard of the place or object to appear. A crystal ball may be used three times per day, for up to one turn per use. The more familiar the object or area, the clearer the iwizard.
The tower can absorb 200 points of dawizard before collapsing. Dawizard sustained is cumulative, and the fortress cannot be repaired (although a wish restores 10 points of dawizard sustained).
On and on, the scourge known as "Dawizard" destroyed magic items across the land.

Impact: On the hapless editor, the impact was just about what you'd expect, as he never worked in the game industry again. On game companies, though, it was another matter. Young editors at TSR, Wizards of the Coast, and elsewhere were inculcated with this tale by their stern-faced creative directors. "Dawizard" became the evil bedtime story that would keep these editors up at night, slaving away over a hot computer screen, fearing they would share that editor's fate if they ever failed to manually proof a book again. As it should be.

Personal Connection: I was one of those creative directors who terrified the aforementioned young editors at the Wizards edition of TSR. "Dawizard" became my go-to story for cracking up a late-night party at Gen Con over the years. Speaking of The Best Four Days in Gaming, on Saturday I did a dramatic reading from this section of the Encyclopedia while presenting this year's ENnie Award for Best Rules. I used the story to illustrate the importance of editing on RPGs. "If you ever want to win the award for Best Rules," I instructed all the game designers in the room, "hug your editor."

Other Contenders: the 1631 version of the King James Bible offers the commandment "Thou shalt commit adultery"; a 1915 issue of the Washington Post informs its readers that President Wilson spent his evening entering Mrs. Galt; the AP pretty much nails Joe Lieberman; the offenseless Washington Nationals go all meta by losing their "O".



( 45 comments — Agree or disagree? )
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Aug. 17th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
And "Dord"
Aug. 17th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
Man, that's dense.
Aug. 17th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Too bad that didn't happen with M:tG...I would have enjoyed destroying all lands with Arwizardddon :)

Aug. 17th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, but I would have beaten you down with my Wizardta the Lion.
- rpipuzzleguy - Aug. 17th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
- selinker - Aug. 17th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
- tahnan - Aug. 18th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2009 04:46 pm (UTC)
Yet people still insist that spell check has removed the need for copy editors and proofreaders.
Aug. 17th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
These people typically cannot spell.
Aug. 17th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
That's the time I was starting to get into D&D--I'd be willing to bet I bought my first PHB in 1994. Now I'm sad that I thought the Encyclopedia Magica was useless.
Aug. 17th, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC)
I make no claims about its utility, Cat.
- redcat9 - Aug. 17th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
- selinker - Aug. 17th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
Fantastic. As a proud member (in my mind) of "Bad Spellers Untie", this makes me giggle. As a role-player, I bust a gut. <3 More hearts for you.

BTW: Where do I purchase my iWizard? That could be kind of handy!
Aug. 17th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
After I told this story at the ENnies, a number of us pledged to write a D&D iPhone app called the iWizard. Not sure what it would do. Maybe it would tell you what spells your character could cast, but they would all be misspelled. ("Phlegmatic Spray," perhaps.)
- zeke_altret - Aug. 17th, 2009 11:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
The Natinals incident was, I think, the start of my dissociation from this baseball season. They'd lost seven straight to open the season (although they'd won the night before to improve to 1-7), so it was already wise to keep your heart at arm's length from the team, and then they go and screw up the uniforms. These sorts of things happen pretty frequently, actually - I posted a picture of a "Minnestoa" jersey once - but it wasn't just one jersey and it wasn't just anyone. It was Adam Dunn's and Ryan Zimmerman's. In that moment, they were truly the team that couldn't do anything right.

They're doing better now (if still the worse), but my morale has never recovered from the five-win April, and the Natinals jerseys are an all-too-visible symbol of it. Have to wait for 2010, I guess.
Aug. 17th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
At least you know that Stephen Strasburg will be in the fold soon. (Oh, wait.)

When I put that typo into the other contenders, I knew I was aiming a bullet at your heart. But things do change in baseball. Rays fans can attest to that.
- acroarcs - Aug. 18th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC) - Expand
- seekingferret - Aug. 18th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 18th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
Some more truly beautiful search-and-replace blunders can be found or linked to from this Language Log entry. My favorite is Queen Elizabeth's ability to lay up to 2000 eggs in a day.

Of course, these digital examples fail to equal the glory of leather-bound collectors' items.
Aug. 18th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)
I've always enjoyed the athletic exploits of the Homosexuals.

Leatherette-bound. For extra classy.
- zotmeister - Aug. 19th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC) - Expand
- selinker - Aug. 19th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 18th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
At one point, my friend Mei Po received a letter addressed to Mei Post Office.
Aug. 18th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
I'm so thankful I didn't work on that book!
Aug. 18th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
This would have been quite a different post if I had.
Aug. 18th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
i'm glad you posted this since i didn't have a chance to hear much of what you were saying at the awards. all i could hear was the crowd's laughter.

great job, and thank you!
Aug. 18th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
I suppose there are worse things than being drowned out by laughter at one's comments. Assuming one meant them to be funny, that is.

Thanks for including me in the awards ceremony, Denise. However, what you didn't see was my panic at 7:22 when I realized I had forgotten the book back in my hotel room at the Omni. I made it there and back, through the Colts crowd, in 12 minutes, which no one noticed since you were onstage attracting their attention.
Aug. 19th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC)
The "Wicked Bible" reminds me of when the Game Show Network renamed themselves to GSN and launched the GSN.com website; their privacy policy initially read "We will sell your personal information to third parties". I didn't sign up until they fixed it.

Unrelated story: it's a programming error, not technically a typo, but it's close enough - Outlook Express used to have this problem with final lines of emails, occasionally dropping the first letter of the last line. I'd sent an email - which, incidentally, was on the topic of typoes - to the Sanctum mailing list, and sure enough, 'potato' became "otato". So I did the only self-respecting thing I could: I turned it into a running gag. I started awarding "The Puzzling Otato" to the most curious entries to my puzzle contests; for my Discordian puzzle, I referenced a golden otato that had "To the most beautiful" carved in it (I'd determined otatos were like long gourds, so it all fit); I basically squeezed it in anywhere I could that a fruit or vegetable (I still don't know which it is) would be appropriate. - ZM
Aug. 19th, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
I totally want a Puzzling Otato.
- zotmeister - Aug. 19th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC) - Expand
- zotmeister - Jan. 31st, 2010 08:15 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 19th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
You should get Dave Eckelberry over here to post his followup story of his first week at TSR, editing a manuscript in the cube of Said Author, finding a typo, and the comment he made about it....
Aug. 21st, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
So there I was...
In my first day of work at TSR, fourteen years ago, with college only a couple months behind me. My big assignment as an editor, don't make mistakes like the already legendary "dawizard".

While the cube that would be my home for the next year wasn't unoccupied yet... I had the honor of double bunking in a little cube beneath the staircase with a veteran TSR editor and chain smoker. Despite the consequence of leaving work smelling like I'd just emerged from one of Lake Geneva's social meccas - they were all dive bars - Doug was quite the nice guy.

Doug was helpful with explaining the arcane editing rules the company worked under, and helped with navigating the already archaic DOS WordPerfect software. My first proto-editing job was to re-proofread some of the fantastic second edition splatbooks: Complete Fighter, Complete Wizard, etc. These were already published, but for forgettable reason I was going over them again, and finding a few little errors here and there.

At one point on my second day, I found some amusing homonym-based error in the file I was working on, and turned to share the mirth with Doug. We both laughed, and then I delivered an unintended punchline: "Well, it's not as bad as dawizard!"

"Hey, you know, that really wasn't my fault! We had to make a change in typesetting..." he began. While my eyes went wide in horror, I couldn't even hear his explanation. They had told everything about the blunder that was "dawizard", but no one mentioned who had done it!

I was mortified, and I couldn't talk to Doug for a week.
Re: So there I was... - selinker - Aug. 21st, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: So there I was... - seankreynolds - Aug. 23rd, 2009 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 29th, 2009 05:03 am (UTC)
This is really one of my favorite, favorite industry stories.
Aug. 29th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
Well, Sean, I am here for your amusement.
Oct. 6th, 2009 07:07 am (UTC)
I was just made aware of a brand new example of irresponsible find-and-replace, so recent you may be able to still find it in print. I think the main reason Japan is world puzzle headquarters is that no U.S. publisher has yet to display anything but utter apathy, if not actual disdain, for proofreading. - ZM

Edited at 2009-10-06 07:08 am (UTC)
Oct. 6th, 2009 09:45 am (UTC)
That october be the funniest thing I've seen all month.
Jun. 8th, 2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
It's happened yet again, this time with a literary classic getting "rebranded". Apparently 'Nookd' is the new 'kindled'. - ZM
Jun. 11th, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
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( 45 comments — Agree or disagree? )


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