originally conceived by Gary Gygax in the early seventies, morphing from the game _Chainmail_. may have been the prototype role playing game before taking form in videogames, virtual reality, MUD's, etc. Media flak in the eighties for supposedly endangering the minds of impressionable kids (kinda like judas priest and beavis & butthead).
Tabletop sagas proved to be light diversions compared to the groundbreaking genre that emerged from their midst in 1973, when two veteran wargamers named Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson introduced a new game they called Dungeons and Dragons. Abandoning the typical military-historical setting in favor of a mythical age peopled by wizards, dwarves, elves, and other Tolkienesque entities, D&D (as millions of aficionados would later routinely abbreviate it) took wargaming into a whole new conceptual world as well, turning it into an endeavor so involved and involving that it became, in some ways, difficult to recognize as any sort of game at all.
The most obvious of D&D's novelties, perhaps, was its near-total indifference to what had until then supplied the formal cornerstone of virtually every game in existence -- direct competition between players.
Collapsing the wargamer's swarming battlefield of units into a single heroic character loaded with dozens of precisely defined attributes, skills, and possessions, the rules didn't prohibit player-characters from fighting against each other, but they made it much more interesting for them to band together instead and set off on lengthy, shared adventures. These adventures were designed and refereed by a godlike metaplayer known as the dungeon master, who threw potentially lethal monsters and other dangers at the players and awarded ever-more-impressive attributes, skills, and possessions to the survivors in accordance with a mind-numbingly complicated set of rules. Roughly speaking, then, there was a point or two to it all, but winning wasn't one of them.
In fact, nobody ever clearly won the game, and for that matter no game ever clearly ended: players simply battled on from adventure to adventure until their character was killed, at which point they felt a little sad, maybe, and then created a new character, so that in principle games might go on for as long as anyone cared to play them. In practice, they often lasted years.
Such elaborately structured open-endedness brought map-gaming closer than ever, of course, to the free- form complexity of real life itself, and this was no small contribution to the evolutionary history of virtual worlds. But in the end, D&D's truly pivotal role in that history should really be credited to a subtler breakthrough: its slight yet radical redesign of the millennia-old relationship between the board-game player and the board. Dungeons and Dragons succeeded as no game ever had at slaking the ancient desire of the map-gazer to enter the map, and it did so, paradoxically enough, by simply taking the map away. Drawn up fresh by the dungeon master with every new adventure, the D&D map remained hidden from the players at all times, its features revealed only as the players encountered them in the course of adventuring, and even then only by the DM's spoken descriptions. Gone was the omniscient, bird's-eye perspective that had always undercut map-gaming's illusion of immersion, and in its absence game-play took on a near-hallucinatory quality so integral to the experience that the official _Players' Handbook_ now actually begins with vaguely shamanistic tips on how best to achieve it:
"As [the dungeon master] describes your surroundings, try to picture them mentally," advises the manual, walking novices through a hypothetical labyrinthine dungeon. "Close your eyes and construct the walls of the maze around yourself. Imagine the hobgoblin as [the dungeon master] describes it whooping and gamboling down the corridor toward you. Now imagine how you would react in that situation and tell [the DM] what you are going to do."
What had happened, in effect, was that the cloaking of the map had also hidden the player's token self, the game-piece, thereby compelling the player to put himself psychically in its place. As a result, D&D players weren't merely represented by their richly detailed characters -- they were identified with them, in a relationship so distinctively intimate that in time it came to be recognized as the definitive feature of both D&D and its scores of eventual imitators, which to this day are known generically as role-playing games. As apt as the name is, however, it doesn't do justice to the breadth of the innovation, for the same mechanics that made D&D's style of role-play so vivid also made D&D more than just a new kind of game. They made it, frankly, a whole new mode of representation -- an undomesticated crossbreed, combining the structured interactivity of the map game with the psychological density of literary fiction, yet eluding the ability of either medium to fully embody it. Indeed, the grab-bag of primitive media actually used in playing Dungeons and Dragons -- pencil and paper for making maps, dice for resolving combat situations and character details, and the spoken word for just about everything else -- tended to give the impression that the technology hadn't yet been invented that could single-handedly manage the unwieldy hybridity of the new form.
- Julian Dibbell - _My Tiny Life: Crime And Passion In A Virtual World_
in the mid nineties i was fascinated when a group of goths-through-association were telling me about taking the role playing game, including character sheets, stats, and a DM, and extending it to filming it on video. once a week there would be a get together at a remote place and each person would literally act out their character, as opposed to just verbally telling a story around a table. this was then filmed and edited to make a narrative. role playing does indeed impregnate the psyche with vast potential. it is almost like a training ground to encapsulate personal ideals, and literally make them come to life, when technology permits. imagine the role playing scenario fused with nanotech and virtual reality. - @Om* 8/13/00
H.G. Wells was the first to publish a set of rules (at the turn of the 20th century) for role-playing wargames - forerunner of the modern RPG.
Tolkien died in 1973, the same year that two Midwesterners named Gary Gygax and David Arneson forged the next link in the chain mail of the technopagan imaginary. Gygax and Arneson were ravenous fans of historically rigorous Avalon Hill strategy games like Gettysburg and Stalingrad, war games played with hexagonal field maps, miniature playing pieces, and byzantine rules meant to simulate the claustrophobic conditions of battle. For a lark, the duo decided to revamp a medieval combat game by introducing fantasy elements that owed as much to Conan the Barbarian as to Frodo the hobbit. The resulting hybrid was the notorious Dungeons & Dragons, better known to its devotees as D&D.
One design feature of D&D would prove particularly important for later computer culture. Rather than control armies from above, participants chose to "play" individual characters created from a menu of races and player classes. You might doff the imaginary cap of a mace-wielding dwarf named Glorp, whose unique characteristics were defined by a statistically determined array of skills, spells, weapons, and traits. Banding together with other role-playing fellows, you and Glorp would explore a neomedieval world filled with undergrorund labyrinths and catacombs. With no ultiamte goal in mind, you and your merry crew would scavenge for treasure or magic scrolls, dodge traps, kill enemies, and avoid the death-dealing forces that could ax your character at any moment.
With their invention of the
fantasy role-playing game (or RPG), Gygax and Arneson had not simply churned
out another world in the Middle-Earth mold. They had built tools
for other "subcreators" to use, tools capable of constructing otherworld
realms that transformed players into participants. As a category,
the word FANTASY certainly describes the dark, fairy-tale logic minded
by D&D and the lion's share of RPGs that followed in its enormously
successful wake. But D&D was also phantasmic
its very techniques, for the game "took place" not on a board by in the
creative psyches of its players. No longer did combatants loom over
strategic maps from the god's-eye view of oppositing generals; now
they wandered chartless inside a simulated mental world conjured by the
godlike game lord and bard known as the Dungeon Master. Acting as
oral demiurge, the DM led his players, room by room, through a unique world
carved out of his own imagination
and D&D's loose rules of composition.
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information_
S3 - _Expedition To The Barrier Peaks_ (Levels 8-12, Greyhawk)
EX1 - _Dungeonland_ & EX2 - _Land Beyond The Magic Mirror_
Originally used by Gary Gygax in his Greyhawk Castle ruins. It is sure to add a twist to any campaign. These modules are a cross between dungeon delving and _Through The Looking Glass_ & _Alice in Wonderland_ byLewis Carroll. Dangers and challenges abound... Hidden within the guise of light hearted and delightful characters and settings out of children's fairy tales. This adventure can be inserted into any game world.
FMQ1 - _City Of Gold_
This module was authored
by John Nephew and Jonathan Tweet and was published in 1992. City
of Gold is designed for characters of any level. This
accessory is both an adventure and a sourcebook. It details
the fabled City of Gold in the Maztica campaign set in the Forgotten Realms.
It has rules for a new character race, the Azuposi. It also has new
character classes for rogues, priests and wizards.
This accessory can also be used in another campaign world with some work.
It would be ideal for a “lost” civilization campaign with an Aztec or Mayan
I6 - _Ravenloft_
The Mists of RAVENLOFT know no boundaries and observe no rules. Ravenloft is designed for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons First Edition. It can easily be adapted for use with D&D or AD&D 2nd Edition. Ravenloft will challenge characters of levels 5-7. Authored by Tracy and Laura Hickman of DragonLance fame. This is the module that started the whole Ravenloft campaign setting. This module will provide your players with the grisly chills and thrills that they have been looking for. Even if they didn't know they were looking for them. It is also one of the best modules of all time. Published in 1983.
The storm rages and silhouetted against the walls of the ancient castle Ravenloft stands a lone figure. Count Strahd Von Zarovich is preparing his dark plan. Somewhere below a party of adventurers has entered his realm. He knew that you were coming, and why. On this dark inclement night the master of Ravenloft is having guests for dinner... and you are invited...
Dungeons & Dragons (commonly known as D&D and sometimes abbreviated as DND or DnD) is a fantasy role-playing game (RPG) first designed by Gary Gygax and David Arneson in the early 1970s. It was published by Gygax's company, Tactical Studies Rules (TSR).
Overview and history
Dungeons & Dragons evolved from the Chainmail system of wargaming rules. D&D was the first commercially-produced role-playing game and it is by far the most well-known and best selling. D&D has exerted a massive influence over its imitators and successors, in many ways defining what an RPG was — to some extent, the game continues to define the RPG genre.
Gygax and Arneson designed Dungeons & Dragons to take place in a fantasy fiction setting based upon popular fiction and mythology. It was influenced by The Lord of the Rings, popular Greek and Norse mythology, the pulp fiction stories of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many of the more contemporary fantasy authors of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber and Michael Moorcock. The game invented the RPG concept of a referee (the "Dungeon Master" or DM) who creates the fictional world of the game and moderates the action of the adventures.
The original D&D game allowed players to assume the roles of fighters, wizards (magic-users), clerics (priests), Hobbits (called by that specific name in the original rules), Dwarves, or Elves. (Later versions turned these last three into "races" and called them Demi-Humans, able to take professions independent of species.) The players would embark upon imaginary adventures, where they would battle all kinds of fictional monsters from goblins to dragons to ten foot gelatinous cubes, while gathering treasure and experience points as the game progressed. These character classes, monsters, and fantasy world settings were greatly expanded and improved with further editions of the game.
D&D took the world of wargaming by storm, creating its own niche and giving birth to a multitude of role-playing games, based on every genre imaginable. Science fiction, horror, superheroes, cartoons, westerns, spies and espionage, and many other fictional settings were adapted to role-playing games, with several of these games also being published by TSR. However, "fantasy role-playing," loosely based on the world of D&D, continued to dominate the field of role-playing games, and this state of affairs still holds as of 2003.
D&D has gone through several revisions. The first edition featured just a few character classes and monsters. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) was published between 1977 and 1979, and greatly expanded the character classes, monsters and spells. In 1980, the Dungeons & Dragons name was used for a simplified version of the game that was incompatible with the more mainstream AD&D. In 1989, AD&D Second Edition was published, which revised the rules again, consolidating some character classes, disposing of some fan favorites, and revising the combat system slightly. It was during this time that the current owners of TSR (Gygax and Arneson had earlier left) angered many fans with several extreme practices intended to make up for declining sales, such as inflating prices, excessive split pricing of individual game products, and relentless copyright infringement lawsuits. A long decline in popularity followed into the 1990s, resulting in TSR filing for bankruptcy in 1998; TSR never emerged from bankruptcy, and was in the end purchased by former competitor Wizards of the Coast.
In 2000, a third revision, called Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition (or 3E for short), was published by Wizards of the Coast. It is the basis of a broader role-playing system designed around 20-sided dice, called the d20 system. This edition rationalized movement and combat, according to its proponents. Others are of the opinion that it needlessly complicated matters by adding tortuous rules regarding "attacks of opportunity" and putting all movement on a square grid. The edition did remove old arbitrary restrictions on class and race combinations, and incorporates skills and feats to allow players to customize their characters. The d20 system is an open source version of the D&D core rules that makes it easier to market D&D-compatible content under a broadly recognizable commercial license.
In July of 2003, errata and some significant rule changes were incorporated into a new set of core rulebooks as edition "3.5".
A movie, Dungeons & Dragons, very loosely based on the gaming conventions, was released in 2000. This was preceded in the 1980s by an animated cartooon series of the same name.
A number of computer role-playing games such as Pool of Radiance (1988), DragonStrike (1990), Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures (1993), Baldur's Gate (1998) and its sequels, Planescape: Torment (1999), Icewind Dale (2000) and its sequels, and Neverwinter Nights (2002) use Dungeons & Dragons-based rules. Forty-nine computer RPGs have been released and sold under the D&D license as of October 2002. Some use licensed Second Edition AD&D rules, while others use the more recent open-source d20 system for game mechanics as well as trademarks licensed from Wizards of the Coast. In these computer games, the rules are usually modified to enhance PC-based game play. Some players go so far as to say that computerized versions are so different from PnP (pen-and-paper) games that they really are different experiences, and shouldn't be lumped together.
A number of video game console and arcade games such as Warriors of the Eternal Sun (1992, Sega Genesis), Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1993, arcade), and Slayer (1995, 3DO) were created with the D&D theme in mind, all of which barely touched on the dynamic role-playing nature of the D&D system, but all of which were designed and marketed under the D&D license. Seven console and two arcade games have been released and sold under the D&D license as of October 2002. While the game is not officially credited, the popular 1980s arcade game Gauntlet is also seen as being influenced by the D&D game.
Seven board games were also sold under the D&D license. One of them, Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game in 1980 was the original board game which was a computer/board game hybrid and the first D&D licensed game that contained digital electronics.
TSR created many imaginary worlds called campaign settings in which D&D games can be based, although product development has ceased for most them. These fantasy worlds include:
* Forgotten Realms
* Dark Sun
Several competitors to TSR and D&D became successful in their own right. A number of other role-playing systems include Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium, Champions by Hero Games, GURPS by Steve Jackson Games and Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Game Studio. But D&D was the first and most successful role-playing game, and all of the RPGs of today can be traced back to the original creation of Gygax and Arneson. (Interestingly, Call of Cthulhu d20 was released in early 2002, using the D&D-derived d20 System, and many other successful RPGs have followed suit.)
Many criticize Dungeons & Dragons, claiming that it fosters unhealthy obsessions with the occult and suicide. Often this connection is pointed out when young people are indicted for crimes, such as a 2001 murder of Robert M. Schwartz, a prominent scientist in Loudoun County, Virginia. Nevertheless, studies conducted by Michael Stackpole show that the suicide rate is actually lower among gamers than non-gamers.
Magazines devoted to supporting Dungeons & Dragons include Dungeon Magazine and Dragon Magazine.
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