Author Archives: David Hartlage

New photo guide to dungeon master’s tools

As a dungeon master or game master, you can run a fun game with almost no gear, just a couple of dice, a pen, and some note paper.  I prefer to operate on the other end of the spectrum, with … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—Why Gary Gygax claimed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was a different game (Part 6)

The Story of Basic and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Part 1: The time Dungeons & Dragons split into two games Part 2: Dungeons & Dragons’ new audience versus its original rules Part 3: Dungeon & Dragons goes two directions Part … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—Was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons a different game? (Part 5)

Late in the spring of 1976, Gary Gygax started work on a complete revision of Dungeons & Dragons. In Gygax’s TSR office, he and collaborator Tim Kask cut up several old copies of the D&D rules—copies much like the one … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—Dave Arneson takes a job at TSR (Part 4)

Early in 1976, Gary Gygax decided that Dungeons & Dragons needed new rules that beginners could understand. He planned a complete revision of the game, but realized creating one would take years. Such a long wait would stifle D&D’s growth … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—Dungeon & Dragons goes two directions (Part 3)

By 1976, Dungeons & Dragons had reached beyond the audience of miniature gamers who stood a chance of understanding the inches, attack matrices, and Chainmail conventions spread across 7 little, brown books. Co-creator Gary Gygax saw his original rules limit … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—Dungeons & Dragons’ new audience versus its original rules (Part 2)

In 1976, Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax realized that the appeal of D&D reached beyond wargamers to “almost anyone with an active imagination.” TSR’s first full-time employee, Tim Kask wrote, “Gary and I, and probably Gary and others, had … Continue reading

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Basic and Advanced—the time Dungeons & Dragons split into two games (Part 1)

In the fall of 1977, I found a copy of the blue, Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set and devoured the rules. The game electrified me, but one thing also baffled me. The rules kept sending me to ADVANCED DUNGEONS & … Continue reading

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What game masters (and their monsters) should say during a combat encounter

During a combat encounters, I focus on keeping play moving. A faster tempo means players spend less time waiting between turns. Waiting never adds fun. Despite my focus on tempo, I do more than count initiative and tell players when … Continue reading

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How much description should a dungeon key include?

The conventional Dungeons & Dragons adventure includes a dungeon key describing numbered locations on a map. When D&D co-creator Gary Gygax created his first dungeon under Castle Greyhawk, he usually wrote a 1-line note for each room. These notes served … Continue reading

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Never split the party—except when it adds fun

Everyone who plays role-playing games learns the Dungeons & Dragons adage never split the party. In the hobby’s early days, when dungeon masters were referees and players chose difficulty by dungeon level, never splitting the party always made good strategy. … Continue reading

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