Category Archives: Role-playing game history

For 25 Years, D&D Put Saving Throws In Groups Made For Just 3 Creatures and 2 Spells

Today, Dungeons & Dragons of matches saving throws to ability scores. But for most of the game’s history, D&D grouped saving throws by 5 sources: spell or staff, wand, death ray or poison, turned to stone, and dragon breath. These … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons and the Dream of the Grand Campaign

The original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide included an instruction that seemed pointless to most readers, even though Gary Gygax shouted it in caps. In AD&D, he explained, “YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Thief’s Strange Trip from Non-Combatant to Battlefield Domination

Of the 4 iconic classes in Dungeons & Dragons, only 3 appeared in the game’s original rules. Just a few months after D&D’s initial release, in the May 1974 issue of a fanzine called the Great Plains Games Players Newsletter, … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Would You Play With a Dungeon Master Who Kept Your Character Sheet and Hid Your PC’s Hit Points?

Have you heard of dungeon masters who keep character sheets from players and who make all the die rolls? Instead of revealing hit points, these DMs say, “Your character feels badly injured and close to death.” To improve a TV … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

How Running Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan Reversed My Opinion of It

Three years and a day ago, I asked if C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was overrated. While I enjoyed the dungeon’s flavor, I felt the adventure owed its classic reputation more to nostalgia than to quality. But when I … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mixing Threats from Weak to Lethal in a Dungeons & Dragons Game

When megadungeons ruled Dungeons & Dragons, adventurers selected a difficulty level by deciding how deep they dared to go. As the game matured, DMs started to design or select adventures for a party’s level. Players grew to expect that their … Continue reading

Posted in Advice, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Story of the Impossible Luck that Leads D&D Parties to Keep Facing Threats They Can Beat

In the sprawling dungeons of the 70s, Dungeons & Dragons players enjoyed an agency they rarely see now. They could choose their difficulty level. Plus, the game world offered a logical reason for that freedom. By fourth edition, players grew … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

D&D Adds Psionics: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

While editing the third Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Eldrich Wizardry, Tim Kask developed D&D’s first rules for psionics. He loved psionic combat and threw his enthusiasm into the task. His rules answered D&D’s biggest critics. First, they stood separate from unrealistic … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game design, Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Psionics Accommodated D&D’s Critics

In 1966, Gary Gygax fielded a personal ad in the General seeking gaming opponents. He included the line, “Will cooperate on game design.” In the years to follow, Gygax proved a zealous collaborator. Aside from teaming with other designers, he … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Gary Gygax Loved Science Fantasy, So Why Did He Want Psionics Out of D&D?

In the fall of 1985, just as Gary Gygax left TSR, Dragon magazine issue 103 revealed his suddenly obsolete plans for second-edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Not all his plans featured additions and enhancements. He aimed to remove two parts … Continue reading

Posted in Role-playing game history | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments