These questions cover the the entire history of role-playing games: the history of game companies, trends within the hobby, developments of new kinds of mechanics, and gaming's place in culture.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

9
votes
6answers
284 views

How can I learn about other editions of D&D?

I am presently a 4e player, and I love the game. But I am also interested in the other editions of the game, and would like to be able to get a good overview of them. By overview I mean a good look ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Barbarians vs Berserkers

This is a history-of-gaming question, and it has to do with the name choice between Barbarian and Berserkers. Due to the race-and-class mixing and matching of many different gaming systems, you can ...
45
votes
2answers
4k views

Well, what is the “whiskey flask” problem with Paradox?

So, I've just read @Jadasc's eye-opening (+1) answer to @Flamma's question Where does the Transform Vampires/Werewolves into lawn furniture rote come from? (+1). At the end of his answer, Jadasc ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

Where does the Transform Vampires/Werewolves into lawn furniture rote come from?

I remember the 90s when Mage players would tell Vampire players that a Mage can very easily transform a Vampire or Werewolf into lawn chairs, and that they could get quite a good collection. I didn't ...
7
votes
4answers
670 views

Do critical failures always act as event triggers?

In all the games I remember playing, critical failures have always, in every case triggered an event. This critical failure is due to exceptionally bad rolls on dice, either a 'natural one' in DnD or ...
10
votes
1answer
349 views

How did Robilar plunder the Tomb of Horrors?

I was reminded last time on how evil the Tomb of Horrors dungeon is (instant death traps, an absolute necessity in one room is gruesomely fatal in another room). Sure, Gary Gygax constructed it to ...
34
votes
4answers
3k views

What is “the d20 bust,” and what does “post-d20 game” mean?

Reading this gaming industry retrospective I ran into a few phrases which confused me. The d20 bust caused by 3.5e (2003) and the over-saturation of d20 products ran right into the Great ...
42
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the inspiration for the owlbear?

The standard explanation for the owlbear in-universe is "A Wizard Did It." Which is fine, as far as it goes, because the trope of "madman tinkering with bizarre mutations" is part of our speculative ...
3
votes
2answers
103 views

Is there a difference between a Hack and a Clone?

I was recently thinking about cyberpunk-2020 and how much I'd like to update the game while maintaining the features I like best about it. This led me to realize if I did embark on such a system ...
15
votes
1answer
248 views

Was the Tomb of Horrors module representative of Gygaxian DMing?

Twice today (and many times past) I have run across people begging the question that Tomb of Horrors is a typical example of the Gygaxian GMing style. It seems to be "common knowledge" that Gygax was ...
17
votes
1answer
755 views

Who first decided that “metagaming” is bad?

My understanding of early D&D play is that there was a general expectation that players could use any and all of their own skills to overcome challenges — including knowledge that their ...
17
votes
1answer
366 views

History of the Wish Spell

A friend of mine was wondering about the history of the wish spell in Dungeons and Dragons. It is his suspicion that the spell “only” exists because they needed something for genies to cast to work in ...
4
votes
2answers
157 views

What is the first crowd-sourced pen-and-paper RPG product?

Back in the day (around 1996 - 1998), I worked with a number of people from the DC Heroes RPG e-mailing list to put together an enhancement supplement for the game system, which was no longer being ...
8
votes
1answer
45 views

Trying to find a panel discussion on the history of TSR that was posted to a gaming podcast

I listened to a podcast that had a panel with ~3 people from the heyday of TSR telling stories of their time there. I'd really like to find this interview again, but I listen to a lot of RPG podcasts, ...
28
votes
2answers
622 views

What is the etymology of the term 'Gish'?

I understand that it roughly means a fighter/mage, as per this question: How to optimize a Gishy [Fighter/Mage] Character? But I just wanted to know more about how the term came about. It's so hard ...
5
votes
3answers
274 views

How can I find old Dungeon and Dragon magazine articles without a subscription?

I have an interest in the pre-WOTC editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and would like to learn more about the history and foundation of the game; I would therefore like to get a hold of various back ...
6
votes
1answer
133 views

Speak with burrowing animals

What was the first game system that canonically gave Gnomes the ability to talk to burrowing animals? I know D&D 3.5 had it, but was there something earlier?
4
votes
1answer
252 views

What was the first D&D Module?

I'm planning to start an Old School Campaign next week, for players who have mainly played D&D 3.0 and 3.5. I'd like them to play a real classic old school module. I have both B1 - In Search of ...
19
votes
1answer
591 views

How has D&D changed over time in its guidance to DMs as to when to extrapolate from written rules and when to improvise?

This answer (to a question about a levitating character trying to catch an object that exceeds the spell's weight limit in D&D 2e) states that: The spell levitate has a maximum weight limit, ...
6
votes
2answers
222 views

How was Changeling played with cards?

AFAIK, Changeling 1st edition was played with cards, at least some parts of the game. That was removed from 2nd edition. I think it wasn't very successful, but I'm still very curious about that. ...
1
vote
1answer
202 views

Did Basic D&D invent and popularise the abbreviation XP for experience points? [closed]

Basic Dungeons and Dragons page B22: Experience points (abbreviated XP, as ep stands for electrum pieces) are given for non-magical treasure and for defeating monsters. Is this why in most games ...
13
votes
1answer
260 views

What Works Inspired Paranoia?

Paranoia is obviously descended from dystopian works such as 1984 and Logan's Run with black comedy that I have sometimes heard is inspired by Monty Python's Flying Circus. For a long time I had ...
15
votes
1answer
495 views

Which cultural trope(s) does the D&D cleric refer to?

On the level of game mechanics, the classic D&D cleric melds the healer, the crusader and the witch/vampire hunter in one person. Is this a genuine D&D mish-mash or is there any ...
19
votes
2answers
469 views

Where did the Chromatic/Metallic Dragons come from?

In the AD&D Monster Manual, the Chromatic (evil) and Metallic (good) dragons are introduced. Each color of dragon has a different habitat, personality and breath weapon. (Or two breath weapons, in ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do D&D Paladins Have to Be Lawful Good?

In just about every edition of D&D (save for 4e), Paladins are required to be Lawful Good. If they stray from that, they are completely stripped of their powers. This means that evil deities can't ...
37
votes
6answers
2k views

At what point did polyhedral dice become part of D&D?

I was reading some articles the other day about Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and the history of Dungeons and Dragons. I started to wonder: Where did these guys from Wisconsin get the now iconic polyhedral ...
26
votes
3answers
961 views

What inspired the D&D version of the Rakshasa?

Rakshasa have been part of D&D for more than 35 years, appearing in every edition. These evil magic cat-people are clearly inspired by the rakshas from Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, but they ...
6
votes
4answers
868 views

Why are dwarves medium?

In AD&D dwarves were small ("Dwarves", Monster Manual 1st edition) like halflings and gnomes. I am wondering why this was changed in the 3rd edition. Is it because of the bulk of the dwarves? Or ...
13
votes
2answers
371 views

Why did WotC release Psionics under the OGL?

Wizards of the Coast released the core rules of D&D 3.5 under the OGL, but only added a small amount of material after that point. Was there some historical reason that the rules for psionics ...
7
votes
2answers
312 views

Where did the option to trade rolling for a minimal success first appear?

Some games include a clearly defined method for allowing players to opt not to roll in favor of accepting a certain minimum level of success. For example, Ubiquity has its "Take the Average" mechanic ...
9
votes
3answers
465 views

When did the powers that be decide that my lanky frame warrants twenty-five square feet?

I was playing with AutoREALM the other day and noticed a lack of a five-foot-unit of measurement. There are inches, feet, yards, meters and then fathoms (apparently, six feet). This tool seems fairly ...
11
votes
3answers
734 views

Where does the stereotype that wizards can't wear armor come from? [closed]

Why are wizards and their ilk so restricted in their choice of personal armor in most fantasy roleplaying games? (...let alone novels etc.) Sure, learning takes up a lot of time, especially about ...
6
votes
3answers
452 views

Where do the standard racial tropes for Dwarves come from? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where does the D&D concept of a dwarf come from? In all traditional fantasy RPGs I've heard of or played, Dwarves are a mining/smithing race of short, anti-magic ...
12
votes
2answers
269 views

History of the Alignment System

Who created the alignment system? Was it Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson (D&D)? Or David A. Hargrave (Arduin)? Or perhaps Michael Moorcock and Paul Anderson? Where did it come from? In what ...
25
votes
2answers
1k views

Origin of the word “Soak” for avoiding damage

If anything ever boggled my mind in role playing, then it is the term "soak", as in "soaking damage". Soaking brings pictures of wet clothes to mind, as making stuff wet is what the word is in fact ...
17
votes
6answers
611 views

Is the use of XP as a narrative currency for both GMs and players a novel idea?

In Monte Cook's new roleplaying game Numenera, XP is used as a narrative currency not only by the GM but by the players as well. Taken from his design diaries: Say the PCs find a hidden console ...
7
votes
2answers
210 views

When was the term “game master” first used?

Dungeons & Dragons coined the term "dungeon master" for the role of the player running the game and adjudicating the rules. When is "game master" first attested (as in, "proven to have existed by ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

Why can't clerics use sharp weapons?

In many versions of D&D, clerics can't use bladed/edged/pointy weapons, and are instead restricted to things like staves, clubs, maces, etc. Why is this? Is there some historical reason? Is ...
13
votes
2answers
623 views

Why can't a Cleric use a sling?

So by the book 1st Edition AD&D, clerics can't use a sling. Other than game balance (it essentially means that other than the odd thrown hammer clerics have no ranged weapon ability which further ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

In an even fight, how many rounds does a typical monster need to drop a PC?

Inspired by the closed question: DnD Next Hitpoint Inflation, There have been claims of HP inflation in dnd-next, and there certainly were increased in the absolute value of HP in 4e. In order to ...
9
votes
1answer
567 views

Why did Giant Space Hamsters cause community outrage?

I remember there being a community fallout surrounding the introduction of Giant Space Hamsters, but never got the details at the time, and had an adolescent "WOW, hamsters, giant, in space, this is ...
15
votes
4answers
456 views

What's the origin of the term “gold piece”?

What is the literary or historical origin of the term "gold piece" to mean a gold coin? Was it used before D&D, or did D&D coin the term?
14
votes
4answers
4k views

What exactly is a saving throw?

Dungeons and Dragons has had the concept of a "saving throw" for a long time. What exactly is it supposed to represent in the real world? And why is it called a "saving throw"?
23
votes
4answers
643 views

Why do characters with a high prime requisite gain bonus XP?

In earlier versions of Dungeons & Dragons, a character with a high ability score in their class' prime requisite receives a bonus to all experience he earns. For example, the 1983 Frank Mentzer ...
4
votes
1answer
872 views

Optimisation analysis of AD&D 2nd edition (2e) Charisma (NPC reaction + Henchmen)

In terms of optimisation analyses, to what extent has AD&D (2nd Edition)'s Charisma stat been analysed? How is it appropriate to proceed in an optimisation analysis of Charisma? In terms of RPG ...
13
votes
1answer
795 views

What's the history of the Darkness spell?

In D&D 3.0, the darkness spell was a sphere of blackness, impenetrable even to darkvision, which was terrifyingly powerful (except against demons and devils). In D&D 3.5, it's a zone of 20% ...
4
votes
2answers
297 views

What is the earliest appearance of the D100 table from scratch?

I sometimes read DND blogs in which D100 tables appear. There's just something about that format that I like. It reminds me of lots of cool stuff like the Babylonian lists of mes. Are they recent or ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Where do dual-wielding rangers come from?

The classes in D&D are clearly selected as classic archetypes, either from an iconic character or frequently reccurring within Fantasy fiction. The idea of bow-wielding rangers is a good example ...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

What's the deal with alignment languages?

In early D&D, there was the concept of an "alignment language." The original "little brown book" D&D says only: Law, Chaos and Neutrality also have common languages spoken by each ...
52
votes
15answers
7k views

Why does everyone carry a 10' pole?

Based on this comment over on CRPG Addict: No adventuring party is complete without a ten foot pole. ... Jason, but WHY? In God's name, WHAT IS IT FOR?! What is a 10 foot pole used for ...