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.

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32
votes
4answers
5k views

Why do Sorcerers use Charisma?

Sorcerers use Charisma as their primary Ability Score for spell-casting in Dungeons and Dragons. Wizards use Intelligence to cast, and Clerics use Wisdom. Intelligence and Wisdom make sense for the ...
25
votes
3answers
1k views

Did having a 'Caller' player positively influence the gameplay in Moldvay's Basic D&D?

In the 1980 Basic D&D rules (Gygax and Arneston, Moldvay editing), the following text appears in Part 4: The Adventure: THE CALLER: One player should be chosen to tell the DM about the plans ...
9
votes
6answers
355 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
39
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the purpose of old-school D&D class level limitations?

When I played 1E and 2E, racial level limits was one of the first rules we decided to ignore. We decided that it would prevent us from playing (say) an Elven fighter for as long as the party might ...
7
votes
4answers
763 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
394 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. ...
32
votes
1answer
2k 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, ...
7
votes
2answers
351 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
718 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
424 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 ...
39
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
167 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
475 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
26
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
942 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
556 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 ...
23
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
233 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 ...
37
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
63 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, ...
32
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
244 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?
17
votes
6answers
786 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
455 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
803 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
476 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
847 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
720 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 ...
25
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
675 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
8k 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"?
10
votes
2answers
329 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
738 views

Was Original D&D an Historical Wargame?

At the dawn of roleplaying, the Castle & Crusade Society and Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association (LGTSA) focused on Medieval Britain, and produced the Chainmail tabletop wargame rules with a ...
11
votes
6answers
507 views

History of role-playing games

Is there a definitive book (or a website) on the history of role-playing games? Optimally the book should be reasonably new (so Heroic Worlds doesn't qualify) and cover also non-mainstream games.
30
votes
6answers
2k views

What were the driving factors in the falling out between Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax?

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created the hobby together when they wrote D&D. But later on they had a falling out - what caused that? (We don't need minutiae, just the biggest factors)
13
votes
2answers
864 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
774 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
1k 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
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

What was Braunstein, and why was it important to the beginning of the hobby?

I've heard of a game called Braunstein that apparently was the precursor to Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign. Can someone tell me what Braunstein was, and why it's important?
6
votes
2answers
437 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 ...
22
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the literary influences of the D&D Bard?

Can anyone tell me what sources, in literature, film, etc. inspired the Bard class for Dungeons & Dragons? I'm familiar with the Celtic Bards of history and legend, but the modern D&D Bard ...
14
votes
2answers
608 views

Where does the word 'grognard' come from?

I see many people online describing themselves as grognards of a particular system or style of play. Usually they're referring to their die-hard love of an out of print version of a game. But where ...