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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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
702 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
241 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
4k 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
732 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 ...
30
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
669 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
525 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
5k 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"?
24
votes
4answers
801 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
1answer
1k 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
345 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 ...
21
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 ...
38
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
58
votes
15answers
10k 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 ...
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 ...
28
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
38
votes
5answers
3k 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
3answers
2k views

Where does the term “nova” come from?

At first, I didn't know what "nova" meant, but I've seen it enough in context to infer that it means "doing a ton of damage in a short period of time." Later I discovered that the term isn't as common ...
104
votes
14answers
8k views

Who created the idea of Experience Points?

The idea of XP in all its many forms has been around for quite some time. What designer had the idea of quantizing success and advancement through a numerical method? What game was it for? The ...
4
votes
1answer
430 views

Has White Wolf ever faced bankruptcy?

I get the impression that WW is one of the few companies that made RPGs that is still financially viable without relying on some other product line (Munchkin in the case of SJGames), but that could be ...
17
votes
4answers
614 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
527 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
498 views

The first sold copy of D&D was to Chaosium's founder: were Chaosium's games influential on early D&D? [closed]

Alexander Dotor once interviewed Greg Stafford, during which Greg Stafford stated the following: Greg Stafford: I knew about D&D. I had a friend in Lake Geneva who was picking up abelt ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Where does the D&D concept of a dwarf come from?

Where does the modern D&D of a dwarf come from? I've noticed it's fairly far from the old Germanic concept of a dwarf. Where did Gary Gygax and company get the idea for the current long bearded, ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Were Illithids inspired by Cthulhu?

Mind Flayers seem to look a whole lot like Cthulhu. Is there any relationship/inspiration between the two?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

In what edition of DnD was the Barbarians's rage introduced?

In what edition of DnD was the Barbarian's rage introduced?
13
votes
5answers
1k 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?
28
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)
29
votes
5answers
8k views

What are the differences between Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer D&D?

What are the differences between Holmes, Moldvay, and Mentzer D&D? Also, which one came first?
11
votes
6answers
458 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.