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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16
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2answers
1k views

Where does the idea of using the same character in multiple games come from?

I just read about a strange behavior in RPGs that didn't make much sense to me. To give an example: Susie joins up with a new game in Milwaukee. She makes a character for that game and plays in ...
16
votes
3answers
997 views

Why do druids use scimitars?

I know this question has been asked on other forums, and I have heard some explanations, but I wondered if there was a source that could be cited (not the rule itself, rather an outside source that ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What did Gygax and Arneson base the Bag of Holding on?

The Bag of Holding has been a staple of D&D since the game started. The idea of a bag that can hold more than it's physical capacity (and weight less than the it holds) can also be seen in other ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is the Deck of Many Things called the Eater of Campaigns?

I hear this term tossed around a lot. Where does it come from and what does it mean?
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Why Does Spellcasting Have Levels?

I was reading this question, and it occurred to me: I don't know why the designers of 5e chose this magic system. There are a lot of spellcasting systems out there, and I want to know why they choose ...
15
votes
1answer
901 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
737 views

Who actually is Tucker?

Tucker's Kobolds, from an article in Dragon Magazine, is an example of challenging higher-level player characters with lower-level monsters. Who actually is 'Tucker', in (modern-day) real life, and ...
15
votes
2answers
617 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
522 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 ...
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?
14
votes
4answers
9k 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"?
14
votes
2answers
701 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 ...
14
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 ...
14
votes
1answer
502 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 ...
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% ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Why are Solars so powerful compared to other Outsiders in D&D?

Going through a number of D&D books that feature the Solar I noted that it is amongst the most powerful monsters in the book, frequently only matched in level and power by the likes of the ...
13
votes
2answers
871 views

What is the Symbol on the Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location?

On page 150 of the D&D 5e Dungeon Master's Guide, there is an illustration of the Amulet of Proof against Detection and Location. The illustration depicts a closed eye, with a symbol above it, ...
13
votes
2answers
945 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
827 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
575 views

How different is D&D since it first came out?

I have never played Dungeons and Dragons, but I have participated in several other RPGs, and my Dad recently posed interest in playing since he was an avid D&D player when he was younger. I ...
12
votes
1answer
563 views

Where is the origin of the “Duck in a Dungeon” trope?

Let's say your party is in the second floor of a dungeon, and you just arbitrarily see a duck, in the dungeon. The act of there being a duck in a dungeon should provoke a fight or flight response ...
11
votes
6answers
984 views

Do all RPGs make 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
538 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.
11
votes
2answers
358 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
848 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
342 views

Why did the designers make it so chromatic dragons can't shapechange?

In 5e, the Monster Manual states that each kind of Metallic Dragon gains the Change Shape ability by the time it is Ancient or Adult. However, no such ability is ever mentioned for Chromatic Dragons. ...
9
votes
3answers
961 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
461 views

Is it confirmed that the Hammer of Thunderbolts is intentionally based on Mjolnir?

In Viking Mythology, Thor has 3 prized possessions: First a hammer, Mjölnir. To be able to wield it properly, he must also wear his magical belt Megingjord to increase his strength, and his iron ...
9
votes
1answer
451 views

Who popularised the abbreviation of XP for experience points? Was it Basic D&D?

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 ...
9
votes
2answers
759 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 ...
9
votes
6answers
387 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
220 views

Has “write in to impact the metaplot” been tried since the 90s?

The Wikipedia article on Torg describes a way that players could attempt to influence the metaplot of the default setting: At the time of its release Torg's 'Infiniverse' campaign was an ambitious ...
9
votes
1answer
65 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, ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

When was Armour Proficiency first included and why?

It's a crazy idea that you need some sort of special ability to use/put on armour, it's just clothing really. I know DnD is not simulationist but most components have a fantasy justification. When ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the history of the term “Dungeon Master's Screen”?

The question What's the name of cardboard wall DMs use to hide their part of table? has a fairly clearcut answer--"X Master's Screen," where X is "Game" or "Dungeon" depending on the speaker, the game ...
8
votes
3answers
322 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
2answers
444 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. ...
8
votes
1answer
289 views

What game made leading questions a GM technique?

I am looking at history of gaming to understand the range of RPGs that are being played today. In the context of sharing some influence on narration between players and game masters, loaded or ...
8
votes
0answers
497 views

What was it like growing up through the Dungeons and Dragons moral panic? [closed]

I have heard that in the 1970s and 1980s there were a huge uproar over tabletop RPGs much like how Online game addiction is now. I would like to know what was it like for you growing up in the ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

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

In what edition of DnD was the Barbarian's rage introduced?
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
808 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
372 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
306 views

When did the word “buff” become used to describe bolstering effects in RPGs, and why?

This english.se answer describes how the word "buff" evolved independently in video game dialect. When was the word "buff" first used in tabletop RPGs to describe bolstering effects, and was it ...
7
votes
1answer
310 views

What is the origin of Dis/Advantage in D&D 5?

I was listening to a podcast on D&D 5 discussing its design. They mentioned the mechanic of Dis/Advantage as being one of the coolest aspects of the game. I was wondering: Is this innovation ...
7
votes
1answer
523 views

Why are there no bonus cantrips for high ability scores?

It seems that in DnD 3.5 RAW, cantrips are not included in the ability modifiers and bonus spells progression chart, meaning that beyond level 2 a wizard cannot increase his number of cantrips per ...
6
votes
3answers
1k 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
2answers
386 views

First RPG to use randomness during character creation

Randomness during character creation - such as for example rolling for your base stats - is a very old concept in RPGs and has been around for quite a while. But while I personally like the idea ...
6
votes
2answers
456 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 ...