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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15
votes
2answers
947 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
866 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are elves immune to a ghoul's paralyzing touch?

I was reading Are Half-Elves immune to the paralyzing property of a Ghoul's Claw action? and it struck me that I have no idea as to why elves would be immune to the paralyzing touch of a ghoul, ...
17
votes
2answers
766 views

Why is the soft level-cap set at level 20, specifically?

I've been wondering lately if there is any sort of precedence or context for the soft level-cap of level 20 in various D20 style tabletop games. I say soft cap because I'd like to, for the purposes of ...
35
votes
2answers
2k views

What explanation do the D&D devs have for designing spontaneous casters to lose out on a spell level compared to prepared casters?

In D&D 3.x, spontaneous full casters (like the Sorcerer or Oracle) gain their higher level spells a level later than the equivalent prepared caster classes (like Wizard and Cleric). For example, ...
13
votes
2answers
655 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, ...
1
vote
0answers
79 views

Origin of Arcane Magic [closed]

I was intrigued by a question over on the worldbuilding stack exchange. In answering that question, I realized that most ancient forms of magic were, at least according to most D&D classifications ...
18
votes
6answers
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, ...
11
votes
2answers
938 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?
34
votes
6answers
9k 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?
29
votes
4answers
5k views

Origin of “You all meet in a tavern…” cliche in fantasy roleplaying games?

Where does this silly (but fun) cliche come from? I couldn't find a definitive answer online. The value of the tavern as a place where characters can meet, find new adventure hooks, and spend gold is ...
8
votes
1answer
240 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
515 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

Are the quotes in the Anima rulebook legit? [closed]

I like the quotations in the Core Rulebook, and have sourced some of them (like the Seneca one and the one from the Count of Monte Cristo). Others, however, are harder to track down or are ...
22
votes
1answer
495 views

What inspired the Ioun Stone?

While looking over the rules for Ioun Stones a question came to mind. What inspired the Ioun Stone? It is present in nearly all editions of D&D, and also made it into Pathfinder. This ...
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% ...
42
votes
1answer
2k views

Origin of the term “Splat Book”

Where does the term "Splat Book" come from? Roughly a splat book is any book not required to play the system. There is some debate over its exact meaning, but that is not the point of this question. ...
6
votes
1answer
170 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there a name for the standard 7-die set?

I'm curious if there is a formal name for the standard 7-die set (d4, d6, d8, d10, d10*10, d12, d20), and is there any backstory or history associated with it?
4
votes
1answer
264 views

What character creation method did Gary Gygax prefer?

Having recently acquired the AD&D core rulebooks, I would like to soon run an AD&D adventure, and am interested to do so the ''Gygax way'', starting with character creation. For that matter, I ...
33
votes
5answers
5k views

How did D&D end up so focused on fighting, when its inspirations weren't?

There are a lot of systems around nowadays that don't focus on combat, and that's great. But I was struck recently by the fact that D&D has always been, and remains, heavily oriented toward ...
-2
votes
3answers
271 views

What ever happened to rolling for stats, encountering class trainers, etc? [closed]

Every day there are questions on this site from people who are planning out level 1-XX of their character's stats without any randomness at all, just mixing whatever numbers they want, and skills and ...
4
votes
1answer
460 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 ...
108
votes
14answers
9k 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
2answers
260 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 ...
40
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 ...
7
votes
1answer
361 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 ...
30
votes
3answers
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
379 views

Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos in pre-CoC D&D?

I'm interested in the appearances of elements of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos in D&D previous to the publication of Call of Cthulhu in 1981. Is there a comprehensive, detailed list available ...
31
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
852 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
646 views

Where does the elven “trance” come from?

In various editions of Dungeons and Dragons, elves have the ability to "trance" rather than sleeping normally. Does this elven trance have a source from fiction? I know that almost everything in ...
6
votes
1answer
352 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 ...
52
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
47
votes
6answers
5k views

What is the background of Christian resistance to role-playing?

While in high school, a classmate introduced us to MAGUS, a fantasy RPG popular in Hungary. We played a simplified version with no dice-rolling and stuff; basically it was one person telling a story ...
53
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
8
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 ...
8
votes
0answers
363 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 ...
29
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
343 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 ...
62
votes
15answers
12k 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 ...
21
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
754 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
363 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. ...
28
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
340 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 ...