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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9
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
314 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 ...
54
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does “dungeon” mean the places adventurers go to kill stuff?

Why does ‘dungeon’, in the context of roleplaying games and D&D in particular, mean the places adventurers go to kill stuff? I’m asking because ‘dungeon’ usually means a kind of prison, and I ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
331 views

Why were AD&D modules designed for so many player characters?

Recently I've been looking through AD&D modules for session ideas. Something I've noticed is that many of the modules were designed for more player characters than I've generally seen in one ...
42
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
64
votes
15answers
14k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
224 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
398 views

What is the origin of Backgrounds in D&D 5?

I was listening to a podcast on D&D 5 discussing its design. They mentioned the Backgrounds as being one of the coolest things in the game. I was wondering: Is this innovation created by the ...
5
votes
1answer
248 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
204 views

What is the origin of Inspiration in D&D 5?

I was listening to a podcast on D&D 5 discussing its design. They mentioned the mechanic of Inspiration (points awarded (5e DMG Inspiration) by the DM for a roll boost due to good role play) as ...
6
votes
2answers
317 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 ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the origin of the concept of punishing players in-game as a GM?

I have observed GM punishing players by punishing their PCs, often through intentionally implausible, humiliating, and sometimes fatal events. Where and when does this GMing technique originate, and ...
20
votes
2answers
444 views

Is Dungeons & Dragons the origin of “Bahamut” as a dragon?

Bahamut, the platinum dragon god of good, metallic dragons, takes his name from the Bahamut of Arabian mythology, the great fish upon which the earth rests. The similarities between dragons, ...
-2
votes
3answers
375 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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Were Illithids inspired by Cthulhu?

Mind Flayers seem to look a whole lot like Cthulhu. Is there any relationship/inspiration between the two?
8
votes
3answers
380 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 ...
29
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the history and significance of the “dire” prefix to creatures?

Some animals in Pathfinder bestiaries are prefixed with "dire". Does this come from the wolf species Canis dirus, an early edition monster/template or something else? Where does this come from and ...
32
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 ...
14
votes
1answer
708 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 ...
16
votes
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 ...
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 ...
22
votes
2answers
3k 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, ...
18
votes
2answers
955 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 ...
36
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
759 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
112 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
2k 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, ...
13
votes
2answers
1k 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?
35
votes
6answers
10k 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?
31
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
269 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
613 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
173 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
575 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% ...
44
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. ...
8
votes
1answer
185 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 ...
32
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?
6
votes
1answer
306 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 ...
34
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
476 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 ...
110
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
412 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
489 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
718 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
425 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 ...
54
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 ...