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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43
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
45
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
650 views

Where did the misspelling 'Lloth' originate?

In the past you could sometimes come across the deity Lolth being spelled 'Lloth'. I once heard it was a typo that somehow kept being repeated. Where did the spelling 'Lloth' first appear?
9
votes
2answers
329 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
170 views

What is a rolton?

In 1999 I found a parody of The Twelves Days of Christmas to have a Dungeons & Dragons feel to it. It wasn't until I started playing D&D in 2014 that I realised it was based on D&D when I ...
24
votes
3answers
616 views

What is the reason behind “one level at a time” level advancement in D&D?

During the answering to this question about large experience point gains getting truncated -- when a single XP award would raise a character more than one level at a time -- the following question ...
65
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
527 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Where does the distinction between “Mind Flayer” and “Illithid” come from?

I know that a Mind Flayer is an Illithid, and vice versa. And I know in some of the D&D fiction, like Forgotten Realms and the like, that Mind Flayers refer to themselves or their race as ...
4
votes
1answer
430 views

Have any of the designers of D&D explained why Strength increases Hit Chance?

This is a personal bias, but when I think high strength score, the imagery I get is: When it comes to accuracy of a muscle-bound and bulky person, the imagery I get is: Bruce Lee had stated he ...
14
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Was Dungeons and Dragons the first to introduce colour-coded dragons?

The colour-coded dragon is a popular trope, where dragons have distinct colourings that affect their strength level and the nature of their abilities: red dragons breathe fire and thrive in hot ...
14
votes
2answers
601 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. ...
66
votes
3answers
7k views

Why are psionics controversial?

I have recently had a conversation with some of my friends about psionics and their place in the D&D universe, both lore-wise and gameplay-wise. We were discussing the psionics as an optional part ...
5
votes
1answer
160 views

Are the design goals for 5e currently available?

Numerous questions and answers refer to the design goals of 5th edition, and if a reference is given, it is to a no-longer valid link at wizards.com. Are the design goals of 5e currently available, ...
33
votes
1answer
687 views

Is there any documented proof of Mage: The Ascension writer intoxication?

I have several times been told that Mage: The Ascension is a rulebook written in a state of perpetual intoxication. There has been numerous allusions to it for years, and it has been argued the ...
8
votes
3answers
551 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 ...
46
votes
6answers
4k views

Has Christianity ever been given stats?

Background We have plenty of material through several editions of D&D for several pantheons of old - Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and etc. Have there ever been published material for Christianity? Or ...
4
votes
2answers
359 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
78 views

The D20 / 4th edition OGL licence switching what was really up there? [closed]

As was pointed out to me just in another question the 4th ed / D20 licence switch was not a revoke of the D20 open license. Although what I remember from that time is that publishers were forced to ...
21
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
226 views

Are there sourced statements about what inspired the D&D Demogorgon visuals

Wikipedia states: Demogorgon is based on the invented, supposedly pagan god or demon Demogorgon, which was first spoken of by Christian scholars as a being whose very name is taboo. A creature ...
18
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 ...
22
votes
1answer
603 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 ...
27
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
32
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
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 ...
15
votes
2answers
676 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
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
209 views

When, where, and with whom did the Dark Chaos Feat Shuffle originate?

In trying to give credit where it's due, I'd like to learn the name or pseudonym of the originator of the Dark Chaos Feat Shuffle (DCFS) (link is to a definition not a source), and where and when both ...
12
votes
4answers
632 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
254 views

What do you call yourself if you run a game? [closed]

I would be very interested in what term people who run a game like to use for themselves when describing what they do, since that title may set the tone for the game at the outset on a given table. ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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
335 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
348 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
152 views

How has the focus on roleplaying versus combat in D&D changed in the years since its inception? [closed]

There was recently a post bemoaning the lack of "real roleplaying" in the current RPG community (specifically in the D&D Adventurers League), suggesting that, since some point in its history, more ...
27
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 ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the history of vampires having high natural armor class?

Based on this question to Order of the Stick #1002 featuring combat between the main protagonist and a vampire, I wonder what is historical motivation for D&D vampires being tough to hit, not ...
0
votes
2answers
263 views

Which are races, and which are species? [closed]

In all of the incarnations of D&D players can choose to be of different "races." Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings, from the beginning (putting on pause the race-as-class idea from ODD). In 1e ...
12
votes
1answer
628 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
44
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
74
votes
15answers
17k 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
704 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
332 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
432 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 ...
27
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 ...
22
votes
2answers
909 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, ...
-1
votes
3answers
462 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 ...