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78

With ingenuity, a ten foot pole can be used for a nearly infinite number of tasks. A huge part of D&D back in the day was its exploration aspect, mainly in dungeons. There were no "skill checks" so plausible innovation was the primary game mechanic for those scenes. You had to use your mind and whatever gear or other things you could leverage to find ...


73

It's based on a toy. And that's all most sources will give you, because they're drawing from an article (Ed Greenwood's "Ecology of the Rust Monster" in Dragon #88, later quoted by another article of the same name in issue #346) which is actually about the rust monster, and only passingly mentions the owlbear. In fact, the original quote is so vague it's ...


54

As with the vampire-to-lawn-chair problem, it involved Matter magick in Mage 1e. One of the examples listed of "coincidental magick" for Matter was "transmuting bullets into air" with the coincidence of "the gun was never loaded." Now, earlier examples in the book of coincidental magick in the book suggested that to be coincidental magick, the coincidence ...


49

Many of the items on this list have been done in games I've been involved in... Using to carry the quarry back to camp. Even, no, especially when it's an uncooperative princess. replacing the pike's haft after the swordsman with the sweihander whacked the head off of it. pole-vaulting over certain obstacles and traps pushing the inept climbers from below ...


48

E. Gary Gygax notes in several places that the class limits and level limits were both game balance and to force the game to be humanocentric. I'll let EGG speak for himself (Dragon #29, Sept. 1979, p. 12): The character races in the AD&D system were selected with care. They give variety of approach, but any player selecting a non-human (part- or ...


47

History D&D started as a series of little booklets, now called "original D&D" (OD&D). These booklets were basically barely-edited versions of the house rules of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. In 1977, TSR hired J. Eric Holmes to develop a Basic D&D game. This was a dark blue, boxed set containing D&D in a single book, plus a module (B1 ...


45

The ultimate and most ancient point system for "quantizing success through a numerical method" is, of course, money. Or perhaps predating even that, number of cattle, sheep, size of land controlled, etc. And war and trade were very early human activities to optimize that quantized success. History aside, LordVreeg's answer above looks the most promising ...


43

Like every boom/bust cycle, the "d20 bust" was what happened when the "d20 boom" ended. What's the d20 Boom? I don't know if that's an official term, but it's one I use because it works, and it fits the idea of a bust pretty well. If you look back to when 3.0 came out, it did an interesting thing that no game with it's reach had done before: it made it ...


41

In 'Different Worlds #3' (June / July 1979), Dave Arneson describes his adding experience points (and a few other ideas) to the Chainmail rules after he and Dave Wesley started playing a medieval version of Braunstein's games. It was certainly not in Chainmail and it was in the original OD&D booklets from 1974. So this makes perfect sense to me. It's ...


41

That's interesting, as being a non-native English speaker I always assumed it was one of the accepted meanings. So as every time I realize one of these things, let's check the wiktionary: Verb soak (third-person singular simple present soaks, present participle soaking, simple past and past participle soaked) (transitive) 4- To allow ...


40

My first encounter with a D&D sorcerer class was 3E. The 3E PHB says on p51: Sorcerers create magic the way a poet creates poems, with inborn talent honed by practice. They have no books, no mentors, no theories -- just raw power that they direct at will. In religious studies, "charisma" sometimes refers to the inner personal power in an ...


40

This has absolutely changed over time in D&D. The balance between Dungeon Master discretion versus reign of the rules versus player empowerment has always been debated in D&D circles but there's a clear evolution of thinking across the span of time and game versions. The attitude towards rulings vs. rules in the game shows up: directly and ...


39

Gygax felt that the 'work' side of the whole affair counted far more, but Arneson felt that his 'spark of life' was of paramount importance. The debate continues after their passing; Gygax's fans claim he was cheated, and Arneson's fans claim he was neglected by both history and Gygax. To understand these conflicting points of view, review the early ...


34

Before original D&D was published, but after its invention and they'd started playing it, the story I've heard is that a Dave Wesley found these odd dice in an educational supplies catalogue and thought they might be good for the game. Gary Gygax had a love of statistics and probability, and that probably had a lot to do with his quick adoption of the ...


32

There's an episode of the 1970s Kolchak: Night Stalker series that includes a shapeshifter called a rakshasa. It also involves a vulnerability to blessed crossbow bolts/piercing weapons, which isn't part of Hindu tradition (I think Ravana, greatest of the rakshasas, was actually killed by a round thrown weapon called an asthra). Here's a summary of the ...


32

The githyanki have been a fixture in Dungeons & Dragons ever since they showed up in the original Fiend Folio in 1981. (Look! Right there on the cover!) Like drow, githyanki had mixed parties of different characters, featuring both front-line warriors and support casters. One of the specialized githyanki types was the gish, who was essentially a ...


31

1991. "Soaking damage" first became common after Vampire: The Masquerade used the terms "soak roll" and "soak dice" in regard to the dice pool used to reduce incoming damage. As an opposed roll, the dice would "soak up" the incoming damage, and the character would take what was left.


30

In general in play they were ignored or just treated as an abstract language with no further comment. As to where they came from, here's an answer from Gary Gygax on Dragonsfoot! As D&D was being quantified and qualified by the publication of the supplemental rules booklets. I decided that Thieves' cant should not be the only secret language. Thus ...


30

Since Gary Gygax was the original "designer" let's look at what inspired his version and hence D&D's version of the Paladin. This is from a Collection of "Sources for D&D" that was compiled by Aardy R. DeVarque, who draws his source directly from the original 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide. Paladin Class Based largely on the character of ...


29

Going back in The Strategic Review, issue 2 (Summer 1975), I see an XP table for the Ranger class, which shows that experience points were in play in the original White Box. My copy of Chainmail is boxed up in storage, and it's a later edition anyways, so I couldn't tell you whether or not it had a point progression system for levelling up individuals or ...


29

No, this isn't novel (although that does not mean that it isn't clever design in Numenera). There are two separate things married in that mechanic as you've described it. Both have been done before, and I can think of at least one game that has married them in the same way before. First there is the concept of a pull mechanic. Most GM-initiated events are ...


29

In first edition Mage, vampires fell entirely under the sphere of Matter, and changing the shape of matter was available at fairly low levels. (This was referenced in Book of Shadows, the Player's Guide to Mage, in a subhead: "Turning Vampires into Lawn Chairs and Other Works of 'High' Magick" -- although it wasn't a rote.) The notion that a starting mage ...


28

By "almost any system" you probably mean "all the D&D-derived systems written in the last decade." In those cases, the reason is pretty simple. 0e - The 1970s The first instance of a raging fighter was actually called a Berserker, published in Dragon issue #3 (October 1976) as "New D&D Subclass: The Berserker". (See also: In what edition of DnD ...


27

According to a regular in Gygax and Arneson's early Blackmoor and Greyhawk games, the cleric was largely draw from the priests in 70s vampire movies, with the prohibition against edged weapons inspired by legends and fantasy fiction: Ahem. I was there. In CHAINMAIL there were wizards that functioned as artillery. Then there was Dave Arneson's ...


27

Time Periods... Pre-OGL: Before 1999 OGL/d20 Era: 1999-2007 Boom: late 2000 to mid 2002 Bust: 2005 to 2007 Post d20 To Understand the Bust, you must understand the Boom When the Open Gaming License (OGL) was used on D&D 3.0 in 1999, along with the D20 System Trademark License (d20 STL), it ushered in a new era of 3rd party licensed ...


26

In this reply, I will attempt to address, solely at first, the "Boy Scout merit badge" subset of your question: "Did D&D inherit this concept from anywhere? Can plausible arguments be made to, for example, Boy Scout Merit Badges (where, from my hazy understanding, certain sets of merit badges are needed for advancement)". I will also proceed to trace ...


25

Tolkien's Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Simarillion lead directly to Perren and Gygax's minis battles fantasy supplement Dwarves in Chainmail (see Chainmail 3rd Ed, p28, and the later designer's notes article). Also, Gygax and Arneson made much use of this in the games which would ater become D&D. Tolkien claimed inspiration from the Norse and ...


22

History According to Ben Robbins, David Weseley ran a Napoleonic wargame called Braunstein in 1967: Major David Wesely took his usual wargaming group and tried something a little different. Instead of having them command armies he set down the two opposing leaders in a Prussian town before the battle, their troops nearby but not on stage. To give the ...


22

Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook (1981, Gygax & Arneson), pg B60 Your character doesn't know that A player should not allow his or her character to act on information that character has no way of knowing (for example, attacking an NPC because the NPC killed a previous character run by the player, even though the NPC and current character ...


21

Indirectly, yes. Gary Gygax tells us that "the mind flayer I made up out of whole cloth using my imagination, but inspired by the cover of Brian Lumley's novel in paperback edition, The Burrowers Beneath." Said novel was firmly rooted in the Cthulhu mythos; in fact, Lovecraft's character Robert Harrison Blake wrote a short story titled "The Burrower ...



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