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Questions tagged [history-of-gaming]

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.

17
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2answers
599 views

Is there a difference between the meanings of the terms “module” and “adventure”?

Is there a difference between "module" and "adventure", and where and when did the terminology branch? My impression is that "module" is an older term, but I am unsure if this is correct and when the ...
6
votes
0answers
79 views

How did Immortal boxed-set campaigns work in practice?

At the end of a long campaign, my player group's PCs ascended to immortality. Since I had a copy of the Immortals boxed set lying around, I attempted to continue the campaign using those rules, and ...
30
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the earliest instance of a “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” reference to beholders?

Is there any recorded use of the phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" being used in a commercially available D&D campaign or any rulebook of any edition, specifically to reference (...
34
votes
3answers
5k views

When did rolling a natural 20 on the d20 become a “critical success” in the history of Dungeons & Dragons?

I've only played Dungeon @ Dragons in its 5th edition, and I have only limited exposure to earlier editions from PC games, but never understood the rules behind them (or knew the calculations), so I'...
16
votes
1answer
223 views

Whatever happened to Mind Storm Labs and Alpha Omega?

Back in 2008, Mind Storm Labs released Alpha Omega, which was a really unique RPG. My group had a lot of fun with it, until we managed to find some flaws and totally break the system. Even with that,...
11
votes
1answer
264 views

Where is the first description or explanation of role-playing in OD&D?

Does anyone know where the first reference/explanation of role-playing exists in OD&D (beyond "I am x class")? Dave Arneson is often credited with the advent of what we would consider role-...
18
votes
2answers
5k views

Where and when did “Have Fun” enter the gaming books?

We figured out Where and when did "the GM is always right" get codified first? to the early days, or more precisely, it predates the main bulk of AD&D and can be pinned to have shown up ...
69
votes
4answers
7k views

What is Pathfinder's relationship to D&D?

Pathfinder is often conflated with D&D, 4e I think, but it isn't actually named "Dungeons & Dragons." What is Pathfinder's relationship to D&D, and how does it fit in with the various D&...
16
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1answer
294 views

How were play-by-mail games played in the 1980s?

I recently purchased several copies of Dragon magazine from the early-to-mid 1980s. They contain several references to fairly large play-by-mail games that I haven't heard of before. How were these ...
1
vote
0answers
89 views

What are the roots of “dungeons” as a theme for “dungeons and dragons” [duplicate]

As far as I know, the roots of role playing games and dungeons and dragons lie in wargaming and conflict simulations? Is there a reason known (perhaps from an interview) why dungeons were a ...
9
votes
1answer
516 views

How did the multiclassing rules change in the different editions of D&D?

I'm interested in how the multiclassing rules evolved/changed throughout the history of the game. A small summary of differences should be sufficient. Please include Pathfinder in the answer. I ...
34
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2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the expression/trope “Rocks fall, everyone dies”

I think most people are familiar with this scenario (either first hand or via media). The PCs are going off the rails, the GM gets fed up, and then suddenly, Rocks fall, everyone dies This is more ...
17
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2answers
2k views

Are there examples of priests/clerics having water creation abilities that predate D&D? [closed]

As far as I know, many D&D spells were inspired by popular fantasy tropes, like priests' blessings and healing hands or wizards' fireballs and lightnings. However, the Create Water spell seems to ...
12
votes
1answer
229 views

Where was the first Social Contract proposed in a rule book?

We have questions delving on the social contract themselves and what it is (like What is a social contract?), and there is also explained where the word comes from. We know very well that most RPGs ...
3
votes
2answers
250 views

What is the history of the stories and imagery around Asmodeus?

I recently purchased the D&D 5e book Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, and found the devils really interesting. I know there was a section in... 2nd edition(?) where there were no devils or demons ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How would adventures be run with traps on maps that show where they are?

I am currently prepping an adventure and have purchased some source material from an older D&D 2E one-shot (The Shattered Circle) which I have loaded onto Roll20 and am prepping for a 5E adventure....
8
votes
1answer
350 views

What was the best selling TSR Dungeons & Dragons module?

As the title says, I want to know what was the best selling TSR Dungeons & Dragons module - no matter for what D&D edition - before Wizards of the Coast acquired TSR in 1997. I suspect it ...
3
votes
1answer
209 views

What is the history of creatures having Multiattack versus multiple attacks?

In D&D 5th edition, Multiattack for creatures makes it so that all of its attacks are treated as a single action. As a result, one of the attacks cannot be used for grappling. So, for example, a ...
29
votes
2answers
2k views

Where does the D&D concept of a Gnome come from?

Outside of D&D, whenever anyone thinks of a gnome, they are more likely to think of a "garden gnome" or (something along the lines of "David the Gnome"), not how they are presented in D&D. ...
14
votes
1answer
310 views

Did Castle Amber influence Magic: The Gathering?

Has a published source cited the adventure module Castle Amber as an inspiration for Magic: The Gathering? Alternatively, has a published source dismissed the seeming connections between Castle Amber ...
12
votes
1answer
208 views

What is the origin of the name for the tabletop miniature company “Ral Partha”?

It sounds like something out of an old pulp fantasy novel. Is it someone's actual name, or is it just something made up? I read the wikipedia article and there's no mention of where the name came from....
8
votes
1answer
260 views

What is the origin of deities gaining power from worship?

Among players of various editions of Dungeons & Dragons, there is the idea that a deity's power, perhaps even existence, is derived from the number of people who worship them. A deity who gains ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

When was LotFP grindhouse edition published?

I have some trouble finding bibliographic information for Lamentations of the flame princess grindhouse edition referee book, or the set as a whole. The pdf of the referee book contains no ...
4
votes
0answers
261 views

Why did the designers refactor Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saves into six different saves in 5e? [duplicate]

In Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition, there were Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throws, each tied to a particular ability: CON, DEX, and WIS respectively. (Prior to this edition, saving throws ...
28
votes
1answer
6k views

Why aren't Halflings Hobbits?

Just curious, given how heavily from Tolkien D&D drew, and the fact that games like Wizardry used Hobbits, is there a good design reason why Gygax and company used Halflings (a term that also ...
20
votes
3answers
756 views

Where does the name 'Sigil' come from?

I would like to learn about any designer explanations about how they came up with the name of the famous city. One possible hypothesis I have is that the designers were inspired by the planet "Nivil" ...
32
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the origin of the term fizzled?

When a spell like raise dead fails due to something such as a soul not being willing to return to its body, it will cause the spell to fizzle. It's a term I'm used to and not surprised to see describe ...
12
votes
2answers
792 views

Where did the first Dungeons and Dragons miniatures come from?

Did the first players even use miniatures? If they did, how did they acquire such things? The main reason I'm asking is because I'm looking for a cost effective way to create my own miniatures. I've ...
27
votes
4answers
2k views

Is the shapeshifting druid an original D&D invention?

The Dungeons & Dragons druids have been largely defined by their ability to change into an animal form in every edition, e.g. through the Wild Shape ability in Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Is the ...
14
votes
1answer
399 views

What's the largest PBM RPG ever run?

What play-by-mail (or email) RPG had the largest number of players? I've recently been looking into "Net Games", play-by-post (not email) RPGs run by a company called Youentai in Japan in the 90s ...
96
votes
1answer
16k views

Why is the D&D gorgon a metal bull?

In mythology, the gorgons were Medusa and her sisters; snake-like beings who petrified those who saw them. In Dungeons & Dragons, gorgons are bulls with metal scales and the ability to breathe ...
27
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2answers
3k views

Why were there two ongoing D&D magazines, and what distinguished them?

D&D has over its history been accompanied by two core supplemental magazines: Dragon magazine, starting in March 1975. Dungeon magazine, starting in September/October 1986. Both went on hiatus ...
30
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2answers
2k views

Where and when did “the GM is always right” get codified first?

In a recent answer about GM-ming in D&D, I had to resort to a certain "universal" rule I'm familiar with: “the GM is always right”. Upon this doppelgreener correctly pointed out that it is not ...
7
votes
2answers
412 views

Who were the holders of the Shadowrun license through 2017?

I was looking at my RPG books yesterday and wondered at how much Shadowrun sits there: almost all the fourth edition German material (from FanPro GmbH and Pegasus Press), the fifth edition core rules (...
18
votes
1answer
346 views

What was Brian Gleichman's take on threefold gamism?

The threefold (GDS) model was developed in rgfa in 1997, and is not to be confused with the more recent GNS model and Big model. A good source is the website of John H. Kim. According to Kim's ...
7
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0answers
234 views

What games other than Ars Magica encourage Troupe play? [closed]

Troupe play is a specific style where the group is encouraged to collaborate in creating and running the game. There's often more than one GM, players often run more than one character and, indeed, ...
20
votes
2answers
413 views

Etymology of 'crawl' in 'dungeon crawl'

Does someone have a pointer to the origin of 'crawl' in 'dungeon crawl'? I always suspected it has to do with the cautious pace, but I wanted to know if there was a definitive answer on this.
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Why is the “final” level of E6 chosen as 6, not lower?

I have just reread the introduction part of the Abridged P6 codex, an implementation of E6 rules for Pathfinder. And I noticed (once again) a very interesting passage: One way of envisioning the ...
27
votes
2answers
5k views

What does “badwrongfun” mean? Where does it come from?

I've often encountered the term 'badwrongfun' used in discussions about role-playing games, and I see that it was already in vogue in the early days of this site judging from answers like this one. ...
3
votes
0answers
146 views

How did DnD 3.0 barbarian optimization work? [closed]

I started thinking about this after my wife demanded that I optimize a 3.0 barbarian character. I never paid much attention to martial optimization back in 3.0 though, so I don't know how to think ...
22
votes
3answers
941 views

Who invented Difficulty Class?

As far as I can see, one of the watershed changes with D&D 3e, which has survived down into 5e, was the replacement of a plethora of different systems for determining success to a d20-roll-over ...
16
votes
2answers
837 views

Who or what first said to “don't name monsters, describe them”?

There is an interesting GMing principle that more or less states that a GM should only ever describe monsters, and let the players name them. There may also have been mention of creating a sense of ...
4
votes
1answer
328 views

How and why has D&D changed its character generation across editions? [closed]

The first version of D&D that I played - Basic - instructed players to roll 3d6 for each stat and assign the number to that stat. I believe these are the rules for OD&D as well. In AD&D ...
40
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the bad history around the three-fold or GNS model of RPG's?

On a forum elsewhere, I recently started a discussion about how people might categorise popular RPG's according to the GNS theory model. My intention was merely to stimulate discussion. I was ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do the tiers of classes change so little regardless of what additional material is used

From comments by user2227713 on this answer: Why hasn't Paizo done more to balance these low-tier classes? Don't get me wrong, new classes are great, but I'd like to see balance changes too. ...
3
votes
0answers
85 views

What was the first game to have an explicit “worse than failure” rule? [duplicate]

These days it's not uncommon for systems to have a rule, explicitly stated, in the rulebooks as an "optional" rule, or commonly house-ruled in, where a sufficiently bad roll of the dice not only ...
11
votes
1answer
348 views

Is Tunnels and Trolls or Tékumel the second roleplaying game that was published?

I recall reading that Tunnels and Trolls was the second roleplaying game to be published, but I also recall reading the same about Empire of the Petal Throne. I don't have the relevant editions of ...
6
votes
1answer
825 views

Is the gem of infinite wishes in the original Tomb of Horrors?

So, we played through the 3.5 version of the Tomb of Horrors. In one part there is a gem that grants a wish/nuclear fireball combo once/week. It seems like the gem is supposed to be bad for the ...
41
votes
1answer
5k views

What is this story I recall about an extremely long ever-changing character backstory?

I read recently a post that was going around about a player who didn't like his DM, so he wrote an ever-changing backstory (hundreds of pages so no one would read it) for his character that allowed ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Where did the term BBEG come from?

BBEG means "Big Bad Evil Guy" and refers to the villain of a campaign. My question is, where did it come from? How did it get made, and who popularized it?