Questions tagged [history-of-gaming]

For questions about 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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When and where was the first mention of Xanathar in any D&D publication?

I've been told the beholder monster first appeared in Greyhawk (1975), but what was the first appearance of Xanathar in particular? Title and year would be nice.
Valley Lad's user avatar
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24 votes
1 answer
3k views

History of Tarrasque in RPGs

The tarrasque is one of the iconic monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, designed to be a creature that is nearly impossible for players to deal with - or at least challenging them to be creative. But in ...
Sarge's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Have different types of normal clothes ever done anything in DND?

In 5e there are common clothes, travellers clothes and fine clothes, but I don't think they actually have any rules around them. I have found there isn't much in the way of clothing materials on older ...
SeriousBri's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
726 views

From Braunstein to Blackmoor - A chapter unexplored?

Backdrop We know from exploring the history of Braunstein games, that Dave Arneson did run a couple of games in The Northern Marches, around 1970/1971 using a Braunstein setup. This game would ...
Trish's user avatar
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22 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the origin of the Beholder?

The Beholder is one of the games most iconic monsters. It is on the title of the Fifth Edition Monster Manual. It has spawned a whole collection of creatures, including undead Death Tyrants, Gazers, ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
4k views

Where did the term cantrip originate?

Forogtten realms wiki contains information about the history of cantrips in DnD, going back to first edition. Cantrips first appeared in print in Dragon magazine and were then reprinted in the First ...
MannerPots's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
272 views

Is there a statement from Gygax on the origin of the Unseen Servant spell?

Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions is is cited in Appendix N of the original Dungeon Master's Guide as one of the inspirations for D&D, and is an influential source that contributed to ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
27 votes
1 answer
7k views

What is the origin of the Vorpal Sword?

This question reminded me of the peculiar "vorpal" swords. Vorpal blades are great flavor, but in many editions of the game, they also have been quite overpowered -- in 1e, it really was not ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
1k views

Can the logo of TSR help identifying the production time of old Products?

Researching the availability of old D&D products in Toys R Us I spotted a copy of Deities and Demigods with a Price Sticker that appears to still read the letters “S R US”. But what got me was the ...
Trish's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
282 views

What was the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and how did it become connected to RPGs? [duplicate]

Listening to a podcast episode covering the history of legends-of-the-five-rings, the following tidbit was what perked my interest: When discussing the history of the hobby before the inception of L5R ...
Trish's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
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Why wasn't Rolemaster further developed and expanded?

Rolemaster is a great system and big in its day - but is now to be consigned to online pdfs, a small fan base (like me) and in particular never developed for a (very) long time. Iron Crown Enterprises ...
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23 votes
1 answer
13k views

When was the Hither-Thither Staff introduced in D&D?

In the movie Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, one of the magic items the characters come across over the course of the film is a Hither-Thither Staff. This wasn't invented for the film; ...
Mason Wheeler's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
304 views

Suitable Dave Arneson pilgrimage location

In May, my daughter will be graduating from university in St. Paul, MN. I've been there a few times over the last four years, but when I go out for the ceremony it will likely be the last time I am ...
Kirt's user avatar
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20 votes
0 answers
552 views

What is the source of the persistent rumor that D&D 3.5's Orb spells were written to provide an advantage in the writer's home game?

D&D 3.5's Complete Arcane introduced the Orb of Fire/Acid/Whatever line of spells. They are conjuration spells (normally you might expect them to be evocation), they do a reasonably large pile of ...
fectin's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
872 views

What is the origin of the name Yan-C-Bin?

I'm planning a story arc for my D&D campaign that will heavily involve the elemental plane of air, with Yan-C-Bin being the BBEG at the end. The name Yan-C-Bin is very strange, and I'm wondering ...
DMfiend's user avatar
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27 votes
2 answers
644 views

Which is the “poison pill” provision in the D&D 4e GSL?

History of the GSL In 2008, Wizards of the Coast published D&D 4th edition using the Game System Licence, aka "4e GSL" or short "GSL", though there was a d20 GSL too, not tied ...
Trish's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did AD&D players use Leomund's Tiny Hut to keep out enemies?

Brandes Stoddard has a fun article called Leomund's Tiny Problem, where he discusses ways in which Leomund's Tiny Hut is "highly exploitable" in D&D 5e, and offers suggestions on how to ...
RedGeomancer's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
264 views

Is the living shadow based on any real life myth or story?

L5R is heavily based on Japanese and other Asian philosophy and stories, the story of the Kami, Ametarasu, lord moon etc. Is the Living Shadow (first edition) or Lying Darkness as it is known later ...
Richard C's user avatar
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29 votes
4 answers
3k views

Where does the idea of selling dragon parts come from?

I recently played in an adventure with a new group, and after killing a dragon, the rest of the group started talking about butchering the dragon, harvesting its scales, blood, eyes, fangs, etc., ...
DuckTapeAl's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
515 views

When did Wizards of the Coast purge the 4th Edition content from its website?

It is a fact that Wizards of the Coast did at some point remove all content for 4th edition D&D from its site when 5th Edition had come around. Since then, there is no mention of 4th edition on ...
Trish's user avatar
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17 votes
3 answers
3k views

When did the Barbarian class get introduced to D&D?

In D&D 5e, Barbarians are a core class for the game, and Conan the Barbarian has been cited by E. Gary Gygax as one of the major literary influcences on the game, and is also listed in Appendix N, ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
755 views

What are the creative origins of the Storm Giant?

Giants have been part of D&D since the very beginning, with the hill giant, stone giant, frost giant, fire giant, and cloud giant featuring in the original version of the game, and the storm giant ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
31 votes
3 answers
4k views

What's the story behind kobolds being little lizards?

In tradition, kobolds were fey creatures associated with mischief, similar in appearance to gnomes or gremlins, often with the ability to become invisible (like the kobold Pumuckl popularized in a ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
30 votes
3 answers
6k views

Why are there five chromatic dragons and not four?

The five chromatic dragon types are already in the original edition of D&D. In that same game, player characters had access to four primary kinds of damage: physical blows, fire, cold and ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
149 views

When did subscribers actually receive their Dragon Magazine issues? [closed]

Would a subscriber receive issues the month before the posted month on the cover of each issue? None of the publishing info on the old Dragon magazine uploads/scans have anything about expected ...
pyrojirah's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
253 views

What is the origin of the Contact Other Plane spell?

Contact Other Plane is an unusual spell in that it carries the risk for the caster to go temporarily insane, a rider retained through all editions of the game. Similar spells, such as Divination do ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
948 views

Where does the concept of "failing forward" come from in RPGs?

Listening to some old podcasts, I stumbled over the idea of "failing forward" mentioned in a March 2020 (in this interview) edition of Court Games (RPG). The game designer Max Brooke there ...
Trish's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
827 views

What games/versions were “before character sheets”?

I saw this: PS: I began in the BCS days (before character sheets days) where we all started with a 3×5 index card, 3d6 in order … in a comment on The Angry GM. What game/version (or something else) ...
Dave's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
291 views

What published resource first introduced the duergar?

What published resource first introduced the duergar? Specifically, I'm interested in when they first given a stat block (if there were allusions to them earlier). I think it was an AD&D module, ...
Dave's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
425 views

Did Shadowrun ever have a halfling equivalent?

As far as I can remember, and have been able to research, no Shadowrun setting has a halfling equivalent. The pseudo-prequel setting earthdawn is also missing this equivalent. Has this always been the ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
24 votes
1 answer
1k views

How was D&D 5e playtested?

The next big release of DnD will be in 2024. The article says "no timeline for the project’s development or playtesting has been announced", so it's anyone's guess what playtesting will look ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 4,105
19 votes
7 answers
4k views

Do/did any major RPGs have "hidden rules" or "spells that do things other than what they say"?

It is extremely common for answers on this site to quote either "There are no hidden rules", "Spells do only what they say they do", or often both (example), almost always ...
Tektotherriggen's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
369 views

Were some of the NPCs in 'Waterdeep: Dragon Heist' player characters at some point?

The Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure has some rather colorful NPCs that, as part of their backstory, were adventurers exploring the Undermountain in the past. Among them are: Durnan, the propietor ...
Nobody the Hobgoblin's user avatar
40 votes
1 answer
7k views

What's the origin of the Mimic?

The Mimic is an iconic figure of the modern fantasy genre, best known for disguising itself as a treasure chest to tempt and ensnare adventurers and turn them into a meal. It's shown up in D&D (ca....
doppelgreener's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
729 views

Has anyone ever explained why D&D still calls them spell "levels"?

It's a common source of confusion that player "levels" and spell "levels" are related but not equal (e.g., new players really don't understand why they can't cast level 2 spells at ...
octern's user avatar
  • 377
6 votes
0 answers
134 views

When did the change from "die" to "dee" occur? [duplicate]

When speaking about dice, some older gamers will say "die-6", compared to the more common (and seemingly younger) pronunciation of "dee-6". The only real points of reference I have ...
Cooper's user avatar
  • 9,548
10 votes
2 answers
523 views

When did the Dungeons and Dragons Insider service exist?

Back in 2010, 4th Edition D&D was the main deal in D&D-land, and Wizards of the Coast did offer the Dungeons and Dragons Insider service, which was (on the stack) described as: [...] the ...
Trish's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
751 views

What is the etymology of the term "drider"?

Gary Gygax took the word 'drow' from a Scots cognate of troll, with one of the meanings being 'dark elf'. David Sutherland III introduced the 'drider' in module Q1, as a drow that has been transformed ...
Kirt's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Where did the concept of community copies originate in the indie scene?

Community copies are now a regular feature in the indie scene. Can we trace back to where this movement originated in the indie ttrpg scene in particular? I'm also curious about the transition from ...
Akixkisu's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
450 views

What are some of the the first examples of feats in D&D?

I was ruminating over a book I owned a while ago, TSR's Celts Campaign Sourcebook for AD&D 2nd ed. Since I no longer have the copy I used to own I found a new (to me) one to read through it. I ...
mkdir's user avatar
  • 2,704
26 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the history of the Toll the Dead spell?

The thematics of the Toll the Dead cantrip (XGtE, p. 169) have always seemed... strange to me: [...] the sound of a dolorous bell fills the air around [the target] for a moment. The spell seemingly ...
Andrendire's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is the origin of the Gauntlets of Ogre Power?

I am playing a new D&D 5e game with an experienced GM. It is a two-shot with 8th level characters. He initially allowed each player to choose an Uncommon magic item. When I chose the Gauntlets of ...
BprDM's user avatar
  • 2,466
12 votes
2 answers
318 views

What is "an Intuition roll of Good Intensity"?

I'm listening to a podcast that does close readings of old RPG material, and something they've just described really has me scratching my head. They're running down an old Marvel Super Heroes ...
Glazius's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
2k views

Do 'light hammers', as depicted in D&D, being throwable have any historical precedent? [closed]

I've been trying to find a 'realistic' or at least believable depiction of a light throwing hammer, that would be the equivalent to the 'Light Hammer' in D&D 5E (which has the thrown property). ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
230 views

Magic missile against locks?

The party is about to enter the Hall of the Fire Giant King. Although I am running a 5e game, I am rereading the 1e module to compare it and altering a few things as I go. Today I ran across the ...
Kirt's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
523 views

Are there any published materials about different body sizes?

I'm wondering if there's any official published material on different body types such as overweight/underweight (as well as short and tall characters) in the history of Dungeons and Dragons. ...
AncientSwordRage's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
797 views

When was the first instance of "If you don't like the rules, change them." in a rulebook?

In the past, we determined that The GM is Always Right is stemming from the early heydays of Dungeons and Dragons and its origin in games like Chainmail, though the Braunstein games might also be a ...
Trish's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
308 views

Were there ever rule publications for one of the Braunstein Games?

We all know that Dungeons and Dragons - or rather the whole RPG hobby - can directly trace its history to Chainmail and the Braunstein Games. We also have a rough idea about how the Braunstein Games ...
Trish's user avatar
  • 41.7k
12 votes
1 answer
356 views

Where in D&D published material did the nomenclature "ability check" first appear?

Looking through the Redbox and the Bluebox I noticed that there are abilities and there are checks. But there is no cohesive concept of an "ability check". Then I looked in Gygax' AD&D ...
Amethyst Wizard's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
995 views

Where was Baldur's Gate (the fictional city) first described?

The city of Baldur's Gate is famous since the original Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II video games. Was the city created specifically for the video game, or did it exist prior to the video game? If ...
Olivier Grégoire's user avatar

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