Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

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.

23
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
35
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
380 views

Where did the writing-focused roleplaying forums go?

Asking on behalf of a friend. She writes: One of my first experiences with text-based roleplaying was on an anime AU (alternate universe) forum. While they accepted people with all levels of literacy,...
25
votes
2answers
2k views

Who is that demon on the cover?

One of the most enduring and iconic images from the history of D&D is Trampier's cover for the 1ed AD&D Player's Handbook. You know the one: orange demon idol with the thieves prying out the ...
4
votes
1answer
95 views

What's the order of publication of classic Spycraft products?

While classic Spycraft didn't suffer the same sort of abundant rules replacement that plagued, for example, Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, enough occurs that it bothers me that the books are silent on ...
20
votes
5answers
16k 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 ...
35
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 ...
95
votes
3answers
17k 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
134 views

What were the first publication dates of the Big Bads in the Elder Evils?

Elder Evils (2007) is a supplement for world or multiverse-ending Big Bads published by Wizards of the Coast. It contains nine primary antagonists (see below) with a host of subordinate or supporting ...
8
votes
1answer
237 views

Who owns the Dragonlance intellectual property?

This answer states that Margaret Weis "owns" Dragonlance, and that she "won the rights to Dragonlance in a court battle." Is this accurate? I could not find any details of such a court battle, or ...
18
votes
2answers
671 views

What are the ages of role-playing game history?

Many media have convenient names for their different historical periods (for example, comics has its Golden Age, English literature has Romanticism). Does something similar exist for role-playing ...
41
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 ...
17
votes
2answers
630 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
235 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,...
63
votes
6answers
13k 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
96 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 (...
14
votes
1answer
322 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 ...
35
votes
3answers
6k 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'...
87
votes
1answer
24k views

How has D&D's guidance to DMs on when to extrapolate from written rules and when to improvise changed over time?

This answer (to a question about a levitating character trying to catch an object that exceeds the spell's weight limit in D&D 2e) states that: The spell levitate has a maximum weight limit, ...
90
votes
1answer
9k 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 can’...
41
votes
7answers
6k 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?
55
votes
8answers
25k 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?
34
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the origin of D&D 1-9 spell levels?

D&D spells in all editions (except for 4e powers) are categorized according to "spell levels". This is something that I haven't seen in other games. When did these spell levels first appear and ...
28
votes
2answers
813 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, ...
11
votes
1answer
281 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-...
31
votes
3answers
1k views

In gaming's infancy, were PCs expected to distrust, mistreat, and work against other PCs?

In the 1970s at the dawn of role-playing game history in the campaigns of the time, was it the expectation of both the players and the figure managing the campaign that the PCs would betray each other?...
20
votes
2answers
427 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.
59
votes
4answers
22k 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 ...
36
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the origin of the word “Soak” for avoiding damage?

If anything ever boggled my mind in role playing, then it is the term "soak", as in "soaking damage". Soaking brings pictures of wet clothes to mind, as making stuff wet is what the word is in fact ...
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 ...
30
votes
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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do we call the class “Barbarians” instead of “Berserks” or “Berserkers”?

This is a history-of-gaming question, and it has to do with the name choice between Barbarian and Berserkers. Due to the race-and-class mixing and matching of many different gaming systems, you can ...
42
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
408 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 ...
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 ...
71
votes
4answers
9k 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
votes
1answer
316 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
2k 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
93 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 ...
24
votes
1answer
3k views

Why are Clerics and Druids Wisdom-based?

Since early D&D, the cleric/druid/priest-analogue classes have been Wisdom-based spellcasters. Does anyone know why that is and/or what justification was given originally (if any)? There are ...
13
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
651 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 ...
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?
97
votes
1answer
18k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
287 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 ...
17
votes
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
238 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 ...
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....
24
votes
1answer
10k views

Origin of term 'Theater of the Mind'

What is the history and origin of the term 'Theater of the Mind', as used in 5e?