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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.

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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, ...
41
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1answer
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What explanation do the D&D devs have for designing spontaneous casters to lose out on a spell level compared to prepared casters? [closed]

In D&D 3.x, spontaneous full casters (like the Sorcerer or Oracle) gain their higher level spells a level later than the equivalent prepared caster classes (like Wizard and Cleric). For example, ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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6answers
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Do all RPGs have critical failures, and which was the first?

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 ...
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8answers
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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?
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6answers
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Where does the D&D concept of a dwarf come from?

Where does the modern D&D of a dwarf come from? I've noticed it's fairly far from the old Germanic concept of a dwarf. Where did Gary Gygax and company get the idea for the current long bearded, ...
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2answers
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What is the “whiskey flask” problem with Paradox?

So, I've just read @Jadasc's eye-opening (+1) answer to @Flamma's question Where does the Transform Vampires/Werewolves into lawn furniture rote come from? (+1). At the end of his answer, Jadasc ...
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3answers
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Where does the Transform Vampires/Werewolves into lawn furniture rote come from?

I remember the 90s when Mage players would tell Vampire players that a Mage can very easily transform a Vampire or Werewolf into lawn chairs, and that they could get quite a good collection. I didn't ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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2answers
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What is the etymology of the term 'Gish'?

I understand that it roughly means a fighter/mage, as per this question: How to optimize a Gishy [Fighter/Mage] Character? But I just wanted to know more about how the term came about. It's so hard ...
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6answers
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How can I learn about other editions of D&D?

I am presently a 4e player, and I love the game. But I am also interested in the other editions of the game, and would like to be able to get a good overview of them. By overview I mean a good look ...
68
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1answer
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What's the inspiration for the owlbear?

The standard explanation for the owlbear in-universe is "A Wizard Did It." Which is fine, as far as it goes, because the trope of "madman tinkering with bizarre mutations" is part of our speculative ...
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1answer
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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’...
97
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1answer
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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 ...
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4answers
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What is “the d20 bust,” and what does “post-d20 game” mean?

Reading this gaming industry retrospective I ran into a few phrases which confused me. The d20 bust caused by 3.5e (2003) and the over-saturation of d20 products ran right into the Great Recession. ...
36
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4answers
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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 ...
36
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2answers
4k views

Was there ever an official “win condition” in early D&D editions?

Just saw a post in a D&D group saying: Challenge for those not playing for decades. What was the only official way to beat the game? (That quote is the whole message of the post, for those who ...
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15answers
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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 (its ...
42
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4answers
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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 ...
35
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1answer
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Evolution of the Rogue in D&D

How and why has the concept of the "rogue" evolved over D&D's history? It seems that what the general perception of what people think of with a "rogue" or "thief" has changed drastically over the ...
77
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4answers
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OD&D said it could be played with 20-50 players and one referee. How was that expected to work and still be fun?

Original D&D is often the shorthand name for the 1974 Dungeons & Dragons, Vol. 1, Men & Magic, written by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. The section on "Scope" has this quote: Number of ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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2answers
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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. ...
31
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4answers
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Why can't clerics use sharp weapons?

In many versions of D&D, clerics can't use bladed/edged/pointy weapons, and are instead restricted to things like staves, clubs, maces, etc. Why is this? Is there some historical reason? Is ...
23
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2answers
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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. ...
14
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2answers
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Why can't a Cleric use a sling?

So by the book 1st Edition AD&D, clerics can't use a sling. Other than game balance (it essentially means that other than the odd thrown hammer clerics have no ranged weapon ability which further ...
14
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1answer
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Why did saving throws return in D&D 5E?

In D&D 4E as with many RPGs, characters have a fixed armour value or AC. When attacking, the attacker must roll a die to overcome the target's AC. In 4E offensive magic works the same way: the ...
12
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1answer
395 views

Has “write in to impact the metaplot” been tried since the 90s?

The Wikipedia article on Torg describes a way that players could attempt to influence the metaplot of the default setting: At the time of its release Torg's 'Infiniverse' campaign was an ambitious ...
15
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1answer
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What's the history of the Darkness spell?

In D&D 3.0, the darkness spell was a sphere of blackness, impenetrable even to darkvision, which was terrifyingly powerful (except against demons and devils). In D&D 3.5, it's a zone of 20% ...
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14answers
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Who created the idea of Experience Points?

The idea of XP in all its many forms has been around for quite some time. What designer had the idea of quantizing success and advancement through a numerical method? What game was it for? The ...
41
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1answer
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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 ...
63
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5answers
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What is the background of Christian resistance to role-playing?

While in high school, a classmate introduced us to MAGUS, a fantasy RPG popular in Hungary. We played a simplified version with no dice-rolling and stuff; basically it was one person telling a story ...
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4answers
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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&...
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3answers
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Why do RPGs have metaplots?

Lacking a more definitive source, I'm working from the metaplot article on Wikipedia, which says, in part, that The metaplot is the overarching storyline that binds together events in the official ...
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6answers
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What were the driving factors in the falling out between Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax?

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created the hobby together when they wrote D&D. But later on they had a falling out - what caused that? (We don't need minutiae, just the biggest factors)
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3answers
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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?...
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3answers
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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 ...
28
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2answers
812 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, ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
34
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1answer
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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 ...
18
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3answers
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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 ...
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4answers
1k views

What's the origin of the term “gold piece”?

What is the literary or historical origin of the term "gold piece" to mean a gold coin? Was it used before D&D, or did D&D coin the term?
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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 ...
59
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4answers
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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 ...
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6answers
8k views

At what point did polyhedral dice become part of D&D?

I was reading some articles the other day about Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson and the history of Dungeons and Dragons. I started to wonder: Where did these guys from Wisconsin get the now iconic polyhedral ...
28
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4answers
3k views

What was Braunstein, and why was it important to the beginning of the hobby?

I've heard of a game called Braunstein that apparently was the precursor to Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign. Can someone tell me what Braunstein was, and why it's important?
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2answers
4k views

Where did the Chromatic/Metallic Dragons come from?

In the AD&D Monster Manual, the Chromatic (evil) and Metallic (good) dragons are introduced. Each color of dragon has a different habitat, personality and breath weapon. (Or two breath weapons, in ...
16
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2answers
679 views

Why did WotC release Psionics under the OGL?

Wizards of the Coast released the core rules of D&D 3.5 under the OGL, but only added a small amount of material after that point. Was there some historical reason that the rules for psionics ...