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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
148 votes
14 answers
17k views

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 ...
122 votes
2 answers
54k 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 ...
  • 8,554
107 votes
4 answers
22k 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 ...
  • 16.9k
105 votes
15 answers
53k views

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 ...
104 votes
1 answer
19k 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’...
  • 1,253
100 votes
1 answer
30k 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, ...
  • 8,159
91 votes
4 answers
35k 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&...
  • 32.3k
83 votes
1 answer
8k views

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 ...
  • 52.8k
82 votes
4 answers
11k views

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 ...
  • 15.6k
72 votes
6 answers
19k 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 ...
  • 8,317
68 votes
5 answers
8k views

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 ...
  • 783
68 votes
1 answer
57k views

Why is mayo in the alchemy jug?

The 5e Alchemy Jug (on page 150 of the Dungeon Master's Guide) has several uses. Some are common and useful, like water, poison, acid. Some are natural ingredients and liquids, like honey, vinegar, ...
  • 44.6k
67 votes
2 answers
9k views

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 ...
  • 38.7k
67 votes
1 answer
7k views

Origin of the term "Splat Book"

Where does the term "Splat Book" come from? Roughly a splat book is any book not required to play the system. There is some debate over its exact meaning, but that is not the point of this question. ...
66 votes
8 answers
37k 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?
  • 3,380
66 votes
4 answers
38k 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 ...
65 votes
7 answers
15k views

Has Christianity ever been given stats?

Background We have plenty of material through several editions of D&D for several pantheons of old - Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and etc. Have there ever been published material for Christianity? Or ...
  • 17.6k
58 votes
3 answers
14k views

What is the purpose of old-school D&D class level limitations? [closed]

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 ...
  • 8,317
55 votes
3 answers
16k views

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 ...
55 votes
4 answers
12k views

What inspired the D&D version of the Rakshasa?

Rakshasa have been part of D&D for more than 35 years, appearing in every edition. These evil magic cat-people are clearly inspired by the rakshas from Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, but they ...
  • 52.8k
49 votes
4 answers
7k views

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. ...
  • 52.8k
49 votes
2 answers
6k views

What is the reason behind "one level at a time" level advancement in D&D? [closed]

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 ...
47 votes
6 answers
10k views

How did D&D end up so focused on fighting, when its inspirations weren't?

There are a lot of systems around nowadays that don't focus on combat, and that's great. But I was struck recently by the fact that D&D has always been, and remains, heavily oriented toward ...
  • 5,134
45 votes
4 answers
5k 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 ...
43 votes
7 answers
11k 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?
  • 785
43 votes
4 answers
5k 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 ...
  • 5,134
43 votes
1 answer
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 ...
43 votes
3 answers
10k 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 ...
  • 21.2k
42 votes
6 answers
11k 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 ...
  • 7,291
42 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
  • 44.6k
42 votes
1 answer
5k views

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, ...
  • 47.3k
41 votes
4 answers
3k views

Did having a 'Caller' player positively influence the gameplay in Moldvay's Basic D&D?

In the 1980 Basic D&D rules (Gygax and Arneston, Moldvay editing), the following text appears in Part 4: The Adventure: THE CALLER: One player should be chosen to tell the DM about the plans ...
  • 1,327
41 votes
1 answer
4k views

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 ...
40 votes
3 answers
10k views

Why is the soft level-cap set at level 20, specifically?

I've been wondering lately if there is any sort of precedence or context for the soft level-cap of level 20 in various D20 style tabletop games. I say soft cap because I'd like to, for the purposes of ...
  • 8,133
39 votes
4 answers
5k 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?
  • 3,380
39 votes
3 answers
7k views

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 ...
  • 17.1k
39 votes
1 answer
3k 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....
39 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there any documented proof of Mage: The Ascension writer intoxication?

I have several times been told that Mage: The Ascension is a rulebook written in a state of perpetual intoxication. There has been numerous allusions to it for years, and it has been argued the ...
  • 16.9k
38 votes
4 answers
7k views

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 ...
  • 4,805
38 votes
6 answers
4k views

In an even fight, how many rounds does a typical monster need to drop a PC?

Inspired by the closed question: DnD Next Hitpoint Inflation, There have been claims of HP inflation in dnd-next, and there certainly were increased in the absolute value of HP in 4e. In order to ...
38 votes
4 answers
20k views

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 ...
  • 17k
38 votes
2 answers
22k views

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 ...
  • 7,665
38 votes
3 answers
11k views

Were Illithids inspired by Cthulhu?

Mind Flayers seem to look a whole lot like Cthulhu. Is there any relationship/inspiration between the two?
  • 6,839
37 votes
4 answers
6k 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 ...
  • 3,566
37 votes
2 answers
3k views

Was "Warfare & Wizardry" a real game?

I recently downloaded the "Mazes & Minotaurs Player's Handbook: 2012 Silver Jubilee Edition" PDF. I believe this PHB is a revised / updated version of the Legendary Games Studio-revised 1987 ...
  • 513
37 votes
6 answers
9k views

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)
  • 3,380
37 votes
3 answers
6k views

What is the history and significance of the "dire" prefix to creatures?

Some animals in Pathfinder bestiaries are prefixed with "dire". Does this come from the wolf species Canis dirus, an early edition monster/template or something else? Where does this come from and ...
  • 9,860
37 votes
1 answer
10k 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 ...
  • 1,238
37 votes
3 answers
5k views

What is the history behind the "single-use spell scroll"?

The concept of a spell being stored on a scroll, which can be used once and then vanishes, shows up in numerous tabletop and video game RPGs. From a game design perspective, the idea of a one-use ...
37 votes
1 answer
3k views

Who first decided that "metagaming" is bad?

My understanding of early D&D play is that there was a general expectation that players could use any and all of their own skills to overcome challenges — including knowledge that their ...
  • 28.4k

1
2 3 4 5 6