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A 1974 Review of D&D 404

Posted by michael
from the start-of-an-era dept.
CleverNickName writes "Boing Boing pointed me to this 1974 review of the 'new' Dungeons and Dragons game. Some highlights: D&D was subtitled 'Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargams Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures.' The reviewer concludes, 'In general, the concept and imagination involved is stunning. However, much more work, refinement, and especially regulation and simplification is necessary before the game is managable.'"
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A 1974 Review of D&D

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  • by stankyho (172180)
    I remember playing D&D back then. Back when it took imagination to play a good RPG.
    • 1974? 1982! (Score:3, Funny)

      by conner_bw (120497)
      I don't know about the 1974 good old days, but in 1982 Tom Hanks and his imagination [imdb.com] turned him into a sick delusional mental patient. Beware! A good RPG can make you insane!

      On a lighter note, Tom hanks did seem to have snapped out of it by he had his 1984 Bachelor Party. Man come to think of it... why doesn't Tom Hanks submit star trek stories to this site?
    • believe it or not (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xeeno (313431) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:32AM (#5358930) Homepage
      I have a friend that has been DMing and playing since D&D first came out, and he still uses the original booklets as his world basis. I've read them, they're awesome compared to the shallow crap that TSR releases now.
    • My poor memory (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@nOspam.gmail.com> on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:09AM (#5359055) Homepage Journal
      I wasn't playing in 1974, but, in 1979 (I think) I won a gift certificate from my toy store down the street and spent about half of it on a box with a dragon on it. Everyone in the thread is talking about a white box, but I specifically remember it being blue, with a blue book (same dragon) maybe 60 pages long. I had no idea what an RPG or even miniatures were, and this book was still big on miniatures. At 11 years old, and never having played anything but cards and board games, I read it maybe seven times before something clicked and I got this rush of excitement as I realized that is was so much more of a game than I had ever dreamed of.
      I made my mother sit down and play it with me (she hated it). I found some friends at school and convinced them to play, but no one could really get the hang of it. I wasn't any kind of DM, either.
      It took about another two years of me trying to find people to play begore I hit the jackpot, and by the time I gave it up at 17 years old, I had amassed 30 different boxed set games, all of whigh I donated to the gaming club of my university when I went.
      I recently found some interest in playing again, and happened across a Open Documentation license game, here [slashdot.org]
      If anyone can tell me what kind of edition that blue box was (D&D, not AD&D), I would appreciate it.
      • Re:My poor memory (Score:4, Informative)

        by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:22AM (#5359091)
        That was the Basic Set, I still have it .

        A dragon seen thru a doorway, sitting
        on a trasure pile, and a scared mage
        with his mouth hanging open with a wand
        in his hand .

        Hehe, forgot about the archer ...

        It was light blue , and so was the box,
        and came with a few cheap dice too .

        Here is a picture ...

        http://www.acaeum.com/DDIndexes/SetPages/SetScan s/ Basic2Rule.html

        Ex-MislTech

      • Re:My poor memory (Score:3, Informative)

        by Keebler71 (520908)
        I think it went like this: Basic rules: Red. levels 1-4? Expert rules: Blue. levels 4-9? Companion rules: Green. levels 9?-20? Master rules: Black. 20?-36 Note: the Companion and Master rules were extentions to the orignal D&D well after AD&D was released and were not AD&D rulesets.
  • Sheesh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by majestynine (605494) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:33AM (#5358677)
    I know Slashdot is renowned for posting news thats weeks or even months old, but *this* is just stupid!
    • Re:Sheesh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xzzy (111297) <sether&tru7h,org> on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:49AM (#5358757) Homepage
      I know you're joking, but it should be a valuable example to the anti-slashdot trolls that just because something didn't happen within the past 8 hours doesn't mean it is an uninteresting story.

      I suppose implying an old story is new could be worth a valid complaint, but the simple act of posting something "old" isn't inherently wrong. Slashdot is at it's best when it directs us to links that focus on nerdly curiosities.. I don't care when it was created, if I haven't read it before it qualifies as "news".
      • good point (Score:4, Interesting)

        by vena (318873) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @03:14AM (#5359233)
        i really wish mainstream news would do this as well. i'd really appreciate a "how did we get here" column every once in a while, and i'm sure it would teach a lot of people on both sides of the political line a lot.
    • Re:Sheesh. (Score:3, Funny)

      by red_dragon (1761)

      How do you know this is not a duplicate article, eh?

  • by mattdm (1931) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:33AM (#5358679) Homepage
    Does it *get* more geeky than a story about D&D sent in by Wil Wheaton? I can't see how it possibly could.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:38AM (#5358705)
      Yes, you could be reading it on a Friday night.
    • A story about a version D&D for linux sent in by Wil Wheaton.
    • by jericho4.0 (565125) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:44AM (#5358975)
      OMFG!!!! You're right!! This was posted by Will!! And I was going to post something intelligent and thoughtfull. Good God!!! We are all such geeks I can hardly stand it.

      I'm going to go try to get laid now. Good luck to you all.

  • by Sagarian (519668) <smillerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:33AM (#5358681)
    If the review were more vehemently negative, the celibacy of thousands could have been averted.
  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:35AM (#5358689)
    However, much more work, refinement, and especially regulation and simplification is necessary before the game is managable.'"

    And 19 years and dozens of rule books later, the quest continues..... :-)

    • Second edition was managable, you just had to ue the secret magical DM power of, "No! Bad Player!"

      "Can I use this supplement?" "No! Bad Player!"
      "My old DM said..." "Bad Player, No XP."
      "We should so do this in GURPS." *DM does a Shadowrun and shoots the player*

      See? Simple.
  • by ndnet (3243) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:38AM (#5358709)
    I've never played D&D - doing so required friends (which I'm already out of the running) that liked the game.

    Still, I did collect a large number of AD&D cards, though I lost those after some water damage.

    I've played Baldur's Gate, and it's pretty decent, but how much better is an actual D&D game?
    • AD&D:Book::Baldur:Movie
    • by Alien54 (180860) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:47AM (#5358746) Journal
      vaguely like a lan party, but it's all face to face, and narrated.

      A lot depends on the referee / game master.

      sort of like how a joke can be messed up or great depending on who tells it.

      • by elmegil (12001) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:27AM (#5358908) Homepage Journal
        A lot depends on the referee / game master.

        A lot? Try everything. D&D gives you a framework, and consistent rules for engagement so you don't think you're at the GM's whims, but without someone who

        • has imagination
        • is organized
        • is able to keep a group of unruly nerds in line
        the game is still unplayable. This was proven to me time and again in a group of us with rotating gamemasters a long while back. Only one GM was worth playing with....
    • As was said it is similar to a lan party.

      However if you've ever played Taboo or any of the drinking games, or even doing charades, then it's very similar to that. You can have as much fun as you put into it. You are only limited by your imagination.

      If you happen to have a good DM then you're gonna have tons of fun.

      I play D&D ocassionaly, and a lot of the times it basically is a chance to just get together talk, and have fun. For an avg session that goes for about 6 hours, we only have about 2 hours of serious game time and the rest is just goofing off and having fun.

    • by Stonehand (71085) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:31AM (#5358926) Homepage
      It's all about the collaborative storytelling. Basically, you need imaginations, creativity, improvisational skills (especially for the gamemaster; players won't necessarily do what you anticipate...) and dedication (because creating a plausible, detailed setting and reasonable non-cookie-cutter missions takes a LOT of time and effort on the part of the GM).

      With CRPGs, you normally drastically cut down on the personality and interaction aspect -- you're normally restricted to preplotted conversation trees or keyword systems, for instance -- that make pencil-and-paper RPGs shine.

      It's not about the dice. It's not about the system, although choice of system will affect style -- e.g. players in the Middle Earth RPG system need to be extremely careful since healing's far harder to get than, say, AD&D-type systems.
      • players in the Middle Earth RPG system need to be extremely careful since healing's far harder to get than, say, AD&D-type systems

        On the other hand, carrying rations is so much easier. Waybread ho!

    • Sigh.... I hope you're young.
      Computer games are far better. D&D was what we did when we didn't have the 'internet' thingy.
      Actually, a good D&D game, with a great DM, is the best fun ever.
      The problem is, a good DM is _very_ hard to come by.
      I would add that no game I've ever played has come close to capturing that magic. Diablo!? Fuck you!
    • by Kozz (7764) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:10AM (#5359061)

      Should you decide to play, have fun with it and keep an open mind.

      That having been said, you should:

      • Don't ever get too attached to any of the characters you play. They tend to die, unless you've got a DM that never kills any characters, in which case there's no risk and it's a boring game.
      • Always play while "straight". I'm talking about mental capacity here, not sexual preference. Put away the weed, the beer, whatever. But of course, the Mountain Dew and Doritos [mp3dimension.com] are fine. Seriously though, the game is much more fun when you and your friends can concentrate fully on the game, be alert, and be creative. I've played a game where all it took was one or two beers before some people became just lost interest or stopped trying.
      • What happens in the game is just that -- a game. However your character may interact with your friends' characters, keep it all in the game. I've seen minor pissing-matches between friends after D&D sessions, and it's a damned shame.

      Oh yeah, get some dice. A nice big set of "matching" dice may look nice, but the favorites become those sets that are a hodge-podge of dice bought here and there. ;)

    • scripsit ndnet:

      I've played Baldur's Gate, and it's pretty decent, but how much better is an actual D&D game?

      You really can't compare computer games with roleplaying; they're two totally different experiences. It's sort of like comparing a book and a movie.

      With the computer games, all you really have to do is kill things, get treasure, build up a character's level/skills/whatever. Some online games have interaction with other players, but the actual gameplay is very formulaic.

      Roleplaying is about entering playing a role (no kidding! <grin>). You get inside the head of your character and respond to stimuli as him (or her). This doesn't mean faking a cheesy Renaissance Festival accent and saying `thee' and `sire' all the time; it's about interacting with an imagined world. Sometimes a game is plot-centered, sometimes it's character-centered. Either way, the mechanics of the game aren't the point, and neither (necessarily) is killing and looting. It's enjoying the experience of entering another person's mind for a little while. (And sometimes, of course, it's the joy of getting to thwack things with a big sword.)

      That's not to say, by the way, that many people don't play D&D as Baldur's Gate with paper and dice, but when they do (IMO) they're missing the point.

      For what it's worth, as an historian I find that my roleplaying experience is very useful in trying to understand historical figures on their own terms, rather than from my own perspective. That's not a benefit that can derive from playing a fantasy computer game.

  • by unsinged int (561600) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:45AM (#5358741)
    The optimum solution seems to be play by phone, or when distances are too great, play by mail.

    Oh I can see this working. "Hey, Fred, did you get my letter I mailed last week? You know, the one where I rolled a 20? I haven't heard from you yet. Did we kill the sucker or not?"
    • that you will always roll a 20; eventually you should catch on that an AC of 20 isn't good. Or is it now? I gave up a few years ago when they inverted the base rules.
      • eventually you should catch on that an AC of 20 isn't good. Or is it now?

        At the risk of exposing my geek-ness, I answer: the New Rules say a higher AC is better. It simplifies the system somewhat, in that if your char has an AC of 15, then one must roll a 15 or higher to hit you. There are bonuses and penalties and such that further complicate hitting, but that's basically the gist of the New Way.

  • by mao che minh (611166) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:46AM (#5358743) Journal
    When I was a kid, my sister's boyfriend had this weird book about knights and wizards that he duplicated the art work from. It contained all sorts of pictures and descriptions of fantastic monsters and magical weapons and items. The artwork was great. It also had a brief quest that you could play. You were a warrior that had to go into a dungeon and hunt down a rogue wizard (called a "mage", a term that I had never heard at that time). It presented you with a narrative, a story, that asked of you to make decisions on what to do next. It also asked that you roll a dice at certain times and goto a certain page dependant upon the result. I remember dying by this damn giant spider about 8 times. I felt rewarded when I finished it - it was fun.

    It was a cool book, a Dungeons and Dragons book. The adults told me that it was bad and made people act out elaborate fantasies and commit violent crimes. So I gave it up before ever actually playing it in the classic sense. But when this game for the Nintendo came out named "Dragon Warrior", I pounced on it. In a way, it a was a video game representation of what I loved about that book. I have since been a avid RPG video game player since.

    • When I was 10 the kids in the extremely rural area I lived in (less than 100 people in the place) got into D&D. My parents refused to even consider letting me play, especially after that damn Tom Hanks movie 'Mazes and Monsters' came out. Anyway, my mother's greatest fear about my playing it was that I would become a satan-worshipper. Never mind that our family was atheist...

      Odd logic, that.
  • by MoonFacedAssassin (539728) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:48AM (#5358755)
    <from the article>...the Acolyte Dorn from the village of Thane ventured into the ruins of Takator...</from the article>

    Whoa! Michael Dorn played D&D?? Coincidence that Wil Wheaton posts this story...I think not.
  • And thus was born roleplaying with crayons. To think that D&D could have been a complex, complete role-playing system if not for this article. Instead it became the dice-rolling combat system it is today.

    I give credit to D&D for starting the genre, but the genre moved past D&D long ago.
  • by josh crawley (537561) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:50AM (#5358764)
    We recently got an email from a guy in Finland that he's going to duplicate a Unix box on commodity hardware! If you would like to give a hand, Send the person, Linus Torvalds an email or post on comp.os.minix ! He really needs your help.
  • Just a few years later, about 1978 or 1979, the game "Traveler" riveted my interest in a much more interesting way. Then I got a car and a girlfriend, but I progress . . .

    The couple of D&D Dungeons I was involved in then were interesting, but I never really got the "big deal" of it.
  • Very interesting. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lendrick (314723) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:51AM (#5358772) Homepage Journal
    I'm especially amused at the bit about $3.50 apiece (or $10 for the whole set) being expensive. And here I paid sixty bucks for the three core D&D3 books and felt like I was getting a deal. I won't even start on how much all the other accessory books I've bought have set me back.

    That said, D&D has come a long way from its roots. I've never played 1st edition, but I played a lot of second, and it in comparison to 3rd, it feels at the same time far too limiting and overly complicated. I was surprised how much they managed to simultaneously simplify the game and allow for so many more options.

    Out of curiosity, those of you who have played all three and a half revisions of D&D, which one did you like the most?
    • by Gilmoure (18428)
      I started with the first version (three books in a white box) and within a year or two (memory fading now-a-days) had a copy of the Player's Manual and Monster Manual (v. 1). Did several years of playing but kept running into rule natzi's. Eventually settled in with a group of friends that did very open-ended play (really needed a good DM/GM for this). Got away from the books altogether and our games really became free form story telling.

      A few years later, wanting to get into Traveller, I got into GURPS and really like the system. It's looser than D&D (as I remember it, not getting into v2 of the hardback books) but provides as much framework as you like or need.
    • Yes, I imagine anyone who's ever spent $400 on a modest army for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and spent the better part of $100 on rulebooks and "Codices" so they know how to use the army, would sympathize with you. That $10, even with inflation, was probably a bargain.
    • by tm2b (42473)
      Out of curiosity, those of you who have played all three and a half revisions of D&D, which one did you like the most?
      Definitely 3rd edition/d20. It's the scientist/geek in me, but the fact that 3rd Edition is so darned internally consistent, through and through, is truly wonderful. To make a long reach of an analogy, by the time D&D->AD&D-> became v2, it was like trying to edit code that had been on by 10 different people, each of whom favored a different programming style. Any attempt to generalize was guaranteed to contradict another rule somewhere else. If you like to use rules to your own advantage, great, but it always threatened the willing suspension of disbelief.

      d20 D&D (3ed) was revamped from the ground up by people with actual game design experience and it thoroughly shows.

      The only real complaint I have is that it's very much 2-dimensional - when you start dealing with situations with entities at different elevations, you have to fall back on common sense a bit too often, too often because everybody was issued a different version of "common sense."
    • Re:Very interesting. (Score:3, Informative)

      by sholden (12227)
      I'm especially amused at the bit about $3.50 apiece (or $10 for the whole set) being expensive. And here I paid sixty bucks for the three core D&D3 books and felt like I was getting a deal.
      Since the median income* of the USA was about $8500 in 1974 and in 2001 was about $29,000 the price now is about double the price of 1974 (which is about the same as you get with inflation figues - which would be $10->$35).

      Of course the modern D&D product is of far higher quality - paper and production wise (content is of course a matter of taste) explaining the price increase.

      * Figures from http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/histinc/p07.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:52AM (#5358777)
    It's fascinating to read this. By the time I was a nerd, AD&D had taken over, and had certainly corrected enough of the deficiencies to make it playable.

    But what makes this so interesting is that so many of todays PC RPGs have their basis in D&D rules. Sure, they've evolved significantly and taken different directions in different games, but the fact remains that most RPGs have their battle decisions based on complex mathematical rulesets, and D&D basically introduced these. (Orc attacks with 3d8, beating your 2d10 defence and inflicting d8 damage.)

    Early computer 'RPG' were very simplistic in their battle rules, rarely better than 'attacker wins', but by the time that home computers advanced enough to support better rulesets, there was a very advanced 'template' for developers to start from.
  • by Zapdos (70654) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:54AM (#5358785)
    The strange people who played this all night long in the lounge.. As far as I know they all are still virgins.

    • Nope. I'm married with kids. :-)
    • Hmmm not only did I play D&D, AD&D, Rifts, Heroes Unlimited and many others but strangly enough I am married with 1 and a half kids.

      Imagination and the desire to move outside the square is usually a bonus in a sex life not a deficit.
    • I might be a virgin in my ear.

      I'm married with child now. Back when I was single, there were two occasions where I had three women at once (or rather, we all had a slimey, gloopy, fun time together) and numerous other times with two women. Nothing like having a bi-sexual girlfriend who liked to share and that all the women wanted. I'll admit that my time spent gaming that year was somewhat less than in other years.
    • by some damn guy (564195) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @08:05AM (#5359816)
      So you are totally socially inept, spend much of your time doing things that most would condider nerdy and haven't gotten laid in a very long time or probably never.

      There are actually a lot of girls JUST LIKE THAT. Right now! On your campus! Attractive ones! In fact, even basic statistics and probability (and I know you're down with statistics and probability) tells us that some of them would willing, hell, even _excited_ to FUCK YOU!

      Think you're insecure? Guess what? Girls are actually worse. WAY worse. Even the pretty ones- hell ESPECIALLY the pretty ones. Watch TV some time and look at the way women are still portayed, even in this day and age. Many, if not most, girls feel uncool, unsexy, and out of place a MILLION times a day and they actually prize above all else in a relationship is to feel like they are actually worthwhile _people_ and not maids, bitches or fuck toys.

      YOU, a geek, nerd or dork can actually give them this feeling by doing nothing more than BEING YOURSELF. Feel unattractive? You can do a surprising amount to fix this. Loose weight! spend an extra 10 bucks on a haircut! Get a decent wardrobe that can STILL INCLUDE ANIME T-SHIRTS! Moisturize! Most girls are good at improving a persons looks. Ask one. She will probably love to help you.

      Why are they so hung up on it? because our society tells them that they HAVE to be attractive while NEVER allowing them to live up to its standard of perfection. But you know what? Maybe they've learned something but you don't even need to be a chiseled slab of beef. Shocked?? Read on!

      What you learned in high school is now WRONG! YOU CAN get a wonderful, even SEXY girl simply by NOT treating her like a SEX OBJECT and choosing NOT to be a FAKE ASS PLAYER! Believe it or not people just as nerdy as you have gotten HOT, smart, wonderful girlfriends by simply being loving, _attentive_, down to earth (like the way you are with your friends) people and also NOT DATE RAPING THEM!

      No, you won't hit it off with every girl, but you are picky too remember? Find one that is like you. You have a star wars figure collection? Well your girl might have a collection of plastic horses from when she was twelve that she was TERRIFIED of anyone finding out about in high school. You will be able to relate a hell of a lot more than you expect. She might even love computers! She might even love linux! There's more and more every day! No, she's not Natalie Portman, but you know what? You won't care!!

      You are, smart, well-educated, compassionate and a nice guy (or girl)-- in addition to being sexy (you are sexy right? If not, see above.) You are willing to be a good boyfriend instead of just a dick delievery service. YOU ARE A DAMN GOOD GUY (or girl). So stop whinning and get to work!!!.

      GEEKS OF THE WORLD- YOU WILL GET LAID!!!!!
      /robbins>



      Note: Does not apply to those currently in or about to enter high school. You are all still shit out luck for a few years. Don't cry, we all had to be patient too.

      (And I am absolutely serious, guys I kid because I love, and I been there, I am not trying to troll.)

      Also: Go to a doctor and get treated for your depression/anxiety/bi-polar/ADD etc if you think you have it. Don't be ashamed, just fucking do it. Some (not all or even a whole lot- don't flame me) of you out there have some of these and they will fuck with your life until it gets fixed. Be brave. They are wonderful people and they can work miracles now days. They really can. Dealing with women is, as you know, very hard psycholoically at times. Especially meeting them.
  • by Quaoar (614366) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:55AM (#5358786)
    How the hell is the DM supposed to physically abuse the players if we did that?!
    • As Penny Arcade pointed out about Magic: Online [penny-arcade.com]...
    • by OblvnDrgn (167720) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:19AM (#5358881)
      No, no. You've got it all wrong.

      A good DM mentally and emotionally abuses the players. It's far more satisfying than just hitting them with a rolled up newspaper when they try to twink. You know you're a good "referee" when the very mention of a Ring of Wishing puts fear into their hearts.
      "Yes, please. Make a wish. I'm sure that this one... unlike the last seventeen your party has made... won't horribly backfire at all. Trust me."
  • Printing D&D (Score:5, Interesting)

    by duplicate-nickname (87112) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @12:58AM (#5358795) Homepage
    Here's an interesting story....

    My father's family ran a small printing business in Twin Lakes, WI (not too far from Lake Geneva). Back in the early 70's, these two guys from a small company came to my dad needing booklets to be printed for a new game. He and his brother decided against taking the risk of doing this large job and turned them down. It turns out that they were from TSR, trying to get D&D printed. Doh!
  • When I was DM for a D&D game in my younger days one of my friends kept nagging me that he wanted me to place a +5 magic vorpal sword in the game for him to find. I got tired of the nagging after a while and told him he could roll the 100 die and if it came a 00 I would give him the sword and otherwise, he would lose all his considerable magic items. I thought he was a sucker for taking the change but he did and lo and behold he rolled the die and got the 00.
  • Someone pointed out this story to Gary yesterday [lejendary.com], interestingly enough.

    You might want to check out his new MMORPG [gamepoint.net], based off his Paper-and-Pencil game Lejendary Adventure. A FAQ on the online game is here [gamepoint.net].
  • some of the best games I've played where ones in which we rolled the die, 20 meant good, 1 meant bad, and anything inbetween was entirely random.
    The games are about role-playing. Keeping track of shit just gets in the way. Hit points, and how much gold you have. Ignore anything else. You shot him with an arrow did you? Well shit, then. He sure as hell is dead. Grazing shots my ass.

    And I'll tell you, I'm sore.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:10AM (#5358834) Journal
    michael, don't you realize that Dungeons & Dragons is a tool of The Devil? Satan uses D&D to warp and manipulate young minds into doing the will of darkness! How dare you use such a popular forum for advocating and informing people of this horror. D&D is nothing but suicide, sex, drugs, and evil! Burn it!

    Oh wait a minute, you mean it's just a game? Sheesh!
    • Oh wait a minute, you mean it's just a game? Sheesh!

      You joke, but when I was in gradeschool I got roped into going to bible camp with some friends of mine. One of the counselors there fed us this huge line about his experience playing D&D, and how when he realized it was a tool of the devil, he burned all his books and miniatures, and that the demons inside them screamed as he threw them into the fire. The climax of the story was that he tossed in some kind of giant pewter dragon, and a like actual dragon flew out of the fire into the sky while his mom watched.

      I still remember just because it was so crazy in terms of the amount of detail he put into the story.
  • by apeleg (159527) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:11AM (#5358839)
    "The scope is too grand, while the referee is expected to do too much in relation to the players ..."

    The beauty of D&D can be boiled down to two propositions:

    1. Anything can happen.
    2. The Dungeon Master is God (and a capricious one at that).

    This is why computer rpg's are, at best, pale imitations of a good pen and paper game.
    • I think that part of D&D's beauty is that it allows for really heroic roleplaying. If you have 120 hitpoints max, and find yourself knocked down to 1, you're still at full fighting efficiency!

      As opposed to more realistic (read: less fun) games:
      "Oh, well, I could chase the baron down, but I've lost four health levels, so I'm restricted to pulling myself along the ground with my arms. I guess I'll just let him go" or "Ow! That last hit cut my sword-hand! Guess I'll have to sit this fight out."
  • by kfg (145172) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:11AM (#5358841)
    "However, much more work, refinement, and especially regulation and *simplification* is necessary before the game is managable."

    Well, they sure blew THAT one, didn't they?

    KFG
  • 'In general, the concept and imagination involved is stunning. However, much more work, refinement, and especially regulation and simplification is necessary before the game is managable.'

    Amen to that, brother! Maybe the fourth edition rules will clear this up...
    • kids will be playing Neverwinter Nights instead of Pen and Paper D&D. I still have my D&D boxed setx from 1979 (Basic and Expert) and all my AD&D books, modules, etc. My kids will never know the thrill of having to read a 80 page book in 3rd Grade 3-4 times to get the rules down so you and your friends can play an imaginary game.

      Now they just pop in a CD/DVD and click away. Killing the imagination and creative processes at an early age.
  • by The1Genius (58749)
    Took them almost 30 years, but they've done what he suggested in the review!
  • World creation fun (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gilmoure (18428) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:35AM (#5358940) Journal
    Did anyone else find that the best way to create realistic landscapes was to just take topographic maps of the world and either zoom in or rotate them (or both) so that most players wouldn't recognize say, the Grand Canyon, the Himilayas, etc. Even the Great Lakes look weird when turned around and cropped down a bit.

    I do find that world creation is the most satisfying part of gaming. Too bad there's not enough time to play through all the stuff I've created, even if I could find in the boxes in the attic.
  • by bain (1910) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @01:43AM (#5358968) Homepage Journal
    And websites to ?!?!?!???! ;P
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by craenor (623901) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:12AM (#5359066) Homepage
    *Finishes printing off the excel spreadsheet for his 6/6 psionic,Gray Elven Cleric/Magic-User*

    Me? Play D&D...never
    Craenor
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anthony Boyd (242971)
      Finishes printing off the excel spreadsheet for his 6/6 psionic, Gray Elven Cleric/Magic-User

      You know what's sad? I'm actually envious of the spreadsheet idea.

  • Ahhh Memories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CharlieG (34950) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:18AM (#5359080) Homepage
    Ahhh D&D - the lost hours of Jr High, High School and parts of College. The ONLY place you could get it in NYC was "The Complete Strategist" - Played EVERY Saturday for something like 7 years - 6 hours at a time. My best friend brought a childhood family friend along one day, and she joined the group. That must have been 1978. In March of 1980, she made it clear she wanted to be my girlfriend

    We'll be married 15 years this summer. I still see the friend that introduced us all the time (we're God Parents to each others children)

    D&D brings back memories
  • by Allen Varney (449382) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:32AM (#5359118) Homepage

    Jeez, I was the one who submitted this story to Boing Boing. I never thought Slashdot would go for it. I keep missing so many Karma opportunities....

    What I said in the Boing Boing submission that Wil didn't repeat here is, the 1974 review is by a gamer named Arnold Hendrick. Hendrick went on to run Heritage Miniatures and to design some cool boardgames for Heritage's short-lived Dwarfstar game line. Later Hendrick went into computer games, working for Microprose and others; he helped design or develop many of Sid Meier's best-known titles. Hendrick's best-known work as sole designer is probably the 1992 Microprose fantasy game Darklands. Here's his MobyGames rap sheet [mobygames.com] and a Darklands FAQ [fred.net].

    What I learn from this: Be bold! Despite all qualms, submit to Slashdot!

  • by AstroJetson (21336) <gmizell@NosPaM.carpe-noctum.net> on Saturday February 22, 2003 @02:44AM (#5359155) Homepage
    It wasn't actually D & D, but a similar game called Dragonquest. Me and my friend Dave played two brothers named Norbert and Ignacio Gleeps. We'd been playing these characters for a while and they were badasses. Mike (our DM) had been trying to kill one or both of us off for a while because we were getting too powerful. One day Norbert got captured by the good guys and was going to be hanged the next day. I don't recall what it was we did to deserve this, but I'm sure that it was a just punishment. Regardless, I had to find a way to spring my brother out of the pokey.

    I tried a few things that night, but it was just a few of us against an army. I could never get close to where they were keeping him. The next day dawned and Norbert was carried out to the gallows while I watched from behind a nearby hill. I was going crazy! I couldn't think of anything to do, but I couldn't let them hang my brother! In desperation, as they fitted Norbert's neck into the noose, I notched an arrow into my big composite bow. Mike asked me what I was aiming at and I said "the rope". He laughed and said if I rolled a 01 (out of 100) I would hit the rope. Sure enough I rolled the first number....0. Then the second number came....1!! The arrow pierced the rope just as the trapdoor opened and Norbert fell to the ground trying to figure out why he wasn't dead. I stood, notched another arrow, took aim at the leader of the troops and nonchalantly asked, "Ok, who's next?" Nobody even twitched as Norbert hauled ass up to the hill where we were. We got the hell out of there before they could get their shit back in their socks.

    Poor Mike....never did kill those characters off.
  • by pmineiro (556272) <paul@mineirCHICAGOo.com minus city> on Saturday February 22, 2003 @03:26AM (#5359262) Homepage
    Play in person is usually impossible, because the referee can only show the adventurer the terrain he is crossing at that instant, plus whatever is in his sight ... The optimum solution seems to be play by phone ...

    hehehe.

    Computers handle the mechanical aspects of "being the referee" so well. but I never really got into these newfangled muds/mmorps the kids like nowadays, because the human referee was so much better at the storytelling component of it.

    Maybe the computer allows things to scale a little bit ... what about 40 people get a dedicated world and 24-7 human referees providing open ended storylines. They each pay $500/mo or so to support their referees. Professional DM-ing!

    I guess the referee interface to the world would have to get much better so that they could keep up ... I had a good DM in junior high and that guy spent every waking hour of the week (including school, natch) coming up with enough material for one session a week ... and I was a junior high school kid so my standards of entertainment weren't so high.

    -- p
  • ChainMail (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sbaker (47485) on Saturday February 22, 2003 @03:35AM (#5359294) Homepage
    In the review, it talks about "ChainMail" - which is a fairly meaningless comment for modern readers unfamilar with the context.

    "ChainMail" was an earlier set of wargame rules for large scale battles between medieval armies. As I recall, it had a brief appendix covering some add-on rules to allow wizards, orcs, dragons and such like to be added into the battles as a bit of a laugh.

    Using the ChainMail rules for purely fantasy warfare became very popular - probably more so than the non-fantasy aspect of the rules. That (I suspect) is the reason that D&D came into being.

    The reason the original D&D rules seem confusing is that they assume full knowledge and applicability of the ChainMail rules.

    Steve - Chaos/Cleric/Hobbit 19th level - circa 1982.

    OK - I'm about geeked out now.
  • gygax interview (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22, 2003 @04:22AM (#5359411)
    I know that there are quite a few gamespy-haters on slashdot, but last night gamespy hosted a chat with Gary Gygax. A few interesting questions were asked. I captured a log of the interview for your reading pleasure:

    I'll let Spiff take care of the intro's

    To ask a guestion, please type /msg Cobby question and we will post on your behalf (time permitting)

    Drum roll please ....

    I'd like to welcome everybody to today's special subscriber only Arcade event!

    This is the very first of its kind for Arcade, and we hope to do more such events in the future.

    To kick them off, though, we've got a doozy for you -- an exclusive chat with the *original* Dungeon Master himself, Mr. Gary Gygax

    Home: Join us for a chat with Dungeons & Dragons inventor and RPG guru Gary Gygax on Fri., Feb 21st at 3 p.m. PST 6 pm EST 11 pm GMT right here in the Arcade Subscriber's lobby! Lobby moderated - to ask a question type /msg Cobby your question and we'll ask it for you, time permitting

    Ahem.

    As the topic notes, Mr. Gygax is one of the developers of the original Dungeons and Dragons pen & paper role playing game

    A game that sucked away hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of my life away :-)

    Would you believe the author of same? (^_^)

    I would!

    Heh...

    Ok are we ready to get started?

    His influence can be not just on RPGs, but on the world of computer games that we've all come to know and love.

    So, warm up your brains, and lets get some questions going!

    Here we go:

    *Ganja-Hamster* Did you expect your creation to get as big as it has and develop such a large following?

    for those wanting add me to their lists, sorry, but I need to concentrate on the questions. I'm a slow typist.

    When i wrote the D&D game computer's werenot uced by regualt peolle, I thought the D&D gtame would appeal to wargamers and SF fans, so counted on about 50K sales only.

    when you're done answering, please add so I know to post the next Q :)

    *FireBall{2}* can you ask him for me how long it took to make the game and how many people were involved in the development of the game?

    It took me two weeks to write the first 50 pp ms. for D&D. The play-testers for that period were my son Ernie and daughter Elise

    We then added several other persons to the game--Don Kaye, rob and Terry Kuntz. that was befroe the two weeks were up and the rules actually on paper

    From their input and thst of about a dizen gamer friends at various colleges, I expanded the rules to 150 pp in the spring of 1973. That ms, was published as the D&D game.

    *KungFooFairy* *Do you regret selling the rights to D&D?*

    Yes, but I was fed up with the crap at TSR, so i wanted out of that mess. I should not have divested the rights, clearly. But what the heck, Istill love gaming and writing new material, so it isn't that sad a thing...

    *{pDs}The_Spaniard* I am not familiar with the D&D universe but I have a basic idea how would you explain it to someone who has never heard of it before?

    Sure:) the game is a class-based one in which palyers create a character to "adventure" in a quasi-medieval setting. They meet NPC and monsters, solve problems, explote, and gain experience to become more able. that cover it?

    yep :)

    *crt* Have you played Neverwinter Nights? What do you think of their implementation of "live" online dungeon masters?

    I must confess to being such an addict of online and computer games that I do not play them. No work gets dne for weeks or longer if I so much as start. From what I have been told, though NWN is pretty close to the paper game experience.

    BTW, a game of mine is likely to come up as a MMPO RPG in some months, so then I'll have an excuse to play:)

    *xPLASMAx* do you think the rules for D & D work for PC based games aswell as the original game ????

    that's hard for me to judge, buy in general I know that the computer frmat requires some considerable change in rules and mechanics from the PnP version. In all, though, the latter rules form a good basis for developing a computer game certainly,

    *painartist* Why CRPG's now, what makes this the right time for you to make the transition from Pen and Paper?

    Heh! The majority of the RPG audience is playing online and CRPGs, and I took a foray into the latter field back in the early 1990s. three games optioned, and all canned for no fault of the game:( SO I wnet back to PnP, did a new RPG i loved, and figured it would serve as the basis for getting into the computer game field as well,

    *KungFooFairy* *How do you see the future of Pen and Paper games faring against todays and tomorrows MMORPG's?*

    PnP RPGs will remain the finest esperience--untik the holodeck of the Star Ship enterprise can be created. I think of them as anolagous to Broadway theater, the MMPO game as TV, and the CRPG as a motion picture:)

    *StoneRook* "of all the D&D movies/show made - which one do you think was true to your vision?

    Gah! The lotR films are good, more like a D&D film than others. Big Trouble in Little China came close in a modern setting. I really liked the first "Harry Potter" movie two, but the second one was a letdown.

    *ColdAsIce_* What first gave you the idea to create D&D and have you follwed the examples of some great RPG's we''ve seen over the last year or so?

    that question requires an essay length response, going back through my childhood. the most immediate inspiration for the D&D game came from the "Fantasy Supplement" in the CHAINMAIL miniatiures rules that I wrote and was published in 1971.

    *{10th_Mtn}AlienHead_* will Mr. Gygax be working with any game developers personally on any rpgs in the future?

    I am booked for some time doing paper game products, but if the lajendary adventure mmp GOES FORWARD, LIKELY THERE WILL BE crpg DEALS THAT i WILL BE INVOLVED IN.

    *DJO_BrYaN_USMC|NOVA|* What are you doing now a-days? Job? etc....

    Oops, didn't mean to shout...

    I am very busy writing PnP game material. Besides stuff for the new FRPG system, I have a line of generic d20/La game reference books, and several adventure modules out or about to hit.

    *Lokust* (question for Gary): Mr. Gygax, some consider you the largest single influence on fantasy gaming as we know it today. Do you feel that assessment is accurate, and is it a humbling feeling? Or do you feel that fantasy gaming would have evolved as it has without your work on D&D?

    Well, that's a tough question, in part. I'll do the easy stuff first. Yes, no question most PRG around sprang from my D&D/AD&D work, and yes, I feel rather humbled by it. Now, as to it coming into being without CHAINMAIL and D&D, who can say? given time, possibly something would have emerged--maybe more influenbtial, maybe a bomb. Look at the D&D film as an example. think of a game as bad as that movie...

    *DS-ManiacCop* "were you in any way influenced by J.R.R.Tolkin and how?"

    I was mainly influenced in regards marketing. Having been a fan of F&SF since 1950, read back in the genre all the way to 1940, his work was nothing new to me. When isaw so many people taken by the Rings Trilogy, Iadded as muchg as possible of it into CHAINMAIL, then more into the D&D game. I am a great fan of THE HOBBIT, admittedly, and read it aloud to all of my children--three times through the book that way;)

    *Behumat* how did you arrive at the name Dungeons and Dragons? And were there any other cool or funny titles you considered?

    There's some wrong information about how the title came to be. What happened is that I wrote two lists of names for a potential title, each one word, and had them in two columns. Then I polled my fellow gamers and family as to which they liked best. When my daughter Cindy, then a little girl, jumped up and down at hearing "Dungeons & Dragons," I was decided. It had been my favorite, but one never knows...

    *USMC_3rd_Battalion* What was the first monster you created in D&D?

    I took all the monsters from CHAINMAIL. then I added some new ones.

    Can I ask a quick follow-up?

    sure :)

    What was the first monster you created for CHAINMAIL? :-)

    the first monsters for CHAINMAIL were a red dragon, a giant, a troll, ogres, and orcs--as well as elementals. I think that was the first roster anyway;)

    *KungFooFairy* *Do you prefer class-based leveling as opposed to skill-based leveling and why?*

    My current preference is for skill-based RPG.

    I don't usually listen to anything but the whining of my players when I am GMing;)

    *crt* how often do you play PnP D&D games these days? I assume you have a regular group you play with?

    out of order, sorry. I play D&D seldom any more. I have run a regular LEJENDARY ADVENTURE game campaign for almost seven years now, and we have a weekly session on Thursday nights here at my house--7 or 8 regulars currently. I do DM some OA/D&D games now and then at conventions, of course.

    *_-{12thMarines}-1Lt_* How did you think of the whole concept and what was the most satisfying part of creating D&D?

    Oops! the essay-length query again. See above.

    whoops!

    *RT_Riyker* Is there any other type of game genre you enjoy other than RPG that wouldn't be too embarrassing to admit?

    the most satisfying part of creating D&D was having fun DMing, playing, and knowing that so many of my fellow game fans were likewise enjoying the experience. Greatest thing of all, that!

    *Hook{1}* Were your parents supportive of your work, or did you often hear the question, "When are you going to get a real job?" :)

    Heh, by the time I wrote D&D I was in my early 30s and my father, rest his soul, was deceased. My mother and then-wife were somewhat concerned that I had left a career in insurance to be a game designer. They had some reason to worry, too, as I starved for about four years, eeked out a living doing other things while writing about 30 hours a week.

    that should be "eaked" of course:(

    *WiKiD-paybak* What is his opinion to those against D&D Like the Fundamenatlists out there who think its Demonic etc? ( Their all dumb in my opinion)

    The critics seem to have a problem distinguishing fantasy from reality, bvetween game play and actual behavior in life. this is mostly due to ignorance and/or prejudice, encouraged by media of sensationalist sort.

    *Avatar* You mentioned the Enterprise- Are you a big Star Trek fan? :D

    While I can't say I am a Trekkie, yes. I do enjoy the STAR TRECK programs and the movies. I am not a Shattner fan, though.

    *DirectX* is thier a time in your life when you will give all this up

    Sure. when I am no longer able to write. Until then, though, I am enjoying the "work" too much to want to stop.

    *KungFooFairy* *Do you believe that the playing of RPG's can have a positive influence on humanity as a whole?*

    I know from countelss fan letters and emails that RPGs have had a very positive effect on about 99% of those who played. If that can translate to humanity at large, I suppose they can. right now I'd estimate the number positively impacted in the low millions, though.

    We only have time for one more Q..

    *DJO_BrYaN_USMC|NOVA|* Is there a website were we can stay up to date on your projects and find more info on you?

    sure, lots of them, sorta...

    My homepage is www.gygax,com My webmaster and host are currently readying an update that will have all that information on it, and my long biography too.

    In regards to the LA RPG there is the PnP website www.lejendary.com

    For the LAO game its www.LejendaryAdventure.com

    www.dragonsfoot.org has a LA game section

    I have a long pair of Q&A threads up on the boards at EN world--sorry can't recall the URL.

    Anyone can email me at ggygax@genevaonline.com as well;)

    Gary -- thank you SO MUCH for dropping by to chat with our subscribers.

    Thanks for taking time to be here with us!

    We -- and they -- appreciate your time.

    Thanks too to all the subscribers who turned out for the event!

    Hey, my pleasure to be here, and i consider it an honor to be asked, and to all the audience here I say "Thanks a lot!"

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis

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