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Looking Back At Dungeons & Dragons

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the lightning-bolt dept.

Role Playing (Games) 189

An anonymous reader sends in a nostalgic piece about Dungeons & Dragons and the influence it's had on games and gamers for the past 36 years. Quoting: "Maybe there was something in the air during the early '70s. Maybe it was historically inevitable. But it seems way more than convenient coincidence that Gygax and Arneson got their first packet of rules for D&D out the door in 1974, the same year Nolan Bushnell managed to cobble together a little arcade machine called Pong. We've never had fun quite the same way since. Looking back, these two events set today's world of gaming into motion — the Romulus and Remus of modern game civilization. For the rest of forever, we would sit around and argue whether games should let us do more or tell us better stories."

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Haw haw (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30829394)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Obama's nazi healthcare plan was found dead in it's Washington, D.C. home. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss it - even if you aren't a socialist, there's no denying it's proposed contributions to the downfall of Western culture. Truly an American icon.

Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (3, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829414) []

1972, it seems.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30829430)

Congratulations, you've learned how to use Wikipedia. We're all very proud of you.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30829600)


Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830190)

This is original research.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830302)

This is the Internet Age. Original research is copied and pasted with complete disregard to copyright. *cough* Google *cough*

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (1)

proslack (797189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830836)

Which will earn you a grade of "F" at University.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830906)

They have to justify their exorbitant tuition costs somehow.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (3, Interesting)

Lando242 (1322757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829538)

Not only that, but Pong was cribbed from Ralph Baer's Odyssey, which he had been demoing around since at least 1968.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829542)

Which was pre-dated by, get this, a console game, by almost three years. []

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (4, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830374)

And all of these are predated by the 0.27.452a Alpha version of D&D, commonly known as Chess.

Re:Well, Pong is earlier then 1974 (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831206)

Which was itself pre-dated by William Higinbotham's "Tennis for Two" in 1958.

But unfortunately... (4, Funny)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829530)

... nobody wants to play D&D with me now that we have video games (THANKS FOR NOTHING, PONG). :( does /. want to play?

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829550)

So? Buy some video games and people will want to play with you again. Or are video games merely the scapegoat here? ;)

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829584)

Blasphemy! You are but a fool to think D&D can be played on computers in the same manly manner.

That's what I was referring to.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829696)

Indirectly however, the advent of computing and the internet makes it much simpler to play D&D, not to mention also providing better options for certain facets not possible under normal face-to-face circumstances.

Take for example a chaotic evil character which is partied with other chaotic evil characters. communicating a backstabbing is much more subtle when no one can see you hand that slip of paper to the dungeon master.

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829746)

These days when you say "RPG" people think WoW. Yes, technically it's made things easier, and you can certainly find a lot more people to play with, but how many 11-year-olds will you find who want to play a text-based game, when they're *online*.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830660)

how many 11-year-olds will you find who want to play a text-based game, when they're *online*.

I dunno... call it "MSN Messenger" or "Bebo" and I think you'll do OK...

Re:But unfortunately... (4, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830840)

I completely agree. "Pen and Paper" has been replaced with digital character sheets on laptops, an electronic map displayed on a big-screen TV (including FoW) to let players know where they are in relation to objects and creatures, and some still prefer real dice but command-line rolling using macros is much more efficient.

MapTool from is by far the core tool we use. We have custom macros for all the powers each player is using, and it's not that hard to keep them up to date (players only level up about once a month, and don't get new powers every level, and the macros are pretty easy to write). the DM's notebook runs 2 instances of it, one for the DM's view and another on the second screen (TV) for everyone to see. The maps themselves for pregenerated campaigns are available online, though more recently, we've been making our own (from scans mostly).

Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830262)

So why won't people play D&D with you? You haven't been entirely clear on that part.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Aethedor (973725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829580)

does /. want to play?

Sure. Your character is sitting in front of the computer. What is your next move?

Re:But unfortunately... (4, Funny)

nkh (750837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829602)

I click on "Reply to This" and type my answer. I eagerly await your next command while sipping some coffee. My program compiled with 5 errors and 12 warnings that I fix as fast as possible. I commit my changes with a quote from Edgar Allan Poe, and click on the Submit button to finish.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

GeniusDex (803759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829622)

Make a fortitude save...

Re:But unfortunately... (5, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829632)

A troll appears on the discussion thread. He has not noticed you yet, but he's causing some damage to the surrounding environment. Remember that you'll need fire or acid to cause him permanent damage -- just modding him down won't work.

Re:But unfortunately... (3, Funny)

mr_gorkajuice (1347383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829662)

I cast... Magic Missile!

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

iperkins (974060) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829904)

Eldritch Blast FTW!

Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830492)

Y'know, if you take the Eldritch/Arcane PrC from Complete Mage, you can get a 3rd level Sp that allows you to infuse your Eldritch blast with a spell, so that the target of your EB is resolved as the target of the spell (which must be AoE or Ray, IIRC). What no one counted on was the fact that you could slip metamagic onto that spell...

But nobody remembers that! Nor do they remember the ways to get ultimate power in 2e by not assiciating with bards. And they don't even care! Those I once called my enemies because they disputed my morals in abusing Precocious Apprentice, Drowning Rules, Immoth+Spellthief combo, they are now my best companions because they simply *remember* the past and know who Tleilaxu Ghola once was...

Damn. I gotta just accept the fact that 4e and WoW have killed everything I once held dear.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830774)

Bah. I'll just use shape change to turn into a 200ft ball of lead and deal falling object damage, dealing 1.6 million d6 in damage in a 100ft radius. The troll will die of old age before he manages to regenerate, and just in case someone decides to come along in the next few years, I'll strangle the goo that is left, causing asphyxiation in 3 rounds.

You don't like 4e? There are alternatives you know? D20 Open Gaming Licence forever. Pathfinder is an OGL D&D 3.5 extension by Paizo publishing. Its good stuff.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831134)

"dealing 1.6 million d6 in damage in a 100ft radius."
"I'll strangle the goo that is left."
If i was the DM you'd BE the goo that was left. A small crater containing lead and troll-blood would actually make a nice random encounter, too bad half my players read slashdot ;).

Also, the basic rule is simple: 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 20d6.

Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830288)

I slip on my boots of silence and wait in the dark while slipping my +2 dagger of invisibility out of it's sheath, crouching down preparing to attack when the bastard gets closer.

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Funny)

Aethedor (973725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829668)

No no no, you say that you want to compile your program. The DM decides how many errors you get. You have to roll a save check vs intelligence. Roll D20 and add 1 point for every year of programming experience.

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829722)

I think wisdom has to factor into this somehow. Intelligence will effect how fast he'll resolve the errors, but if he were *wiser* in the first place, he'd make less mistakes.
Also, if you roll 1 you caused a memory leak.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829762)

But for a skill check that causes an unknown problem, the DM should roll instead. Otherwise he might know that he rolled a 1 and needs to watch for such a thing. (unless the DM is feeling lenient...)

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

lenroc (632180) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831286)

I put on my robe and wizard hat.

Re:But unfortunately... (5, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829592)

Few people born after 1990 will likely want to touch D&D, or any other pen-and-paper RPG. I kind of feel sorry for their imaginations. At some point the saturation of visual media will reach a point where practically everything is a close derivative of some other work the artist has seen, and you'll have very little artwork that's created simply by the mind of the designer. This has implications, IMHO, that reach further than just how people draw elves and orcs. D&D made us look up at the *ceiling* and try to imagine a creature, a place, a situation, and the interaction of things that we've never encountered. Kids seeing Avatar today will be, in some way, imagination-impaired.
(damn, I sound old)

Re:But unfortunately... (4, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829660)

Really? I asked around at church, and we got so many people interested, we had to rope in another DM and organise two games. Most of the people who play are in the 18 - 24 bracket. Although our assistant minister joined us for one game as a cleric of atheism.

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829738)

Although our assistant minister joined us for one game as a cleric of atheism.

I don't believe you. Or should that be "I disbelieve you" ?

Re:But unfortunately... (4, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829782)

Really? You don't think a minister could get a helluva lot of kicks putting words into the mouth of a proponent of atheism?

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829974)

It was intended as a joke playing off of "atheism", but I failed :)

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

johnnysaucepn (1263108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829950)

That's nothing. I used to play D&D with a Jehovah's Witness.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830240)

I am a Jehovah's Witness, you insensitive clod!

And yes, I do play D&D!

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

johnnysaucepn (1263108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830282)

What's insensitive about saying that I used to be friends with a Jehovah's Witness? Are you not allowed to have friends or something?!

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

orta (786013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830364)

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Jaruzel (804522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830620)

Ahhh, It's the 7-digit /. users. Was I ever that young ?

(and yes, compared to some of you, my ID is massive also...)


Re:But unfortunately... (1)

jaraxle (1707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830946)

Get off my lawn, you damn kids!


Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831574)

A four digit ID and yet you still sign your posts.


Re:But unfortunately... (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831168)

Common Slashdot 'meme' [] (forgive me if you knew that)

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Funny)

spitzig (73300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831032)

Well, the only friend I've ever lost for specific "belief" reasons was a Jehovah's Witness(we were kids). I'm pretty sure it was because I got this crappy little D&D handheld video game. About the same time I got one of those "Jack Chick" D&D pamplets, he stopped hanging out with me.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831504)

You're a Jehovah's Witness with "666" in your username? Goin' to hell for that one.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830570)

I would open up my books and find out whether clerics can indeed be atheist or not

but alas I'm at work.

You're off the hook... THIS TIME!...

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830584)

4E, clerics can be devoted to a deity, or a concept or philosophy

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

spitzig (73300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831044)

One way I recall is a person believes that "gods" are really mortals that have just gotten very powerful. Maybe they dislike this power structure and create a religion around it.

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831154)

You know what is really funny to me is that when I was growing up in the 70's and playing D&D it was declared as satanic by the church. Much the way there are churches and religious people that claim Harry Potter is satanic or is witchcraft today. I recently did a report on this for a class I was taking, which I had never thought about until I did that paper. However I remember as a child and reading all the D&D books and being told they were satanic, yet I knew better because I actually read the books. Everyone that told me they were satanic I simply asked, can you give me an example of what is satanic about them, which they couldn't because they never read the books. I also remember that was also when I realized people in religion didn't have a clue what they were talking about and I seriously think this was key in me becoming an Atheist. At a young age being persecuted for playing a game, I had my books taken away from me as well, because they were supposedly satanic. I seriously to this day have an utter hatred and distaste for all organized religions. I see things like China censorship of Avatar and see this as the same thing. Somewhere a group of people do not want you to think a certain way and they try to oppress you.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831630)

Although our assistant minister joined us for one game as a cleric of atheism.

Then I'm going to go ahead and guess that you go to a Unitarian-Universalist church. Well, that or Episcopalian.

You are WRONG (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830084)

What you just said is like claiming that "no one will read books" anymore after TV was invented.

Pen and Paper Roleplaying games offer a completely different kind of experience that you get from books, movies, computer games.
It has it's own advantages and disadvantages and offers a "unique" kind of entertainment - just as all other forms as other "unique" kinds of entertainment do as well. I really do not see why those cannot co-exist. And as we are it I'd also say that LARP will also be around in the years and decades to come as it ALSO offers something you don't get with watching a movie or with sitting around a P&P-table.

You SOUND old because you ARE old. And I'm not talking about your body. Your set-of-thought is what makes you old and from yesterday. You entered the stage of "my youth is the measurement of all that is good and today is totally different, thus bad". I can give you a very short example that shows how rididculuos your post was (and also the mods who moded you +4 insightful, geez!). Example: "Kids seeing Star Wars will be imagination-impaired".

Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830168)

The local tabletop gaming scene I play within includes retirees, adult workers, college students, high schoolers, and a few grade-school children, weighted moderately toward the 20-35 bracket. Now, the grade-schoolers are usually playing with an older relative, and the gamemasters are mostly college-aged and older, but that's mostly a matter of relative maturity, organizational capacity, and control over scheduling. Some dungeon masters don't like having the kids at the table, either, but most of our young'ns are pretty good about sitting down and just rolling their dice when it's their turn -- also, the ones playing with older brothers do just fine so long as the older brother is on the ball.

I imagine the majority of players will always be young-ish adults, but saying "nobody likes imagination anymore" is little more than unfortunate evidence for the old fogeyhood you're fearing. What irks me more is that several systems (including, urgh, D&D 4.0) lean away from role-playing back toward pure combat simulation, which IMO is better done by computers than a bunch of people with dice and notepads. When I'm playing, I promote the role-play thing pretty hard. Usually, the game-master is happy to get a shot doing something other than looking up obscure combat rules or describing how the latest kobold's spine was shattered, and most players are happy to play along, so long as I don't spend the entirety of every session chatting up the town elders.

Even if you're an impending old fogey, you quite possibly have contact with some people under 20. Try inviting one or two that you know reasonably well over to a game night with an obliging (and forewarned) game-master. It's a supervised, likely low- or no-alcohol event (though if your table DOES drink more than just a beer or three, I'll admit that bringing the kids along is a less appealing prospect). These days, you probably don't need to sanitize your language completely with kids present, but if you have a reasonable set of folks at the table, you CAN set a decent example by not cursing your fool heads off every time the dice start misbehaving. If it's a potluck, I'd suggest bringing protein or veggies, not sugar and starch -- giving a 14-year-old half a liter of cola, several fistfuls of potato chips, and a pile of cookies before asking them to sit down, listen, and think is a recipe for failure. If you're at a good table, and the young'ns you picked have any creativity and wit whatsoever, they should get a kick out of it. Let them play something straightforward if they want; do-no-wrong paladins, pickpockety rogues, skull-thumping barbarians, whatever. Offer constructive criticism, and put a moderate dose of the "why" into your explanations. Kids aren't morons; it's good for them to know there are reasons for things. Breaking down some of the mystique of adulthood can also be a good thing for teenagers; when they understand that adults are just a bunch of older kids with jobs and families, they can sometimes get over some of their adolescent hangups and start acting like more functional people.

In short, don't forget that you, too, can help mitigate the brain-dulling effects of the blinky boxes.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

ET3D (1169851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830176)

Quite the opposite, D&D is the source of a an incredible amount of derivative fantasy. It's what made everyone "know" what an elf or dwarf looks and acts like. It gave us pictures and stats and backgrounds. If as a DM I dared put in a goblin that wasn't evil and accompanied the party, everyone was certain that at any moment it will steal, kill, etc. I can think of cases when I deviated from the D&D depictions of creatures, even outside the direct context of D&D, and got "corrections" from D&D players.

I'm not saying that there aren't imaginative D&D games, but I'd imagine that there are probably more derivative ones than original ones, or the market for expansions and adventures wouldn't have been as big. To this day you can see fiction magazine submission guidelines asking not to submit things that resemble D&D adventures.

Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830366)

The main problem with RPG's is that it takes a good game master(GM) to do the job. A good GM is dedicated and thorough, as a byproduct of all this you usually end up with a document of quite good quality.

Now if you have a piece publish ready document going for you you might as well publish it.

Now on the other hand its incredibly hard to find a good GM, because most people aren't as thorough as they'd like. SO what you instead do is get a ready prepped adventure and modify it.

Even good GM's should do this. As theres only so much you can invent in week. This brings new flavor to the kind of puzzles and stories you provide.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Paltin (983254) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830322)

... and few people born before 1990 want to play D&D either! (Perhaps 10% based on the numbers in the article).

If you think that pen-and-paper RPG's are dead, you're sorely out of touch. WoTC has literally lead a resurgence in popularity of D&D w/ their new products, and today's 20yos play as much as they ever did. Want evidence? Go to your local university and look up their gaming club. It'll be packed full of nerddom. Go to your local game store's RPG night and look at the crowd... you'll see 40yos and 10yos playing in the same game, having fun.

I know being an old curmudgeon is fun, but you're just plain wrong that there has been some sort of shift in people's imaginations.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

zensunniwanderer (1725432) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830350)

It's perhaps both fortunate and unfortunate that I and my friends started playing DnD as a result of the news of Mr. Gygax's death. I guess it's something I'd been vaguely interested in but didn't know anyone who wished to play and I was hesitant to broach the topic; battling goblins and the undead has an element of nerdiness that a lot of people don't wish to associate themselves with, even those who do it on PC and console. Thankfully a friend mentioned the idea of playing so I bought a few books (GURPS - I wished to 'future-proof' my pen and paper (pnp) roleplaying by learning something versatile) and wrote up a simple dungeon crawl with a shallow learning curve. The party consisted of my friend, his girlfriend and my girlfriend*. To my surprise and delight he took a supporting role as his (normally quite introverted) significant other launched herself into the part. It was the most silly, wonderful, exciting four hours I've ever spent with a group of people sitting down. Over the last few months I've been listening to a multitude of podcast 'actual-play' games which have shown me the depth and diversity of pnp RPG's. I highly recommend Role Play Public Radio [] and Critical Failure [] Given that people are playing by forum, via webcam and on IRC I think that DnD is going to become more popular as accessibility improves. Being born after 1990 may present more opportunity to play. *I will now point out that although this is my first post on /. I've been reading long enough to say, "Yes, really - girls." :)

Re:But unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30830572)

But Avatar is a derivative work -- the animals are all based on existing Earth creatures that already existed in our collective imaginations. The whole concept of a technologically advanced civilization over-running a non-technological civilization is as old as humanity. What was creative was imagining that the non-techs could win.

But what Avatar illustrates is just how well we can take imagination and express it visually now. Anything you can imagine, you can bring to visual reality and share with the rest of society.

I think the tools we now have are a huge step forward in allowing imagination and creativity to be unleashed.

And keep in mind that D&D wouldn't have been the success it was if it hadn't tapped into the groundwork laid by Tolkien and writers of his ilk.

It all builds on what came before, better tools just make it possible to create more.

Re:But unfortunately... (2, Interesting)

Knyterage (1365183) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830668)

I don't see this as totally true. My one cousin was born in August of 1990 and she keeps hounding me when we are going to be playing D&D again. Granted it started with me running games with her brother and his friends when they were in high school. She's been playing since she was around 10 and has a very good imagination. However I am not saying that all this cgi and special effects won't hurt others of that generation but I know when I have kids, it will not be the case. Also my friends kids, when old enough will involved in our gaming, that is as long as we are still playing, despite his wife's best effort to squash our little group just because, and I quote, "I don't get it."

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Minigun_Fiend (909620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830730)

I started a board game society at my university at the beginning of this academic year and we had some not-inconsiderable interest in D so I - having never played it myself - was obliged to support someone to DM a few games and see how it went. A few months later and our party has grown to 11 people, plus DM, who meet up once a week (as well as again the next evening for board games) to play an ongoing 3.5 campaign with inventive scenarios and some really, really great roleplaying - the kind of D&D sessions which I imagine we'll still be talking about years later. We've also got several other people interested in joining in for the next story arc, a couple of people wanting to DM their own D&D games, and we're in the process of starting a new GURPS campaign to run alongside. Certainly D&D probably isn't as popular as it used to be, but I really have to take issue with the idea that 'few people born after 1990' would be interested - if anything it's one of our biggest membership pulls. There are so many people out there who, like me, have never tried it but - despite any bad press they've heard (mostly to do with uber-geeks; you know the kind) - really would like to try. They just need a gentle nudge in the direction of a group who's willing to have them.

Re:But unfortunately... (3, Insightful)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830948)

The kids of all the members our our active game groups are starting to become interested. The oldest is only 8.

Kids imagine more than you know, and given the wealth of influence from media, movies, stories, and more, they can come up with some pretty hard core stuff.

We didn't "imagine" as much as you think with D&D either, we had pictures of monters to look at, descriptions and detailed accounts to reference, the only one doing any real imagining was the DM and only if he wrote his only story, or more commonly augmented one to better suit tyhe group). The rest of us were simply "role playing" which is what it's all about. Reacting to events and scenarios as someone else might react instead of yourself. The rest was all simply in the rules. It's a scripted session of pretend, not very far different from the choose-your-own-adventure books from the 70's and 80's. The advantage of it was simply that the rules were basically wide open for any conceivable action to be done by a player instead of a strict set of options on your turn.

Today, it's better. We have actual play maps (which were allways optional back in the day, and rarely used because of the massive time investment in making them and expense of miniatures). The TV is a central view of the action, initiative, and quest notes. Players use laptops to manage their character and move them about on the screen by joining the server. They can see what monters look like (currently they're simply icons, scanned from the books, so it's really not all that different) Rolling and to-hit calcuations have been replaced by macros which makes combat MUCH more efficient and lets us "play" more and roll less (though some still prefer real dice). It's easier to get a mental image of what's going on, and there's less "narrative" as the GM simply explains your surroundings and relative position to each other.

We're still huddles in a room over character sheets running through adventures led by a GM pulling the strings of NPCs. The stories now are not much diferent than they used to be. It's quite entertaining, and action happens a lot faster than it used to.

Re:But unfortunately... (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831256)

Try growing up in a hick town where you're the only D&D fan. Then you won't romanticize it so much. At least the CRPG's gave me someone to play with.

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

GeniusDex (803759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829606)

I've actually recently (less than a year ago) started playing D&D and i must say i'm really impressed by the amount of detail you can get into a set of numbers on a few sheets of paper. More people should be doing this; it's MMORPG: Medium-sized Multiplayer Offline RPG

Re:But unfortunately... (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831618)

Well not D&D but you're welcome to lurk at our Google Wave Shadowrun game.

If you're actually looking for someone to game with (and there are a whole lot of us out here), check out []

Farcaster has an excellent gamer registry. Assuming you're not in an area with 5 people in it, there's a good chance there are a few folks local to you.

And of course, check out the local game shops. Here in the Denver area there are 11 that I'm aware of. []

And of course, at least in the Denver area, our meetup group is up around 300 members and there are 5 gaming specific meetups for Denver (ours; Shadowrun, 2 D&D, a Cthulhu, and a Boardgame one). []

Seriously. You just need to do a little hunting :)


Nuts... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829544)

That article links to this image (NSFW) [] , which I'll now have printed, poster-sized, and paste on my apartment door. No one will ever knock on that door again, ever.

Re:Nuts... (1)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829630)

Why is the half-orc circumsized? Hebrew half orc mayhaps?

Re:Nuts... (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829650)

I think it's a genetic thing. I mean, I don't see a kippah on him.

Re:Nuts... (1)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829716)

Shouldn't he have at least *half* a foreskin?

And wouldn't an orc, being more bestial anyway, have like, MORE foreskin? Certainly he couldn't have NONE right? Even if orcs don't have any, humans sure do.

I'm going with, it's easier to keep kosher if you yourself are part pig, so that's probably a Jewish half-orc.

Re:Nuts... (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829714)

I think the author explains this one. On his take of orcish culture there is some latent barbarism and, like several primitive tribes of humans, they practice genital mutilation (in this case as part of a coming-of-age ceremony).

Re:Nuts... (1)

GeniusDex (803759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829658)

You can see he made the human in his own image...

Rogue-like (4, Interesting)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829742)

Rogue-like [] games are here since 1972!
And you have been killed by a troll!

Re:Rogue-like (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829778)

I think you are exaggerating in how old they are. I doubt computers in 1972 had the ability to locate characters on the screen fast enough to allow simultaneous movement of all the creatures in a dungeon.

Re:Rogue-like (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829834)

Really? []

Re:Rogue-like (1)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830408)

1974 is not 1972 and more importantly that wikipedia article is not cited. So you are asking me to believe it but I don't.

Nothing more fun? (3, Interesting)

kieran (20691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829788)

D&D taught a generation of kids that they could make the games they play, and that nothing was more fun than getting together with friends for an evening of games.

Utter bollocks - an evening of games pales in comparison with a day-long pizza-fuelled session at the weekend.

Re:Nothing more fun? (4, Funny)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830032)

Just as the players themselves paled in comparison to their peers.

Played it well before the Megacorp era..... (0, Troll)

Yahya Ibn Tuma (1366889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829848)

I played D&D, AD&D well before the "One Hasbro to rule them all" era. I survived the "Mazes and Monsters" era. Nowadays, D&D et al. is just a MMOG, MMORPG anti-game shitfest with books like Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies [] .

Attack of the Retroclones and Simulacra (1)

Neurowiz (18899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830666)

You'll be happy to hear that there's a lot of great games that aren't driven by the Hasbro/WotC machine and many of them hew faithfully to what made the old games so great - rules-light (compared to today's versions), tool-kit approach, "imagine the hell out of it" attitude. It's been mainly a niche of a niche, but in the last year or so, interest in the "Old School Renaissance" has really taken off.

If you liked AD&D 1e, the books are very easy to get off of Ebay/Craigslist, but OSRIC ( is a retroclone that is free to download, and has promoted a few small publishers to continue releasing new 1e content.

If you liked Basic/Expert (the two book set from the early 80s) or the BECMI (the 5 "basic" books from the mid 80s) then Labyrinth Lord would be your thing: [] - also free.

If you really want to go old school, back to the original 3 "Little Brown Books" printed in 1974, then Swords & Wizardry is a retroclone that simplifies an already simple game. [] - the Core Rules are the 3LBBs and the Greyhawk supplement (uses all the dice for HD and damage), while the "Whitebox" is a toolkit game that is strictly just the 3 books (d6s only for HD/damage)

There is a lot out there and there are tons of blogs, forums and groups that try to keep the flames alive on the old games. One of them is TARGA - [] and in interest of full disclosure, I run an "old school" blog myself [] - I currently run a 3 group AD&D campaign setting and a solo OD&D campaign with my wife.

Re:Attack of the Retroclones and Simulacra (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30831556)

Actually there are about six or seven of the "little brown books." Three came in the white box (which I have two--the original with hobbits and ents, and the modified one with halflings and treants). Three (or four) can after.

DND had it's issues (2, Interesting)

forestwalkerjoe (915811) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829892)

I am in my mid 40's and ran into it in the late 70's. it did open your head a bit and make you think, Dream , Imagine.. it also was a monumental time waster. It prevented you from learning or doing some thing that had lasting EXP points, in your True Life. You learned about skills and game play.. related to the game.. which were not related to skills useful in any type of every day life. Most of the kids i played with were obsessive about it.. i was.. for years. We even had a few Real Artists and designers make images for us.. and a few OCD members spend Days and Weeks and serious Months,designing new Modules. ( cost us all a lot of Lunch money to pay for the art too) But all in all.. there was no lasting positive effect on me or nearly any of the persons we played with other than learning how to draw real nice. I wasted the better portion of my Junior and High School years being a 26th level Magi or a 16 level Cleric. and DM'ing here and again.. I could have learned more in a Comparative Religion Class or taking a practical art class.. Hell Dating a little bit.. It was just over overpoweringly easy to obsess on such a game.. it gave you sense of RANK and Earning Rewards.. even Favor with your peer's. BUT all that passes the second you get old enough to have to deal with REAL LIFE. I can see using a Game.. one you play a little and then it's done.. this was nearly Demonic in it's effects on those who were young and impressionable.

Re:DND had it's issues (4, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830136)

Huh, I learned quite a bit about medieval history. Not just of Europe, but other cultures of the time. This sparked a general interest in history that I keep to this day. And D&D helped get me into reading a wider variety of fantasy and science fiction than I had before. D&D was my first practical application of combinatorics and probability. I now have a PhD in math, in part due to this game (and subsequent RPGs that I played). It helps develop basic record keeping and arithmetic. Anyone who has DMed successfully has picked up a little experience in managing groups.

Frankly, even just learning to draw nice is a useful skill. Simple things like learning how to correct mistakes or to come up with a drawing style unique to yourself can carry over to other activities than merely drawing. And I fail to come up with useful activities that I would have done in place of role playing. Maybe you could have learned more in a comparative religion or practical art class, but would you have? Methinks, there'd be some other distraction.

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830522)

Maybe you could have learned more in a comparative religion or practical art class, but would you have? Methinks, there'd be some other distraction.

Yes, those places have girls. Although I did play DnD when I was 19 in a group with a girl. Once.

Re:DND had it's [sic] issues (1)

Spacelem (189863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830688)

There are two girls in our current D&D group. And they aren't hideous trolls either.

In fact there are quite a few women in our university roleplaying society, albeit most of them don't tend to play D&D.

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830896)

Yes, those places have girls.

Ah, yes. High school logic. How I miss it.

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830992)

There are 4 women between our 3 active games. Every game group I've ever been in aside one in high school has had at least 1 female. Go to a convention sometime, it's about 1/3rd women. More so at Steampunk conventions than role playing, but RPG draws a lot more women than comics and computers (though there are a TON of women online playing games, and usually you'll never know it, some of the most hardcore tweakers I know are chicks).

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831120)

Yeah, I knew this hardcore tweaker chick once too, but then she started getting all these holes in her cheeks and really bad teeth.

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

laughing_badger (628416) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831654)

I now have a PhD in math, in part due to this game (and subsequent RPGs that I played).

PhD Maths? Hmm, let me think. Rolemaster by any chance? :)

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830162)

Clearly it wasn't D&D that had issues, but you. I know quite a lot of adults who play and yet somehow manage to get along just fine in the real world.

Re:DND had it's issues (1)

jaraxle (1707) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831008)

The same can be said for any recreational activity, not just D&D.

Gambling, alcohol, video games, even sports. All of them can either be used in moderation with no detrimental effects to whomever is participating (and even be cathartic), or can be taken to extremes and take over your life. I could have taken your post and replaced every reference to D&D related activities with either WoW or slot machine references and the context would be exactly the same.

The problem isn't with the activity in question, it's with the person participating. Sorry to break it to you.


'The Companion Supplement will describe...' (1)

dugeen (1224138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829900)

The Basic/Expert rule version was the most fun to play. If only the Companion rules hadn't taken so long to come out that, when they did, they weren't compatible with the first two versions of the Basic rules.

Shadowrun is my favorite pen and paper RPG (1)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 4 years ago | (#30829970)

I once played a shadowrun game where my decker took a round out of combat to reply to slashdot.

Re:Shadowrun is my favorite pen and paper RPG (1)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830274)

Did he take damage?

Re:Shadowrun is my favorite pen and paper RPG (1)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830420)

Only from the black ice mod

Re:Shadowrun is my favorite pen and paper RPG (1)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831034)

Oh yeah? Well I once logged out of Slashdot to play a game of Shadowrun.

Which? (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30830950)

For the rest of forever, we would sit around and argue whether games should let us do more or tell us better stories.

Uh, which one is Pong supposed to represent? Aren't "can do more" and "have actual story" the two historic strengths of RPGs?

Amazing learning tool... (1)

lem0n263 (915429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30831532)

As someone who grew up in the 90s, I found that playing DnD in late middle school/ early high school is one of the most enjoyable ways to have fun. I was always impressed by the impact the game had on me, especially with the improvements in the sheer number of words I knew as well as reading skills. Although, I never had to use harbinger or aberration when talking to someone at that age, knowing what these and many more words meant was great when it was time for the SATs.
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