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Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D or DnD) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by the Gygax-owned company Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game is currently published by Wizards of the Coast. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the Chainmail game serving as the initial rule system.[2] D&D’s publication is widely regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games, and, by extension, the entire role-playing game industry.[3]

Players of D&D create characters that embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. A Dungeon Master (DM) serves as the game’s referee and storyteller, while also maintaining the setting in which the adventures occur. During each game session, the players listen to descriptions of their character’s surroundings, as well as additional information and potential choices from the DM, then describe their actions in response. The characters form a party that interacts with the setting’s inhabitants (and each other), solves dilemmas, engages in battles and gathers treasure and knowledge.[3] In the process the characters earn experience points to become increasingly powerful over a series of sessions. D&D departs from traditional wargaming by assigning each player a specific character to play, as opposed to a military formation. Miniature figures or markers, placed on a grid, are sometimes used to represent these characters.

The early success of Dungeons & Dragons led to a proliferation of similar game systems, such as Tunnels and Trolls,[4] Traveller and RuneQuest.[5] Despite this competition, D&D dominates the role-playing game industry, enjoying a nearly unassailable market position.[6] In 1977, the game was split into two versions: the simpler Dungeons & Dragons and the more complex Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as AD&D or ADnD’).[7] In 2000, the simpler version of the game was discontinued and the complex version was renamed simply Dungeons & Dragons with the release of its 3rd Edition.[8] The current version of the game, released in July 2003, is Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5 (also known as the Revised 3rd Edition or D&D3.5). Wizards of the Coast has announced that the fourth edition of the game will be released in May 2008.[9]

As of 2006, Dungeons & Dragons remains the best-known[10] and best-selling[11] role-playing game, with an estimated 20 million people having played the game and more than US$1 billion in book and equipment sales.[12] Dungeons & Dragons is known beyond the game for other D&D-branded products, references in popular culture and some of the controversies that have surrounded it, particularly a moral panic in the 1980s linking it to Satanism and suicide.[13]

Play overview

A D&D game session in progress.

A D&D game session in progress.

Dungeons & Dragons is a structured yet open-ended role-playing game. It is normally played indoors with the participants seated around a table-top. Typically, each player controls only a single character.[14] As a group, these player characters (PCs) are often described as a “party” of adventurers, with each often having his or her own areas of specialized talents.[15] During the course of play, each player directs the actions of his or her character and its interactions with the other characters in the game.[16][17] A game often continues over a series of meetings to complete a single adventure, and longer into a series of related gaming adventures, called a “campaign.”[18]

The results of the party’s choices and the overall storyline for the game are determined by the Dungeon Master (DM) according to the rules of the game and the DM’s interpretation of those rules.[19] The DM selects and describes the various non-player characters (NPCs) the party encounters, the settings in which these interactions occur, and the outcomes of those encounters based on the players’ choices and actions.[20][17] Encounters often take the form of battles with “monsters”—a generic term used in D&D to describe potentially hostile beings such as animals or mythical creatures. The game’s extensive rules—which cover diverse subjects such as social interactions,[21] magic use,[22] combat,[23] and the effect of the environment on PCs[24]—help the DM to make these decisions. The Dungeon Master may choose to deviate from the published rules[25] or make up new ones as he or she feels necessary.[26]

Release 3.5 of the three core rulesbooks.

Release 3.5 of the three core rulesbooks.

The most recent versions of the game’s rules are detailed in three core rulebooks: The Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual.[27] A Basic Game boxed set contains abbreviated rules to help beginners learn the game.[28]

The only items required to play the game are the rulebooks, a character sheet for each player and a number of polyhedral dice. The current editions also assume the use of miniature figures or markers on a gridded surface, items that were optional in earlier editions.[29] Many optional accessories are available to enhance the game, such as expansion rulebooks, pre-designed adventures and various campaign settings.[30]

Game mechanics

D&D utilizes a mixture of polyhedral dice to resolve random events. Shown here (from left) is a set of 4, 6, 8, 12, 20 and two 10-sided dice.

D&D utilizes a mixture of polyhedral dice to resolve random events. Shown here (from left) is a set of 4, 6, 8, 12, 20 and two 10-sided dice.

Before the game begins, each player creates his or her player character (PC) and records the details (described below) on a character sheet. First, a player rolls dice to determine his or her character’s ability scores,[31] which consist of strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and charisma.[32] The player then chooses a race (species), a character class (occupation), an alignment (a moral and ethical outlook) and a number of skills and feats to enhance the character’s basic abilities.[33] Additional background history, not covered by specific rules, is often also used to further develop the character.[34]

During the game, players describe their PC’s intended actions, such as punching an opponent or picking a lock, and converse with the DM in character—who then describes the result or response.[35] Trivial actions, such as picking up a letter or opening an unlocked door, are usually automatically successful. The outcomes of more complex or risky actions are determined by rolling dice.[17] Factors contributing to the outcome include the character’s ability scores, skills and the difficulty of the task.[36] In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a trap or a magical effect is triggered, a saving throw can be used to determine whether the resulting damage is reduced or avoided.[37] In this case the odds of success are influenced by the character’s class, levels and (with the 3rd edition) ability scores.[38]

As the game is played, each PC grows and changes over time as they gain experience. Characters gain (or sometimes lose) experience, skills,[39] wealth, and may even change alignment[40] or add additional character classes.[41] One key way characters progress is by earning experience points (XP) when they defeat an enemy or accomplish a difficult task.[42] Acquiring enough XP allows a PC to advance a level, which grants the character improved class features, abilities and skills.[43] XP can also be lost in some circumstances, such as encounters with creatures that drain life energy, or by use of certain magical powers that require payment of an XP cost.[44]

Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character’s vitality and health and are determined by the class, level and constitution of each character. They can be temporarily lost when a character sustains wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to die in the game.[45] Death can also result from the loss of key ability scores[46] or character levels.[47] When a PC dies, it is often possible for the dead character to be resurrected through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result. If resurrection is not possible or not desired, the player may instead create a new PC to resume playing the game.[48]

Adventures and campaigns

A typical Dungeons & Dragons game consists of an “adventure”, which is roughly equivalent to a single story.[49] The DM can either design an adventure on his or her own, or use one of the pre-made adventures (previously known as modules) that have been published throughout the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Published adventures typically include a background story, illustrations, maps and goals for PCs to achieve. Some also include location descriptions and handouts. Although a small adventure entitled “Temple of the Frog” was included in the Blackmoor rules supplement in 1975,[50] the first stand-alone D&D module published by TSR was 1978’s Steading of the Hill Giant Chief, written by Gygax.[51]

A linked series of adventures is commonly referred to as a “campaign”.[52] The locations where these adventures occur, such as a city, country, planet or an entire fictional universe, are also sometimes called “campaigns” but are more correctly referred to as “worlds” or “campaign settings”.[53] D&D settings are based in various fantasy subgenres and feature varying levels of magic and technology.[54] Popular commercially published campaign settings for Dungeons & Dragons include Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Mystara, Spelljammer, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Planescape, Birthright and Eberron.[55] Alternately, DMs may develop their own fictional worlds to use as campaign settings.

Miniature figures

Several Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures

Several Dungeons & Dragons miniature figures

The wargames from which Dungeons & Dragons evolved used miniature figures to represent combatants. D&D initially continued the use of miniatures in a fashion similar to its direct precursors. The original D&D set of 1974 required the use of the Chainmail miniatures game for combat resolution.[56] By the publication of the 1977 game editions, combat was mostly resolved verbally. Thus miniatures were no longer required for game play, although some players continued to use them as a visual reference.[57]

In the 1970s, numerous companies began to sell miniature figures specifically for Dungeons & Dragons and similar games. In 1977, the British manufacturer Miniature Figurines Limited became the first company to partner with TSR and release miniatures under the official Dungeons and Dragons label.[58] Other licensed miniature manufacturers who produced official figures include Grenadier Miniatures (1980–1983),[59] Citadel Miniatures (1984–1986),[60] Ral Partha,[61] and TSR itself.[62] Most of these miniatures used the 25 mm scale, with the exception of Ral Partha’s 15 mm scale miniatures for the 1st edition Battlesystem.[63][64]

Periodically, Dungeons & Dragons has returned to its wargaming roots with supplementary rules systems for miniatures-based wargaming. Supplements such as Battlesystem (1985 & 1989)[65][66] and a new edition of Chainmail (2001)[67][68] provided rule systems to handle battles between armies by using miniatures.

Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition (2000) assumes the use of miniatures to represent combat situations in play, an aspect of the game that was further emphasized in the v3.5 revision. The Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game (2003) is sold as sets of plastic, randomly assorted, pre-painted miniatures, and can be used as either part of a standard Dungeons & Dragons game or as a stand-alone collectible miniatures game.[69]

Game history

Chainmail, a Dungeons & Dragons predecessor.

Chainmail, a Dungeons & Dragons predecessor.

Sources and influences

The immediate predecessor of Dungeons & Dragons was a set of medieval miniature rules written by Jeff Perren. These were expanded by Gary Gygax, whose additions included a fantasy supplement, before the game was published as Chainmail. Dave Arneson used Chainmail to run games where players controlled a single character instead of an army, an innovation that inspired D&D.[2]

Many Dungeons & Dragons elements also appear in hobbies of the mid- to late twentieth century (though these elements also existed previously). Character-based role playing, for example, can be seen in historical reenactment[70] and improvisational theatre.[71] Game-world simulations were well-developed in wargaming. Fantasy milieus specifically designed for gaming could be seen in Glorantha’s board games among others.[5] Ultimately, however, Dungeons & Dragons represents a unique blending of these elements.

The theme of D&D was influenced by mythology, pulp fiction, and contemporary fantasy authors of the 1960s and 1970s. The presence of halflings, elves, dwarves, half-elves, orcs, dragons and the like often draw comparisons to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Gygax maintains that he was influenced very little by The Lord of the Rings (although the owners of that work’s copyright forced the name change of hobbit to halfling, ent to treant, and balrog to Type VI demon (balor)), stating that he included these elements as a marketing move to draw on the popularity of the work.[72][73]

The magic system, in which wizards memorize spells that are forgotten once cast, was heavily influenced by the Dying Earth stories and novels of Jack Vance.[74] The original alignment system (which grouped all players and creatures into “Law”, “Neutrality” and “Chaos”) was derived from the novel Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson.[75] A troll described in this work also influenced the D&D definition of that monster.[73]

Other influences include the works of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, A. Merritt, H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Fletcher Pratt, Roger Zelazny, and Michael Moorcock.[76] Monsters, spells, and magic items used in the game have been inspired by hundreds of individual works ranging from A. E. van Vogt’s “The Destroyer” (the Displacer Beast), Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” (vorpal sword) to the Book of Genesis (the clerical spell “Blade Barrier” was inspired by the “flaming sword which turned every way” at the gates of Eden).[75]

Edition history

Dungeons & Dragons has gone through several revisions. Parallel versions and inconsistent naming practices can make it difficult to distinguish between the different editions.

The original Dungeons & Dragons set

The original Dungeons & Dragons set

The original Dungeons and Dragons (now referred to as OD&D) was a small box set of three booklets published in 1974.[77] Amateurish in production and written from a perspective which assumed the reader had familiarity with wargaming, It nevertheless exploded in popularity, first among wargamers and then expanding to a more general audience of college and high school students. This first set went through many printings and was supplemented with several official additions (such as the original Greyhawk and Blackmoor modules, both 1975[78]) and magazine articles, both in TSR’s official publications and countless fanzines.

In 1977, TSR created the first element of a two-pronged strategy that would divide the D&D game for over two decades. A Basic Dungeons & Dragons boxed set was introduced[79] to clean up the presentation of the essential rules, make the system understandable to people who had never played wargames before, and put it all in a package allowing the game to be stocked on common retail shelves. In 1978 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) was published,[79] an attempt to bring together all the rules, options and corrections spread across the various D&D publications and expand them into a single unified and definitive game. The original plan was that the “basic” game would be targeted to toy stores and the general public, while the “advanced” game would be marketed to existing hobbyist gamers. Players who exhausted the possibilities of the basic game were directed in that set to switch to the advanced game. However, this plan went awry nearly from inception, as the basic game included many rules and concepts which contradicted comparable ones in the advanced game. The cause of this seems to have been a difference of design philosophy; Gygax, who wrote the advanced game, wanted an expansive game with rulings on any conceivable situation which might come up during play, a document which could be used to arbitrate disputes at tournaments. J. Eric Holmes, the editor of the basic game, preferred a lighter tone with more room for personal improvisation. Confusing matters further, the original crude D&D boxed set continued to be printed and sold well into 1979, since it remained a healthy seller for TSR. Thus three different versions of the game were being published concurrently.[5]

In 1981 Basic Dungeons & Dragons was revised by Tom Moldvay. However, for reasons that are debated to this day, the game was not brought in line with AD&D but instead was made even more different. Thus the Dungeons & Dragons game (sometimes called Basic D&D to distinguish it from AD&D, though TSR never referred to the entire system as such) became a separate and distinct product from TSR’s flagship game AD&D. Discrete sets of increasing power levels were introduced as expansions for the basic game.[80] However, after the first version of the Basic Set this game was promoted as an evolution of original D&D and distinct from AD&D.[81] Although simpler overall than the “Advanced” game, it included rules for some situations not covered in AD&D. There were five sets: Basic (1977, revised in 1981 and again in 1983),[82] Expert (1981, revised in 1983),[83] Companion (1983),[84] Master (1985),[85] and Immortals (1986, 1991)[86] each covering game play for higher character experiences levels than the former. The first four sets were later compiled as a single hardcover book, the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[87]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (or AD&D) was a more complex version of the game. It was designed to create a tighter more structured game system than the loose framework of the original game.[81] While seen by many as a revision of D&D,[8] AD&D was at time declared to be “neither an expansion nor a revision of the old game, it is a new game.”[81] The AD&D game was not intended to be directly compatible with D&D and requires some conversion to play between the rule sets.[88] The term Advanced describes the more complex rules and does not imply “for higher-level gaming abilities.” Between 1977 and 1979, three hardcover rulebooks, commonly referred to as the “core rulebooks”, were released: The Player’s Handbook (PHB),[89] the Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG),[90] and the Monster Manual (MM).[91] Several additional books published throughout the 1980s, notably Unearthed Arcana (1985),[92] included a large number of new rules.[79]

First edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide

First edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition (sometimes referred to as AD&D2 or 2nd Ed) was published in 1989,[79] once again as three core rulebooks. The Monster Manual was replaced by the Monstrous Compendium, a loose-leaf binder which was later replaced by the hardcover Monstrous Manual in 1993. The release of AD&D2 also corresponded with an effort to remove aspects of the game which had attracted negative publicity. This edition removed references to demons and devils, suggestive artwork, and playable, evil-aligned character types (such as assassins and half-orcs).[93] Aside from these revisions the rules underwent a number of minor changes including for the addition of non-weapon proficiencies (which are skill-like abilities that originally appeared in 1st Edition supplements) and the division of magic spells into schools and spheres.[94] In 1995, the core rulebooks were slightly revised and a series of Player’s Option manuals were released as optional core rulebooks.[79] Although still referred to by TSR as the 2nd Edition,[95] this revision is seen by some fans as a distinct edition of the game and is sometimes referred to as AD&D 2.5.[96][97]

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition (also referred to as D&D3 or 3E and not to be confused with the 1983 edition of the basic D&D game) was released in 2000 following three years of development which began when a near-bankrupt TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast in 1997.[98] The 3rd Edition was the largest revision of the D&D rules to date, and also served as the basis for a broader role-playing system designed around 20-sided dice, called the d20 System.[99] The 3rd Edition rules were designed with the intention of making them more internally consistent and significantly less restrictive than previous editions of the game, allowing players much more flexibility in creating the characters they wanted to play.[100] Skills and feats were introduced into the core rules to encourage players to further customize their characters.[101] The new rules also standardized the mechanics of action resolution and combat.[102]

Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5 (also known as Revised 3rd Edition or D&D3.5) in 2003 is a revision of the 3rd Edition rules. This release incorporated hundreds of rule changes, mostly minor, and expanded the core rulebooks.[103]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, announced at GenCon in August 2007, is set to be published in May of 2008. Wizards of the Coast announced that the new edition will provide character levels going up to 30th, better-defined character roles, simplified game mastering and expanded online content. There are also plans to support playing the game over the internet.[1][104][105]


The various editions of Dungeons & Dragons have won many Origins Awards, including All Time Best Roleplaying Rules of 1977, Best Roleplaying Rules of 1989 and Best Roleplaying Game of 2000 for the three flagship editions of the game.[106] Both Dungeons & Dragons and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons are Origins Hall of Fame Games inductees as they were deemed sufficiently distinct to merit separate inclusion on different occasions.[107] The independent Games magazine placed Dungeons & Dragons on their Games 100 list from 1980 through 1983, then entered the game into the magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1984.[108][109]


Dungeons & Dragons was the first modern role-playing game and it established many of the conventions that have dominated the genre.[110] Particularly notable are the use of dice as a game mechanic, character record sheets, use of numerical attributes and gamemaster-centered group dynamics.[111]

Over the years, many gamers have criticized various aspects of the Dungeons & Dragons rules. Within months of Dungeons & Dragons’s release, new role-playing game writers and publishers began releasing their own role-playing games, with most of these being in the fantasy genre. Some of the earliest other role-playing games inspired by D&D include Tunnels and Trolls (1975),[4] Empire of the Petal Throne (1975) and Chivalry and Sorcery (1976).[112] The role-playing movement initiated by D&D would lead to release of the science fiction game Traveller (1977) and fantasy game RuneQuest (1978), and subsequent game systems such as Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu (1981), Champions (1982), GURPS (1986)[113] and Vampire: The Masquerade (1992).[114][5] Dungeons & Dragons and the games it influenced also fed back into the genre’s origin—miniatures wargames—with combat strategy games like Warhammer Fantasy Battles.[115] D&D also had a large impact on modern video games.[116]

With the launch of Dungeons & Dragons’s 3rd Edition, Wizards of the Coast made the d20 System available under the Open Gaming License (OGL) and d20 Trademark License. Under these licenses, authors are free to use the d20 System when writing games and game supplements.[117] The OGL and d20 Trademark License also made possible new games, some based on licensed products like Star Wars, and also new versions of older games, such as Call of Cthulhu.

During the 2000s, there has been a trend towards recreating older editions of D&D. Necromancer Games, with its slogan “Third Edition Rules, First Edition Feel”[118] and Goodman Games “Dungeon Crawl Classics” range[119] are both examples of this in material for d20 System. Other companies have created complete game systems based on earlier editions of D&D. An example is HackMaster (2001) by Kenzer and Company, a licensed, non-OGL, semi-satirical follow-on to 1st and 2nd Edition.[120] Castles & Crusades (2005), by Troll Lord Games, is a reimagining of early editions by streamlining rules from OGL[121] that is being supported by Gary Gygax.[122]

Controversy and notoriety

At various times in its history, Dungeons & Dragons has received negative publicity, in particular from many Christian groups, for alleged promotion of such practices as devil worship, witchcraft, suicide, and murder, and for topless drawings of female humanoids in the original AD&D manuals (mainly monsters such as Harpies, Succubi, etc.)[13][123] These controversies led TSR to remove many potentially controversial references and artwork when releasing the 2nd Edition of AD&D.[93] Many of these references, including the use of the names “devils” and “demons”, were reintroduced in the 3rd edition.[124] The moral panic over the game also led to problems for fans of D&D who faced further social ostracism, unfair treatment and false association with the occult and satanism, regardless of an individual fan’s actual religious affiliation and beliefs.[125]

Dungeons & Dragons has also been the subject of unsubstantiated rumors regarding players having difficulty separating fantasy and reality, even leading to psychotic episodes.[126] The most notable of these was the saga of James Dallas Egbert III,[127] which was fictionalized in the novel Mazes and Monsters and later made into a TV movie.[128][123]

The game’s commercial success was a factor which led to lawsuits regarding distribution of royalties between the initial creators Gygax and Arneson.[129][130] Gygax later became embroiled in a political struggle for control of TSR which culminated in a court battle and Gygax’s decision to sell his ownership interest in the company in 1985.[131]

Early in the game’s history, TSR took no action against small publishers producing D&D compatible material. This attitude changed in the mid 1980s when TSR revoked these rights (even from publishers they had earlier officially licensed, such as Judges Guild),[132] and took legal action to prevent others from publishing compatible material. This angered many fans and led to resentment by the other gaming companies.[5] TSR itself also ran afoul of intellectual property law in several cases.[133][134]

Related products

An elaborate example of a D&D game in progress. Among the gaming aids shown are dice, a variety of miniatures and some miniature scenery.

An elaborate example of a D&D game in progress. Among the gaming aids shown are dice, a variety of miniatures and some miniature scenery.

D&D’s commercial success has led to many other related products, including (but not limited to) Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Magazine, an animated television series, a film series and computer games such as the MMORPG Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach. Hobby and toy stores sell dice, miniatures, adventures and other game aids related to D&D and its game offspring.

References in popular culture

As the popularity of D&D grew throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, references to the game often began to appear in popular culture. Numerous games, films and cultural references based on D&D or D&D-like fantasies, characters, or adventures have been ubiquitous since the end of the 1970s. Typically, though by no means exclusively, D&D players are portrayed derogatively as the epitome of “geekdom”.[135] References to the game are used as shorthand to establish characterization or provide the punch line of a joke.[136] Many players, miffed with this stereotype,[137] embrace the fact that comedian Stephen Colbert, musician Moby, and actors Vin Diesel, Matthew Lillard, Mike Myers, Patton Oswalt, Wil Wheaton and Robin Williams have made their D&D hobbies public.[138][139][140][141][142]


  1. ^ a bDungeons & Dragons Flashes 4-ward at Gen Con” (PDF), Wizards of the Coast, August 16, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-08-19.
  2. ^ a b Birnbaum, Jon. Gary Gygax Interview. Game Banshee. Retrieved on 2007-03-01.
  3. ^ a b Williams, J. P.; Hendricks, S. Q.; Winkler, W. K. (2006). “Introduction: Fantasy Games, Gaming Cultures, and Social Life”, Gaming as Culture, Essays on Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games. McFarland & Company: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-7864-2436-2.
  4. ^ a b (Schick 1978:223–224)
  5. ^ a b c d e (Schick 1991:17–34)
  6. ^ Monte Cook, former D&D designer and an independent publisher, describes the extent of D&D’s lead in these extreme terms: “Frankly, the difference in sales between Wizards and all other producers of roleplaying games is so staggering that even saying there is an “RPG industry” at all may be generous.” Cook, Monte. The Open Game License as I See It, Part II. Retrieved on 2007-03-15.
  7. ^ Gygax, Gary (June 1979). “From the Sorcerer’s Scroll: D&D®, AD&D® and Gaming”. The Dragon #26 Vol. III (No. 12): 28–30.
  8. ^ a b Adkison, Peter “What to Name it?” in Third Edition chapter of Jonhson et al. (2004:253)
  9. ^ Dungeons & Dragons Flashes 4-Ward at Gen Con. Wizards of the Coast (August 16, 2007). Retrieved on 2007-08-31. (Press release)
  10. ^ According to a 1999 survey in the United States 6% of 12 to 35 year olds have played roleplaying games. Of those who play regularly, two thirds play D&D. Ryan S. Dancey (February 7, 2000). “Adventure Game Industry Market Research Summary (RPGs)“. V1.0. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2007-02-23.
  11. ^ Products branded Dungeons & Dragons made up over fifty percent of the RPG products sold in 2005. Hite, Kenneth (March 30, 2006). State of the Industry 2005: Another Such Victory Will Destroy Us. Retrieved on 2007-02-21.
  12. ^ Waters, Darren. “What happened to Dungeons and Dragons?“, BBC News Online, April 26, 2004. Retrieved on 2007-02-21.
  13. ^ a b Waldron, David (Spring 2005). “Role-Playing Games and the Christian Right: Community Formation in Response to a Moral Panic“. The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture Vol. IX. Retrieved on 2007-02-27.
  14. ^ Sometimes if not enough players, each may control more than one character. The Basic Game suggests “If there are characters left over, some players may play more than one (but they don’t have to)”. (Tweet 2004) Read This First sheet.
  15. ^ (Slavicsek & Baker 2005:268) Chapter 21:Roleplaying and Working Together
  16. ^ (Tweet 2003:5)
  17. ^ a b c Waskul, Dennis D. (2006). “The Role-Playing Game and the Game of Role-Playing”, in Williams, J. P.; Hendricks, S. Q.; Winkler, W. K.: Gaming as Culture, Essays on Reality, Identity and Experience in Fantasy Games. McFarland & Company: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-7864-2436-2.
  18. ^ “Encounters are to adventures what adventures are to campaigns” (Cook 2003:129) Introduction of Chapter Five: Campaigns
  19. ^ (Cook 2003:4) The Dungeon Master
  20. ^ (Slavicsek & Baker 2005:293) Chapter 23: Running the Game
  21. ^ (Cook 2003:98) Urban Adventures
  22. ^ (Gygax 1979:114) Magical Research
  23. ^ (Tweet 2003:114) Combat
  24. ^ Mohan, Kim (1986). Wilderness Survival Guide. TSR. ISBN 088038-291-0.
  25. ^ (Cook 2003:4) The purpose of sidebars
  26. ^ (Tweet 2004:32) Make It Up
  27. ^ The v.3.5. versions of these three books, Tweet (2003), Cook (2003) and Williams (2003), are also available together in a slipcase as Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebook Gift Set ISBN 0-78693-410-7
  28. ^ As of 2007 there have been two version of the basic game. Both contained a cut down, introductory version of the D&D v.3.5 rules, miniatures, dice and dungeon map tiles with a 1″ grid (Tweet 2004) and (Slavicsek & Sernett 2006).
  29. ^ What Is D&D?. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2007-02-21.
  30. ^ (Slavicsek & Baker 2005:363) Chapter 30: The Ten Best Dungeon Master Resources
  31. ^ While the original game used 3d6 (Gygax & Arneson 1974) and this continued as the standard version with some version, though variants have been included (Gygax 1979:11), the standard for 3rd edition is “rolling four six-sided dice, ignoring the lowest die, and totaling the other three.” (Tweet 2000:4)
  32. ^ Given is the current standard order for ability scores. Before 2nd edition AD&D they were always ordered strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution and charisma.
  33. ^ (Tweet 2000:4) Character Creation Basics
  34. ^ (Gygax 1978:34) Establishing the Character
  35. ^ (Tweet 2004:24) Exploring
  36. ^ (Tweet 2003:62) Using Skills
  37. ^ “Generally, when you are subject to an unusual or magical attack, you get a saving throw to avoid or reduce the effect.” There is identical language in sections titled “Saving Throws” in (Tweet 2003:136) and (Tweet 2000:119).
  38. ^ Sections entitled “Saving Throws” in (Tweet 2003:136) and (Tweet 2000:119–120).
  39. ^ (Cook 2003:197) How PCs Improve
  40. ^ Early editions did not allow or had severe penalties for changing alignment (Gygax 1979a:24) but more recent versions are more allowing of change. (Cook 2003:134)
  41. ^ (Tweet 2003:59) Multiclass Characters
  42. ^ (Gygax 1979:84) Experience
  43. ^ (Tweet 2003:58) Experience and Levels
  44. ^ (Cook 2003:46) Experience Penalties
  45. ^ (Tweet 2003:145) Injury and Death
  46. ^ (Cook 2003:289) Ability Score Loss
  47. ^ (Cook 2003:296) Level Loss
  48. ^ (Cook 2003:41) Character Death
  49. ^ (Cook 2003:43) Chapter Three: Adventures
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  53. ^ “It is important to distinguish between a campaign and a world, since the terms often seem to be used interchangeably…. A world is a fictional place in which a campaign is set. It’s also often called a campaign setting.”(Cook 2003:129)
  54. ^ (Williams 1995:45) Properties of Worlds
  55. ^ Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Mystara, Spelljammer, Ravenloft, Dark Sun and Planescape are the campaign settings given their own chapter in Johnson et al. (2004). Eberron was only released in 2004 and, as of 2007, is one of two campaign settings, the other being Forgotten Realms, still actively supported with new releases by Wizards of the Coast.
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  83. ^ (Gygax & Arneson 1981b & 1983b)
  84. ^ (Mentzer 1985)
  85. ^ (Gygax & Mentzer 1985)
  86. ^ (Mentzer 1986) & (Allston 1992)
  87. ^ (Schend et al. 1991)
  88. ^ (Schend et al. 1991:291) Appendix 2: AD&D Game Conversions
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  99. ^ Adkison, Peter Third Edition chapter in Johnson et al. (2004:273) D20 and the Open Gaming License
  100. ^ Adkison, Peter Third Edition chapter in Johnson et al. (2004:255–263) Design Philosophy
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  102. ^ (Tweet 2003:4) What Characters Can Do
  103. ^ (Tweet 2003:4) Why the Revision?
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  109. ^ Staff (2007). Hall of Fame. Games Magazine Online. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
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  134. ^ Disputes over licenses led to an agreement for Chaosium to use the Thieves’ World license in exchange for allowing TSR to legally publish the Cthulhu and Melnibon√© mythoi in Deities & Demigods. See: Appelcline, Shannon (2006). Chaosium: 1975-Present. A Brief History of Game. RPGnet. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
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Further reading

External links


"The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons and Growing Up Strange" (Soho Press. 288 pages. $25), by Mark Barrowcliffe: As the recent cult documentaries "King of Kong" and "Darkon" have shown, geeks make for great entertainment — even for those who don't necessarily share their weird interests. Mark Barrowcliffe's humorous, self-deprecating memoir of his misspent youth, "The Elfish Gene," is another welcome addition to the growing nerdsploitation genre.
"I knew far more about the wants and needs of a golden dragon than I ever did a girl," he confesses early in his story. That's because at an impressionable age, he discovered Dungeons & Dragons, the fantasy role-playing game that was a sensation among adolescents in the 1970s and 1980s before it was supplanted by such online games as World of Warcraft.
With the fervor of a religious convert, a young Barrowcliffe immerses himself in his newfound fantasy world. His imagination shifts into overdrive as he applies the game's mores to his everyday life, whether they have any bearing on reality or — far more frequently — not.
An example of this appears early on when Barrowcliffe tries to extinguish his family's flaming home by conjuring a rainstorm as he waits beside his weeping mother for the fire department to arrive.
Usually, though, the stakes are little more than Barrowcliffe's own social standing and self-esteem. D&D soon becomes his main interface with the world, and he manages to disenchant nearly everyone he meets — even other devotees — by smothering them with his obsession.
This especially frustrates his efforts to charm the opposite sex, as when he insists on describing an admirer in D&D terms and unwittingly offends her by assigning a low score for desirability. "I have to say, she picked it up quickly," he writes. "Perhaps, I thought, there was promise she could learn the game."
The saddest thing about Barrowcliffe's childhood is how easily it could have turned out differently. What sets him apart from the other boys is not his addiction. Many of his peers are nearly as obsessive, although they tend to imagine themselves as soccer stars and commandos and other roles more rooted in reality. Over time, their fascination fades as they discover teenage pursuits such as girls, fashion and looking cool. Young Barrowcliffe covets the maturity he sees growing in the boys around him, but can't understand that his own development is confounded by his devotion to a game of make-believe.
However, he is far from alone, and that's where the book's appeal lies. Many of the experiences he describes resonate because they are universal to adolescence. Gamers, especially, will recognize themselves in the author's follies.
D&D's success isn't surprising, given kids' hunger for escapism, especially in the dreary British Midlands where Barrowcliffe grew up. It's also little wonder that some of the more sensitive young players of a certain disposition lose themselves in the game, finding its world of wicked sorcerers and rampaging ogres more hospitable than the school yard.
Unfortunately, Barrowcliffe spends little time describing his actual adventures in the game, which may make it difficult for readers who have never played it to understand how D&D could be so consuming. But he keeps it accessible to newcomers by skipping over the more arcane mechanics of gameplay.
D&D exerts a worrying grip on Barrowcliffe and his young companions, and some of them never grow up completely. Luckily, Barrowcliffe himself is just a late bloomer, and by the end of the book, he's a successful, married writer. His ability to look back at his experience with humor and grace is what gives his story a happy ending.
Well worth a read,
By David Gee
Mark has a very engaging writing style and as I read I found myself transported back to my adolescence. I think the experiences Mark shares are common to a lot of males of that age and era, whether or not they were consumed by D&D. I did laugh out loud on several occasions and found the book "unputdownable".
By David Lee Stone "Author: The Illmoor Chronicles" (Kent, England)
I'm incredibly picky about books. I used to review for SFX and Interzone, and I'm always aware that I can be ferocious with anything I find less than outstanding. Occasionally, I can even muster a snarl when I'm negotiating my way through a real stinker. However, I'm even more hesitant when it comes to reviewing a book I actually like. I continually have to ask the question: is this book truly a brilliant piece of work, or is it just particularly tailored to my own tastes? Well, the latter is certainly true of The Elfish Gene by Mark Barrowcliffe...but it's pretty amazing, too. Before I delve any deeper, here's a brief synopsis:


In the summer 1976, twelve-year-old Mark Barrowcliffe had a chance to be normal. He blew it. While other teenagers were being coolly rebellious, Mark--and 20 million other boys in the 1970s and 80s--chose to spend his entire adolescence pretending to be a wizard or a warrior, an evil priest or a dwarf. He had discovered Dungeons & Dragons, and his life would never be the same. No longer would he have to settle for being Mark Barrowcliffe, an ordinary awkward teenager from working-class Coventry, England; he could be Alf the Elf, Foghat the Gnome, or Effilc Worrab, an elven warrior with the head of a mule.Armed only with pen, paper and some funny-shaped dice, this lost generation gave themselves up to the craze of fantasy role-playing games and everything that went with it--from heavy metal to magic mushrooms to believing that your bike is a horse named Shadowfax. Spat at by bullies, laughed at by girls, now they rule the world. They were the geeks, the fantasy wargamers, and this is their story.


My favourite thing about Elfish Gene is that, excluding the undeniable talent of the author, it could have been written by just about any of the kids I grew up with. Hell, I could have written it, myself - though I tend to gloss over the effect gaming has had on my life, so it wouldn't have been anywhere near as balanced and as honest as this undoubtedly is. Mark Barrowcliffe is immediately likeable, to the point where anyone who spent their teenage years immersed in D&D will genuinely have to stop themselves from hunting him down on the net and confessing, in a heartfelt sob, how delighted they are to see written evidence that they weren't alone. This book isn't just for gamers, though: it's a warm, funny and moving story ABOUT gamers. These are people all around you...the curious kids you grew up with who wandered around staring distractedly at the clouds and always seemed to take four or five minutes to answer relatively simple questions about the weather and what they were having for dinner. As adults, most of them move around you, now, albeit not shouting about their hobby from the rooftops. I write fantasy books for a living, so I might be an obvious gamer - but the others around the various tables I sit each week include a motorbike dealer, a principal consultant for an insurance broker, a museum education director, a customs' officer and a railway engineer. We're all around you....and this book contains everything you need to know about the people we were growing up. I absolutely loved it, and am personally devastated that it's over. Highly, highly recommended.

Scorpion Tales

By Arlen P. Walker - 24 APRIL 1987

“As you crest the hill, you see a giant scorpion ahead of you. It is facing away from you, seeming to gaze off into the distance.”

“I’ll put on my ring of invisibility and sneak past it.”

Is this possible? I thought so, until I came across the December 1984 issue of Scientific American. In that issue, Philip Brownell writes about the way sand scorpions detect their prey. Mr. Brownell’s article was not aimed at fantasy gamers, so he didn’t mention giant scorpions nor any of the other concepts which interest referees. Still, we can glean from his article some new ideas which make giant scorpions more interesting.

Scorpions use neither their visual or aural senses to detect their prey. Instead, they use the vibrations of the sand underneath them. Small sensors on their legs pick up and measure the strength of vibrations; a scorpion uses the minute differences in these vibrations picked up by each leg to locate its prey. When the scorpion has determined the distance and direction of its prey, it charges toward it with pincers extended.

Mr. Brownell gives about 30 centimeters as the maximum distance a scorpion can sense vibrations — a normal-sized scorpion, of course. A North American scorpion averages about 5 centimeters in length, which means the maximum detection distance is about six times the scorpion’s length. At a distance of about twice its length, the scorpion is almost perfect in determining both direction and distance to a victim.

Mr. Brownell’s experimental data points to a method for running encounters with giant scorpions. Up to a distance of about three times its length, the scorpion will always move to within a few feet of its target before attacking. If it makes a detection roll (1-90 on percentile dice), and if it rolls a hit against an unarmored foe (AC 10) at the end of its charge, its pincers have bumped against (but not grasped) its foe, and it may attack normally.

If its prey is farther than three times its length, the scorpion will move in the general direction of its prey up to that distance. (Generally speaking, the farther away the prey is, the more tentative the scorpion’s movement toward it will be.) In any case, if the scorpion cannot strike at its prey after it has moved, it pauses for a segment, waiting for another vibration, and reacts to it using the above guidelines. Since the scorpion uses vibrations, rather than sight or sound, to track its prey, it is immune to most camouflaging devices. Invisibility will not even confuse a scorpion, as it attacks only if its pincers have touched its prey by the end of the charge toward the prey’s expected location.

Likewise, tunneling underneath the scorpion gives no protection. The scorpion still realizes a character’s presence and can dig the character out with its large pincers. It seems obvious that a scorpion is almost impossible to surprise by any attacker who travels upon or under the ground.

The scorpion‘s detection ability should be immune to any attacks which directly affect any of the senses except touch, as that is the sense a scorpion’s vibration sensors use. The scorpion’s attack may be slightly affected by blinding attacks (- 1 or -2 to hit, depending on the success or failure, respectively, of the initial detection roll), but sonic attacks should not affect it at all.

If a scorpion is immune to all these things, then what will affect it? It should be penalized 10% on its detection roll for each leg which is missing or crippled, as the loss of sensory data from that leg impairs its ability to locate by vibration. Also, if several adjacent legs are incapacitated, the scorpion will not be able to accurately detect the direction of prey which is at a 90° angle to its missing legs. These ideas about scorpions should make for much more interesting and creative play. A scorpion is the ideal creature for demonstrating to a pesky thief or magic-user that invisibility is a vastly overrated ability.

So, the proper response to the opening situation is:

“The scorpion turns and runs directly toward you, pincers extended and stinger in the air, preparing to strike.”

And the player’s response is . . .

“Oh, look - a harmless statue”

By Rone Barton - NOVEMBER 1988
Nasty new ways to disguise and hide a Golem
It’s an old pastime by now. The player characters enter a dungeon room, see something that is obviously a golem, and pull out their swords. Gamers who have been playing for 10 years know the rules; they know where most of the traps are and they've probably killed most of the monsters in the Monster Manual II index. Well, with a little cleverness, the DM can still outsmart them. Adventures would take on a fascinating twist if many golems were disguised or camouflaged. I've listed some possible suggestions to use for keeping golems from looking like golems. Most of these refer only to stone golems, but some may be used for other types. Note that if the golem is supposed to be mistaken for something else, it must have a way of cleaning up old victims. Victims are surprised by disguised golems on a 1-4 on a 1d6 roll. More than one golem may be used in each case, if the DM is especially nasty.
1. The golem is completely recessed into the wall, completely unnoticeable because the golem’s flat front matches the texture of the wall.
2. The golem is recessed into the wall as part of a bas-relief. It may complete a scene (e.g., .You see a wall which depicts a battle scene among men and devils. One particularly large man killing devils seems to dominate the picture.").
3. The golem is seated in a large stone chair (like a statue) and wears a valuable amulet, holds a staff, etc. If anyone touches the golem's possession, the golem is activated. The held item may also work to the golem’s advantage in some way.
4. The golem is kneeling down with its hands placed in such a way that one could climb its hands like stairs. The golem’s eyes are gems. Activation of the golem occurs when the gems are touched . or else when some other set of circumstances occurs that the PCs do not expect.
5. The golem is recessed in the floor and activates when someone steps on it. The entire front portion of the golem’s body is flat and smooth like the floor.
6. The golem is concealed under thousands of loose coins. Its activation occurs when the coins are disturbed. After slaying the intruders, the golem covers itself back up.
7. The golem is created without a head and is laid on the ground. A phony golem head lies beside it. Adventurers who are not aware that decapitation cannot slay a golem ( DMG, page 166) may think that the golem has been destroyed. Of course, a real decapitated iron golem whose head still breathes poison gas is an interesting idea; the body and head could work together to destroy intruders from two directions.
8. The golem is placed lying down, recessed in a cave floor with its frontal body covered with stalagmite- or rockshaped formations.
9. The golem is covered with a thin sheet of gold or silver to give it the appearance of a valuable statue.
10. A golem resembling a large cherub stands in a dancing pose in the center of a fountain.
11. Two golems stand on either side of a doorway, resembling huge caryatid columns (but much more dangerous).
12. The golem is placed among many normal statues, all of which have Nystul’s magic aura cast upon them.
13. The golem resembles a wise old sage studying a book (but the book might be an integral part of the golem’s arm). Dressing up flesh golems can be amusing.
14. A flesh golem could be made to resemble a humanoid being of a similar size, such as a powerful gnoll, bugbear, small ogre, and so forth. Aside from using its fists (perhaps a large ogrillon is a good disguise), the golem could also wear armor and use simple protective devices.
15. A golem could have a special perch over a room’s entrance, from which it jumps onto any characters passing underneath. Damage varies but would be extreme (10-60 hp for a stone golem, or 10-100 hp for an iron golem). The distance fallen should not be too great to avoid smashing the golem or having it bury its feet in the ground.
16. The golem is hidden behind a secret door. When characters pass through the door, they step on a pressure plate; one round later, the golem pursues them from behind. This golem could have its feet wrapped in a soft material that would absorb the sound of its footsteps, or else be enchanted to move silently.
17. The golem resembles an embarrassed naked giant trying to cover itself with its hands. If encountered in a silly dungeon, this disguise might prove very effective. Other silly but deadly appearances could include huge pink apes, clowns, etc.
18. Imagine a huge room full of golems, or else just one golem and a bunch of statues, shaped as chess pieces. They would attack when the adventurers moved onto a certain position.
19. The golem is hidden underwater in a river channel or a deep pool which fills up the entire room. When a character passes over it, the golem pulls him underwater with one arm (only a roll to hit being required) and attack with the other arm. After that character is dead, the golem moves on to another, not attacking anyone but a character it grabs. Drowning rules would apply. The water might also be poisoned or contaminated in some manner. Flesh golems would decay and iron golems would rust, so clay and stone golems would work best.
20. Given the golem-in-the-pool described above, the golem’s head might appear to be a flat stone pedestal which characters could use as a stepping stone, perhaps in the middle of the body of water.
21. The golem’s back is rectangular, flat, and smooth. When the golem sits with its back facing an oncoming party, it looks like a large stone block - perhaps a door.
22. The golem waits underneath a secret trapdoor in the floor. If the trapdoor opens, the victim drops in with the golem. Combined with one of these other ideas, this could be a deadly combination attack.
23. The golem has permanent darkness 15ft radius spell cast around it. The golem might not suffer penalties to hit victims if enchanted to detect prey in some manner other than by sight.
24. The golem’s body is pockmarked with holes which contain soil in which seeds were planted. The golem should appear to be one large decorative plant holder, green from head to toe with vines. If carnivorous plants are used, watch out!
25. The golem might hold two huge torches as if he were an elaborate sconce. The torches might themselves be usable as weapons.
26. The golem’s midsection is hollow, with many pockets and perches for birds to roost. The golem should resemble something cute, like a demented mage’s idea of a birdhouse.
27. The golem has a permanent invisibility spell cast on it, so that it can attack without being seen.
28. The golem has an animal-shaped head and corresponding animal-like hands. Clawed hands could do extra or unusual sorts of damage, and an advanced golem design might even bite.
29. Consider variations on the given types of golems, like a stone golem that can throw flesh to stone spells, or a dehydrated flesh golem, such as the one in area 17 of .The Ruins of Andril," from DRAGON® issue #81. What about a halfling-size flesh golem with reduced powers?
30. Cover the golem with an illusion that makes it seem to be something else.
These examples should work well on most everyone. If you're playing with people who have read this article or who were not tricked by these disguises, try to think up new ways to fool them. No one can be so careful as to check every square foot of ground in front of him. If you know anyone who is, put the golem on the ceiling!