Dungeons And Dragons


One of multiple RolePlayingGames created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson of TSR Inc. In 1997 TSR was acquired by Wizards of the Coast, creators of the card game, MagicTheGathering. Wizards of the Coast was later acquired by Hasbro.

Gygax's day job was insurance actuary tables. The heart of his (and Dave's) rule system is multiple dice for bell-shaped curves on populations. A physical characteristic (Strength, Wisdom, etc.) derives from rolling 3 6-sided dice (3d6), producing an average of 10.5, and standard deviation spreads at 8 and 13.

Put another way, all the idiots complaining in the 1980s that DnD was satanic were complaining about children getting lost in a huge math story problem. -- PhlIp

You don't get that nice NormalDistribution? with most of the other dice rolling in D&D (single d20). To contrast, GURPS uses multiple d6 for almost everything that requires randomization.

Ever since Chainmail, DnD has used bell-curves for setup, to initialize flat d20-style skill checks. One is curved so the other can be flat. This accelerates play.

Read http://www.d20reviews.com for daily news on DungeonsAndDragons.

http://dmoz.org/Games/Roleplaying/Genres/Fantasy/Dungeons_%26_Dragons/ (see OpenDirectoryProject)

DungeonsAndDragons was originally conceived of as a multipolar [multiplayer?] miniature wargame. The concept was that each player would play a different miniature -- the "role" -- with different goals, some competing and some co-operative. The original rules system shows this: Player movement rates are sometimes referred to in "squares" -- each square being equivalent to ten feet.

In the early 80s, TSR split DungeonsAndDragons into two separate rules systems for reasons of legal expediency.

The core D&D rules had been contained in the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide, but since those rules were fairly difficult, and TSR wanted to expand their player base to include more children, they introduced the Basic rules. The idea was that beginner players could play with the stripped-down Basic ruleset, then buy the core D&D rules when they felt they could handle it.

But sometime around then DaveArneson? left the company and sued TSR for back royalties on DungeonsAndDragons and all D&D-related products. Arneson had not been directly involved with the Basic rules, but if he could show in court that the Basic rules were related to the original rules that he had co-written with GaryGygax?, then he would be entitled to a part of that pie as well.

TSR's solution: insist that Basic represented an entirely new line of game. It worked -- Arneson was not paid royalties related to the basic set -- and years later TSR developed the Basic line to the Basic-Expert-Companion-Master-Immortal line. The different sets of rules offer two interesting views into how to develop one single premise.

Around 2000, Wizards came out with something which strongly resembles OpenSource: the OpenGamingLicense. Basically, they released the base game mechanics under the name D20, for everyone to use it in their games (see it at http://www.opengamingfoundation.org/). Right now (October 2002) there are more than 500 D20 titles available. The game originally released under the OGL is known as the third edition of D&D. In July 2003 Wizards are due to release the latest update to the D&D rules. It will be known as edition 3.5 since they claim that it will be a minor tweaking of the rules rather than a major revision.

The resemblance between the OGL and Open Source might be illusory. The OGL is hedged about by some rather cryptic legalistics (if I were a game-producer I would very wary of producing d20 stuff under that license), and recently Wizards have caused something of a furore by retroactively changing the license. -- ChrisSandow

Actually, this isn't quite true. You are confusing the OGL with the d20-License, which is entirely optional and additional to the OGL. The d20-License allows the use of the official d20-logo, but enforces a few extra restrictions like having at least 5% OGC in the text or to refrain the use of phrases like "Core Rules Book" (or similar). The change of the d20-License was due the fear of a nipplegate scandal, which hasn't happened yet (as until June 2006).

As a bit of context, it's worth noting that in the mid-90s TSR (then not yet owned by Wizards) got into a bit of a firestorm by preventing fans from distributing their own supplementary AD&D material online in various newsgroups. There was quite a bit of talk about lawsuits and dubious intellectual property claims about whether you could copyright game rules. -- francis

A GolfForGeeks candidate. The most fun you can have twiddling Platonic solids!

See OrcKillingPattern for a parody based on Monte Cook's example "Orc and Pie" adventure.


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