In 1973 Gary Gygax and
Dave Arneson of TSR turned the gaming world completely on its
ear and ushered in an entire new category of games: role-playing
games (or RPGs). Dungeons and Dragons, unlike traditional board
games, technically didn't even need a board. Most D&D games
used some form of map, but the adventure largely took place
in the imaginations of those playing.
One gamer serves as the Dungeon Master, the all-seeing eye that
narrated the adventure, held all the secret maps, and controlled
all the non-player characters. The rest of the players create
characters of their own to undertake a life of adventure and
During game play, the Dungeon Master presents a world of dragons,
elves, dwarves, orcs and many more patrons of the fantasy realm
to the players. By assuming the identity of the characters they
create, the players face these challenges and sole puzzles, fight
monsters and villains, and conquer dungeons.
Throughout the gaming sessions, the players continue to play
the same characters, and the the characters become more powerful
over time. One of the greatest pleasures for the play is developing
the character as they grow in power, often building a notebook
of character notes and statistics.The game is completely open-ended.
There is only a beginning; there is no end. As long as the dungeon
master has more stories to tell, and the players want to listen
and play, the game goes on. Players get the pleasure of beginning
a campaign assuming the role of a young squire or novice apprentice
and developing him or her into a gallant knight or mighty wizard.
The RPG fury simmered down a bit by the mid-80's, as many early
D&D players reached the age where reality took more and more
time out of fantasy's schedule. The game thrived with its core
audience of die-hard fantasy buffs, however, and new Dungeons & Dragons
editions continue to be released into the new millennium. TSR
eventually sold out to Magic: The Gathering makers Wizards of
the Coast, who in turn sold to Hasbro, but the D&D brand
name still draws in wizarding wannabes today. Through video games
like Baldur's Gate, a December 2000 Dungeons & Dragons feature
film, and the ongoing original game, Dungeons & Dragons'
eternal quest for danger, battle, treasure and fantasy continue
to offer at least a brief respite from this everyday and ordinary
world of ours.
Dungeons and Dragons is a social game that encourages cooperation,
problem solving, math skills, and creativity. One of the most
interesting characteristics of the game is that every gaming
group has a different style and nature to play, with some groups
focusing more on role-playing and problem solving, while others
focus on combat and slaying monsters.
Negative press and controversy in the 80's was brought forth
from religious and parental groups, claiming the game was devil
worship and lead to violent behavior, but they have been rebutted
successfully on every court. Many parents see Dungeons and Dragons
as a positive influence of their child's life, giving them social
skills and helping them to develop a moral code.
The gaming materials for Dungeons and Dragons center largely
around hard-cover rule books. The Player's Handbook, Monster
Manual, and the Dungeon's Master Guides are almost essential,
but there are many more rule books to flesh out rules, character
development, and adventuring ideas. Multi-sided dice are used
to generate a random element, and plastic or metal miniature
greatly enhance play by allowing players and the dungeon master
to represent the actions in battle. However the major component
to play Dungeons and Dragons is one's imagination.
Dungeons and Dragons
Miniature, a game also by Wizard's of the Coast, use the
same combat system, and the figures are appropriate for the
role-playing version of Dungeons and Dragons as well.