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Aug 20, 2004

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1.

I think that point three is a more important point than the other two. At the heart of D&D is a notion of gameplay as collaborative storytelling. Even though the mechanical game system has long been bettered by other game systems, the concept of a shared constructed fictional reality would become the basis for dozens of other games, MUDs and MOOs, and their current incarnations as virtual worlds.

2.

A Dicebag of Dungeons and Dragons Documentaries
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/20/1840252

3.

Hmmm, I wonder if the actual date was earlier in the year (see D&D@30: How r u celebrating?)... Which then begs the question: is recent press keying off of another baseline event (vs. publication date) or is it some current stimulus (e.g. GenCon)? Or in the best traditions of AD&D storytelling, are we witnessing a cultural mutation of history to correlate with the warmer weather in the northern hemisphere?

4.

I think the big influence of D&D is that it taught us to think of our "characters" as having "levels" and "stats". The idea of playing to make your character stronger still has a strong pull on many people, even if the "playing" itself has already become boring.

5.

Nate > Hmmm, I wonder if the actual date was earlier in the year (see D&D@30: How r u celebrating?)... Which then begs the question: is recent press keying off of another baseline event (vs. publication date) or is it some current stimulus (e.g. GenCon)?

Well pinning down ‘the anniversary’ is difficult as there are a few notable dates. According to the net based research I have done: the first version of D&D was the ‘pre-production’ version that was ‘released’ at the 1973 Eastercon. The first published edition was at GenCon but in January 1974 – so I guess they are using the GenCon event rather than date.

Though I wonder if all the hoopla is more to do with the UK parliament in recess, between the two conventions in the US might have something to do with it - especially as October is the official Worldwide D&D Game Day.


Oh BBC4 did a nice documentary called Dicing with Dragons, but I can’t find a stream of it.

6.

Well, given that almost every fantasy mmorpg out there has fighter/cleric/rogue/wizard/ranger, elf/dwarf/gnome/halfling/half-orc,
fireball/lightning bolt/magic missile

I could go on, but even aside from the general concepts already listed the number of somewhat more specific D&D organization elements that are now canonical is huge.

7.

The same three things occurred to me as well:

1. Roleplaying as improvisational storytelling: you assume the persona of a character in a story told on the fly by multiple actors.

2. Roleplaying as numerically-defined abilities, in particular skill levels and personal attributes (STR, DEX, INT, etc.).

3. Fantasy milieu.

Each of these features is apparently so fundamental that they will be with us forever.

8.

Hee-hee, I think I still have the original manual for D & D, complete with miserable artwork, up in my attic somewhere. Maybe I should try to flog it on ebay as memorabilia.

I was a geek college freshman in 1974, and I can testify that the group of kids playing D & D were almost identical to the one playing "Star Trek" on TTY's around campus at night. The basic structure of Dungeons and Dragons (levels, skills and character types) was stamped into the brains of the people who designed the first MOG's. Lots of bells and whistles have been added since then, but most of the games still have that same basic framework.

The dice-rolling thing, though, was around before D & D. People were already using it as a randomizer in various board war-games.

9.

Hee-hee, I think I still have the original manual for D & D, complete with miserable artwork, up in my attic somewhere. Maybe I should try to flog it on ebay as memorabilia.

I was a geek college freshman in 1974, and I can testify that the group of kids playing D & D were almost identical to the one playing "Star Trek" on TTY's around campus at night. The basic structure of Dungeons and Dragons (levels, skills and character types) was stamped into the brains of the people who designed the first MOG's. Lots of bells and whistles have been added since then, but most of the games still have that same basic framework.

The dice-rolling thing, though, was around before D & D. People were already using it as a randomizer in various board war-games.

10.

D&D's originality is often overestimated; it was derived directly from an already quite active tabletop wargaming scene and initially wasn't all that different from those Chainmail-type games. Still, its influence on video games' ideas of character has been enormous.

Even if the idea that character traits can be expressed on a set of numeric scales ultimately reaches back to the nineteenth-century human sciences (reaching the present through those tightly-coupled twins eugenics and testing), the immediate source of this idea in gaming was certainly D&D. And D&D introduced the logical extension of this quantification of character: rather than simply assigning the numbers, it commodified them within a codified game economy (of "experience"). In D&D there is a complete coupling of the acquisitive urge (not to say commodity fetishism!) with the mechanics of an explanation of human character. This idea has since become enormously pervasive in games, and even if it was present beforehand in a submerged way in the culture as a whole, it took the D&D fad to make it explicit.

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