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Gygax and Arneson designed Dungeons & Dragons to take place in a fantasy fiction setting based upon popular fiction and mythology. It was influenced by The Lord of the Rings, popular Greek and Norse mythology, the pulp fiction stories of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and many of the more contemporary fantasy authors of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Jack Vance and Fritz Leiber. The game solidified the RPG concept of a referee (the "Dungeon Master" or DM) who creates the fictional world of the game and writes the storylines for the other players to explore.
The original D&D game allowed players to assume the roles of fighters, magic-users (wizards), thieves, clerics (priests), or elves. The players would embark upon imaginary adventures, where they would battle all kinds of fictional monsters from goblins to dragons to ten foot gelatinous cubes, while gathering treasure and experience points as the game progressed. These character classes, monsters, and fantasy world settings were greatly expanded and improved with further editions of the game.
D&D took the world of wargaming by storm, creating its own niche and giving birth to a multitude of role-playing games, based on every genre imaginable. Science fiction, horror, superheroes, cartoons, westerns, spies and espionage, and many other fictional settings were adapted to role-playing games, with several of these games also being published by TSR. However, "fantasy role-playing," loosely based on the world of D&D, continued to dominate the field of role-playing games, and this state of affairs continues to the present time (as of 2003).
Versions D&D has gone through several revisions. The first edition featured just a few character classes and monsters. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) was published between 1977 and 1979, and greatly expanded the character classes, monsters and spells. In 1980, Dungeons & Dragons was republished as a simplified version of the game. During the late 1980s, AD&D Second Edition was published, which revised the rules again, consolidating the character classes, and revising the combat system somewhat.
In 2000, a third revision, simply called Dungeons & Dragons, was published by the game company Wizards of the Coast, which had purchased TSR two years earlier. This version has informally been referred to by fans and players as a "third" edition of D&D, often abbreviated as "3E D&D." It is based on a role-playing system designed around 20-sided dice, called the d20 system. It rationalizes movement and combat (especially ranged combat), removes lots of arbitrary restrictions (now players can use previously forbidden classes, such as a half-orc monk), and incorporates skills and feats to allow players to customize their characters. The d20 system is an open source version of the D&D core rules that allows others to create D&D-compatible content.
Other Mediums A movie, Dungeons & Dragons (http://us.imdb.com/Title?0190374), very loosely based on the gaming conventions, was released in 2000. This was preceded in the eighties by an animated cartooon series of the same name. Another movie, Mazes and Monsters[?], also very loosly based on the gaming conventions, was released in 1982. This made-for-TV movie was the direct result from not only a popular 80s table-top game whose players had trouble separating reality from fantasy, but also from the social controversy surrounding the game players' participation. The movie title was originally Rona Jaffee's Mazes and Monsters.
A number of computer RPGs (role-playing games) such as Pool of Radiance (1988), DragonStrike[?] (1990), Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures (1993), Baldur's Gate (1998), Planescape Torment (2000), and Neverwinter Nights (2002) use Dungeons & Dragons-based rules. Forty-nine computer RPGs have been released and sold under the D&D license as of October 2002. Some use licensed Second Edition AD&D rules, while others use the more recent open-source d20 system for game mechanics as well as trademarks licensed from Wizards of the Coast. In these computer games, the rules are often modified to enhance PC-based game play.
A number of console and arcade games such as Warriors of the Eternal Sun[?] (1992, Sega Genesis), Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom[?] (1993, arcade), and Slayer[?] (1995, 3DO) were created with the D&D theme in mind, all of which barely touched on the dynamic role-playing nature of the D&D system, but all of which were designed and marketed under the D&D license. Seven console and two arcade games have been released and sold under the D&D license as of October 2002.
Seven board games were also sold under the D&D license. One of them, Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game[?] in 1980 was the original board game which was a computer/board game hybrid and the first D&D licensed game that contained digital electronics.
Other Settings TSR created many fantasy worlds in which D&D games can be based, although Wizards of the Coast has ceased product development for some of them. These fantasy worlds include:
Several competitors to TSR and D&D became successful in their own right. A number of alternate role-playing systems include Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium, Champions by Hero Games[?], and GURPS by Steve Jackson Games. But D&D was the first and most successful role-playing game, and all of the RPGs of today can be traced back to the original creation of Gygax and Arneson. (Interestingly, Call of Cthulhu d20 was released in early 2002, using the core rules of the D&D game.)
Many criticize Dungeons & Dragons for fostering unhealthy obsessions with the occult and suicide. Often this connection is pointed out when young people are indicted for crimes, such as a 2001 murder of a Robert M. Schwartz[?], a prominent scientist in Loudoun County, Virginia. Nevertheless, studies conducted by Michael Stackpole show that the suicide rate is lower among gamers than non-gamers.