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D&D Turns 40: Four Decades of Adventure!


Tweet of the Day: The Cobbled Wall: a eulogy for a ghost house.

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Tolkien might have codified the modern fantasy genre: the elves, dwarfs and humans battling against orcs with the help of mighty wizards and magical swords. But it was in 1974 that little game released by Tactical Studies Rules out of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, that cemented these and an universe of associated tropes across western culture. From heroic paladins to, yes, female warriors battling in ankle deep snow wearing nothing but fuzzy boots and chain mail bikinis. Dungeons & Dragons combined Tolkien viking inspired sagas, ancient Greek mythology, Dante’s trip through Heaven and Hell and much more in a unique package many have tried to replicate.

My involvement with roleplaying in general began in the early nineties with the advance rules to D&D, mostly second edition by way of my cousin. From then I played not only every edition since plus many other variations on the theme such as Shadowrun (Elves, Dwarfs, and Humans in a cyberpunk setting). Not to mention dozens of video games inspired by D&D from Gauntlet to Dragon Age.

 

And why not? Video Games and D&D are kissing cousins. The emerge around the same time and are at their core based on interactive elements. Both have one or more players who drive the action (interactivity) within a given world (rules set/game play) and created by a master of games (Dungeon Masters/Game Developers). In fact, if you want to understand video games, forget comparisons to movies or television. Those are passive media. Roleplaying games are the closest analogy you will find to video games which is why you see so many elements bleed over from one to the next. They are still distinct, as the designers of D&D Fourth Edition learned the hard way. Even the dungeon in D&D is nothing more than a overly complex flowchart something all too familiar to any programer. And both are at their finest when they create unforgettable experiences for the players from rolling an impossibly lucky hit on a nigh invincible monster to a noble moment of sacrifice that saved the kingdom.  Today, millions around the world roll dice, don the mask of their favorite characters and descend into dank dungeons of adventure.

So three cheers for the grandaddy of modern gaming.

You are looking good at 40!

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