Men with a Mission: Origins of Dungeons & Dragons
By: Wouter van de Zandschulp

"Origins of Dungeons & Dragons"

I am not quite a big role-player anymore. Actually I rarely do it at all lately. Still, I am the columnist of Alcarin, so I should try to write something about the subject of it. Therefore I did some research on the internet to see how Dungeons and Dragons got started in the first place.

Children and grown-ups always have been playing to be something else. Psychiatrists and people in social studies have used it as a tool. So it's no surprise that games revolved around war-make-believe. Since the time of Napoleon mostly, people saw a lot about war that inspired their imagination. You could say people are inherited to wanting to understand everything. So if they know about some person who gets in some situation, they want to feel how that person feels, by imagining this. Lots of classic games, like Chess stand model for war. H.G. Wells wrote Little Wars, which started up the hobby market for war games in 1913. H.G. Wells also made rules for children's soldier games. Lots of fantasy books and comics later on inspired the fantasy side of role-playing. In the University of Minnesota in 1960 the first fantasy role playing games where played, which they probable preferred to studying. A wargame society came to be. Wargame designer Gary Gygax made up a more medieval setting, called Chainmail. It was historical, medieval, and had room for fantasy in it (wizards and such). Till today loads of games are medieval and full of fantasy. It's a combination that works and attracts a lot of people. Medieval times obviously are found very romantic and tickle the imagination.

Gary Gygax own take on how Dungeons and Dragons came to be:
"So I started to play with military miniatures, and I started to play world war games, diplomacy... And eventually many years later we were playing military miniatures on the sand table of my basement, and we were playing a medieval battle, and everybody had been tired, and so I slipped into a dragon, a giant, a wizard, a hero, and a troll. And everybody said "Oh, this is real experimental, I can get the dragon...". Well, so instead of having half a dozen guys coming to play miniatures every weekend suddenly we couldn't fit them all into my basement. "Many guys. Oh, yes. We never played. C'mon, well, I can read it." So, in 1971 I published a fantasy supplement for that company called Guidon Games: Chainmail, which had all the rules that we'd been using was what became Dungeons & Dragons, because in order to accommodate under a gable we couldn't be everybody on tabletop, so we just started "well, we could do this with paper and pencil", and instead of having lots of figures everybody just has one, and instead of ten people each which sixty figures, we could have thirty people which had one. At that time people were calling me day and night, and they said "hey, we are six guys playing your game and have a problem here, can you tell us how this works". So I had to do two things: First change my phone number and have it not listed anymore, second write down the rules. So in 1972 I did a 50 page set of rules called "Dungeons & Dragons". And it by 1973 became 150 pages. And that was basically what got published in 1974."

Well, I can't tell it any better than that, of course. I wasn't there. But it goes to show that most successful concepts are invented by just trying stuff and stumble on to something that works.

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