From Ubiquitous@21:1/5 to All on Sat Aug 4 05:19:46 2018
XPost: alt.games.adnd, rec.games.frp.dnd
Dungeons & Dragons' classification has sometimes befuddled stores in
how to place it on shelves. Is it a book? A game? A toy? Some settled
on treating it as a board game. That's a classification increasingly
obfuscated by the fact that D&D actually spawned several board games.
Technically, a Tabletop Game
Board games share something in common with the original D&D: they both
took place on a tabletop. These days, emphasis on "theater of the mind"
styles of play don't require a tabletop at all, but early D&D -- itself
a direct descendant of Chainmail -- assumed graph paper and miniatures.
Both implied that they were centered on a table in front of the
players, and co-creator Gary Gygax's games reflected just that, with up
to 20 players at his sand table.
Why a sand table? Gygax was a wargamer before he helped invent D&D, and
sand tables were a malleable form of gaming terrain commonly used for
both military strategists and wargamers to easily create maps to scale. Wargaming and its connection to military planning goes as far back as Kriegsspiel, specifically "Free" Kriegsspiel which included a
"confidant" analogous to modern game masters. Edward Burnett Tylor made
the connection between board games and Kriegsspielin the June, 1879
edition of Popular Mechanics:
The other hint is that board-games, from the rudest up to
chess, are so generally of the nature of Kriegspiel, or war-
game, the men marching on the field to unite their forces
or capture their enemies, that this notion of mimic war may
have been the very key to their invention.
The idea that dungeon crawling is in itself like a board game was not
lost on Gygax's peers, who created a board game to mimic dungeon
The Original D&D Board Game
The first proper D&D-style board game wasn't created from D&D but
developed in parallel. Dave Wesely inspired both Dave Arneson and Dave
Megarry with his freewheeling Braunstein campaign, which transformed a
standard wargame into one with player agency.
Wesley's Braunstein inspired Arneson's Blackmoor, which in turn
inspired Megarry to create the DUNGEON! board game It was originally
based off of The Dungeons of Pasha Kada. Jon Peterson explains in
Playing at the World:
This fragmentation of the Blackmoor campaign even resulted
in the invention of an entirely separate and novel game: the
underworld component alone inspired “The Dungeons of Pasha
Cada” by David R. Megarry ( who played the King of Prussia
in the Strategic Campaign), a boardgame which isolates the
dungeon exploration mode of Blackmoor.
DUNGEON! turned dungeon exploration into a competitive board game:
DUNGEON! combined the dungeon exploration mechanic with the
familiarity of a parlor board game and the simplicity of an
eight-page rulebook. No longer does a referee carefully guard
the secret plans to the dungeon— the dungeon is clearly printed
on the board for everyone to see, and no referee governs play.
Two ordinary six-sided dice resolve all combat. It is
furthermore a competitive game, with concrete victory
conditions. Players take turns moving their pieces (Elves,
Heroes, Super-heroes or Wizards) through the dungeon attempting
to accumulate treasure. The first to acquire a set total of
gold pieces wins, but this total varies with the power of the
piece, so Elves and Heroes require less than Super-heroes to
win, and Wizards need the most of all. As players explore the
dungeon and enter rooms, they encounter random monsters who
guard random prizes, both drawn like the Community Chest in
Monopoly from card decks. The dungeon has six levels, and
the farther one descends, the greater the dangers and rewards:
the “monster” and “prize” cards are coded by level.
DUNGEON! may have been the first of the D&D-style games, but it
certainly wasn't the last.
Modern D&D Board Games
The 4th Edition of D&D has been criticized for its elements that
emphasize grid-based combat over role-playing, so it's perhaps no
surprise just how much the D&D Adventure Board Games have in common
with 4E. Adventure board games, a term Wesley preferred over "role-
playing game," were part of the growth of Wizards of the Coast under
parent company Hasbro, itself a major producer of popular board games.
The WOTC-produced board games, including Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of
Ashardalon, and The Legend of Drizzt, each feature common 4th Edition
rules such at-will vs daily powers, healing surges, and save-ends
Is D&D a board game? To the extent that it can require a table and
miniatures, it could be. But D&D has moved so far beyond its original
roots that a board game is no longer sufficient to encapsulate the D&D experience. Instead, board games have adopted D&D's traits, with their
own hit points, level systems, die rolls, and treasure quests. Even
though they focus on only one aspect of D&D, adventure board games and
their ilk bolster brand awareness for the role-playing game, and that's
a good thing.
Dems & the media want Trump to be more like Obama, but then he'd
have to audit liberals & wire tap reporters' phones.