[The posts for this month are reposts from the site www.honotogroabemo.org, on which a host of hirsute individuals including yours truly would grow beards to raise money for breast cancer research. The site is defunct, but I thought I’d resurrect the game-related posts. This was originally posted on 2011-11-17.]

(Using Hermione’s wand does not make me less of a man)

The beard is coming in so nicely, that I decided to submit my application to the Unseen University. Unfortunately, I seem to have irritated the faculty and so am now forced to fight for my life. Let’s hope I can still remember the contents of My First Spell Book, read back when I was a mere tyke.

Yesterday’s game, as you may have guessed, was born from the previous three games. Remember the guy who helped revise Chainmail? Well, his name was Gary Gygax. And the friends who took over running the Braunsteins? One of those was Dave Arneson. The origins of the game they created are a little fuzzy (due to how long ago it was, plus some legal action), but the way I understand it is like this:

Dave Arneson took over running Braunstein events from David Wesley around 1970, and one idea that captured him was using a fantasy setting. He borrowed some ideas from a naval warfare game he had designed, and briefly used the Chainmail fantasy rules for combat before coming up with his own. Rather than a town, Arneson started planning out underground areas with monsters and treasure. Arneson also used the Outdoor Survival map and wildlife encounter rules to represent the area outside of the dungeon. It made for a convenient map because it had no distinctive features. Thus was created Blackmoor. While more of a setting than an actual game with strictly codified rules (Arneson was more interested in collaborative storytelling than tying players down), the seeds of a full-scale fantasy RPG were there, including armor class and hit points.

Arneson had met Gygax at GenCon II a year or so before designing Blackmoor, and they had worked together on another naval warfare game that was published by Guidon Games. In 1972, Arneson introduced Gygax to his Blackmoor campaign. Gygax was immediately taken with it and created his own campaign, Greyhawk, based on the basic Blackmoor rules. With their twin campaigns, both men began collaborating on what they called The Fantasy Game. Gygax recognized that in order to publish the game a significant amount of work would be required, and so he started revising and tightening the rules. Unfortunately Guidon Games and Avalon Hill passed on the game, so it became clear it would have to be self-published. Arneson didn’t have the money to fund such a thing, but in 1974, Gygax and two other backers created Tactical Studies Rules, and thus Dungeons and Dragons was published.

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