Sunday, October 20, 2013
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
The Players Handbook (1978), however, suddenly makes liberal use of dice notation, without any preamble, as if players were expected to recognize a "d20," and more significantly, qualifiers like "5d20." This strongly hints that dice notation had been in use long before TSR embraced it, and we can in fact trace its origins to the very dawn of D&D fandom: as we see above in Alarums & Excursions #1, in an article by Ted Johnstone on "Dice as Random Number Generators."
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Years before the publication of Dungeons & Dragons or even Chainmail, the wargaming fan community knew well of Gary Gygax's aspiration to design games. The image above shows the back of a copy of the April 1968 issue of Panzerfaust, an important early wargaming fanzine, which is hand-addressed to Gygax by the editor, Donald Greenwood. Of special note is the sentence Greenwood has jotted in the upper left-hand corner: "Am interested in printing your games." Around a year later, Panzerfaust would serialize Gygax's Arsouf (sometimes called Crusader), a medieval board wargame that represents Gygax's first foray into designs for that crucial setting.
Monday, April 29, 2013
In mid-1975, the partnership of Tactical Studies Rules underwent a transformation into TSR Hobbies, Inc. A number of factors motivated this transition, including the need to reorganize following the death of Don Kaye, as well as the company's increasing ambitions in the mail-order and retail hobby sales business (the first steps towards the Dungeon Hobby Shop). The newly-constituted TSR Hobbies, Inc. acquired the assets of Tactical Studies Rules, and work on game development proceeded under the TSR Hobbies, Inc. umbrella. If, however, you received mail from TSR at just the right time in 1975, you might have found the oddity shown here: the transitional name "Tactical Studies Hobbies." To explore the territory around this curious company-that-never-was, let's take a tour of TSR's early letterheads.
Friday, April 12, 2013
It's been a few months since I've discussed the Dalluhn Manuscript here. In the intervening time, I have conducted a more thorough study of the document, consulted with forensics experts and early gamers, and assembled my findings to date into a paper that I present here as an "interim appendix" to Playing at the World along with a few exhibits. Those brave few who have complained that they found PatW too short may take solace in this substantial addition. Like the book, this appendix is dense, scholarly reading, but I'm working on a friendlier account that I hope will appear soon (perhaps in a forthcoming issue of Gygax magazine). For the impatient, I provide a high-level introduction to the evidence below. I believe the paper establishes that the Dalluhn Manuscript preserves the earliest currently known version of the game of Dungeons & Dragons.
The publication of this "interim appendix" coincides with a development in the availability of the Dalluhn Manuscript: I have loaned the original copy of this to the National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. It goes on display there this coming weekend, on April 13th, 2013, as a feature of their Game Time! exhibit, along with many other interesting artifacts from the history of modern gaming. If want to see it first hand, do drop by; there are plenty of other amazing pieces of history on display.