Monday, October 23, 2017

D&D In the News (1976): Fazzle on the Ryth

There was little mainstream press dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons before the calamitous summer of 1979, and virtually none prior to 1977. This particular article by Mike Duffy is from the Detroit Free Press, from August 17, 1976, and it introduces us to D&D through the legendary Ryth campaign conducted by the Metro Detroit Gamers. It does a good job of explaining how D&D captivated early fans: as one put it, "All you can think about is the game."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spellcasting before D&D in Midgard

From the summer of 1971, this excerpt shows the initial Wizard system developed for a game called Midgard, as disseminated through the seventh issue of Hartley Patterson's original Midgard fanzine. This issue dates a little after the release of first edition Chainmail, and a little before the additions to the Wizard rules Gygax would write up at the end of the year for the International Wargamer which divided Chainmail Wizards into level-like ranks. It is noteworthy for several historical reasons, not least for ostensibly being the earliest spell-point system.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Vintage Ad: Why Women Don't Play Wargames

This late-1970s variant on one of the earliest Dungeons & Dragon advertisements repeats some conventional wisdom of the day about female participation in the gaming community. But as the text suggests, D&D had the potential to be "a game which women play and enjoy equally with men." Women did take up D&D in numbers very different from prior self-identified wargames, though their integration into the community faced its share of challenges.

This advertisement could be found in the wild as a full-page in Fantastic Stories magazine, June 1977. TSR then actively targeted not just gamers but fans of fantasy fiction--by some estimates, about a third of whom at the time were women.