Sunday, March 31, 2024

Jim Ward's Adventure in Gygax's Wonderland

Last weekend at GaryCon, many of us raised a glass to the memory of Jim Ward, who passed away just days before the convention. Ward was very helpful to me in my research, as he had been a longtime TSR executive, and before that an employee-witness to the tumultuous events of the mid-1980s, and even before that a freelancer who helped bring the science-fiction genre to role-playing games. But still further before that, he was a player in Gygax's Greyhawk campaign, and like any good dungeon explorer, he drew a lot of maps - including this map of a segment of the Greyhawk dungeon area called Wonderland. The Wonderland dungeon, which we know existed in a playable state early in 1975, would become the inspiration for Gygax's later EX1 and EX2 modules based on Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

D&D Turns 50, and Something Else Turns 200

2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Dungeons & Dragons. Nailing down the exact release date of a product as informally produced as D&D is difficult: I've written about that before (and amended it a bit further). Personally, I still choose to celebrate it on the last Sunday of January, which this year is the 28th. A lot of things will be happening in 2024 to mark D&D's birthday: among them, a re-issue of my first book, Playing at the World. But 2024 also marks another momentous occasion, one that we should honor along with D&D's release: the 200th anniversary of the 1824 publication of Reiswitz's Kriegsspiel, the game that pioneered many fundamental system concepts that would later underpin role-playing games.