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The RPG Museum

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Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)

Dungeons & Dragons, 1974, by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, also known as Original Dungeons & Dragon (OD&D) is the quintessential and first published RPG.


Example

An example by Hawke Robinson illustrates a very basic and quick example of a tabletop role-playing process:


The game referee, sometimes known as the Game Master meets with the players in a comfortable setting around a table, or anywhere they find comfortable, and begins with a description:


You and your friends have just walked into the courtyard of an ancient building. The courtyard is approximately forty feet square. The walls, built of a tan colored stone material apparently indigenous to the area, are built to the points of the compass. They are about thirty feet high. You entered from an opening in the south wall. You see the north wall has some stairs going up, and the east wall on your right has what appears to be a solid metal door hanging open on rusted hinges. The walls are crumbling in places, and much is overgrown with ivy and weeds. In the center is a large fountain about fifteen feet high in what appears to be the form of a series of three flower-like terraces. Surprisingly, the fountain is currently spouting clear and cool looking water. Looking at the water, your more acutely aware of how dry you mouths are after the long day's hike to arrive here, with no water previously in sight.

The wind is picking up as a storm from the south, with lightning and dark clouds gathering, quickly approaches. It is getting colder by the minute...

What do you do?”


At this point, those playing in the game each take turns telling the GM and the other players what actions they take. Some will have mundane results, others could have surprising consequences. Dice are frequently used to simulate the random events that can occur in life, and make it unknown in advance, even to the narrator, what exactly will happen next. For example, someone may decide to climb the stairs, where there are some loose steps, and depending on how agile the player's made-up “character” is, with a roll of the dice, that character may leap to the top unscathed, or may have a bit of a fall to deal with. Of course, there also could be trouble in the form of “ill-intentioned bandits” lurking within the entrance of the door....

“Because they are cooperative games, RPGs don't have winners or losers in the traditional sense of the terms. In

most games -- board games, card games, and dice games -- there is a clearly defined way to win, and a clearly defined way

to lose, and winning is the goal of the game. In RPGs, the concepts of winning and losing do not exist. The goal as a player

is to "help to create a story and to have fun. You may give your character other goals, but the success of your character does

not determine any sense of winning or losing. Like life, it's not so much whether you win or lose, but how you play the

game" (Stratton, What Is Role-Playing). “