Dungeons & Dragons (1974)

You can find the genesis of Dungeons & Dragons, and tabletop roleplaying games in general, within this primitive looking box by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

While there were many printings of this version of Dungeons & Dragons from 1974-79 that boast numerous variation (thanks, no doubt, to the difficulties of self-publishing in the 70s), there’s only two truly distinct editions. The early ones (‘74-‘76) mention names like hobbits, ents, Nazgul and balrogs that infringed on J.R.R. Tolkien’s copyrights. The “Original Collector’s Edition” (‘77-‘79), hobbits became halflings and ents turned into treants, while Nazgul and balrogs disappeared entirely. This copy is the latter.

Over the length of the three booklets inside, readers are introduced to three classes (fighting-man [lol], magic-user and thief), a rudimentary alignment system (chaotic, neutral and lawful), a barebones rules system built largely on Gygax’s earlier miniature wargame rules (Chainmail), a few iconic monsters (purple worms, green slime, gnolls [which at this point are half gnome, half troll]) and ton of delightfully bad illustrations (we’ll be coming back to those at a later date).

It is kind of hard to believe this would eventually turn into a phenomenon that influenced every facet of games to come after it and is still going strong more than four decades later.

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