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Dungeons & Dragons role-playing history - help wanted

Started by Ron Edwards, January 30, 2003, 12:51:02 PM

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Walt Freitag

I'm looking at my copy of the small-but-deep white box, which (alas) is one of the confusing reissues rather than the original 74 edition. I think it was the summer of 78 when I bought it (and the printing dates on my copies of 3 of the 4 the supplement books which I bought at the same time are also 1978 which is consistent with a 78 purchase.) The box cover says "Original Collector's Edition" in small red type with a thin-lined red 'kaboom' outline around it. Other differences from the original printing are the removal of the "Price $10.00" line and the addition of a product number "2002" at the lower right corner.

The three rule books in the set all have a 1974 copyright and no indication of when printed. The Tolkien changes are evident in the text, though (e.g. "halfling" pasted over "hobbit" in a slightly non-matching type face). There was also a folded-over (unbound and coverless) paper booklet of "Reference Sheets" in the box.

The box cover and each of the three book covers credit "GYGAX & ARNESON." The title pages credit "GARY GYGAX & DAVE ARNESON." Not E. Gary.

Also of note is the game's subtitle/description, appearing on the box cover and each book cover, underneath the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS main title:

Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames [sic]
Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil
and Miniature Figures

... which continues to appear on the covers of the Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, and Gods, Demi-Gods, and Heroes supplements, with the word "ADDITIONAL" squeezed in at the top.

Supplement author credits are:
I Greyhawk: Gary Gygax & Rob Kuntz
II Blackmoor: Dave Arneson
III Eldritch Wizardry: Gary Gygax & Brian Blume
IV Gods Etc.: Robert Kuntz and James Ward

I-III also have "special thanks to" lists, but only Blackmoor credits an editor: Tim Kask

Publisher and Copyright notices are:

(my printings of) All four supplements, covers: PUBLISHED BY TSR RULES
(my printings of) All four supplements, title pages: (C) 1976 - TSR GAMES
(except supp. II Greyhawk has date of 1975 instead)

Damn, where did my copy of Swords & Spells (supplement V) go?

OK, jumping ahead to 4(b):

Special Reference Work
Deities and Demigods
by James M. Ward with Robert J. Kuntz
Edited by Lawrence Schick
(C) 1980 - TSR Games
(no separate publisher name on title page, but cover and spine include "TSR THE GAME WIZARDS" and a wizard logo)
(forward by E. Gary Gygax, first appearance of the 'E.' in my collection)

Fiend Folio
Tome of Creatures Malevolent and Benign
Edited by Don Trumbull,
Managing Director of TSR UK, Ltd.
(C) 1981, TSR Hobbies, Inc.
(publisher name given separately as TSR Hobbies, Inc.)

Monster Manual II
by Gary Gygax
(C) 1983 TSR, Inc
(Two publishers listed: TSR Inc, and TSR UK Ltd.)

Oriental Adventures
Gary Gygax
with David Cook and Francois Marcela-Froideval
(C) 1985 E. Gary Gygax
(Two publishers listed: TSR Inc, and TSR UK Ltd.)

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere

Ron Edwards


Thanks to everyone. The more, the better.

Couple points:

Interestingly, I burned out on AD&D around 1981 and turned to The Fantasy Trip, Tunnels & Trolls, and RuneQuest in that order (I'd been into Melee and Wizard since they came out in 1978 or so). I later played the "red box" Basic with a lot of kids when I worked at a community center in Chicago, about 5 years later.

So what did I miss? Unearthed Arcana, Dragonlance, and the nascent AD&D2 completely. Totally. I've seen these games played, and glanced through them, but I don't know them and have never played or perused them carefully. I know AD&D2 mainly by reading Planescape, Al-Qadim, and Dark Sun, but all that's in retrospect - at the time, I was Champions and GURPS all the way and never looked back.

You guys are clarifying a lot of things for me. It sounds like that #8 with the Beholder in it was one of the Arduin series. By the way, I did know that the Fiend Folio was Brit (forgot to add that in my original post), and I will also say that indeed, ownership and helmsmanship at TSR did its first or second major flux right at the moment of which Ye Alle speak.


Blake Hutchins

Walt picked up my thoughts on Eldritch Wizardry, et. al., and the Arduin stuff has also been noted.  Like Ron, we bypassed the next gen of D&D books to go to a heavily bastardized Runequest.  I personally got heavily into TFT, but alas, got no players into it with me before traipsing off to college.  I never got any AD&D books aside from (was it AD&D?) the Fiend Folio.

I'd characterize my high school's gaming culture as naive and heavily, heavily influenced by Moorcock's fantasy, especially Elric.  On a surface content level, we aspired to cosmic conflicts, runeswords, lots of extra-planar gibbage and artifacts of Way Big Powah.  On a group dynamic level, there was little sophistication about story or even roleplaying.  It was what I'd call a gamist set of player priorities undercut with a longing for an epic story we could never quite get right.



Rob MacDougall

Wow, great thread, and I'm very interested to read the Gamism essay that comes out of this. This is the sort of thing I was hoping to get out of the thread I started on the "midwest D&D belt" and regional-historical gaming styles.

I myself have little to add to the pre-1982 discussions here, but if discussion moves to the impact of Dragonlance, Unearthed Arcana, and other late 1980s books on AD&D, I will jump in with abandon. I can attest that the first place I learned of D&D was in the summer of 1980, in an article in (of all things) Seventeen magazine.


Jack Spencer Jr

Shit. I don't have time to address this now. But I will later, if the thread is still here by then. Chances are, most would have answered what I could.

Gordon C. Landis

Quote from: Ron EdwardsIt sounds like that #8 with the Beholder in it was one of the Arduin series.
Greyhawk (official TSR Rules D&D supplement #1, cover picture here ) had a Beholder on the cover - it might have been taken from The Strategic Review, but I thought there were only 7 of those . . .

Gordon (under construction)

Walt Freitag

Unearthed Arcana (Gary Gygax) was the first 1e AD&D hardcover I didn't buy when I stopped buying them; it came out in 85 (whether before or after Oriental Adventures I'm not sure). However, there were more, all pre Second Edition, which I don't have copies of or first publication dates for:

Wilderness Survival Guide (Kim Mohan)
Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (Douglas Niles)
Manual of the Planes (Jeff Grubb)
DragonLance Adventures (Tracy Hickman and Margarer Weis)

Greyhawk Adventures (James M. Ward) appears to be transitional; a star-burst thingie on the cover describes the book as "Compatible with the AD&D and the 2nd Edition AD&D Game Systems," while the familiar "Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" headline appears at the top. Forgotten Realms Adventures (Jeff Grubb and Ed Greenwood) has the 2nd edition logo but not the 2nd edition cover style.

Legends and Lore (1985) was just a retitling of Deities and Demigods.

By 81 I was playing an almost entirely house rules fantasy system so I was no longer concerned with rule books but still bought AD&D material as source books. And trying other systems and freeform. By 85 I was entirely into LARPs and no longer regularly playing any tabletop, the start of a ten-year hiatus. So I missed the post-85 style changes and all of the 2nd Edition change-over, just like others. However, I was aware of, and rather perplexed by, the nascent concept of combining gaming with novels set in the same world (as via DragonLance, Forgotten Realms). The desirability eluded me -- and still does, to a large extent.

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere


Although it is often known as the "white box" edition of D&D, the very first print run of original D&D, released in January 1974, was actually packaged in a plain brown box, with labels on the top and sides. The entirety of the 1,000 book run was packed out by hand in the late Don Kaye's dining room. Kaye, who is more of less forgotten these days, was one of the original principals at TSR but he died of a heart attack in 1975.

First print run sold out within the year and the second print run was 2,000. At this point it took on the classic white box look.
Chris Pramas
Green Ronin Publishing

M. J. Young

O.K., I'm having a hard time keeping track what parts have been answered. Like Paul, my first RPG was that boxed set with the blue dragon on the box and the book, complete with Chits (remember those?) and an order form for dice that we didn't use. But it was 1980, and D&D was on the rise, and you could at that instant in time buy the stuff in local toy stores and book stores, at least in the lower Delaware valley.

I can probably get you in touch with two people very knowledgeable in the field. Charlie Heckman was an old wargamer in the 70's who was at the Origins convention at Widener University in Chester PA when D&D was released, if I'm remembering correctly. Paul Cardwell (Chairman CARPga) was involved, and claims to have seen a role playing game using polyhedral dice at least a decade before D&D hit the scene (although Paul has a very black attitude towards all things D&D/TSR). Generally I defer to them on information from that time.

That said, there are a few points on which I might be able to throw some light.

Quote from: Ron Edwards2. A full-sized but slim boxed set labeled "Dungeons & Dragons," with a fairly crude dragon-picture on the front (looks like it was colored by Magic Markers); the rules inside were a stapled paperback with the same picture in blue. If I remember correctly, these rules could take you through third level. Classes included Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, and Thief, with no sub-classes. The rules mentioned "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" which would be published soon and to which you were expected to "graduate." I don't remember the author credits on this one.
There have been some helpful corrections made on this already, including that elf, dwarf, and halfling were treated as classes. This is now generally referenced as "Basic D&D First Edition" (BD&D1).

Its existence actually owes something to a legal/historical situation. It's difficult for me to explain the situation without inserting things I don't know, but the gist of it is this: TSR had obligations to Dave Arneson for part of the D&D concept, and wanted to maneuver things such that he would not continue to get royalties on the forthcoming Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line. Thus they published this set, intending that it was independent of AD&D (now called Original AD&D, or OAD&D) so that they could argue that Arneson's claims were limited to D&D, a game they continued to publish under its new edition, and did not extend to AD&D. Several aspects of the BD&D1 system were incompatible with OAD&D, including:
    [*]Different categories of saving throws.
    [*]No race/class distinctions.
    [*]Different armor class progression (one place off, unarmored was 9).
    [*]Different hit die values (fighter used d8, cleric and thief both used d6).
    [*]Different currency exchange rate.[/list:u]
    My impression is that the advancement progression and combat tables were also different. This game was designed to be similar enough to OAD&D that people could make the transition but different enough that they could defend OAD&D as a different game system.

    Incidentally, they lost the lawsuit, and were required to pay royalties on many core books for many years thereafter, including (following another lawsuit) the Monster Manual II. Text of those decisions was on the web a few years back, and probably still is.

    Quote from: Ron further3. All sorts of support material between 1977 and 1983 or so:....c) I also remember a similar set of pamphlets that presented lots of monsters and spot-rules (e.g. the Beholder in #8), but I don't recall at all whether these were Arduins or something else entirely.
    I had one or two of a set of tan-covered pamphlets that said Dungeons & Dragons on the cover and came, I believe, from TSR. I've been trying for years to figure out where these went. They seemed to be designed as D&D supplements to Chainmail, but at the time I didn't know the relationships between systems so I didn't really get it. They had wandering monster tables, and were designed to cover two or three "levels" of character growth. I had thought at the time they were the continuation of the blue boxed set, as there was a window in there when I didn't have OAD&D and was trying to continue my blue box game with whatever I could find.

    That might be an interesting point of culture, at least out here. I know another referee who started in about 1980 (whom I didn't know until after 1990), and he also had trouble getting D&D stuff. He had actually read the DMG, and returned it to its owner, but couldn't find a copy for himself. In his case, he cobbled together a lot of bits from a lot of games into one system--I know he used pieces of Traveler and Gamma World (although he disliked Gamma World as too deadly a game) in a great mishmash world in which all things existed together. We similarly were scrambling to find stuff, although in our case we tried to stick to official D&D stuff (we also started playing other RPG's, TSR stuff). We were very much cut off from any contact with the greater gamer culture, although we were aware of the existence of the RPGA, and of a couple of gaming magazines. Money was tight, and we were really in it to play, not to join clubs.

    Quote from: Ron then4. AD&D, production values, bookstores ...

    ...Three slim hardback books labeled "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons": The Monster Manual (1977 or 78), The Players Handbook (1978 or 79), and The Dungeon Master's Guide (1979)....original Deities & Demigods, Fiend Folio, and Oriental Adventures....

    I have all of the original OAD&D hardcovers here, probably can find any within five minutes: MM1, PH, DMG, DD, UA, OA, FF, MM2, DL, GH, DSG, WSG, MoP (I think I remembered them all). Legends & Lore replaced Deities & Demigods, and I understand that the content was slightly altered, but I never had a copy of that. DD went through a couple of incarnations due to lawsuits over their use of the Cthulu, Melnibonean, and Nehwon materials without permission. If you need information on any of those, let me know which--better that than that I should try to list them all here. I think Manual of the Planes was last, although it might have been Wilderness Survival Guide. I'm not completely certain of the order of publication, but that list is pretty close (I never did anything with Greyhawk, and honestly still haven't managed to read it).

    Quote from: Again Ron5. A series of boxed sets in the early-mid 1980s labeled "Basic Dungeons & Dragons," rather nicely produced, including a series of adventure modules as well. I believe each set of the series was level-oriented; the first was for level 1-3, the second 4-6, and so on. At this point, there was no coherent "graduation" concept any more; you either played Advanced starting at first level, or you played Basic (this one) starting at first level. As an aside, this was a remarkably good game and still has a loyal body of continuing-play. Clinton tells me that Gygax is referenced but has no author credits.
    This has become known as BD&D2 (I think someone said that?). I have bits of it around, but only used it to try to mesh BD&D modules into AD&D play.

    That actually was another aspect of the time. Those of us who played certainly managed to figure out that AD&D and BD&D were incompatible games (add to the previous comments different alignment systems, morale and water combat rules in the basic set, and some other stuff); those who knew we played frequently bought things for us that were for different games. I own the "Expert Set" because my brother thought I was probably ready for it, not understanding that that was a different game from the one I played. They also bought modules without reference to game system.

    BD&D2 was ultimately compiled in The Rules Cyclopedia; I have a copy of that here, too, if it's helpful. I have no idea why I have it, but I know people who like that version.

    Quote from: Next, ValamirI would say that OAD&D could actually be considered to be the 1.5 edition of the game following Unearthed Arcana. I can't say for sure if UA is just a convenient marker for time, or whether the book kicked off the change itself, but following the release of UA the flavor of AD&D changed dramatically.
    Not being part of the culture, I can only say that UA changed a lot of aspects of the game in subtle ways. The creation of Cavalier and Barbarian classes widened the cultural field--the fighters who had always been assumed to be the knights were now peasant infantry (generally). Comeliness was added, so high Charisma no longer meant that you were good-looking. The flavor of the world changed through it. It impacted us.

    Quote from: Continuing, ValamirIt was UA that introduced (in an official book of rules) Non weapon proficiencies....
    This is not correct. Non-weapon Proficiencies first appeared in Oriental Adventures, which followed UA; there they used a system by which fixed rolls were established for the proficiencies. Also significant in that regard, perhaps, was that several of the class abilities of the (occidental UA) Barbarian class became non-weapon proficiencies in the (OA) Oriental Barbarian class. For non-Oriental classes, non-weapon proficiencies came later in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, expanded in the Wilderness Survival Guide. They do not exist in UA.

    Someone mentioned the Eldritch Wizardry cover. That is a very limited press run, as TSR execs pulled the cover almost as soon as they saw it.

    For what it's worth, we never got tired of OAD&D. I've got the core books for AD&D2, and know some people who ran it, although usually they complained that they couldn't get the OAD&D books anymore. I don't know anyone who played OAD&D who thought AD&D2 was an improvement, although most people who played did steal stuff from it (I incorporated Psionics and Vikings, but found the Al Qadim and Maztica stuff they bought for me completely incompatible). I found the changes too jarring (but this has to be viewed from the fact that we ran campaigns that went for years, and always assumed we'd be playing the same characters in our personal retirements in the decades to come--2E rules eliminated a lot of character classes, which was kind of nasty if you were playing one of those classes). On the other hand, we never got into the gaming culture at all. We never played with anyone who played with anyone other than us, until the early 90's when E. R. Jones joined us and another older guy in the neighborhood who was heavily into Forgotten Realms came to play (I was running a game for the neighborhood kids, from about '89 when I was in Law School to about '93 when my youngest was a year old).

    Since this is a long post on a hot thread, there are probably more comments posted. I hope this is helpful.

    --M. J. Young

    Jack Spencer Jr

    OK, here's my take on the subject as such. My sources include are Heroic Worlds by Lawrence Schick, The Complete Guide to Role-Plaing Gamces by Rick Swan, Fantasy Role Playing Games by J Eric Holmes, M.D.

    [*] Dungeons & Dragons Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Minitature Figures was first published in 1974. As Chris notes, the original print was different from the "white box." Schick note: "(1st ed., brown wood-grain box, white sticker cover). 1st and 2nd pr. have drawing of mounted warrior on "Men & Magic" and box cover." They apparently went to the white box after that. My white box copy has "Original Collector's Edition" on the box. I do have a TSR flyer which lists it along with the AD&D/BD&D lines.
    [*] The original set was designed for use with Chainmail rules for medieval miniatures. by Gary Gygax & Jeff Perren originally published by Guidon Games in 1971. The game contained man-to-man combat rules. The 2nd and 3rd ed. contain the "fantasy suppliment" which is why it and Gygax are a part of D&D's history. I guess. I had tried to figure out the orignal rules briefly, without too much success but I did learn a few things.

      [1]Chainmail uses primarily 2d6 against a chart. Exactly what number to use on what chart isn't readily clear.
      [2]The game system we all know and love (loathe?) is presented in the original 3-booklets as an "alternate" system.
      [3]AFAIK there is no use for the stats in the three booklets. Things like the Dex bonus to AC and the STR bonus on to hit and damage rolls were added in the first suppliment.
    [*]Swords & Spells Fantastic Miniatures Rules on a 1:10/1:1 Scale For Use With Dungeons & Dragons list listed as "by Gary Gygax. Interesting side note here, my friend maintains that "Gary Gygax" is the guy who wrote D&D while "E. Gary Gygax" is his son, although I am given reason to believe that they are both named Ernie. I do not know if this is true or if TSR was ever consistent with this. Judging from the original D&D rules, I don't see why we should take my friend's belief at face value.
    [*]The first "Basic Set" of D&D came out in 1977 and was edited by J. Eric Holmes, M.D. In his book, Holmes talks about calling Gygax, who was busy with writing AD&D at the time, and offering to write an "introductory" book for the original three-volume set. Gygax agreed, seeing the mass-marketing potential in such a book. Holmes's edition incorporated whole blocks of text from the original 3 books as well as (according to Schick) items from the suppliments and at least one element from AD&D, the Law-Chaos, Good-Evil Alignments. Actually, the Good-Evil axis is hinted at in Eldrich Wizardry, but not explicitly stated as such. The Original Set only had the Law-Chaos axis.
    [*]The second ed. of the Basic Set with the Erol Otis cover came out in 1980, the "Red Book." At this point, the Basic line was definately being drawn away from AD&D as well as the original set. The original set had classes and races (albeit, some races didn't have any choice of class), the 2nd ed Basic Set had race as a class. This edition led to the "blue book" Expert Set with a matching Erol Otis cover that incoporated the image from the basic set. A nice touch, I always thought. This edition promised a third "Companion" set which never materialized until the next edition.
    [*]the 3rd ed of the basic line, or "red box" with the Larry Elmore cover came out in 1983. At this point, the game is schizophrenic. TSR is maintaining they are seperate and "different" games, yet they keep making Basic an awful lot like Advanced. This edition is published in two books, the Players and Dungeon Master's books, for instance. This edition is in five boxed sets: Basic, Expert, Companion, Master, and Immortal. The Immortal Rules are generally treated separately since many think, and rightly so, that it changes the scope of the whole game. These boxed sets are later revised into the Rules Cyclopedia @ 1991-2. I forget which and don't have my copy handy.
    I don't have too much to add beyond this except to say, Ron, you might want to try to find a copy of Dr Holmes's book. He seemed to have a very Gamist attitude on RPGs to the point of commiting synecdoche.

    Maurice Forrester

    Another publication from the early days that's worth considering is "All the World's Monsters" edited by Jeff Pimper and Steve Perrin and published by Chaosium.  There were at least two volumes (I have volume two published in 1977).  Since gaming in those days was primarily about killing monsters and taking their stuff, there was a lot of interest in creating new types of monsters for the players to struggle with.  Volume two of AtWM has 243 entries from a bunch of different people along with Steve Perrin's house rules for combat and guidelines for converting the monsters for use in "Tunnels & Trolls" (the entries are in D&D format).
    Maurice Forrester

    Jack Spencer Jr

    Quote from: Ron EdwardsTo give you some context for this request, I'm suggesting that Dungeons & Dragons role-playing "rules" existed primarily as an oral tradition with many local variants up to the publication of the first set of hardbacks (#4 above), with all the publications before that being essentially expressions and reflections of those variants rather than any kind of prescriptive set of rules in the usual sense.
    "Oral Tradition"  (BTW long sentence here)

    Interesting take. I daresay that RPGs continue to be an oral tradition to an effect since not everyone learns the rules by reading the book. They learn by having someone teach them. This continues to this day, I believe, but it's not the same culture. Nowadays the books are a tad clearer in their text on How To Do It. But, I think it's interesting that someone who had learned to play from a mentor would then go out and purchase the book and read it, not to learn the "real" way to play, but for confirmation of what they already know, making note of where the book is "wrong."

    Or something like that. Interest, as I had said.

    Rob MacDougall

    I'd agree that the D&D publications from the 1970s and early 1980s were artifacts of a lively oral culture, reflecting not only house rules and concerns but a variety of play styles and even the diversity of the GNS spectrum. A thread has just been started (thanks, Paul, for starting it) to discuss the evolution of the game and the game culture in the mid 1980s from that very fluid state to a much more formalized "this is how it is done" model. I'm going to hop over there in a bit and say something about The Lost Tomb of Martek and The Ecology of the Gelatinous Cube, but first let me offer a counterpoint to this discussion.

    While Gary and Dave and all the other Midwestern boys were doing their thing, and that thing started spreading into hobby stores and rec rooms a considerable distance from Lake Geneva, there was, I think, another process going on at the periphery, as gamers who lacked access to a lively oral gaming culture tried to make sense of the published artifacts it produced – inconsistent, semi-compatible, etc. - and play the game the way it was "supposed" to be played.

    As kids in Southern Ontario in 1981 my friends, my sister & I were extremely concerned with "playing D&D right," yet really had no idea how all this stuff was supposed to fit together. Because we didn't have any older or experienced players to show us the ropes, we ended up playing a strange "cargo cult" version of the game, in which we tried to recreate the proper use of all these odd books and items, but without a really clear understanding of how they fit together or even in some cases what they were for.

    Example Anecdote: I owned a copy of the red box Basic D&D set, the AD&D Monster Manual, and three lead figures. I could tell the D&D set and the AD&D book did not fit together perfectly, but didn't quite understand they were two different games. My mother got us the lead miniatures because the guy at the hobby store told her I would need them. I believe she chose a wizard, a male dwarf, and a female thief. Obviously the miniatures were part of playing D&D, but there was nothing in either book I had explaining what they were for. We only "knew" you "needed" them to play. So, I required my three players to make their characters in every game: a wizard, a male dwarf, a female thief! We put the figures in front of us while we played, but never moved them around on a map or anything. When the wizard was killed by kobolds, I told Mom she needed to drive us to the hobby store so we could buy a new character.

    In that environment, each new publication we got our hands on, whether it was an adventure module or one of the AD&D hardbacks or an issue of Dragon had a massive influence on our playing style and our sense of what we were supposed to do. When Dragon ran an article about simulating the weather in your game world, well, the next time we played, we rolled for weather. When another article suggested the "what you say is what your PC says" rule, suddenly something we'd never done before became law.

    It might be tempting to romanticize an early, messy, lively "golden age" and see the codification or formalizing of D&D norms in the move from AD&D 1 to 2 as an unfortunate development. But at the time, gamers like me were starving for the kind of instruction on "how to play" that Dragon and the adventure modules provided. I felt very strongly in, say, 1983-1985 that AD&D was "getting better." I suspect that it was in trying to meet the needs of younger gamers who were not necessarily part of a robust oral culture that AD&D really began to change.

    (But that's a topic for the daughter thread.)


    Quote from: Valamir
    It was UA that introduced (in an official book of rules) Non weapon proficiencies, the idea that some new classes could become official (there had always been Dragon magazine classes) and so on.  Following UA was the Dungeoneering and Wilderness Survival Guides which are actually a couple of the best sources for crunchy bit sim stuff I've seen (rules for falling that differenciates abrasion from rolling down a slope from impact damage, rules for frostbite and hypothermia, all kinds of stuff like that...I think there was even a table of sunrise/sunsets at different latitudes and a set of weather rules straight outta a farmer's almanac).

    Actually, proficiencies first showed up in Oriental Adventures, and were refined (mechanically) in the Dungeoneer's and Wilderness Survival Guides.  UA was pretty much more-of-the-same, with a noticable power escalation--only Comeliness was really something moderately new.

    And, i concur, the two 'Guides are two of the best D&D books of all time, and two of the best RPG books on my shelves.  I still sometimes refer to the Wildernes Survival Guide, and the capsule "how to design a world" bit in the back is actually pretty good.  And they were a significant departure, IMHO, from D&D-before-that-point, precisely because they introduced rather realistic mechanics.  As i understand it, they are also probably the poorest-selling rulebooks ever published for any flavor of D&D--i remember seeing them for half price, bundled with e free module (both new), within a year or two of their original release.  Something i've never seen done with any other D&D book, of any age.
    not necessarily speaking on behalf of
    The Impossible Dream

    Chuck Frizzell

    Quote from: Ron EdwardsHello everybody,

    I'm working on a great big essay on Gamism, and it's going to include some detailed analysis of Dungeons & Dragons role-playing. I use this title to include any and all play under this name, which I'm sure you can appreciate means quite a wide variety.

    Try here for a piece by piece history of D&D products.  While it's about going prices for old products, it does provide quite a bit of history for each as well.