April 26-28, 2024
Registration opens each day at 7:30am
Professor Dungeon Master
Seminar 1: The Future of RPGs (1 hour) Sunday 12 noon - 1 pm
A short history of RPG Gaming and where some of our guests fit in.
by Kevin McColl
The origin of Role-playing games had its start in Minnesota with a group of friends that had initially gathered with the MMSA in 1963. In 1964 the group registered at various colleges. David Wesely was a co-founder and the person who met up recruiting Dave Arneson.
Then in 1965 you have the inclusion of the Referee that helped moderate the rather chaotic gaming. This role was someone who could not play in the game but set up the scenario, made sure fog of war was followed, and most importantly set up what rules they would or would not use. Keeping the complexity simple the games that normally took months and months if not years were being completed in a night.
The gaming became both more of a social event and a place for more rules experimenting.
In 1968 Wesely did the first full on Role-playing game, Braunstein. (Pronounced much like ‘Brown Stein’)
This role-playing with no combat was radical, and David knew he had to tease the players there ‘would be combat’ after this role-playing. An epic battle based on what they do before. The players took to it.
The only combat was due to players breaking the ‘fog of war’ rule and chatted outside their interactions with David Wesely. In fact, Dave Arneson was challenged with a duel with Greg Scott, the EGG of Coot inspiration. Having no combat rules set for single combat, David made something on the spot.
Others wanted to do their own version Dwayne Jenkins did his ‘Brown Stone’ using the same map.
Dave Arneson and Dwayne had a ball with any version.
Dave Arneson wanted to do one as well. A chat at GenCon with Gary Gygax and William Hoyt discussed doing a game setting with a persistent sandbox not set in the common Napoleonic, but a Medieval time.
When he got home, they worked on forming Blackmoor setting. William Hoyt would be the Castle’s lord initially, until he had to move, and Dwayne took over.
Combat rules were still needed. When the Medieval Combat rules in Vol. 5 of Domesday fanzine from Lake Geneva as an outcome of that earlier discussion. Dave Arneson referred to this as the Chainmail without the Fantasy rules. Because that had not been part of that game yet.
Dwayne wanted to be a Vampire, fan of Dark Shadows, Dave experimented with it. We already had Megarry with his magic want as a Druid (A time travelled Federation officer in disguise fighting Pete Gaylord). And then the Saturday & Sunday channel 4 monster movies on TV inspired even more. Everyone was a fan of JRR Tolkien. The game kept evolving.
Then the game finally had a combat system, it was pulled from Dave Arneson’s naval combat system. This is where we have the form of Armor Class, saving throws, Hit Points, and all the basics needed to run a game. Merrit based experience improvement (Mike Carr) was replaced with Dave Arneson’s Experience point system.
Eventually Gary Gygax got wind of this game, Arneson hoping to publish knew Gary was familiar with how to do this. But he and David Megarry thought they were interested in Dungeon board game, so headed off with that to showcase.
They initially played Dungeon, were impressed, but Gary realized this is not exactly what he was hearing. So Dave Arneson showed off the Blackmoor setting, having memorized the rules did an ad-hock game.
They played all weekend. David Arneson, Dave Megarry, Gary Gygax, Earnie Gygax, Rob Kuntz, Theon Kuntz all attended. Gary Gygax told Megarry as they left, almost under his breath, “Why didn’t I think of this.”
After discussions Rob Kuntz recommended to Gary to work with Dave Arneson to get the game published.
For the next year or so they sent drafts back and forth, helped with Steven Rockford and Gail Gaylord, and eventually had the inserts that Gary wanted in the game filling in more details. They co-created Dungeons & Dragons.
Dave Arneson gave credit to his friends in Minnesota, but it took Dave Arneson to gather the initial ideas, see a common thread, and make the game. It was further advanced with the work coming out of Wisconsin!
The Grandfather of Modern Role Playing Games
Has agreed to do 2 of his classic Braunstein games.
Braunstein the original will be held at 4 pm on Friday with Professor Dungeon Master as a participant.
Braunstein ( Banannia ) will be held at 1pm on Sunday.