Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Dungeon As Battle Front Within Original Dungeons & Dragons

 It's one of those mornings where the original Dungeons & Dragons books find thier way into my hands once again. And the pages feel as crisp as they did when we played our first game of original Dungeons & Dragons. Monsters & Treasures is one of those books that really hits home for me as a DM. 

Why?! Because it Monsters & Treasures does two things. One it intoduces so many iconic D&D monsters to the fore of the dungeon & two it brings home the importance of the treasures in original Dungeons & Dragons. Gnolls, Orcs, Goblins all come into the light of the party of adventurers purview. And Tim Waddell in his review of OD&D from Space Gamer issue #2 hits the nail on the head from the Original Dungeons & Dragons wiki entry:"Tim Waddell reviewed the original Dungeons & Dragons in The Space Gamer #2.[7] Waddell commented that "The most stimulating part of the game is the fact that anything can happen. Nothing is impossible."[7] Andy Pudewa also reviewed the original Dungeons & Dragons in The Space Gamer #2.[8] Pudewa said that "As a game, D&D is a fantastical outlet for the imagination. It has the quality of being infinitely flexible, and with it comes the reality of impossibility. [...] There are drawbacks to the game however; as there are in any game. D&D cannot even begin to get interesting in less than 20 hours playing time. Hundreds of hours of work must be done ahead of time by the referee, and it takes a fairly long time to prepare on the part of the players."
And Monsters & Treasures goes hand in hand with the Swords & Spells supplement. And it's really Chainmail second edition. Don't believe me? Check out 
Clark Timmins Rpg Geek's article 'A Wargame Disguised as an Rpg" here.  And the article makes
an excellent point about original Dungeons & Dragons Swords & Spells supplement:"
What does any of this have to do with roleplaying? Not much. There are some ties back to Dungeons & Dragons, but some are cosmetic - and most are because Dungeons & Dragons itself ties back to Chainmail. No need to explain what kobolds, lizard men, or gnolls are - that's been covered in the previous little booklets. Here, though, we learn that kobolds can only group in Unorganized, Mass, or Column Mass formations. While dwarves can form into Line or Echeloned Line they can't form into Column. And we have a spell list that's suspiciously similar to the Dungeons & Dragons list - only the Dungeons & Dragons effects are here replaced by (similar) mass unit combat effects. The same with saving throws - the same types of throws are reproduced, but with different values to accommodate scale miniatures."

Further the article goes into armor class's wargaming OD&D roots;"What's really interesting is how much of Dungeons & Dragons (Original Edition) "matches" these miniatures rules because, well, Dungeons & Dragons (Original Edition) came from a previous set of similar miniatures rules. So the terms "movement in inches" and the "area of effect" come literally from using a ruler to measure inches of distance on the tabletop. Armor class is a derived phrase from scale miniature unit stands where each was assigned a class of unit armor. Instead of using Dungeons & Dragons's dice of damage for an attack (a random number that averaged over time) here we actually use the "Average Damage Matrix" to figure the damage delivered from one mass unit (representing usually 10 individuals) to another mass unit. The "Level" of character types or the "Hit Dice" of monster types here are translated into, essentially, training and combat proficiency. "Level 0" means an untrained levy while the mid levels/hit dice (2 - abt. 6) represent trained combatants in like ranks." 
There's a consistancy to Original Dungeons & Dragon's shift into it's wargaming roots & mode. A consistancy that has been lost on many folks. And this further ties into the modular nature of "Underworld & Wilderness Adventures" Because original Dungeons & Dragons could shift the wargaming nature into the dungeon itself. Original Dungeons & Dragons literally did have the means & end to have the battles taking place within the mega dungeon itself as another front for the wargmer/OD&D dungeon master. 
And this ties back into a blog post I wrote about the fighter class in original Dungeons & Dragons back in Feb of 2019 here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.