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Braunstein: the Roots of D&D (Dave Arneson & Major Wesely)

Ben Robbins

First Post
I've put together an article about Braunstein from talking to David Wesely at GenCon 2005 and 2007. He's the guy that ran it 40 years ago.

What's Braunstein? It was the game Dave Arneson played in before he ran Blackmoor. It was basically the first roleplaying game, the direct ancestor of D&D and all the games we play now.

Most gamers have never heard of Braunstein. Sad but true. In the hierarchy of self-awareness you’ll find the circle of gamers who know what D&D is (a very, very large circle), then inside of that is the circle of gamers who know what Greyhawk is (large but smaller), and inside that the circle who knows what Blackmoor is (smaller still). And then in the very center, vanishingly small, are the people who’ve heard of Braunstein. Which is a pity, because Braunstein is the granddaddy of them all.

Read the rest -- Braunstein: the Roots of Roleplaying Games

Yes, Dave Arneson was a bad-ass player long before he was a bad-ass GM.

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Good stuff! :)

(I'll be at Gencon this year and look forward to trading stories with people.)

El Mahdi

Muad'Dib of the Anauroch
That was a truly wonderful article. It really made me smile. Thanks for digging this up and reminding us of the roots of our unique hobby. It's amazing, looking at this hobby and "industry" now, and realizing that it all started, mostly by accident, by some amazingly creative people, through simple social interaction and cooperation.



Mark you should definitely come to the Braunstein sessions if you can make it. We're getting a crowd together for the Friday session.

I believe I am scheduled at both times but have a lunch break from 1p - 2p and will be right in the ES lobby area, so I might be able to slip in for some of it, I hope. Open door policy or tickets needed?

Ben Robbins

First Post
GenCon schedule correction: there was an error in the listing which they've now cleared up. Both sessions are really running from noon to 4 pm, not noon to 2 pm.

Play The Braunstein Game
Fri noon-4 pm (SEM00151), Embassy Suites - Ambassador II
Sat noon-4 pm (SEM00152), Embassy Suites - Ambassador II


I love stories like this, that remind me how cunning and creative the old guard like Gary, and Dave, and Major Wesely are. :) I've not had the pleasure of meeting either Major Wesely or Dave in person, but some of the stuff I've heard and seen Gary pull out of his hat has been quite inspiring in the past to me.

To me it's kind of like watching someone start a fire with a string and two sticks, and beating the pants off of the guy with a load of kindling and a Zippo lighter...


I'm sure I'm going to lose any and all geek cred I may have had, but, who is Major Weseley?

That's a name I've never seen before.

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