If D&D didn't exist


Yeah, I can't really participate in the spirit of what this thread is about (which is basically, instead of D&D, what RPG would you be playing?). I think the point is moot.

If D&D didn't come to be, neither would any other RPG, nor any electronic game/console game/MMO - none would exist had D&D not been invented. Pong, and perhaps other sports based electronic games might exist.

In the 'let's pretend RPGs exist, except D&D didn't get invented, so it was something else..." is a fantasy scenario that be would something I cannot wrap my head around, nor even imagine a world where that wasn't the case.

As somebody said, maybe backgammon or chess.

In my 30+ years playing RPGs, D&D is definitely what I played most, however I did play a host of other RPGs, but still always went back to D&D. Really I can't imagine spending much time playing RPGs except for those days back in the 80's. No doubt, if there was no D&D, I would probably be doing something else - though I don't know what that would be.

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Registered User
I think folks are under estimating the chances of the RPGs that came after D&D. For example, RuneQuest was published in 1978 but if you look at how the game came about there are similarities to D&D.

D&D evolved from the 1974 Chainmail rules and in fact the earliest edition relied on Chainmail. RuneQuest evolved from the Glorantha world that was created by the 1974 Greg Stafford's board game White Bear and Red Moon. Would we have seen RuneQuest without D&D? I suspect yes but that is purely speculation. D&D did increase the interest publishing RPGs. I believe that (but have not read) there were a number of home brew rules that would have stepped up and filled the void that a 'no D&D' world would have left.

Many 'revolutionary' things really are evolutionary. If we didn't have D&D something else would have taken its place. I'm willing to grant that the impact on popular culture many not have been as big; something would have taken D&D's place.


IF there were RPGs without D&D, I'd probably play a lot more superhero games like Hero or Villains and Vigilantes (assuming Mutants and Masterminds as an OGL game wouldn't exist without 3e) and Call of Cthulhu.
Ah, but V&V itself started life as a D&D campaign! Without D&D the RPG industry would be totally, and I mean totally, different! (Assuming that it existed at all. But I think it would have, as the time was ripe.)

But to play along, I'd be playing original Palladium FRPG, and Classic Traveller. Or something... (I've played a lot of different RPGs, so I'd be happy playing pretty much whatever.)


I discovered D&D when I found the Moldvay Red Box at a church garage sale. If it weren't for that chance encounter (and with D&D not existing...), I simply would never have discovered D&D.

I'm sure eventually I would've stumbled across some other RPG... my interest in fantasy fiction and video games would've put me in the path of a fellow hobbyist, no doubt. But I wouldn't be the one forming the group and learning to DM, and I'd be a very different gamer.

I got started in RPGs by playing/reading the WEG Star Wars d6 system. Since I really got started by my interest in SW and sci-fi, it's probably a safe to bet I would have found RPGs even if D&D didn't exist. The biggest driving force that got me into D&D is that I found other players with an interest in it through my SW group. Assuming D&D didn't exist, it's a fair bet that I would have simply ended up playing whatever RPG was most popular (locally) just so I could find players.

However, its worth noting that I was also exposed to Palladium, Warhammer, and MtG through my SW group, but completely failed to find interest in any of them. So there are certain qualities inherent to D&D that brought me in where others failed. Without the right combination of rules and flavor, I may have just dropped RPGs altogether an focused only on video games.


If D&D didn't come to be, neither would any other RPG, nor any electronic game/console game/MMO - none would exist had D&D not been invented. Pong, and perhaps other sports based electronic games might exist.


I think you radically overestimate D&D influence in video games. Pac-man, Defender, Scramble, Star Wars Arcade, Wizard of Wor, Super Mario and the like owe no debt to D&D. I doubt even GTA has any D&D influence. Whole genres of games would still exist. Only one line would not - the CRPG/MMORPG.


A Wicked Kendragon
Only one line would not - the CRPG/MMORPG.
That's debatable too. Colossal Cave Adventure (a.k.a Advent) had nothing to do with D&D.

We might not have gotten Zork (which was heavily influenced by D&D) and the games that sprang out of that branch of history, but King's Quest was also influenced by CCC and it was based on fairy tales and not D&D. From King's Quest the door is wide open.


First Post
Let me take a historical tact on the question. Suppose that TSR never was. No Chainmail. No D&D. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson sold shoes.

By 1973, GDW had already published their first science-fiction wargame Triplanetary by no less a luminary than Marc Miller. Galactic Warfare by Davco was published in the UK in the same year. The idea was already floating around of science fiction gaming.

Wargames were already going strong. And amongst them were medieval wargames like the influential Seige of Bodenburg.

The SCA was already around as well, founded in 1966. People were already pretending to be medieval persons (with even light fantasy elements).

M.A.R. Barker had already create Tekumel. Greg Stafford was already fiddling with Glorantha.

Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies were in the theaters (Golden Voyage of Sinbad in 1974). Rankin Bass would release the animated Hobbit in 1977. Star Wars would rock the nation that same year.

Fantasy and Sci-fi were on the rise. Wargames were big. Pretending to be someone medieval was just starting to blossom. All that we were waiting for was for someone to get the idea "Aha! A wargame where you only play one person -- your 'character'" and to publish it.

I think RPGs were an idea whose time had come. Someone else would have eventually published a fantasy RPG. The rules and world would have no doubt been different. But if there was no Dungeons and Dragons, I think instead we would all be reminiscing about original edition Wizards and Werewolves.

I am not belittling one iota Gygax and Arneson. God knows I love those guys and I love their game and its million descendants.

But RPGs? They were going to happen. It was inevitable as the rain.

Thank goodness.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

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