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Rob Kuntz Recounts The Origins Of D&D

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In this interesting article from Kotaku, Rob Kuntz relates a history of early TSR that differs somewhat from the narrative we usually hear. It delves into the relationship between Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (D&D's co-creators) and the actual development of the game, which dates back to Arneson in 1971.

 
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Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
This was posted online from the supposed foreword of the Holmes set. It was an early hit entering those search terms....

https://www.americanroads.us/DandD/DnD_Basic_Rules_Holmes.pdf


If quoting here is not allowed I will happily edit it out.

"ONCE UPON A TIME, long, long ago there was a lit- tle group known as the Castle and Crusade Society. Their fantasy rules were published, and to this writer's knowledge, brought about much of the current interest in fantasy wargaming. For a time the group grew and prospered, and Dave Arneson decided to begin a medieval fantasy campaign game for his active Twin Cities club. From the map of the "land" of the "Great Kingdom" and environs — the territory of C & C Society — Dave located a nice bog wherein to nest the weird enclave of "Blackmoor," a spot between the "Giant Kingdom" and the fearsome "Egg of Coot." From the CHAINMAIL fantasy rules he drew ideas for a far more complex and exciting game, and thus began a cam- paign which still thrives as of this writing! In due course the news reached my ears, and the result is what you have in your hands at this moment."

E. Gary Gygax 1973
The above is the Forward [sic] reprinted from OD&D; but I am sure you knew that?
 

Warpiglet

Explorer
"The above is the Forward [sic] reprinted from OD&D; but I am sure you knew that?"



I started play with AD&D. I hadn't ever read this.

I think it supports the idea that Arneson helped in a big way, invent D&D. In short it backs up a lot of what you are saying---and it's written by Gygax.

Don't get me wrong---I still think well of Gygax and what he did. I just think this is a really clear statement about the huge contributions of others.

Did I mention it's written by Gygax :)
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
"The above is the Forward [sic] reprinted from OD&D; but I am sure you knew that?"



I started play with AD&D. I hadn't ever read this.

I think it supports the idea that Arneson helped in a big way, invent D&D. In short it backs up a lot of what you are saying---and it's written by Gygax.

Don't get me wrong---I still think well of Gygax and what he did. I just think this is a really clear statement about the huge contributions of others.

Did I mention it's written by Gygax :)
It's the original "Forward" to OD&D 1974. EDIT: Nevermind this post, duplicated above, Cheers!
 
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Hi Rob,

I a recent Cumudgeon in the Cellar on YouTube Tim Kask talked about Don Kaye. Tim said Don played wargames with Gary, but was not really a wargamer, mostly just doing it to hand out with his childhood friend. Tim also says Don was basically the just a mony guy who funded Gary after Gary sold him the dream.

I suspect both of the above miss the mark, greatly.

You knew Don. Was Don a gamer? Was Don hands on with Tactical Studies Rules for the approximate one year (one year and 3 months I believe) that Don was alive after the formation of the partnership?
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Hi Rob,

I a recent Cumudgeon in the Cellar on YouTube Tim Kask talked about Don Kaye. Tim said Don played wargames with Gary, but was not really a wargamer, mostly just doing it to hand out with his childhood friend. Tim also says Don was basically the just a mony guy who funded Gary after Gary sold him the dream.

I suspect both of the above miss the mark, greatly.

You knew Don. Was Don a gamer? Was Don hands on with Tactical Studies Rules for the approximate one year (one year and 3 months I believe) that Don was alive after the formation of the partnership?
Tim barely knew Don and has no comprehensive perspective. I will be publishing a send up to him in the next few months (already finished). Don and I were good friends a long time; and Gary was friends with Don from childhood. For instance, I am the only person who played in Don's "Castle" when he constructed it and no one else in the LGTSA (when I was president) showed up for the invites to play. I get into that level of professional and personal detail in the send-up.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Tim barely knew Don and has no comprehensive perspective. I will be publishing a send up to him in the next few months (already finished). Don and I were good friends a long time; and Gary was friends with Don from childhood. For instance, I am the only person who played in Don's "Castle" when he constructed it and no one else in the LGTSA (when I was president) showed up for the invites to play. I get into that level of professional and personal detail in the send-up.
Thanks for your early day perspectives, it's interesting IMHO.
 

Zardnaar

Adventurer
Well, I will say, IN ALL CERTAINTY, that Gary's Ghost would clobber T. Kask for his outrageous statements and leave it at that.
Not sure if the reference.

I missed GH the 1st time round but lean heavily towards the earlier stuff. Kinda liked the Paizohawk stuff but prefer the older stuff.

Had trouble following the 2E stuff, Paizohawk seemed to focus on new areas if the map.
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Not sure if the reference.

I missed GH the 1st time round but lean heavily towards the earlier stuff. Kinda liked the Paizohawk stuff but prefer the older stuff.

Had trouble following the 2E stuff, Paizohawk seemed to focus on new areas if the map.
Did you drop this in the wrong thread rather than the GH one?
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
Hey Rob,

Off the normal path, but I know you were around back then and were familiar with the products being put out. Here's a question that's been burning me for years.

One of the items I originally was given was a Holmes Basic Set. In it, I distinctly remember that Elves could be fighters or Magic-users and had to choose which to be and gain Experience each adventure.

I have since lost that set. However, people say that such a thing never existed, or if it did, it was prior to official version being published. In copies I have bought since I find that Elves seem to advance in both fighter and magic-user rather than how I remembered it.

Do you recall the earliest sets of Holmes and if any of those had the rules as I remember them in relation to elves?
I queried Paul Stormberg about this, here's his reply:

Howdy Rob,

Of course that was the case in original D&D but it was in an early draft of the Holmes Basic manuscript and it was dropped for publication. However, the guy who remembered it probably had a DM who just continued to use the OD&D method.

Zenopus (Zach Howard) answered the question in his ongoing analysis of the Holmes Basic manuscript (read down a bit):

Part 3: "Elves Must Decide"
 

Rob Kuntz

Adventurer
JFYI, I finished my first essay for my column here (about 1,200 words with some interesting images as well) and am near finishing the second as of today. I am aiming at 4-5 finished before turning the batch over to Morrus--trying to stay ahead of the monthly input as I have many other publications/projects on my plate.
 

Yaarel

Explorer
Zenopus (Zach Howard) answered the question in his ongoing analysis of the Holmes Basic manuscript (read down a bit):

Part 3: "Elves Must Decide"
Now I understand where the conflictive D&D traditions concerning [magical] elven chainmail came from.

The OD&D elf mages could only spellcast in armor if the armor was magic − or at least this was a reasonable interpretation of the rules. And since then, the D&D traditions have changed their minds about this, back and forth. Such as ‘mithril’ etcetera.

Today for 5e, I give the High Elf the ability to cast the Mage Armor spell innately, which looks like silk-like fine-mesh chain armor. In other words, the Mage Armor is the ‘elven armor’. I feel the 5e High Elf is somewhat underpowered compared to the other elves. This additional armor feature helps balance it out, in addition to updating a fun D&D trope concerning elven armor. The update preserves the ‘gishy’ flavor of simultaneously [Dexterity] Fighters and [Intelligence] Wizards, which I have the High Elf especially inherit.

I feel it is also important for a High Elf player to be able to choose whether +2 Intelligence +1 Dexterity, or +2 Dexterity +1 Intelligence, so as to equalize the choice between leaning toward Wizard or Fighter.

In any case, the D&D 1e players who I played with, made a big deal out of the special elven chainmail that Magic-Users could wear. So I am glad the trope remains alive and well.
 
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When I see people questioning Rob Kuntz I have to wade in as well.

It's easy to go online and be yet another self made expert.

So my first question is: Who are you that you think you can disparage Rob Kuntz freely while hiding behind internet anonymity.

My second question is: what are you sources?

I saw a post stating something along the lines of: Others disagree with you. What others disagree with Rob? Using that language is as good as when a politician says: Mistakes have been made. It's a weak tactic, cite your sources and name the names.

Somehow it has been forgotten how research is conducted. Rob is a Primary Source, why attack him? You should be asking him questions.

Most of the arguments being posited against Rob are the same old arguments. They lack sophistication and really do not add anything to the discussion of the history of RPG's.

I am going to pose a serious question for everyone to ruminate on.

Q: How does Gary Gygax learn to play RPG's as a referee?

A: He goes to Minnesota and plays with Arneson and his group of players.


There are letter indicating that this trip occurs and one of the sources from Secrets of Blackmoor told me this story which I recorded.

It is supported by Rob's narrative of: We tried to reproduce what Arneson had done the next morning, but couldn't.

If Gygax does not know how to run an RPG style game, despite a lot of later efforts to create a smoke screen surrounding this issue, why is it the only person on the planet that can teach him to play an RPG is Dave Arneson?

Because Arneson invented what I call the Adventure Game and most people call RPG's.

The flow of information only flows one way - Arneson to Gygax. Without Dave Arneson to teach Gygax this game style, Gygax would be a nobody.

As to who created D&D, it's a collaboration. They did it together. Arneson did a lot more than provide 18 pages of notes. There are entire manuscripts that have been found now that were not typed by Gygax.

Griff
 
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lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
The flow of information only flows one way - Arneson to Gygax. Without Dave Arneson to teach Gygax this game style, Gygax would be a nobody.
And some of us respect Rob greatly for all that he has done for this hobby, and are eagerly awaiting his forthcoming column.

We certainly wouldn't want to say that, for example, some people are trying to drum up business by furthering divisions that had healed long ago, and are making irresponsible comments for no good reason.

Take care!
 

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