Dread Delgath wrote: ↑
Sat May 18, 2019 9:52 pm
I've seen videos on YouTube about Arneson's early wargaming days before Chainmail. Those videos claimed that Dave's main influence on his future RPG creations (pre-D&D, aka Blackmoor) was Diplomacy or Strategos, or variations on those rules.
IMO it is better to look at this from a different perspective to include not just combat, but all the revolutionary elements of D&D that were in place in the Blackmoor Campaign:
It is difficult to say exactly how the rules worked because Dave kept the rules secret from his players, because he did not want the game bogged down by people arguing about rules, which apparently was a common problem among wargamers at the time. Different wargaming rulesets have been mentioned such as Strategos, "Korns"
(Modern War in Miniature by Michael Korns 1966) and Chainmail
(Gygax, Perren). Dave certainly adopted elements from Chainmail such as various units, monsters, spells etc, but greatly expanded on these. As to the rules himself, he says he quickly dropped most of the rules from Chainmail. It is possible that he had motives for saying this, but it is worth noting that the Blackmoor rules likely changed constantly. Players complained that their characters were killed after one hit (standard wargaming), so he added a hit point like mechanic etc.
Dave also added a proto armor class type system which he originally had created for a Naval Game that was never published.
Roleplaying was common in many wargaming circles as one would take on the role of ones "General" before a battle, but this was certainly a secondary feature and quickly dropped as the wargame part commenced. Arneson's friend David Wesely took this roleplaying element to an extreme in Braunstein
. However, Braunstein was very different from D&D as it was a player vs player game with a defined end goal and was not played as a campaign. Diplomacy
is another example of a game where negotiations style roleplaying is common. Blackmoor also developed characters with more depth than Braunstein's (since Blackmoor was a campaign rather than a oneshot), included early versions of the alignment system ("Good guys" and "bad guys", character's could have hobbies, goals, backgrounds etc.
CHARACTER ABILITY SCORES AND SKILLS
Blackmoor Character sheets looked different from modern D&D sheets, but many of the elements were in place including most of the currently used ability scores. Sheets also included something resembling skills. It is possible some of the ideas for the concept of character sheets might have come from various war games, including stats for General, but also for offspring which could be married off to form alliances etc. Braunstein also had character sheets, but those only included text information about the character, his goals etc.
divided characters into Flunkies, Heroes and Superheroes (also Wizards), but there were no rules to advance from Flunky to Hero etc. These terms were used in the Blackmoor Campaign, but since unlike Braunstein
, Blackmoor was designed as a campaign style play, Dave had to come up with advancement rules and gradually Levels.
This is something unique to the Blackmoor group although Dave Arneson may have had help from his players such as David Megarry and Duane Jenkins. Dave Arneson was always ready to try out new ideas and was very open to suggestions from his players, epecially those from his core group.
Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival
Game (1972) certainly influenced the way exploring the Wilderness now became an important part of Blackmoor, interestingly coinciding with the group being forced out of Blackmoor and to resettle near Loch Gloomen?
COOPERATIVE PLAY/THE MODERN DUNGEON MASTER
Another significant difference between traditional war games and modern RPGs is that earlier games had a neutral refree and that the game would focus on players vs players. Blackmoor also started like this with some players taking on "the good guys" while others, typically casual gamers would get to play "the bad guys". However, since gradually noone wanted to play the Bad Guys, Dave decided to take on those characters himself and let all the players run the good guys. Apprently such a rule exists in the "Korns
" ruleset, so it is possible this is where Dave got the idea from?
THE POWER OF IMAGINATION
Really another core concept of modern RPGs is drawing on the power of imagination. Dave's decision to make his game a fantasy game is not a coincidence. He was tired of wargamers debating historical realism that kept bringing wargames to a halt. Using a fantasy setting allowed him to get the players into the mindset that anything was possible and that THEY could do anything. Although we soon after the publication of D&D also got to see RPGs from almost any genre, I think the decision to make his game fantasy was important in showcasing how RPGs truly were fundamentally different from what had come before.
The Blackmoor Campaign also included a bunch of other elements and I am sure much of it involved ripping rules and concepts from various existing games. Blackmoor included Warfare, construction of strongholds, Trade Wars, Naval Battles, Aerial Battles with Dragons, Crashed Spaceships, Vampire Hunts, Slavers, Time Travel, Word War II crossovers, Viking Raiders, Players achieving Godhood, Planar Travels, Journeys to Other Campaign Settings and much more.
Chainmail, Strategos, Korns, Braunstein, Outdoor Survival etc all undoubtedly influenced Dave Arneson, but I think the risk we run from these discussions is overlooking how fundamentally different D&D is from the games that existed before it and how many of those fundamentally new ideas were introduced in Dave Arneson's campaign.