Saturday, December 6, 2008

The D&D Family Tree

James Mishler has created the latest iteration of a "family tree" describing the descent of pre-3e version of Dungeons & Dragons. It's a very informative bit of history in graphical form and I hope others will find it useful.


12 comments:

  1. I had no idea that Mishler was the Pete Frame of RPGs! :D Thanks for the link, James!

    Allan.

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  2. I didn't realize the "family" was so inbred :0.

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  3. I had no idea that Mishler was the Pete Frame of RPGs!

    I was thinking the exact same thing. Can anyone explain what the "Pacesetter Revolution" of 1984-86 was -- Pacesetter games, the folks who published Chill, Star Ace, and Timemaster, none of which (as far as I can tell) were particularly popular, innovative, or influential?

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  4. It's possible that James meant "revolution" in the sense of "rebellion." Pacesetter was founded by a cadre of disgruntled ex-TSR designers, whose games were all highly derivative, both mechanically and creatively. Chill is remembered in some quarters very fondly and is probably the only one that qualifies as influential in any real sense.

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  5. James has it down pat on what the "Revolution" stood for... that and, from my (albeit now, nearly 25 year old recolletions) it was a marketing term used by Pacesetter at the time, kind of an "in-your-face" thing to TSR.

    Also, if memory serves correctly, they were the first company to adapt the Combat Resolution Table (CRT) from board wargames to role-playing games. This system went on to be adopted by TSR in variations, including Conan, Gamma World 3rd Edition, Marvel Super-Heroes, and Zebulon's Guide era of Star Frontiers (among others, IIRC). So it was a mini-revolution in design, of sorts...

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  6. Oh, and I should mention that there is a revised chart to be found here.

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  7. Also, if memory serves correctly, they were the first company to adapt the Combat Resolution Table (CRT) from board wargames to role-playing games. This system went on to be adopted by TSR in variations, including Conan, Gamma World 3rd Edition, Marvel Super-Heroes, and Zebulon's Guide era of Star Frontiers (among others, IIRC). So it was a mini-revolution in design, of sorts...

    Aha, I wasn't aware of that. That does count as an innovation (not one I'm particularly fond of -- I always hated the CRT, especially in Gamma World where it marked a radical design-break from the perfectly functional 1st & 2nd editions -- but an innovation nonetheless) so at least in that regard I stand corrected.

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  8. This is fantastic and reminds me strongly of the Jethro Tull family tree (I've never seen family trees for Hawkwind or Rainbow, perhaps because hey defy normal mapping). I see exactly where I'm located as a player in this schema.

    ...except for the gratuitous and nasty "British diet, dentistry, Monty Python..." which is a bit like adding a label to your US or world map reading "niggers."

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  9. ...except for the gratuitous and nasty "British diet, dentistry, Monty Python..." which is a bit like adding a label to your US or world map reading "niggers."

    I hadn't actually noticed that till now. Shows how carefully I examined some parts of it. I doubt that James Mishler meant it in a mean-spirited way, but I certainly can't fault anyone who's offended by it.

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  10. While the comparison of what I therein stated to the use of the N-word shows a mindboggling and breathtaking lack of comprehension of the use and context of the N-word, the point has been taken, and the note has been removed from the versions on my blog.

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  11. I very rarely set out to offend, and of course I went rather drastically too far, but I wanted to communicate that the original might be offensive, and I think less direct means wouldn't have worked as well. Thank you, and I apologise for being offensive in my turn.

    I'm quite aware of the history of racism in the US: I'm afraid the British started it.

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  12. I would classify the cleric vs. undead results table as a pure CRT. The psionic attack matrix in Eldritch Wizardry as well.

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