Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Fantasy Gaming Goes Underground

The May 1976 issue of the UK magazine, Games & Puzzles, contained an article by Steve Jackson of Games Workshop in which he explains Dungeons & Dragons to readers who probably were unfamiliar with the game at the time. I found the article notable for several reasons, starting with the fact that Jackson frames D&D as an outgrowth of the fantasy wargames campaigns that Tony Bath ran in the 1960s. Historically, that's debatable, but I can fully understand Jackson's position, especially when writing for a predominantly British audience. He also includes an example of play and a sample dungeon, whose map and brief key appears below.
The dungeon is called "The Dungeon of the Ground Goblins" and consists of twenty keyed areas. As an illustration for the uninitiated, it's decent enough – it's certainly more straightforward than the world's first dungeon map from Volume 3 of OD&D – though the density of monsters in some areas is questionable (e.g. 15 orcs in tiny room 20). Maps like this tickle my fancy, because I'm fascinated with seeing examples of early dungeon design. Even given the intention behind this particular map, there are still lessons to be learned here about the evolution of dungeon mapping and stocking.

7 comments:

  1. Now and then Ian Livingstone's first dungeon gets shared as a fuzzy, low-res image. I would love to see a readable -- and playable! -- version.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't even seem to search up a fuzzy copy myself.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've posted at my blog about Ian Livingstone's first dungeon, as I couldn't post an image here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

      Delete
    2. Lovely bit of history. I'm particularly fond of the orc tavern in room 8. You don't see many billiard tables in most dungeons. :)

      Delete