Welcome once again to Brett’s Old School Bargain Bin, where I point out inexpensive games worth playing. Great RPGs for retro consoles tend to be pretty pricey, so I have a different and historical angle for this issue’s role-playing theme. We’re traveling back in time to the advent of the pencil-and-paper classic, Dungeons & Dragons, which played a huge role (so to speak) in the formation of a crucial (not to mention highly collectable) video game genre.

Dungeons & Dragons, the popular, but widely misunderstood role-playing game, was born in 1974. It was the brainchild of Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, friends who were fully immersed in the miniature war gaming scene, in which players would roll six-sided dice and engage in tabletop battles using miniature figures, often of their own design. D&D, as it’s commonly known, was an outgrowth of Gygax’s own creation, Chainmail, a miniature war game set in medieval times.

Released by Guidon Games in 1971, Chainmail included a “Fantasy Supplement” that featured such fantastical creatures as dragons, elves, and wizards. According to expert war gamer Keith Veronese of io9.com, each miniature figure “proxies for 20 of a certain type of soldier, whether it be armored foot soldiers or a low-class horse rider. This system allowed for large battles between mixed classes based on the outcome of six-sided dice rolls with minimal ‘on table’ confusion.”


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Brett Weiss Brett Weiss (44 Posts)

A full-time freelance writer, Brett Weiss is the author of the Classic Home Video Games series, The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987, Encyclopedia of KISS, and various other books, including the forthcoming The SNES Omnibus: The Super Nintendo and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A–M). He’s had articles published in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Game Informer, Classic Gamer Magazine, Video Game Trader, Video Game Collector, Filmfax, Fangoria, and AntiqueWeek, among others.  Check him out at www.brettweisswords.com