What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

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What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm

I believe that Dave Arneson pitted groups of PCs up against other groups of PCs.

I've not seen that used in Dungeons & Dragons games. It seems to be something there are no rules for.

What other elements are there, that Dave Arneson created, that did not end up in the Original Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks or later rules?

Which of Dave Arneson's "cutting room floor" rules are the most interesting?

How easy would it be to bring any of the abandoned ideas back and use them as a theme in a Blackmoor game?
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Havard » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
I believe that Dave Arneson pitted groups of PCs up against other groups of PCs.

I've not seen that used in Dungeons & Dragons games. It seems to be something there are no rules for.
Indeed. Of course, this was a legacy of wargaming and the Braunstein games that were Blackmoor's predecessors. Blackmoor started out with players vs players and Dave Arneson being a neutral Refree as is common in wargaming. However, at some point noone wanted to play "the bad guys" and Dave took over that role. This was the birth of the modern Dungeon Master. A very significant point in the development of D&D and modern RPGs.

It could be interesting to go back to that model, especially if you have a lot of players say at a convention. You could even have two groups of hero PCs so the two groups can take turns running monsters, leaving the DM to deal with other things.

What other elements are there, that Dave Arneson created, that did not end up in the Original Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks or later rules?

Which of Dave Arneson's "cutting room floor" rules are the most interesting?

How easy would it be to bring any of the abandoned ideas back and use them as a theme in a Blackmoor game?
Another incredibly interesting topic. I think there are many concepts worth looking back at for those interested in experimenting a bit with their games.

Some things:

1) XP for gold, but only if the gold is spent.
2) Hobbies. Hobbies are things you can spend your gold at in order to get XPs, but the concept of Hobbies is greater than that. In many ways it reminds me of the way Downtime activies are handled in 5E.
3) Ruler characters vs Explorer characters. The combination of traditional D&D gaming and a more strategic wargaming style game could have lots of potential
4) Annual Events : Peasant Revolts, Plagues, invasions, travelling Crusaders etc are things that constantly changed the Blackmoor campaign setting. I think something like that is worth exploring.

More importantly, I think Dave Arneson's approach of constantly tinkering with the format of the game is worth thinking about as an approach to gaming.

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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Yaztromo » Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:41 am

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
I believe that Dave Arneson pitted groups of PCs up against other groups of PCs.
This has been played several times at conventions, as you need bigger numbers to do it.
In a few Mystara Gazetteers there are adventure pitches proposed where more groups of players go adventuring separately and eventually they meet up in a climax of confrontations. I had enough players (and fellow DMs) only once, but that was a very memorable occasion.
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Yaztromo » Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:44 am

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
What other elements are there, that Dave Arneson created, that did not end up in the Original Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks or later rules?

Which of Dave Arneson's "cutting room floor" rules are the most interesting?

How easy would it be to bring any of the abandoned ideas back and use them as a theme in a Blackmoor game?
Carousing! A way of spoiling your loot and get a chance of making more experience from it.
I think it got cut out for politically correctness reasons, but it is very fun. I introduced this option in various campaigns, but it seems that players are keen on making a mess in the inns where they go during the adventure, but they don't want to run the risks associated to "proper" carousing.
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:34 am

Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
I believe that Dave Arneson pitted groups of PCs up against other groups of PCs.

I've not seen that used in Dungeons & Dragons games. It seems to be something there are no rules for.
Indeed. Of course, this was a legacy of wargaming and the Braunstein games that were Blackmoor's predecessors. Blackmoor started out with players vs players and Dave Arneson being a neutral Refree as is common in wargaming. However, at some point noone wanted to play "the bad guys" and Dave took over that role. This was the birth of the modern Dungeon Master. A very significant point in the development of D&D and modern RPGs.
I knew that Blackmoor evolved from wargames. Did Dave Arneson actually run Braunstein games, before he created his own game? Or was it just that some of his players had done Braunstein games with player-vs-player action? :?

I didn't realise that the players actually decided to drop the idea of playing the bad guys. That's an interesting part of the evolution. Do you think that this was a moment where the players bought into the nations and the NPCs and decided they wanted to be the good guys, because they started caring about "helping" the Blackmoor world?

I know people simplyfy D&D as "Kill monsters and take their stuff", but that's something that evil PCs could do just as easily as good players. So the decision to "choose good over evil" *especially* in the context of a gaming culture where all factions were equally valid, means that something else was going on there.
Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
It could be interesting to go back to that model, especially if you have a lot of players say at a convention. You could even have two groups of hero PCs so the two groups can take turns running monsters, leaving the DM to deal with other things.
I've always preferred the idea of a group of non-evil PCs and they ban evil-PCs in organised play D&D games, but every so often, I see someone who thinks that evil campaigns are great.

I've been looking at Chainmail a lot recently (the 3e version with the Sundered Empire setting) and that was set up for player-vs-player games, where players controlled rival warbands. I was pretty much thinking of ditching the evil factions as "player factions" and sticking with the good factions (sort of how Dave Arneson's players decided to drop evil) but if you wanted to run a PvP Blackmoor game, I think the structure of the factions of the Sundered Empire might be a good thing to look at.

Something like that, where there are multiple groups (in the case of Chainmail nations) that are all competing for something, could give you a structure, where multiple good and evil Blackmoor factions are all trying to obtain some sort of epic Blackmoor artifact.

Players could then try to defeat players from rival groups (good or evil) but still be inside some sort of organisation that discourages party killing.

As for players playing monsters, it works fine for live roleplaying. It should also work for tabletop play.
Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
What other elements are there, that Dave Arneson created, that did not end up in the Original Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks or later rules?

Which of Dave Arneson's "cutting room floor" rules are the most interesting?

How easy would it be to bring any of the abandoned ideas back and use them as a theme in a Blackmoor game?
Another incredibly interesting topic. I think there are many concepts worth looking back at for those interested in experimenting a bit with their games.

Some things:

1) XP for gold, but only if the gold is spent.
Hmm. So XP for spending gold rather than XP for hoarding gold.

That's interesting. I've read about GMs needing to find ways to trick players into spending gold, but this would make PCs want to blow all their gold, so that they could level up faster.
Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
2) Hobbies. Hobbies are things you can spend your gold at in order to get XPs, but the concept of Hobbies is greater than that. In many ways it reminds me of the way Downtime activies are handled in 5E.
Hobbies sound like an awesome thing.

I really liked Skills, in 3rd Edition, as I saw them as things that could give PCs out of game ways to earn money. (2e had NWPs to do the same thing.)

Many Skills (and NWPs) were clearly aimed at being used during D&D combat. But Hobbies sounds more like something that would work for non-combat encounters.

Are Dave's rules for hobbies in the Judges Guild book or is this something that was already abandoned by then? Have you spoken to any of his players about how the rules worked?
Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
3) Ruler characters vs Explorer characters. The combination of traditional D&D gaming and a more strategic wargaming style game could have lots of potential
Now that is definitely good.

D&D went on to have rules for PCs building stronghold and attracting followers. That favours the "Ruler" side, rather than the "Explorer" side.

We had a "Law vs Chaos" topic recently, and I was saying that Law more represents cities (with their civil authorities that enact "civilisation"), while Chaos more represents nomadic societies (which often get called "barbaric" by city dwelling rulers).

I can see the Explorer characters maybe working well as freedom fighters trying to gather forces to hold back the march of invading civilisations.
Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
4) Annual Events : Peasant Revolts, Plagues, invasions, travelling Crusaders etc are things that constantly changed the Blackmoor campaign setting. I think something like that is worth exploring.
Hmm.

Chainmail had books that came with each new set of minis. I'm just learning that each new book moved the focus of the conflict to a new area of the Sundered Empire.

Perhaps, if Blackmoor had been given a more active product line by TSR, Dave Arneson could have written a "Blackmoor Annual" for every year, to throw in new campaign arcs (with advennture modules for the year expanding on the individual threats of each year.

Games like Living Greyhawk were good for having a continuing storyline. So maybe that element of Dave Arneson's design wasn't totally lost from D&D. Maybe it's just something that is best used for organised play.
Havard wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:36 pm
More importantly, I think Dave Arneson's approach of constantly tinkering with the format of the game is worth thinking about as an approach to gaming.
Hmm. One of the things I have struggled with, with D&D, is the Edition Treadmill and the need to unlearn rules and learn slightly different rules (like the order that racial adjustments and racial maximums work in 1e and 2e).

I think I would have struggled if I was in a Blackmoor game where rules were being rewritten and unwritten a lot.

Or are you talking more of an approach similar to that used by World of Warcraft, where you don't actually see all the rules, when you create a 1st level character, and the rules get revealed to you, as you level up?
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 02, 2019 12:16 pm

Yaztromo wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:41 am
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
I believe that Dave Arneson pitted groups of PCs up against other groups of PCs.
This has been played several times at conventions, as you need bigger numbers to do it.
In a few Mystara Gazetteers there are adventure pitches proposed where more groups of players go adventuring separately and eventually they meet up in a climax of confrontations. I had enough players (and fellow DMs) only once, but that was a very memorable occasion.
I think that WotC have been trying to bring this back. They have done some high-profile events where some celebrities wander around between tables to do special-guest GM spots and involve everyone in a big plot that involves all the tables.

I think there must have been Greyhawk games that have done this too, as that "Head of Vecna" story must have come from a player-vs-player game set on Oerth.
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Oct 02, 2019 12:18 pm

Yaztromo wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:44 am
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 7:15 pm
What other elements are there, that Dave Arneson created, that did not end up in the Original Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks or later rules?

Which of Dave Arneson's "cutting room floor" rules are the most interesting?

How easy would it be to bring any of the abandoned ideas back and use them as a theme in a Blackmoor game?
Carousing! A way of spoiling your loot and get a chance of making more experience from it.
I think it got cut out for politically correctness reasons, but it is very fun. I introduced this option in various campaigns, but it seems that players are keen on making a mess in the inns where they go during the adventure, but they don't want to run the risks associated to "proper" carousing.
It can't be too much of a challenge for PCs to have a punching match with people in a tavern, after they have gone up a few levels. :)
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Dread Delgath » Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:19 pm

I need to go through my old "Spending Gold for XP" document and edit it to be compatible with 5e Downtime rules. Currently it's designed to be used for 0e/Holmes rules. It has a lot of ideas drawn directly from Dave Arneson's system.

Player vs player can also work if you have a LOT of regular players, and everyone can attend multiple sessions every week, or at the very least have two separate groups in separate sessions each week. The DM keeps track of what each group does, and adjudicates events based on what each group gets accomplished. It gets sticky if the two groups enter the same area and has a chance of encountering the other; the DM then has to coordinate actions separately, or manage to schedule all involved players to show up at the same session and then run a "Fog of War" scenario, keeping both groups at the table (or two separate tables) unaware of the others' actions.

Y'know, like classic Battleship game play. Each calls out a shot to a specific coordinate and the other player looks it up to see if it hits - only on a D&D scale of movement and determining contact with the enemy, and then determining actions based on secret tactics presented by both groups - possibly written down on 3x5 cards or the like.
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Aldarron » Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:52 am

It's too big a topic to answer easily. Havard does a great job of pointing out a few things, but what one defines as "cut out" is going to vary depending on who you ask. A lot of what Arneson did got changed in some ways but is still basically in D&D so that makes it hard to nail down.

Player v. Player isn't really cut from D&D. Players can still do that, and in early Blackmoor some games were like that and others were not - just depended on who wanted to do what.

I guess I could point to two other things that Arneson did that didn't make it into D&D. The first would be the spell system, which was primarily alchemically based and divided into 4 levels of spells.
The second would be the use of Protection Points to stock dungeons through a point assignment system rather than by using tables.
You can find a lot of these sorts of things in the First Fantasy Campaign booklet if you dig for them, but it isn't always easy to suss out the rule Arneson is using for the results he gets. (my blog is full of such sussing)
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by finarvyn » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:31 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:34 am
Chainmail had books that came with each new set of minis. I'm just learning that each new book moved the focus of the conflict to a new area of the Sundered Empire.
Are you thinking of the original goldenrod or silver Chainmail rules (Guidon Games, later TSR), or are you thinking of the "Chainmail Miniatures Game" with the 3E-style logo? Any of Arneson's campaigns of that era would have used the Guidon Games version.

I've never seen the newer one, but from looking at the description it doesn't sound like the two are that similar. :|
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Re: What elements of Dave Arneson's games got cut from D&D?

Post by Havard » Sun Nov 10, 2019 6:15 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:34 am
I knew that Blackmoor evolved from wargames. Did Dave Arneson actually run Braunstein games, before he created his own game? Or was it just that some of his players had done Braunstein games with player-vs-player action? :?
Blackmoor was originally described to Dave's players as a "Medieval Braunstein". Note that the core of Braunstein isn't player vs. player. Player vs. player was how all games were run, including Braunstein. The core of Braunstein was roleplaying.
I didn't realise that the players actually decided to drop the idea of playing the bad guys. That's an interesting part of the evolution. Do you think that this was a moment where the players bought into the nations and the NPCs and decided they wanted to be the good guys, because they started caring about "helping" the Blackmoor world?
I think that would have occurred earlier. The "good guys" side was already dominated by the regular players, while "Bad guys" were left to casual players or newcomers anyway. But deciding to drop Player vs. Player was what lead to the creation of the Dungeon Master concept, even if that term was coined later.
I know people simplyfy D&D as "Kill monsters and take their stuff", but that's something that evil PCs could do just as easily as good players. So the decision to "choose good over evil" *especially* in the context of a gaming culture where all factions were equally valid, means that something else was going on there.
Oh, I think there was still tons of kill monsters and take their stuff going on in these games. The fact that they were all called "the good guys" did not mean they were all goodie two-shoes type characters.

Are Dave's rules for hobbies in the Judges Guild book or is this something that was already abandoned by then? Have you spoken to any of his players about how the rules worked?
There is lots of information about that around the web. But I think the most important thing is that in Dave's campaign, the rules were constantly evolving. He would get feedback from his players and change things that didnt work or add things when they wanted to expand the concept of the game. They were constantly experimenting with the game and apparently having tons of fun doing that. They were breaking new ground every day.

But the most revolutionary things about Blackmoor was not the actual game mechanics, but the fundamental concepts that took the game from being a wargame into being what we today consider a modern day Tabletop Roleplaying Game.


Perhaps, if Blackmoor had been given a more active product line by TSR, Dave Arneson could have written a "Blackmoor Annual" for every year, to throw in new campaign arcs (with advennture modules for the year expanding on the individual threats of each year.
Maybe. But that sounds more like a 1990s TSR Metaplot thing. I think Dave would have preferred new groups to create their own stories set in Blackmoor.

Hmm. One of the things I have struggled with, with D&D, is the Edition Treadmill and the need to unlearn rules and learn slightly different rules (like the order that racial adjustments and racial maximums work in 1e and 2e).

I think I would have struggled if I was in a Blackmoor game where rules were being rewritten and unwritten a lot.

Or are you talking more of an approach similar to that used by World of Warcraft, where you don't actually see all the rules, when you create a 1st level character, and the rules get revealed to you, as you level up?
One of the things that motivated Dave early on was that he wanted to get away from the wargaming rules lawyers and the guys who just argued about what would realisitically happen if that type of unit fought that unit with such and such weapons.

So when he started Blackmoor, he was the only one who knew the rules. Dave's approach was always "Just tell me what you are trying to do and roll the dice and I will tell you what happens" (paraphrased).

This was probably why he chose a fantasy world as well. In such a universe, Dave was the only one who knew what could possibly happen.

That way the players could forget about everything else and just enjoy the game as it played out. It was about having fun and removing the things that had distracted from that in earlier games. Obviously, not everyone enjoyed it, but those who did stuck around and had the time of their lives. As did Gary Gygax, when Dave demonstrated the game to him in 1972.

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