GameSpy Network Featured Sites
Dave Arneson Interview
GameSpy sits down with the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons and talks with him about the game.
By Allen Rausch | Aug. 19, 2004
While not as famous as Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson is the person who is arguably the one most responsible for the nuts and bolts basics of Dungeons & Dragons. Arneson met Gygax at the 1970 Gen Con, where the two bonded over a shared love of wargames and the fact that both were members of the International Federation of Wargamers. The two first collaborated on a naval wargame called Don't Give up the Ship that was published by Gygax's Guidon Games in 1971. It wasn't until the 1971 Gen Con, however, that the collaboration between them began that would ultimately culminate in Dungeons & Dragons.
At that show, Arneson had created a miniature scenario using a variant of Gygax's Chainmail rules that involved a commando team of soldiers sneaking into a castle to open a drawbridge. The scenario proved so popular that Arneson' gaming group began creating more like it, eventually turning a generic castle map into "Blackmoor," one of D&D;'s original campaign settings. It would be Arneson's Blackmoor campaign that first tossed out the "either/or" combat matrix of the original game, adding in innovations such as "hit points" to determine how wounded a character was and the idea of advancing levels and experience points to indicate growing power. He also moved the game away from set-piece battles and castles into underground spaces filled with monsters and treasures -- the first "dungeon crawls."
Arneson ended up walking away from D&D; and TSR when a dispute over creative credit for Dungeons & Dragons resulted in a falling out with Gygax and a nasty lawsuit that was amicably resolved in 1981. Since then, Arneson has led a varied career, stepping into and out of the gaming field, first with a revised series of Blackmoor modules he did for TSR in the mid-'80s, and lately with a new series of Blackmoor adventures he's publishing under the d20 Open Gaming System with his new company, Zeitgeist Games. Arneson is currently a full-time professor at Full Sail University in Florida teaching computer documentation.
GameSpy: How did you first get involved with wargaming?
Dave Arneson: My parents bought me a wargame by the Avalon Hill company called Gettysburg. I thought there were a lot of possibilities there and I liked it a lot. I even talked my friends into learning how to play it. There was only one game a year that came out from Avalon Hill, though, so we started to design our own games.GameSpy: Can you go into a little more detail about how "different objectives" became role-playing?
Arneson: We started setting different objectives for the players. It wasn't just about fighting; we started stealing things: bombs, guns, food supplies, that sort of thing. Players could negotiate with each other for who captured the goal, and then had to figure out how they were going to slip the products past a blockade and sell them on the black market. Things like that.
Next: Page 2 »
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6