10 Things Videogames Learned from D&D

Inventory and Items
Many an intrepid adventurer has risked life and limb in dungeons to collect swag and loot treasure chests. Inventory is not just for RPGs anymore: tried playing a Tiger Woods game lately? How many pairs of khakis does one golfer need? And how the hell do Special Pants improve a man’s Putt? D&D’s elegant Abilities system created a framework in which the use of magic items and armor could improve a character’s performance of feats within the game. The practice is commonly, if not logically, applied to the whole spectrum of videogames. So don your Bowling Shoes of +5% Pin Action and glide to sweet victory!

Variable Weapon Damage
In D&D, a dagger deals 1-4 damage, an arrow 1-6, and a scimitar 1-8. In most early videogames, every attack delivered the same amount of damage every time. Games like Galaga and Defender had little riffs on mono-damage (double ships, the smart bomb) but it was real Dark Ages stuff compared to how D&D players measured their destructive aptitudes. Thanks to Moore’s Law, computer games can now keep up with and even surpass the variable-generating prowess of men with bags of dice. Next time you scrounge a P90 off a corpse-littered battlefield, say a little prayer for Gary Gygax, for without him your sub-machine gun would be the equal of a mere pistol.    

Weapon Upgrades
Whether you’re looking for your Blades of Chaos to deal more damage or to stick an ACOG scope on your M-16, the upgrading of basic gear was introduced in - you guessed it - Dungeons & Dragons. One of the greatest lures of the magic-user class was the ability to take a normal broadsword and forge it into a +3 Broadsword of Turning Undead. The search for the proper components is that much more quest-fodder.

We at GamesRadar will miss Gary Gygax. We raise a tankard of mead to his memory and get on with our gaming, confident that his influences have touched us in a way that no other game designer ever has.

Mar 6, 2008

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  • FtMyersGamer - October 6, 2008 7:35 a.m.

    So true.. The systems he came up with will never die. I remember spending the better portion of my young adulthood spinning dice and moving little figurines around a tablecloth. Timeless stuff.
  • cultofbananas - October 1, 2008 2:29 a.m.

    One of the best articles I've ever read. Oustanding job.
  • blankpixelsCG - September 25, 2008 4:11 a.m.

    Awesome article. I'm surprised there aren't any comments. Great job, Joe.
  • MyGameName - October 9, 2008 2:05 a.m.

    I used to play d&d but now i play d20 modern. Very similar. Same rules but different skills (ride becomes drive, etc.)

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