The History of Dungeons and Dragons

In 1974 Gary Gygax published Dungeons & Dragons. Now in 2021, we sit here with the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. What happened in between? Let me tell you…

In 1973 Gary Gygax and Don Kaye (Gary’s childhood friend) founded TSR Inc. to publish the fantasy RPG Dungeons and Dragons, a game that Gary and Dave Arneson (who Gary met in 1969) had co-created. TSR’s budget was only 2,000 dollars, and so they only printed 1,000 copies of D&D. 

In D&D, each player creates a character to roleplay as. These characters explore the worlds that the Dungeon Masters (DMs) control while giving the characters freedom to do what they want. The DMs also roleplay the non-player characters (NPCs) in the world. Throughout the adventure, characters will earn “experience points” to level up and become more powerful.

Back in 1974, there were only three classes (magic-users, clerics, and fighting-men). Now, there are thirteen classes (Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard). There were also only four races (human, dwarf, elf, hobbit), whereas now there are over 40.

In 1977, TSR released Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), which catered toward more experienced players and people who like more organized and complex gameplay. AD&D also added the assassin, bard, druid, illusionist, monk, paladin, ranger, and thief as new playable classes.

 Two decades later, after the release of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition, TSR found itself in bankruptcy. The company then was bought by Wizards of the Coast (WotC), which had recently become popular off of their collectable card game Magic: The Gathering. In 2000, Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition was released.

The 3rd edition of D&D made many significant changes, including the introduction of the d20 system, which allowed most of the game to be played with only a single 20-sided die. The sorcerer was added as a new playable class, and the thief was renamed the rogue. Then in 2003, Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5 was published. This version only made minor changes players wanted, so it wasn’t considered a completely new edition.

After that, Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition was released in 2008. This added the warlock and warlord as new playable classes.

Finally, in 2014 Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, which is the current edition, was released. So far, over 30 books have been released for D&D 5th edition, with more on the way. As I mentioned earlier, there are 13 classes and over 40 playable races in 5th edition D&D.

Did you know there’s a Dungeons & Dragons club here at City? It’s true! We meet in room 225 (Mr. Ramthun’s art room) on Wednesdays from 2:45-4:00. Players of all experiences and ages can join! 


Editor at The City Voice

Hello, my name is Luke Fann. I love to read and write myself into a fantastical realm, but I love all genres. Of course, such a task requires assistance from my parents and older brother. I've feasted on alligators and tamed beasts like alpacas (my favorite animal), but none of that compares to my greatest weapon: a pencil. I am an editor here for the City Voice, and this is my second year writing for it.

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