chapter  3
8 Pages

Precursors

WithJon Peterson

This chapter explores the precursors and parallels to the role-playing game phenomenon of the mid-1970s. Dungeons & Dragons most directly emerged from the intersection of two key precursors: a wargaming tradition of conflict simulation games and a genre of immersive fantastic literature. But long before Dungeons & Dragons, the core participants in Coventry became innovators in the development of collaborative stories, both in writing and through improvisational performance. Dungeons & Dragons instantiated these diverse elements in a way that was nothing short of transformative. Role-playing games created a novel and extraordinary connection between players and characters that made fans see both parallel and prior activities in a new light. The creative forces unleashed by the wargaming community invented crucial components of role-playing games. Some wargames put players in the position of assuming the role of an individual character rather than administering a military force.