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Dungeons & Dragons Turns Forty-Five Years Old Today

January 30, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Dungeons and Dragons Forgotten Realms D&D

Dungeons and Dragons is generally considered to be the granddaddy of roleplaying games, and it just hit a birthday milestone. The iconic fantasy RPG turns forty-five years old on Wednesday, celebrating four and a half decades of goblin-killing, dungeon-raiding, causing moral panic and — of course — dragon rampages.

The exact date of Dungeons & Dragon’s birth is a matter of some debate, to be fair. As RPG historian Jon Peterson writes, the specific date isn’t something everyone agrees on. Some (including Peterson) argue that it is the last Sunday of January, with others pointing specifically to January 26th as it was the date of the final Sunday in 1974, when D&D was formulated. However, TSR’s copyright filing (which, admittedly, took place a couple of years after the fact) lists a date of January 30, 1974. That is the closest we have to an official date.

During that time, D&D has been through a lot. It morphed from its simplistic early days as a successor of wargaming as designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, into the more complex and narrative-friendly rules in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in 1977. It then survived the Satanic Panic era of the 1980s (not to mention some sketchy design elements in the 1980s — Thac0, anyone?) — to hit a new height in 2000 with Third Edition. Arguably, it is the current Fifth Edition that has become the highest point yet in terms of market penetration, sales, critical reception and fanbase, aided by streaming shows like Critical Role and Dice, Camera, Action.

On behalf of 411, happy birthday, D&D. May you have an eternity of dungeons left to be looted by murder-happy adventuring parties the world (or all of the worlds, I should say) over.

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Dungeons & Dragons, Jeremy Thomas