We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

New DnD history book is big enough to kill a Kobold

Here’s what’s inside Wizards of the Coast’s new DnD history book, which covers the creation and early drafts of Dungeons and Dragons.

Cover of the DnD history book, Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons

The new DnD history book is a whopping 576 pages long, and Wizards of the Coast gave us an early look at its contents in a May 15 press event. ‘The Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons’ includes rare historical documents that show D&D’s early influences, first draft, and debut publications. “If it were up to me, this book would be twice as long”, says author and D&D historian Jon Peterson.

The DnD book is split into four color-coded sections, each with a ribbon to help you keep track. “There are a lot of books that tell people how D&D is made, but we wanted to show you instead”, explains senior designer Jason Tondro. “You get to see the game being made in front of your eyes.”

Page 571 of DnD history book, The Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons

‘Part 1: Precursors’ explores the miniature wargames that led to the creation of Dungeons and Dragons. “A real focus of my work is showing that D&D didn’t happen in a vacuum”, says Peterson. The book takes a deep dive into the wargaming scene where D&D’s co-creators, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, were working on different tabletop projects.

Tondro calls Arneson’s Medieval rules for the Braunstein wargame “a fascinating and forgotten element of D&D”. “What made it unusual was that players were assigned characters”, he says. “The players could try anything, and the referee would have to think up a ‘what happens next’ consequence.”

At a similar time, Gygax was working on the rules for a medieval miniatures wargame called Chainmail. “What made it unusual was this 16-page addendum at the end which showed you how to use your medieval miniatures to replicate wargames from fantasy”, Tondro adds. “This is where a lot of terms that are still in D&D to this day first appear.”

Page 77 of DnD history book, the Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons

Arneson would begin working on Blackmoor campaign setting, which took elements from Braunstein and Chainmail. The Making of D&D shows how Gygax and Arneson began to correspond and collaborate, eventually using Blackmoor to test concepts that would make it into the first draft of Dungeons and Dragons. “It was all done so casually, with no thought that it could evolve into something like the RPG industry that followed”, says Peterson.

‘Part 2: The 1973 Draft of Dungeons and Dragons’ shows how Greyhawk, the original DnD setting, came to be. Originally, this was “a fictional world that Gary used for the setting of his wargames”, Tondro explains.

Page 429 of DnD history book, The Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons

After that, the entire first draft of Dungeons and Dragons is presented. “It’s a 96-page document”, Peterson says, adding “it’s not terribly well-organized”. Despite this, he says “it’s really great to get this out there and have Wizards reveal it to the world.”

Gygax and Arneson worked together to develop these rules, but they weren’t the only ones drafting D&D. Part 2 continues by exploring the feedback and notes made on the game’s early drafts.

“Dave [Arneson]’s wargaming club completely retyped it, started to circulate it around, and made comments on it”, Tondro says. “Some of these notes got back to Gary and got integrated into D&D, and others did not, so we have variant versions floating around. We take the opportunity in this book to show you some of these variant rules.”

Page 193 of DnD history book, The Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons

Tondro says that the second half of the book covers the original D&D publication, as well as “everything that came after the Brown Box”. This includes the early days of TSR, D&D’s original publisher, and how they planned to “make a whole new version of the game”. The book apparently ends with AD&D “on the horizon”, ready to take us into the next generation of the tabletop RPG.

“One of the things I came to appreciate is how differently we play the game now compared to when it was created” Tondro adds. “Gary [Gygax] is telling new DMs, ‘your players will start out working together – it won’t last.’” “Never split the party – that whole concept is foreign to how D&D was played in 1974”, he adds.

YouTube Thumbnail

“Nobody thought this was an idea that was going to set the world on fire”, Peterson says. “They never imagined where this could go.”

The Making of Original Dungeons and Dragons hits retail on June 18, with a price of $99.99. For more upcoming books, check out the rest of the year’s DnD release schedule. Or, to get playing, here’s all you need to know about DnD classes and DnD races.