It was brought to my attention this morning that yesterday was an important day in D&D history, since Dave Arneson (according to his club zine) scheduled the first Blackmoor game, described as a “medieval Braunstein”, on 17 April 1971. With that in mind, I hope that this digression from miniatures for a bit of personal D&D history is of some interest.
As I have mentioned before, I was a wargamer with both miniatures and board games before D&D was published, though a young one without too many opponents available to me. There is a long-running Original D&D discussion forum of which I have been a member for some time, and there is often a lively discussion about how we managed to play the game back in the day, given that the rules (at the beginning) were somewhat in the nature of some broad open-ended suggestions.
Here’s what D&D Book III, The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures, has to say about setting up your campaign:
The so-called Wilderness really consists of unexplored land, cities and castles, not to mention the area immediately surrounding the castle (ruined or otherwise) which housed the dungeons. The referee must do several things in order to conduct wil-derness adventure games. First, he must have a ground level map of his dungeons, a map of the terrain immediately surrounding this, and finally a map of the town or village closest to the dungeons (where adventurers will be most likely to base themselves).