Day 15 of #RPGaDay2019: (Open)Door(s)


All but halfway through RPGaDay for 2019 and the word prompt is DOOR. A lot of potential in this one. I considered commenting on “gatekeeping” but as I’ve never witnessed it nor experienced it, it’s probably best to leave that one alone.

No, instead, I thought I’d briefly mention something from Editions Past. Namely: Open Doors.


1st Edition D&D was an interesting game with all sorts of odd rules that, on the surface, seemed counter-intuitive, but on deeper reflection, the product Gary Gygax delivered was a complex but ingenious simulation designed to heighten the gaming experience.

The Open Doors rule is a prime example of this.


Everything was designed to bring the dungeon to life, where even the simple act of opening a door could spell doom for a player. Let’s face it. Gygaxian Dungeons were designed to harry players and hasten their demise.

Konar the Fighter, with a Strength of 18/53 has a 1-4 chance to open an unlocked door without having to put his shoulder into it. If he rolls a 5-6, well, that sleeping owlbear on the other side of the door is probably going to wake up and thank him for the breakfast he’s delivered: Konar Over-easy.

Image result for original D&D art owlbear fight

It’s a beautiful concept, but one that has fallen out of favor in later editions, along with a host of other rules such as morale and loyalty.

Part of this was in D&D’s move toward stripping the uniqueness of character classes in favor of skill checks that gave everyone the chance to perform acts that used to be solely in the purview  of thieves and rangers.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. I enjoy the simplicity of 5th Edition, but for all its gains, there’s also something missing: that Gygaxian flavor that made first (and second) Edition such a joy.

— Bob Freeman

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