J.R.R. Tolkien: The real Father of D&D?Posted: May 23, 2011
Poor Gary Gygax probably went to his grave regretting ever having stuck proprietary words like “Hobbit” and “Ent” into early editions of Dungeons & Dragons. The legal headaches from The Tolkien Estate were probably bad enough, but he probably had to endure more than one clueless bore reciting Theoden’s family history or Chapter 5 of The Simarillion at him from memory during all those conventions. And Gygax often said he didn’t even LIKE Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings.”
So I was surprised and somewhat delighted to learn from one of the blogs I read, “Vinatge Wargaming,” that Tolkien and his friend C.S. Lewis apparently played wargames for a period of time in 1939.
The references are somewhat oblique, but the two authors/academics were joined in at least one of these games by an army officer named Peter Young. From Vintage Wargaming:
For different reasons all three men sought an escape from their personal experiences of war. It seems that they evolved a complicated fantasy medieval world, where they fought at irregular intervals a mixture of a role playing and wargame campaign, punctuated and inspired by alcoholic intake at the Eagle and Child. Each man ruled an independent kingdom with castles, peasants and armies. Their name for this game was “Donjons and Flagons”, and it was fought using the patriotically incorrect (for the time) Elastolin composition Ritterfiguren (knights) bought by Lewis and Tolkien from Boswells in Broad Street. The embarrassing source of these figures from Germany may have been one of the reasons for the very sketchy detail that has existed to date about this game.
“Donjons and Flagons?” Seriously? My jaw hit the floor. Then I noticed the date of the post: April 01, 2010. I was totally suckered. Well played, Vintage Wargamer… well played…