Making of D&D Book Features Cut Content from The Lord of the Rings Game

The new book delves into the origins of Dungeons & Dragons and its ties to The Lord of the Rings. It also discusses a legal dispute that resulted in the removal and alteration of certain content.

While D&D is considered the original tabletop RPG, it takes inspiration from a variety of literary works such as Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

The strong connection between Middle-earth and LOTR was reflected in the earliest versions of D&D, with concepts from the books being incorporated into the game. In homebrew campaigns, players were able to encounter Hobbits, Ents, the Nazgul, and even the powerful Balrog.

Regrettably, this was brought to an end due to legal action. Co-creator of D&D, Gary Gygax, addressed this matter on EN World, as TSR (the original publisher of D&D) was sued by the Tolkien Estate. This led to the removal of elements from The Lord of the Rings in their products.

The concepts of The Lord of the Rings were altered and given new names, such as Hobbits being referred to as Halflings, Balrog as Balor, and Ents as Treants. The idea of undead shadow warriors was applied to various creatures.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the game, a new book titled The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons has been released. It delves into the Middle-earth influence on D&D and showcases the original design documents written by its creators. Within these documents, readers can discover the initial depictions of iconic creatures such as the Balrog and the Nazgul.

Balrog in Dungeons & Dragons
Wizards of the Coast

The D&D version of the Balrog also answered whether it has wings or not.

The original D&D design docs feature a mix of elements that would become integral to the game, including Middle-earth content, creatures from Greek mythology, and monsters from various cultures such as Djinni, Mummies, and Dragons.

Despite facing legal issues, D&D and The Lord of the Rings franchises have joined forces in recent years. This includes official 5E conversions, which emphasize the contrasting elements of magic between the two. In fact, a Magic: The Gathering Middle-earth set is set to be released in 2023.

It is truly captivating to come across well-known creatures from The Lord of the Rings in ancient texts, especially when considering the legal complications that arose later on. The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons openly acknowledges the game’s influences and includes the Nazgul as one of the adversaries that early D&D players faced in combat.

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