DM Blog 9: Mazes & Monsters


A couple of blogs back I wrote a bit about ‘satanic panic’ and how it spread to Dungeons & Dragons, and how I was a teen all through it. I saw this week that one of its early relics is still talked about today because it was Tom Hanks’ first starring role in a movie. Although it comes before suspicion of the game was fully thrown in with SATAN.

Mazes and Monsters was a made for TV movie that came out in 1982. Satanic Panic peaked from 1989-90 and the demons/devils free 2nd edition of D&D came out in ’89 too. 1982 was when D&D had completed its transition from niche interest to internationally published phenomenon. The film is based on a real life disappearance, and eventual suicide, case of James Dallas Egbert III where a private investigator later decided that D&D may have have an effect. The PI wrote a book about it called The Dungeon Master. The movie posits that D&D has a dangerous negative effect on vulnerable young minds. Unlike, you know, the opposite.

You can find the whole movie on Youtube here.


Our campaign takes place in our own game world, Kalni. I wrote it and we develop it through the play. You can find maps and info in the about tabs of the site here. But most people don’t have the time to do that and D&D’s publishers have produced pre-written worlds for us to set adventures in. There used to be a lot.

Wizards of the Coast inherited a few worlds when they bought the game from TSR. They chose the Forgotten Realms setting and exclusively set all their products there. It makes sense, the setting was very popular through the success of several spin-off novels set there, like the work of R. A. Salvatore. It includes the city of Waterdeep and the Underdark.

In the TSR days, AD&D was mainly set in the world of Greyhawk. I owned that boxed set, the map was awesome, the books would need a whole blog series to unpack. The sister set ‘Basic’ Dungeons & Dragons came with the setting of Mystara … which was on the inside of a hollow planet whose core was a red sun … and whose past was the world of Blackmoor. This was the Hollow World setting. There were also specific worlds for special products, the most famous being Dragonlance and the world of Krynn. It was written as a series of ‘modules’ – pre-written adventures – then became a trilogy of novels … and then became over a hundred novels. Over a hundred novels. Somewhere in the middle they published maps and guidebooks for setting adventures within that world. An example of the novels coming first is the Lankhmar setting.

That scratches the surface so go ahead and dive in. Or try to develop your own, and be prepared to disappear from regular social life for a while … oh shit, they were right about this game.

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