dnd (video game)

This article is about dnd. For the Daniel Lawrence video game, see DND (video game).
Title page of version 8 of dnd (running on a PLATO emulator in 2006)
Developer(s) Gary Whisenhunt, Ray Wood
Platform(s) PLATO system
Release date(s) 1975
Genre(s) Role-playing video game

dnd is a role-playing video game. The name dnd is derived from the abbreviation "DND" (D&D) from the original tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, which was first released in 1974.

The dnd video game was written in the TUTOR programming language for the PLATO system by Gary Whisenhunt and Ray Wood at Southern Illinois University in 1974 and 1975.[1] Dirk Pellett of Iowa State University and Flint Pellett of the University of Illinois made substantial enhancements to the game from 1976 to 1985.

dnd is notable for being the first interactive game to feature what would later be referred to as bosses.[2][3]


dnd was the third known dungeon crawl game written for PLATO. The first such game, known as pedit5, was deleted just a few months after it was created. The second game, m199h, was created in a lesson unit (i.e., space on a fixed drive) reserved for foreign language instruction. It was similarly deleted as soon as the illicit program was discovered. dnd was the first PLATO lesson space created for the express purpose of being a dungeon game.


In dnd, players create a character and then venture into the multi-level Whisenwood Dungeon (a portmanteau of the authors' last names) in search of two ultimate treasures: the grail and the orb.[3] The game presents players with an overhead view of the dungeon, but also implements many basic concepts of Dungeons & Dragons. The Whisenwood dungeon consists of multiple maze-like levels, as players complete each level they are allowed to advance to the next, however players may return to previous levels and even leave the dungeon altogether making dnd one of the first video games to use non-linear progression. As players complete levels they acquire new spells, weapons, and items that aid them in their quest to find the ultimate treasures.

Teleporters moved characters between dungeon levels (especially the Excelsior Transporter, which first appeared in dnd on PLATO). High level monsters, including a Golden Dragon that guards the Orb, are found at the end of each dungeon. Leaving the dungeon allows one to recuperate and regain spells and return later.

Version history

Player about to win dnd: Character is shown in the maze, with both the Orb and Grail (as well as most other magic items and a charmed dragon).

Subsequent revisions of the game added more dungeons, such as The Caverns and The Tomb, with different creatures guarding different treasures (such as the Grim Reaper guarding The Fountain), and the player had to obtain both The Orb and The Grail to win. Also, many different types of miscellaneous treasures were added over the years, with their icons added to the game's original graphical display.

Later PLATO games, such as avatar, oubliette, baradur, moria, dndworld, bnd, and sorcery, were heavily influenced by dnd (and each other) while adding innovative features of their own, from 1976 to 1979.

The game proved enormously popular on PLATO and continues to be played to this day on the NovaNET system and Cyber1. Other dungeon games mentioned in this article can be played on the Cyber1 system (a restoration of a mid-1980s vintage PLATO system).

dnd version 5.4 and dnd 8 are both available on the Cyber1 system as of 10 December 2010. The games have been restored from tape and brought up to current TUTOR language standards by Dirk Pellett.


  1. Martell, Carey. "Interview with creators of dnd (PLATO)". www.Rpgfanatic.net. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  2. Gary Whisenhunt, Ray Wood, Dirk Pellett, and Flint Pellett's DND. The Armory. Retrieved on 2008-04-08.
  3. 1 2 dnd (The Game of Dungeons). Universal Videogame List. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.


External links

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