whodo Here's content from the email I sent to Stu:
"The 1d6 per 10' rule was declared by many to be totally inaccurate and somehow injurious to the moral fibre of mankind. Frank Mentzer started the entire fracas in The Dragon #70 (Feb 1983, page 13) with the claim that Gygax had always intended falling damage to be cumulative: 1d6 for the 1st 10', then add 2d6 for the 2nd 10', then add 3d6 for the 3rd 10', and so on. This yields 1d6 damage for a 10' fall, 6d6 for a 30' fall, 15d6 for a 50' fall, and 21d6 damage for a 60' fall. By issue #88 (Aug 1984, pp 12-19), there were multi-page rebuttals replete with oodles of physics calculations, culminating in one article with the “simplified” equation #d6 to be rolled = 5 times the square root of the distance fallen (in feet), divided by 4, + the remainder as a rolled fraction of a d6. Then up to three sequential saving throws were applied (per page 81 of the 1e DMG) with DEX modifiers to possibly reduce the total damage to a 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 of the result. This system had the unfortunate consequence of a 3d6+1-5 damage roll for a 10' fall if you weren't wearing magic armour or were somehow bound hand & foot. And so it continued for a while; the battle was realism vs. expedience, and neither side truly won. Had any of the proposed 'improved' systems been adopted, then falling down the stairs in AD&D (or jumping off a cliff) would have been much more deadly."
In Frank's words (from the article):
"Gary has always used a geometrically increasing system for falling damage in AD&D games;
the trouble arose because that system simply never made it into the rule books. When the AD&D Players Handbook was being assembled, a brief section on falling damage was included: a mere 7½ lines that offers more advice on broken bones and sprains than on falling damage. As we now understand the event, the section was not included in the first draft, and the editors requested a brief insert on this frequently referred-to topic. So Gary hastily wrote a sentence describing damage as “1d6 per 10’ for each 10’ fallen.” Someone removed the “per 10’” as being (so it was thought) redundant, and off we went. That section was later quoted in passing in the Aerial Adventures section of the Dungeon Masters Guide, thereby becoming further entrenched in our game procedures."
More followed with a discussion of a 20d6 maximum for a "revised" system, but Frank seemed to prefer the maximum applied after the saving throws are made.