International Original Dungeons & Dragons month 2019 post 2

Greetings, I nearly forgot to write this week’s post in celebration of International Original Dungeons & Dragons month. In this weeks post I wanted to discuss the topic of why I’ll only ever run my fantasy games with OD&D. The short answer is I prefer rules-lite systems but that would be boring; the fact is I have yet to find a fantasy system that can run games I prefer to play that do it better than OD&D.

I checked out the Dragon Age TTRPG this last week from the library and though it is beautiful to look at but much of it outside of the setting info, adventures and mass combat rules is uneeded. Like 3.5 D&D, Pathfinder, Rolemaster, HARP and other more modern fantasy RPG systems the rules present character builds as a way to diversify characters and presenting an illusion of options for combat that are far more limiting.

Even the relatively rules-light Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert D&D are too codified for me. I like the openness of OD&D, the fact I can modify the core system to fit the needs of a campaign works for me. I’ve read too many blog and forum posts where some grognards get all pissy if you call OD&D a toolbox, they reply, “No, it is a perfectly capable stand alone game that can be played by-the-book and doesn’t need any house-rules”. In general that is true, you can play it by the book just fine; but that said you will house rule some things or use supplements to fill holes simply because the rules leave some things blank for the referee to fill; such as stats for Martian/Barsoonian creatures which are not in the books.

Gary & Dave never intended to give you everything you need out of the box – you were meant to tinker with things from the beginning. Whether it was choosing to use the “default” Chainmail rules or the “alternate combat” rules in the books and creating stats for monsters given a brief mention in the books but left without stats. The supplements just gave you options Gary and crew thought you might find neat to add to your game.

I like that I am encouraged by the rules to just make shit up and have fun. If I want to add a skill system to the game I can, it can be as simple or as complex as I desire it to be. But at the end of the day I like that I only need the combat matrix and saving throw charts to run a very enjoyable and satisfying game. I prefer a game where I can challenge my player’s creativity and role-playing ability instead of their character sheet.  I want a game where my players can try anything without having to scour through multiple sheets of character abilities and stats to figure out if something is possible or not.

In my next post I’ll give some examples of some of the shit I can make up that in more modern games “need” rules instead of rulings to pull off. So until next week take care and game on!



Lets celebrate Original Edition Dungeons & Dragons Month 2019

Greetings, it’s been awhile since I last posted to this blog; this will be the first of several interrelated posts in celebration of Original Edition Dungeons & Dragons month. I am late comer to OD&D as I was truly introduced to it via my primary forum where I moderate at – Ruins of Murkhill. That said I had been introduced to a retro-clone of OD&D and its supplements via the 3rd printing of Sword & Wizardry Complete late in 2017 just before my old face-to-face gaming group imploded. But I didn’t get introduced to OD&D proper until about March of 2018 around a month after I joined Ruins. I have to thank posts by a number of the older members & now former member Rob Kuntz, which inspired me to check out OD&D.

Though I am willing to play in a variety of other RPGS, I’ll only run OD&D, its clone Delving Deeper or Classic Traveller. I had considered running Moldvay & Cook’s Basic and Expert Dungeon & Dragons for awhile but after reading through my version I came to the realization that – why? I have OD&D and Delving Deeper, which is all I need to run my games.

It took me several months to finally come to the point and break the rusty chains that restrained my gaming mentality as both as a player and referee. In the past I thought I needed rules for everything & a robust skill system but I realized that I do not have the desire or ability to memorize hundreds if not thousands of pages of rules to just run a game. I don’t have instant recall, so the rules-lite toolbox of OD&D or Delving Deeper is perfect for me; plus I love DIY philosophy of Old School Role Play of the mid to late 70s that has been largely lost by modern D&D.

I come from the Metal & Punk scenes of the 80s where DIY was still largely a big part of the underground music based subcultures. So the Old School DIY gaming philosophy appeals to me on a deep level. I can tweak OD&D to fit the needs of the campaign I am running at a given time; where as more modern editions of D&D means you need to cut out chunks of interconnected subsystems and strip nearly everything that makes that edition what it is. So I have to ask why? To me the answer is very easy – there is zero need to use those editions when I got the perfect toolbox for my campaigns with OD&D.

In my following posts I’ll discuss aspects of OD&D that make up the whole but can be used either by-the-book, tweaked or dumped if so desired without changing the default role-playing philosophy and mentality that was integral to the original Role Play & War-gaming scenes. Well I’ll end this post here so I can publish it, Fin.

Another Update

Greetings, I just deleted several posts – I hit a wall again creatively. There are a few causes, 1) personal issues (I am attempting to work them out), 2) my misplaced desire to create a default setting based upon the assumptions in the OD&D 3LBBs & 3) my desire to get back to what I really want my ‘World of Skârn’ campaign setting to be.

One of the biggest issues I have is I often let a specific rule-set become the an undo influence upon the creation of my settings. That said, I have no problem with the ‘World of Skârn’ embodying OD&D tropes, but trying to make ‘Skârn’ into a By-the-Book expression of OD&D was the wrong choice to make.

Another big issue is the fact I got rid of the gonzo fun elements that made ‘Skârn’ special to me in the first place, once it evolved beyond its proto-Skârn incarnation. I tried to fuse ‘Traditional” D&D elements and real world cultural influences into it, thus making it a inconsistent and incoherent mess. In the end I made ‘Skârn’ into something that frustrated me to run and I began to repeat that mistake with my previous attempt at a revision.

I am a eclectic person with a number of interests and influences, I love things like ‘Sword & Sorcery’, ‘Traditional’ D&D based fantasy, Steampunk, Arcanepunk and Science Fantasy of varying kinds. The problem is not all these influences can fuse together into a internally consistent manner.

Right now this blog’s focus will be on the ‘World of Skârn’ setting and discussing OD&D or its clones in general. I’ll eventually post about my OD&D Gamma World setting, but that being said my ‘World of Skârn’ setting will be taking center stage creatively for now.

Concerning the ‘World of Skârn’ and its development I am going to revert to more of a mixed top down and ground up development paradigm. This will focus on the overall setting theme and overview, then move to a more organic ground up development on the various regions. I’ve chosen to move to this mixed development style as I need to have a framework to guide my development, something that will tie together the setting in a unified way.

The ground up regional development might work for some people but my brain doesn’t work that way. I am always thinking about how this piece works with that piece . What led to this event? How did this culture develop? Why did humans dominate the world when non-human races and monsters are so widespread and many have magic or natural abilities that most humanity cannot best. These are the things I think about as I develop my settings and while trying to develop my 4th incarnation of ‘Skârn’ via a bottom up method I kept being tempted to answer questions I swore I would even ask.

Will I try to develop every little detail? No, as there needs to be room to grow and explore with my players. But I do need to know some core things about the overall setting to give me a foundation to build from. So I need to answer only those questions I need to answer to create that foundation but nothing more except what will be needed for the core region in which my players will begin in.

My core influences on the ‘World of Skârn’ are Jack Vance’s Dying Earth Saga, Joe Madureira’s Battle Chasers, various science fantasy based anime that I enjoy and the Talislanta setting. I will also be mining my ‘World of Xôðûn’ setting and take many of the original elements that had been part of the ‘World of Skârn’ initially as well as anything I think my fit the 5th incarnation of the ‘World of Skârn’.

Well I’ll end this update so I can publish it and head out for the day. Please take care and I’ll see you soon, Fin.

Musings about ‘The Big Brown Book’ by Justen Brown

Greeting, I know it’s been quite awhile but life comes at you and you must deal with it – you understand, right? I found out about The Big Brown Book by Justen Brown via a search of OSR games. But the linked PDF was a weird combo of two exact copies of the same file. So I went and tried to find out more about TBBB and found this site. It has an rtf file that you can convert to a proper PDF to use.

The Big Brown Book for those not in the know is an emulation of a combined OD&D and Chainmail rules as the author envisioned it being. As with most clones it uses the d20 OGL and makes slight changes to the source material as to not infringe upon copyrights. Justen chose to use a mechanic based solely on the use of d6’s instead of the default d6 & d20 based mechanic if you used the source material straight by the book.

This seems to be for ease of use and to avoid potential legal action once published, which is understandable. The d6 based mechanic is easy to pick up in general, though the d66 Saving Throw mechanic was confusing at first and should’ve had a bit more clarification. Justen created the d66 mechanic to emulate the math of a d20 roll used in saving throws. That said, in an appendix there are Alternate d20 based optional rules for both combat & saving throws but tweaked for legal reasons.

The layout & rules themselves are well done, making things far easier to find and understand than in OD&D and Chainmail; which is a plus. Lets face it OD&D’s layout and readability is one of its biggest criticisms, in fact a fan of the rules combined and edited OD&D into a better organized single volume version back earlier this decade. With TBBB the only issue I have with its layout & presentation is it is unfinished.  There is zero art but there seems to be room set aside for art & there are no covers. I had to create my own just so it looked like a proper manual.

Justen completed TBBB in 2011, so the likelihood of him finishing it & publishing it are likely null. Justen is the mind behind the 2e AD&D retro-clone ‘For Gold & Glory’ in which he actually did complete it. I can only assume there was no interest in his TBBB and his passion for his first RPG and a greater audience for it is the reason ‘For Gold & Glory’ was finished and published; while TBBB was not.

I’d love for Justen to resurrect the TBBB project, make a few clarifications & fix a few typos, get some art and actually publish it or allow someone else do so with his blessing and guidance. The Big Brown Book really deserves to be finished and published if only as a free PDF.

Here is a brief breakdown of the TBBB so you understand what you’ll be getting in it. First the book has a table of contents & it is well written for ease of use. Next you have a one page forward and a two page description of the core mechanic and terminology used in the TBBB. Chapter 1: Of Men & Magic covers character creation and rules for both magic and NPCs. Chapter 2: Adventures Above & Below, covers XP, movement and various rules for exploration and other hazards not related directly to combat. Chapter 3: Monsters & Treasures is just that monster & treasure rules focusing on encounters and treasure placement in a dungeon. The first three chapters emulate the first three OD&D books in their overall content with a few omissions.

In Chapter 4: Small Scale Combat, you get the man-to-man combat omitted from Chapter 2 if it was a true copy of that book, but it incorporates Chainmail combat elements that are implied in both OD&D. Chapter 5: Mass Combat, is a distillation of Chainmail’s core systems with tweaks for legality and greater ease of use and clarity.

Next up is the first of the appendices, Appendix 1: Spells; which begins with complete Spell listings for Magic-Users & Clerics. This is then followed by the actual spells that have their own flavor so not to be ripped straight out of OD&D. In Appendix 2: Monsters, you start with the actual encounter charts alluded to in the Monsters & Treasure chapter, which is then followed by the actual monster descriptions.

Appendix 3: Treasure begins with random treasure tables common to most Fantasy RPGs out on the market; which is then followed by sections on the various types of treasure found. The descriptions are brief and the associated rules are concise & easy to understand. Appendix 4: Optional Rules covers just that, optional rules for everything, from alternate combat rules I mentioned before, to added options for Mass Combat, Gary Gygax’s House rules, the Mythic Underground, weather, researching magic & spell concentration. Lastly, you have Appendix 5: The afterword & FAQ. This discusses Justen’s design philosophy for this project and even hinted at a second non-existent (to my knowledge) ‘The Big White Book’ that would’ve included demons and other not mentioned topics.

I hope that this might goad you into checking out The Big Brown Book if only to read a very interesting take on a fusion of OD&D & Chainmail. I plan to run this game eventually; especially in campaigns I know that I want to incorporate mass combat with (Greyhawk maybe?). Well I got things to do, so I’ll let you go for now. Fin.

Musing about Inspiration and Oe D&D

Greetings, it has been awhile – thanks to some personal drama shaking up my life I haven’t felt the urge to post or do anything creative. Though I’ll eventually post about my World of Xôðûn again on this blog, I wanted to post something in the mean time. Over the last several years I’ve spent a lot of time working on various campaign settings of which both Worlds of Xôðûn &  Skârn are the most recent (though  Skârn has the longest history of development actual in game use). Like a lot of creative people my interest in a projects lasts only as long as my passion for it burns.

This personal drama effected my passion in a major way – I still want to develop both  Skârn & Xôðûn, I just cannot do so at the moment. If I push myself to do so I’ll just burn out on the projects fully. So I am taking a break from both so I can reorder my creativity and get the passion for these settings rekindled.

To help in this I wanted to explore things that I brought up in my last post – inspiration. In a post at Ruins of Murkhill (found  here the 11th post by Ebon Hearted Soul – me) I discussed how Metal music made a huge impact initially on the World of Skârn. But like everything in this blog this post with need to tie it into Original Edition D&D.

As anyone with a decent grasp of D&D history Gary included Appendix N in his AD&D DM’s Guide, which lists Gary (and potentially Arneson’s) influences. Even in 5e there was a version of this list – though it might have been expanded upon (I no longer own 5e so i cannot check for sure). We can make an educated assumption that those influences impacted Oe D&D by default.

Let’s be honest I’ve read a mere fraction of the books listed in Appendix N, though some have become inspirations (such as H.P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber, R.E. Howard & Michael Moorcock) – most of my inspirations are not found on that list. In my last post & the forum post I linked to above my inspirations draw mostly from art (be it fantasy or sci-fi art or comics) or Metal music.

I’ve had other influences on my creativity – such as from other Campaign Settings I’ve owned, like: Eberron, Iron Kingdoms & Talislanta; to video games, like: Fable, Dragon’s Dogma and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Outside Metal music the initial inspiration for Skârn was both Skyrim & Talislanta, with a bit of Eberron tossed in. You take the more alien races/cultures from Talislanta and the whole ‘Orcs are not default evil’ trope, as seen in both Skyrim & Eberron – had made a huge impact on my design on Skârn.

I’ll not touch on the influences concerning World of Xôðûn as I covered that in detail in my last post; but I do want to touch on common tropes drawn from my inspirations and how they impact my designs. Where as both Worlds of Skârn & Xôðûn are currently on development hiatus, it doesn’t mean I am not being creative – the Multiverse of Akar is a vast & diverse campaign universe; so I am still cooking up potential worlds for my future players to explore.

I wanted to get away from developing whole worlds for awhile and focus on a small local region or regions, that might evolve into a larger world or be fused into either Skârn or Xôðûn at some later date. I have three seeds for campaigns that I hope that will eventually sprout & grow into something lasting.

In my development of campaign worlds I often start with something that inspires my creativity – from a song to a piece of art or a comic to video game I played or I seen screen shots of. What then follows is I usually pick a name from a listing in ‘Gary Gygax’s Extraordinary Book of Names’ by Malcom Bowers. The said name has to fit the evolving picture in my mind of the seed of an idea for the setting and evoke it when I read ans speak it – sort of an occult exercise.

I have three ideas that might grow into whole new settings of their own or may become part of either Skârn or Xôðûn – only time will tell. The first is ‘Ruins of Dorgand’ – a nod to the ‘Ruins of Murkhill’ forums; it is inspired by images from a computer adventure game called ‘Darkest Dungeon’. I’ve never played it but would like to do so eventually, but I love the art for it and the dark premise it puts forth. Here is some examples of the art that is inspiring this idea:

Darkest dungeon01 DarkestDungeon02

darkest dungeon 03

The art is clearly inspired by Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame) and the Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft – two of my biggest inspirations, so yeah I’ll love Darkest Dungeon for sure. That said, I do not want the ‘Ruins of Dorgand’ be a mere generic fantasy clone of it. Luckily for me, I won’t be playing ‘Darkest Dungeon’ for a while – so I’ll be keeping it from being too large an influence.

One of the other seeds of an idea is based around the art team used on the Swedish RPG called Trudvang Chronicles by RiotMinds. Since I’ve flirted over the last decade or so with Heathenry, I’ve always been drawn to games or settings that draw from Nordic , Anglo-Saxon or Celtic mythology. The art of both Paul Bonner & Justin Sweet is epic. Another influence upon this germ of an setting Viking and Folk Metal (Amon Amarth, Primordial, Otyg among others); plus the Anglo-Saxon Dictionary I own. Here are some examples of art by Paul Bonner & Justin Sweet:

Justin Sweet Trudvang Art

Justin Sweet Trudvang art – I loved it so much I used part of it as my Blog Icon.

Paul Bonner Trudvang art

Paul Bonner Trudvang art – I so love his Trolls; they will be inspiration for mine.

This campaign seed is currently being called Wælfāgland – the blood-stained land. It will be a very primal based setting rooted in Anglo-Saxon language. The main campaign area is a Troll and Spirit haunted land where numerous battles have been fought; a place where local tribes settle disputes in an attempt to lay dominion over it, laying claim the lost Elfin relics and magic of the fallen Ælfgeard – the land of Elves (in this region at least).

Lastly, is the least likely to see the light of day but is an intriguing notion that I decided to play with anyway. Like the ‘Ruins of Dorgand’ I decided to use ‘Ruins of’ in honor of the ‘Ruins of Murkhill’ forums which I am a member & have grown to love – it is called ‘Ruins of Grimhold’. This setting is inspired by the art of Ralph Bakshi’s ‘Wizards’ care of Mike Ploog, the art of Vaughn Bodē, early Bill Willingham and Barry Blair’s art. This setting will be a bit more campy & gonzo because of these influences, yet not the same way the World of Xôðûn is gonzo – minus the campiness. Here is some art that is inspiring it:

Ralph Bakshi Wizard art Wizards Film art01

Mike Ploog’s art for the Wizards film.

bode08   Vaughn Bode - Centaur Poster  Vaughn Bode AmazonsVaughn Bodē art.

Jim Roslof D&D Bill wilingham

Bill Willingham D&D art.

Elflord Covers

Covers of Barry Blair’s Elflord comics that I loved growing up. 

As I said above I am not sure where this seed will go but I’ll have fun exploring the possibilities for it. That all said and to wrap up this long ass post, I did say I wanted to tie this all to Original Edition D&D. No matter the influences I draw from, be it music, art or comics, each of these mini-regional projects all have the same thing in common, the desire to use Oe D&D as they framework to build these campaigns upon.

The common Oe D&D tropes of Wilderness & Dungeon Exploration and quick and brutal combat that are hallmarks of the game will be the touchstones that these campaigns will develop from. One thing overlooked that should be reinstated is unlike a lot of OSR retro-clones who derive from Oe D&D who either omit the following or simply overlooked it –

” Other Character Types:

There is no reason that players cannot be allowed to
play as virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up to
the top, i.e., a player wishing to be a Dragon would have to begin as, let us say,
a “young” one and progress upwards in the usual manner, steps being predetermined
by the campaign referee.

From Dungeons & Dragons Book One: Men & Magic.

The above will inform all three of the campaign setting if they reach fruition and join with Worlds of Xôðûn &  Skârn as part of the Multiverse of Akar. Though players being Dragons, Giants or Demons would be a stretch in my worlds, the concept is still valid as their are numerous options that players will be able to choose from. The idea that Oe D&D lacked options is patently false, they just were not included in the core books; it was up to the Referee to come up with rulings for them if needed and if they fit the setting. If you can dream of it & sell it to your Referee you should be able to make it work.

Well I’ll end this post & publish it so that I can go do other things today – like watch my ill nephew. I’ll post more soon, fin.


The World of Xôðûn: The Introduction

Greetings, today I’ll be introducing you to my new campaign setting for my future Original Edition Adventures: The World of Xôðûn (pr. Zō•thūn or Zoh-Thoon). It will be part of my ‘Multiverse of Akar’ series of campaigns, which will also include my old (slightly revised) ‘World of Skârn’ and potentially my  Sword & Sorcery setting the ‘World of Mu’. What follow is a modified version of my initial post at the ‘Ruins of Murkhill’ found here.

I’ll be posting more in depth setting info there, while I’ll be posting various development oriented progress reports, as well as snippets of the world with commentary on them here. But I’ll get to the setting intro plus I’ll post some art to illustrate what some of my inspiration is art-wise.

The World of Xôðûn is my new setting that is inspired by my new found love of Original Edition of Dungeons & Dragons (OeD&D/OD&D). It’ll take elements from my old ‘World of Skârn’ setting that I used for my Rolemaster United play-test campaign. There are certain elements that never came into play & they really don’t fit into the ‘more vanilla flavored’ setting that ‘Skârn’ evolved into. I decided to take those more fantastic elements out of ‘Skârn’ & add them to ‘Xôðûn’ instead, so they can be important again and not just be forgotten window dressing that they had became.

Red Monika010

Red Monika of Battle Chasers: Night War by Joe Madureira

I’ve been reading about Dave Hargrave’s Arduin & it struck a cord with me, though I am not sure that I want to run his system in total, I might include some of the elements from it in my OD&D campaigns. The core reason I doubt I’ll ever run it is that it is a bit too crunchy for me; but that said it did plant a few seeds that helped give birth to inspiration from which ‘Xôðûn’ bloomed.


The classic Arduin Grimiore Trilogy by David Hargrave [image from DMDavid Blog]

I’ve always been a fan of mixing science fiction with my fantasy, which might explain my love manga, anime, European comics & RIFTS. It has also fed my growing interest in Blackmoor & even the Gamma World setting. I pull inspiration from these sources, as well as the fantastic art of Vaughn Bodē, Frank Frazetta, Russ Nicholson, Dave Trampier, Jim Roslof, Simon Bisley, the comics Battle Chasers & the films ‘Fire & Ice’ and ‘Wizard’ by Ralph Bakshi. Toss in music like Metal, Punk & Hip Hop and you get an eclectic cauldron frothing with potent inspiration.

bode08Frazetta art01Russ Nicholson art

Art by Vaughn Bodē.                        Art by Frank Frazetta.           Art by Russ Nicholson.

Though the above inspire me creatively, that doesn’t mean those influences will bleed through in total, just certain elements gleaned from them. Be it a vibe from one to flying sky sharks (Battle Chasers & the Seven Deadly Sins) to cyborgs, robots and or androids (Anduin, Blackmoor & Made in Abyss); sky islands and flying airships.

Dave Trampier incineration-3aJim Roslof D&D

Art by Dave Trampier.              Art by Jim Roslof from Basic Dungeons & Dragons.

If I ever publish this setting with House-Rules for OD&D at some future date, I know it won’t have anime/manga style art in it – I’d rather have art inspired by European sci-fi comic art or if I would even consider a cartoon-y style it would be more in the Bakshi & Bodē style. I am a very visual guy so I tend to see things in pictures than in prose. I want the ‘World of Xôðûn’ to have that gonzo feel that disappeared from Skârn as I continued to develop it. Skârn will be part of the growing Multiverse I’ll be developing for my campaigns – of which Xôðûn will be the core of as I move forward for my future campaigns.

Simon Bisley artRalph Bakshi Fire & Ice

Art by Simon Bisley.                               Frame from Fire & Ice by Bakshi & Frazetta.

Ralph Bakshi Wizard art

Background frame from Wizard by Ralph Bakshi.

Well I hope this post shines a bit of insight into what inspires the World of Xôðûn. As soon as I decided to take the more fantastic elements out of the ‘World of Skârn’ and incorporate them into the World of Xôðûn – my creative engines have been on fire. I finally feel excited about digging deep & writing up a fantasy setting and do some preliminary art to help be better visualize it, so I can get it onto paper & on screen.

In my next post about the World of Xôðûn I’ll post some inspirational images that helped me figure out what I wanted for this setting & ultimately will inform my future maps for it. Beyond that I’ll post about some of the inhuman races who dwell in  the World of Xôðûn with basic stats for them. See you then, fin.

Original Edition Role Playing Appreciation Day + Dieselpunk OD&D Style


Greetings, I wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to Dave Arneson & Gary Gygax (may their spirits rest in peace) – thank you both for creating this game that gave birth to a vast & wonderful hobby that I love. Though I never played Original Edition D&D until recently, it has become my preferred Role Playing Game to run. Though I can use it by-the-book and enjoy it immensely but I love how easily I can tweak it to fit the style of campaign I want to run.


Though some OD&D fans hate it when someone says it is a “Toolbox”; but it is. That said you should run it By-the-Book first and frankly I’ll likely do it when I want to run a grim & gritty campaign. With Original Edition D&D you are given a frame work to build upon in the 3LBBs & can take elements from the various OD&D supplements or house rules to tweak the core to become something you want for a specific style of campaign. Sure you can do that with other editions (especially the old TSR editions), but things become increasingly harder with the WotC editions as you have more subsystems baked into them to deal with to do so, where as that is not the case in OD&D.


In my last post I gave an example how you can use OD&D to run a Cyberpunk game within the common tropes baked into it. I plan to eventually run such a game once I figure out the house rules needed to tweak it to do so & find a new group to do interested in this kind of campaign. In this post I’ll give you another style of campaign that interests me that I’d love to run via OD&D – Dieselpunk.


Like in my Cyberpunk post I’ll discuss how you can run a Dieselpunk campaign based on the common tropes of OD&D: Dungeoneering, Wilderness Exploration, and Domain Play, though Magic, Races & Monsters won’t play much of role in a ‘straight’ dieselpunk campaign; but can in one that mixes supernatural elements such as in Mummy & similar pulpy films.


  • Dungeoneering: Unlike in cyberpunk, dungeoneering is actually fairly easy to do, especially if you use films like Indiana Jones as an inspiration. Delving into lost tombs is a common trope, as would be sneaking into guarded lair of some villain and either defeating them or stealing something of great import from them.


  • Wilderness Exploring:  Is likewise easy in Dieselpunk, searching out lost tombs within a tropical jungle or vast desert is a common trope. If you add more sci-fi elements you can even have them visit the Moon or Mars and explore them.


  • Classes & Races: This is one of the difficult parts of OD&D to convert to a Dieselpunk campaign, as the Magic-User, Cleric, Elf, Dwarf & Halfling are not applicable unless you are including supernatural aspects to the campaign – the same goes for monsters, outside the human’s mentioned in the lists. Adding a Thief class is advisable as they can fill the role of a Tomb Raider type character. It’d be easy to house-rule other iconic roles into classes to fill the holes left by the above classes and races.


  • Magic: Again, like the above – unless you are running a Dieselpunk campaign with supernatural or fantasy elements, magic will not play a role.


  • Domain Play: Is another OD&D trope hard to implement unless you choose to run businesses or criminal or even secret political organizations at higher level. But this can be interesting & fun style of play, especially if you can mesh it with high level adventures. You can play espionage based campaigns as well at this level emulating a Dieselpunk version of James Bond.


  • Combat: This like the Class trope above will take work, as you need rules for more modern weaponry & transportation. An easy fix is stealing from WWII Operation White Box by Pete Spahn, you can get the PDf  here from DriveThruRPG. I am using it as inspiration for my 1940s based Dieselpunk Post-Apocalyptic supernatural campaign; which will allow me to use all the traditional OD&D tropes. But you need not buy the above if you are willing to house rule what you need.


Lastly with Dieselpunk you can do the straight pulpy adventure games to sci-fi heavy games with Cyber-Nazis, Robots & even alien invaders or supernatural campaigns populated with Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster & other classic monsters of Gothic literature & the classic films based upon them or their remakes (I love the pre-Tom Cruise Mummy films).


As I’ve said above you can do this with other editions of D&D, hell you can easily do this with other rules but I like how using Original Edition D&D creates a wonderful and simple framework to build any campaign I want to run. With OD&D I don’t need (for ease) D20 Modern, Future & Apocalypse to run my OD&D powered Post-Apocalyptic, Supernatural/Fantasy fused Dieselpunk gonzo campaign. Though I do suggest Pete Spahn’s WWII White Box game you don’t need it – just use your imagination & home-brew the mechanics you need.


Well I’ll end this post by thanking the people within the OSR community that have lit the fire of love for Original edition D&D within me. If it wasn’t for Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy RPG and Swords & Sorcery, I’d never have been inspired to look into OD&D, and thus fall for it. Sure I like B/X D&D, but OD&D is my preferred flavor of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ll play in other editions of D&D, but I’ll only run OD&D, B/X D&D or a few other rules-light games, but OD&D will be my game of choice. Let’s celebrate Original Edition Appreciation Day every May 5th, with plenty of OD&D games, blog & Vlog-posts from now on; which is what I’ll be doing from now on. Original Edition Adventures forever! Fin.


Malîk-Rešef Tenebrous