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.