Friday, June 5, 2020

The Gygax 75 Challenge

Given my recent focus on practical examples on how to home-brew things for D&D, I would remiss if I didn't mention The Gygax 75 Challenge by Ray Otus. It is a short work (36 pages including the article by Gary Gygax that inspired this work) but does claim to help the reader to "Create an RPG setting in five weeks!"

Since I've been in the mood to record practical examples and since I've been inspired by my own exploration of Human Monster Stats in B/X, I thought I would document my own experience doing the Gygax 75 Challenge here.

Week 1 of this Challenge includes the following Tasks:
  1. Get/Create a Notebook
  2. Develop Your Pitch
  3. Gather Your Sources of Inspiration
  4. (Extra Credit) Assemble a Mood Board
For the first Task, my "Notebook" will be this blog. I will record all of this process here.

The Pitch is supposed to be 3 to 7 bullet points to "sell" the campaign to potential players. Working in the background of all of this is an assumption that you are using a specific ruleset, since that will affect every step of this process.

As implied by my post yesterday, this campaign will be built upon the chassis of Moldvay’s Basic D&D. Here are my bullet points:

  • Science Fantasy: Lasers! Plasma Swords! Magic! Explore ancient alien civilizations! Chart and claim new territories on the Colony Planet Vurush in the name of the burgeoning Terran Empire!
  • Demi-humans are Race-as-Class, but are also all functionally multi-class: Dwarves are Fighter/Thieves, Elves are Fighter/Magic-users, Gnomes are Magic-user/Thieves, and Halflings are Cleric/Thieves.
  • The universal struggle is between Light & Heat (Life) vs. Dark & Cold (Death). The Terran Empire is the current champion of Light & Heat.
  • Divine Magic represents Life Magic. Arcane Magic represents Death Magic.
  • Low Magic: Human Civilization is only capable of casting up to 2nd level spells.
  • Dinosaurs: The edge of Civilization has a Lost World atmosphere.
For the third Task, the bibliography should also include a sentence or two about what each item brings to the campaign setting. Here is mine:

  • Martian Chronicles by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I want this campaign to feel like the Mars Burroughs portrays: old civilizations, multiple native species, and I love white apes.
  • The Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett. This is the source for the universal conflict as being between Heat and Cold. It also depicts the way I want Turning to look and feel like. Lycanthropes, barbarians, and berserkers are all represented here.
  • Star Wars novelization by Alan Dean Foster. I want magic to work similarly to the Force: it is an energy that can be used for Light or Dark. Light Sabres are the prototype for the Plasma Sword and I want them to be able to block laser shots. Plus, I love the open possibilities of Star Wars before the Extended Universe and all the other movies.
  • The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle. Give me dinosaurs, neanderthals, and saber tooth tigers!
  • Fire and Ice (1983 Film). Subhumans, dragonhawk riders, more barbarians and (again) the conflict between Heat & Cold.
  • Thundarr the Barbarian (1980-81 TV Series). The sunsword is another way to portray the Plasma Sword. Although the ancient civilization is our earth, there is this notion that there was a catastrophe that destroyed it. Plus, powerful wizards are most often depicted as the villains.
Finally, there is the suggestion that you put together a Mood Board — a collage of images that give you and your players a feel for what your campaign looks like. Normally, I wouldn't do this. I am a fan of letting players create their own version of what I am trying to describe to them; however, I also know showing pictures to players is a long standing practice in the hobby and I use it myself when words fail me. So,  here is what I came up with:

Click to Embiggen


Bill Cameron said...

What's that quote from "Futurama"? "Stop talking and take my money!!!"

jbeltman said...

Can demihuman PCs cast higher than 2nd level spells?

FrDave said...

All PCs will be allowed to cast higher than 2nd level spells, as long as they go outside of Human Civilization. That bullet point is more about the world and the NPCs in it that about any mechanical limitations on PCs.