The Gygax ’75 challenge is a direct to RPG roots method of campaign creation, and I sincerely hope it is a wrecking ball to the stumbling blocks I’ve had over the last thirty odd years.
Rather than navel gazing at where I’ve failed in the past, and the reams of incomplete concepts – I think my best course of action is to just do this. I initially started this process a couple of months ago – only to be plagued by real life workload and computer failures – I will probably end up combining weeks one and two into a single week. Without further ado:
□ Get/create a notebook.
Over a year ago, I began putting together a vintage computer setup to just function as a TTRPG design system. I am a proponent of the ‘right to repair’ community, and have fairly strong opinions on what is and what is not necessary to accomplish routine tasks. I’m also a huge fan of the somewhat defunct map making program Dundjinni, which has run very poorly on newer operating systems.
For those interested, the computer is a dual 1.33ghz Apple
Mirror Drive Door FW800 model, running OS 10.5.8, with a 22” original Apple
Cinema monitor (or dual 17” Apple Studio Monitors, I keep switching). I have
upgraded this system with an SSD drive, and the CPU was originally intended for
the server model; the original
dual 867 motherboard was modified to run at the higher bus speed allowing the
upgrade. I did have a dual 2.0ghz G5, but I ran into some problems and this MDD
has been fairly solid since I tinkered it into existence. I hope to resurrect
or replace that model because performance was significantly better, whilst
still being the sort of retro-computer vibe I wanted to work on.
This is a matter of comfort, and practicality, for me – often designing can take hours, and the main computer in the house is shared by all of us. I can use this particular computer at any time I’m home, and it still allows relatively safe internet access with tweaked Firefox browser, TenFourFox – making it possible to craft media and upload it.
That’s the notebook. Next…
□ Develop your pitch.
- The Old World settled new shores, but retreated from governance when both natural and supernatural forces challenged their settlements. The dangers of oceanic travel are only compounded their lack of willingness for risk, and after decades of absentee landlord behavior – the ships stopped arriving, save those of refugees or exploring adventurers. Communication with the Old World is very difficult, to say the least.
- Those things that rational minds dismissed as folklore and superstition, remnants from previous cultural collective subconscious, reside in the wilds. This has created a bizarre tableau of Colonial American inspiration and independent city-states not seen since much earlier times.
- Atypical Early Modern Era Fantasy – blackpowder and dungeons, a rejection of vanilla humanoid races in D&D canon, demi-humans re-skinned with minimal changes to core rules. Real world inspiration, low fantasy fictional backdrop, completely different circumstances leading to different results. Embracing the aesthetics of Urban/Rural Fantasy and Folk Horror within a fictional milieu.
- Elves as outcasts from prior millennia – driven west at the cusp of recorded history and oral tradition, somewhat immortal and linked to an outside world forgotten by even themselves. Dwarves as elemental, chthonic, remnants of a prior age, largely extinct in the Old World. Halflings as various ‘animal folk’ and ‘nature spirits’. There were no human inhabitants of these new shores until colonists arrived. Elves only exist in the Old World in ancestry, and as humans and elves begin to communicate again, new relationships emerge – though this may be heresy to the Cathedrals of the Silver Goddess.
- Magic is dangerous, specific, and largely forgotten. There are provisions for modified early-D&D druidic magic as an offshoot of both clerical and Elven classes. There is a corollary to the religious tensions in the emerging real world Early Modern era that comes into perceptions of magic and blasphemy.
- The dungeon as mythic otherworld – built by ancient settlers, repositories of memory and lost influence over the natural world. Each culture that existed here before has left some sort of fortress against or within the savage supernatural wild, and many of these are haunted by their roots and subsequent failings. Some dungeons may bridge gaps between realms/planes and have inconsistent physics or logic.
□ Gather your sources of inspiration.