Son Of Campaign Notes

1) I tend to divide the D&D people I know into two groups. On the one side, there are the people who are more influenced by material that was around before the advent of D&D (in, say, 1974) and, on the other side, there are the people who are more influenced by post-D&D material. The folks in the first group tend to be influenced by the same things that had a big impact on Gygax and Arneson themselves. These are the DMs who have already read the books in “Appendix N.” For them, it wasn’t a matter of being introduced to these ideas and tropes – it was about rediscovering all of them in the context of the game. Even though I was a kid in Junior High when I started playing, I had already been steeped in the “Appendix N” books before I had ever heard of D&D. D&D, for me, wasn’t about something new in that sense. It was more like coming home.

One of the pre-D&D people who I’ve talked about before is the underground fantasy artist Richard Corben. I loved his work when I was a kid. I recall that when I first saw his distinctive, rounded figures I was drawn to it like iron filings to a magnet. As I pictured some scenes from recent play in my mind – player characters escaping a castle by tearing through woods at night – Corben seemed to be illustrating the action in my mind’s eye.

Check out this classic cover. It’s terrific, isn’t it? If you want to know what the characters in my game – players and NPCs – look like, then imagine them drawn in this early ’70s style. It’s the Avalon Hill Outdoor Survival map, S&W:WB-OD&D, Ready Ref Sheets… and Corben.

Check out that evil wizard’s lair:

This is what a wizard’s citadel is going to look like, right?

An earlier issue in the same series even had this map:

C’mon people – how D&D is THAT? Any kid exposed to this is going to be perfectly prepped to play the original game. It’s like the early ’70s cultural zeitgeist was priming us for it, building via these moments to an inevitable point!

2) My current campaign’s city (“Hrodjack”) owes a little something to Arduin. The science fantasy elements are starting to bleed in and I am loving it. I will note, however, that – speaking of Ready Ref Sheets – after some experimentation with other random city encounter tables (the original set from Midkemia, Matt Finch’s, 1E, etc.), those tables in Ready Ref Sheets (originally compiled for The City State of the Invincible Overlord) remain the best. Seriously. Have you used them? They cannot be beaten. I’ve started using the wilderness encounter tables from Eldritch Wizardry, and – good as those are – these are even better. The array of consistent craziness and detail they create is just perfect. Try running a little of the “six degrees of separation” from Vornheim through the NPCs you collect with them too.

3) What about adding firearms rules for S&W:WB-OD&D? Look no further than here. Quick simple, and ready for your own tweaks and house rules.

3 responses to “Son Of Campaign Notes”

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