Monday, November 11, 2013

My New Basic D&D Setting

Have any of you read The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones?  I did years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is an encyclopedic list of fantasy tropes (read as cliches) written in a mock serious style that actually cuts the genre to the bone in a good way.  Here is an example:

Why do I bring this up?  Because my oldest son doesn't like playing in adventures I didn't create.  So I created a setting for Basic D&D for him to play in.  I can drop my own adventures into it (borrowing heavily from published adventures when my creativity fails.)  There is a problem though.  It is one giant cliche.  Did I say giant?  Pardon me for my imprecision.  It is one GINORMOUS cliche.  Seriously.  It hits many of the cliches mentioned in Tough Guide.

So, we have:

  • Fallen empire based on Ancient Rome.
  • Ruined cities, temples and forts.
  • Barbarian kingdoms founded by Northern (and Western) barbarians.
  • Rump empire consisting of the last remaining imperial city.
  • Invading Orcs (coming from the East.)  The humans call the area that the orcs have conquered "Orkland."  Original, huh?
  • Southern desert.
  • Elves, dwarves, halflings and other demi-humans.  (Actually, I do deviate from the cliches a bit here.  The playable races don't mingle much.  The halflings live in a secluded valley and are suspicious of outsiders.  The elves live in a deep forest and are suspicious of outsiders, etc. This is a concession to the boys.  I like human-centric settings but the boys want demi-humans.  In fact my youngest chose a halfling as his character.)

So, you get the idea.  Thing is I'm happy with this setting.  It's comfortable for me and the boys like the idea.  Now we just need to find time to actually play.

I'm working up a map for the campaign but I'm still trying to find the best way to get it out of my head.  When I do, I'll post it.


  1. I love that book. I got it a couple of years ago to check that the fantasy book I'm trying to write wasn't full of the same tropes and cliches that Wynne-Jones identifies.

    Cue hasty re-write. :)

  2. Fantastic. I'm in the process of world creation through player exploration. It's really quite organic and cuts down on preparation time. You only need to create what they discover!

  3. I love that book so much I have two copies! It's ace to flick through, pick three entries and turn whatever comes out into that evening's adventure. There's nothing wrong with cliches. They give your players a handle on the world so that they can recognise what is going on. Just make them our own and remember to make it fun. :D