System Design Journal #1

System Design: My AD&D Project

System Design Journal Book One

As I mentioned in my last post (The Path Forward), I have decided to embark on some design exercises all with the idea of using the results in my next campaign. They will probably be used with a group of kids from the neighborhood and my, now 4 year-old, daughter. So I’ve got a little time to get this work done. The idea is to rewrite a lot of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition game. I’m not doing this because it isn’t a great game, but because I want to reorganize the information and add a ton of options. I’m also taking this route because doing this exercise I will be, in essence, memorizing the rules again. I should come out on the other end being able to run a game without need to consult rulebooks.

I also want to create my own private Lulu projects for the rule books, because I am a super huge geek. I’ll be able to print copies for my daughter and the neighborhood kids to use at the table. And depending on what kind of disposable hobby income I have to throw at the project I may even commission some new art for the books. I’ve got years to trickle some hobby money at this, and make it something special.

I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. I’m working on a set method of building Classes (now called Occupations) that will make them all balanced around the Experience tables. The core occupations will be the most basic; they will also be the quickest advancing. Sub-occupations will be more specialized, have potentially more power, and advance more slowly. Finally sub-occupation variants will be even more specialized, and potentially slower advancing still. Most of the framework of occupation building is done. I may begin sharing new occupations as they are built out.

I am also beginning work on a framework for building Races (now called Species). They will be balanced around statistic adjustments in that all six statistic adjustments will zero out. A +1 somewhere will be balanced out by a -1 elsewhere. In addition species powers and abilities will be balanced through the use of level limits for occupations and/or experience point penalties (I am as yet undecided on this point).

I’m planning on adding a lot more occupations, species, spells, monsters and magic items. Many will be from other editions of the game, as well as many of my own design. All will be converted to a 1st Edition format.

The Multiverse: Options in the Design

The Multiverse

While I am most decidedly a stubbornly outspoken proponent of the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, I am also as strongly opinionated that more options are needed in a game that proposes, in its scope, to encompass all dimensions and planes of existence. To be clear, I do not endorse using all of the options I will develop in a single milieu, or setting. There will simply be so many sentient species that their existence on a single world would strain credulity and science (to the extent that it applies to a magical milieu). However, in a campaign that encompasses many other worlds beyond the starting point of the Player Characters, continuously running into the same half dozen or so sentient species also strains credulity. Even if the other existences are simply shades of the same Earth, variety still adds strangeness and mystery to familiar if subtly altered realms.

In addition to new Species and Occupations, a myriad of new Spells, and Magic Items will help keep the Players’ Characters from feeling too alike over time. New and varied Monsters will likewise add to the strangeness of new realms.

That What is Not

What this project is not is an attempt to create and sell yet another retro-clone of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. Apart from the bits shared via this blog, the whole is not likely to be seen outside of the few who game with me in person over the coming years. However, I do hope that this project generates discussion here. Whether your opinion of this is favorable, or opposed please feel free to comment here. It has been through a lot of social interaction with the OSR Community over the course of several years that I find myself that this point, and I value input of all types.

Anchorite Character
Up Next…

Next in this series I will look at the Character Occupation concepts, as well as a more in-depth look at the philosophy and framework behind the designs. Included will be the origins of some of the more unusual concepts and perhaps an example build of a familiar Core Occupation in comparison to the original AD&D Core Class.

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