D&P - Gygax '75

Gygax ’75

I decided to take a shot at Gygax ’75! I wrote about monthly and ongoing challenges a couple weeks back and I felt like I could take a shot at this one because it’s broken up into weekly installments. Since there’s no rule requiring it to be strictly sequential weeks, I figure I can manage this at some point in bits and pieces. Plus, I drew a fancy doodle for this while testing out various brushes awhile back and it’d be a shame to let that go to waste.

Imagine not using this for something.

For the uninitiated, Gygax ’75 is a guided workbook by Ray Otus that helps the prospective DM (or thought experiment dork) develop a D&D campaign setting from scratch based on his thinking on the subject just a year after the release of the original D&D box set in 1974.

First printing “brown box” D&D from 1974, via Worthpoint, scraped from an extinct eBay listing.

The process is broken up into five week-long chunks in which time the participant will create a setting skeleton, a more definite surrounding area (where “surrounding” is in reference to the dungeon, which was the centerpiece of campaigns in 1974), the first few levels of the dungeon, a nearby town to serve as a base of operations, and some plot threads and secrets to tie this – and the future of the campaign – all together. All of this is derived from an article Gary Gygax authored in Europa, a wargaming zine produced for the European community in the early days of role-playing games.

The first week is the broad strokes Concept. The second week gives you the Surrounding Area. The third is the Dungeon itself, or at least the first bit of the dungeon. The fourth week is the Town. The fifth and final week is the World Abroad.

Following these guidelines should hopefully create something of a T1 The Village of Hommlet/T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil sort of situation. As an aside, a fascinating series of articles, Cave of the Dice Chucker’s comparative dungeonology, posits some fascinating things about the AD&D DMG sample dungeon and the T1/T1-4 modules; I highly recommend reading them from the very start.

The reasons for my interest and my goals are pretty easily summed up:

  • I do pretty well when given a direction to focus my energies, especially if the schedule is relaxed.
  • I find the older dungeon-centric campaigns charming and fruitful, and sort of nostalgic and cozy.
  • I thought it’d be neat to have a reason to make something like this.
  • I will have an excuse to make a silly PDF or something like that to give away.

While I originally planned to do this on a purely digital format, I may actually take a stab at doing it in a regular analog notebook with an actual pen for the charm of doing it all the way Gary might have done, as prescribed by Ray Otus’ Gygax ’75 workbook.

So, the next time you see the wizard banner from the top of this post, it’ll be to head up the first part of my Gygax ’75 campaign setting document! Until then, if you need me, I can be found over on Twitter and Instagram – feel free to drop by and shriek at passing cars with me!

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