A List Revisited…

Just over a year ago I wrote a random list of things for a D&D world.  It was a list of items to use as inspiration for a world designed for discovery through play.  While I’m not one for retrospectives I thought I’d revisit it with thoughts, additions, and subtractions.

I have comments or changes for some originals:

  • An 80 page spiral notebook: You’re much better off with a loose leaf with tabs.
  • Ten random pre-80s comic books: This very much came from the Ken St. Andre quote “my conception of the T&T world was based on The Lord of The Rings as it would have been done by Marvel Comics in 1974 with Conan, Elric, the Gray Mouser and a host of badguys thrown in” combined with some of the reading I’d been doing at the time: Jack Kirby’s Demon and Marvel’s Weirdworld and Planet of the Apes comics.  These days I’d cut it down to three issues, maybe five.  Also, each issue needs to be from a different series.
  • A Horseclans or similar 80s pulp fantasy novel. I pretty much stand by this one.  I think a list of novels that are representative might be a good idea to post at some point.  Although, see below for an alternative.
  • One old school rules set from D&D (up to 2e), T&T, the retro-clones, and EPT….the shorter the better. Another one I’d stand by except I’d expand the list to include pre-AH Runequest, Elfquest, and The Palladium Fantasy RPG (any edition).  I’m also not as focused on length, if you want a big volume with lots of spells and stuff, go for it.
  • One each of pre-100 The Dragon, Knockspell/Fight On! I’d expand the list to include The Rifter as well as the many old school fanzines beyond our two semi-pro zines.  Pick four or five issues but no more than one from a title with less than fifty issues and no more than three from one with more than that.

All of the rest of the original list I stand by without addition or comment:

  • A list of languages
  • A list of names, male and female, for two cultures.
  • Two levels of a mega-dungeon
  • Three unique monsters
  • A villain one step ahead of the characters
  • A rival party of adventurers (unless I knew I’d have two groups)
  • A legend of ancient Rutas or treasure that references forgotten Rutas
  • A brief history of the current age 8751 words in length (give or take)

I would like to add a few more items:

  • One non-vanilla supplement, something like a Palladium Rifts book or even some of their fantasy line, an Adurin book, The Wyrmship Technical Manual, or even a copy of Oriental Adventures.
  • A book of myths and legends that is either broad in sources (like the various Fairy Books compiled by Lang) or, if uni-cultural, does not focus on Greek, Roman, Celtic, or Nordic myths.
  • A fantasy fiction anthology.  In fact a pair of anthologies are better than one anthology and one novel in my opinion.  However, make sure they have different settings or themes.  If both are setting centric that’s a great source for your name lists.
  • One movie or 2-4 episodes of a TV show (2 if it’s an hour show, up to 4 if it’s a half hour show).  Being able to “show, not tell” always helps explain the world to your players.
The main idea with lists like these is to get you:
  • A limited palette.  The more you study creativity the more you realize how limitations drive creativity. When it’s 4d6 arrange as you want (or worse yet, point buy) you get the guy who is always Drizzt, the guy who is always Aragorn, always Conan, and so on.  3d6 in order means you have to stretch to be what the dice give you.  This works in creating worlds as well as adventurers.
  • Focus.  If you can add anything on your shelf at anytime it gets hard to focus and just build things.
  • More non-gaming material.  One of the trends I think the OSR has risen against is gaming inspired by gaming.  The original list had one gaming on it.  The updated one has two.  You build a better game, IMNSHO, if most of your inspiration when away from the table isn’t gaming focused.

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