You play Conan, I play Gandalf. We team up to fight Dracula.
Last time I tried to translate it somehow but this weekend I had an insight that lead me to want to take it literally: Gandalf doesn’t have to mean Lord of the Rings. It can just mean The Hobbit. If you limit the influence of the Gandalf source to just that book you can have a VERY different setting. With that revelation I think you could actually build a setting where Gandalf and Conan are actual NPCs or will be at some point.
Using Jeff’s old alchemical formula to limit my fluff sources I would use:
- The Hobbit
- Conan stories are harder because the logical choice for one book would be one of the current volumes from Del Ray. The problem is they include fragments, critical commentary, and worst of all the essay The Hyborian Age. However, Project Gutenberg Australia comes to the rescue. Howard’s stories have fallen into the public domain down under and are all available. Because we’re supposed to have one book’s worth let’s create our own volume, Conan: The First Year, containing stories published from December 1932 to November 1933. That gives us the first six stories.
- Finally, we want something that isn’t obviously a fantasy book. We still need Dracula. For that I look into D&D‘s history and grab Hammer Films’s Horror of Dracula. After all, Peter Cushing’s van Helsing is the origin of the cleric. An interesting alternative would be the first volume of Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula (using one of the Essential or Omnibus editions).
Given I’m stealing Jeff’s ideas left and right I should probably grab one in the gripping hand as well. Taking the idea he suggested based on Oriental Adventures and that Matt showed can be done in Pars Fortuna. Use the classic rules of D&D but not the races, classes, spells, and monsters. While I wouldn’t reject all spells, monsters, or magic items certainly new classes would go a long way towards changing the nature of the game. If we use non-AD&D TSR D&D as our base race is class as well.
Off the top of my head (I haven’t read The Hobbit this millennium) I’d having the following classes (with the iconic character they represent):
- Hobbit burglar – Bilbo
- Barbarian – Conan
- Wizard – Gandalf (Wizard, not magic-user…much more closely aligned to the specific character)
- Dwarf – Thorin Oakenshield and his band
- Bowman – Bard the Bowman although you might generalize this to weapon master.
- Vampire Hunter – van Helsing
- Wood Elf – The Wood Elf King (Elf fighters with woodland abilities)
- Sage Elf – Elrond (Elves with magical abilities more related to healing and helping to match the idea of the Last Homely House)