Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Partying like it's 1976!

The year is 1976, and Dungeons &...er... 'Swords & Wizardry' has just been released. Now comes an entry into the realms of myth and adventure!

I've been thinking a lot about my next campaign, and my initial idea is to go back, a long way back, right to the dawn of the hobby. Which essentially means drawing a line in June 1976 and shouting, “None shall pass”. What is special about that month? The publication of the last issue of the Strategic Review. I'm using Swords & Wizardry simply because I want to go right back to the beginning in one handy rulebook...and will be using the 'Core Rules' rather than 'White Box' edition, effectively to simulate Supplement 1.

So my personal canon is:
Swords & Wizardry, Core Rules (Standing in for Supplement 1)
The seven issues of the Strategic Review
A few issues of Liaisons Dangereuses
Dungeoneer, Issues 1- 6 (I would only use the first three issues from 1976, but the only version I have is the Judges Guild re-release, and no-one is selling Dungeoneer pdfs.)

What sparked this off was reading a rediscovered Gygax piece about creating a campaign, written back in 1975 – and I intend to follow it to the letter. So there will be a megadungeon where the bulk of the adventuring takes place, a home base town/city for the PCs, and a wilderness map upon which they are placed. I'll be talking about the article over the next few posts, but you can read it here.

If anyone has any other thoughts for material I should use based on this 1976 and back idea – any fanzines, etc – please let me know! Any material I can add will be of interest...


  1. The City-State of the Invincible Overlord was the first published fantasy role-playing game city setting, designed for use with Dungeons & Dragons, and officially approved for use with Dungeons & Dragons from 1978 through 1983. Published by Judges Guild and the City-State of the Invincible Overlord was first released at Gen Con IX in 1976.

    So, it almost fits into your 1976 criteria...


  2. Wasn't it just the map that appeared at Gen Con IX? I think Bledsaw literally sold them out of the back of his car. Either way there was already a pretty good amount of stuff available by '76 if you're going on a fishing expedition. Here's my tally:




    4000 AD (sci-fi wargame)


    Alien Space (sci-fi ship-to-ship wargame)
    Sniper! (wargame)
    Triplanetary (sci-fi ship-to-ship wargame)


    Dungeons & Dragons
    Warriors of Mars (Barsoomian minis game, proto-RPG)
    Bio One (generic combat add-on)
    StarForce (sci-fi wargame)


    Boot Hill
    The Complete Warlock (appearing in issue #9 of Spartan magazine)
    Empire of the Petal Throne
    En Garde
    Tunnels & Trolls
    Greyhawk (D&D Supplement I)
    Blackmoor (D&D Supplement II)
    Strategic Review issues 1-5
    Invasion America (sci-fi wargame)
    Dungeon! (boardgame)
    Sorcerer (fantasy wargame)
    White Bear & Red Moon (Glorantha wargame)
    Nomad Gods (Glorantha wargame)


    Bunnies & Burrows
    Knights of the Round Table
    Metamorphosis Alpha
    Monsters! Monsters!
    Eldritch Wizardry (D&D Supplement III)
    Gods, Demi-Gods, & Heroes (D&D Supplement IV)
    Swords & Spells (minis rules for D&D)
    Strategic Review, issues 6 & 7
    Dragon, issues 1-4 (starting in June)
    Dungeon Geomorphs Set 1 (D&D)
    Palace of the Vampire Queen (D&D adventure)
    City State of the Invincible Overlord (D&D setting)
    Manual of Aurania (generic fantasy)
    Dungeon Tac Cards (D&D playaid)
    Star Command (sci-fi ship-to-ship wargame)
    The Book of Demons (generic fantasy)
    The Book of Monsters (generic fantasy)
    Buffalo Castle (T&T adventure)
    Dungeon of the Bear, Level 1 (T&T adventure)
    Bio One (2nd edition, generic combat add-on)

  3. Lot of stuff there...I'm making the end of 'Strategic Review' my cut off point, so the Dragon is still in 'the future'. (I'm adding the Liaisons Dangereuses from September 'cause I want the Pyromancers!) That makes it June 1976...

    The Manual of Aurania interests me...as does the fact that Noble Knight has some fairly cheap copies of it. (But they are 2nd Edition, presumably later - but never mind, still worth a peek!)

  4. Do you have the link to the Campaign Design Piece by Gygax, I couldn't find it in the above post. Thanks.

  5. Just this night, I stumbled upon a blog post of yours. It mentioned an article by Mr. Gygax on campaign design, in 1975. I began role playing with D&D in the Autumn of 1976, at the tender age of 14. I, too, am inordinately fond of Swords & Wizardry. I have a gaming blog, located at http://ramblingsfrombeyondthepale.blogspot.com/ I would dearly love to read the article you mentioned. Your plan to cut off available material at June 1976 is completely awesome. If I can find a like-minded group I will run with the same idea, but cut off around September, to simulate my entry into the hobby. I'll even limit music during the game to that vintage, as well.

    Anyway, I hope this finds you well and in good cheer.