Almost exactly 10 years ago someone literally had to pay me to play Dungeons & Dragons. Whatever impression I had of the game before that, it was the wrong one. Within a week of playing Jim Darkmagic for the first time I was on the phone with Jerry asking what books I needed to buy in order to be a dungeon master.
I started my own home game shortly after and running that game every Monday for my friends was the most fun I’ve ever had playing games. I discovered pretty quick that while I loved D&D, what I really loved was messing with D&D. Specifically pulling themes and mechanics from video games and trying to fit them into a tabletop experience. One of my early games used Dungeon Tiles, tiny mirrors and a laser pointer to recreate a classic light puzzle from every adventure game you have ever played.
In another game I used a slideshow full of cards to simulate random drops from every enemy the group killed. With each death I progressed to the next random slide. It could be trash:
Or it could be something cool.
This particular game gave me a lot of the ideas I used for my game at PAX East this year.
Later in the campaign I wanted to try and simulate a massive open world game. I took a month and built out a huge map of a place I called the Estwild and populated it with encounters and adventures of all kinds. I then gave the party a blank hex map and let them go wherever they wanted.
This was another of my early games that inspired some of the mechanics in my Battle Royale adventure.
One of the last games we played took place on the Elemental Plane.
I designed a bunch of mechanics that let the party hop from orb to orb as they tumbled through the chaos.
Eventually all of this culminated in me wanting to design my own game from scratch for them to play. Rather than build on D&D I set out to make something entirely unique and that started out as a game called Card Warriorz and four years later became Thornwatch.
When Tycho let me DM the C Team I could not help but revert back to my old habits. Wizard Kart was so much fun and honestly I’ve got ideas for a Super Wizard Kart that I hope will see the light of day at some point.
When I learned that I had the opportunity to run the AI game at East this year I knew right away that I had to try and do something that would capture the spirit of the current Battle Royale craze in gaming. I ended up enlisting the help of some incredibly talented folks at PA and together I think we managed to pull off something pretty special. If you have not seen “Wizard Unknowns Battle Royale” yet you can watch the entire thing right here on Witch.
I’ll be working with the folks who helped me make this happen to put together another post in the future that lays out the entire process. Lots of people have asked for the materials and rules to try and run something like this for their own game. I plan on doing exactly that once I figure out the best way to do it. You’d be surprised how light my notes are even for something like this and if other people are gonna play it, I’d like to tighten them up a bit.
I know there are a lot of Dungeon Masters out there who are sticklers for the rules. I’ve played with people who want to consult the DMG for every question that arises at a table. I do not believe there is anything wrong with playing a game by its rules, indeed that’s how they are intended to be played. I think Dungeons and Dragons is a special case though. In my opinion it is a testament to the pure genius of the rules, that a crazy person like me can stretch them like taffy and still maintain the spirit of the game. You can look at D&D as a finished game, or you can look at it as an incredible foundation for your own.