I finally have a bit of vacation between semesters. No work and no school between Christmas and New Years, and it's glorious. I'm sure once it sinks in, I'll find myself pulled in five different directions trying to decide which writing projects I want to catch up on. But for the moment, I find myself just thinking about D&D.
Not Engines & Empires or Retro Phaze, none of my own clones or OSR games or adventures that I have in the works. Just D&D. I haven't properly run a role-playing campaign of any sort in several months now, and I'm seriously missing it. I also know that for at least the next four or five months, I probably won't have the time to start up a new campaign, not with both a comp exam and a GRE on the horizon.
So all I can do is dream, and I keep on dreaming of running a more-or-less plain vanilla, straight-up, by-the-book D&D campaign, with no steampunk or other sci-fi weirdness added in. None of my own alterations to the lore or any of my usual peccadilloes and affectations. Something classic: knights, castles, dragons, all that jazz. Something that leans into the traditional mix of Tolkien, Gygax, and proper medieval fantasy.
…Of course, for me, "by-the-book" would never be quite that. I'm now so used to handling attack rolls and saving throws with a "roll low to succeed" mechanic that I don't think I could do it any other way. And I sure as hell have no desire to go back to three or five saving throw categories when just the one will do.
But this insatiable yearning that I'm feeling (which still, after a number of days, has not abated) has gotten me wondering: what is the bare minimum I would need to do to run something quite close to recognizable, rules-as-written D&D? Something that the groggiest grognard would have no quibble with if he were to sit down at my table and roll up a character, no questions asked?
In other words, what about D&D can I simply no longer abide, and what can I still stomach? And this is what I came up with: I call it Dungeons & Dragons 2018, the absolute minimum set of changes I have to make to OD&D to make the game playable in accordance with my present-day sensibilities. Take a look, and comment below!
And, hey, since I've got three weeks to wait until my copy of Barrowmaze Complete arrives in the mail (hey, it was on sale, and now I have Christmas money!), maybe-just-maybe I'll get to take these rules for a test-drive in the near future after all…