Monday, November 16, 2009

Me and the "Canon" of D&D

Though part of the reason I am wanting to do the Castle Acheron campaign is to explore the "old ways" I also want to at the same time do things differently than before. I do not only love Dungeons and Dragons as a game, but I also love the world of Dungeons and Dragons. In my last campaign I adhered pretty close to the "Gygaxian Canon." I did do a few things differently, but in general I did things the way it said in the books. My first roleplaying book was the 1993 Monstrous Manual. I was fascinated by the descriptions of the monsters found in that book. Goblins and orcs, chromatic and metallic dragons and the tarrasque, and especially the extraplanar monsters (I hope to write a post on my love for the planes at a later date). So I grew to love the world of D&D and sought to learn all I could about it. But as I played I began to realize I tended to rely on what the book said over my own imagination. Now it's not necessarily a bad thing to use the published material, it;s what it's there for after all, but it should be a springboard, not a replacement for, my imagination.

Thus I seek to not hold so strictly to "canon" as I have before. I want my imagination to be less constricted, and though I probably needn't go so far, I am pretty much wiping the slate almost completely clean. Of course it's still similar in regards to the basic principles to D&D, there are powerful, mortal magic-users and dungeons, and stuff like that. I'm not going so far as to "ban" things that I like about D&D, and I don't have to come up with everything off the top of my head (for one thing I am using Rob Kuntz's new Dungeon Sets and maybe Robert Conley's Points of Light and I'm also including a lot of stuff from myths that is different from what's already in D&D or a different interpretation from how it's done in D&D). For instance, the "old me" would've instantly made the Gravelord a Lich, but I'm considering other alternatives. Maybe I'll still end up making him a Lich, though I may still have him be different than how a Lich is in D&D in that case, or maybe I'll do something that's different, but not particularly unique like a Ghost or Vampire. I'm not going to force myself to make something up just because. But the point is I'm thinking about alternatives and so I may come up with something more interesting. Not even old standbys like dwarves are safe from this treatment if I can come up with something cool to do with them. For instance I read on Wikipedia that dwarves were associated by the Norse with death, so I'm playing up that angle, hence why they were servants of the Gravelord. I'm also considering making them pale like in Norse myth as well, though they'll likely remain shorter than humans, but to what degree I haven't decided.

I didn't know Gary Gygax, but what I know about him from reading his writings suggest he'd agree with my view, if not necessarily the lengths I'm taking. When he wrote D&D I'm pretty sure he thought that everybody's campaign shouldn't be a carbon copy of Greyhawk, but that each DM should create his own world. Even when he put elements from Greyhawk in the D&D books I'm pretty sure it was as tools for the DM, rather than holy writ that must be adhered to. Hopefully by engaging in this excersize I'll free up my imagination to soar as high as it should.

1 comment:

  1. I've read 3 of your 4 posts and it all sounds fun. Don't sweat the small stuff about the OSR and all, just have fun with your game. In my opinion, old school means having fun and playing by the seat of your pants, don't let the rules and suppliments lawyer your game. I better get back to posting my "opinions" now.