Sunday 13 May 2012

Pre-launch Prep

Having talked about the overall scheme and goals of the game design, I next want to look in a bit more detail at actual play, starting with the first ever session. What do you absolutely need for that first game of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons?
  1. Players are useful, of course. You can get these individually or in packs of various sizes.
  2. Dice.
  3. Paper.
  4. Characters. I'll look at these in a later post.
  5. A minimal setting.
  6. An adventure.

The Setting

A typical minimal setting is something like this:
"You're standing outside the entrance of a cave. Local farmers say something nasty has taken up residence and is eating their sheep. They've all chipped in together and offered you 100gp to deal with the problem. If you pressure them you think they might go as high as 150gp and a milk cow."
In this case the setting is an unnamed village and a cave. The village is probably optional but it's nice, even in a "you start at the door" adventure, to have some explanation of how the characters came to be at the door.

I started with "Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor" by Judges Guild which had the village gathered around the foot of the mountain that the dungeon was dug out of, which is a nice set-up if your initial adventure ideas can work with it.
In any case, the game does have one requirement for the setting - there has to be at least an implied "safe zone" where day to day life does not constitute an adventure. This safe zone is where the characters ultimately have to get any treasure to in order for it to count as having been gained for the purposes of experience.

Normally the safe zone is a settlement of some kind but it is possible for determined characters to make a safe area out in the wilderness by constructing a fort of some kind, but that's unlikely to be something new characters will try.

Anyway, that's all you need to start, setting-wise. You don't need a world map, you don't even need a name for the world, you don't even need a map of the country or the area around the "dungeon" - that can be ad libed if need be. If the players have their characters and equipment and are keen to go, then why worry about anything else?

Next post will be about setting up the first adventure; it's a long post so I've split it off from this one.


  1. Ha! Thieves of Fortress Badabaskor is quite the high level starting point! I like the distinctions you have made here between safe and danger zones, and the potential for the players to make safe zones. It is good to see it spelled out.

  2. Yeah, in those days we did a LOT of negotiating with monsters; at low levels there was a lot more talking and running and temporary alliances than I saw in later years.