Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Zero Edition Dungeoneering - a beginning

This first weblog entry is something of an experiment as I've never 'blogged before.  So we shall see how it goes.  I'll begin by reposting and expanding on a post I left on the ODD74 forum...

The cat is out of the bag. Those who have gotten the latest issue of Fight On! may have noticed an article by me describing a true to OD&D method of building the campaign world hex by hex from the ground up. The article introduces the Champions of ZED (Zero Edition Dungeoneering) role playing game. "What's this Boggs?" you say, "Have you written another game?" Well, yes I have. Building off of all the research that went into into Dragons at Dawn, and Holmes to Level 12, and concurrent with all the work on D@D Supplement I, and on my yet to be released study of Dave Arnesons 1973 D&D draft, I prepared the manuscript for Champions of Zed. I realized that the only way for me to master and make use of all this material in a way that would be of real benefit to everyone was to create a retro clone that reconciles all the scattered OD&D threads.   Serious Work began last November and finished in June of this year.  Here is a little piece from the introduction to explain what I mean:

"A little story: In the late 1960’s a history major at the University of Minnesota began work on a naval wargame set in the Civil War. He shared his rules with a cobbler in Lake Geneva Wisconsin who was very interested in naval wargames and who had published various rules for wargames previously. The cobbler – Gary Gygax – and the undergrad - Dave Arneson – began to work together on the rules, which they agreed to switch from Civil War to the Napoleonic period. After a time, the two hired an editor/co author Mike Carr, to pull together their work into a single set of rules. The result was a game called “Don’t Give Up The Ship™” published in 1972 by Guidion Games. Meanwhile, Gygax published a set of medieval and fantasy wargames rules and Arneson began experimenting with fantasy roleplaying as an outgrowth of the historical character driven play he had been doing in Dave Wesely’s Braunstein games. Arneson and Gygax began collaborating again via phone and post. Being separated by hundreds of miles, each produced separate sets of notes and manuscripts. In January of 1974 Gygax published his manuscript and the world’s first fantasy role playing game became available for purchase in three, somewhat confusing, little brown booklets. Such is history, but, what if things had gone differently? What if, instead of publishing a manuscript that Arneson wasn’t at all satisfied with, Gygax had agreed to bring in an editor – much as they had done with Mike Carr previously – to take a look at all the material prepared by both men and put it all together in a better organized and edited fashion?

To the extent possible, that is what Champions of Zed is. Champions of ZED aims to be very, very close in fact and spirit to the original three game booklets published in 1974, related materials directly from the two authors, and relevant portions of the Medieval Miniatures rules of 1971. Nevertheless its purpose is not just to please a limited group of game Grognards. Rather Champions of Zed is designed to serve as a pathway to a different and neglected style of collective world building and gaming fun...."

The most important of those "related materials" of course are the old portions of the FFC, house rules and web posts from Gary and Dave, and Arnesons draft of the rules.

Here on the 'blog I will discuss various sections, both what has been published already and previews of what is to come.  It will be both a read through of the rules and an opportunity for kibbitzers to possibly influence thier final form.

The future of CoZ - what to expect:

Champions of Zed will be serialized in Fight On! magazine, probably somewhat abridged.  The rules are written, done.  But I choose sit on them and let them marinate, tease them out through Fight On and give everyone a chance to digest them bit by bit.  Why?

I have made every effort to make Champions of Zed a masterwork of OD&D and I'm not interested in rushing it or publishing early.  It's got to be perfect. 

When FO! is through with it I will put out the whole thing as a .pdf and POD, including a free no art version.

There will also be a delux illustrated game, and a follow on hardback expansion to an "all under one cover" rulebook.  My goal is simply to make this a "go to" product for fans of the Classic and Original game.


  1. What can be said besides...AWESOME.

  2. You're a cruel man unveiling this bit by bit, like a stripper taking off her veils one by one, but I have no doubt it will be worth the wait. :-)

  3. As someone who has Dragons at Dawn, how is this going to differ?

  4. -Dave
    Heh. I like tha analogy.

    - Herb

    It will differ quite a lot, although some material from D@D carries over into CoZ, for example racial descriptions of Elves and Halflings; simply because there is no need to reinvent that wheel. Coz is much closer to the 3LBBs, so only three classes, Vancian magic etc.

    From time to time I will put some Dragons at Dawn posts here too.