Category Archives: D&D

OSR 2d6 Checks for more than Reactions

I propose using 2d6 (+possible ability modifier – possible difficulty) the resolve situations that can not just be role played in OSR games (where ability modifiers are -3 to +3).

-4: Failure, with extra negative consequences
-5-6: Failure
7: Partial success or failure with some unexpected twist
8-9: Success
10+: Success, with some extra good outcome

-4: Not believed, hostile reaction or plays along
5-6: Not impressed
7: Bluff is not called, but reaction is unexpected (and not in a very good way)
8-9: Bluff is believed
10+: Bluff is believed and target is extra helpful

Breach or Destroy
-4: No success, exhausted some resources (equipment or possibly HP)
5-6: No success
7: Partial success, some malfunction or unexpected side effect
8-9: Success
10+: Success with style or some advantage

Climbing, Swimming
-4: Falling, Drowning
5-6: Did not start, had to go back if previously made progress
7: Some progress
8-9: Reached goal
10+: Reached goal in style or with some advantage

Fish, Hunt & Gather Food
-4: Found nothing eatable, exhausted some resources (possibly eating something bad)
5-6: Found next to nothing
7: Found one days ration
8-9: Found 1d4+1 days rations
10+: Found 2d4 days rations

-4: Fall
5-6: Hesitate (on retry, -7 is Fall)
7: Partial success if possible, otherwise hesitate (on retry, -6 is Fall)
8-9: Success
10+: Success with style or with some advantage

Luck (like setting an ambush or a bait)
-4: Things turn out very much the opposite of the desired outcome
5-6: The desired thing does not happen
7: Be careful what you ask, you just might get it
8-9: The desired thing happens
10+: Things turn out remarkably well the way it was supposed to

Make item or mechanism
-4: It fails later, or loss of resources/injury immediately
5-6: No success
7: Not quite fit for purpose, 50% chance of malfunction or requires some support
8-9: Success
10: Unexpectedly good result

Make Shelter
-4: Shelter fails later on, loss of resources
5-6: Inadequate, possible loss of resources if used
7: Decent shelter if something is paid/used/wasted
8-9: Good shelter
10+: Shelter with some benefit

-4: Failure, making a fool of oneself, possible injury
5-6: No one is impressed
7: Audience is undecided or split
8-9: Good performance
10+: Surprisingly impressive performance, some advantage follows

Recall Knowledge (Lore, History, Geography)
-4: Remembers incorrectly, sure about oneself
5-6: No memory
7: Recall something relevant but not quite useful
8-9: A good general idea about the topic
10+: Knows significant details

-4: The tracked party is aware of being tracked and can choose to escape or ambush
5-6: Lose track
7: Sudden encounter with tracked party
8-9: Localized tracked party at a distance
10+: Undetected, close enough for ambush (or just observing)


Classic OSR games use 2d6 + CHA modifier for Monster Reaction and Retainer Reaction. There are multiple outcomes, not just success and failure.

OSR games don’t really have skills but sometimes things need to be randomly resolved.

Why not using the 2d6 + ability modifier, and comparing to a table of outcomes, not only for reactions? I see some advantages with this. The multiple outcomes drives the story forward in different/random directions, rather than the open/closed gate mechanism of success/fail skill check. Also, the focus is on what the characters want to do in the story, not what skills the characters may have.

A first nice thing about OSR is that things can play out without rolling dice. This is what we call player skill. But occationally I find it unreasonable as a DM to judge the outcome based on the players description on their actions alone. This is where the second nice thing with OSR comes into play: also the DM can be surprised and needs to adapt and improvise.

Difficulty and Ability

The primary purpose of these Reaction-like checks is to produce random reasonable outcomes in significant situations. If the characters are already good (or bad) enough, or the task is easy (or hard) enough to simply decide the outcome, no dice should be rolled at all. Thus, the default is that the DM and the players do not really have any real insight into the probabilities of different outcomes (it would suffice to roll 1d5 with no modifier).

It is not necessary to add an ability modifier. It is not like it is the right of the player/character to add a strong ability score. DM shuld not consider difficulty much and probably most of the time should not add difficulties. After all, the purpose is to take the story in an unknown direction.


Thieves (or Rogues) have skills of their own. Those are not to be replaced or made redundant by above rules. If a fighter can climb a wall using these rules the thief probably succeeds automatically, and if the thief needs to roll for his special ability no other class need to even attempt.

Custom Outcomes

Obviously nothing stops you from defining your custom outcomes for a specific situation, in advance or when the situation comes up. Something like:

-7: Sentenced to death by hanging next morning
8: Queen approves (back to prison)
9-10: King approves (back to prison)
11+: Both Queen and King approves (released)

Other options

There are options to rolling 2d6 + ability modifier.

  • 1d6 + modifier (which is seen in B/X for kicking open doors for example): gives very much significance to the ability score and not too many possible outcomes.
  • 1d12 + modifier: I have never seen it but it could work just as well.
  • 1d20 + modifier: gives too little significance to modifier in my opinion, and creates longer more arbitrary intervals of outcomes. Also the natural 1 and 20 are very uncommon and I prefer more variation in results more often.
  • 1d20 under ability value: feels too much like BRP to me.
  • 3d6 under ability score (as for Phantasmal Killer in 1e): Mostly just produces two outcomes and feels overly complicated

So I think 2d6+modifier makes sense, and it is established in old D&D versions (also for Clerics Turn Undead). The BECMI employer reaction table (Rules Cyclopedia, p132) looks like:

2: Resuse, insulted
3-5: Refuse
6-8: Roll again
9-11: Accept
12: Accept, impressed

This scale makes the middle results much more likely and the extreme results less likely than the scale I have proposed above. I think “6-8 roll again” (that will be almost 50% of the cases) is not optimal. The scale I propose leaves more of the options more likely, even when an ability modifier is applied.

If you really prefer 1d20+mod to 2d6+mod, I propose:

-4: Failure, with extra negative consequences
-5-9: Failure
10-11: Partial success or failure with some unexpected twist
12-16: Success
17+: Success, with some extra good outcome

Roleplaying in Middle Earth & magic

Middle Earth is a fantastic fantasy world and it can be used for tabletop roleplaying games. There are games designed with Middle Earth in mind (MERP by Iron Crown, The One Ring by C7, Adventures in Middle Earth by C7), but they are all out of print. Given the vast amount of Middle Earth content available elsewhere it should be quite fine to use any fantasy roleplaying system not written for a specific setting, right? I particularly like the simplicity of OSR. Well, it is that thing with magic.

Magic in fantasy roleplaying games

Magic in fantasy RPGs is most often about spells. Sometimes they are spectacular and action oriented. Often there are clerics getting their powers from deities, and sorcerors taming raw magic power.

This is not obviously a good match for Middle Earth. Clerics praying to Valar for spells is kind of unheard of. Saruman and Gandalf use magic, but not so easily and not very spectacularly, and they are Maia (half god-like spirits) not men. Powerful elves have some magic abilities. But regular men being educated wizards casting fireballs is quite not in the books.

Magic in Middle Earth

I am presuming a (late) Third Age campaign.

There is definitely magic in Middle Earth. Many magical items are mentioned. There are things like the river horses that swept away the nazgul outside Rivendell, the tempest Saruman used to stop the fellowship from crossing the misty mountains, and whatever was done to Theoden.

However, most magic is very old, connected directly with Elves, or connected to Maia.

When Sauron appeared in Dol Guldur he was thought to be a Necromancer. So the free people of Middle Earth found the existence of a necromancer a possibility (more likeely than the return of Sauron). If a powerful necromancer could have appeared there should also exist magic practitioners.

The question is, how and to what extent can magic be available to the player characters, and their enemies?

What are we looking to solve?

Obviously, if GM and players agree, then so is it: Clerics worhipping Valar and fireballs. However, I think we can do better.

Also, if we want much magic (like in Forgotten Realms) then perhaps it is better to play in setting with more open magic (like FR). But I think we can do better.

Sam feared that Gandalf would turn him into something unnatural. In the movie Gimli warns the hobbits of the elf witch who lives in Lorien […] all under her spell and are never seen again. No one in the fellowship (except Gandalf) had imagined the Balrog in their darkest dreams. So I argue that it is in the essential nature of Middle Earth that unexpected magic and supernatural things can happen. If you mostly remove magic you actually turn your Middle Earth game into less than it deserves to be.

I would like to have a Middle Earth where magic is not at all commonplace, but where it can feasibly and arguably exist. Ideally, I would like to interpret and explain magic so that I can mostly use simle OSR rules, with moderation.

Ideas and possibilities

I will now present some arguments for why (OSR style) magic could be used to some degree in a late Third Age Middle Earth RPG campaign.

Alatar and Pallando: Tolkien wrote in a letter about the two blue Istari: I suspect they were founders or beginners of secret cults and ‘magic’ traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron. This is clearly an opening for the existence of sorcerors or wizards in Middle Earth, even though they played no part in the books.

Religion: We don’t read in the books about clerics praying and sacrificing to Valar. But the Third age is 3000 years old, and it is not hard to imagine that the free peoples were actually worshipping and praying. That works of fiction do not mention religion does not mean religion can not exist. The most important building in Gondor was obviously not a cathedral, that we know. But can there be no shrines, nowhere, at all?

However, worshipping is one thing, being granted spells is a different story.

Valar: Since the end of Second Age, Valar has a kind of non-intervention policy. However, they sent the Istari to Middle Earth on a mission. Someone sent Gandalf back as the white wizard after the fight with the Balrog. So I think it is unnecessarily restrictive to imagine they have no power whatsoever in Middle Earth.

Maia: The Maia helped Valar create the world, so they are powerful magical spirits creating and changing reality. All of them are not named and they are not numbered. Gandalf said: There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world. The Balrog had been hidden for long times when the dwarves disturbed it. I think as a GM you have quite some space to use unmentioned Maia as source of magic powers.

End of Third Age: The Valar has been quite absent for three millennia. Sauron is rising but driven from Dol Guldur, Smaug is killed, and large parts of Middle Earth (Arnor) is largely desolate and open. The Istari is not supposed to use force, but Saruman has other plans. This is a situation with two factors:

  • it is a power vacuum – there for somone (Maia or other) to fill
  • the rules are rewritten – Istari are failing their mission

And things can have been going on for centuries quite secret in the background.

Multiverse: The first chapter of Silmarillion does not start with These events took place in a little corner of the multiverse. No other creation myths start like that either. Nevertheless the multiverse idea is that different game settings exist in simultaneously and that the deities can be present in several of them. If Middle Earth is really left alone by the Valar, why would not some other power show interest in it?

Leave it open

I am not suggesting that you as a GM write down exactly who is granting or teaching what magic powers in Middle Earth and tell your players all about it. That serves no purpose and the players need not know.

What you tell the players is that just as the fellowship did not know about the Balrog, they also don’t know about all powers of Middle Earth.

You can tell that the Istari – or other unknown Maia – during the last millennia of the third age may have taught, shared or granted magic to smaller groups of rather unknown spellcasters. The characters know nothing of this, of course, but the players may ask.

You are now free, with moderation, to introduce spellcasters as part of your adventures.

And if a players wants to be a cleric, wizard, sorceror or warlock, it can be done. It may come with risks though

  • being accused of witchcraft and black magic is always dangerous
  • that magic teacher or spell-granting-deity, who is it really?

Sauron decieved the Numenoreans to worship Morgoth and make human sacrifices.


I think it is possible to run a Middle Earth campaign with a simple OSR system (or your favorite game) and use the magic system of that game mostly the way it is. That does not mean that magic appears in Middle Earth just as it does in Forgotten Realms (or some other hi-magic setting). It just means that magic is possible.

I don’t suggest you to turn Middle Earth into a hi-magic setting. But I also think it is a mistake to have so little magic that there is nothing mysterious or unexpected to the players and their characters to discover.

D&D: OSR or 5th edition?

There are many versions of D&D and there are things to be aware of before you just go with the latest and very popular 5th edition.

All versions of D&D and the so called Old-School-Revival retroclones share many things. Characters have hit dice depending on class (1d4 to 1d12 per level), with slightly more generous dice in newer versions.

Monsters also have hit dice (usually number of d8 HP). Look at this little table of average HP for different monsters in different versions:

AD&D 1eAD&D 2eD&D 3eD&D 5e
Men/Bandit1-6 (4)2d8+2 (11)
Bugbear3+1 (15)3+1 (15)3d8+3 (17)5d8+5 (27)
Hydra (5H)5 (23)5 (23)5d10+28 (55)15d12+75 (172)
Owlbear5+2 (25)5+2 (25)5d10+25 (52)7d10+21 (59)
Werewolf4+3 (21)4+3 (21)3d8+7 (21)9d8+18 (58)
Zombie2 (9)2 (9)2d12+3 (16)3d8+9 (22)

Weapons make roughly the same damage (Longsword 1d8) in all versions.

About Men/Bandit, Monster Manual for 1e states: For every 20 bandits encountered there will be an additional 3rd level fighter. Compare this to 5e, where every bandit essentially is level 2.

Consequences for fights

Fights in 1e/2e are faster because enemies have less hitpoints. They are also less detailed than 3e/5e where special abilities, feats, action economy, bonus actions and reactions are part of every round. In 1e/2e it is more like you have one attack and you can move.

You can argue however you want: rolling/counting to 21 (werewolf 2e) is quicker than rolling/counting to 58 (5e).

Sometimes this difference is called “fighting as battle vs fighting as sport”.

5e is more demanding on the DM and the Players when it comes to tactics. It is more like a miniature war game or collectible card game where it pays of for the players to create combos, optimize characters and prepare tactics for their group or characters.

Consequences for the World

AD&D 1e/2e comes with the idea that most people in the world are common people. They have no class and no special abilities. This applies to bandits, soldiers but also to orcs and goblins that the PCs may encounter. Veteran was the title of a 1st level fighter in Basic D&D.

D&D 5e comes with the idea that common enemies are much more than ordinary people. Veteran in 5e monster manual has 9d8+18 HP.

Consequences for your Campaign

Don’t be mistaken and believe that 5e is deadlier and more difficult. HP is not everything, 5e is balanced differently when it comes to AC, saving throws and other things. Many people witness that the characters become super heroes quite quickly in 5e.

5e allows you to throw in more powerful goblins to challenge your more powerful characters. AD&D expects you to challenge the players with genuinely more powerful monsters, or more goblins using other tactics.

To me, AD&D feels like the PCs are becoming heroes in the same world as they started. But 5e feels like a game where the PCs travel to new places where everything is much more powerful and dangerous than where they came from (like in World of Warcraft, with different regions for players of different power).

OSR – Old School Revival

I would argue that this difference between AD&D on one hand, and 3e/5e on the other hand is significant. You can not quite play the same way in AD&D and 5e, and if you try you may end up disappointed.

After many years of not playing D&D at all, I just bought D&D 5e without thinking too much about the differences. I expected to use it like AD&D 2e. I think that was a mistake, I am not happy with 5e, and I am going back.

I am not alone. Many people prefer older versions of D&D and old style of play (Old School Revival). You and your group can make your choice!

When it comes to OSR there are many options to AD&D 1e/2e! Basic D&D (or Classic) was a simplified version of AD&D 1e (that is a simplification) that for the purposes of this article is similar to AD&D 1e/2e and different from 3e/5e. There are also retroclones that are newly edited and highly compatible inoffical versions of D&D.

AD&D 1e: Can be bought printed or as PDF from I am too young to ever have played it, I bought it for fun recently, and I don’t quite feel like playing it. It is complex in unnecessary ways.

AD&D 2e: Can be bought printed or as PDF from If you like a more advanced game, this may be your best OSR option.

Basic D&D: Can be bought as PDF from dmsguild. There are different versions (Holmes, Moldvay B/X, Mentzer BECMI) and the last version was packaged in a single book called Rules Cyclopedia that can be bought as PDF or print from dmsguild.

Basic Fantasy RPG: An entirely free to download clone.

Dungeon Crawl Classics: Based on Basic D&D, it adds a lot of innovation and it is more of a different game. Perhaps not for beginners.

Old School Essentials: A premium B/X clone. You get more content for less money if you go for Rules Cyclopedia. OSE is a arguably nicer if you prefer less is more, it has a better look and feel, and it is probably the best beginners game.


Play whatever version of D&D with your friends that you like! But do not just get D&D 5e assuming it is just the latest, most revised and best version. It is a rather different game from the old games of the 70s-80s-90s that made D&D popular. The differences may be subtle at first, but will become more important over time.

Sinkadus om Dungeons & Dragons

Uppdatering 2020-09-18: Jag postade en tråd på och en del intressanta saker framkom.

Vad kunde man läsa i slutet av 80-talet och början av 90-talet i Äventyrsspels hustidning Sinkadus, om det konkurrerande spelet Dungeons & Dragons?

Nedan är vad jag funnit, men notera att:

  • Jag kan ha missat något
  • Jag kan ha utelämnat något obetydligt omnämnande
  • Jag har klippt, och försökt göra det på ett rättvisande sätt
  • Mina egna kommentarer som […kommentar…]

Sinkadus #15: Engelska spel

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Detta är den mest populära versionen av det första rollspelet någonsin. Spelet omfattar idag åtta tjocka böcker ofta skrivna på halvdålig engelska. I dessa kan man finna regler för det mesta en rollperson kan råka ut för. Spelets problem är ett rätt trist stridssystem och att man bara konstruerar sin rollperson efter strikta mallar. Det märks att det var det första rollspelet; efterföljarna har lärt sig av AD&Ds misstag. AD&Ds starka sida är att det finns mycket gott om moduler och äventyr till spelet; få har råd att köpa alla.

(Protest! Inte ens med allra godaste vilja kan man kalla AD&D för ett enkelt spel [Sinkadus hade själv kategoriserat det som Enkelt och protesterade mot sig själva]! I sin urpsrungliga version, dvs Players Handbook och Dungeon Master’s Guide, var det på sin höjd medelsvårt, men i och med de otaliga regeltillägg som kommit i Unearthed Arcana, Dragons, två st Survival Guides, Greyhawk Adventures, m.m., har ett redan expansivt spel blivit totalt oöverskådligt! Spelets grundidé, ett snabbt och enkelt stridssystem, har totalt förfelats genom alla de modifikationer som måste göras.)

Sinkadus #15: Insändare med svar

Insändare: Skriv ett kontrakt med Titan Games och ta med Dungeons & Dragons i Sinkadus. I Drakar och Demoner Gigant är det aldrig någon action, inga kraftfulla besvärjelser, inga coola monster. Varför skriver ni alltid så mycket om allt ointressant som politik och religion. Det är väl bra om ni skriver lite om det, men när halva Gigant var en massa utfyllnadsartiklar blir det ju bizzart.

Svar: Titan [utgivaren av D&D i Sverige] har inte rätt att skriva några sådana kontrakt. Och även om det skulle gå, skulle vi inte vara särskillt intresserade. Vad menar ni förresten med “coola monster”? Skicka in ett par förslag så vi vet vad ni menar. Skälet till att vi inte har just de monster ni eftertraktar beror antagligen på att ingen annan vill ha dem. Vi skulle inte ha kunnat sälja så många Gigant till våra kunder om de inte hade uppskattat den typen av artikar som ni uppenbart ogillar. Men – om det bara är monster och häftiga besvärjelser ni är ute efter, så kan ni gott spela Dungeons & Dragons även i fortsättningen.

Sinkadus #16: Insändare med svar

Insändare: Jag vill inte rikta denna kritik mot Äventyrsspel, utan till hela rollspelsgenren och dess utövare. I början var rollspelen mera en sorts regelfixerad grottforskningsövning vilket speglas väl i sådana klassiska mastodontverk som AD&D och dess tidiga biprodukter. I början av 80-talet syntes dock en tydlig förändring till det bättre med klassiker som Runequest och Traveller. Men med rollspelens definitiva intåg i Sverige med den lilla hederliga lådan (första utgåvan av Drakar och Demoner, som jag nog kan hitta i någon dammig byrålåda därhemma) började åtminstone här i Sverige en förändring av hobbyn. […lång fortsättning där insändaren ondgör sig över rollspelare som fastnar i regelboken istället för att rollspela…]

Svar: Tänker ni låta det här stå oemotsagt? Har han rätt, går vi mot en rollspelsvärld där den regelfixerade “vänta-ett-ögonblick-jag-ska-bara-kolla-den-här-modifikationen-i-tabell-si-och-så” helt kommer att dominera?

Sinkadus #17: Insändare

Insändare: Vad menar egentligen valparna med “coola monster”? Jo, att det ska finnas minst 800 mer än sjuka, fullständigt otroliga varelser som endast existerar för att slå ihjäl! Enligt min åsikt ett tämligen meningsklöst livsmål. Pojkar (ev flickor) små, spela ni Dungeons & Dragons och låt Äventyrsspels redaktion slippa bry sina huvuden med vansinniga fantasifoster, och istället få tid att framställa interessanta äventyr som exepelvis Marsklandet, där spelarna kan få välja vad de vill göra och inte bara får hålla på att slå ihjäl “coola monster” och ta deras miljontals “häftiga magiska prylar”.

Sinkadus #17: Insändare och svar

Insändare: Att ha en överblick av engelska rollspel i Sinkadus var bra, men att ha med material till andra än Äventyrsspels egna tror jag inte är så lämpligt. Speciellt inte “slayer-spel” som D&D, hur coola besvärjelser och varelser (Rostmonster! Ha!) det än finns. Det som står i Gigant om politik och religion, som är så “o-coolt” enligt Z är till för att bygga upp en spelvärld, som är mycket “coolare” än ett 30-rums grottkomplex inhysande allehanda “coola” monster. Men om du, Z tycker att rundvandringar i grottor och att döda monster är “coolare”, så kan du, som Red svarade, hålla dig till D&D.

Svar: Om det kan tyckas som att vi hackar mer än en gång på Dungeons & Dragons, så beror det huvudsakligen inte på att det är en konkurrent som har gett ut spelet. Äventyrsspel fick erbjudandet att göra spelet på svenska för ett antal år sedan, men vi tackade nej. Läs vad Åke Eldberg har att säga i sin artikel om moral i rollspel för en farklaring till varför vi inte är så överdrivet förtjusta i D&D.

Sinkadus #18: Etik – Spelsystemets betydelse

Vissa rollspelssystem inbjuder på ett försåtligt sätt till omoral. I det välkända Dungeons & Dragons finns något som kalla “alignment”, vilket ungefär betyder “grundläggande livsinställning”. Det innebär att alla varelser antingen är goda, neutrala eller onda. När man skapar en ny rollperson kan spelaren själv välja hur hans rollperson ska vara. Det är en inbjudan till verkliga dumheter. […] Ett system med förvalda livsinställningar är alltså bedrägligt. Om man är ond eller god kan bara bedömas utifrån vad man göra. Dungeons & Dragons system påminner på ett obehagligt sätt om hur nazisterna definierade judarna som “onda” och behandlade dem därefter.

Sinkadus #18: Insändare och svar

Insändare: Polarstation Z anropar – en tämligen lång och dryg insändare som berättar att D&D är bra, och att D&D Expert har regler för spel utomhus.

Insändare: Jag har med växande irritation sett hur Dungeons & Dragons har blivit något av ett skällsord i Brevspalten. […]

Svar: Jovisst, D&D har det du säger att det har – märkliga monster, skatter, action laddad spelstil, mängder av äventyr – men varför är vi så kritiska mot det. Jo, för att hela spelidén tycks bygga enbart på att man skall slå ihjäl alla de fantastiska monstren och omedlebart stjäla deras sagolika skatter. Skillnaden mot Drakar och Demoner är att du inte har detta inbyggt som en gruläggande förutsättning i spelet. Se även Åke Eldbergs artikel om moral i rollspel i det här numret för en närmare diskussion om det problemet.

Sinkadus #30: Insändare och svar

Insändare: Varför anser så många (särskilt bland äldre rollspelare) att svenska rollspel är “barnsliga” och “töntiga” i jämförelse med engelska och amerikanska? Jag har hört uttryck som Drakaj och Demonej och Drakar och Fiffel. Dessutom ska t ex AD&D vara så JÄTTEAVANCERAT och hela Drakar och Demoner-genren så SIMPEL, regelmässigt sett i alla fall.

Svar: Anledningen till att en massa 17-25-åriga spelare tycker att engelska rollspel är mycket mer avancerade och bättre är för att de är skrivna på engelska. De befinner sig nämligen i en ålder när man skäms över allt som man gjorde när man var yngre, och dessutom inte vill spela samma spel som sina småskyskon – dvs svenska rollspel. Det här är däremot en period som går över – när de blir äldre och mognare skäms de inte längre för att de spelar svenska rollspel. Till den här attityden bidrar många äldre spelare som aldrig har spelat svenska rollspel – de är irriterade på att en massa elvaåringar spelar somma spel som de, och tycker därför att spel som barn kan spela måste vara mycket barnsligare än de amerikanska spel som de själva spelar. Dessutom låter ju allt “häftigare” på engelska. I USA är Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ett utpräglat nybörjarspel för att reglerna är så osofistikerade. Jag har själv spelat AD&D i snart elva år, och jag kan intyga att Expert är ett bättre spel.

Sinkadus #31: Nyheter utifrån

TSR: Det har kommit en ny version av gamla ärevördiga Dungeons & Dragons. Det borde vara en het nyhet för D&D-fansen, men frågan är om inte TSR har tagit i lite för mycket. Spelet är detsamma men förpackningen gör att spelet verkar vara ämnat helt och hållet för rollspelsnybörjarna – med kanske inte helt lyckat resultat. […]

Sinkadus #31: Insändare

Insändare: I och med mitt brev i förra numret hoppas jag verkligen att åtminstone några engelksälskande Drakar och Demoner-hatara fick upp ögonen (om de nu läser Sinkadus) för den enkla sanningen: Drakar och Demoner, inklusive Gigant, är ett av de bästa fantasyrollspelen på marknaden. […] Samtidigt vill jag försvara mig mot dem som kanske fick uppfattningen att jag ogillar AD&D; jag spelade detta spel under en treårsperiod förut, och det gav mig mycket av den kärlek jag har till fantasy. AD&D är annorlunda, är ofta mycket mer sagofullt än Drakar och Demoner, men störs lite av ett ganska tillknäppt regelsystem. Kul var det emertid att möta (små) goblins och hill giants.

Sinkadus #32: Insändare och Svar

Diskussion om vissa rollspel är bättre än andra, och redaktionen medger att det är en personlig uppfattning.

Sinkadus #36: Rollspelens Historia

Detta är en lång (och någorlunda läsvärd) artikel som jag inte alls ska citera i sin helhet.

“D&Ds livssynsystem och uppdelningen av alla tänkade varelser i kaotiska, lagfulla eller neutrala är slutligen hämtat från Michael Moorcooks böcker”

“det kom snart andra rollspel […] som representerade en utveckling bort från D&Ds ganska stereotypa monsterbankande”

“I D&D och de tidiga systemen finns egentligen inte mycket uppmuntran till eller hjälp att skapa en personlighet åt rollpersonen. Han fungerar i stor utsträckning som en sorts stridsmaskin”

“D&Ds system med moralisk livssyn […] hindrar egentligen rollagerandet”

“Titan Games, som översatte Basic Dungeons & Dragons till svenska. Detta var ett försök till en kulturgärning genom att göra rollspelens ursprung tillgängligt för svenska spelare, men eftersom spelsystemet i sig inte hade några nyheter att bjuda på blev det av naturliga skäl aldrig särskilt populärt”

“redan i slutet på 70-talet, faktiskt redan med AD&D som gav spelarna möjlighet att åtminstone då och då få klättra upp ur de trånga fuktiga grottor som hade varit D&Ds hemvist. Redan några av de första rollspelen efter D&D och AD&D frångick dessas groteska erfarenhetssystem, där det enda sättet att bli bättre på var att döda ånga monster och framför allt att hitta stora skatter”

“D&Ds stela stridssystem ersattes också snart av smidigare och mer realistiska regler, med pareringar och färre kroppspoäng [i andra spel då alltså]”


Vad kan vi göra av detta? Jag tycker nog det är rimligt att påstå att D&D beskrevs på ett övervägande negativt sätt i Sinkadus. En del negativt som skrevs i Sinkadus var insändare. Men det är ändå upp till redaktionen att välja vad som publiceras, och det var unga människor som skrev. Jag tycker nog att de fulare sakerna till stor del inte var insändare.

Min bakgrund

Jag spelade både Drakar och Demoner (mest Expert och DoD-91) och Dungeons & Dragons (Titan Games och senare AD&D 2e). Jag spelade också många andra rollspel, mest då: Western, Khelataar, Skuggornas mästare och Rolemaster. Där jag växte upp var allt lika töntigt. Ingen brydde sig om jag spelade DoD eller D&D. Det var inte heller så att våra äventyr, berättelser, karaktärer var speciellt annorlunda i DoD eller D&D. Det var reglerna som skiljde: inte huruvida det var grottor, monsterdödande, karaktärsutveckling, rollspel, problemlösning eller politik. Men de kampanjerna som överlevde längst, som gjorde störst intryck, vars karaktärer vi minns idag, och som vi fortfarande kan prata om, de spelade vi i D&D och AD&D.


När man läser Sinkadus får man en blandad bild av synen på nybörjare. Nybörjare används som ett skällsord om målgruppen för en ny D&D-box (S#31). De som inte gillar Gigant (politik och religion tydligen, själv minns jag Gigant lite som en besvikelse) kan lika gärna spela D&D (S#15). Och samtidigt förstår Äventyrsspel att nybörjare – unga svenska spelare som har svårt för engelska – är deras kärngrupp (S#30).


Att i en artikel om Etik jämföra alignment-systemet i D&D med nazisterna (S#18) verkar lite godhetssignallerande (redan i början av 90-talet), och när det kommer från bolaget som sedan släppte Kult (appropå Etik) förefaller det mest vara hyckleri. För egen del har systemet med livsåskådningar i D&D aldrig varit viktigt, men spelets rötter i Moorcook är sådana (S#36).

Så här 2020 kan man ju dessutom reflektera över begreppet “svartfolk”.


Jag har faktiskt svårt att förstå vad som menas med “I D&D och de tidiga systemen finns egentligen inte mycket uppmuntran till eller hjälp att skapa en personlighet åt rollpersonen”, eller rättare sagt: vad finns i DoD Expert?

I DoD Expert, om man börjar som Jägare eller Stråtrövare, och som sin del av karaktärsutvecklingen vill bli dubbad till Riddare, så är det tämligen oöverstigligt att lära sig Rida, Lans och Slagsvärd. Även en Krigare som råkade börja spelet med en stridsyxa eller morgonstjärna har svårt att någonsin blir Riddare med svärd.

I DoD Expert, om man skulle vilja spela en karaktär som Elric på omslagen till DoD, så överlever man inte länge. Utan rustning på armar och ben är man ett lätt offer för vilket gäng svartnissar som helst. Och den som vill spela en barbar utan rustning har ännu mindre chans.

I DoD Expert är det svårt att föreställa sig den magiker som byter magiskola efter några år.

Därmed inte sagt att D&D eller AD&D är perfekt. Det tycker jag inte.


Temat om grottäventyr återkommer. Men som S#36 själv konstaterar, redan i slutet av 70-talet fanns regler för spel ovan jord – dvs innan DoD alls var släppt. Wilderness Survival Guide släpptes 1986 (alltså samtidigt som S#5, och före allt ovanstående) och är en av de böcker som S#15 ondgör sig över.

Sinkadus är för övrigt inte direkt befriat från äventyr i grottor.


Jag ägde D&D Basic + Expert och DoD Monsterboken I & II. Jag tycker det är hårklyverier att säga att fokus på monster är så olika. Äventyrsspels Monsterböcker är för övrigt bland det finaste de producerat.

Erfarenhetspoäng (och OSR)

Enligt S#36 är erfarenhetssystemet i D&D groteskt. Spelets ursprung handlar om utforskning, överlevnad, begränsade resurser och att finna förlorade rikedomar och ta hem dem till civilisationen. Att det sedan fanns lika många spelstilar som spelgrupper är en annan sak.

Det är betydligt enklare att belöna sina spelare med EP för något annat i D&D, än det är att ändra stridsreglerna i DoD Expert så att det går att spela Conan eller Elric.

Fokus på strid

D&D beskrivs nedlåtande som actionladdat (S#18) och monsterbankande (S#36). DoD Expert har följande mekanismer för strid som saknas i D&D:

  • Parader
  • Brytvärde
  • Kroppdelar (med kroppspoäng, att träffa, och att ha rustning på)
  • Olika storlekar på sköldar
  • Olika färdigheter för olika vapen
  • STY-grupp (heter det så?) på vapen

Varför skulle D&D vara mer actionladdat, när DoD Expert lägger så mycker mer fokus på detaljer i strid?

Nedlåtande Arrogans

Det här med dålig engelska (S#15), märkliga monster (S#18), osofistikerat utpräglat nybörjarspel (S#30), kulturgärning (S36) förefaller bara vara arrogant högmod – som går före fall. Och då har jag bara citerat redaktionen, inte vad som passerade på insändarsidorna.


Som jag skrev så växte jag upp i en miljö där ingen brydde sig om det var Drakar och Demoner eller Dungeons & Dragons.

Men jag har senare, lång senare, upplevt att många spelare har en ganska negativ syn på Dungeons & Dragons utan att de för den skulle har spelat det särskillt mycket, eller alls.

Jag förvånas över rollspelare som lyfter fram vikten av “seriöst rollspel och karaktärsutveckling” inte ser att att enkelt spelsystem som inte är i vägen är precis vad som möjliggör detta.

Jag kan förstå, och se, Äventyrsspels utmaningar under 90-talet att både behålla gamla spelare, rekrytera nya spelare, och konkurrera med både svenska och utländska alternativ. Nu vet vi hur det gick. Äventyrsspel gick under, och för Drakar och Demoner kom en lång sorglig ökenvandring, som varumärket aldrig verkar hämta sig från. Vad som hade behövts, istället för att snacka skit om Dungeons & Dragons, hade varit ett tydligt fokus på att göra Drakar och Demoner till en bättre produkt och en tydlig uppfattning om sin målgrupp. Chronopia och Kult visar att man missade båda målen.

Kan det vara så att dessa texter i Sinkadus har haft en stor påverkan på svenska rollspelares uppfattning om Dungeons & Dragons, och att de till stor del är missledda? Nu är detta 30 år gamla texter, men fördomarna, missuppfattningarna och intolerans snarare än nyfikenhet mot de som gillar andra spel lever kvar. Tycker jag.

Vi rollspelare i detta lilla land borde kunna lite bättre. Eller?

OSR Melee Weapon Damage House Rules

If you look at old versions of D&D (OD&D, B/X, BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia, 1e, 2e) they have lists of weapons with varying damage (or not – varying damage is optional rule in some versions). Newly written OSR games as well as newer versions of D&D have their own tables – and bring some innovation as well.

If you start looking into these tables there are inconsistensies, making some choices objectively inferior to others (examples below). I don’t like that. I prefer when there are both pros and cons – risk and reward – in a choice.

Proposed House Rules

Different classes have different capability to do damage, but to reach that potential a proper weapon is required.

1d41H Basic weaponsAllDagger
1d62H Basic weaponsAll but RogueStaff
1d61H Standard weaponsAll but WizardWarhammer
1d82H Standard weaponsAll but Wizard, RogueSpear
1d81H Martial WeaponFighter, Elf, Dwarf, RogueLong Sword
1d102H Martial WeaponFighter, Elf, Dwarf2H Sword

Basic weapons are mundane everyday items (dagger, staff, club).
Martial weapons are rather large AND use blades for extra effect.

Compared to BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia it really changes very little in most cases.

Extra Features

To make weapons different each weapon can have an extra features reflecting its nature. Typically:

  1. Weapons can be versatile (used in 1 or 2 hands) OR they have an extra feature
  2. Non-martial weapons can have extra features (to compensate for lower damge)
Bastard SwordM12
Battle AxeM12
DaggerB11d10 damage when used for sneak attack or at DMs descretion at intimate range
FalchionM11d6+1 damage (slightly better than 1d8)
Great AxeM21d12 damage, disadvantage to initiative
Hand AxeS1Can be thrown
Long SwordM1+1 damage when rolling 1.
Pole WeaponM2Can be used from behind ally.
Advantage to initiative 1st round.
RapierM1May choose to roll initiative with advantage, for 1d6 damage
Short SwordS11d8 damage when used for sneak attack or at DMS descretion at intimate range
SpearS12Advantage to initiative.
Can be thrown.
StaffB12Advantage to initiative when 2H
Two Handed SwordM2+1 damage when rolling 1

Above list is just an example. Any weapon IS a basic, standard or martial weapon.

Practical Use

These rules set the wielder in focus, not the weapon:

  1. Can the character use the weapon at all
  2. Does it match the characters potential (a martial weapon for a fighter)
  3. Is it 1H, 2H or choice
  4. Are there any extre features

The features could depend on the wielder. A dwarf may use it as a throwable 1H hand axe, but a halfling may use it as a 1-2H axe.

Weapon Quality and Damage

Some weapons are inferior or superior.

  • Inferior: -1 damage on best two rolls (5,6 on 1d6)
  • Low quality: -1 damage on best roll (8 on 1d8)
  • Standard quality
  • High quality: +1 damage on natural 1. (10x price)
  • Superior quality: +1 damage on natural 1,2. (100x price)

This should be compared to magic weapons doing +1 always. Bad quality could reflect bad maintenance and condition.


Shields give +1 Armor Class (some new OSR games may be different). I employ the house rule that a shield can be sacrificed to save the wielder from a blow that would otherwise be deadly.

Two Weapons

I employ the house rule that anyone fighting with two weapons gets advantage on initiative. If the two dice show same result, the attack is made with the 2nd weapon (only). If the second weapon is not smaller than the first, that attack is made with -2.

After playing a bit of 5th edition, I think multiple attacks is an annoyance and a mistake. Then there is always the question whether you can actually effectively use two weapons at the same time, and whether you can use your off-hand effectively. My proposed rule can be thought of as “it does not hurt to hold a weapon in your off-hand, occationally it can be your best option”.


The standard BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia rules state that the wielder of a 2H weapon loses initiative. I see two problems with that:

  1. There is already a penalty of using a 2H weapon: no shield
  2. I think of 2H weapons as fast (staff, spear) or long reach (pole arms), which should be rather good to initiative

I am experimenting with using advantage/disadvantage (roll 2 dice, use the best/worst) for initiative. If you find that offensively 5th edition, you can of course use +2/-2 instead.


The following paragraphs are just background and reasoning behind the house rules proposed above.

Expected Damage

If you do 1d8 damage and want to do better, what do you prefer? Table shows hits required to kill an enemy with 4, 10 or 11 HP.


Why is 1d4+3 better than 1d10? Why is 1d6+2 better than 1d8+1? This is a bit counter intuitive. They all do 5.5 HP damage, on average (except 1d8 doing 4.5). The reason is that an opponent with 4HP is always killed in one hit with 1d4+3, but survives 3/10 with 1d10. And after a few blows, any enemy may end up with 4 remaining HP.

An abstract system

It is important to recognise that D&D in general, OSR in particular, has an abstract and simplified set of rules. Not everything is in the system. A perfect simulator would need to consider:

  • Manufacturing cost
  • Durability
  • Need for maintenance
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Efficiency against different armors, and perhaps enemies
  • Speed and range
  • Training required
  • Strength required

At some point you get to the point where you reason that a more experienced fighter will beat anyone even if he is armed with only a broken chair and a handful of sand. Perhaps 1d6 for all weapons is not so bad after all?


Here are a few strange things

  • A Bastard sword can be used in one or two hands, for 1d6+1 or 1d8+1 damage respectively. That means it is a better 1H weapon than the 1d8 longsword AND a better 2H weapon than the 1d10 2H-sword. It is just better.
  • In BECMI a dwarf can use a 2H Broad Axe for 1d8 damage. Or a 1H Long Sword for 1d8 damage. There is no advantage using an axe (initiative is lost and a shield can not be used).
  • A hand axe is cheaper than a short sword, but can also be used as a thrown weapon.
  • Spears are generally underestimated

Bästa versionen av Dungeons & Dragons?

Den bästa versionen av Dungeons & Dragons är den jag just nu spelar med mina vänner.

Den bästa versionen av Dungeons & Dragons är också den omåttligt populära och aktuella versionen (5e). Och så resonerade även jag när jag skulle köpa D&D för ett tag sedan. Men, vad skulle inte vara bäst med 5e?

  • 5e finns inte på svenska
  • 5e är inte den enklaste versionen att lära sig och att spela
  • 5e kostar ca 1500kr för Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide och Monsters Manual (det finns billigare starlådor, men om du vill fortsätta spela så räcker de inte)
  • Smaken är som baken: olika spelare gillar olika versioner olika mycket, så det kan hända att just du och din grupp faktiskt skulle föredra en annan version.

Låt mig ge en förenklad bild av olika versioner av D&D (se wikipedia för detaljer).

Original D&DClassic D&D
Advanced D&D (1e, 2e)
D&D 3eD&D 4eD&D 5e

Om man frågar sig vilket spel som är enkast men också genomarbetat och bra, så blir svaret Classic D&D. Det heter såklart bara Dungeons & Dragons, men det brukar kallas Classic eller Basic för att skilja ut det.

En rolig sak med Classic är att det släpptes på svenska i slutet av 1980-talet av Titan Games.

Dessa två boxar täcker spel för rollpersoner med graderna 1-14. På engelska finns ytterligare två boxar (Companion och Master Rules för graderna 15-36). Alla dessa fyra boxar finns samlade i en enda bok som heter Rules Cyclopedia som släpptes 1991.

I mångas ögon var och är detta den bästa versionen av D&D. Men produktionen lades ner i början av 1990-talet och självklart blev produkterna allt svårare att få tag i. Därför uppstod en rad retro-kloner, spel som inte heter Dungeons & Dragons, men som i väldigt stor utsträckning är samma spel – och som är kompatibla när det gäller äventyr och annat. Så för dig som vill spela “Classic D&D” i Sverige idag 2020 finns flera bra alternativ:

  • Rules Cyclopedia (print-on-demand eller PDF från
  • Monster & Magi (en svensk retroklon som finns på Bokus och Adlibris eller gratis nedladdning)
  • Svärd & Svartkonst (en svensk retroklon som är ännu enklare och inte så nära originalet)
  • Basregler och Expertregler från Titan Games (begagnat)
  • …eller någon av en stor mängd retrokloner på engelska, både i tryck eller som (gratis) nedladdning

Tvärt emot vad det först kan verka, så är detta inte på något vis en återvändsgränd för mycket nöje med D&D.

  • säljer alla gamla D&D-äventyr som PDF (på engelska)
  • Monster & Magi erbjuder flera äventyr
  • Svärd & Svartkonst erbjuder flera äventyr

Är Classic bättre?

Jag har precis börjat spela Classic igen (Titan Games D&D) efter att ha spelat 5e ett tag, med blandade känslor. Det återstår att se om gräset är grönare på andra sidan. Det som talar för Classic är att det är ett enklare och snabbare spel. Om jag skulle spela med unga människor i Sverige så skulle jag absolut välja D&D Classic på svenska.

Det finns också en trend som heter OSR (Old School Revival) som handlar om att hitta tillbaka till rollspelens ursprung. Utan att gå in på detaljer så är min mening att rollspelen blev mer och mer avancerade under 80-talet och 90-talet – det fanns såklart en efterfrågan från spelare, och en marknad att tjäna pengar på. Sedan försvann intresset för bordsrollspel mycket på 2000-talet, och jag tror en bidragande orsak var dataspel (Diablo, World of Warcraft). Ett dataspel är alltid överlägset ett rollspel när det gäller möjligheten att hantera taktisk realism och djup på ett snabbt sätt. Men till slut ersätter inte dataspelen helt rollspelen – det är en annorlunda upplevelse. Och kärnan i vad som gör rollspelen unika fångas helt även i ett mycket enkelt klassiskt rollspel. Jag tycker på samma sätt att man kan ana med nyare versioner av D&D (inte minst 5e) att de är designade med dataspel i åtanke (också).

Jag har skrivet mer om OSR (länk).

En annan sak som kan upplevas som en fördel eller nackdel med Classic är att eftersom det är så enkelt, så är det också väldigt enkelt att hitta på egna husregler som passar din grupp.

Vilken retro-klon eller Classic-D&D är bäst?

Jag är inte alls i stånd avgöra vilken retroklon som är bäst, eller om den är bättre än Bas/Expert från Titan Games.

Men retroklonerna uppstod därför att originalet blev svårt att få tag i. Sedan några år finns Rules Cyclopedia att köpa tillsammans med allt gammalt som publicerats till classic (på Om allt det funnits tillgängligt 1995-2015, så hade det troligtvis inte funnit så många retrokloner.

Med det sagt så är självklart inte Rules Cyclopedia från 1991 det perfekta D&D i alla avseenden. Olika retrokloner har ändrat vissa saker i avsikt att förbättra. Så för den som jämför retro-kloner finns några huvudsakliga skillnader:

  • Ras som klass: I D&D är alv, halvling och dvärg egna klasser. Människor kan vara krigare, magiker, präster och tjuvar. Men det finns inga alv-tjuvar eller dvärg-präster. Många retrokloner gör annorlunda.
  • Räddningsslag: I D&D finns 5 olika typer av räddningsslag. I vissa retrokloner finns bara 1 räddningsslag, eventuellt modifierat av grundegenskap (som 5e), eller andra lösningar.
  • Pansarklass: I D&D har man PK9 utan rustning och PK3 med plåtrustning – lägre är bättre. I många retrokloner har man vänt detta (precis som i 5e) så att högre PK är bättre.
  • En del retrokloner är mer T20-baserade (medan D&D ofta använder 1T6 eller 2T6 för att avgöra saker).

Styrkan i Rules Cyclopedia är mer avancerade saker som ofta saknas i retroklonerna, och att det är omfattande och komplett

  • Regler ända till grad 36
  • Färdigheter och “Weapon Mastery”-regler
  • Många formler, monster, magiska föremål, osv
  • Regler för fältslag, mm

Min egen avsikt är nog att använda Titan Games D&D, men med Rules Cyclopedia som referens i bakgrunden (och i den händelse jag behöver hantera karaktärer över grad 14) eftersom det är precis samma spel.

För den som vill börja spela D&D på svenska så skulle jag föreslå Monster & Magi. Det finns regler upp till grad 20, och skulle man vilja plocka in saker från Rules Cyclopedia så tror jag det skulle gå bra.

Även om Svärd & Svartkonst känns väl minimalistiskt för mig, så finns det mycket intressant att läsa i den snygga regelboken! Det finns lite valfria regler för strid, perspektiv på erfarenhetspoäng och hur exempelvis vandöda (levande döda) hanteras som helt klart är bra nytänkande!

Jag har svårt att se att jag skulle rekommendera någon att leta efter D&D Titan Games begagnat när M&M och S&S finns.

För den som föredrar ett engelskt spel så tycker jag utgångspunkten är att originalet (Rules Cyclopedia) är det bästa alternativet. Men det finns många bra retroclones på engelska. De jag skulle titta på först är:

  • Basic Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Mentzer / d20)
  • Castles and Crusades (1e / 3e)
  • Dark Dungeons (Moldvay / BECMI / Rules Cyclopedia)
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics (d20 / D&D)
  • Five Torches Deep (5e simplified)
  • Labyrith Lord (Moldvay / BECMI)
  • OSE / Old School Essential (B/X)
  • Sword & Sorcery (Original D&D)


Det här med att välja D&D-version som passar för dig och din grupp är inte helt enkelt. För att verkligen kunna ha en riktig uppfattning måste man såklart provspela. Men om man vet vad som finns så är det nog lite lättare att göra ett klokt val när man köper ett spel.

Jag hade nog inte köpt D&D 5e förra året ifall jag kände till Rules Cyclopedia och Monster & Magi då.

D&D Ability Scores: How exceptional is your character?

D&D (and many other RPGs) have ability scores. You are supposed to roll 3d6 for each of them, but most often players want better scores and DMs allow methods that gives better scores.

Each ability has a value in the range 3-18 and it gives a bonus in the range -4 to +4 (for Classic D&D: -3 to +3).

Lets forget about child mortality and assume 3d6 is for those who reach adulthood (without racial ability modifiers). This would give that the average citizen of a fantasy world has a total ability value of 63 (6 x 10.5) and a bonus of 0. It makes sense that the player characters – adventurers – are better than average. Not everyone becomes an adventurer.

If we imagine our D&D town or village not to be so very different from how children grow up today, I think this is a reasonable way to think of it (approximately)

  • 1/4: most talented among siblings
  • 1/10: most talented kid on the street
  • 1/30: most talented in class
  • 1/200: most talented in school
  • 1/1000: most talented person in a village
  • 1/10000: most talented person in town
  • … and beyond that, exceptional and rare talent

How does this match ability scores and bonuses?

Ability Score

6 abilitiesBetter than
6873%Most talented sibling
73Best of 10Most talented kid on street
74Best of 14
75Best of 18
76Best of 24
77Best of 32
78Best of 45
79Best of 64
80Best of 92
81Best of 136
82Best of 205Most talented kid in school
83Best of 316
84Best of 499
85Best of 808
86Best of 1341Most talented person in village
87Best of 2287
88Best of 4009
89Best of 7237
90Best of 13472Most talented person in town

So, a character with an average score of 15 would have a total of 90. On one hand that is a person who would probably have received some attention for her talents when growing up. On the other hand, it is far from unrealistic that such a person exist.


So what about total bonuses?

Total Bonus
6 Abilities
D&D 5e
Better than
Best of
D&D Classic
Better than
Best of
+8/50/1 924
+9/103/9 075
+10/229/49 840
+11/554/320 497
+12/1 476/2 435 080
+13/4 344/22 166 682
+14/14 251/246 959 710
+15/52 658/3 481 658 707
+16/221 926/65 692 122 012
+17/1 083 583/1 846 464 029 852
+18/6 251 574/101 983 687 214 006

What I find interesting with this is that it can somehow be connected to the background story of the character. If the character is just an unknown nobody who left her village for adventuring a total bonus of +6 (or +4 for Classic) is on the high side (a best-in-class-character would probably have recieved som attention). If, on the other hand, it is understood that the character is somehow distinguished, priviliged or meant for great deeds, it is not at all unreasonable with a total bonus of +12 (+8 in classic).

Even higher bonuses than that are very possible as long as it is understood that the characters are extraordinarily talented individuals in their society.

Other Rolling Methods

What if the DM allows other methods of rolling (Classic in parenthesis)?

~1/10 bad rollAverage roll~1/10 good roll
3d6-5 (-2)+0 (0)+5 (+2)Average person
2d6+6+4 (+2)+8 (+5)+12 (+8)Best in large class (~50)
4d6 drop worst+1 (+1)+6 (+4)+10 (+7)Best kid on street (~15)
5d6 drop worst 2+5 (+3)+9 (+6)+13 (+8)Best in small school (~100)
5e: [15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8]+5 (+2)Best sibling
5e: My House Rule+6Best kid on street (~15)

What this table says, roughly, is that if the player rolls once using this method it is likely she will get the average outcome. Only about 1/10 she will get the bad result from the bad column, or the good result from the good column. It is not at all likely that any of your players will roll a +14 (+9) character (which would correspond to best one of 10 000, or most talented in town) with any of the methods.


From this little experiment, two things came to me.

First, when it comes to NPC, villains and heroes (Conan and Robin Hood if you like) sometimes the stats of such figures are published and they can seem ridiculously good. But that is quite fine. They may be one-in-a-million type of humans who really made a footprint in their time.

Second, most established methods for generating abilities will produce characters that are the most talented among their siblings or perhaps the most talented in their school. For a player to roll anything significantly better there are some ways:

  • Very much luck
  • Rolling very many times
  • Cheating
  • Inventing a very powerful method

I think, more than just focusing on the rolling and the methods, it makes sense to talk to they players and ask: who do you reasonably think your character is. If they are the son of Conan, or the only one girl selected by the archmage in the country to study magic because of her extraordinary talents, then very high ability scores are perfectly reasonable.

Source Code

The source code for this is written in JavaScript and runs with Node.js on your computer. It is not quite written to be published, but here it is anyway.

Parameters are hard coded in the top of main().

const objcopy = (obj) => {
  return JSON.parse(JSON.stringify(obj));

const num2prop = (n) => {
  if ( n < 0 ) return '' + n;
  if ( 0 < n ) return '+' + n;
  return ' 0';

const numcmp = (a,b) => {
  return +a - +b;

const abilities = () => {
  const ret = {};
  let i;
  for ( i=3 ; i<=18 ; i++ ) ret[i] = 0;
  return ret;

const dice3d6 = () => {
  const ret = abilities();
  let i, j, k;
  for ( i=1;i<=6;i++ ) for ( j=1;j<=6;j++ ) for ( k=1;k<=6;k++ ) ret[i+j+k]++;
  return ret;

const dice2d6p6 = () => {
  const ret = abilities();
  let i, j;
  for ( i=1;i<=6;i++ ) for ( j=1;j<=6;j++ ) ret[i+j+6]++;
  return ret;

const dice4d6drop = () => {
  const ret = abilities();
  let i, j, k, l;
  for ( i=1;i<=6;i++ )
    for ( j=1;j<=6;j++ )
      for ( k=1;k<=6;k++ )
        for ( l=1;l<=6;l++ ) {
          const a = [i,j,k,l];
  return ret;

const dice5d6drop = () => {
  const ret = abilities();
  let i, j, k, l, m;
  for ( i=1;i<=6;i++ )
    for ( j=1;j<=6;j++ )
      for ( k=1;k<=6;k++ )
        for ( l=1;l<=6;l++ )
          for ( m=1;m<=6;m++ ) {
            const a = [i,j,k,l,m];
  return ret;

const multiplestats = (dist,n) => {
  let ret = objcopy(dist);
  let i;
  for ( i=1 ; i<n ; i++ ) {
    ret = multiplestats_2(ret,dist);
  return ret;

const multiplestats_2 = (total,one) => {
  let ret = {};
  let t, o, r;
  for ( t in total ) for ( o in one ) {
    r = num2prop(+t + +o);
    if ( !ret[r] ) ret[r] = 0;
    ret[r] += (total[t] * one[o]);
  return ret;

const bonuses = {
  'Classic' : () => {
    return {
      '-3' : 0,
      '-2' : 0,
      '-1' : 0,
      ' 0' : 0,
      '+1' : 0,
      '+2' : 0,
      '+3' : 0
  '5e' : () => {
    return {
      '-4' : 0,
      '-3' : 0,
      '-2' : 0,
      '-1' : 0,
      ' 0' : 0,
      '+1' : 0,
      '+2' : 0,
      '+3' : 0,
      '+4' : 0

const ability2bonus = {
  'Classic' : (a) => {
    switch (a) {
    case 3: return '-3';
    case 4: case 5: return '-2';
    case 6: case 7: case 8: return '-1';
    case 9: case 10: case 11: case 12: return ' 0';
    case 13: case 14: case 15: return '+1';
    case 16: case 17: return '+2';
    case 18: return '+3';
  '5e' : (a) => {
    switch (a) {
    case 3: return '-4';
    case 4: case 5: return '-3';
    case 6: case 7: return '-2';
    case 8: case 9: return '-1';
    case 10: case 11: return ' 0';
    case 12: case 13: return '+1';
    case 14: case 15: return '+2';
    case 16: case 17: return '+3';
    case 18: return '+4';

const dist_ability2bonus = (distDice,version) => {
  const distBonus = bonuses[version]();
  const getBonus = ability2bonus[version];
  let a;
  for ( a=3 ; a<=18 ; a++ ) distBonus[getBonus(a)] += distDice[a];
  return distBonus;

const toPercent = (dist) => {
  const ret = {};
  const keys = Object.keys(dist).sort(numcmp);
  let total = 0;
  let i,k;
  for ( i=0 ; i<keys.length ; i++ ) {
    k = keys[i];
    total += dist[k];
  total = 100 / total;
  for ( i=0 ; i<keys.length ; i++ ) {
    k = keys[i];
    ret[k] = dist[k] * total;
  return ret;

const accumulate = (dist) => {
  const ret = {};
  const keys = Object.keys(dist).sort(numcmp);
  let acc = 0;
  let i,k;
  for ( i=0 ; i<keys.length ; i++ ) {
    k = keys[i];
    ret[k] = acc;
    acc += dist[k];
  return ret;

const rounddecimals = (dist) => {
  let k,v;
  for ( k in dist ) {
  v = dist[k];
  if ( !Number.isInteger(v) ) {
    if ( v < 10 )
      dist[k] = '1/' + (100/v).toFixed(0);
    else if ( 90 < v )
      dist[k] = '1/' + (100/(100-v)).toFixed(0);
      dist[k] = v.toFixed(1);

const main = () => {
//const rolldist = dice3d6();
//const rolldist = dice2d6p6();
//const rolldist = dice4d6drop();
  const rolldist = dice5d6drop();
//const bonus = '5e';
  const bonus = 'Classic';
  const rollcount = 6;
  const percent = true;
  const accumulated = true;
  const round = true;
  const printall = true;
  let workdata = [{ dist:rolldist , lbl:'Roll Dist'}];
  const last = () => { return workdata[workdata.length-1].dist; };
  if ( bonus ) workdata.push({
    dist : dist_ability2bonus(last(),bonus),
     lbl : 'Bonus: ' + bonus
  if ( 1 < rollcount ) workdata.push({
    dist : multiplestats(last(),rollcount),
     lbl : '' + rollcount + ' stats'
  if ( percent ) workdata.push({
    dist : toPercent(last()),
     lbl : 'Percent'
  if ( accumulated ) workdata.push({
    dist : accumulate(last()),
     lbl : 'Accumulated'
  if ( round ) workdata.forEach((w) => { rounddecimals(w.dist) });
  if ( printall )


Reading old Dragon Magazines in 2020-2021

I discovered that old issues of the Dragon magazine are available free for download. When reading about old versions of Dungeons and Dragons there are often references to the Dragon Magazine.

I entertained myself browsing through the first 100 140 issues (June 1976 to August 1985) and took notes of articles I find can be of value today.

  • OD&D is mostly covered up to #25
  • After #25 most things refer to AD&D 1e (which for most practical purposes is quite compatible with OSR clones and Classic D&D)
  • There is virtually no content to be found specifically written for Classic D&D
  • There is a separate Dungeon magazine which also is downloadable for free, and which almost only contains D&D modules (adventures), so I have only noted a few such modules from Dragon magazine.

This is a list of articles I found in Dragon #1 – #130 that I found particularly relevant in 2020.

You are most welcome to give feedback on my list!

About D&D

#pagesTitle or type of article
77Gary Gagax on D&D***
823On Realism (Joke)***
1615-16,21Gary Gagax on Realism, Game Logic and more****
1636Game Balance***
2417-19Gary Gagax on Melee in D&D****
2628-Gary Gagax on OD&D and AD&D****
28Gary Gagax on OD&D and AD&D****
3512-13TSR plans D&D and AD&D****
3916-18Women want equality***
5214-15On Classic D&D by Holmes/Moldvay****
7645-52Index of previous Dragon Magazine
7726-29On Classic D&D by Mentzer****
8438-44On Companion D&D by Mentzer****
9512-13The influence of JRR Tolkien on D&D and AD&D***
1028-10Realms of role playing***
1038-10What the 2nd Edition will be like by Gary Gagax
10356Profile: Gary Gagax (never sleeps)***
10763Profile: Elmore
11241-64Index of previous Dragon Magazine
12240Gary Gagax “Farewell”**

Creatures (new AD&D 1e)

Creatures for AD&D 1e can probably be used with little effort in OSR gaming.

#pagesTitle or type of article
27The Horast
3239Crawling Claw
376-Neutral Dragons
427-15Demons, Devils, Spirits
4244Necroton and more
4488-Ice, various creatures
4566-Dust Devil, Sand Lizard
4810Sea, various creatures
5166Piranha Bat
5248-49Rhaumbusun (Crocodile-basilisk)
Devil Spider
6148-49Umbreas and more
626-11Dragons (faerie and more)
6528-30Dragons (yellow, orange, purple)
6620-21Oriental (different spirits)
6656-57Vultures, Hawk, Skeleton animals
7412-15Landragons (non flying dragons)
9020-23Bats, 6 types****
918Goristro Demon
9444-54Creature Catalogue II
9538-39The many shapes of Apes***
10140-55Creature Catalogue III**
10220-28A collection of Canines (dogs)
11638-44Sea Creatures
11946-53Creatures of the Woods
13742-49Prehistorical animals
13822-35The ungrateful dead
13970-74Rare beasts of Forgotten Realms

Creature Lore

#pagesTitle or article type
1414-Interview with a Rust Monster
2531-33Interview with an Iron Golem
2542Vampires, Variety of**
2636Lich, Blueprint of****
507-12Dragons: Fighting strategies
7115-18Mind of the monsters
766-8On Beholders
7866-68Ecology of Mind Flayers
806-8Psycology of Dopplegangers
8127-28Ecology of a Basilisk
8718-20Ecology of a Dryad
8822-24Ecology of a Rust Monster
9229-31Ecology of Ettins***
9424-26Ecology of Chimera**
9522-26Ecology of a Cockatrice****
9725-27Ecology of a Gorgon
9919-20Ecology of Will-i-wisp**
The Centaur Papers
10433-36Ecology of the Ochre Jelly
10616-17Ecology of the Maedar
10932-34Ecology of a Displacer beast
11550-54Ecology of a Harpy****
11632-35Ecology of a Minataur
11733-36Ecology of an Anhkheg
11942-44Ecology of the Korred
12456-57Ecology of a Gelatinous Cube
12510-12Ecology of the Greenhag
12641-43The ecology of the Shade
13136-39Ecology of the Aboleth + Stats
13142-46Ecology of Hook Horror + Stats
Give Dragons a Fighting Chance
Serpents (Dragons) and Sorcery
Dragotha (a Dracolich)
Ecology of the Red Dragon
13654-56The Golems Craft
13727-32Ecology of carnivorous plants
Golems (hiding)
Ecology of spectator (+stats)


#pagesTitle or article type
5218-24Birthplaces in Greyhawk
6314-17Sea Barons and more countries
Gods of the Seul Pantheon


These articles are mostly not about rules but other useful knowledge.

#pagesTitle or Type of article
2032-Demonic Possession
2250-54Pole Arms
2512-13Social classes in D&D
3128-29Books are books, Games are Games****
4541-43History of Dwarves
4549-51Castles*** (historical)
5013-Raising a Dragon
5855-59Swords*** Quality of swords?
5916-20Gypsies** Special “class” rules of limited use.
6325-31Humanoids (and their Deities)
6351-54Plan before you play
6367-71Coins*** (historical)
6547-53Celtic mythology
6818-22Ice Age Adventureing
Hell and Devils
7554-57Orcish language
8014-16Five things to DMing Success****
Clerics: Special Skills & Thrills
Dragon Magazine #85
Clerics must be deity-bound
9030-33Political Game
9036-60Gladsheim / Norse Mythology + Module****
9118-34The Nine Hells Revisited
926-10Clerics – missions and playing
9312-17World Building
9324-30How to pronounce monster names
9410-16Large Scale Logistics
9441-42The Knights of Solamnia (Dragonlance)
978-Deities and their faithful
986-10Dragon Hoards
9811-13Dragon Teeth
9815-16Dragons of Dragonlance****
9822-24Detailing a fantasy world
9828-32Knowing whats in Store*****
998-10The neutral point of view (between good and evil)
10536-42,55Parallel gaming worlds
1068-12The laws of Magic*
10716-21The six abilities
10722-25Increasing ability scores
10812-20The Role of Nature
10928-30A dwarf’s beard is more than hair
11122-26Out-of-control campaigns
11310-26Welcome to Hades
11538-40Clerics: Weapons of choice**
11628-30Aquatic Elves
11716-17Feuds and Feudalism
11740-42Fun without Fighting
11743-45Henchmen, Hirelings & Followers
1188-14,18-20Gladitorial Combat
11910-29Druids (several articles)
12244-45DMs ten commandments***
12316-30The Mystic’s College
12514-16Woodlands of the Realms (trees)
12518-19Code of Chivalry
12542-45Glory, Danger and Wounds
1288-14Welcome to Waterdeep
13070-78If looks could kill
13228-32Trap Design
13327-33Roman Pantheon + stats
13518-19Usages of Rope
13526-29When Game Masters go Bad*****
13618-20The long arm of the law
13628-32Inns (with price lists)
13634-38Fifty ways to foil your players
13936-40Speaking with Spirits

Magic Items

2624-Deck of Fate
3035-36Extranous Magic Items
7336-40100 Unusual Magic Items
7418-24Blades of the (Forgotten) Realms
7718-24Curses and nasty items
8034-36Treasures rare and wondrous
8228-30Rings that do weird things (13 items)****
8626-28A few magic items
8914-18Six very special shields
9152-62Treasure Trove (47 magic items)
9949-52Seventeen new treasures (Magic Items)
10230-34,89-Nine Wands of Wonder
11546-47Nine magical harps
11746-47Nine magical masks
11748-51Magic rings
12564-67Magical maps of Greyhawk
12726-31Bows and Crossbows
13310-11Arrows (and Quivers)

Modules (Adventures)

A few I found interesting.

#pagesTitle or article type
7842-56Citadel by the Sea
8035-45Adventure + City
10243-54Valley of the Earthmother

Rules, Lists

These are optional rules, items and other lists.

#pagesTitle or type of article
3219-20Permanent Damage
2923Rewarding Heroism*
2924-25Taverns & Inns + Menu*****
31Criticals & Below 0HP
3430-31Beware of Quirks and Curses: Magic items are not always nice****
3847-48DM Hostile Magic Users
4860-62Instant Adventures***
6842-53+last 3Weather (Greyhawk)
776-13Tarot cards
8214-19Healing Herbs
858-11First Aid
9946-48Magic Swords
10416-19Pick Pocketing (lists)
10622-23Doors: Open them if you dare
10828-29Cantrips for Clerics
10842-26The plants of Biurndon
11227-31Cloaked in Magic
1169-27Maritime Adventures
11722-24Dungeoneers Shopping Guide****
11822-29Jousting rules
12417-32Aerial Adventuring
13040Ingredients of (alchemists) potions
13377-80Berserkers (NPC class)
13646-48Recharge of magic items
13716-24Treasures of the Wild

Random World

1715Sights and Sounds***
2110Random Town Events***
8030-34Random Treasures/Items
10530-35The well equiped victim***
11422-24Grave Encounters**
11548-49Dungeon floor design***
11560-61Doors (50 of them)****
12116-19Japanese Names**
13122-30Random Natural Caves
1368-14Random City
1378-14Hunting – whats for dinner
13734-41Weather system
13750-52Encounter tables wilderness (pre history)

Fiction / Short Stories

These should be Fantasy short stories.

#pagesTitle or type of article
1-7The Gnome Cache
214-Short Story
423-25Roads from Jakalla** Ok D&D, not much of litterature.
518-24Short Story
612-14The Forest of Flame****
712-15The Journey Most Alone** (planes and mystery)
1222-30Short Story
1322-28The Stolen Sacrifice*****
1510-11The Gospel of Benwa** (creation story, law, chaos & neutrality)
Green Magician (1/2)
Green Magician (2/2)
Sister story to Wall of Serpents by L Sprague de Camp
(I did not fancy Wall of Serpents that much, skipping this)
2442-43Monty Haul and the
Best of Freddie
Power game session
386-The Cup of Golden Death****
447-Lure of the Golden Goblin***
467-Short Story
5524-36The coming of the sword
5837In the bag***
6031-32Short Story
6673-74Friends in High Places***
7111-13The blink of a Wizard’s eye*
7371-72Short Story
7911-12The Ordeal* (and not fantasy)
8118-22In the Cleft of Queens*****
8326-30Short Story
8457-63Short Story
8528-35Valkyrie Settlement
8556-62A stone’s throw away (Dragonlance)
8659-63Short Story
8859-63Short Story
8955-61Short Story
9186-93Short Story
9355-61Short Story
9457-63Fortunes of a Fool**
9560-67Desperate Acts
9863-67The forging of fear*****
9963-67Dennim and the Golem***
10022-32Short Story
10162-66And Adventuring To …
10564-68On the Rocks at Slabs
10869-75The Grey Stones
11066-76The Wizards’ Boy
11362-71A Difficult Undertaking
11849-56Across the Fog-Grey Sky
11963-73The Pawns of Crux
12047-50Dragon Meat**** (humourous)
12151-63Love and Ale (Dragonlance)
12263-67The Prince’s Birthday
12557-63The passing of kings
12644-49Well Bottled at Slab’s
12836-42The Spirit Way
12958-64The old ways are best
13042-49Shark Killer
13141-45Out of hand
13449-55Eyes of Redemptions
13555-60Karl and the Ogre
13641-45The curse of the Magus
13857-64Between Lightning and Thunder
13947-49The visitor
14047-51Flesh and Blood

Art – B/W

Three warriors and a horse
Warrior – roman style
3520Bowman in Chainmail**
Woman on Throne
Warrion on Horse
Troll, Dwarf
398Dark Paladin****
Coat of arms (Shield + Two axes)
Anvil with sculpture
Castle against night sky
5413Wizard and huge spider net***
5957Poisoned nobleman***
Goblins (3x)
6660Nobleman with Drinking Cup**
Two old wizards
Elegant man with flute
Rogue with sword
Lich / Death god
Mounted knight
Female knight on Unicorn
Man with sword at wall
Viking on Longship
Orc with axe
Hung in tree by mob
Ruin: Gate & Trees
Priest with warhammer
Witch or Sorceress
Dwarf with warhammer
Hiding elf / Hunters with bows
944Wizard (?)***
Shop interiors: Smith, Leather, Tanner
9965Wicked old man****
12019Angry dwarf with club****
Two knights jousting
A few ships
A Demon (?)
Woman drawing, man standing
Man and witch (?)
Barbarian (?) with Dragon
Woman – tottooes in face
Old Merchant
Two village women
Ritual and demon
Old man in library
Portraits of priests/shamans (2)
Coat of arms (Dragons and swords)
Wizard (and dead/defeated man)

Art – Full Color

723Warriors having passed a river**
Old man inspecting sword(s)
Monk in armory
7281Mounted knight and goblins***
9059Elmore: Dragon & Warriors*****
13315Warrior + Death Knight(?)****
13423Fighter / Dragon***
1377Hydra & Warrior***

Earth as a fantasy RPG setting

This post is about using our Earth as a fantasy setting for roleplaying games like D&D or Fantasy!.

The appeal

The appeal with using Earth is that everyone already knows things. Egyptians, the Atlantic Ocean, Samurais, the Church and many other things are already there. If you play in a culture that your group is already familiar with there are symbols that can be used immediately for a feeling of authenticity.

The problems

The most obvious problems are the absence of supernatural fantasy things, and WHEN to set the campaign. I have seen the division of campaigns into Historical, Epic or Fantasy. I want to go for fantasy: there will be dragons, magic, and orcs.

The problem of WHEN is that in the history of Earth, civilizations are emerging and disappearing. And as some empires grew large, nature was also tamed and less land was truly wild and unexplored.

Another problem is unfortunately that there are people who are offended or triggered when something they care about is being depicted in a way they don’t approve with.

The solution (in principle)

We obviously need to rewrite history. Let us say the year is about 1000, but many civilizations and empires remained – smaller than at their peak – and they are now technologically mostly equal. Between these civilizations (and underground) there is wilderness, chaos and evil.

I suppose you need to cherry pick what remains and what was never there, based on what is meaningful and interesting to your group. I live in Sweden and I and my players (sadly) know nothing about the history of Belarus. So I can do what I want with that spot on the map (maybe it is an ancient empire of elves, or goblins). But you may be Polish or Ukrainian and want to center your campaign there, and Belarus has lots of references to you that you care about. Sweden on the other hand can be a land of viking barbarian orcs to you.

Europe Centric A-Z

Here follows short descriptions of countries and civilizations that can coexist. The exact borders matters little to me at this point.

Note that most nations consist largely of wilderness and that both internal and external borders can be quite fluid.

This is Europe centric because it is what I and my group know best. There is nothing right and wrong here – I am just trying to be practical.

The Alps

The naturally protected alps are home to dvarves in the mountains and elves and halflings in the valleys. There are well protected and profitable trade routes going through (and under) the mountains. However, other humanoids and dragons also dwell here.

Arabic Caliphate

Under Islamic leadership and with its political center in Mekka, the Arabic Caliphate is spreading from Southern spain, most of Sahara and northern Africa, around the Red Sea and over Arabic peninsula to the Persian gulf. These are arid, warm lands and its people are mostly fast moving nomads on camels, waging wars on many fronts. Egypt and many fertile settlements on the on the Mediteranean south coast are being proteced and held by the Roman Empire (and Christian allies and mercenaries).


Babylon, being one of oldest great settlements, remains on the banks of Euphrates. The persians, romans, ottomans and arabs have all tried to lay hands on this desert jewel but ancient sourcery and powerful allies have kept Babylon an independent city state (effectively ruling the fertile lands around it). This is a melting pot yet an ancient place where culture, traditions, rituals and worship has survived for centuries.

Baltic Nations

The three Baltic Nations are officially duchys of Russia. However, in practice they participate in the Hansa League, and often see themselves raided by barbarians and vikings.

Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire covers Balkans and Bulgaria. It is home to Orthodox Christianty and a remaining part of the once huge Roman empire. On one hand the Byzantine Empire profits from being the crossroads of trade between east and west, on the other hand it struggles to protect all its boarders.


Catalonia has liberated itself from Muslim occupation and since then acted as an independent state.


Denmark is a viking monarchy, often at wars with its neighbors. It is a strong agriculture and trading nation and Christianity has made little progress here.


The ancient religous nation of Egypt was under control of the Roman Empire for long. However, it regained independence and is strongly allied with Rome against the Muslim campaigns and domination in northern Africa. Egypt is a religous dictatorship ruled by a divine Pharao, with some cities (mostly Alexandria) being open to foreigners and more international and multicultural.


England is a Kingdom of wealth and struggle, often at war with its neighbors. The Christian Anglican church dominates, but there are conflicts with other christian groups, pagans, druids and even vikings.


Finland is the land of Elves in northern Europe. Some towns along the coast have a significant human population and manage trade with Hansa.


France is a Christian kingdom, engaged in holy wars far from its own borders, while struggling to stay safe from Saxons, Germanic tribes, and Muslim onslaught in the south.

Germanic Tribes

The lands of Germany and Poland are largely wilderness, inhabited by barbaric tribes (and other humanoids). However, there are smaller kingdoms in these lands, and trade routes going through them.


Greece, the cradle of democracy, remains. Athens being the cultural and political center and Sparta being the home of the military that has defened the ancient nation countless times. Christianity is tolerated side by side with the old gods of Greece. Greece is also largely a nation of islands with a significant trade and military fleet.

Hansa Trade League

Towns and lands around southern Baltic sea form the Hansa Trade League. This is an economic, but also military alliance, with influence far beyond its member towns.

Holy Lands

Between the Ottoman empire, Egypt, the Persian Empire and the Arabic Caliphat lies the Holy Lands. Christians and Muslims struggle for control of the holy sites, especially Jerusalem. There is obviously room for a jewish aspect, or not, depending on your preferences. Apart from Jerusalem, there are desert city states like Palmyra here.


Iceland, populated with outcasts and refugees from Scandinavia and the British isles, is a viking meritocracy and democracy. The Icelandic’s have settlements also in Greenland and Newfoundland.


Ireland is a rural and pagan country dominated by druids. In some towns along the south east coast there are many Christians and they serve as intellectual melting pots. Both halflings and elves are common in Ireland.

Italy and the Roman Empire

Northern Italy consists of free city states, advanced in trade, culture and freedom of expression, and melting pots in the crossroads of Europe.

Southern Italy is the core of what remains of the West Roman Empire. There is decadence and arrogance but the empire is rich and with a strong military. However much wealth comes from lands in northern Africa which are part of the empire but now at war with Muslim forces.

Many Romans worship the old gods of the empire, however at the same time the Vatican and Pope in Rome are the head of Christians.


The ambitious Normands managed to forge their own kingdom, aspiring to expand over the English channel.


Norway, the coastal areas, are lands of vikings making a living plundering, trading and fishing. There is not much central government (although attempts are being made). The vast mountains hosts dvarves and monsters.

Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire has internal religious power struggles between different religons groups (both Christian and Muslim). It is a vast country with untamed dangerous wilderness and ambitous rulers struggle to maintain the borders even though they occationally engage in foreign campaigns.

Persian Empire

The Persian empire is ancient vast and complex. Islam is growing more influential.


Portugal is a Christian kingdom mostly looking westward doing trade and some warfare in South America. Portugal has a strong fleet and is a strong trade nation.

Romania (Transylvania)

Romania has been part of both the old Roman Empire, the Byzantian Empire and the Ottaman empire. However, dark forces are moving here and Romania now consists of city states and smaller independent nations. However it is well established that sourcerors, vampires and perhaps even priests in unholy alliances rule these lands.

Russian Empire

The huge Russian empire has few borders. This nation upholds civilization in unlikely places. Officially the Tsar rules with an iron hand, but in practice power is given to local lords and the empire is losely kept together.

Chistianity dominates among the elite and in the large cities.


Saxons are an old people with a young nation located south of the English Channels. Saxons have been influential in England and they have been at war with all their neighbors.


Southern Scotland is a kingdom (Scotland), often at war with England, and often allied to France. Christianity is dominant in Scotland.

Northern Scotland is inhabited by barbarian clans.


Spain is a Christian kingdom at war with Muslims occupying the southern parts of the nations since over a century. The kingdom has family and political relations to the kingdoms of France, Normandy, England and Scotland but because of the wars within its own borders it has lost position to England and France.

Catalonia has declared independence from the weakened kingdom, yet stands against the Muslims.


Sudan and Khartoum are centres of trade between Africa, Europe (via Egypt) and the middle east. Slaves is one of the most important goods.


Southern Sweden is a quite rural pagan evolving feudal monarchy. This is a land of mostly wilderness and civilization is centered around some towns. Norse gods are still worshiped but Christianity is growing.

Gotland and the southeast of Sweden belongs to the Hansa trade league, and is a bit more advanced.

Northern parts of Sweden lack government and consists of vikings, barbarians, nomads (samis), dwarves, and other humanoids.


Wales is druid land, opposing monarchy and Christianity.

Beyond and other Continents

China and India deserves the same complexity, diversity and depths as all of Europe and if you choose to locate your campaign here you probably know what to do. I think of China as en ancient empire, struggling with being united and shattered over and over again.

North America is probably home to elves and native tribes (druids and rangers), and some viking settlements.

South America has its own militaristic empires, and som portuguese settlements.

Africa south of Sahara is a rich land of kingdoms and perhaps even empires of its own.

Japan is an advanced monarcy, quite isolated, but not unknown.

Antarctica has huge potential with ancient elven kingdoms under the ice, and lurking horrors.


Islands are great opportunities for things more outside the norm on Earth. Svalbard, Corse, Sicily, Crete, Canary Islands and the Hebrides all provide opportunity for extra spicy things.

Monsters and Beasts

Europe can seem crowded. But Africa and Siberia can host wild creatures and dragons that occationally visit Europe and even settle there. Evil humanoids (goblins and orcs) live in forests, mountains and underground.


I think religion is one of the best reasons to place your campaign on Earth. Apart from the world religions you also have old Norse, Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods, as well as druids and nature worshipping. It is all quite consistent and familiar, with lots of useful references and symbology.


Not being able to talk to anyone is rarely useful for good roleplaying experience. Latin comes in handy, perhaps in combination with a “common-anglo-germanic” language.

Historic People

I have avoided making references to historic people. I think Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed are needed. I can imagine the french making references to Charlemagne (as former or current king) and why not make references to Ceasar as well?


The exact passing of history was, and is, not known to most people or even most historians. You don’t need to know. They players don’t need to know. You can use “I am a direct decendent of Saladin, liberator of Jerusalem” in your game, and the players can believe what they want. Or you can make reference to the 100-year-war-between-babylon-and-persia, if you need to.

Hyborian Age

Was this Fantasy Earth following the Hyborian Age as in Howards stories about Conan? If you want to, it can be a soure of references: ancient artifacts, lost underground cities and Set the snake god.

Dungeon Master Inspirational Reading

This is work in progress.

I read to get inspiration for my D&D Dungeon Master hobby.

5/5 Recommended

  • Appendix N: The Eldritch Roots of Dungeons & Dragons (short stories)
  • Conan Chronices (short stories of varying length and quality)
  • Jirel of Joiry (6 short stories)
  • Northlanders 1-3 (comic)
  • Untold Adventures – Dungeons & Dragons (short stories)
  • The Outsider (short story, H.P. Lovecraft)
  • The stolen sacrifice (Dragon Magazine #13)
  • The Testament of Athammaus
  • Thorgal (comic)

4/5 Recommended

  • Berserk (Deluxe, 1-2, manga)
  • Kull Exile of Atlantis (short stories)
  • Svavelvinter, Slaktare Små, Vredes Verk, Vanderland
  • Lone Wolf (Project Aon)
  • The Forest of Flame (Dragon Magazine #6)
  • The Tale of Satampra Zeiros
  • Legends and Myths: Robin Hood
  • People of the Pit

3/5 Average

  • Crannog Saga 1-3 (Comic)
  • Fall of Gondolin
  • Legends and Myths: Knights of the round table
  • Legends and Myths: Jason and the Argonauts
  • Wall of Serpents

2/5 Not so recommended

  • Den eviga nattens riddare + Det mörka hjärtats vilja (Swedish)
  • Legends and Myths: Charlemagne
  • Vox Machina
  • Roads from Jakalla (Dragon Magazine #4)

1/5 Not recommended

  • Legends and Myths: King Arthur

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