What does a wizard look like?

When Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition came out, there was a great deal of argument over its “dungeonpunk” aesthetic and, particularly, the way wizards didn’t look like they were “supposed” to. The pointy-hatted old men familiar from Dragon magazine covers or Will McLean cartoons had been replaced by a confusingly-dressed elf lady and a bare-chested Read More …

Class Construction in early Tunnels & Trolls

The early editions of Tunnels & Trolls are a good example of two¬†class design¬†schema: Classes to fill holes Classes on a spectrum The two base classes are warrior and wizard. The warrior is a straightforward arms and armor type, noted in the game’s fifth-and-a-half edition as being based on Conan. Wizards have a mix of Read More …

Dangerous Archaeology

I often refer to Dungeons & Dragons as a game of dangerous archaeology. In their classic tomb-robbing mode, the party enters an underworld with its own history, meaning, and ecology.* The process of exploring a dungeon is much like the process of excavating a tomb… except eighty times faster and with more blood and looting. Read More …

What makes a thief?

(In which, as a remedy for an unquiet mind, I begin designing a thief class for my Swords & Wizardry/Labyrinth Lord/Rules Cyclopedia game.) The thief is my favorite fantasy character class. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are my favorite fantasy heroes. My definitive edition of Dungeons & Dragons is the Rules Cyclopedia, which prominently features Read More …