Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Savage Worlds—Fantasy Companion & the Forgotton D&D Endgame

Recently I read a blog post about the forgotten endgame of Dungeons & Dragons. Something that I never really understood about D&D was the purpose of all the dungeon delving.

When I was a kid, I voraciously watched the cartoon every Saturday morning (much to my Mother's chagrin) the plot was that these kids had been at an amusement park, took a ride on a roller coaster that somehow became a vortex and sucked the kids into a fantastical realm of magic. Their adventures focused on them trying to discover a way back home being guided by the mysterious Dungeon Master and being thwarted time after time by the Evil Venger. The other exposure I had to the game was advertisements in comic books. Smurf comic books.

I remember once that I walked over to my neighbors house, and he and his brother (my sometimes friends) were being mighty secretive about what they were doing. Eventually they said that they were playing Dungeons & Dragons, and having been warned to stay away from that game by my Mother, and being that I was mostly an obedient kid, I left. Thinking back on that (another in a long line of weird memories that stuck with me for no apparent reason) they had no books, they had no dice, they had a single pencil and a single sheet of lined paper. Based on my vague memory I think they were creating a character.

I never really heard of D&D again until Junior High when a teacher I looked up to and had respect for used a d20 and a table to give us Random Objects that we were supposed to work into a story. She briefly mentioned D&D. That was my first exposure to a non six sided die and I thought it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen though I didn't think to ask where one can obtain such a thing—I assumed the only way to get one was via purchasing D&D (which I had seen in Toy Stores, the Famous Red Box version).

Shortly thereafter I purchased Cloak and Dagger at a thrift store, mostly because it had a d12 in it.

I played my first game of D&D on Halloween in 2004 at the home of a member of our Bishopric. I've played quite a bit since. The games that I've been a part of don't line up with the typical Dungeon Delving that is the hallmark of D&D. It seemed a silly occupation to be a motley group that went into Dungeons and came out with treasure. That's generally what we were doing, it was generally masked by an overarching story about some great evil that needed to be overcome. but the party always ends up in these "dungeons," fighting random monsters. Often the party will find themselves at a Tavern, regrouping after the dungeon delve, chatting with the Tavern Owner that was once an adventurer himself and has a secret stash of treasure from the glory days—an interesting retirement plan.

Back to the point, I recently learned about the forgotten endgame of D&D. After amassing riches you would take said riches and establish a Barony, build a castle, become a Lord of Land. I found this concept intriguing. It does make sense when you realize that the roots of D&D are firmly established in Historical War Gaming. Establishing a Castle and Building an Army just brings that full circle.

D&D was a radical departure in tabletop tactical gaming, in that you were controlling one character that was going on adventures rather than maintaining an army. Knowing now that contained within the Original D&D books were rules for settling down and establishing a kingdom, a kingdom that would need an army really brings the game full circle.

Likely if I was to get a character advanced to that point, I most likely wouldn't establish his retirement; I'm more interested in creating a new novice character to go on new adventures. It is a good idea for a story though, and if I was tired of adventuring, I think it would be interesting to run a game in the vein of a Land Owner.

So, I recently got the Fantasy Companion for Savage Worlds—a supplemental book that aids in the running of Fantasy Role Play Games using the Savage Worlds System. Savage Worlds is a Generic System and can be used to play High Fantasy, Science Fiction, Pulp Fiction, Post Apocalyptic, etc. etc. etc. Pinnacle has plans to publish several of these Companion Books to help in the running of particular Genre Games; Fantasy, Superhero, Horror, Etc.

So, I was flipping through the pages of the Fantasy Companion and pages thirteen through nineteen are all about owning land and role playing siege warfare, and Savage Worlds already has Mass Battle Rules, as well as a subset of Rules Dubbed Savage Showdown geared specifically for Tabletop War Gaming. Intriguing indeed. Particularly concerning my newly gained historical perspective on Original D&D.


  1. It's pretty sad that I never thought about where "the game" should end. I guess I figured it was an adventure and that was the game. I've got to read the manuals so I have a better grasp of these rpg's I play with you.

  2. So does this mean your phase of being an obedient kid has ended? :)

  3. Uh I really hate to break this to you but, the land owning baron is not the endgame, that is where epic level adventures come into play. My brother played a palidin who eventually killed a corrupt god of the dead seized his portfolio and took over the role of Lord of the Dead. Just think what that did to the poor confused clerics of the former Lord of the Dead. "What we can't raise armies of undeath to take over the world anymore!?"

    As for dungeon delving, in my opinion the best games do not have dungeon delves for there own sake but have a story that wraps up the dungeon delves and disguises them as part of a greater story. I really like to disguise them so that the players have to think about it before they realize they are in a dungeon delve.

  4. I am aware of the epic level adventuring, but I've read interviews from Gary Gygax and a lot of the original game designers and though they wrote those supplements thy dismissed those Godlike Levels and never really ran games in that vein because they didn't like it. Also I learned about the "end game" from Uncle Bear (linked to in the blog)