Tuesday, May 19, 2015

AD&D's Apocalypse and Domain Game Index

Mad Max Fury Road is predictably jamming my nerd circle frequency on Google Plus. Naturally thoughts run to things post-fall-like and discussions around post-apocalyptic gaming are breaking out here and there. An interesting thread on Big Purple has resurrected an old school line of exploration: the apocalypse of D&D's implied setting.

That thread dovetails nicely with my blog indexing push, so let's run a circle back to two series of interlocked Talmudic ruminations that started with the post-apocalypse of AD&D's original flagship setting Greyhawk and led to analysis of the implied domain-level play in first edition.

If you read one post out of this list, I would suggest “What Rough Men Tell Us About AD&D's Implied World,” one of my personal favorite posts (and I usually hate with a passion the things I write). If you read a second check out the “Howling Emptiness of the World of Greyhawk” or the last post “AD&D's Apocalypse and Hereafter.” Do make sure to read the comments, they are half or more of what makes the threads interesting and the posts bounce dialectically from them.

Post-Apocalyptic Greyhawk

Some seriously nerdy number crunching around the population density of the Greyhawk gazzeteer revealed a very interesting fact: that world is much crazy empty compared to medieval Europe. Rumination on that wildness and its implications launches the series. “...Even the wildest places of Europe at the time are orders of magnitude more settled and prosperous than Veluna. Those wide light green clearings on the Darlene map turn out not to be dull vast tracts of farmland peopled by plump, happy yeoman, but barely held little bastions.”

Analysis and historical comparisons supporting the previous post.

Emptiness comparisons between the Wilderlands and Greyhawk and the two apocalypses of each setting.

A full exploration of the post-apoc dimensions of Greyhawk and encounter tables in the DMG.

Domain-Level Play in AD&D

A second branching thought train starts here. The first edition hardbacks support a wide and robust (but horribly organized) range of domain-level play guidelines and rules with implications for game play that are more interesting at points than recent attempts to implement “domain games.”

What the DMG actually lays out for domain play and how that differs from later attempts.

Another one of my personal favorites despite the long awkward header. The weird gonzo beauty of what happens when you use the DMG encounter tables for demense recruitment (as suggested by the book).

In which I try to figure what the hell is going on with all the name-level characters and large bands of "human monsters" the Monster Manual prescribes and the implications of that.

Taking the previous thought and comparing to the near-apocalypse/collapse of 14th century France. Many of the previous thought trains come to together and reach climax.

Some further postscript analysis about NPC, hirelings and production of goods by the book.  


  1. Thanks for putting this together in one spot. I hadn't seen it when it was originally posted. Fascinating discussion.

  2. This is a good resource. Bookmarked for when the PCs advance in level.

  3. How do I offer a 'thumbs up' for this? Mad Max has prompted me to think about making my D&D more explicitly post-apocalyptic. perhaps even doing the WFRP second edition setting properly - no wimping out of the apocalyptic implications of a Chaos invasion. Fantasy Twilight 2000.

  4. These are definitely some of my favorite posts here. Glad to see them all indexed together.

  5. One thing I don't know if you have realised, which is a different way of looking at it, is that terms like 'bandit' are in the eye of the beholder. Someone has labeled that group of people bandits. Aside from that label they might be really similar to the PC. i.e. a high level character with a group of people trying to settle an unclaimed part of the wilderness. Maybe Gygax just labelled them bandits to immediately provide conflict for the PCs, allowing them to play wargames etc. It doesn't need to be so clear in someone else's campaign.

  6. Both series are thought provoking and provide plenty of food for thought.

  7. Stopping in to say, boogie boogie. Hope you and the family are doing well. Happy Summer :-)