More Thoughts on my Campaign System

So, I’ve been thinking of my campaign world again and my magic system a lot lately. I’ve been reading a lot of Michael Moorcock’s Elric Saga and the Hobbit (what a strange dichotomy!) and they have both influencing my thoughts on magic systems. I’m becoming more and more intrigued of having only a single “class” and everything else being a trapping of that. For my campaign world, I’m steering towards an everyman approach were you purchase “disciplines” as you advance to create different character types. I’m not really interested in creating a whole new retro-clone system per se, but building on top of either the Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry White box. For what I have in mind, the S&W Whitebox might make even more sense.

So I’m thinking that the normal adventuring type guy would have a base d6 hit die. You’d have some starting amount of experience to spend on disciplines to start down the road of customizing your character. So for instance, if you wanted brawny fighter like the standard D&D type, you could purchase a melee weapon discipline, and a toughness discipline, and an armor discipline. The disciplines would have progressive ranks that are bought at the cost of experience points. So say you wanted a fighter that could cast spells. You could do that but due to the experience that you spent on disciplines, you’d advance a bit slower than a guy that mirror a straight up fighter. This just makes a lot of sense to me and feels like it could allow for some pretty interesting class combos. Like Elric for instance; he wasn’t a brawny brawler by any means. You could have some experience points invested in swordsmanship and summoning magic. Gandalf would have maybe a little experience invested in swordsmanship and the rest involved in various magic types. I know that this strays quite a bit from the D&D class and Vancian magic system, but I think you could use the simplicity of the S&W, LL, or OSRIC systems to make a simple yet elegant base and create some very old school feeling characters Like Conan, Elric, Almuric, Solomon Kane, etc. I’ll try and work on this some more and come up with a workable system.


  1. Great minds think alike, I've just started writing up a similar system in the last couple of days, although with some disciplines having prerequisites and penalties. I'll be interested in seeing your take on the idea.

  2. Pretty much what I have in mind as well. I had thought to simply make two or three classes, but ti soon became apparent that a single "everyman" character with added disciplines would be better suited to the type of character building I'm after.

  3. I dig systems that allow you to customize your guy. I love starting with a vision for my character, then slowly seeing it come into focus.

  4. If you want to move a bit away from straight, RAW, Vancian magic, the Ritual Magic ideas from the Beyond the Black gate blog (or compendium of same) are a good step in that direction. We've been using those with good success of late. It gives spell casters a bit more flexibility and reminds one of the lengthy spell-casting necessary in Elric's world (and other S&S worlds).

  5. I think this is a good idea--though at some point the question becomes, why not just play one of the classless games already in existence?

  6. why not just play one of the classless games already in existence?

    Personally, because that's not what I want to play. I pretty much want my cake and eat it too. I want the TSR classes of old school D&D, but I'd also like to give my players some freedom of choice without the nightmare of the excesses of WotC D&D with its confusion of feats and skills.

    The keep it simple system I had in mind would allow players to custom build classes, but the end result would be very similar to the standard old school D&D classes. So while players could take a path that would have them playing a standard Fighter, Thief, Cleric or Magic-User, they could also if they wanted to build an Archer, Bounty Hunter or whatever.

    Then too they could build a Ranger, Assassin, Monk, etc. that didn't have a ridiculous amount of fluff and baggage of numerous skills and class abilities - keeping it simple and basic, but not changing the basic mechanics of the game.

  7. Trey pretty much asked the same question I asked myself recently. Like Johnathan, I was working to open the playing field up for the players, and to also capture the feel I needed from the system, by almost eliminating classes from the game. I narrowed it down to 'Adventurer' and worked out a few 'paths' the players could choose to take. In the end I guess I decided I was trying to lay some of the same groundwork other classless systems had already laid. Once I made that realization it kind of killed my desire to reinvent the wheel...

  8. Pretty much becuse I like D&D and II want to be able to utilize existing D&D/clone products with minimal/no conversion. Actually Astodavicus seems to have said prettry much what I am looking at doing. I don't want the complexities that come with 3e or later, but I want the ability to customize my character that isn't really available to me in the older editions. So in a nutshell, I want my cake and I want to eat it too (why wouldn't I ;) )?

  9. Did you ever end up running a game like this?

    I put together something somewhat similar a while back, and I still revisit the idea from time to time.


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