Friday, October 8, 2010

Retrofitting a Campaign #1 - Doing It Old School

No, this is not an RPG porn title, but it does sum up an idea I had for going through and converting my 3.5 world, Artaera, that evolved out of my AD&D 1E/2E days back into something a bit more OSR in feel.

Now, because the world of Artaera has existed since my high school years it has had many layers lumped one on top of the other. As new supplements and editions came out more concepts, classes, special rules and such were layered back into the fold. I'll try to preserve as much of this flavor as I can without getting all mired down in the things that eventually drove me from this world and on to create new ones, but I'm sure some of it will have to go.

Like many older school settings, Artaera has it's roots in a sort of quasi-medieval European style. I was never brazen enough to write any of the original player races out of my setting but some of them are subdued such as gnomes and halflings, only really existing because somewhere along the line for the world or the character. Another thing I liked to do was to give humans their own sort of cultural modifiers to spice them up a bit. I've always loved humans and thought that humans in D&D really got shafted (sorry, no level/class limits was never enough flavor for me).

The core setting of the campaign world was an area known very simply as The Grey Lands. This region was a rather large continent sweeping east/west and spanning the arctic to the warm temperate north to south. In the west, you had a long craggy coast where one could find the techno-arcane empire of Konigslande with its northern and southern provinces. Further inland to the east was an expanse of forested country which was home to the kingdom of Blackmyre and its gallant knights. South of the land-locked Blackmyre were the city-states of the merchant princes and Luchessa, a barony made up of criminals, pirates, slavers and other nice people. North of Blackmyre was The Drakkenforst, home to the creeping eldritch evil that was the demigod necromancer/enchanter Helm Drakken. These were the core lands of my games.

On the fringes of this central setting were a few other marked regions and kingdoms. The northwestern coasts were populated by wild tribesmen knows as the Vanticolm and their evil priest kings the Drunes. There were also the pastoral islands of Erin and their warring tribes. The interior of the north was an expansive cold steppe known as the Blood Plains where herds of centaurs clashed with marauding bands of bugbears and hobgoblins. At the extreme cold north was the land of Ridjarl and the Troll Countries. where stalwart northmen clashed with giants, dragons and the hordes of the troll kings on a regular basis. East of the Grey Lands was Ravania, an expansive russo-slavic empire trapped in eternal winter. It should be noted that Ravania was expansive and complex enough on its own that it was played as a setting of its own.

Continents had been planned out south, west, and even to the far east of the Grey Lands as well and I seemed to always have a place to stuff my latest project or campaign. Admittedly, I was a bit all over the place and created as my mood struck me and much of what was developed never survived into my adulthood, but it was always fun and the world seemed ever growing. In fact at one time we even conceived that the world of Artaera was indeed flat and existed as a vast, unending expanse of new continents and lands.

So, what does this all have to do with retrofitting the game world to a simpler version of itself suitable for play with my children and for easy pickup campaigns? Not a whole lot, but it does set the stage for future posts when I need to refer to a place. I am planning to hand draw (yes with pencil and pen) a rough map of The Grey Lands as a visual aid. for future projects. I'd use a mapper program but since I am without a computer with descent RAM and processing power, that would likely be a bit in the making as both time and patience would be taxed by doing so.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this brief primer on my old campaign setting of Artaera. I hope to have a semi-regular series of posts going into the various elements of the world as I interpret them in an OSR fashion. As always, I'll be open to suggestions, opinions and any sort of feedback as this is really a living project and nothing that I have written in stone.




  1. Sound like there should not be a lot of retrofitting needed. But looking forward to reading more as you revisit your world.

  2. ELi, your causing me a great deal of Flash backing here! World Of Grayhawk
    and the old D&D game modulus and the
    old Rune Quest game as well as the classic Chainmail, all were thrown in to make my own gaming world way back when.

    I do look forward to reading your future posts on your world!

  3. Good stuff Eli! I need to get back to posting stuff about Shylitheria. I need to put up the next two Elder Dragons!

  4. I just started a new campaign with my buddy and my sons. Not OSR, but still fun.

    I think there is a budding worldmaker in pretty much all of us who have ever wanted to GM. Due to time constraints, many of us settle for tweaking published worlds.

    I need to dig out my notes and maps of the last world I started on. It had promise, ten years ago.


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