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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Champions of ZED: Zero Edition Dungeoneering Review Part 2

I really urge you to take a look at this game, whether you want to play it or not. I hope to convey to you how much of a resource it is so that you can go do your own thing. The people who where there back in the day, who played in the original games with Arneson and Gygax are quoted throughout this document and it is worth reading just for that alone.

Developing A World

I will try to hit a few high points here (this is not intended to be an exhaustive study, more like an appetizer) and try to convey the depth that is presented.

In order to play you need a world to play in and you need to know what kind of world it is. It can be vague or detailed according to taste and time. You can base it off of any culture or time period or you can imagine an entire new world(s) and culture(s). You can borrow from fiction and non-fiction as much or as little as you want or strive to create something completely original.

He then talks about questions to ask yourself about the world you are designing. Things like social structure, geography, mythology and so on. The amount of effort can be great or small, according to your taste, time and proclivities. As in any venture, extra effort in this area will be rewarded in the unlimited opportunities it creates for you and your players.

I would add that time crunched does not have to limit your fun and you don't have to create a huge area of the world to start or even do more than rough it out a bit to begin. Much of the creation occurs through play.

His writing is an enjoyable read and it is quite clear IMO. Next Hex maps are discussed and how to create them and a number of random tables are provided to assist you in that and he does say it is best to start in small stage and recommends 7-30 hexes numbering them for a key with any additional information the Referee might like to have. He advises keeping other areas to explore and expand later. There is a healthy section of text that does into how to flesh out the information from the random tables in each hex.

This is important, he says you can use dice or creative judgment and it is worth emphasizing. The dice and the random tables are there to help you, not rule you. Design it the way you want. IMO Dice and Tables are there to help you when you get stuck creatively and often you may find that you use those tools and that spurs a better idea that you go with.

He includes ways that players can contribute and help the Referee with the world design without then knowing things they should not and keeping the world a mystery to them. For instance players can come up with names for towns, cities and geographical features which the Referee then uses, the players will later recognize names "they have heard of" even though they don't know the "details."

Continuing on he talks about incorporating events into the fabric of the world as campaign events unfold through play and about using player ideas too.

Provided is a section titled Population. What is the dominant species in an area such as human and/or something else. Working out population centers size, type and many other things. You can go beyond the game itself and develop this as much as you want, but this will get your started.

Then he talks about Adventure possibilities and has a number of tables and lots of explanation to help you flesh out the first few hexes as to what is found there and IMO adjust as needed to get what you want. Beyond that he talks about the finer details of specific locations.

An image is provided with some very basic map symbols for hills, swamp , woods and other to get you started. I would point out here that there are a lot of great map drawing videos on youtube and if you have any talent at all there is lots of great help to teach you the skills and how to develop ideas for the map itself. There is no substitute for doing your own research and your own work. That is the extra effort that was talked about in the beginning.

Talked about are things like a Home Base and whether or not you campaign has one and suggestions on how to use it if you do. The Campaign Dungeon, which you may or may not have. Chance Cards, how to create them and how to use them to devise a basic local history and memorable events.

Character types, races and classes are next up with the basis of the world view that he is designing for. Classes and Class Specialists, character traits/stats, and more are covered in detail.

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