Let’s Make An OD&D Sandbox Campaign (Part One).

Inspired over the past few years with the goings-on in the Old School Renaissance and the “mainstream” Dungeons & Dragons realm, I’ve decided to turn my attention back to trying my hand at a playable OD&D (Original Dungeons & Dragons, as per the White Box set mentioned here) campaign, or long-form role-playing game. OD&D may end up being a placeholder set of rules for the time being, depending on if I decide to go with either one of the modern sets of rules (more on them later) or with the recently released 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons (which has been getting favorable reviews, for the most part), but will do for the time being in any case. The reason for OD&D and not 1st edition AD&D? Simplicity and fun, of course. Not that AD&D wasn’t a hoot to play, but it requires a good deal more time and attention to detail than OD&D, which is more reliant on DM filling in the blanks than reference tables. One notch in favor of the 5th edition of D&D is that it apparently takes a similar approach, with streamlined rules and quick resolutions to common issues. But let’s at least continue on an “White Box” vibe for now.

In the spirit of OD&D, which, according to Volume III: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, states that “off-hand adventures in the wilderness” should be set on the Outdoor Survival playing board, I decided to base my campaign map upon this most hallowed of adventure maps:

You’ll notice it looks a bit — geometric, not to mention sparse. Given that supposedly each hex has an area of 50 miles, there’s a lot of meh in there. As far as translating the symbols of the map for OD&D use, traditionally the cabins become towns, the ponds castles and the animal areas become caves. Well, let me whip out the excellent Hexographer (from Inkwell Ideas, as linked — I bought the pro version of it and its cousin Dungeonographer  for my  own Christmas present a couple of years ago), and give it a go:

Not an exact copy, but I don’t really need one for my nefarious plan. You’ll notice I’ve got spots for villages, circled squares for castles, and triangles of dots for caves, or at least lair areas. From here I’ll try to 1) make things a lot less rigid looking, and 2) add a bit more diversity to the environment. Let’s see how that works out…

I’ve mainly cleared the areas with symbols, thinned and spread out the forests (and added some evergreens), and tried to surround the lair areas with hills, to make them more secluded. It does seem odd that so many lairs are within 50 miles of  castles, that much may need to change later. Mind you, the whole map may change as well, I mainly wanted to use the outdoor Survival map as a starting point, and tribute to those first fabled campaigns from so long ago. The next step will involve detailing those castles, villages and lairs. Stay tuned…


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