Posts Tagged ‘DragonQuest’

Open DQ Sections and Contents

March 4, 2018

This is the draft organization index and preliminary table of contents from the old Open DQ project.

Rules Categories

0    - License and Credits
1    - Introduction, How to Play the Game, Game Terms
2    - Characters and Character Generation
3    - Combat
4    - Magic
5    - Skills
6    - Monsters
7    - World and Adventure

Parenthetical numbers in the Table of Contents indicate the corresponding rule number in the SPI Second Edition version of the rules; AW = rules from Arcane Wisdom; PBA = rules from Poor Brendan’s Almanac. Note that the new numbering provided here is a draft version and is subject to further change and renumbering.

Subsection 100 of each rule section should be set aside for introduction, terminology, description, etc. x-100 should be section contents. x-120 should be term definitions.

Subsection 200 of each rule section should be the primary rules for the section.

Subsection 500 of each rule section should be specialty rules for the section (specific skills, magic colleges, etc).

Subsection 800 of each rule section should be secondary or optional rules for the section.

This is a preliminary draft and subject to almost certain revision.

Table of Contents

0    - License and Credits
0-100 License
1    - Introduction, How to Play the Game, Game Terms
1-110 Introduction
1-120 Game Terms
1-200 How to Play the Game
1-220 General Course of Events (1)
1-250 Requirements for Play (2)
2    - Characters and Character Generation
2-120 Description of Characteristics (3)
2-200 Effects of Characteristics (4)
2-300 Characteristic Generation (5)
2-400 Character Background
2-420 Birthrights (6)
2-450 Aspects (7)
2-470 Heritage (8)
2-500 Creating Experienced Characters
2-550 NPCs
2-600 Character Maintenance
2-620 Recuperation and Upkeep (85)
2-650 Fatigue Loss and Recovery (82)
2-700 Experience 
2-710 How Experience Is Gained (86)
2-750 How Experience Is Used (87)
3    - Combat
3-120 Combat Terminology (9)
3-130 Combat Equipment (10)
3-150 Preparation for Combat (11)
3-200 Combat Sequence (12)
3-220 Actions of Engaged Figures (13)
3-250 Actions of Non Engaged Figures (14)
3-280 Action Choice Restrictions (15)
3-300 Attacking (16)
3-330 Resolving Attempted Attacks (17)
3-350 Damage (18)
3-360 The Effects of Damage (19)
3-370 Fire
3-380 Infection (24)
3-400 Unarmed Combat (21)
3-430 Natural Weapons
3-450 Martial Arts
3-500 Weapons List (20)
3-600 Multi-Hex Creatures (22)
3-700 Special Combat
3-710 Mounted Combat (23)
4    - Magic
4-120 Definition of Magical Terms (25)
4-130 How Magic Works (26)
4-150 The Colleges of Magic (34)
4-180 Magic Conventions (35)
4-200 How to Cast Spells (27)
4-205 Quickcasting (PBA-106
4-220 Restrictions on Magic (29)
4-250 Counterspells and Resisting Spells (31)
4-300 Incorporating Magic into Combat (33)
4-330 The Effects of Spells (28)
4-370 Backfire from Spells and Rituals (30)
4-400 Universal Magical Abilities
4-420 Special Magical Preparations (32)
4-430 Ritual of Planar Travel (PBA-109
4-440 Consequences (84)
4-480 Cantrips (PBA-108
4-500 Thaumaturgies
4-510 The College of Ensorcelments and Enchantments (36)
4-520 The College of Sorceries of the Mind (37)
4-530 The College of Illusions (38)
4-540 The College of Naming Incantations (39)
4-550 The College of Shaping Magics (AW-91
4-600 Elementals
4-610 The College of Air Magics (40)
4-620 The College of Water Magics (41)
4-630 The College of Fire Magics (42)
4-640 The College of Earth Magics (43)
4-650 The College of Celestial Magics (44)
4-660 College of Time Magics (PBA-110
4-700 Entities
4-710 The College of Necromantic Conjurations (45)
4-720 The College of Black Magics (46)
4-730 The College of Greater Summonings (47)
4-740 The College of Lesser Summonings (AW-89
4-750 The College of Rune Magics (AW-90
4-760 College of Witchcraft (PBA-109
5    - Skills
5-250 Acquiring and Using Skills (48)
5-300 Languages (49)
5-400 Adventure Abilities
5-420 Horesemanship
5-460 Swimming
5-470 Stealth
5-500 Alchemist (50)
5-510 Assassin (51)
5-520 Astrologer (52)
5-530 Beast Master (53)
5-540 Courtesan (54)
5-545 Diplomat (PBA-112
5-550 Healer (55)
5-555 Herbalist (PBA-113
5-557 Hunter (PBA-114
5-560 Mechanician (56)
5-570 Merchant (57)
5-580 Military Scientist (58)
5-590 Navigator (59)
5-600 Ranger (60)
5-610 Spy and 
5-620 Thief (61)
5-630 Troubadour (62)
5-800 Minor Skills (PBA-111
6    - Monsters
7    - World and Adventure
7-180 Game Conventions (78)
7-200 The Adventure Sequence (80)
7-220 Preparation for Adventure (77)
7-230 Organizing a Party (79)
7-300 Adventure Actions (83)
7-400 Monetary Matters (81)
7-420 Extended Merchant Tables (PBA-122
7-430 Horse Trading (PBA-121
7-440 Alchemical and Herbal Shopkeeping (PBA-116
7-470 Building Costs (PBA-118
7-480 Peasants and Labor (PBA-119
7-485 Farming (PBA-120
7-600 Guide to Magical Rocks, Stones and Gems (AW-93
7-650 Guide to Herbal Lore (AW-94

The Open DQ That Is Already Done

March 3, 2018

There’s a significant followup to my recent thoughts about an open source DragonQuest that needs to be pointed out.

The Seagate Adventurer’s Guild is the largest group of DragonQuest players, with a long-running, interlocked campaign with multiple GMs.  And they’ve been playing for over 30 years.  I had known that they had a draft set of rules incorporating their house rules, but it’s been a few years since I checked in on their site.  I had known about this version several years ago, but they had asked to have it pulled from the Yahoo DQ group files.  Than, Mike Davey reminded me about them in response to my last post, so I went and checked out their version of the DragonQuest rules.

In a word, wow!

Frankly, they’ve already done much of the work I was talking about.  It’s a complete document; almost 150 pages.  The Seagate rules are “copylefted under the GNU Public License, version 2.0,” so this is already an open-source version of the DQ rules.

These rules aren’t a straight one-to-one corresponding set.  There are some sections that are not included, like any creatures, or the lists of Greater Summoning demons.  And there are also many new additions, including several new Skills and new Colleges of Magic.  Elements are reorganized, though there’s a generally similar order of character creation, combat, magic, and skills.  All in all, I think a DQ player or GM could pick it up and start using it fairly readily.

This really changes the scope of next steps.  What I had originally planned, once there was a base draft in place, was a reorganization of the rules to allow for revisions and substitutions.  The numbering system of the DQ rules doesn’t work well if you want to add a new Skill or a new College; there are no open spaces.  But if the rule numbering was more like a library card-catalog system, then it would be easy to keep all the related stuff organized together in the same section.  All the character-related stuff could be section 100, combat section 200, and so on and so forth.

Link: Seagate DQ Rules Edition 2.0.1




DragonQuest rules outline

February 26, 2018

For years, for decades, really, I have thought about a re-published version of the DragonQuest rules.  Like many other DQ players, it seems so wrong to me that this game should not be available.  DragonQuest still does some wonderful things, but it’s largely forgotten since it’s been almost 40 years since it was published, and SPI didn’t last long enough even to get the first rule supplement to market (though copies of the pre-publication rules are floating around).

So now, I’ve started the outline for a new, open-source re-write of the rules.

The DragonQuest rules outline is (mostly) just the framework of the rules – the first sentence after the rule number in a simple text file.  A couple extra bits were left in for reference in a couple places, but it’s pretty much just the 87 rules of the game.  No formulas, no charts, no numbers, so it’s not playable in this form.  But it distills the rules down to an essence that can be reviewed and then rewritten as a starting point for an open DragonQuest.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to do something along these lines.  In the past, I wanted to be very open and egalitarian and encourage everyone to contribute to it, instead of writing *my* version of DragonQuest that everyone else would pick apart.  But that never really got going. So I’m approaching it differently.  This time, I’m starting the project as my own project.  I’m going to try to be pretty open about the process, and feedback from the broader DragonQuest and gaming and OSR communities is going to be important to make this work.  But I’m not going to wait on it.  This version of an open set of DragonQuest rules is going to start from this outline, and move along at whatever rate I’m able to work on it.  There will be updates from time to time to show what has been done and have a chance for input from others.

Since Antherwyck House is producing DragonQuest adventures and materials, getting a version of the rules out there only makes sense.  Right now, it’s my intent to have an open-source core ruleset available for free, and then a more complete, detailed set of rules that we’ll publish in a more polished format with art.

This should not be my project alone, and anyone else with an interest in DragonQuest is welcomed to participate.  This is going to be open-source, so as soon as there is a full, working draft available, that will be shared and posted under a Creative Commons license.

The first step is going to be a revision of the old DQOS framework to allow for new rules to be fit in.

Link: DragonQuest rules outline

DragonQuest in 2018

January 2, 2018

It seems that, almost every year, around the holidays and the end of the year, there is an uptick in interest and activity about #DragonQuest (and other old games, as well). We’ve seen some of that already, during the break, and we’re going to add to it this year with some DQ news from Antherwyck House Games for the coming year.

Antherwyck House Games was founded to produce additional materials for DragonQuest. There are other gaming projects we’re also involved in, but DQ was the founding impetus, and it’s something we’ll always be involved in. We’ve developed several titles for DragonQuest, and here is a rundown of those projects:

  • The Sentinel Chapel
  • The Wilderness of Ordurak
  • The Water Works
  • Poor Brendan’s Almanac
  • Ordurak Gazetteer

* Almost six years ago, what was then called just “Wilderness of A–, a DragonQuest Adventure” crowdfunding project started. ( At the time, the last published item for use with the DragonQuest role-playing game was “The Shattered Statue” which was published by TSR in 1987. The whole process went through fits and starts, like many first-time crowdfunded projects. But ultimately, the adventure was completed and delivered to supporters earlier in 2017. When the project was launched, it was with the promise that the supporters would “get an electronic copy of the finished adventure, and will have it at least 6 months before the adventure is released in other formats.” That period has now passed, and “The Wilderness of Ordurak” will soon be available from DriveThruRPG and its sister sites.

* “The Sentinel Chapel” was meant to be a small capsule adventure, something akin to ‘House of Kurin,’ ‘Treasure of Socantri,’ or ‘Camp of Alla-Akabar.’ It started when I came across a map by Eneko Menica, which struck me as a great map for a DQ adventure as soon as I saw it, and the adventure was written from that inspiration. It’s been reviewed and playtested by a couple of loyal regulars, and I also got to run it as an event at a convention (UCon, near Detroit, in November).
The PDF version of this will be available from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow in January. As soon as print proofs are ready and approved (hopefully also by the end of January, as well), then we’ll have the print version available for those of you who would like to have it in print. (If you want the print version, but also want to get it right away, we’ll have a deal for you to get the PDF right away, and then get the print version once it’s available.)

* Our first title, The Water Works, has been available for several years.  There is an implied series of sequels to the “works” adventures (Earth Works, Gas Works, Fire Works) that has always been in the back of my head. This could be a direction for the next adventure we produce.

* The rules supplement, Poor Brendan’s Almanac has some revisions and clarifications needed, and that revision is targeted for beginning of Spring 2018.

* Separately, we’re planning to make the map of the Wilderness region into its own product and available as a separate release (The Ordurak Gazetteer). It will be much more akin to the Frontiers of Alusia, with a gazetteer to provide details about the region. Only some areas are detailed in the Wilderness adventure, and this will provide added information about the remaining areas.


This leaves the question of what the next DragonQuest project should be. Another adventure is certainly a possibility. Or there could be other things that get developed. Some of the final decision comes down to what seems inspiring and interesting; but another part of it is what people are interested in seeing.

The DragonQuest community has been online since the mid 90s. Originally, it was an email mailing list, then migrated to Yahoo and Yahoo groups for a while. More recently, it’s been on Google Plus and Facebook. (And if you have some other gatherings of DQ players you’re aware of, let me know about those, too.)

At this point, for most people, DragonQuest is a legacy curiousity. But there is still interest in it, and the name is recognized, despite it being out-of-print for decades. Many people had heard of it, but because it was never as widely available as other games, there are lots of people who know of it but haven’t played it. (The group who played in the Sentinel Chapel adventure at the recent UCon were a group who had played together for many years, but had never played DQ, and were interested in checking it out.)

With a recognized name and history, and with the interest in Old School games, there is an ongoing interest in seeing a revival or a reboot of DQ. Ever since the collapse of SPI in 1982, there has been a lingering interest in acquiring the rights, or republishing, or reviving DQ.

If there was going to be a new release of DragonQuest, what form should it take? Should it be a close 1:1 retro-clone of the original game? Or should it be an adaptation of the game that takes it in a new direction?

When I talked to Gerry Klug a couple years ago, he was talking about adapting DragonQuest to a D20 system. D20 is a hugely widespread game system, and the potential attractiveness to people who already know and understand basic D20 mechanics and can tie in with the huge library of available materials.

For me, the things that were always most appealing about DragonQuest were the things that differentiated it from D&D. That characters were fragile, rather than becoming invulnerable machines, led to a gaming style where character interaction came to the fore. Characters could also be any combination of roles. You weren’t locked into a set of abilities and excluded from others. Your character could carry a sword *and* use magic.

The emphasis on developing skills provided a background that implied a different setting and time period. Less fantastical in some ways, perhaps, and closer to a Renaissance setting, with organizations (like an Adventurer’s Guild) and the beginnings of formalized knowledge, with Colleges of Magic.

The Open DQ Rules has been a slow-moving group with the idea of re-writing (and maybe revising) the DragonQuest rules so that there is a freely distributable set of rules available. But this seems to be an effort without enough energy behind it to make any significant progress.

For the past couple years, I’ve been thinking about a revised, simplified set of DQ rules. My last regular DragonQuest campaign dissolved, in part, because the rule complexity got in the way of playing the game. Since we were only playing occasionally, the constant need to fiddle with the numbers got in the way of playing. And we realized that, most of the time, those little bits of difference didn’t really matter. My current thought is to take the basic structures of DQ and adapt them to a D10 system. In some instances, where the greater precision was needed, it would be easy to fall back to the D100 percentile system. But for faster moving things, in many cases, a D10 resolution would be enough. This could be a DQ-Lite that could draw more people in (as any new release of a game system would do) and connect more people to DragonQuest.


And, along those lines, there’s other old school game news on other fronts. Most interestingly, there was the good news on Boxing Day that Steve Jackson Games has re-acquired the rights to all of his works for The Fantasy Trip (TFT): Melee, Wizard, etc. They’ve been held by Metagaming (which has been effectively defunct for many years), so it’s all been out of print. SJG doesn’t know yet what they are going to be doing with them, but it seems like this will be a good thing for old school games in general.

Like with DQ, the online groups that have supported it for many years have been an important part of keeping it alive. TFT could be seen as a kind of DQ Lite, as well. There are many similarities between the two games, and possibly some synergy that could come from this.

Seeking Playtesters for Antherwyck House

April 24, 2017

There are a couple projects underway for Antherwyck House right now, and we’d like to find a few playtesters for these things.

If you follow Thor Hansen on G+, you have already seen a bit of the art he’s gotten from Ed Heil for a game he is leading titled The Spires.  It’s still in its rough, early phases, and it may be a while before we’re ready to have others take a look at it, but gathering some people who are interested in the concept and are willing to give good feedback will help with developing this.

My next project is another DragonQuest adventure, one much smaller than “The Wilderness of Ordurak.”  (You also might’ve seen this post a few weeks ago.)  It’s coming in at around 8 pages right now; a capsule adventure along the lines of “The House of Kurin” or “The Treasure of Socranti.”  I’d like to find at least two different groups to playtest it: one a group of DragonQuest players who can evaluate it as a DQ adventure; the other a group playing something else (an OSR clone, D&D of one flavor or another, etc.) to see how readily it can adapt to another ruleset.  I think it’s mostly map and setting, and choosing some other stats for the encounters from your own favorite flavor should help make this more widely usable.  (And if I need to provide stats that adapt to other games, I’ll know I need to do that.)

If you’re interested in either of these, drop one of us a line (presuming you’re one of the folks who already knows how and where to get in touch on G+) or leave a note in the comments here.

Next Projects

February 28, 2017

The Wilderness of Ordurak is wrapped up, and now it’s time to contemplate what is next. And, dear reader, if you are interested enough to be reading this, then you could have an outsized influence in helping steer the course for what projects are next for me and for Antherwyck House Games.

In the spirit of those old SPI questionnaires, here is a list of several projects and a brief description of each. Things that more people are interested in, or things that people are strongly interested in, will tend to get more attention.

Gazetteer for the Wilderness of Ordurak [DQ, generic]
Further development of the Wilderness of Ordurak as a system-neutral setting. As with SPI’s Frontiers of Alusia, maps and descriptions of places are pretty system neutral. So there would be appeal outside of the DragonQuest community.
This is already underway.  How extensive it will become depends, in part, on whether there’s any demand for it outside the backers of the Wilderness adventure.

Exquisite Corpse Dungeon [mapping]
Is it time for another one, yet? Has everyone burned out on the concept now, and no one would be that interested in another one? Does it need to be something different in order to get anyone’s attention?

Small, Untitled DQ Adventure [DQ]
Far from the Wilderness in scope, just a small dungeon in a single setting. I’ve found a couple other maps by other people that have struck me as being very suitable for DQ. Something more on the scale of the House of Kurin, or even smaller.

The Piranesi City Dungeon [DQ, OSR, generic]
There is a towering prison wagon, 2 stories tall, and with wheels ofsolid oak that are taller than a man. It is drawn by 8 bullocks and it moves slowly through the City, deep in the middle of every night, from the Prison to the Palace, and then back. One morning, you get word of a prisoner who is going to be transferred that night. You have that day to lay your plans and make your preparations, and tonight you have to strike in order to free the prisoner.
This would probably be written with dual system stats, so it was statted and ready for use for DragonQuest as well as at least one other OSR system.  The concept should be applicable to other games without too much work.  It would be part city map (of the route the wagon takes), part gazetter, with lots of information about all the places and people along the way, so you can try to find places and resources to do whatever you want to do, and part caper adventure.  Not small, but potentially quite interesting.  And, I think it would even have some replay possibility, taken as a one-shot.

moebiscayneOgunimata [Cyberpunk]
An adventure for Cyberpunk originally written in the 90’s and still holding up. Seeing +Geist’s recent production of a really cool Cyberpunk supplement made me think there might be some interest in producing it. We’re still looking to get a sense of how many Cyberpunk players there might be, and whether there is sufficient interest in this. A couple playtesters would also be good to get some feedback on this.
I’ve already briefly spoken with Claudia Cangini about illustrating this. Ideally, I’d like to run a kickstarter on it, with one of the premiums being having sponsors (maybe as many as 8) get to have themselves/their character illustrated by Claudia, and that art goes into the final version, as well as the sponsor getting the illustration from her.

Expanded Alusia [DQ, generic]
This would require coordinating Stephen Peto’s availability to produce another map. His feel for SPI style is pretty excellent (as you’ve seen in the Wilderness of Ordurak map). Phil Wright has been doing some other exploration of FoA recently, and the idea of connecting and building out more of that world could be an interesting (and daunting) project to undertake.

moonbaseMoonbase Zvezda [?, generic]
Space spies in the 60s, dealing with intrigue and espionage from low-Earth orbit to the Moon, and beyond. Whether this is a light set of rules, or a one-shot adventure, or just what it turns into remains to be seen. I did a concept illustration for this a while back (right), which turned out pretty well and got some of the tech documentation style I was after. Now to do something more with it.

More maps [mapping]
I haven’t been making as many maps recently as I have in the past.  That’s partly due to the new job and partly due to other projects being more at the fore.  But I miss those explorations, and will probably have more along those lines in the near future.

On top of these projects, Thor has a couple things underway, including a dungeon adventure using one of my previously posted maps, and The Spires, an interesting game/setting for a post-human, post-apocalypse world of intelligent animals vying for power and resources.

Your feedback on any of these would be very helpful. You can comment here, or drop me a line at rodger @ antherwyck dot com.

Project Completion – Wilderness of Ordurak adventure

February 24, 2017

wildThe Wilderness of Ordurak proof is completed, and copies of the set will be going out to the backers very soon.  57 pages, plus the ledger size map.

Our next step will be to clean up The Water Works and Poor Brendan’s Almanac.  Once those are revised, they will be available.  The terms set up for the Wilderness give the people who backed it exclusive access to it for a while.  If you’re interested in getting a copy of this, stay tuned later this year.

The other thing that’s in the works is a Gazetteer for the regional map.  That might be a separate thing on its own, with the map and an accompanying booklet of information about the features in the region, very much like Frontiers of Alusia.

DragonQuest – U-Con 2016 Recap

November 23, 2016

DragonQuest isn’t all dead. Recently, I ran two sessions of DQ at U-Con, and, in the end, both of them were full tables. I had seen that pre-registrations were surprisingly high, with 5 people for Friday and 3 for Saturday, which was pretty surprising in and of itself. But then, both nights, people were coming by to see if that relic from the ancient past was, in fact, what was going on at that table. (“You mean that old SPI game, DragonQuest? Really? That’s awesome!”)

The Friday night group was a couple grognards (my age or older) who knew the game, a couple guys who registered because they’d heard of the game but never played it, and a guy who saw we had an open seat at the table and was curious about the game. On Saturday, three of the 6 players from the first night were back: two guys who had pre-registered, plus one guy who had joined in who had his own event cancelled, so he came back and joined for a second night. The three new players were my pre-teen son, and two other players who had events that didn’t run and joined in. They were both experienced gamers, but had never played DQ before, so again, it was a mixed group.

Both sessions provided good opportunities to show off some of DQ’s special features. There were Grievous Injuries (in both directions), and other demonstrations of DQ as a system, and that was all good. One of the new players had a triumphant moment where his character landed a specific grievous injury against one of the attackers which was effectively a one-hit kill, and that really turned the tide for the group at that point.

If it was the early 80s, I probably would’ve sold a few people on the game. But, especially for the people dropping in, it was only a one-off experience for them. But that’s okay. And it still shows that DQ can stand its own (and maybe is worth a reboot or some OSR spinoff of its own).

I was hoping to try out a bit of the Wilderness adventure (at least a couple of the plot points) with the one group, but the setup and the group getting somewhat entangled in doing some stuff in the coastal town, and then a combat encounter took the remainder of the time.

Even though each was just a four hour session, in both cases I felt like they were turning into a group I would’ve gladly continued a campaign with. I suppose that’s the downside of a game at a Con; you don’t have the ongoing campaign. There was also a fair amount of off-topic table banter, which seemed like a good thing, to me, and I didn’t worry about that too much. It helped bring these people together and have a bit of a common bond, and in the end, everyone seemed to have had a good time. And that, to my mind, is the best part of it all.

The Wilderness of Ordurak

October 26, 2016

Here’s something that has been a long time coming; the cover for the “Wilderness of Ordurak” adventure with art by Nate Marcel (and a few interior illustrations by him, as well).  This is an adventure written for use with DragonQuest, but, it should be adaptable to other games.


The original backers have gotten proof copies to look over.  There are some known issues, so there’s a little editing and revision work to be done, yet.  But this is finally just about complete.

The original crowd-supported project proposal was for a 16-page adventure.  This is presently clocking in at 54 pages (including the cover), plus there is a 12″ x 18″ region map.

Some people who missed the original crowd funding period have asked about getting in on this project.  It looks like IndieGoGo added a feature called InDemand that “lets anyone back you after your crowdfunding campaign is over.”  However, I haven’t been able to enable that feature on the site.

But, if anyone is still interested in getting in as a supporter at one of the Mercenary levels, let me know, and I will set up a selection at the Antherwyck House store to make those options available.  There is not a good way to extend any of the Adventurer or Hero levels at this point, since those were options that involved input in deciding the content of the adventure.

We’ll have more information about this adventure as it gets into production.

Thoughts about new DragonQuest

July 22, 2016

I’ve written up a few thoughts about the nature of DragonQuest and what makes it unique and compelling as a game system and setting.  In short, I see DQ as a Renaissance game versus D&D as a Medieval game.  If there’s going to be a new version of DQ, understanding its strengths and direction is important.

The whole article is posted at Dragonquestrules, but since there’s comparatively much more traffic here (as well as links out to other sites), I’m also putting out a notice about it here.  I hope you’ll take a minute to check it out.


DragonQuest combat rules retro-clone resource

April 22, 2016

There is now a very basic outline version of the DragonQuest combat rules posted at DQRules.  I’m providing extra notice here for those of you who are following Antherwyck House for DQ-related stuff since there are more followers here than there are on DQRules itself.  There are PDF and .DOC versions, as well as a pretty bare plain text, so hopefully at least one of those will provide a useful version.

This is just the bare bones of the DQ combat rules, but is probably enough to run combats if you already have some familiarity with the game.  More importantly, it is the basic skeleton on which the system is built, so a retro-clone would start with this framework and expand out to flesh things out once more.

The other series of questions to be considered are regarding whether any of these core rules should be modified or revised as part of the new version of DQ.  A total retro-clone would stick to this with very little deviation, but a new edition of DQ should consider improvements and modifications.

Before things get too in-depth, this needs to be the next set of considerations.  There are some ideas already being kicked around, but additional feedback would be especially useful for this project.

DragonQuest Rules Clone

April 1, 2016

tarot-fool[1]It’s time for a retroclone of the DragonQuest RPG.  It’s past time, really, so there’s no point in delaying further.

Yes, that’s correct, it is April 1st.  But when better to undertake such a fool’s errand?

I have been thinking about getting a clone version of DragonQuest for a long time.  That’s ostensibly what the Yahoo DQ-RULES group was for.  There is also the mostly dormant DragonQuest Rules blog that has been a collecting point for some of the revised rules (along with some tangential stuff).  And recently, I’ve been thinking about making my Patreon about creating re-written rules for DQ with an eye toward developing a set of clone DQ rules.

Last month, Jarrod Shaw of Mythoard (a recent convert to DragonQuest compared to some of us grognards) was asking about a clone version of the DQ rules (in the spirit of the many other OSR games out there).  And that got me thinking, once again, about moving forward on a full retroclone of DQ.

Over the past year, I’ve seen a lot of OSR material and found a widespread community producing materials and engaged with these games.  There are many throwback RPGs, and each has its following.  Not only are there versions of every stripe of old D&D, but even games like RuneQuest now have retro-clone versions (OpenQuest).  DQ may never have had the fan base that some other games had, but it’s definitely a game with its merits and that ought to be brought up to date.

The original idea for Antherwyck House Games was to produce DragonQuest materials, and that is part of what we are doing.  While  I’m definitely intersted in continuing that,  there hasn’t seemed to be much support or interest, so we’ve been working in some other directions.  But let’s see how much interest this discussion generates now.

So is a retread of DQ a sacrilege?

The game many of us regard as canon was written in 1981. D&D is on its 5th edition (or more, depending on how you count things).  Third Edition DQ is less a new edition than  tinkering with a few rules and excising some of the “frightening material.”  But really, nothing has changed since the 80’s.  That was last millennium, folks!

What about copyright and trademark and so forth?

From what I know of copyright and the law in this area (and IANAL, but I’ve looked at this question more than a little bit), it is the specific expression of the rules (the particular language used to describe the rules) that is covered by copyright.  The ideas of the rules themselves (such as having six characteristics for a character in a range from 3-18) can’t be copyrighted.

But every rule needs to be uniquely re-written in a new way.  This is what’s behind many of the OSR clones, as I understand it.  The general ideas are the same, and are compatible and interoperable with the games they descended from.  But they are fresh and new (and often introduce some new angles to the system to avoid being a cut-and-paste of what had come before.

As far as trademark goes, the DragonQuest mark has been abandoned by TSR/Wizards/Hasbro, so it would presumably be available (although there is also the Japanese video game of the same name, which is always confusing), but a new name might be better.

What would a new DQ be like?

In all, there’s going to be a lot more discussion about what should and should not be a part of any such thing, so treat all of this as starting points for discussion, rather than anything that has been completely settled.

DQ has always been a modular system, and the designers’ intent seemed to be to have a system that allowed for extension and adaptation.  New Colleges of magic were built into the system almost from the outset, and Arcane Wisdom almost made it to production.

The DQ-rules group on Yahoo was originally started to create a consensus version of new DragonQuest rules.  I think a more open-ended numbering system, to allow for new rules to be added in a more orderly fashion, would be important.  Being able to add or delete certain elements without breaking the whole system would be important.

Should DQ become a D20 based system?

That’s something that Chris Klug was looking at a while ago.  A DQ/D20 system would make it much more accessible to the much larger audience of gamers, and might increase the number of players.  I’m not sure that’s the direction I want to go with it.  D20 is very familiar, though, and there could be some merit to adapting things to be more cross-compatible with That Other Game.  On the other hand, there are a lot of other options already out there that offer that compatibility, and I don’t think that’s what DQ is best at.

What are the key elements of DQ that need to remain in order for things to stay compatible with existing DQ materials?

  • Stats and stat ranges (or an easy conversion system if things are changed)
  • World with multiple Colleges of Magic (but to remain exclusive?)
  • Skills
  • Non-super-heroic system/Human-scale (a game where even an advanced hero might be cut down by a simple peasant with a knife, and where dragons remain a terrifying opponent no matter how good you’ve gotten)

But there are also some elements where I wonder if they are as important to retain in their current form:

  • Extensive ability breakdowns (individual spells, weapons, etc.)
  • Fine granularity in rules
  • Experience and progression

So now what?

If you’ve read this far, then you’re definitely in the interest group and your feedback about this idea.  What would you like to see in a new DQ?  What are the things most in need of revision?  What are the parts that represent the essence of DQ that need to remain as they are?


DQ – Thinning Down the Counterspells

March 31, 2016

I’ve been thinking about revisions and re-treads of the DragonQuest rules for a long time.  I’ll spell out some further thoughts on the topic as a whole in an upcoming post.  But for now, here’s a proposal to reduce the number of counterspells in DQ and revise the rules for counterspells.

There are a lot of counterspells to learn in the DQ world.  Probably too many.  It’s possible to speculate on how that came about, and there may have been good reasons for it, but in practice, it seems cumbersome and difficult, particularly in that there are two counterspells for each College.  Are the flows of mana somehow different between General and Special knowledge spells?  Why does the esoteric organization of a College’s magic determine which of two counterspells will affect a particular spell?

Instead, why not take a cue from Naming Magics, with the Generic and Individual True Names for things, and have counterspells at the level of Branch and College, rather than General and Special Knowledge?

In practice, this would give 3 generic counterspells (one each for Thaumaturgies, Elementals, and Entities), plus a specific counterspell for each particular College. The Branch counterspells would be less effective than the specific counterspell for each College, but would be useful against any magic of that particular Branch.  Instead of having at least 24 counterspells (General/Special for each of the original 12 Colleges, plus 2 more for each additional College introduced into a particular campaign, there would be 15, plus one for each additional College.  This would work much more fluidly in a campaign where some Colleges may not exist, at the outset, or where additional Colleges are included in the game.

As a matter of play balance, it seems more correct to me that, when faced with magic from a previously unknown College, a caster should have at least some small chance of being able to dispel the magical effect.  Counterspells are presumably based on the workings of mana, rather than being reverse-engineerings of spells.  So something that will disrupt the flow and effects of mana to one kind of spell should have a good chance to be able to disrupt a similar, though perhaps slightly different, one.


Streithnaught’s Basement

March 25, 2016


After some recent discussion about things DragonQuest, it occurred to me that I haven’t done nearly enough hex-grid maps.  So this is a first step in remedying that deficiency.

I think that the under-caverns read well enough that a GM could readily use this without having to do lots of figuring out of what is where, and what the map contains.

If there’s interest, this could turn into another Un-Furnished Dungeon, though being hex-gridded rather than rectilinear probably dooms it from the start.  So I’m not going to go into a lot of description of the particular features here, for the most part.  But there are a few features that probably bear a little explaining.

  • The spiral stair at the center of the large cavern leads up to the building above.  The ceiling of the cavern is roughly 20′ high, so the whole stair is more than 40′ up into the building.
  • The feature close by the stair (about 5 o’clock from the stair, 1 hex south-east) is a depression or ditch in the floor of the cavern that connects to the tunnel leading away to the right.  The opening into the tunnel is only about 3′-4′ tall, though it gets taller as it slopes down away from the cavern.  (The stippling pattern in the cavern areas and the lines indicating the slope read as similar values.)
  • Several decoratively carved openings line the north-east hallway (upper right)
  • The rubble at the upper left can be treated as solid wall, if the GM wants to keep this as a self-contained location, or the passage beyond may connect to something else, if it’s to be part of a larger setting.  The stones could also be blocking the passage beyond, but the PCs might discover that there is a way to get through if they move enough of the stones and debris away.
  • There is a floor trap in the secret hallway at the far right side which falls about 15 feet to the cavern room below.

As is the case with most of my maps, feel free to use this for any non-commercial purpose (with attribution).  You can also contact me if you’d like to use any of my works for a commercial project.

Works in Progress

February 19, 2016

Here are updates on several different things for the past couple weeks, including a work-in-progress map, the Exquisite Corpse CITY project, and a couple of DragonQuest-related items.

The map is a progress shot of another “military perspective” map.  This was trying out a shading (using a gel ballpoint pen; not how the finished version will be done. This was just testing on a photocopy of the map).  The colored shading seems to help with reading it more clearly (and shadows on the ground may help, as well).  I’m thinking about also making a simple, standard overhead view map of this same complex, to make it easier for a GM to make notes and keep track of where the characters and the opposition are.

progress2 draft

Would this be good as a future Un-Furnished Dungeon? Or, the second map could be a Patreon supporter premium, if I got that up and running.  (Some other thoughts on Patreon below.)

The Exquisite Corpse City project is still under way, and we seem to be making a little progress.  I’ve handed off sections to a couple more people this weekend, and the number of available slots will keep increasing as more pieces are done and the city grows, and there are more edges to add on to.  I’ve posted a glimpse of the 3/4 completed city center, to give a sense of the variety of styles that are going to be in this from the outset.  For those of you who aren’t following the Exquisite Corpse CITY Google Group, here this is:


I really like the very different styles that are in this already.

The start was slow, because there are only 4 sides to the initial starting square.  With 3 of those sides now extended, there are now 5 openings, and another 3 will come open when that 4th side is done.  And as some of those get finished, even more openings become available.

This Exquisite Corpse is a little more difficult to manage, since part of the process is to have each artist go back and add in some buildings in their style to the section that they built from, so the seams in the city should be a bit less straight line.  That requires everyone to work on top of everyone else’s drawings, so that is causing more complication, but I think it’ll turn out well in the end.

The DragonQuest adventure (Wilderness of Ordurak) was subject of some recent discussion on the DragonQuest RPG group.  We are really hoping that it is going to be done in the next couple months, along with the revised version of The Water Works adventure and the Poor Brendan’s Almanac supplement.

If Patreon had been around a few years ago, that would’ve been a much better model to work from.  And, I’ve been thinking about starting a Patreon for the maps I’ve been making, although there are many other gaming map makers out there, and I’m not sure if there would be interest in supporting my work.  (If you would seriously be interested, though, let me know.  If there are at least a few potential supporters, I’d be more tempted to start something like that up.)

The other thing that would make a lot of sense as a Patreon project would be a re-write of the DragonQuest rules (aka Open DQ).  This is an idea that’s been kicking around, though without much interest behind it, for quite a while.  Like other OSR retro-clones, it would be a compatible re-write of the rules to duplicate the functionality of the original SPI game, but with new (and in some cases updated) re-writing so that it was not just a transcription of the existing rules.  Each new rule section completed could be an individual goal in the Patreon system, and delivering one or two a month might be reasonable, and no one would be paying anything until something was delivered each time.

Finishing the Wilderness… is the first task.  But after that, is there more support for a DQ-oriented Patreon, or for a mapping-oriented one?



Penmorfa Longhouse

October 5, 2015

This is a page from the Wilderness of Ordurak adventure.  With the picture and map and the general descriptions, it probably works fairly well as a standalone encounter location, even if some of the specifics are incomplete.


This is what came of the Wilderness sketch from a few months back.  This is written for a larger DragonQuest adventure, but other than changing a couple of money references, I think it could readily be used for just about any game system.  And you could also take the picture and the map and re-purpose it for a completely different kind of encounter.

This is being shared for personal use, and I am happy to have the link shared if you want to point someone else at this, but please don’t distribute copies of this.  I know it’s going to happen, regardless, but I’d rather it wasn’t you that does it. Thanks!

And, if you do use this in your game and have some notes about how it went (or just if you read through it and have some feedback), I’d be glad to hear about it.

DQ: Poor Brendan’s on sale!

July 23, 2015

The OBS companies (RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, etc.) have a “Christmas in July” sale going on right now through the end of July, and Antherwyck House Games is taking part.  Digital products are 25% off and printed copies are 15% off.

Poor Brendan’s Almanac is now $1.46 for the PDF or $7.60 for the printed copy during this sale.


And don’t forget, if you buy the print version, you can also get the PDF for free!

A ‘Wilderness’ sketch

July 15, 2015


I was doodling this on lined paper, so this’ll take some work, or some rework to do anything with it.  But, I think it shows the general idea for this location (a rough longhouse structure in the Wilderness built of stone and timber, backed up against a low cliff and roofed with felled trees).

This wasn’t meant as finished art, and it probably won’t end up in the adventure; it’s the kind of thing I might do in a game I was running for my own players, but it’s not finished art.  There will likely be a plan of this place, and maybe also a section through it to show what it’s like (or just a good descriptive paragraph).

Added some quick pencil shading for a little more (hopefully) clarity and readability afterwards; here’s the original:

(10 minute sketch during a meeting)

Blog name change

March 18, 2012

This blog has a new name: Antherwyck House Games. It’s the same blog, fundamentally; all the old posts are still here, and it will continue to be largely about DragonQuest and about indie games. But it is now going to be linked from the new website (coming soon), and is going to become an official part of Antherwyck House. Announcements and discussions of new projects will be posted here.

We’re never going to be a high volume publisher; this is a side-line for us. But, after the fundraiser for the Wilderness adventure, it became clear that there was still an audience for DragonQuest materials, even though it’s been nearly a quarter century since anything was last published. We’re looking to become the source for that small audience.

We’re plotting a release schedule for our first year. The present plan is to have one new title per quarter, and we’ll see how that works out.

We may also get more heavily involved in the development of a retro-clone for DragonQuest. Retro-clones are re-written rules that are compatible with an existing game. The core concepts of the game remain, but they are written in new language, so that they do not fall afoul of copyright law. A lot of old-school games are getting this treatment. Having a free retro-clone of DragonQuest would make it easier for new players to discover the game and try it out.

Beyond ‘Wilderness’

February 1, 2012

The ‘Wilderness’ adventure fundraiser has made the basic goal, but I’m really hoping to get to twice that level, in which case I’ll be producing a larger (32 page minimum) adventure. If you’re still thinking about contributing, there’s a week to go, and your support would be greatly appreciated.

I’m thinking about taking a bit of the money from the fundraiser and creating a publishing house to produce DragonQuest material (and other stuff, too). I’ve revised the Antherwyck House name I used on the original Poor Brendan’s Almanac when I first put that together (though I’m not absolutely committed to that name). For now, I’ve also used the name on the revised Water Works I’ve been working on.

We could buy a domain or two, get hosting somewhere, form an LLC, and start making a line of DQ stuff available. With online distributors around and POD for people who want to buy hardcopies, there’s not much that would require labor, other than producing new material. With Poor Brendan’s Almanac, The Water Works, and the Wilderness adventure, we’d have three items in our catalog to start out. It’s not a huge inventory, but it would be more than a single adventure, so we’d have some presence from the outset.

Although there haven’t been thousands of people flocking to support ‘Wilderness,’ there are enough supporters that we’ve been able to meet a modest crowd-source goal. That shows that we do have an audience, and if we build on that base, it might be possible to expand things.

It’s looking a ways ahead at this point, but would another fundraiser to gather general support for starting a new DQ-oriented publisher make sense? Something to think about.