New Project – Light Fantasy RPG

It’s been a while, but I have a new project in the works.

As should be obvious from the title of this post, the game is called Light Fantasy (I have to say that I was amazed that a bunch of searching didn’t find that name already in use for a tabletop RPG).

The game is a retroclone of the old B/X boxed sets of D&D. Obviously it’s not the first retroclone of those, so what am I doing that’s different? Well, the inspiration for the game came from three places.

Firstly I’ve been in quite a few discussions about the differences in setting and feel between the different editions of D&D, and I’ve been saying for a while that one of the things I really like about B/X and its associated adventures (B1-B5 and X1-X5) is that its setting is very different from that of other editions – even the otherwise very closely related BECMI and RC from which I derived Dark Dungeons. Other than a couple of ambiguous references, the rules and default setting of the B/X game doesn’t have planes. There are no alignment-themed outer planes that are homes to the gods and abodes of the dead. There are no demons or devils or devas or angels inspired by the religions that developed in the Middle East. There’s no Paracelsian elemental planes.

All of the other D&D editions have those things, but B/X doesn’t. What it has instead are alternate dimensions such as Averoigne and the Nightmare Dimension, and Lovecraftian creatures that come from those places. Instead of outer-planar creatures that are based on mythology you have extradimensional entities that are much more alien in nature. It also helps that the level cap on the game mean that it stops before you start getting to spells like Astral Spell, Plane Shift, Gate, and the like – so there’s no standard or simple way to visit other planes or other dimensions.

It gives the game a very different feel, and lets you have actual religions where the existence of gods and demons and even an afterlife are all matters of faith rather than something that someone with a Plane Shift spell can go an check on.

Secondly, I love crossover games that mix fantasy and sci-fi and a few times I’ve toyed with writing some kind of crossover game supplement for D&D – something like Dragonstar and that type of thing. My stumbling point for that always seems to be the metaphysics. Having a sci-fi or modern game just doesn’t sit well with plane-hopping and astral travel and the like; and any modern D&D crossover hits the issue of demons and the like being real in the setting. You either have to cut out a lot of the game or come up with unsatisfying explanations for how it’s fine. Having a basic game chassis derived from B/X that doesn’t have all that stuff gives me a great starting point for a sci-fi crossover, even if it never makes it past being a home campaign.

And thirdly I’ve been involved in discussions on recently about B/X involving the removal of problematic elements such as the colonialism and racial essentialism that pervade older (and less old) editions of D&D and there were some excellent suggestions made thast got me excited about actually putting out a game that incorporated them.

So that’s what led to this point – I’m in the process of writing Light Fantasy; a B/X retroclone that takes the old rules and feel and blends them with modern sensibilities about diversity and inclusion and modern attitudes to character and story (characters are assumed to be actual characters from the start to whom you will be attached rather than unamed adventures who have a 50/50 chance of dying to a goblin or a save-or-die trap the first time they set foot into a dungeon).

There’s a Work In Progress of the game so far (it’s still missing its monster and treasure chapters and has no artwork yet) that you can download here.