Monday, November 27, 2017


Glancing at my stats, I see that an old post of mine about using D&D to play sword & planet has had a strange spike in views.  Let's revisit this concept somewhat, and maybe even create a D&D S&P tag to explore it as an alternate setting.   Here's a few of my past posts to review, before we start (I just read them.  You can, although of course if you don't, that's fine too.)
Maybe that last one is a bit superfluous.  The real stuff is especially in the first one; what if you wanted to use D&D elements, but adapt them to sword and planet (or planetary romance) instead of sword & sorcery?  That post talks a bit about what to change, but I'm going to be just a bit more conservative, and attempt to create planetary romance out of existing D&D elements rather than rewriting them more radically.  This means trawling through D&D races, removing the ones that are fairytale and fantasy races, and seeing if I can specifically focus on ones that are planetary romance-like.  Classes is maybe a bit more difficult, because class variety between editions of D&D is more marked than race differences.  But I'll see what I can do.

"But Mr. Desdichado!" you may be saying.  "Aren't you just going to do what you always do anyway and whip up an m20 game for this, so that the specific classes don't really matter that much?"  Well... probably.  But I'll discuss some classes and their suitability to the game.  For ease of use, this will probably focus on either 3.5 or Pathfinder classes, because I'm more familiar with the former, and the latter are open content and readily available for anyone to read.  Plus, I like the notion of using archetypes to better align them the genre and/or setting.  The same can be said, to some degree, of D&D races; what are the D&D races?  There aren't a ton of choices in 1e or B/X that will really work, but in 3e (and 3.5), and 4e, and 5e and Pathfinder, we get a lot of choices.  And then, of course, there are monster races that are usable as PC races... sorta.  

So, what will I need to specifically post as I develop this series over the next... however long it ends up being?
  1. RACES: I'm going to try and focus on the more familiar rather than the more esoteric.  I won't be able to be completely successful at this, I don't think, because I'll have to dig a little bit to get ones that really work.  Either that or I can use the races as is, but rename them.  This would certainly be applicable to m20 races, but given the more detailed mechanical description of D&D races in most editions of D&D, probably not.  The Psionic Handbook races might feature heavily.
  2. CLASSES: We'll need a wide variety of swashbuckling action classes, plus some kind of psychic powers or psionic mind-wizard type characters.  Honestly, this may more closely resemble the classes from a d20 Star Wars game than D&D as its normally constituted.
  3. MONSTERS: Just a brief discussion on adapting existing monsters and what to look for.  
  4. WEAPONS & EQUIPMENT: For the most part, S&P is all about both swords and rayguns, and they both have to coexist comfortably.
  5. AN m20 RULESET: Yeah, I'll probably do one.  It'll end up being a hybrid of FANTASY HACK and AD ASTRA, I imagine, so it won't really need a permanent tab.
  6. SETTING: If I do all of this and I'm still interested, I may whip up a setting lite.  
All in all, the end result shouldn't be, I don't think, more extensive in nature than the IRON LORDS OF JUPITER campaign from Dungeon 101 Polyhedron 160.  In fact, a collection of posts with about that same level and degree of content is about exactly what I expect as a side-effect in the end.

Given what I've done with ODD D&D and DEMONS IN THE MIST and some other games I've done in the past which also replaced most of the races with less overtly high fantasy D&D races and also replaced magic with psionics (mostly) you may be forgiven for wondering how this will differ from those except in details of setting.  That's... actually a legitimate question, and probably correctly noted; they won't actually differ too much.  Except, of course, that this will be revised into m20 before I'm done, which I did not do with either of those settings.  Those other games were all specifically 3.5 houserules.

Finally: if you're not already familiar with this genre, what should you research?  First off, if you've never read the first three Barsoom books, you absolutely should.  They're free, because they're old enough to be public domain.  A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars all by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Then, if you've got access to it through like your public library or something, watch the first season of the old Filmation Flash Gordon show.  Or maybe the old Buster Crabbe Republic serial.  Get a hold of that issue of Dungeon and read IRON LORDS OF JUPITER or find any DARK SUN material that you can, which is more D&Dish than I'd otherwise recommend; but still with a strong sword & planet "vibe" to it.  Listen to Les Préludes by Franz Liszt.  In a pinch, watch the 80s Flash Gordon with the Queen soundtrack, I guess, or the John Carter movie from a few years ago, although know that neither is really all that good.

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