JDMcDonnell: Dragonhead.
So what did you do with your Covid-19 time?
After the panic and the chaos and the failed attempts at sourdough starters subsided the boredom set in. I couldn't leave reality far enough behind to start anything new, so I went back through my ever-growing heap of unfinished projects and pulled this one out. It looked like fun.

A couple of years ago, someone online asked the question if you could go back in time and put a different game inside the box of the first RPG you ever played, what would it be? For me, that game was Moldvay D&D, purchased by my mom from a Sears & Roebuck in October of '82.


(Made to be played under a blacklight.)

In truth, I wouldn't put any other game in that box. It was a great game to start with but it wasn't perfect. The more I thought about it the longer my list of improvements grew. In fact, I don't think I ever replied to the thread. Instead I set about building a revision of the game. The basic booklet is only 64 pages long.

How hard could it be?

It was hard. This wasn't my first RPG rodeo. I have been creating RPGs since the early 90's, but it was the first time I ever tried to emulate another game and restrict myself to its size and conventions. It is quite easy to create some large sprawling encyclopedic monstrosity. Keeping the entire game interesting and under 64 pages kicked my butt.

This time around I didn't care about emulation or page restrictions. I just wanted something awesome. Two considerations I did hang onto is what I like to think of as Moldvay's dream of a D&D that could be easily played right out of the box, and keeping the game backwards compatible. Compatible enough to let me play it with adventure modules like Keep on the Borderlands and White Plume Mountain without a whole lot of conversion.

The Complete Rules this links to a zip file containing the game in PDF and EPUB formats. It is complete in that it works. It even has its own introductory adventure A Well of Goblins however it has not been entirely flushed out or dressed up for sale. This is a prototype. Maybe if enough people show interest by joining my mailing list (hint! hint!) I'll consider doing a kickstarter and get it professionally laid out and illustrated. Until then we get what can be done with Open Office Writer and my own meager artistic skills.

I also held back on the amount of stuff the system comes with. It currently has nine classes and almost sixty spells - which is a decent amount - but there are a slew of ideas and half-written things waiting to be completed off in the wings. Stuff I plan on releasing as updates in the coming future. So once again - join my mailing list - Otherwise you will never find your way back here again.

That is just how the internet works.

Is Dragonhead McDonnell D&D? That actually has a nice ring to it. Call it McD&D and we are going to have issues. Whatever you choose to call it, download the zip, give it a look and tell me what you think about it. The time to criticize it and give advice is now. If you wait until I have had it laid out for publication then you have waited too long. At that point it is finished and won't be changing for anyone.
James V West JD McDonnell Joe R Lansdale Liberty Meadows Loopy Dave Red Wombat Studios