The Gygax 75 Challenge by Ray Otus


I started last night. Here’s my inspiration board.


This is beautiful. I think I’ll start it tomorrow.

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It is isn’t it. I’ve started my first sentences and inspiration.

This sounds really fun! I’ve started tonight by reading through week 1 on the pdf and the final section of the document. By next Thursday I will post the results!


Wow, this is really cool. I think I’ll try it eventually with a Space Western setting I have in mind.

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I’m currently neck deep in making a 5e setting I hope to run for a couple of online friends, but I’ll read through this to see how Gygax did it back in the day and go from there. I might also need to mine it out to help me define my Fantasy Western Setting and my Gangbuster campaign I hope to run.


Here’s my pitch


here’s my hex map


One week down, I start week 2 tomorrow.

Week 1:


  • The game system will be OSE - Old School Essentials - this allows easy modification so we can build our own world to live and play in.
  • The world will truly be impacted by player agency. It will be built as it’s explored. If the players go north, we build out north, if they go south, we build out south. If they head west, find a town, get bored, then head back east to investigate a different thread they heard about earlier then that’s what we’ll do!
  • The initial world is a generic setting, only three gods are pre-defined and there’s a lot of grey (or empty!) area to be filled in. Similar to an improvisation session, if you invent a god, village, town, kingdom, npc, etc. then they come into being - I’ll always try to say “yes, and” - I expect the players to do the same.
  • The initial area is B2 - Keep on the Borderlands. This gives a great starting point to begin an epic adventure, along with an intricate and fun starter dungeon that the players can cut their teeth on. Depending on where they want to go from there the world will be built out accordingly.
  • To limit the amount of prep work, prepared modules will be used with the initial cardinal directions to populate the world. It will still be up to the players to decide which ones sound interesting enough to investigate. The goal is to have an abundance of cool things to explore, if the players can’t decide what to do because all the story threads sound fun I’ll see this as a success. Exploring and then backtracking to investigate something else is encouraged!
  • Continuing the point made above, even if the players aren’t following an active rumor and are just exploring for the sake of exploration, using pre-made modules puts something fleshed-out out there that the players can find and investigate with minimal effort for me as a GM.
  • See “Sources of Inspiration” for more information on the previous two points - the selected prepared modules are the initial pillars that hold the rest of the world up as its explored. The assumption is that as players explore these prepared areas more prepared modules will be used to fill in further unexplored areas. In addition, material will be generated organically as overarching world setting campaign threads will be created that the players will want to engage with.

Sources of Inspiration:

  1. Introductory area:
  • Gygax, Gary - Dungeon Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands
  • Provides a well fleshed out base of operations, an intricate and fun starter dungeon, and a small sandbox to begin the exploration of the greater world. This module will provide key areas and NPCs that can be built upon later.
  1. Expansion of introductory area:
  • Norman, Gary - The Hole in the Oak
  • Dungeon Module B2 The Keep on the Borderlands has an area in it called the “Cave of the Unknown” - in this campaign world, this area of the forest is magically influenced, showing a higher level of fantasy and magic in the world than B2 normally shows. The “cave” is, in actuality, a giant oak tree that the smith in the Keep wants the magical wood of to power his forge. Seeing the hole and investigating it will give the players another low-level area to explore, and the underground river withinl also connect to the “Caves of Chaos.” The Mad Hermit living in the woods (as described in B2) lives in a smaller oak tree that sprouted from one of the magical oak’s acorns. If the players have difficulty finding the magical oak tree but do find the Mad Hermit, one of the branches of his oak tree can act as a dowsing rod to locate the magical oak.
  1. East of introductory area:
  • Gygax, Gary; Mentzer, Frank - T1-T4 The Temple of Elemental Evil
  • If the players follow the road east of the “Caves of Chaos”, the village of Hommlet can be found. The road is overgrown and Chaos has begun encroaching on the area. Rumors will be heard at the Keep of the village and how the residents there used to visit often to trade goods and services. Surely there must be work in Hommlet for intrepid adventurers willing to battle the tides of Chaos! The village can easily be expanded into the full T1-T4 campaign, which can further be expanded into the full GDQ1-7 campaign if the players find that campaign thread interesting. Based on the initial B2 map, the assumption is the players will head this way after locating the magical oak listed in #2.
  1. South of introductory area:
  • Gearing, Luke - Fever Swamp
  • South of the lizardmen described in B2, the swamp thickens and deepens. Rumors of the inhabitants living there can be heard at the Keep, along with rumors of wealth and treasures that can be found. As the swamp is deadly and difficult to progress through, Fever Swamp creates a natural “fence” that keeps the players within the established sandbox while also offering them something to do if they wish to explore that way.
  1. West of introductory area:
  • Kowolski, Zzarchov - Scenic Dunnsmouth
  • West along the road is the village of Dunnsmouth. It’s a long distance on foot, so renting or buying a boat from the Keep is the better way to get there. There are rumors that can be heard in the Keep of a magic weapon residing in Dunnsmouth that can help stem the tides of Chaos. In addition, Dunnsmouth is in debt to the Castellan of the Keep for services rendered. The Keep, and the militia residing there, offer protection to the small town from Chaotic influence for a modest sum. Payment has ceased, and the Castellan is willing to sell the debt at a steep discount. Unfortunately for the players (and the inhabitants of Dunnsmouth!) Chaos has already reached the town, isolating the Keep from Law on all sides.
  1. North of introductory area:
  • Edward Raggi IV, James; Smith, Zak - Death Frost Doom
  • Further to the north, past the great mystical oak tree, there are rumors of a mountain that noone climbs. It dominates the landscape and is omnipresent in the landscape. There are rumors of inconceivable wealth hidden there inside the shrine of an ancient death cult. If a player character dies and the party wants to resurrect them, whatever they need to accomplish this feat is hidden inside as well.
  1. Special Reference Work:
  • Campbell, Courtney C. - On Downtime and Demesnes
  • This book fleshes out various rules and provides inspiration on things the players can do to help craft the world in their own image. It’ll help so I don’t have to do a lot of legwork in making my own rules for carousing and building strongholds and the like. It’ll also help provide ideas for things the players can do outside of clearing dungeons and shopping.
Mood Board


That’s great stuff! Mood board is awesome. Keep it up. Sounds like a great campaign

Thanks man, we’ll see if I can keep up with the challenge!

I really like the tavern image in the mood board. Just imagining what’s being said by those portrayed gets my imaginative juices flowing.

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The Pitch
Northern Hoku’lua, the sea of a thousand lands.

  • Mashing together vikings and Polynesian mythology results in this awe-inspiring iceberg filled oceanic landscape where islands of every variety are only small voyages away.
  • The players start on a small island, recently hit hard by a natural disaster and have to venture out to find sources of food, wealth (for trading), and natural resources.
  • As the players fix up their tribe’s home island, migrants will stream in from neighboring islands. When not exploring/adventuring, players will have to focus on base building to attract more migrants.
  • More powerful tribes are on the move, looking to expand their territory.
  • Nature is savage, often more responsible for more deaths than enemy tribes. Massive mega-fauna roam over islands, huge vipers silently float under the ice, and the shadows of gargantuan creatures can occasionally be seen in icy glaciers.
  • All magic is connected to the Gods of the realm, and shamans use runes (think magic stickers)

Sources of Inspiration

  • Knave by Ben Milton will be the primary system on top of which my village-building house rules will be built.
  • Polynesian Mythology I know almost nothing about Polynesia, and will use the internet to research for inspiration
  • Norse Mythology This will hopefully inspire some of my monsters and pantheon.
  • Perilous Wilds will provide inspiration for how I intend to randomly generate islands.
Mood Board



Great contribution king!


It was harder than I thought, but finally I have done my first week. You can find the result here.

Let’s hope that the next week is easier!


Love it kernel! And yeah it’s definitely harder than i thought as well. I’m pleased with the results thus far

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Once I complete the challenge, I will likely do the following 1. Run it 2. Start a second one based on Norse mythology.

The Gygax 75 Challenge is probably my favourite method of world building without overthinking the process (as I normally tend to, trying to explain every little bit of the campaign setting). I really love the idea of having a mood board and using it to set the tone of the game.

Combining it with Welsh Piper’s hex-based campaign design - for generating hex content - is my go-to way of doing it.
Really practical tools that can spark creativity and lead to months and years of playing.

I’m not taking part in the challenge right now, but am looking forward to see what you’re coming up with. :slightly_smiling_face:


Since I’m seeing other people share their stuff for the Gygax 75 Challenge, I’ve pulled together and reorganized some of my notes for the Fantasy Western Setting I am running for some of my friends.

I’m still organizing and building the world outside of this challenge so this Pitch/Concept is going to constantly be returned to and revised and organized as new ideas come to light and my research and reading expand.

Hope you all enjoy what I have and hope your weekend goes well.

Week #1 - Concept/Pitch

  • The Ruleset will be using Mark Hunt’s Tall Tales Ruleset. This provides a nice cluster of spaghetti western-styled classes, rules, and assumptions that can provide a nice basis to work within.
  • This is a low magic game with a high magic setting. The greater “world map” is an infinite plane of Midwestern and southwestern terrain. Little towns and locations dot the landscape with supernatural monsters and ancient ruins dotting the landscape.
  • Players will start out in the Cattle Town of Big Horn, an area dominated by four powerful Ranches who are in a cold war with one another for control of both the pasture surrounding the town and the beef raised on it.
  • This is a world where Wild West archetypes have clashed with medieval fantasy. Rail Barons rule their railways with a feudalistic might that maintains their order and power. Ranches are the size of small countries or states running the gambit of being anarchy filled places to Monarchical rule of dynastic family houses ruling stretched of pasture. Native American Tribes and Confederations that spread take on these massive hordes that thunder across the plains and prairie.
  • The available races include;
    • Standard Human, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, etc. (Tolkien Races)
    • Automatons and Dolls. Robotic races who have recently (in the history of the world) gained independence and freedom for themselves.
    • Fera (Dragon, Cat, Wolf). Part human, part animals races that were possible results of magical meddling.
  • Magic runs through everyone and everything, but few people have the innate ability to cast magic regularly. Instead, magical powers are often tied to the use of a mineral known as Magicitie which is basically the new gold of the world. A small crate of magicite crystals can let you buy a small house.
  • For the Settlers and those in the cities, many of them follow the Church of the Holy Mother, an organized religion that supports groups of Monster Hunters and Healers who tend to the populace and the faithful. Out on the plains and prairies, there are main different groups that run the gambit; some are like the Native Americans and follow and appease different Spirits to organize Cults and freeform religions who were cast out by society.


  • First off, the innumerable number of Western audio dramas put out my Bandi Publishing. There’s likely too many to name for a list and can’t think of any that directly stick out.
  • Louis L’amour Novels and short stories. Examples being Last of the Breed, Down the Long Hills, and Cherokee Trail.
    • The previous two bullets are what I more or less grew up with. Me and my Dad would listen to old audio tapes as he would take me to school. Helped give me the love of westerns and gunfighting.
  • Zane Grey and some of his Western Novels.
  • The Witcher Series.
    • Provided the thought to pull the setting down from an Epic Fantasy down into Low Fantasy where despite the local, the players aren’t bulletproof and not magically powered.

Westerns are my favorite genre e v e r. Mind linking me to these? Never heard of them.

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