Chrysogon's Coterie

Cover illustration by Gabe Fua

Back in 1980, I encountered something life-changing: tabletop role-playing games. Specifically, it was 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and it was not long before I decided I wanted to switch which side of the screen I was on. While I loved it as a player, the idea of creating and managing a world was even more appealing.

One of the first tools I got was The Rogues Gallery—a book of imagined individuals that I could plug into the adventures I created. It was a great idea for a book, in theory. It contained many statistics about the people I might include in my adventure, but it told me nothing about their personalities. For me, that was its critical fail. 

For the next 40 years I considered writing my own version. By this time I had discovered what's now called Old-School Revival, and my favourite system in that genre is the Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game—an open source retro-clone of 1981 Moldvay-Cook Basic & Expert D&D. So, I started writing.

 My book varies from its original inspiration in three ways:

  • First, it throws away the odd spreadsheet design in favour of a more "monster book" arrangement. Characters of the four standard classes are described by mini-biographies, stats, and equipment, and arranged from levels 1 to 9.
  • Second, their physical characteristics are specified only in cases where it is pertinent. For the most part, the descriptions are historical and psychological in nature. How you imagine them is up to you, but the way they behave is strongly suggested.
  • Third, rather than existing as complete strangers in isolation, they are part of a shared reality. As I say in the book's introduction:

This is not a tome of random, disconnected individuals. To me, that would be fantasy on a level beyond the game this book is written for. While there are some high-functioning outliers and fringe individuals, there are also many friendships, families, organizations, rivalries, and other interpersonal dynamics.

As an open source product, it is being developed and released very publicly. The current release only has about half of the 150 pieces of interior art I would like to see in the final version. But you are free to download and use this material as it progresses from a work-in-progress to a printed book.