An Update on my Upcoming "Weird Fantasy" Campaign (for Kids)

About two weeks ago, I wrote a post about different approaches to campaign world design (in short - "serious" or "gonzo") and why some people prefer one over the other.

I've also written about how I'm preparing a fantasy RPG campaign to run for my 10 year-old daughter and her friends, and how in working out the details of the campaign world, I'd like to adopt a bit more weird, unexpected, and fantastical elements to the world, to move beyond just a basic Medieval Western European pastiche with dwarves and dragons. While I had a few of my own ideas for building the world, I put up the question on social media (primarily Facebook and MeWe) and asked people for their "thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations on different sources that you use, or things that inspired your games to add more weird and non-standard fantasy stuff..."

I went on to explain that my daughter and her friends are only 10, so I wanted to avoid a lot of unnecessary gore and sexual situations. I also mentioned that I knew there was a lot of stuff out there in the OSR community that would probably fit the bill, but I just wasn't aware of it, and that there are also most likely older modules from the TSR days that I've forgotten about.

The response from people was great - I copied and pasted every comment I received into a Word document, and ended up with over six pages of comments and suggestions! Reading them was really inspiring and helped me start coming up with new ways to include a bunch of the ideas into my new campaign world, or to modify things I was planning.

I thought it might be helpful to share the comments I received - I ended up putting them into buckets of different topics to help organize them a bit more.

I've really missed the OSR discussions and sharing from the Google + days, but using a combination of Facebook Groups and MeWe Groups has helped fill that hole. Here are the groups and people who commented and shared their thoughts - I encourage you to browse these groups and/or request to join them to see all of the great new ideas and content that's being shared in the RPG community.

  • The OSR RPG Group
    • Comments/Suggestions by: Ralf Keller, Liam Black, Harrison Hunt, Maks Roman, Eduardo RiveraArce, Kristopher Hedley, Michael Ramoneda, Denis McCarthy, Red Orc, Daniel Norton, Jamie Perez, Alan Stewart, John Taylor, Peter Robbins, George Patterson, Tim Samwise Seven Harper, Ada Douglas
  • The THAC0 RPG Blog Group
    • Comments/Suggestions by: Charles Rockafellor, Ryan Marsh, Steven Jacobs
  • Old School Gaming Rocks! Group
    • Comments/Suggestions by: John Anthony, Michael Roe
Thanks, everyone!

On to the different ideas. Hopefully these will inspire you all to incorporate some of these ideas into your campaigns, and please, continue to suggest your ideas here in the comments, or on Facebook, MeWe, or Twitter, and I'll continue adding ideas to this list and update it. I was particularly happy with the "Weird Fantasy Tropes" at the beginning as well as the "Other Inspirations" at the end - the "Monolith Metro" is a really fun idea.

  • Weird Fantasy Tropes:
    • Animal Companions
    • Constructs and Robots
    • Twisted Animated Objects (whimsical, colored furniture; living drawings and paintings; candy monsters; giant flying books; jacks-in-the-box)
    • Dream-world pink elephants
    • Undead that are put to rest when slain (e.g., sheet ghosts)
    • Lots of familiars
    • Potions
    • Traps
    • Puzzles
    • Portals
    • Mazes
    • Magic that changes reality
    • Fewer monsters that are harder to fight
    • Lots of running away from things that you can't possibly defeat
    • Getting trapped and escaping
    • Transformations
    • Blurring and crossing lines of reality
    • Getting small and getting big
    • Making the strange familiar and the familiar strange
    • Cults (they bring the ‘weird’ from somewhere else)
    • Vampires (lots of possibilities)
    • Rename lists of old fairy-tale monsters
    • Creatures don't have to be defeated by weapons alone - it could be with proper manners, saucers of milk, worn shoes, etc.
    • Magical dogs and cats (as players or NPCs)

  • Inspiring Literature:
    • Roald Dahl
    • C.S. Lewis: Narnia, The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength)
    • Susan Cooper: The Dark Is Rising Sequence
    • J.K. Rowling: The first four Harry Potter books
    • Clark Ashton Smith
    • Jack Vance
    • Alice in Wonderland
    • Japanese Ghost Stories
    • Chinese folk stories: Journey to the West and the Tower of Myriad Mirrors
    • African folk tales: Palm Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
    • South American tales: 100 Years of Solitude (Magical Realism); A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
    • Ford's Faeries: A Bestiary Inspired by Henry Justice Ford
    • Philip José Farmer: Dungeon
    • J. M. Barrie: Peter Pan (specifically Neverland)
    • Wheel of Time
    • The Dresden novels
    • Witch World
    • Robert E. Howard: Conan/Kull/Solomon Kane
    • Andrew Lang (editor): The Green Fairy Book
  • Inspiring Movies:
    • “Faust” (Jan Švankmajer)
    • “Pan's Labyrinth”
    • “The Mummy”
    • “How to Train Your Dragon” series
    • “Frozen”
  • Inspiring Video Games:
    • Zelda
    • Mario Brothers
    • Wizardry
  • Non-European Cultures for Inspiration:
    • Middle East
    • Sub-Saharan Africa
    • Chinese Martial Heroes
    • Japanese Sengoku Period
    • Central America (Toltecs, Mound Builders, etc.)
  • Other Inspirations:
    • Infuse your dreams and nightmares into the campaign
    • Conspiracy theories
    • Anime characters
    • The Ancient Monolith “Metro” (Large magical monoliths; when you touch them, you are hurled through the air for miles to another monolith far away. Flying beasts who see you whizzing past may try to pursue you, but they cannot keep up. You may whiz past cumulus castles of cloud giants. There are three monoliths total in a great triangle. The overuse of this fantastical “Metro” has some delayed magical effect on the user.
    • Planetary Romance genre

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Coffee (cold brew, heated up)
Listening: "Tongue Tied" by Grouplove, from "Never Trust a Happy Song"


  1. Don't forget to keep us posted on how the campaign goes! :-)

    1. Sure thing! With my daughter's and her friends schools just being closed down for at least three weeks, I may start it a bit sooner than I was anticipating.

      I've also been thinking about all of these ideas and I'm thinking instead of trying to figure out ahead of time how to incorporate them all into my world and building everything out ahead of time, I may just keep the list handy and drop them in when they seem appropriate based on what the players are doing. That will reduce my time needed to get ready for our first session.



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