Musing on Arduin – Hargrave Day 2018

Greetings and welcome to my post in celebration of Dave Hargrave the creator of Arduin. I’ve never played Arduin but plan to eventually once I get another group together. That said Hargrave’s imagination was immense, what he created in Arduin is frankly wondrous. His prose like writings are evocative of the world he was inviting others to visit as they played Arduin. Over the last few months I’ve read about Dave & Arduin – shit the dude inspires me!

My World of Xôðûn is inspired by Arduin – the whole gonzo feel of the World of Khaas just beggers you to let your imagination run wild. I love the fact that Dave had no qualms not only meshing science fiction with fantasy but also that both in art and rules he defied the norms of the day. Though TSR in their OD&D books flirted with similar norm defying art (though not even close to the level of quality that Arduin had), they  did eventually abandoned such art to pander to parents and critics.

Arduin would likely spark outrage if published today – you just have to take the ‘Female Attribute Chart’ which is a random chart to determine a woman’s Bust, Waist & Hip size. The fact Dave not only included such a chart but broke down nearly every race on the height & weight charts between male and female would send feminists and their allies into hysterics.  Personally I think the ‘Female Attribute Chart’ is silly and wouldn’t include it in my OD&D campaigns, but I’d likely keep it if I ran Arduin at least initially just to play it BtB. That said I am not offended at the least by Dave’s design choices with these mechanics; remember young men were still the primary audience for RPGs & frankly what red-blooded young male did not love Playboy & check out each month’s measurements & other stats for the playmate of the month? I know I did and I won’t apologize for it either.

ShardraCitidel of Thunder

How can you not be inspired by these? 

There are some rules I will likely import into my OD&D campaigns like the ‘Overland Travel Rules’ and the various travel charts, as I don’t use hex maps at this time , so the OD&D hex movement/exploration rules would need to be converted in any case; so instead of doing that I’ll import the Arduin rules.

A lot of the Arduin rules would not apply to my campaigns in the World of Xôðûn as they are specific to the World of Khaas & the rules themselves. But outside the travel based rules I’ll likely incorporate the ‘Magikal Equipment Saving Throw Matrix’, the ‘Optional Character Appearance Chart’ for non-native NPCs from other worlds or for mutants – yes the World of Xôðûn has mutants! I’ll also likely include the ‘Special Ability Charts’, the ‘Character Social Status’, ‘Character Wealth Chart’, ‘Character Legacy Chart’ & ‘Owned Equipment Chart’ as well. I might actually include the last batch to all of my OD&D campaigns too.

Let’s just say if I ever got to the point where I wanted to create a campaign guide for the World of Xôðûn – I’d take a page from Dave’s book and be true to my vision. I’d buy commissioned art and publish the kind of supplement I want no matter who I’d offend. I’ll definitely add Dave & Arduin to my acknowledgements page a long with Gygax & Arneson, as he deserves it.

I wish more people would give Dave Hargrave his due as a innovator in RPGs like they do to both Gygax & Arneson. I see potential inspiration of Arduin in Palladium Fantasy & Talislanta RPGs. Whether or not Dave’s Arduin influenced Kevin Siembieda & Stephen Michael Sechi or they simply had been of similar minds as they developed their own settings and game systems, I think that they tried to create something different than TSR was doing – which was a very good thing.

I know I wish I had gotten to play Arduin with Hargrave and had been able to get Arduin in print when I was younger. Just looking at the PDFs of the original Arduin series really inspires me from the art alone. I wish Emperors Choice would add a POD option for their Arduin Trilogy, but I doubt that will ever happen as they are largely defunct. I hope someone else would get the licence from Emperors Choice & create cleaned up PDF & POD files for the original Arduin series and sell them again.- I’d buy multiple copies for sure.

This is all I have for you today – I’ll likely discuss what other rules and elements I’ll likely incorporate into my OD&D based campaigns for World of Xôðûn in my Original Edition blog as soon as I give the rules a full in depth read through. That said, I’ll likely discuss my thoughts on Arduin itself in its various incarnations on this blog as I’m trying to keep my ‘Musing About Original Edition Adventures’ blog focused on OD&D. Take care & see you later, Fin.


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