in memory of Gary Gygax, a game of exploration and improvisation
Game Design © 2008 by Scott Jon Siegel
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Gygaxian is a competitive creation game, with several "dungeon masters" (known here as GameGods) battling for control over the direction of a fantasy world. The sole Player moves about this world, in search of whatever treasure or other ultimate goal he chooses. Meanwhile, the GameGods build the world as the player traverses it, extemporaneously creating the map and its details through description (and dice).


One Player, and at least three GameGods (GGs).


  • At least one twenty-sided die (but preferably one for each GG).
  • Some paper, for the Player to map his/her course, items, and NPCs encountered.
  • More paper, for the GameGods to track their stats.

Setting Up:

At the start of Gygaxian, the participants should determine which one of them will be the Player. All other participants will be the GameGods, who create the world inhabited by the Player. The Player should have paper and a pen to map out his/her exploration and progress, as well as to mark locations of items, creatures, and other elements of the world.

Before gameplay can commence, the GGs must roll for their initial stats across three attributes: Confidence, Resolution, and Creativity. Using a twenty-sided die (d20), each GG makes three rolls, and chooses which number to commit to which attribute.

  • Confidence:
    This stat represents the GG's ability to take control of the game. When GGs roll for control, this value is added to a GG's roll. The GG with the highest total value gains control. Confidence is increased by using Creativity, and describing non-Player-characters (NPCs) and objects in the game.
  • Resolution:
    Once a GG has control of the game, he or she must be careful not to lose it too quickly. Resolution represents how tenaciously a GG retains control. With the exception of the start of the game, Resolution is defined at the start of a GG's turn by the value of the roll made for control (not including the Confidence bonus).
  • Creativity:
    When a GG describes a room's objects and non-Player-characters, he uses Creativity to do so. Using Creativity adds value to the GG's Confidence stat, but also subtracts from the Resolution stat, and adds to the Creativity stats of the other GGs.

Once all GGs have defined their starting attributes, the Player must describe his/her starting "room" in the game's world. This is the only room in the game world described by the Player. Once the room has been described (and marked on the Player's map), the GGs will roll for initial control of the story.

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