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Champions of ZED is a comprehensive re-edit of the original fantasy roleplaying game.
Champions of ZED is a comprehensive re-edit of the original fantasy roleplaying game.
259 backers pledged $8,077 to help bring this project to life.

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CHAMPIONS OF ZED:

Zero Edition Dungeoneering

– the definitive Sandbox version of the worlds’ original RPG!

Why Support CoZ?

Champions of ZED is the first and only comprehensive SANDBOX edition of the world’s first fantasy Role-Playing game!  Champions of ZED weaves together the scattered notes and guidelines of the two original designers who created the fantasy RPG genre, and includes revisions drawn from the long lost Beyond This Point Be Dragons manuscript.

About Champions of ZED

Champions of ZED is the only RPG to incorporate the principles found in the widely scattered notes and guidelines of fantasy role-playing games two co-creators.  Sources include:
• letters and articles to obscure publications
• web posts
• Gary and Dave’s personal house rules
• relevant portions of the Medieval Miniatures rules of 1971
• Dave Arneson’s campaign notes published in 1977.

The overriding goal in preparing Champions of ZED has been to harmonize the creative genius of these two men, minimize the input of others, and reset to zero the world's greatest fantasy game, as only an inquisitive and careful editor can. Champions of ZED develops the available Open Game License material and brings together the scattered intentions of both authors of the original 1974 edition, left unfulfilled when the urge to publish overcame the urge to perfect, At the same time CoZ preserves and celebrates the open ended flexibility for which those rules are famous.

Sandbox play? Sandbox play is about choices. Players in a sandbox campaign are let loose in the fantasy world to pursue whatever adventures interest them. They are not engaged in a fated story-arc where certain outcomes are expected and where they must all travel from a to b. Instead players choose where they want their characters to go on a Hexmap with endless opportunities to explore, encounter adventures and win riches along the way.  The original designers developed methods for building your own campaign world, creating your own milieu and designing adventure after adventure. Sandbox was the only kind of play in 1974.

Champions of ZED features Sandbox play literally from the ground up. Rules, based very closely on the methods of original designers Gygax and Arneson, provide a guideline for randomly generating a campaign world from scratch and populating it with monsters, treasures and adventures.  It hearkens to a time when players built their fantasy worlds together, one hex at a time, when settings from far off publishing houses simply did not exist; when a handful of dice and creative minds crafted and conquered worlds of their own.

Lost manuscript?  While they were collaborating to develop the original fantasy role playing game, the game's co-authors were separated by several hundred miles, one in Wisconsin, the other in Minnesota. Each had seperate playtest groups, worked on separate manuscripts, but shared revisions by phone and post. After receiving a significant investment, the Wisconsin group fairly hastily prepared their last draft of the rules for publication and the world’s first fantasy role playing game became available for purchase in three, incomplete and somewhat confusing, little brown booklets in January of 1974. The game's other creator, meanwhile, had been carefully preparing his own revision, a revision now made moot by the game having already been published. This alternative manuscript, titled "Beyond This Point Be Dragons" was then lost and forgotten. However a somewhat tattered photocopy was found among the papers formerly in the possession of the late M. A. R. Barker.

The discovery of this lost manuscript presented a golden opportunity to make whole the original game in a way that was not before possible. What if, instead of publishing a manuscript of which Dave Arneson was said to have “complained bitterly that the game wasn’t right”, both original designers had agreed to bring in an editor to take a look at all the material prepared by both men and put it all together in a better organized, edited and comprehensive fashion?

To the extent possible, that is what Champions of ZED is. Champions of ZED is the ONLY game to incorporate the gaming features of Beyond This Point Be Dragons with the original three game booklets published in 1974, using the open game license.

Features Include:

• Three options for resolving combat at a shifting scale of detail, derived from the earlier wargames rules as recommended in the original game

• Combat ranges from abstract to granular, and relies on Fighting Capability as a key statistic

• Initiative rules based on dexterity, position, weapon type and morale

• Realistic rules for projectiles

• Rules for subdual and non-lethal combat

• Extensive guidelines for creating and playing Hexcrawl and Sandbox adventures the way the games’ founders did.

• Three core class types – Fighter, Cleric, Magic-user, - with guidelines for creative, campaign specific character specialization to play any sort of character desired - examples given include Paladin, Alchemist, Druidic Monks

• All the original player races – Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Balrog, Human and Halfling, - plus rules for playing as any monster type desired

• 6 Magic-user spell levels, and 5 levels of reversible spells for Clerics

• Flexible spell progression tables which can be adapted to the magic level of the campaign world

• Detailed rules for creating and controlling magic

• Rules for spell disruption

• 6 saving throw categories

• Rules for disease, outdoor survival, weather, getting lost, and pursuit and evasion

• Guidelines for expertise, skill and attempting the extraordinary

• Experience points awarded for defeating opponents, casting spells, capturing prizes and spending wealth

• Detailed rules for hirelings and mercenaries

• Flexible play style with no limits on what a character can do, and no penalties for ambitious characters

• Extensive and detailed guide to dragons

• Clear rules where many other retro clones provide only vague nothings or borrow rules from much later versions of the game

• The first and only game to draw on the Minnesota group's long lost manuscript and to include all of the rules intended by both co-authors, made clear and eminently playable

• Smart guidelines for the use of wandering monsters and building adventures

• The re-introduction of Chance Cards for random events in play

• Designer’s notes on the history and development of the early rules.

Bonus!

Since we have well exceeded our base goal of $4600 and our stretch goal of $5800, every parton (except Retailer Special patrons) will recieve a PDF of Gerald D. Seypura's adventure The Mines of Wexcham; the first written exclusively for Champions of ZED.   Gerry has been playing D&D since the birth of the game, but he is perhaps best known as the designer of the Crossbones(TM) and Wild West(TM) roleplaying games published by Fantasy Games Unlimited.  Gerry is the real deal when it comes to old school game design.

The Artists

Adventure and video gaming pioneer, Jennell Jaquays is renowned for creating some of the most iconic adventures and most memorable art since the early 1970's. Jennell has graciously agreed to create several one-of-a-kind digital art pieces as a premium reward for Champions of ZEDs most enthusiastic backers. For a sample of her work please visit: http://www.etsy.com/people/jennelljaquays

Jonathan Scott was a long time player in Freds World, the home campaign created by his friend Frederick Paul Funk III; himself infamous as one of the earliest players in Dave Arneson’s group, and the first person to ever throw dice as an Orc player character. Mr. Scott now runs an English language school in Japan and continues to create great art. For a sample please visit: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jonathan-Songe-Scott/104059269712560

Andres Canals is an outstanding artist living in England, having worked previously on various RPGs including Dragons at Dawn, Rob Kuntz’ Ice Grave and Reclamation. He will be creating much of the art gracing the pages of Champions of ZED. To view his gallery visit http://picasaweb.google.com/andresarts/FantasyArt

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $12 or more About $12

    Patrons receive a PDF of the finished product; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Veteran of ZED.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Patrons receive a LIMITED EDITION SIGNED AND NUMBERED HARDBACK BOOK; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Warrior of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $3 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $5 for overseas shipping)

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Patrons receive a LIMITED EDITION SIGNED AND NUMBERED HARDBACK BOOK and a PDF of the finished product; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Hero of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $3 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $5 for overseas shipping)

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    RETAILER SPECIAL: receive 4 LIMITED EDITION SIGNED AND NUMBERED HARDBACK BOOKs and a PDF of the finished product: and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Swashbuckler of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $12 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $15 for overseas shipping)

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    Your chance to be a part of the CoZ team and share your creative vision! Artist Andres Canals will custom draw a1/4 page illustration following your instructions!

    Patrons also receive a LIMITED EDITION SIGNED AND NUMBERED HARDBACK BOOK and a PDF of the finished product; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Champion of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $3 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $5 for overseas shipping)

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    As above, your chance to be a part of the CoZ team and share your creative vision, but this reward level offers your choice of Artist Andres Canals or Jonathan Scott to create a 1/2 page custom illustration following your instructions!

    You will recieve a SIGNED, AND FRAMED copy of the illustration.

    Patrons also receive a LIMITED EDITION SIGNED AND NUMBERED HARDBACK BOOK and a PDF of the finished product; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Superhero of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $5 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $8 for overseas shipping)

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    Pledge $395 or more About $395

    Have legendary artist JENNELL JAQUAYS create a full page B&W illustration according to your instructions and recieve 3 framed, high resolution prints on good quality paper stock and autographed as signed, numbered, limited edition prints.

    Patrons also receive a LIMITED EDITION SIGNED AND NUMBERED HARDBACK BOOK and a PDF of the finished product; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Lord of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $12 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $15 for overseas shipping)

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    Pledge $625 or more About $625

    The patron will recieve, in order, one of the first 5 (1-5) LIMITED EDITION SIGNED COPIES of Champions of ZED and the right to choose the name of one of the sample characters used in the examples.

    This Patron will also receive the benefits of the previous reward, but with choice of artist to create a full page B&W illustration according to your instructions and recieve 3 framed, high resolution prints on good quality paper stock and autographed as signed, numbered, limited edition prints.

    Patrons also receive a PDF of the finished product; a copy of the current draft; the opportunity to provide commentary on the development forum to improve the final rules; and a name of the Patron's choice listed in the credits as a Grand Champion of ZED. (Free shipping USA; please add $12 shipping for Canada and Mexico; please add $15 for overseas shipping)

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Funding period

- (46 days)