Fear of a Black Dragon Style Gameplay?

Hey, welcome ! I think you know the place and how to RSVP for games on the calendar. But if you care to share your tricks and playstyle, please tell us more on the forum.


Welcome, @Modernkutuzov; I hope you enjoy the Community. I’d be interested to hear which parts of what you’ve heard in FoaBD you are interested to explore.


I really like borderline horror, deep weirdness, high lethality, and moral ambiguity in my fantasy gaming. My home (now Zoom) gaming group isn’t quite as keen on it though, so they fight a lot of demons, devils, and undead, but with less intensity than I would prefer, if all else was equal.

There’s also something about the grubbiness from old modules (and old-style) that I really enjoy. At the same time 5th ed has just about the right level of crunch for me. Sometimes I’ll use a map, other times not.

I’m keen to try other, lighter systems though, or more story telling driven systems.


While I can’t speak from persobal experience, you might have luck with Mork Borg

Also welcome to the community!


The next Gauntlet Open Gaming Weekend, on 25-28 Feb, would be a great way to engage with the Community and get a feel for some lighter systems. I’d keep an eye open for any sessions of Trophy Dark or Trophy Gold, which would seem to fit with your preferences.


This post is split off from @Modernkutuzov’s post in the New User Introduction thread, linked below, since it seemed worthy of its own topic and discussion.

@jasoncordova Any thoughts about ways they can get involved/find games in the FoaBD style?

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I’d of course suggest taking a look at some of the older editions of D&D, and more the play style underpinnings of them. The way to get involved is of course pick up a game, an adventure of two and run them.


If you haven’t read Principia Apocrypha (https://lithyscaphe.blogspot.com/p/principia-apocrypha.html), Matt Finch’s Old School Primer (https://friendorfoe.com/d/Old%20School%20Primer.pdf), or maybe Philotomy’s Musings (https://www.grey-elf.com/philotomy.pdf) around the ideas and “ethos” of the classic play style they might help make sense of these types of games and their more modern offspring. There’s a lot of subtle differences about how characters do things, the GM role, the importance of combat and the centrality of individual characters to play that can feel very off to someone familiar with contemporary traditional play like 5E.

I can’t help much with crunch alas. DCC is pretty crunchy though.

If you have any specific questions feel free to ask.


Thanks! I’m very intrigued from what I’ve heard of Trophy.

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Oh yes, I have most of those editions. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reading recommendations! I followed Matt Finch on YouTube for awhile, and like his gaming style, but I’m not keen on the allegations against Bill Webb, who is also a part of Frog God Games. There are plenty of great games made by folks who aren’t associated with known abusers and harassers, I figure.

I have the Free RPG DCC starter book from last year (or was it the year before?), that I’ve been meaning to run.


Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a good OSR-style ruleset which has “borderline horror, deep weirdness, high lethality, and moral ambiguity” baked into its aesthetic, although most OSR-style games will tend to include or produce all of the above!

Of course, there is also World of Dungeons.

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What intrigues you about Trophy, in particular?

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While I never played the rule system, I was very into the Lamentations vibe for awhile, but, as with Frog God Games, I can’t support that company in good conscience anymore.

I’ve heard of World of Dungeons, but don’t know much about it. I’ll look into it!

I only know Trophy from the podcasts, so my understanding is very fragmentary. But taking the core conceit from DnD and really going for it sounds amazing to me: what kind of person would make a career of going into dungeons to face horrible things and take their treasure? What would that person’s life be like? What would the consequences be?

Don’t love FrogGod either and S&W has done some crap things — however, that primer is still a fairly useful document, and it’s free. Heck. I’ve read Celine and Lovecraft. I’m not saying we should separate the artist from the work, but I do think there can be useful work by bad people.

Luckily the one on there that’s likely the best and most useful read is the Apocrypha, and I’m pretty sure the folks behind it are chill. Another useful thing about older systems and retro-clones is how transferable everything is. For example LotFP as a system has a couple of neat tricks (which I think break down around level 5 - making the issues inherent in Moldvay B/X more apparent) but one can avoid LotFP entirely and simply play B/X, OSE, or Labyrinth Lord with a setting that has the grim messy feel LotFP draped itself in. If you want weird and grim, low fantasy I’d say “Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine” is a wonderful place to start and it’s author is a wonderful fellow.

I do really think that the major differences between editions are ones of playstyle and expectations (though it’s hard to play a high lethality, puzzle focused 5E, especially after level 3 - I’ve tried).

DCC is DCC, it’s got more crunch then most retro-clones (3E influence) but it’s not a tactics games like 3.5E - 4E and it doesn’t even have a ‘lite’ tactics overlay like 5E. A wonderful collection of adventures though. I used to hear 13th age was the good indie crunch high fantasy but I’ve never played it.

I’m an OD&D house rule and 5E guy myself so my system recommendations may be off.


Perhaps my favorite thing about DCC is that each spell has its own potential to go wrong. That helps make magic feel dangerous and interesting. While I don’t hate DnD’s Vancian magic, I don’t love it either.

I’ve had pretty good luck using retro modules using 5th Edition. Yeah, you don’t quite get the lethality, but you can replicate the feel of it pretty well. I do use the optional rules for slow healing to slow things down a little.


If you like that bit from DCC you can always swap Wonders and Wickedness into your OSR game of choice. It has great backfire rules, and the spells are better than DCC’s, evocative and creative.


I mean… listen to Fear of a Black Dragon and play the modules we recommend? If it’s a question about system, going from 5E to pretty much anything can be an adjustment, but not as much as one would think. I’ve had good luck with Trophy Gold and 5E players lately. We kind of expressly designed TG for DnD players looking for more of a narrative approach to fantasy adventure games.