The Wastes of the West Pt 1: An Introduction

Let's be honest, the Graylands is not an original setting.  It was born out of a need for a quick generic setting that made use of the bits of setting already built into the core DCC rulebook.  One of the most interesting parts of the setting for me, the take on alignments, came out of a need to make sense of what were odd alignment rules in DCC.  Graylands is great and a lot of the concepts that were born out of necessity are pretty awesome and I intend to carry them over to other works, but it just isn't an original setting.

I'm going to continue making content for the Graylands because I still have a game going there but I also want to start work on another setting that I thought of a while ago that I would like to bring to life here.

Enter the Wastes of the West.

"What are you here for?"  Asked the musician between sips of his ale.  

I looked up from by sludgy drink and shrugged.  "Adventure."

He looked out at me with obsidian eyes beneath his wide leather hat, "There are better places to die than this and often dying is a privilege reserved for the lucky.  Looking for adventure here is like diving into a raging sea for a gulp of water.  I see what you're thinking.  You think it won't be that bad.  You think you've been through some adventures before so this shouldn't be too hard."

He absently strummed a few notes on his guitar. "Out here, the only constant is the endless dunes.  Out here you get to burn all day beneath the tyrant suns and freeze all night beneath the changing moons.  You'll never really know solid ground and even the sky will change on you.  You will never be safe and likely you will never be able to go home.  Out here, the desert sneaks into you.  The alien moons change you.  You'll find before too long that you aren't even human anymore and that home is like a rapidly fading dream."

I looked at the bard and set my drink down.  "Should I leave?"

"Leave?  You ought to run.  You ought to leave here back for hearth and home as fast as your legs can carry you.  Run before the moons starts watching you from your dreams.  Run before the song of the desert winds become all that you crave.  Run before the sparkling expanse of the starlit dunes stains your eyes forever.  Run before the Wastes grab hold of your soul and you hate even the notion of getting free."

The Wastes of the West is an endless desert that links to many worlds.  The sky changes each day, showing suns and planets and moons of alien worlds.  Adventurers from any world may find themselves there and that makes the Wastes so diverse and so dangerous.  Civilizations have risen and fallen in the Wastes for such an extended period that the "natives" say, "There is no sand in the desert, only the dust of fallen empires."

The point of the Wastes is to take the adventurers away from the familiar and confront them with the weird.  This creates a space to confound your grizzled players with the bizarre.  It also offers an opportunity to blend science-fiction in fantasy in creative ways with the Wastes being a convergence of worlds.  I intend to make the Wastes a mixture of Conan the Barbarian, Dune, and Lovecraft with magical super-tech reminiscent of Wheel of Time.

What do you all think?  What system would you suggest I use for this setting?  I have run something similar to this with 5th ed but I want something really OSR that will be deadly with interesting but balanced magic-users and fun to play warriors.  I also prefer something rules-lite but that is negotiable.


  1. I'd suggest the Apocalypse World system, although I may be biased. It's the only system besides D&D that I have any familiarity with. But it seems pretty light on rules, and the mages or "brainers" aren't any stronger than the other fighting characters. It might also be fitting for the setting, if the Wastes are on top of the ruins of dead empires...

    That's all I can think of. :P What other ideas did you have?

    1. Or here's a different idea: Mix Dungeon World and Apocalypse World character sheets into the same game! It'll take a bit of work to knit the different rule sets together, though. It's all up to you.

    2. I like the idea. I actually think that might be fun to play. I am just not sure whether or not that is what I want to do for this. The Old School Renaissance is a specific kind of game that I would like to play that is more like Original or Advanced Dungeon and Dragons. Modern games that are OSR include Lamentations of the Flame Princess Labyrinth Lord and Dungeon Crawl Classics, though DCC does kind of not perfectly fit in that category.

      But you did remind me of a setting that sounds like it would really work with that exact fusion. There is a D&D setting called Black Sun that had few magic users, no divine magic, but a lot of psychics. It was also a kind of apocalyptic desert setting that may serve as good inspiration for this new setting.

    3. That sounds cool! Also, I just found out today about an OSR game called Stars Without Number. It has some psychics, and rules for rolling new planets. It might suit the sort of sci-fi aspects of the Wastes, and allow for adventures on the many worlds connected to it.


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