Putting more "grimdark" into your D&D

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/22/putting-more-grimdark-into-your-dd.html


How about that, I never realised, despite being long-familiar with that branding. TBH I hear “grimdark” a lot in a very generic sense nowadays (e.g. people giving out about DC movies)

ETA: Your book looks super interesting, best of luck with it! (from a fellow Dwarf-er, albeit more RP than tabletop)


For every day, roll a d20 for whether the characters get sick. If a natural 20, roll another (d10 or d20) for which disease it is. If it is communicable, then infection to another character becomes a 19 or 20. For each character infected, the reinfection chance increases. have a brief outline of how a disease progresses day-by-day, so an infected character might be walking around spreading disease before symptoms manifest. Once the disease is in full swing, roll daily for survival based on pre-antibiotic rates. Your character catches smallpox? Oooh! a 30% chance of dying over the course of 10 days! You take a potion? Roll to see if it even works; is a harmless but vile tasting placebo, or poisons you (slowly through liver failure or a quick stopping of the heart).

If the disease is a known plague, roll to see if the townsfolk will let you enter, or if they will kill you on sight for bringing the plague into town.

Also, if characters get wounded, roll for infection, and progression, up to and including gangrene. A character has a gangrenous arm from the fight with the bandits! Roll for death by septic shock. You manage to get to a healer. Roll to survive the amputation.

More work for the DM, but really ups the stakes of an adventure.


Ah, you’ve played WFRP, I see.

“Putting more “grimdark” into your D&D”:

Here you go, literally that:


I’ve had enough grimdark in real life, thanks. But if that’s what you like go for it, of course!


Put Lovecraftian beasties back on the menu


Um…play Warhammer instead of D&D?
You’ve got four editions to choose from. I recommend 1st Ed.

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Penny Arcade


Here’s Paul Sielgel’s even more pared-down OD&D vs WFRP version.

AP on the WanderingDMs channel using elements from The Enemy Within campaign.


ooh lovely, didn’t know about that. Thank you.

The Enemy Within…

For the younger among us:



I’ve never played Warhammer, but it looks fun. I actually developed this system after players complained about campaigns getting too easy and boring, and also to discourage them from being “murder hobos.” (Love that!)

I’ve used in D&D, Traveller, GURPs, and even call of Cthulhu as appropriate. It can be used for any genre: you’re a space mercenary protective farmers from space pirates on a colony world? Check. Post apocalypse gang fighting for dominance in the waste land? Check.

Um…play Warhammer instead of D&D?
You’ve got four editions to choose from. I
recommend 1st Ed.

There can be lots of reasons. Maybe you don’t want to invest in learning a new game system. Maybe you don’t like the game mechanics. Maybe you don’t like the world building backstory. It isn’t so much a question of using a game system that meets all your needs (which doesn’t exist) as it is adding elements to make game play in whatever system you use more interesting and fun.

As long as you’re having fun, party on!


I’ve never understood version/system elitism. You can do whatever you want with any systems, it’s all just guidelines.

This is how it should be.


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