* ROB KUNTZ, Special Guest at ARNECON 2 GAMING CONVENTION 2024, Minneapolis MN, See You There! *

Sunday, December 16, 2012

World of Kalibruhn, 2nd Iteration

Kalibruhn Supplement cover as imagined
by Grendlewulf.  Unpublished.
I have worked on my World of Kalibruhn™, in both forms as it now exists, since 1974.  This grew out of my conceptualization of it while DMing Castle El Raja Key and Lost City of the Elders for the LGTSA members 1973 onward, and continued into co-DMing of Greyhawk with my counterpart, E. Gary Gygax, over the same time period.

Lost City of the Elders old conceptual sketch
for Garden of the Plantmaster
I have covered most of those general histories in a greatly expanded article for the upcoming combined project of mine, the latter article entitled, "The First Living Campaign" (Parts 1-4).

This led to my first iteration of it in 1976, this in conjunction with material I'd been collecting for another OD&D Supplement, entitled, Kalibruhn.

The key features of its 1st iteration are consonant with the 2nd, as I broke with established bottom-up creative patterns and instead concentrated on making the world my own through a top-down approach as first inspired by Tolkien, Clark Ashton Smith in his "world/area cycles" fiction and the then emergent M. A. R. Barker with his glorious Tekumel.

Old first version map of World of
2nd iteration done in pencil and
 pen with old dot matrix
print out framework for mountains.
Notable key design features were:

*No central dungeon.  This was accomplished by making a re-imagined Castle El Raja Key magical in its contrivance.  Its history became very granular and attuned to the events that spawned its making.  In essence, and due to this exact history in the making, its unstable magic caused it to appear and disappear throughout time and space. Its reappearance would thereafter be considered an ominous event and lead to legends about it from among those places in which it occurred.  This allowed me to "place" the castle within the ongoing storyline wherever I wished and to extrapolate a building story as to why it was thus occurring.
World of Kalibruhn 2nd iteration.
From my original via an old paint program.
*No central city feeding said dungeon.  Instead I literally sank the namesake city, Kalibruhn, through a tidal wave, and this in its pre-game-start history, thus making it a forlorn and dangerous place to adventure in afterwards (8th level upwards, approximately, but that level was no guarantee in itself).  It had no stable range for adventuring levels.  It was meant to be high risk and the legends surrounding it were well dispersed among the populace to inform the players of such risks.
*Dispersal of adventure areas both large and small.  These comprised numerous leveled, other areas related to each indigenous area--the Elkin Copper Mines and the Temple of Reh-Pog, for example, in the 1st iteration, both having 1st-12th level range potential for adventure, but also having definite reasons beyond mere adventure for tackling same.
Wold of Kalibruhn 2nd iteration sample.
Current Phase 1 Map as rendered in Photoshop
by Andy Taylor.
*Top-Down creation of all world matter. Spells, monsters, deities (cosmology), minerals, plants, etc.
This is consonant with creating an interwoven and living world.  It included a 1/4 campaign area partial map, regional maps, village, town and small city maps as well as a map of Dimensions that linked back to the Lake Geneva Original Campaign setting (this as I note in the upcoming article referenced above). In all I'd say I've drawn well over 400 maps of all sizes, many of them coming from the need to create areas in advance of adventuring parties taking turns this way and that throughout my world's landscape.
Castle El Raja Key Cover Art.
*De-emphasis of the adventure for adventure sake only.  As noted above.  There are reasons why everything exists and a definite pre-history vibe ongoing throughout all matter relating to the world, and this manifests at all levels within it.

I will write more on Kalibruhn in the future.  This is the first time that I've felt inclined to parade forth my world.  There are many who have queried me about it in the past, and I have exchanged some rather large e-mails over the years regarding many points concerning it.  Among its champions are Allan Grohe and Scott Greg, and many others. Among its players, in its parts, or all:  Gary Gygax, Donald Kaye, Terry Kuntz, Allan Grohe, Paul Stormberg, Joe Goodfellow, James F. Goodfellow, Joe Fischer, Tim Jiardini, Tom Champeny, Bill Corey, Martin Wright, Tom Wham, Mary Dale, Tom Christiansen, Neil Christiansen, James Ward, Ernie Gygax, Dave LaForce, Mark Ratner, Bruce Fuller, Brett Fuller, and so many others I cannot now exactly recall.

Old concept cover illustration for CERK that I did in Photoshop.


  1. and Kyrinn S. Eis. :D

    I'm so glad that you've started the public share. :D Nice maps, I hope there are more to come.

    Can you tell us more about Mirror Lake? I know mine on Urutsk is linked to yours, but I don't have loads of info on it.

  2. Hiya Timeshadows! :)

    I just hit the share button when posting. I'm not quite sure what happens after that being new to the contrivance called G+ :)

    Mirror Lake, in its specific sense, is much related to what EGG noted, and as I've quoted elsewhere: "Some area of land could be gates into other worlds, dimensions, times..." This is why I was able to link in to your world. A dandy tool for spiriting adventurers tither and yon. A "Mirror" of other places, times and dimensions, linked with the star cycles somewhat but also with cosmic events. The advent of the interdimensional Castle El Raja Key is reflected slightly in advance in the lake prior to the latter's occurrence; and so there are many esoteric sects, etc. that maintain a presence there because of that.

  3. Thanks for the tantalizing shards. Can't wait to see more of your reflections.

  4. My first foray was memorable if not completely enlightening. Beyond the rush of playing in a place once ventured by EGG himself and hearing the history of how he fared where our party now plodded, I was witness to an expert DM in his element.

    Echoing Kyrinn's initial statement, it's a generous change of thought by the author in regards of his own work. Rob gave me a perfectly honest & sensible answer as to why supplement V had not been published in some form up to that point when I asked. I understood then that we would never see it. Happily, this is not so.


    Since then, I make sure, let the moment breathe, then listen BEYOND the door, not to it!


  5. Ah, Chris. You have learned to listen "at" doors rather than "to" them. :) These things make for memorable future convention story time.

    There has been some rather lively and "interesting" discussion on said Supplement V at Dragonsfoot:


    The conclusion regarding its eventual publication, though it has moved more to the positive, is hardly assured at this point. Arguments for redacting a growing vision (mine) hardly give me any impetus in the matter of doing so. I created new spells, magic-user clans, tons of magic, new poisons, you name it. But people are divided with this system phobia, and thus want a "Look" that matches that ingrained image. Many want the digest format of the LBB. How would I do that? It's grown way beyond that in size and scope. So is it the material they want, which is all I can offer as an author, or a certain look? It seems that the court is divided on that ruling, and some want what they consider an old Mustang rather than a spit and polished up to date Jaguar. For me, it's about the fact that I still live, that my duration in time has not ended, and that my material is complete for what I write when I say it is, and that occurs when the last keys are struck to spell out "The End." I find this worship of look, of form, rather than content, very disturbing, to say the least.

    1. As you should! You are swimming in a uniquely mercurial pool of fandom.

      Would a limited run of Kalibruhn box sets created by an outside publisher sell for large sums 5 years or more down the road just like Castle Zagyg? Yes it would, and I would wager BITD the concept of a revised box set for Castle Greyhawk in the future was not considered back in the 70's.

      Fandom can be fickle and pleasing the hydra impossible. Some fans are happy that a project due in June arrives in June! The reality of feeding the beast only when it wants to be feed is an afterthought to them. As if quality & deadline were a natural symbiosis of publishing.

      Ultimately my friend, who better to decide the look, content, and then put a fork in it? Wear the skin that steel cannot bite.

      If I understand this blog to be what it is then I am happy to gather any crumbs that fall off the table in whatever form the crumb falls.

    2. You seem to be deciding between a retro OSR look and a modern "professional" look. How about do both? Presumably you have all the text in a word processor file - easy enough to apply different fonts etc. You could do an OSR special hardback edition with a retro look and long forward explaining the history of project, and a cheaper modern-style edition.

      If you have to choose, then go for the modern presentation, since the osr types will buy it anyway, I think...

    3. @ Chris. Yes. The reality of the situation. I'll cross it as best I can and produce what is my best effort and let the chips fall, etc. Thanks Chris. About the blog. My first blog, LOTGD, was my stated philosophy on creativity with samples and essays,and an invite for authors of that note to participate. It was a creative crucible which had varying results in retrospect, but mostly positive in outcome. This blog aims to be more personal, taking the next and final steps in the creation process, and has that focus alone. So it is about the results, the matter that we all think about and create, and thus it's a ground for singular output, as you have deduced. Simply put, "Time to make the donuts..." But do consider them pastries from France or else I've lowered my standards... :)

      @Zornhau: Much the same as for Chris, except, of course, doing two releases puts extra cost and time (extra expended resources) that would normally not be there for such a limited print run, this with the hope that one or the other is purchased. Thus there is a little of the extra bet crap shoot involved which then makes both more expensive. I'll probably just go the route of the "gut feeling". Thanks for the input, Much appreciated!

  6. You're welcome,. Robert. I hope you find something you appreciate in them.

  7. This is very cool. Love the maps (both iterations!). Also, I think it is very interesting that you have identified some of the key elements of this world for us, with clear distinctions from other early D&D worlds. I am looking forward to learning more! :)

  8. You mean both iterations of the same iteration (2nd). I settled on the second manifestation of the world, though the 1st is highly detailed and has tons of maps, as well.

    Yes. I had grown bored slightly, even back then, with all of the repetitive cycles exposing themselves in the game, ours, some of the LGTSA members who mimicked A+B+C, then the consumers reinforcing this. In 1974, for instance, I went on a creative mapping spree, pretty much abandoning the 8x11 map for dungeon creation (unless it was 8s/inch or more or multiples thereof=fanfold). This lead to levels like Bottle City, The Dungeons of Krazor the Mad, and many, many others for both Greyhawk and Kalibruhn, that were huge and just about un-mappable from a player POV.

    I am *always* pushing the limits on all components of the game, not adhering to them. The latter is too simple...

    Thanks for commenting, Havard!


  9. Wonderful! Thank you for the share. Will you be able to tell us more about the adventures that have taken place here? :)

    I'd like to see this in print, regardless of format. I don't understand the 'need' to 'have' the old format, it's like asking a musician to go in and record a piece of music and then release it on 8 track instead of CD or digital download.... surely the best for any piece of writing is to present it in the manner that suits it well?

    Content and imagination, not 'look, a boxed set! It doesn't have much in it, but by golly, it's a box!'

    Nice to see more of the roots, and thanks for sharing :)

  10. "De-emphasis of the adventure for adventure sake only"

    Could you perhaps give more details on this? Is there in-setting motivation of adventure beyond the want of coin?

  11. Hello Nick.

    Of course. Adventure scenarios proved that through story-lining; it's just that the playtest of D&D brought out the base points of adventure, later developed for extended and higher level play, and with more refinement, so to speak. My Demonworld adventures in the Original Campaign were prior examples of this; and with Kalibruhn I tried to stay with that tone for lower levels, as well. The Elkhin Copper Mines had a problem with invasive creatures, for instance, and the principals wanted them cleared for the safety of the miners. This story line lead to rewards both material-and prestige-based, which then allowed other story particles to manifest depending upon how these new circumstances were extended thereafter by the players, etc.

  12. I just found this article, after following a link from a topic over at The Piazza:

    I didn't even know this existed, so it was great to learn about your world.

    If things had turned out differently, and World of Kalibruhn had been published and then expanded during the 2nd Edition AD&D era, it would have been interesting to see how you might have expanded upon your top-down approach and how it might have compared to the actual 2e campaign settings that the designers of that era created.

    Maybe I could have visited "Kalibuhnspace" in a spelljamming ship and then landed on your world and visited some of your places and got tied into some of your story arcs.

    Is this world something you are allowed to publish things for, or is it one of the many worlds that WotC owns, but does not do anything with?

  13. Hi David,

    Thanks. I own it, unlike Greyhawk,which is owned by WotC.

    I am currently in the process of releasing a DVD (coming very soon) of all of my collected works and I have started writing/compiling Kalibruhn supplements (it has grown from the one tremendously, as worlds will do). I expect the first supplement out by the end of the year. Keep 'Jamming!


  14. I received the mock-ups for the DVD cover today, but we have some last things to finish which will take another 2 weeks, then to "press," so I am guessing a month. We'll be announcing and it with links here and everywhere when it's out. The website is already set for launch but invisible until we release.