WHAT'S IN A NAME? That Which We Call A D&D By Any Other Name Would Delve Just As Deep

The OSW: Old-School Wizardry

Like the rest of the greater D&D collective, I too have been reading, and then watching, the very good Delicious in Dungeon. And like many, I too, was struck at just how faithful it is to "old-school" dungeon-delving D&D. Dumb-struck when I learned the creator, Ryoko Kui, had no prior exposure to D&D, much less some old-school version like Moldvey BX.

It was actually hard for me to believe given how faithful the trappings (and traps) of Delicious in Dungeon are to AD&D in particular. Miranda of inplacesdeep suggested to me that the videogame Wizardry (1981), whose popularity outlasted Japan's introduction to Dungeons & Dragons*, could be one of the inspiration sources.

So I recently went looking for a Wizardry game manual PDF to see what commonality there was given that I have never played the game. Here is the link to the 1990 NES release of Wizardry: Proving Ground of the Mad Overlord. If I am correct after my 30 min of internet surfing, Wizardry was first released in Japan on the FM-7, PC-88, and PC-98 in 1985.

And wow... there is almost no substantive differences with AD&D. In fact, most differences I see had to have been made so that TSR wouldn't sue Sir-tech Software the publisher. So if you've not really mapped this particular rabbit hole with your 10-foot pole, here are some screen captures from the 1990 NES manual:

Character's Race: Those heathen humans... someone needs to bring them the word of CANT!

Six Abilities: Strength, I.Q., Piety, Vitality, Agility, Luck (which is not different from the word charisma because charisma origins meaning "gift from the gods")

Classes: Of particular note is that Lord, Samurai, Wizard, and Ninja require particularly good stats in multiple abilities similar the paladin, bard, monk, and ranger of AD&D.

Goal: Explore a vast labyrinth that you the player need to be mapping with help from a 0-19 x 0-19 grid system. What does this maze look like?

Magic: I won't take you through every single aspect, I do think you get the point and the links will take you directly to the PDF if you'd like to read the details. But the magic does offer another striking similarity.

In D&D terms you are starting with Magic Missle, Shield, Sleep, and a more novel "Locate" spell which is in a similar spirit, but more practical given the audience might need to check their mapping work.

Delicious in Dungeon Is Increasing Mega-Dungeon Appetites And Taste For Old-School D&D

Maybe that subtitle is a bit...more than I can chew (!), but I don't think its too far off the mark. I do love dungeons as both an excellent place to begin learning D&D and as a campaign environment for sustained play. Especially in our more busy, entertainment-competitive lives. Dungeons are imaginative spaces that both young and old can relate to and understand. And I am glad to see other media pick them up as environmental space to tell a compelling story. 

I think far too long the idea of dungeon crawling was just a boring, pedantic shuffle through grey corridors waiting for an ignoble death. Certainly, the past ~10+ years of the old-school scene as provided many counter-examples to that viewpoint**, but now Delicious provides a solid cross-generational reference to orient too. 

Delicious in Dungeon's first levels

EDIT: Here is the way better-illustrated game guide to Wizardry

* The most popular pen-and-paper RPG in Japan is Call of Cthulhu

** Some unfortunate reinforcement as well


  1. Wizardry (particularly II, the NES version) has long been my inspiration and was partially responsible for my introduction to the hobby. The deep details of how the system works are slightly more different than AD&D. I'm working on a small hack right now to bring those mechanics to the B/X framework.

    1. Thank you for reading! Please drop a line when you've gotten that hack in order. I'd be curious to see it!