The Arduin Grimoire

This week on the Vintage RPG Podcast, we crack open David Hargrave’s Arduin Grimoire! The eight book series, started in 1977, is a treasure trove of house rules and hacks for the original Dungeons & Dragons. There’s insect people and laser guns and the dragon from Neverending Story in here – if Hargrave had a design ethos, it was probably “IDGAF,” for better or worse. One of the earliest gonzo RPGs and an important block in the foundation of the OSR.

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9 thoughts on “The Arduin Grimoire

  1. I have the first six volumes. I thought there were three trilogies, but I guess 9 doesn’t count for some reason? I’m genuinely asking, as I know there is an Arduin 9. Regardless, I’m still looking to finish out the run.

    The books definitely are loony tunes, and do have some distasteful stuff. I recall asking Gygax on a message board what he thought of Arduin, and he expressed dislike for the books, as they had material he thought was in bad taste.

    That said, there’s a ton of material that screams Old School gaming. There’s an implied setting if you connect the dots, though I think the big picture is different for every viewer. Judges Guild’s Wilderlands is probably the closest in feel, in my estimation.

    Going through the Arduin books reminds me of paging through comics way back when, focusing on the ads more than the story. The Arduin Grimoires are the Johnson Smith Co. ads of RPGs.

    1. There is definitely a 9th volume, but I don’t know if it counts. It was not produced before Hargrave’s death and seems to only exist in an Emperor’s Choice edition with other writers, and it seems to be left over notes completed by Emperor’s Choice. Which is fine? But I am not 100% sure it ever really came out, either (given Emperor’s Choice’s rep). So I favored caution and limited Arduin to the 8 volumes I know exist from Dragon’s Tree.

      1. End war Vol. 9 was started by David and finished by Monte St Jean after David’s death. If you look in Ag 2 you will find firearms. As for your comment on Greg Stafford they were friends he was in Dave’s first campaign. Staffords star bridge was a spell named after Greg. If you want to see David bagging on someone look at what he wrote about his ex And her partner in vol 5 or 6. He referred to them as the Bitch patrol. If Dave felt that you betrayed him he let you have it.

        1. The Stafford thing: my understanding was Star Bridge is a dig at Stafford for not publishing Arduin, but that they later made up.

  2. I actually got to play in a game DM’d at Dave’s house in Willits, CA when I was in high school. His only cost of admission was keeping him supplied with pizza for the night.

    His world was brutal. He told us at the beginning of the game, “I can be out-thought, but I can’t be out-fought”.

    What you have to remember about the times, was that Dave was a pioneer (“ahead of his time”) in the homebrew scene. His imagination was bar none and was evidenced by his books. I think he always thought of them as supplements to D&D and not replacements. I also believe that had he had someone else guiding him and mentoring him in writing his books, they would have been more fully fleshed out. As it was, I think his very young girlfriend (Michelle?) was helping him type these up and “organize” them into books.

    And he was almost all of his adult life, fighting extremely bad health. I never got to play in anymore games that he DM’d before he died shortly after we played at his house, but I like to think the world of Arduin that he created in his mind, is where he wiles away his time now.

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