So I ran the OD&D game (really a S&W homebrew, but I prefer not to split hairs) the other night and it went off quite well. I got kind of bored with the ‘how to build a world' series, so I put it on hold. Besides, I doubt that anyone really needs my insights on the matter anytime soon.
Instead, I thought I'd give you a rundown of the classes and races I used/invented for the game.
The classes I allowed were: Magic-User, Fighter, Cleric (for humans), Beast-man, Elf and Halfling. The Beast-man class wasn’t taken by anyone, so I won’t discuss it at present.
Elves on the Doomed World of Varth are psionic characters. They have the powers of Charm Person, Daze and Telepathy, as well as a Laser Sword (…yep). The Laser Sword does 1d6 damage and can be manifested for free, and the other abilities can be activated via Psionic Power Points which they receive equal to their level plus their Charisma modifier. They can read thoughts for free as well, at a 25% chance plus 5% per level. They can wear leather armor, and wield light one-handed weapons.
Those were all of the rules we needed for this session. Elves on Varth are space aliens who landed in their enormous black ships some 500 years ago and might have precipitated the disaster that catapulted Varth into a pocket dimension (much like Tekumel). They are haughty and traditionally atheistic.
Halflings are one of the more prominent races on Varth, having existed as slaves, scouts and thieves from time immemorial. They are perhaps the most numerous race, but do to their clannish sensibilities are far too fractious to think of themselves as one people. Halflings are especially prone to mutation. When a halfling character is created, roll a 30% chance for mutation, then flip a coin to decide physical or mental. Check d% on the Mutant Future charts to determine the end result. Halflings can wield any light, one-handed weapon and wear leather armor.
Instead of alignment, I had characters decide whether or not to choose a god from one of the charts I made up for Varth. I had a d30 ‘Evil’ god chart and d20 charts for ‘Good’ and ‘Neutral’ faiths. I might post those up here at some point. They consisted of gods drawn from a multitude of sources, ad I left it up to the PCs what their relationship was to their particular deity.
So we wound up with a party consisting of: Drak the (none-too-clever) Fighter, a Cleric follower of the Prophecies of Kalistrade with a drinking problem, a halfling with the power of Teleportation (who worshiped He Who Waits Between the Stars), Clea the Elven Warrior Maiden and a Magic-User looking for a way to be turned back into a unicorn. All in all, a good party.
With a party largely made up of new-to-D&D people, I think alignment is a bit more of a chore than it's worth. The mechanics are hard enough without trying to throw in an arbitrary morality simulator. With that said, the party acted about as amorally as one could expect, mostly in the vein of abusing henchmen to no end (but paradoxically knocking on every door in the Dungeon...err, Vault, as I called them). The Cleric kept hypothesizing that the bloody sacrifice of his hireling might unlock some kind of hidden power in every room. Out loud. Next session, they better keep watch as they sleep that night. The Former-Unicorn M-U apparently had no qualms about the destruction of servants in her quest to return to the cast of My Little Pony. But despite the inherent sociopathy of our adventurers, they had a pretty good time. They fought some mutant halflings who were crawling on the ceiling and discovered that the mountain over the Vault was in fact a pyramid at one point in time. But there is plenty more to find, so I hope they'll have the opportunity to adventure again next week.