Tuesday, February 15, 2022


This has turned out to be a more involved endeavor than I had intended.

I can almost guarantee this wouldn't have been the case if it weren't this particular group and campaign. The series, its players, and their Player Characters mean so much to who I am as a gamer that I'm going to need to split this first Meet The Party into two posts to cover it all.

My first truly long form RPG campaign, The Winghorn Guard: Highpoint was played for several hours a day, Mon-Fri, from June to August, over the course of roughly four years. The campaign stands as the first draft for all my games to follow. It was with this game that I first developed my style and approach to RPGs. It was after this that I became a GM 'in demand'. Word spread beyond the group and our Summer Camp to the various schools and hobby shops where our extended circles bled into the larger gaming community of 1980s Brooklyn.

For a while it was legend and so were we.

I've told the tale of The Winghorn Guard in whole or in part a number of times over the course of this blog but I've never really given the very first PC group its due. As a part of my personal game history, this party and the players involved sit comfortably as icons in an RPG 'Hall of Fame'. What started with these PCs has survived and expanded over the past four decades and is pretty much the only way I'd run 'D&D' today.

From this one game and group there has sprouted five long term campaigns, three shorter ones, and a host of one-shots. Easily more than forty individual players have experienced the world of Aerth, the setting of The Winghorn Guard's adventures over the past 40 years. It's been run using AD&D 1E, D&D 3E and 3.5, Ars Magica, the Japanese 'Standard Roleplaying System' rules, as well as homebrews. 

Onward to Part I...

Emblem of Highpoint Division 

Session Zero: (Party Origins)

It all began in Brooklyn, New York, one June morning in 1982 (or 83')...after running D&D a few time and playing AD&D once or twice (both pretty miserable experiences), my friend David P. came over and asked me to run an AD&D campaign that Summer. He told me about this great campaign he was in at school and how he really wanted to continue playing that character. This was echoed by a bunch of other guys - some friends, some friends-to-be - who had all been playing characters and games they loved back at their respective schools.

All the players wanted me to run a new campaign but they wanted to use their established characters from their own, separate campaigns. My solution was to say to each of them, "OK but the PC you have in my campaign isn't the exact same individual from your campaign. What happens to them here has no effect on them in your school campaign and vice versa from this point forward." Since everyone was generally familiar with comic books, I compared it to there being a Superman on Earth-1, Earth-2, etc. Both the Clark Kents of Earth-1 and 2 are Superman...each a Superman...but they aren't the same Superman. Everyone agreed and so I got to work on the campaign.

After hearing about each games' history and particulars, I set about creating a world that would combine all this into a setting. Taking further inspiration from Superhero comics, I created the world of Aerth, a magical, alternate Earth wherein the mythical era of nearly every real world culture existed simultaneously. 

The Major Nations and Alliances of Aerth

With Marvel's Watcher and DC's Legion of Superheroes as templates, I developed Neuron The Neutral Man, a living embodiment of True Neutrality, who summoned the initial group of PCs together to defeat a menace that threatened the entirely of the planet and beyond!

Probably the key design element that makes The Winghorn Guard campaign stand out from other D&D and related Fantasy RPGs I've run and played is the Gamemastering guidelines and philosophy I set up for myself going in weren't those typically applied to D&D. Though never explicitly addressed to the players, my approach to the game wasn't a Dungeons and Dragons one. Instead, it was as if I was running D&D using the GMing tips and suggestions from a Superhero RPG.

The PCs' backstories and the campaign worlds they came from (as you will see) formed the basis of my idea to build this game as a Medieval Fantasy that played by Superhero rules (so to speak). The classic cliches and tropes of Dungeons and Dragons were switched out for Superhero Comic Book ones; the adventures, villains, and plots sharing more in common with The Avengers and Legion of Superheroes than they did The Lord of the Rings.

There were some deaths and some issues between the characters (though not the players) and following the party's victorious defeat of Lord Darkstar some of the PCs parted while five remained together. They decided to travel as a group to the city of Gallatain in Albritonia in an attempt to join The Winghorn Guard. At the Choosing, the Great Winged Unicorn picked each of the heroes and they were assigned together to the division of Highpoint. 

What is The Winghorn Guard?:

Originally called The Order of the PEGASUS until I renamed it, The Winghorn Guard is an assembly of heroes from all over the world of Aerth, each chosen by the mysterious alicorn known only as The Great Winged Unicorn, to fight the forces of evil, protect the innocent, and uphold the noble virtues of good.

All members are of Good Alignment, though they may be Chaotic, Lawful, or Neutral. They are separated into nine divisions (originally only 6 - the middle three developing later) and go on adventures such as saving survivors of a shipwreck, battling monsters threatening a kingdom, investigating mysterious activities on behalf of frightened villagers, and other deeds you'd expect characters based on a merger of Superheroes and the Knights of the Round Table to do. 

OK, now on to...The Party

Barking Alien


  1. At first I thought it was the same geography than our Earth, but watching more closely there are some (many) changes. Nice work. It's both familiar and different.
    It remind me of R.E. Howard's world for Conan.
    I'm not very familiar with superhero tropes. Did the characters started being far stronger than normal humans? (IIRC a level 1 D&D character is better than a normal human, but not that much. They are closer than between a 250pt 4th ed Champion hero and an average passerby)

  2. The Player Characters start out as roughly traditional DnD characters of varying levels (see next post) with magic items, class abilities, etc.

    Most everyone else in the world (who is not also an Adventurer) is a completely normal and mundane person. Common folk don't have above average stats, aren't members of a class, and the like. By comparison, the PCs do seem superhuman.