Sunday, May 7, 2023

En Español

As I wrote, I've been doing far less "D&Ding" of late. Probably doesn't help that the last game session I ran (April 5th, per my records) resulted in a Total Party Kill, including three PCs and at least as many henchmen and hangers on (I believe the total was eight, mostly seasoned characters). Damn harpies.

However, even though I haven't been playing D&D, it feels like I keep getting called upon to evangelize the Dungeons & Dragons game...especially concerning the way I play and the reasons inherent in...well, in doing what I do. Running into folks who I haven't seen or talked to in decades, the subject just continues to...strangely...come up. Some examples:
  • One of my mom's best friends (and past supervisor or mine) ended up having an extensive conversation pertaining to the history of the game, detailing the entire history of the game its various editions and the state of the hobby. Her son-in-law is, apparently a rabid D&D fan who is teaching his own children (her grandkids) how to play.
  • A woman who was one of my mother's oldest and most beloved friends (they were maids-of-honor at each others' weddings), told me how my authorship of D&D books has made me something of a minor celebrity (or at least "impressive figure of lore") in their family as her adult grandchildren are now big D&D fans, like their mother (whom I grew up with and introduced to the game...waaaay back in the day).
  • A local attorney and old family friend who I contacted about my mom's will and testament (and for whom I used to run games: he was in my brother's class)...the first words out of his mouth were "Have they put you in the Dungeon Masters' Hall of Fame yet?" He had no idea I wrote a blog (or books) or was still gaming; he was just remembering the games of our youth. His own daughters, now in high school, play D&D, but it's a different game from what he remembers (duh) and after long discussion, there was some thought that I might run a game or two for his family to show them what it was like.
  • Had lunch with my old college buddy, Joel, who I NEVER played D&D with (we were balls deep in the White Wolf back in the 90s), but who is now playing Pathfinder 2 on a weekly basis. Ended up having an incredible 3-4 hour discussion about the fantasy gaming hobby, its evolution the last 20 years, and why I'm playing AD&D these days (hint: it's not nostalgia). I think I might have even convinced him to come over to my side of the fence, though he's one of those types that stubbornly maintains it's all about the quality of GM, not system (and perhaps it is, but system certainly helps). At least he remembers my GMing in a positive light.
But here's the real kicker: the last week-and-a-half we've hosted some friends from Mexico in our home. These are very old, very beloved friends: the woman, Heidi, grew up with my wife (they were neighbors as kids) and both she and her husband, Carlos, hosted us in their apartment in Mexico City the first time I visited Mexico (in 1998). They were at our wedding (Heidi was maid-of-honor) and we've watched their kids grow up (their youngest is 21 or 22 now??!). We all get along quite famously, Carlos and I especially (he is fluent in English and we share a passion for beer, music, Star Wars, and American football), despite him being a couple years my senior.

However, I've never had a conversation with him about Dungeons & Dragons...until yesterday. Like, never ever. I think he knows I did the writing thing (??) but usually when we've hung out we've spent our time discussing family or sports or culture or food or beer (these days he is a master-brewer and owns/operates a good-sized micro-brewery in of the few). This trip we've spent a LOT of time talking about beer (he's been touring the local breweries) or the inconveniences of death (his father just died in December and he's faced many of the same estate issues as myself). I mean, he and I have plenty of non-gaming stuff to talk about: Carlos is one of those bright-eyed, intelligent folks who goes through life with curiosity and thoughtfulness and a mind open to discussion and dialogue.

But (perhaps prompted by my wife) yesterday he brought up that his niece "really wants to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons" and wanted to know what I recommended. Hoo-boy...what a can of worms!

What followed was an attempt to explain one of the world's stranger concepts (RPGs) to our friends in some combination of English and Spanish with a constant barrage of interruptions (er...helpful interjections) from my wife and kids. The strangest bit might have been my non-gamer wife enthusing over how much fun (?!!) the game is and how they (Carlos and Heidi) should try playing as well. Diego even offered to have me run a game for them while they're here (thanks, kid) though my wife told them we could always do it on-line (???!!!) when they returned to Mexico.

[you have to understand that my wife is fairly obstinate in her refusal to play RPGs; and, yes, she's tried them on more than a couple occasions]

Of course, there exists some significant challenges with the lack of Spanish language clones for my preferred edition(s) of the game. Even native English speakers get lost in the complications of a game like D&D (forgetting, missing, or misunderstanding rules)...throwing an English copy of B/X or Labyrinth Lord at a native Spanish speaker (even one fluent in English) and telling them to learn the game and teach it to their friends unassisted is a tall order. Never mind something as convoluted as Gygax's 1st edition manuals.

SO, despite many misgivings, and out of an altruistic desire to be helpful (and an ambassador for the game) I did pick up a copy of the D&D Essentials box set en Español for my friends at the local game shop (let's hear it for WotC inclusivity!). I own a copy of the Kit Esencial (as it's labeled) myself...though in English...and it's not a terrible way to introduce some of the basic D&D concepts. I mean...


Okay, I'll be honest: It actually IS a terrible way to introduce D&D concepts, but it is also the easiest way to do so, when you're talking about young teenagers from a different culture needing concepts (like class and race and hit points, etc.) in their own language. For a game taking place primarily in the imagination and constructed almost entirely from words, it IS "esencial" that the instructions be conveyed in a readily comprehended idioma

And it reminds me again of my own failure to produce a Spanish language retroclone, something I started working on back in Paraguay. Español isn't MY native language, of course, and translation is hard enough without needing to translate fantasy concepts (how do you say "halfling?"). Even doing a SMALL clone (I was using the 40-some page Holmes Basic as a foundation text) is grueling, thankless work...especially when considering the unlikeliness that I'd ever use it myself. Why would I? I already own all the instructions I need in my own (native) language. I am, exactly where I feared back in Paraguay (when my kids were young and I was surrounded by a culture of non-English-speaking, non-gamers): in a situation where I want to teach the game, and without the instructional text to do so. And so I am giving my beautiful friends WotC box sets that feature dragon fights with dragons that have no treasure. NO TREASURE. Does a hoard-less dragon scream "D&D" to you? Does that say "fun adventure?"

*sigh* (again)

SO. I got my friends the box set to give to their niece, which should tide her over till I have something more useful to provide her (at least the thing comes with dice). And I also purchased a copy of the Spanish language PHB (5E) which I will use alongside my son's dust-gathering English copy to reverse engineer RPG concepts and vocabulary for a better (Spanish) basic set. Just something I've put off for too long, considering the culture that shares my life and household.

OH: And to all my Spanish-speaking (and, sure, Portuguese-speaking) know who you are!...if you have suggestions for already-existing retroclones of "old edition D&D" that you prefer, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks in advance.
; )


  1. I think this is what you are looking for:

  2. ¡Hola!

    For straight D&D retroclones, you have Old School Essentials ( and Labyrinth Lord ( They sell pdfs beside the physical books, but I dont know how does the shipping to America work.

    For non D&D retroclones, you can find in DrivethruRPG Spanish translations of Zweihander and Against the Darkmaster Quickstart (recently they've finished the kickstarter for the full version).

    DCC is also translated (Clásicos del Mazmorreo, in Drivethru).

    And, in my opinion, the most interesting, the people of La Marca del Este. They've created their own retroclone versions of BX, Ravenloft and Castle and Crusaders, with ton of adventures and a campaign setting...and everything can be download for free in I believe they translated their Red Box and published it, few years ago, but dont know the details.

    This is everything I can recall for now...

  3. There definitely are Spanish language RPGs. Some sound really neat (like Espada or whatever it is.

    For OSR stuff, reddit conversations seem to suggest Vieja Escuela or Adventures in the East Mark.

    It's about twenty pages, no Vancian magic, but is almost certainly enough to grasp some basic concepts of the game. Sadly doesn't seem to include a big how-to-play-an-RPG-in-the-first-place discussion. But: free.

    There's also apparently Adventures in the Eastmark. It's originally Spanish, but I've seen about five different Spanish names for the rules now. Basic rules in English are on DTRPG for ten bucks, though where to find the Spanish ones is not entirely clear.

    My Spanish is no longer good enough to figure out the website entirely. It seems to have pretty good adventure support.

    The PWYW English Quickstart is here:

    Also, your kid being named Diego no longer seems ridiculous to me. lol

    1. Ah, this is the English version of their Red Box I was talking about (Adventures in the East Mark = Aventuras en la Marca del Este). Looks like the Green Box (supplementary rules and classes) was translated too.

      As you say, their main website is a little confusing and they dont update it very often... now they're busy with a board game (á la Heroquest or Descent, I suppose). But all their Spanish writings are easily found in Codex de la Marca.

      Probably, the different rulesets you've found are:

      - Aventuras en la Marca del Este (B/X retroclone with some addings), the main line. First Edition with Red Box and supplementary Green Box, now reunited in the Second Edition Red Box.

      - Aventuras en La Marca del Este, the campaign setting. First edition Blue Box, second edition is the Gazetteer White Box.

      - Leyendas de la Marca del Este (Castle & Crusaders retroclone), now has changed its name to Crónicas de la Marca del Este for its second edition.

      - Vermigor: B/X + Ravenloft

      And Vieja Escuela (literally, Old School) is definetively an OSR game, with many iterations, but not a retroclone.

  4. Many already mentioned some of the games I will include in my comment, but I believe I can provide a little more background about them apart from adding some additional options. In Spain we have a quite active OSR scene although it is, obiously, much smaller in comparision to yours. I think that it's important to mention that the first version of D&D that we got in Spanish was the BECMI red box. As a result, OD&D, Holmes, BX or even AD&D 1ed were something unknown for us for a long time.

    Adventures in East Mark is a creative group and also the name of their retroclone. It's a quite prolific line with many adventures and supplements. It is based heavily on Laberinth Lord, although it tries to clone de BECMI red box. In the past they use to have different boxes (red, blue, green and black) but the latest print tried to summarize all the rules in a single rulebook. They have their own setting that gives the name to the game. They use to upload for free all their content after some time since the physical copies are released.

    The last revision of their ruleset can be downloaded from here:
    And some initial adventures here:

    The latest one was specially designed for low age kids. Also they have the following adventure inspired on the X1 module:

    And an adaptation of Blackmarsh:

    In a more traditional business way, we also have direct translations of Laberinth Lord and OSE (links to the publishers were already provided by others) and it's possible to buy digital copies.

    Regarding Vieja Escuela, It's more a light ruleset for people that already know how to play than an introductory game. It could be seen as something similar to Whitehack, Microlite, Knave or Cairn. But as others mentioned, it's free and its community produced many different versions for cyberpunk, space opera, Rome, the Old West, caribean pirates and more.

    Finally, and also free, we have a fan translation of Swords & Wizardry White Box and Swords & Wizardry Complete:

    These latest entries, toguether with most of the Vieja Escuela materials, are available as PoD at only the printing cost in

    1. Cabo Hicks es uno de los referentes de la escena OSR en España (gracias a él conozco tu blog, por ejemplo) por lo que todo lo que diga tiene mi respaldo. Solo añadiría un retroclon de reciente aparición, Axis Mundi, que incluye multiples herramientas de creación de contenido (conjuros, criaturas, ambientaciones...). También que desde la segunda edición de D&D hay traducciones publicadas del juego, no solo de la 5ª.
      Pd: Halfling se traduce como mediano.

      Cabo Hicks is one of the leaders of the OSR scene in Spain (thanks to him I know your blog, for example) so everything he says has my support. I would only add a recently released retroclone, Axis Mundi, which includes multiple content creation tools (spells, creatures, settings...). Also that since the second edition of D&D there are published translations of the game, not just the 5th.

      PS: Halfling translates as mediano.

  5. > and, sure, Portuguese-speaking
    You called? Heheh

    Halfling in PT? "Pequenino" could be a translation maybe but never heard it translated into anything. Everyone call them "halfling" in PT.

    From retro-clones, Old School Essentials is the most used I think. There is an SRD in PT you can check here:

    If you want D&D, the guys at Biblioteca Elfica have some books unofficially translated, including the beloved B4 Lost City:

  6. Hola desde españa!
    You happen to have a lot of Spanish-speaking readers man. I am currently playing with Aventuras en la Marca del Este, but is a very lightweight book which covers only the basics. If you want something more complete, try this translation of Swords & Wizardry:
    This is the last version of the game and has Race AND Class. If you want the first version (the one that cloned
    OD&D) tell me and I will search it for you

  7. Thank you to everyone: that is very helpful information!

    Currently checking out Marca del Este. It's pretty big for what I want, but it looks pretty complete. Beautiful illustrations as well.

    I'll be going through all these resources as I have the opportunity. Thanks!
    : )

  8. Spaniard here. The best D&D retroclone is Aventuras en la Marca del Este, which is a BCEMI/Rules Cyclopedia retroclone, if I'm not mistaken. I've only played it a couple of times but it had some of the stuff I associate with that era, like race-class being in tandem. I myself started with the D&D Black Box in the 90s and liked it when we played it. I'm currently living in the US, buy once I go back there a friend who owns most of the stuff of Aventuras en la Marca del Este has promised to DM some adventures for us.
    Btw, they also operate an online store, Tesoros de la Marca del Este. I saw they have your B/X Companion book there. I almost bought it, but I had already spent a fortune on second hand books, so had to leave it for another time. Now I feel bad, should have got it!

    1. Um…you know that you can buy my B/X Companion direct from me for, like, 26 bucks (including shipping costs)? Same as you’d find in Spain…I haven’t printed any Spanish versions.

      Anyway, thank you for the info.
      : )

  9. Hi!

    I just replayed to your comment on my blog, about this same topic, and thought you might be back blogging! Anyway, I just recalled there's also Gabor Lux's Helvéczia in Spanish. I tried reading the English version last year but got distracted, but at least Character Creation was not a big departure from most clones, with just a minor differences. Here's you can get the Spanish PDF, although physical editions, apparently only on retailers in Spain.

    Halfings are known as "medianos" ("mediano" literally means "medium-sized") in Mexico and Spain, but most people call them halflings as well.

    Hope you and your friends find the right game for them!

    1. Why not call them “duendes?”

    2. Both in Mexico and (as far as I know) Spain (I mention Spain because that's where most translations are made), "duende" is a very specific creature. There are many legend about duendes, and there's even a creature called "alux" or "aluxe", which is refered to as the "Mayan duende". And in general, "duende" has a very whimsical connotation, very close to the Irish leprechaun.

      In Changeling the Dreaming, the translators tried to avoid using the words "duende" and "hada" (fairy) when possible, because these words in Spanish don't capture the same feel they do in English.

    3. Look up "duende" in Google and you'll see what Spanish speakers usually imagine them to look like: a sort of male sprite or small gnome, quite tiny (way more than a halfling), mischievous and sometimes with an unsettling physically appearance.

    4. With regard to the Mexican duende (perhaps different from the Spanish), I've always considered them something akin to brownies (which I assume were the inspiration for Tolkien's hobbits/halflings).They're a little more helpful (and less mischievous) in Mesoamerican folklore.

  10. While I speak neither Portuguese nor Spanish, I have seen Spanish (& German) versions of MERP modules on Abebooks, which tells me that there's either a Spanish MERP or Rolemaster floating about.