Friday, July 13, 2012

Dungeons & Claydonians

It was September 1987 and Dragon #125 was on the stands. The theme of the issue was chivalry...and I couldn't have cared less. But, hark! Page 51. Clay-O-Rama? By the mighty David "Zeb" Cook? What the---?

Don't bother looking around in confusion - this is still an old-school D&D blog. Get to the point then? I shall.

For a 16 year-old gamer, something like Clay-O-Rama is like a minor miracle. Hell, I'm just over the crest of 40 and I still think it is awesome. I read the "rules" for the game and wanted to play it immediately. Play what? Play-Doh, if you like - but Clay-O-Rama can be played with any modeling clay compound. You make a clay figure and pit it against other clay figures in a silly, squishy arena of death. The rules are fast and loose and everyone gets to throw clay around and smash their opponents with gleeful abandon. Well - smash their opponent's Claydonian. If that's not enough, there is also a list of powers that can be assigned to a Claydonian. You could find yourself teleporting across the board, throwing one opponent at another opponent, or stealing an opponent's power for yourself. "But---" Yes, I know - what does this have to do with D&D?

I figured I would trick my gaming group into playing a round of Clay-O-Rama. It took me a year-and-a-half to get motivated and organized enough to introduce the right circumstances into my ongoing campaign. Fortunately, at about that time, a sequel appeared in Dragon Magazine #144.

New rules! New powers! New motivation!

During the next D&D session, the heroes found themselves, via planar portal, on the Sublemental Plane of Clay.

Don't give me that look. The Great Gygax Himself did crazier things in Castle Greyhawk and Dungeonland, and I didn't even throw a Cheshire Smilodon at the hapless players. To survive within this inhospitable elemental environment, the handy portal changed the physical nature of those who traversed it. That's right - the PCs became CCs. Each player was given a can of Play-Doh and then told to make a character - anything they wanted. I had already assembled a number of NPC and monster Claydonians for them to encounter and an arena-type scenario was all set up. I had also created index cards for character sheets and each player filled out the new stats. Characters that "died" in the arena were hurled back through the planar portal and woke up in their original forms with 1 hit point. Not surprisingly, most of them turned right around and charged back through for another engagement.

Clay-O-Rama was quite a hit with my high school gamer pals. It never became a regular thing with the group, but it did make for an incredibly memorable D&D session - not to mention a few late-night tournaments beyond the D&D table.


  1. I remember the Dragon mag! I loved it as well. I need to find a PDF or make my own rules up.