About Wildside

The Wildside Gaming System is an old-style role-playing system with a focus on worldbuilding. Combining realistic and logical character development, realistic combat, a vast magic system, and accurate historical elements, Wildside is a versatile system designed especially for game masters who like to create their own settings for swashbuckling heroics, magic, and adventure in a complex fantasy world. It can also be used in a variety of other settings.

The first edition was published in 2004 in book form. The forthcoming new edition is bundled into a free app for tabletop gamers. In the meantime a variety of material updated from the first edition is available for free on the downloads section of this site.

Wildside is a role-playing system, not just a single game; it is a method for creating many different role-playing games. The rules in the first edition focus on the popular “sword and sorcery” type of setting, the system runs just as smoothly in a nineteenth-century Napoleonic Wars role-playing game, a science fiction game, a historical medieval game with no magic and an Anglo-Saxon flavor, or a Roman role-playing game.

This system lays out rules for creating characters and some guidelines for playing them. However, the universe that those characters live in is up to the individual GM. There is no right or wrong way to play Wildside; there are as many ways to play as there are groups playing.


What is Role-Playing?

In a role-playing game, a group of players takes on the roles of characters in a fictional universe. Individual games are managed by a game master (or GM), who designs the setting of the game and narrates what players encounter during the course of their adventures. Wildside is a role-playing system, containing all the information you need to play or run a medieval fantasy role-playing game (or with add-ons, in a variety of other settings). While you don’t need gaming experience to play, the Wildside system is designed for advanced, adult gamers. Playing it requires an active imagination, a flair for adventure, and a sense of humor.

In a well-run game the rules remain in the background. Concentrate on key parts of Wildside, such as combat and creating characters, which are used all the time. Leave anything not immediately useful for the GM to worry about – he or she is the only one in a gaming group who really needs to know all the rules. The most important thing is to have fun playing your character. As you play, you’ll learn the rules you need.


The GM

The game master is the member of a group who manages the game, describes situations as play goes on, and keeps the game focused and on track. The GM does not play a character like other players; instead he or she plays all of the creatures (man, woman, and beast) that the characters encounter – referred to simply as creatures for convenience. A few parts of Wildside (such as the section on creatures) refer to details of the game intended only for the GM. There is also a section on running a game, designed to help GMs get started in the Wildside system.


About the Author

Leigh Ronald Grossman is a writer, college lecturer, editor, and game designer. He teaches in the English Department at the University of Connecticut and is the president of Swordsmith Productions, a book development and book production company. Grossman is the author of fifteen books, and the editor of many more.