Showing posts from 2013

Very Enigmatic Obelisk


Old School Dislikes

Elrad of Back to the Dungeonasks 3 questions about what we like and dislike about "Old School Games" (tm).  Avoiding the question of "what is an old school game?" and including Castles and Crusades and Dungeon Crawl Classics to Hackmaster even, I thought this was good for discussion.

Back in the day, each table had it's own house rules, the way that DM and group interpreted and molded the game to their campaign.  One of the cool things about the OSR (as opposed to most games of 4th and 3.x) is how we're returning to that.

We have an embarrassment of riches of old school game systems.  One of the advantages of so many variations, covers if you will, riffed off of the D&D base is that we can pretty much mix and match, cut and paste, and agglutinate a set of rules from our prolific diversity.

Here I've expanded some of my answers to Elrad's questions.

So what are some of the features of different Old School Games and their clones that you dislike a…

Torchbearer: Old School Dungeon Crawl? Late notice of kickstarter

Torchbearer is an incarnation of the Burning Wheel/Mouseguard rules designed for what is now understood to be the original dungeon crawl game: exploration and resource management.

I've never played Burning Wheel or Mouseguard.  As I became aware of them, I was developing my taste for lighter rules and mechanicless narrative.  On the other hand, these are very thoughtful gamers.  The kinds of challenges that they present are at the core of Torchbearer game play are ones that I've been trying to present in my own games. 

From an interview:

The cramped caves, the oppressive dark, none of that came across the way it felt in an actual cavern. “I wanted to make a game where caving and dungeoneering felt like a big deal,” he says, “where your character could be cold and wet and feel the oppressive weight of the dark.”

How much food and water will you pack? How many candles, torches, or flasks of oil will you stow in your pack? All of these basic essentials are used up over time…

Specials: Statue of Prophetic Doom, the goddess Wee Jas

"Specials" aka "Saturday Night Specials" are one of the fascinating set pieces of old school play, whether they're in a megadungeon or a location in a hex crawl.  By definition they are "unbalanced" and potentially either capricious or magnanimous.

Sometimes they are adventure goals and occasionally they are obstacles.  Often they are the focus of megadungeon faction conflict, and they frequently are listed on your rumor tables.  They should be in some way enigmatic, unstandard but definitely memorable.

One common old school standard recommends that 5% of megadungeon encounters be "specials", but I've been upping the percent in my recent level creations.  I like'm too much as a DM, even if I could be accused of being too cautious with them as a player (well, with some of my characters.)

If you like these, pester me and I'll put up more of them.

Statue of Prophetic Doom

This statue of golden stone is of the goddess Wee Jas and is l…

Letter to a new player

We've been recruiting for more players for our co-DMed old school sandbox.  We've used a variety of means: Pen and Paper games, Meetup, forums - and personals sites (really - a higher percentage of those folks actually reply and show up to game, go figure.)
One of our new perspective players emailed the other DM to ask if his group (there's only one group) was "inclined to share our political views."

Our current group includes a variety of people - women, poly people, queers, etc.  This is Seattle, so it's generally left of center too.  But we're not recruiting for an underground cell or anything - just people it would be fun to game with.

Here's the background:

I met two prospective players at my girlfriend's coffee shop this week.  We talked about the campaign and rolled up characters.  I did wear a hat with a small rainbow pin, but otherwise I had no overt badges, and no agenda besides the game.  95%+  of what we talked about was how we like t…

House Rules Doc

Whoa-kay.  Lots going on that I could write posts about if I was organized and people wanted to know.  Using personal add sites to fill up slots on your campaign?  It actually has better results than MeetUp and other game finder sites.
Or the whole process of stealing, writing, negotiating a set of house rules with my co-DM.

It still isn't complete, but the current Table of Contents is this:

Sources we've stolen from:
ACKSRuneQuest CitiesDnD 3.5 PHB IIRoles, Rules BlogLamentations of the Flame PrincessSome dude I read on a forumAnother dude I read on their blog
It's still being edited but I'll make it public once I've got better attributions.

Encumbrance on the Group Loot Sheet

If I'm stealing someone's idea with this post, please let me know.  Recalling the alcohol-ridden haze of my last BS session with my co-DM, I no longer know whether I said "I've got this great idea" or "Let's swipe some OSR-blogger person's idea".

We're going to use Lamentations-style encumbrance straight on the sheet where loot gets recorded.
(click to embiggen.) (Here's the PDF)
There's supposed to be this great mini-game in OSR rules, the trade off of choices between how much equipment you bring in, how much loot you take out, and how fast you go on those activities risking wandering monsters and pursuit.  But most of us (feel free to beat your chest about how you count each copper piece and scrap of orc leather) haven't played that game.  Enter the Lamentations of the Flame Princess encumbrance system, stone equivalent encumbrance, and other simplifying encumbrance schemes.

Lamentations style encumbrance is great as it simplifi…

A Traveller Campaign: DM ADD

The sandbox co-DMed Castles and Crusades game continues.  With school I'm not there every week, but the game goes on.  I'm also playing in a bi-weekly Hackmaster game, thankfully not DMing on that one.

But a buddy bugged me about running a Traveller game.  What the hell?  Why would he do that to me?  Not that I've never done that to him (twice, for the record).  But then I couldn't get it out of my head until I'd written 3 pages on it.

Here's the first, the overall setting "What has the Galaxy gone up to now?"  If I get around to it, I've got campaign assumptions, and a page on initial location and characters and a bit on some initial hooks.

The big question: does this make you want to get out 2d6 and a sheet of paper and roll for survival?  Or yawn at all the tropes?