Archive for the ‘Old School’ Category

So, it’s been a while. In fact, it’s been a long time. But an important topic has drawn me from my blogging hiatus. It’s the topic of perceived misogyny in gaming in particular, but consumerism in general.

First, I’d like to introduce the reader to a concept that I think is very valuable to understand before we continue. It is this: Not every product, service, idea, or marketing caters to us personally, or to whatever demographic groups we may inhabit.

Pretty basic right?

Let’s have an example just to clarify.

I’m not in the market for a pickup truck. I have no real need for a pickup truck in my life. I’m not the target demographic for pickup trucks. Is it reasonable for me to expect pickup trucks to be designed to appeal to me? Wouldn’t they sell more pickup trucks if they DID design them to appeal to me? After all, if they design a product that appeals to me I might buy it, right? Designing pickup trucks to appeal to me would naturally increase their sales, right? So if we’ve established that they could sell more pickups if they market to me, then we can infer that by not marketing to me, it is evidence they do not like me or think little of me. Wait, what?

That doesn’t follow at all. (more…)


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Koplow-D20smallOk, so the D&D 30 day challenge took a bit of a hiatus. But today it’s back! And today we talk about our favorite gaming dice. This brings up a few things I’d like to talk about, things that are probably personal quirks but that perhaps some people share.  I’ll just stream of consciousness this and see what happens. (more…)

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Honestly, I don’t have an obviouskarameikos-8 favorite gameworld. I guess I’d have to say either The Known World (eventually known as Mystara) or the The Nentir Vale.  I’ve enjoyed both immensely. Perhaps it has something to do with the rulesets they used, which happen to be two of my favorites. Mystara being born of Basic D&D and The Nentir Vale being the core setting for D&D 4E. Kind of boring I suppose, but it is what it is. I’m sure there are lots of cooler D&D gamers out there who choose Planescape, or Spelljammer, Krynn or Birthright, or perhaps less imaginatively choose Dark Sun or Eberron (both of which are great btw). Then I’m guessing pretty much everyone else in existence (within D&D that is) would pick either Greyhawk (Old School) or The Forgotten Realms because it’s simply ubiquitous. Once you get out of D&D, I’m assuming we’ll say a lot of Glorantha, Baraive, Thedas, Hyborian Age, etc,

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Ranger ArtSo if you read my previous post about favorite race, it’s probably no surprise my favorite class is Ranger. As I mentioned, I’ve always gravitated towards a connection to nature and the outdoors. As a person who enjoys time in the wilderness, I’ve always fancied myself as the type that might ultimately exist as that class in a fantasy world. Even more than that, I took a career test in 8th grade (without knowing what type of test it was at the time) and based on the answers I gave to the questions, it recommended Forest Ranger as a potential profession I should look into. I had never really given that much thought at the time, but seeing those words in an official way, outside of D&D, really made me realize that I was not just imagining things. But while I enjoy Rangers and feel most “at home” in that class, I’m perfectly happy playing pretty much any class. I tend to play martial classes more than casters but otherwise, I don’t have a lot of bias one way or the other. If I play a caster, I lean more toward healer than damage dealer or arcanist.  I’ve never really been into playing characters with animal companions or with the ability to shape shift. No matter what class I play, I tend to gravitate towards ranged combat. I do love a good composite bow.

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In my cruising of the internet D&D-o-sphere I’ve started to see something popping up. That is the mention of “The D&D 30 Day Challenge.” As far as I can tell, it originated on the Polar Bear Dreams & Stranger Things blog. I read a few of the responses and thought it looked like fun. I’m not nearly as cool as the people starting this because I’m more than 2 weeks late but rather than waiting for Oct. 1, I’ll just call today Day 1. Here is the list of topics, as given by our friend at Polar Bear Dreams.30-day-challenge (more…)

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Dungeon World FrontSo, if you read this blog, you might recall a post I wrote a while back about Adventurer Conqueror King System, in which I sang it’s praises, while simultaneously lamenting that the OSR has not availed itself of re-imagining the classic games of yesteryear. Rather, they’ve mostly contented themselves with cloning them, or nearly so. ACKS was a standout in that regard, as it did more than just clone a previous edition. It did a great job of rethinking some of the assumptions of elder versions of classic RPGs, in particular, the end game and class structure. It embraced certain old school elements while pushing the design in a new direction.  To save you the trouble of reading my previous comments again, here is the exact quote:

“I’ve always looked at retro-clones with the angle that I’d like to see not just a clone, but an actual modernization of the systems of the past.” 

Well, Adventurer Conqueror King System is now joined by a new ruleset which I’ve just read and really enjoyed. It’s called Dungeon World. (more…)

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swotusI’ve been an on-again off-again reader of an OSR gaming blog called Tenkar’s Tavern for close to two years now. Erik Tankar, the proprietor of Tenkar’s Tavern came to my attention due to his blogging about ACKS or Adventurer Conqueror King System, one of my favorite rulesets based loosely on Labyrinth Lord and rewritten to create a world building end-game that previous versions of D&D always aspired to but never really achieved. Like me, he really seemed to like the game. In reading his thoughts on that ruleset, and finding them similar to my own, I realized we had many gaming ideas in common. He also commented quite postively on another ruleset close to my heart, Castles & Crusades. And thus, a bookmark was born. Over the last 2 years, I’ve read ruminations on so many aspects of the OSR. Tenkar’s Tavern really does walk the walk, supporting multitudes of OSR Kickstarters and keeping readers up to date on many of the happenings in the community and around the web.

One of those happenings was one I really thought sounded like a great idea. It was the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Blogfest. Basically, just a way to maintain momentum for the OSR in general and Swords & Wizardry in particular, the blogfest seemed like a good opportunity for me to contribute and participate in something I’ve enjoyed for quite a while now. (more…)

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DiceSo, every 6-12 months, I see a thread pop up on RPG sites around the net. The concept is one of Active Defense. What does this mean? It means that, instead of monsters making hit rolls against PCs, the PCs are making defense rolls against monster attacks. Seems simple enough right? Right. So why does it keep popping up around the net but we don’t see a lot of rule sets designing their games around the concept?  Well, first of all, we actually do see a lot of games using this approach. However, they’re not doing it directly or consistently so sometimes people don’t even notice that it’s already happening. The other reason is that over time, many games have been moving away from the concept and I think that even though gamers didn’t know they were already doing it, they are noticing it now that it’s gone. (more…)

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Tomb of Horrors OriginalI recently had lunch with one of my players and we discussed the current state of our game (and he very kindly commented that I’ve been ignoring this site). Beyond the general consensus that people are having a good time and seem to be looking forward to each upcoming game session, the idea of momentum was briefly touched on. It got me to thinking. I’m currently running a lightly modified version of the 4E Tomb of Horrors. As a module, it plays quite a bit differently from what we’ve been doing. Over the past year or so of play, we’ve been very story focused. The mainline plot has gotten a lot of attention and has developed from a nascent threat against a few small villages into a full fledged regional destabilization. The group just reached level 11 and so far the threats they’ve faced feel about right to me. However, in The Tomb of Horrors, things are different. It’s not nearly as story driven. It’s really more of a set piece than a story, although there is some narrative behind it obviously. There is a reason for its existence and the powers behind it do create a sense of mystery (and a pretty serious problem) that needs to be solved. Now, keep in mind, this is a D&D “super” adventure. That means it’s one of those big, hardbound books, chock full of traps, combat, enemies and more. It’s meant to be run over a long period of time and across many levels. It ranges from Level 10 all the way to Level 22. The way we’ve been playing, that will take at least a year. (more…)

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Adventurer Conqueror King SystemAdventurer Conqueror King System.


Being an old-timer means that I find lots of the OSR world interesting.  In most cases it’s not enough to make me ditch the new shiny(4E), but sometimes I wonder if that’s not simply because I have a group that consists of gamers with slightly more modern sensibilities.  To that end, I’ve always looked at retro-clones with the angle that I’d like to see not just a clone, but an actual modernization of the systems of the past. They had so much going for them that has been lost with the march of time, with the evolution of the modern gamer. Their themes are no less relevant, no less graspable than they were 30 years ago. Demonstrated by my repeated and successful attempts to introduce modern young people to classic RPGs. These RPGs don’t need to be wildly altered. They just need a fresh coat of paint and a cohesiveness that was lacking from a system that was essentially designed piecemeal by non-designers. They need more references outside of 1970s fantasy fiction combined with a liberal helping of myth. They need to approach the critiques of those systems without unmaking their brilliance. (more…)

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