Know Thyself

Know thyselfOn blogs like this one and internet comment sections everywhere, people  discuss the “proper” form of D&D or other myriad games and pursuits. I’m always fascinated by the subcultures that pop up within a hobby based on editions, versions, eras, designers, etc. Some people think D&D stopped being “true” D&D when Gygax was no longer involved for example. Some people think Spiderman changed once Stan Lee no longer wrote the majority of the stories and dialog. The list is endless. In this train of thought, I recently ran across a series of questions to help gauge what kind of D&D gamer you are, where you fall on a series of esoteric issues that have become dividing lines within the hobbies subcultures and subgenres.  The questions were collected and organized by Random Wizard, a blog I find myself reading every few months, usually linked from one of my more frequent internet watering holes.  Here is the list of questions, in bold, followed by the correct answers. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

stone-hand-smallHis callused finger tips slid slowly over the dry stone wall, feeling for anything out of the ordinary. They moved in a pattern, left and right, painstakingly up and down. The dust of the stone work covered his hands. He had been doing this for close to an hour. The dim light of his flickering torch starting to gutter and fade as it lay on the floor at his side. Just as his torch died, he felt it. It was the slightest depression, but it was there and it didn’t match the surrounding stonework. Perhaps he should have been searching in the darkness all along, not allowing his vision to impede the years of training his fingers had searching for hidden treasures in the deeps below Mount Kendril. But then he heard it, a faint sniffing sound, coming from the hall outside the room he now searched. It could only mean one thing. He was no longer alone.

Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

BluffsideI recently had the opportunity to take a look at a new Castles & Crusades adventure conversion. It’s called Interludes: A Brief Expedition to Bluffside. It was written by Jeff quinn, converted by Peter J. Schroeder and published by Samurai Sheepdog. For those who are not familiar, Bluffside is a mini setting originally designed and written for OGL D20 systems. Here is the marketing blurb from 2002:

“Civilization is still picking up the pieces from an asteroid strike hundreds of thousand of years ago. The epicenter? Bluffside. Only 200 years after being rediscovered, Bluffside is a boom town boasting the most precious metal in the known world adamantine. From the ancient ruins, to the vast Undercity, to the floating port of Sordadon, Bluffside: City on the Edge is a city that promises to become the home port for thousands of adventures.”

Sounds pretty cool right? I’d certainly want to have an adventure or two there. And in the Castles & Crusades ruleset? Even moreso! Ok, so let’s see if this adventure lives up to the promise of both Bluffside the setting and C&C the game. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »

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. Continue Reading »