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Showing posts from May, 2014

OSR: an appreciation

I hope the forthcoming edition of Official D&D is a good system in the same way I hope today’s weather is nice in Mongolia. Might as well wish others well, but I’m not personally invested.
I like the OSR. And it’s not because of the ruleset. If the OSR were clustered around GURPS or FUDGE or anything else, I’d still be into it. Really, my personal favorite roleplaying ruleset is probably FU, which is a very un-D&D game.
Here’s what I like about the OSR: creative individuals from many walks of life creating distinct visions with just enough in common that we make sense to each other. It’s a big conversation in which a lot of different people can meaningfully contribute. My life has been spent in the art world, which means I’ve mostly worked with people who solve problems in similar ways. But in the OSR, you have engineers and economists and historians and hunters and cartographers and a million other backgrounds all bringing completely different toolkits to the problems at hand.
I…

Review: The Dungeon Dozen

One of the first gaming blogs I stumbled across when renewing my familiarity with the hobby was Jason Scholtis' The Dungeon Dozen. If you're not following it, then please allow me to introduce you to your favorite new thing!


Scholtis writes "...flavor-rich yet detail-free idea stimulation for fantasy RPGs in the form of random tables for the underused 12-sided die." 

Occasionally, these dip into the actually-useful, but for the most part, Scholtis is creating a new literary form—poems of dehydrated weirdness strung together by the idea of random generation more than the practice. They are great fun to read, and an inspiration. I don't know how many times I've read a single entry on one of these tables and thought "There's a whole scenario/campaign/multi-generational mega-plot right there." 

You don't roll these tables. You read them and then you dream better dreams.

But don't take my word for it:
Disastrous/Abandoned Projects of the Gods
The O…

GM Challenge

Fit this image in your next session:

Edit: Okay, it occurs to me that this post falls under the cultural heading of "Exoticism of the Other," what with the total lack of context and all. Heartfelt apologies. On the other hand, sometimes taking things out of context is a great prompt for creative thinking. So: Yes to taking inspiration from the formal combination of colors and shapes; No to treating people reductively. But you knew that.

Setting: Herebury, with locations

Here's what Herebury looks like now that the players have generated a ton of NPCs, locations, history, and intrigue for the place. It's going to be a challenge to make the scenario as much fun as chargen has been.
Woodcroft HouseTown SquareEighter’s HouseRavengard’s LibraryHerebury MarketThe MillThe Red HerringHerebury’s HearthHedge HovelTatter Helga’s HouseThe Forge of Hake GlenrossTemple of the Old GodsWicht HillThe Forgotten WellGuardian’s GroveShriek’s DenSmokey’s CabinThe Lumber Camp

Setting: Herebury

Working on the town map for my Beyond the Wall campaign.

This is a mostly-blank slate on which the players can drop in locations, which they will come up with as part of chargen.

A special feature of Herebury: instead of a town wall, it has a ditch. Not even a moat. Clearly, these guys learned nothing in the Goblin Wars.

Play-by-post: Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures

This summer, I'm going to run a BtW campaign over on the Unseen Servant forums. Let me recruit you!

If you'd like to join, register at the Unseen Servant, and go through all the standard forum rigamarole:

post in the Introductions and Welcomes threadgo to the Looking for Players or Gamesthread and find my recruitment post, helpfully titled "Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures"private message me (Pulpatoon) to get included in the game
I'm looking for 5-6 players who can post more-or-less once every weekday, through the summer.

It might take awhile to get all the players lined up, so don't worry if it looks like a slow start. PbP is a great way to fit role playing into your schedule, but it does mean adapting yourself to a very different pace.

Kleywelt: Sneak Skills

In my Kley-inspired setting, I'm calling the thief and thief-adjacent classes The Sneak because it seems to address the tactics of the class. Fighters fight, Sneaks sneak. Sneaks can be thieves, con-men, spies, assassins, detectives, merchants, reporters, diplomats—anyone who chooses guile as their way of getting things done.

An ongoing event in the OSR Olympics is reworking the thief skills. They're an inelegant fit with the rest of the rest of the game, what with their exclusive claim on tasks that had previously been open to anyone who could describe their character doing something sneaky, and their weirdly low levels of competency. And yet they loom so large in the broader conception of what the game is supposed to be that it seems churlish to just excise them.

So here's my take, with the Sneak Skills.

These skills are based on the assumption that everyone can hide, and look for traps, and climb, and whatnot by rolling appropriate attribute checks. Sneaks, however, ge…

Interview: Beyond the Wall's Peter Williams and John Cocking

There is such a wonderful profusion of creativity that has emerged from the OGL and the SRD, and I thought it would be interesting to chat with some of the creators involved, beginning with designers of the game I'm gearing up to run this summer.

Peter Williams and John Cocking, of Flatland Games, are the designers of Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures.


What are your histories as gamers? Peter: Like many of my generation, I started playing with the original Red Box, which my older brother got for a present at some point when I was quite young. I remember having a 1st Edition Monster Manual in the house much earlier, which I believe our parents picked up for us on a whim, knowing that we liked mythology and monsters. From there it was on to other early favorites, particularly Stormbringer. I've been gaming ever since.

John: It may sound like a line, but around the same time I learned to read, my friend and I played AD&D in a tower. We just had a Player's Handbook, Monste…