Tuesday, 31 January 2012

LL s. 1: Cleaning out Ogre Hill

Wherein two young adventurers return home from their first paying job to find that their hamlet has been raided repeatedly over the last days. 

Returning readers will remember the Chapter-posts from the Pius Chronicles, and I would just like to mention that I will be playing with the format a bit in the LL-reports.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Screening process

Its been years and years since I've had a screen at the table, but now that I'm running LL, it only seems proper to erect a barrier between me and "them." Also, there are some practical considerations to take into account *cough/tables/cough*. Since my old, and highly customised, AD&D 2E screen is in Norway still, I had to start a new one from scratch.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A few myths busted...

Matt from . . lapsus calumni . . posted a link to a quite brilliant piece on RetroRoleplaying: The Blog setting the myths of old-school gaming straight. Reading this article, I finally figured out what it was that I wanted from the OSR: a level-based storytelling system. 

Having now run one session with Labyrinth Lord/AEC, I've realised that in returning to the roots of the hobby I may have found just that. It has intuitive and simple character mechanics, not unlike the WW games, but it uses a level based advancement model. The result is a game that supports both cut-throat dungeon crawls, seat-of-pants style challenge resolution, and free-form roleplaying.

I still don't know if the consensus will support continued LL play, but I think at least one of my players may have gone old school already. The alternative is to convert the Langrim game to 3.5 and just be done with it.

[Picture source: Tony DiTerlizzi]

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Dominion of Langrim

Storyteller's note: This is the basic information available about the sandbox as of now. If the game flows, more material will follow.

The six islands that form the Dominion of Langrim lies somewhere North-West of the world, surrounded by seemingly endless watery wastes. The climate is cold and humid, with snowy winters and wet summers. The human and demi-human population, all but a few living on Langrim, the largest of the islands, are sustained by farming the rich soil, and by fishing in the bountiful waters off the coast.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Selling the Old School to the New Guard

"I need feats!"

Last night one of my players came over for dinner, and we started talking about my plans for Saturday. As it turns out, neither my wife or the other guy are completely convinced about this old school thingy. You may say a minor battle in the Edition Wars was fought at that table. I was outnumbered two to one, and the opposing side even had The Punk cheering from the sidelines. 

Perhaps this shouldn't have come as a surprise, given that both of them have done most of their killing and looting in 3.X territories, and both of them view skills and feats as being vital elements in their character building.

As we talked, it became clear that my plans for a semester of hexcrawling may have been hastily laid. As the wife said, "this system seems to have all the things I don't like about 3.5, and none of the things I do like." I tried my best to explain why I think this is a good idea, and while they certainly didn't walk away as glassy eyed OSR converts, they did agree to give it a whirl.

Who knows, my OSR days may already have come to their middle.

[Picture source: Nick Harris]

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Building a sandbox

As a part of my renaissance, I realised that I needed more than just a new system. After all, the crunch is only a small part of the game. For years, my style has been that of an emulated linear narrative game structure (not to be confused with railroading), so I decided I'd follow the OSR trail all the way. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Renaissance - (n) a rebirth or revival

Around the tubes I've seen OSR explained as both Old Shool Renaissance and -Revival. I've always liked the former better, but I never had any need to actually develop a relationship with the term. 

Not so any more. Those of you who've been reading this blog for a while will know that I've counted myself as firmly lodged in the New School, and that I've been a member of the White Wolf pack for years. You will also know that last summer I ended one hell of a campaign. Since then I've left my old group in favour of a new continent, and bought a house with my, as of a few weeks ago, wife. You may say that my life as a gamer has changed somewhat since I started this blog in '09.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

OSR research notes

The crowdsourcing gave me a good starting point for my quest for a quick and dirty fantasy system. After having followed some of the leads I was given, I have dismissed a few, and marked a couple for further research.

The first system I checked out was Microlite20. The pros here were that it was free, and that it offered compatibility with the slew of 3.X material in the house. The con, and what made me dismiss it after about ten minutes with the PDF, is that the writing is a bit heavy, and the editing is poor. The PDF clocked in at well above 600 pages, and while it contained a bakers dozen of individual supplements, it just made the process of getting under the skin of the system too inconvenient. While this may be construed as judging the book by it's formatting, it was enough for me.

Friday, 20 January 2012

I need me some OSR

Last weekend I ran a one shot dungeon crawl, and I realised that my tool-box is insufficiently stacked. So, on the off chance that I still have some readers, I'll try my hand at a little crowdsourcing.

I went with Pathfinder, and while it worked, the system is far too labour intensive for something like that. To save time at the table, my wife, a friend of mine and myself did (most of) the char-gen before the dinner, but since two of the four players had never played any D&D derivation there was too much crap on their sheets for a one-nighter. The other two weren't too familiar with 3.5/Pathfinder either, and while we all had fun, it left me thinking there has to be an easier way.

While I've been lurking on the fringes of the OSR for a few years, I do not know the difference between Labyrinth Lord and OD&D. Hell, I've never even played 1st Ed. What I would like is to get a system that allow my players to create their characters in no more than 20-30 minutes, and that will support more than just hack'n slash. I have no interest in minis, but I do have a love for skills and roleplaying. So my question to you is: Which system should I go for?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Wizards to give 1st Ed some love

In case you haven't heard yet, on April 17 this year, WotC is planning to release a reprint of the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons DMG, PHB and MM. This Premium Edition will, according to the WotC website, be "lovingly reprinted with the original art and content, but feature an attractive new cover design commemorating this re-release." Furthermore, parts of the proceeds will go to the Gary Gygax Memorial Fund. It also looks like these books will only be released through selected game stores across North America.

Now, if I was a cynic, or engaging in the Edition Wars, I'd say this is part of a plot to win back some of the respect they lost during the days of the ignominious 4E. I'm neither, so I wont. I do think it is an attempt to get in on the OSR action, though.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Zak's questions, with answers

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
The setting of my best game to date - the one this blog was created for.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Last Saturday.

3. When was the last time you played?
What, four months ago...?

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
In 1812 the USA declares war on England - your farms and families are near the border, and rumours about an American army marching north has reached you.

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
Engage one of them in game-related conversation/one-on-one roleplaying, or contemplate what's going on behind the scenes.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
I'm not much of a snacker while playing, but I may have a nibble if something strikes my fancy.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
No, I usually walk away from the table invigorated (sometimes also intoxicated).

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
When the clone Agent Cordac plotted a clone rebellion within the NWO.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
My games are mostly serious, but pretty much every session has it's moments of, often slapstick, comedy.

10. What do you do with goblins?
I try to give them some love. I try to make the band/horde/kingdom distinct and believable. 

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
It's been a while since my last regular game, so I'll go with a big one from last year and a smaller one that's still on the drawing board: The former was the Siege of Malta, the latter the War of 1812.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
When the 5th level paladin boldly, and without hesitation, charged the hydra on the bridge. When I ask the player to roll initiative, he asks, "how many heads did you say it had again?" "Nine," I say calmly. The light going out of  his eyes was priceless.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
Geist: The Sineaters. I was looking into implementing them as a template in the Argos setting.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Tough call, but the first one that comes to mind is Jamie Jones.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Nah. The people I play with are too jaded by now, and I don't really focus on scaring the crap out of them anymore.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
I haven't run something out of a box/book since I was seventeen.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
A room no one else needs to walk through or be in while the game is running, that has enough room for a good sized table, shelves for game books, and a music system. A fridge is nice too.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
Ars Magica and the old Swedish game Western.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Factual history and anything that looks interesting in modern fiction.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Someone able to contribute constructively to the group.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
Training with a medieval re-enactment group when I was younger permanently changed how I run combat sequences. 

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
The Perfect System.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
I had some brilliant talks with my dad on the subject last time he visited.

Zak's original questionnaire here: [LINK]

[Picture source: Examiner]