All posts by Chuck

I've been a gamer, a geek and nerd for about 30 years. Any questions?

The OSR: Not Dead Yet

So that’s the buzz right now and what most folks are saying are true. It’s not so much about winning or losing but finally having having a company understand a big chunk of their consumer base.
Like I ranted before, it’s time for evolution not revolution. It’s time to take those nifty bits of the classics games we love and tweak them to create games that not only are reminiscent of what got us into this hobby in the first but games that take into account the lessons we’ve learned over the past decades.
The most important thing we can take from past lessons is NOT to be jerks. Let’s not rekindle the insanity of the Edition Wars with what game is the most pure. What mechanic is too New School. Let’s understand that one of the glories of Old School games is understanding that different groups play differently. Just deal with it. For each and every gamer out there, there’s a slightly different opinion about what exactly is Old School.
Just remember the Golden Rule. Have fun playing it.

Swords & Wizardry SRD

From the minds that brought us the Pathfinder SRD, an SRD for Swords & Wizardry. Right now, it looks likes its going to be a really handy tool for GM’s, players and designers. Plus it’s some nice exposure for a really cool game.
Go ahead and check it out. See what a bunch of grognards have been talking about.
This reminds me. I really need to write more S&W stuff.

Simple & Fun Spell Components

Spell components can be one of those things that can really add fun and flavor to a game. But they can also end up being an exercise in accounting and needless minutiae that doesn’t add that much fun to a game. And it’s all about the fun. So here’s the the little idea I’m putting together for spell components.
Generic: Normal stuff that picked up at little or no cost. Don’t even bother keeping track.
Common: Items that a character to could pick up for a few coins at a local market. Just have the character spend a few gold every time the go into town. Roughly, a number of gold pieces equal to the highest level of spell he could cast.
Exotic: Specialized things like special herbs, oils, gems or crystals and so forth. Still at this level, no need to keep an exact inventory just a gold piece amount of Exotic Components.
Rare: These are specific items. Here’s where you keep exact inventories. Prices will vary wildly depending on the item. Ingenious players will also start using the bits and pieces of special or particularly nasty monsters for components.
Unique: These are really MacGuffin type items. There’s only one of them in the world. It’s use is powerful and a one time thing.
Now bending this little bit into the rules.
If a spell states that you need X item (like 1,000 GP worth of Diamond Dust) then you still need it.
Generic and Common spell components are just a cost of being a spell caster. Nothing special here.
Exotic: The character uses up the spell level times 10 GP worth of exotic components then spell is empowered by a factor of one in a way that makes sense for that spell. An extra die of damage, -1 to a saving throw, extra duration, whatever makes the most sense. This may cause a little haggling with the DM but players ask before you cast.
Rare: Allows the caster to cast an unprepared spell that thematically fits the component. The caster must know or have access to the spell. Additionally, the caster must successfully make a Saving Throw versus Magic for the spell to succeed. The component is consumed in the casting whether the caster successfully casts the spell or not.

Close Enough For Government Work

One of the things that always kind of slowed things down (IMHO) while playing Pathfinder/3.X or later games is the all the detail with the tactical movement.
Yes, I know it explains everything out in exacting detail about who is affected by what and who can get attacked and so on. But too many times it just turns an encounter more like a wargaming session than an RPG session. Players exactly plotting out movement and spell effect areas just they can catch one more orc in the fireball. I’ll admit that wargaming can be fun but it’s a different kind of fun than an RPG. That’s why I like the “Close Enough” model for movement and so forth.
Just let the mini’s be a rough reminder where everyone is. Just eyeball the distance. Roll the dice and get on with it. Just like so much OSR, you just wing it and let the GM say what is going on. Of course, I know somebody will say, “But my GM isn’t fair and those rules make sure it’s fair.” Blah. Blah. Here’s the honest truth. No matter what the rules say, a jerk GM can still find a way to kill your character. That’s it.
Yeah, I know a short little rant but hey it’s a busy week.

Gnomlings: Why not?

OK, I admit it. I’m not that fond of Gnomes and Halflings. Oh, sure I have played a few in my time but I was young, experimenting and probably drunk.
To keep things simple, why not just make them one race. Sometimes I think Gnomes just might be Halflings with shoes. A race of short lucky kleptomaniac illusionist pranksters. Yeah, I know that kind of sounds like Kender but damn since Dragonlance just about every Halfling has been a Kender in disguise. Heck, they’re really not that much different.
This is just a random thought floating around in my head. But really do you need both races in a campaign world? Think about they really aren’t that much different.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I picked up Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea this weekend and damn I’m still reading through this. It’s got a butt load of material.
At it’s heart it’s another retroclone. But the setting and just the amount of material is cool. I’m glad I’m seeing more Sword & Sorcery/Weird Fantasy games pop up on the radar.
The main things I’m probably going to pull from this one is a bit of the skills and classes stuff and maybe some of the setting. It’s got the normal four classes. What’s really nice is the complete list of subclasses. This is nice and useful for any tweaking you want to do in your home brew games. I don’t want to sound like I’m dissing the game. I’m not. Just a bunch of it doesn’t quite fit into the way I’m planning things for the various ideas I have bouncing around in my head.
If you’re an aficionado of old school games, it’s a really nice addition to your collection.

YARC: Some Basics, Saves & Skills

Yeah, I know I haven’t ranting about my own little retroclone home game recently. That’s the joy of working without a deadline. Currently, my little gaming group is busy playing Classic Deadlands and teh Dresden Files RPG. So I got time to work on this little project. But any way I wanted to throw out some basics.
I really like the simplicity of one Save Mechanic from Swords & Wizardry plus tack on the Saves as Skills mechanics and it’s just golden. But I decided to make it one step simpler.
All characters have a base Save of 16. This gets modified by the appropriate Attribute modifier, Racial and Class Abilities. Additionally, characters gain a bonus equal to 1/2 their level rounded down.
This may sound over simplified but remember, kids, I like Castles & Crusades too. And that game has it’s neat Save mechanic. A Save for each attribute. Yep, dump stats can kill you. I’m looking at break down roughly like this:
Strength: Constriction, Crushing, Grappling
Dexterity: Traps and Effects Which Can Be Dodged.
Constitution: Poison, Disease and Drugs.
Intelligence: Illusions and Most Arcane Magic
Wisdom: Gaze Attacks and Most Divine Magic
Charisma: Fear and Charm effects
I know there a few other things I got to throw in there but this me just throwing random thoughts out there.