Let’s see there’s Swords & Wizardry Light followed up by Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. And now James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games has come out with Untold Adventures.
So all these games are kissing cousins and largely cross compatible. And I’m sure somewhere out there that there is a a game that I missed. But since I’m a Swords & Wizardry fan, these hit my radar screen first. And yes I know Light and Continual Light have been out quite a while. Now that all the disclaimers are done. On to the meat.
These games are important right now more than any (IMHO). Why? Well, they’re cheap or even free. They’re great intro to folks who haven’t messed with any OSR games. Heck, their a great intro for kids and adults who have never picked up an RPG. For the more seasoned, they’re still great. Why? Well, sometimes the regular DM is sick or something and you need a quick pick up game. Or maybe you’re just tired of spending more time checking rules than killing orcs. These make a great change of pace and still have enough crunch to make them viable games.
So I know someone will ask. What are these games like? Well, they’re both based of Swords & Wizardry White Box. That means you only need a d20’s and d6’s. A single saving throw. Easy to read monster entries. And quick play that is very much free form. So what do I mean by free form. There’s checking if your character has the feat or the skill to do something. Just do it.
If you aren’t an OSR type but still like the D&D type games. Check them out. Enjoy.
I had this thought a long time ago when I was playing around with some ideas about hacking Swords & Wizardry and since I’m messing around with Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells the idea came back to me again. This time a little more thought out. So mixing that up, let’s play around a bit.
Initiative: This is lifted from SS&SS. Use HD for initiative. However, I like things a little random. So roll it. (I added this as house rule to the upcoming SS&SS game). Now there may be some disparity with OSR Thieves and Monks since they had d4 HD. For them, I’d probably let them add their Dex Mod or for initiative let them roll a larger die type.
Natural Healing: This is also from SS&SS and I played around with the idea when I working on the failed YARC (Yet Another Retroclone) project. Roll your HD for healing at whatever rate you use for your game.
Weapon Damage: Er what? This goes back to Damage by Class idea and doing weapons by “type”. So use the character’s HD as a base for medium weapons then use a larger die for “heavy”, and a smaller die for “light”. For the basic classes, it look something like this: Fighter: d6/d8/d10; Cleric: d4/d6/d8; Magic-User: d3/d4/d6; Thief: d3/d4/d6 (but for back stab: d6/d8/d10).
Armor Class: Huh? Yeah why not? If you’re doing Weapon Damage by class why not Armor Class too? Like weapons, do armor by type (Light, Medium Heavy). Use the Weapon Damage as above and divide the highest number on the die by two to get bonuses like this: Fighter: 3/4/5; Cleric: 2/3/4; Magic-User: 1/2/3; Thief: 1/2/3. Of course, this also depends on who can where what armor in your game. Thieves and Magic-Users in plate mail just don’t quite work so adjust to your rules of choice.
So yes. This is another of those posts to file under random ideas that I may or may not use and will probably mess around again with in the future sometime. And of course, YMMV.
So I’ve binging on various OSR Anchorite podcasts of late and Radio Grognard got me thinking. I think it was Episode 10 when Glenn mentions Opportunity Attacks and well like I said, I got thinking. I dug out my Swords & Wizard book. Yep, they were there. I looked at my Mentzer Red Book. Yep, it’s there too. Although there is an option to half move without getting whacked. Hmm. Let’s think about these for a moment. Not sure why these are there (like Glenn said) but I do know how they ended up impacting, at least, our games. This made the fighters up front even more like meat shields for the magic user. Monsters would have to go thru gauntlet to get to that fragile but dangerous spell caster. Also, it made even more unlikely that PC’s wold run away from a fight that they should. Let’s by the time they figure out that they’re outclassed, it’s probably too late. My little mind set about for a simple way to do these without have such dire consequences and make them fell less like an attack but more like an escape. Because I think it’s more about one party escaping rather than the other attacking. And the answer is pretty simple. Saving Throws.
Here’s the deal. Want to back out/flee/go for the soft target. Make a Saving Throw. To keep the theme of Thieves as dodgy little buggers, go ahead make this like a Save vs Traps. Fail and take damage.
If a monster is avoiding a character, the damage is the base damage for the character’s primary weapon in hand. No bonus for any class stuff or high ability scores. But if there’s a penalty that applies.
If a player character is avoiding a monster, use the base damage of the monster’s primary attack. Do not apply any special conditions of the attack such as poison, paralyzation, level drain and so on.
There you go simple with some risk but not really an attack per se. I think I already said that.
Keep ’em rolling and enjoy.
It’s a time for one THOSE posts. I really like to do just content. You know something gameable like a monster, magic item or some sort of house rule. But now and then, I have to do one those mental cleansings that keep things on track. Especially, since just started doing some podcasting on Anchor.fm.
So what’s up? Well, I’m getting ready to wrap up another Dungeon Crawl Classics game. And it’s been fun. We had some fantastic sessions. Like the time everyone was down but the thief and the elf and they were going against an evil wizard. Things were bad for the party. Until those two characters crited said evil wizard in the same round. But in true DCC, there was a player epiphany. He hated the character he ended up with after the funnel but then after surviving a few close calls and surviving some adventures, the player started to really enjoy the character. So yeah that was cool.
Up next is Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells. This is going to fun little campaign and I’ve got all the cool stuff planned out but more on that later. Then I’m going to take a little break from the DM seat. But that time isn’t going to idle. I’ve a hankering and the players of the group are interested in old school game. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to Swords & Wizardry White Box and use so much of the cool add ons for especially the White Box Omnibus. But every once in a while I get the urge to play with it even more. Something crazy like actually used the “advanced” HD and weapons damage but still keep the simpler classes in White Box. Or just do more tweaks on White Box. I dunno. Brainstorming time. Plus I know I’ve got to put a little flesh on to Zoong. That’s the crazy world I’ve been using with DCC and 5E but there’s a few odds and ends that need to added.Since it’s just a bunch or random notes scrawled out during game sessions. Yeah, literally making it up as I go along. As bonus, I plan to start it off with Keep on the Border Lands. Give the kids a field trip back to the days of youre.
So not much substance. Lots rant. Keep Rolling Dice. Killing Monsters. Taking Their Stuff. And Having Fun.
So a player in my Dungeon Crawl Classics game wants potions and other cool stuff but he knows that his character is as dumb as a rock. So he found a marginally sane and reputable alchemist, “Dr Omnibus” (Thank you Matt Finch!). Said character has volunteered to gather whatever crazy ingredients that the alchemist wants. So I made a random system-neutral table.
Weird Alchemical Ingredients
Oh and the poor fool volunteered to be guinea pig too. Mwah! Ha! HA!
So maybe this turning into a dead horse but a few things have gotten me thinking again. There’s plenty about both that should be cross pollinating. Let’s get the great big game mechanics elephant out of the way. They are two different game styles and rules but still close enough that many concepts and adventures can cross over. Heck, I ran Death Frost Doom for 5E and converted it on the fly. And the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, I think most folks think it’s a pretty good idea. So there’s that.
5 E has put D&D back into the mainstream spotlight again and not in a Satanic Panic sort of way. So that’s good for everybody. More fans means more folks who might wander from 5e over to other games. Be they OSR or even other things like Savage Worlds, d6 or whatever. But there’s a good chance if they’re D&D fan the OSR stuff just might have some allure.
On the flip side, I’ve way too many youtube videos (too many to mention here just google in on your own) about how DM, how to make adventures and so on. You know things that the old hats have been talking about literally for decades. More often than not I say to myself, “Isn’t that just like an article or blog post that I read years ago?” What a lot us old grognards have is experience. And you should know better than to be a jerk about it. (Since this on the Internet I need to throw in silly disclaimers like that now and then.) Crap. The whole OSR thing grew because of sharing ideas.
Oh yeah. And one final thought about RPG Communities. The most important RPG Community is the people around your table.
This is one of the things I love about new players. They ask questions like that. Sure there have probably been dozen of articles already written about the subject I mean since there’s been a Thief Class, there’s been Thieves’ Cant. All that stuff that I had read years ago just didn’t pop into my head when I was asked. So I let a little instinct and logic step in and come up with sort of good explanation.
First (according to Wikipedia anyway), the concept is based on reality. As spoken language, I imagine it to use “Common” but with meanings of some words changed as well as disguised much like rhyming slang. So the individual words may recognized by the uninitiated but their true meaning or their context won’t make any sense.More detailed meaning is gleaned from context and the use of hand gestures or sign language.
So yes a language with somatic components. It can be used to communicate covertly while others are listening to better disguise what exactly is being communicated. Plus it’s really handy when you’re sneaking around and trying to be quiet. You know like in every movie you’ve ever seen with commandos in it.
And what about a written form? Why, yes of course. Once again let’s dig into the world and there it is Hobo Signs. Thieves don’t want to leave behind incriminating evidence but it is a matter of professional courtesy to leave little bits of information behind to warn or aid the next thief who comes along.
So there you go. A little about Thieves Cant. Now go out and kill a monster and take its stuff.