Nostalgia for the OSR

Since Google+ and the OSR movement are going away in a year after G+ closes down, there’s a lot of pre-shutdown nostalgia already for the OSR, though the movement will go on for another year (until the day G+ shuts down for good, then it will be gone outside of Garycon and Gamehole con).

The questionnaire below was posted as a nostalgia piece that bloggers can fill out to have some feels together now at the end and for the posterity of the movement. The OSR had a good run, and G+ was entertaining to say the least.

In terms of content that the OSR produced, there were some good adventures but I think 90% of the ‘hacks’ people put together were in some issue of Dragon magazine from 1978 – 1985 but people were just too lazy to find them and tell the people that what they were suggesting had already been done before.

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire 

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

Zak S. and RPGPundit, a comparison of the D&D 5th Edition consultants, or “John Tarnowski must feel lower than a legless flea’s taint”

  1. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

All of the LotFP Grindhouse GM’s book.

  1. Best OSR module/supplement:

Prince Charming, Reanimator

  1. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

Advantage / Disadvantage from 5E

  1. How I found out about the OSR:

LotFP stuff sitting on the shelf in the game store… I think.

  1. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

Into the Odd Character generator

  1. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

GaryCon

  1. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:
  • Gamehole Con
  • In person with friends.
  1. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

Endless Trash.

  1. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

FENG SHUI 2!

  1. Why I like OSR stuff:

Dungeon Crawl Classics and especially the LotFP stuff by Raphael Chandler

I like Tenkar’s hounding of that pencil dice guy.

  1. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

Venger Satanis.   Runequest 6.

  1. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

Design Mechanism’s blog

  1. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

A lotfp pocket mod character sheet. A funnel for DCC.  A monster for lotFP that was never published.

  1. I’m currently running/playing:

Lotfp, DCC, 13th Age, Mythras

  1. I don’t care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

You’re trying to find players to play Dungeon World at Game Universe.

  1. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Greg Stafford the creator of Glorantha has died

Greg Stafford, a huge visionary in roleplaying games and founder of Chaosium passed away in his sweat lodge yesterday.

This is a bit more sad since Runequest and Glorantha got beautiful new editions this year, yet the man had a pretty awesome run as a game designer. While we (unfortunately) did not get into Runequest as kids, we definitely did the Call of Cthulhu and a little bit of Elric. The BRP system (designed by Steve Perrin) is the best RPG system (in it’s modern forms) there is and we all owe a great debt of gratitude for years of excellent gaming with Call of Cthulhu as kids and gaming to come with Mythras and Runequest.

Stafford came up with his ideas for Glorantha while at Beloit College, proving yet again that Wisconsin is where all the critical RPG ideas came from and will come from in the future.

What’s more, without Glorantha/Runequest there would be no Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and likely the Warhammer old world and 40K would be VERY different than it is today (discounting Age of Sigmar entirely as it’s fluff is basically fanfic).

Lost some posts

Server had a crash and some posts (and some long drafts….) were lost. Going to try to wrastle them up from notes but until then.

Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold – Laurene Landon (Hundra!) in a crazy western.

SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy! what the hell is this… Terry Bogard has been transformed into a girl.

Information, Choice, Impact – from Chris McDowell (Into the Odd)

Importance of Art in RPG’s. This has some other stuff about FATE that you can skip over, but mostly it’s about GURPS and FATE and the issue with ‘generic’ RPG systems and their lack of direction around art.  Mythras avoided this by focusing all art in the game on sword and sandal stuff (the base setting).  Rob Heinsoo lists his artist for 13th Age as one of the GAME DESIGNERS (Lee Moyer) even though he didn’t do the system design– as the art is a huge part of the game.  Think about Exalted 2E vs Exalted 3E for example.  2E is like “what is THAT??” and 3E is like – — ‘oh generic westernized Anime we’ve seen 1000 times before at this point, sans cleavage.’

Common mistakes in board game design. This is an excellent thread for designers.

This is a fucking gold mine of info on balancing a board game and theory (and Excel tips!)

 

non relevant Claudia Cardindale image.

Gencon 2018!

I headed down to Gencon on nearly a whim and it was pretty good. This means that I haven’t missed a Gencon since 1992.  That’s a LOT of Gencons.   This year I was trying to take a break after the insanity of the 50th anniversary last summer and all that, but broke down with both desire and some peer pressure from Matt.

Matt said it was his favorite Gencon ever as he got to game a lot and didn’t have to waste time on taking FAR too much time going out to eat, which is a massive timesink when you add it up.  Going to the RAM for lunch will take at least 2-3 hours minimum and then you are spun back into the Con drunk.

I only went on Saturday for reals and after wandering the hall a bit (trying not to buy anything this year), I got over to the CUBICLE 7 booth and had a chat with none other than Graeme Davis of WFRP fame who was showing off a binder with pages from 4th edition.  Mr. Davis, along with others, wrote the Enemy Within, Shadows over Boganhoffen, Rough Night at Three Feathers and many other great modules for one of the most important RPG’s ever.  WFRP 4 is going to be a merger of 1st and 2nd edition WFRP with nothing from Fantasy Flight’s 3rd edition (no funky dice or chits all over the place or cards for actions).  In addition, he has been tasked with writing the 4th edition Enemy Within in which, he said, would be surprises that help if players have played the 1st edition campaign as well as doing it closer to the original 1E edition.  Davis also co-wrote the 3rd edition version of the Enemy Within for Fantasy Flight.  Talking to Mr. Davis about this subject made the failed BIRD ride from downtown Milwaukee and drive down to Indy the night before totally worth it– the rest of the con was GRAVY.

After that WFRP fangasm, we got in another game of Rising Sun and I pulled out a win, which was the third in the row with different clans (the Fox, Butterfly and Turtle clans respectively).  I don’t usually win Blood Rage, though I love it, so I’m not sure how it’s happening with Rising Sun except via simple experience.  It’s becoming a favorite of the group.

I got in a game of Runequest (the new version from Chaosium) that was OK, the pre-gen character sheets were in the same format as the Free RPG day ones and they really sucked.  Please just list the fucking spells instead of saying “all common rune spells” so that the players, some who are totally new to RQ, have to go look them up in the book that they don’t have.  Another issue with RQ as a CON game is that it expects and demands vast knowledge of the Glorantha background, which, IMO is something to be slowly revealed over the course of a long campaign.  People aren’t going to know all the gods of the Glorantha pantheon– so don’t do CON scenarios that expect players to have that knowledge at all.   The scenario was a typical Glorantha one, with some Broo and some chaos getting all over the place and having to be cleaned up, but had a lot of stuff about the Lightbringers and Orlanthi stuff which all had to be explained in detail.  It was pretty good, but I just do not think Glorantha-based Runequest is much of a CON game.  System wise I miss the Mythras special effects in combat–they copied RQ6’s excellent Passions system: why didn’t they copy it’s superlative combat system as well?  The new RQ Glorantha book looks beautiful though, so should be picked up at some point.  They only had 200 at the CON for sale and I think they sold out pretty quick.

After RQ, I ran DCC for the gang in a very large hall of people and had to talk really loudly. I had to run down to the business center in the hotel in order to print off random characters for the game at the cost of 8$.  I need to remember to bring a huge stack of characters EVERYWHERE I go.   The session was pretty much proof that you can run DCC anywhere under very severe conditions.  I did Frozen in Time which is take on Expedition to the Barrier Peaks except all DCC.  We got fairly far into the module until people started to fall asleep on account of the hour and the drink.  That may be one to finish off.

Other than wandering the dealer hall a bit on Sunday and pestering Tom Babbey at his art booth, buying the obligatory DCC modules, that was pretty much my GENCON.

Some pictures.

I don’t know what these guys are supposed to be but Matt does.
Matt got this lady to do this for reasons I don’t know. He said it was some sort of explosion woman?
The guys playing the almost the best RPG.
The gaming halls were totally packed most of the time.
Rising Sun, pointing.

Rim the World

RimWorld is one nasty time sucker!  I’ve had a week off here and have played about 20 hours or so — all good times and solid frustrations.

The game is an ARPG/ survival game like we’ve seen so many times with many, many bad games in the genre–  but this one channels the most Dwarf Fortress stuff without the horrifying graphics and insurmountable commands, while being no where near as complex on the back end.  For example, when you do stuff in a space in Dwarf Fortress, that stuff stays there FOREVER until changed by some other agent in the game.  In Rim World, if you leave your colony for some reason, it disappears and re-randomizes the hex you used to be in.  So you can’t watch the deterioration of your bases after you leave them.

You start the game with either three or one colonists with various skills and abilities and you need to grow food, hunt, protect yourselves, tame animals and find some way to survive the winter, fallout, massive raids of mechanoids and natives. Typically, like Dwarf Fortress, this is a cascade of failure after about 4-5 hours of play in each game.  The way to play the game properly is to have a single save file so that you can’t go back to earlier games and try to avoid the RNG or bad decisions– but the game allows you to wuss out and have tons of saves.

How I start the game is this: land on the planet, pick up weapons and medicine, make a couple sleeping spots, then find a room that’s already built on the map and inhabit it.  Next I find where the “ancient evil” room is on the map and immediately open it up and see what’s in there.  Most of the time this leads to quick destruction, but sometimes it not only gives the colonists a solid flame proof building, but cyrocaskets and some tech weapons to boot.   This way you can either start off strong, or get wiped out and start a new game, which you will probably be doing eventually anyways.

Combat is a frantic, pausable affair where you try to position your colonists in the best possible places to take on attackers in real time.  I haven’t gotten very high tech weapons yet, but that’s because I play hardcore for the most part, and haven’t survived!  There are quite a few different guns and weapons in the game, and it escalates into quite an arms race with your neighbors and raiders as the game goes on.

All in all, highly recommended.  The heart of the RNG in this one is in the right place for sure.

LotFP – Lay of Remy Pardue part two

Sprint 1619, Northern France. We last left our heroes in St. Omer, with one of Remy’s wives (Lucienne) and child (of another wife) they had named ‘Timmy’ casing a two story  inn where Remy was supposedly hiding out. (first part of the adventure is here).

PC’s
Aleric the Pious (cleric) – played by mouth
Fred Fucher (specialist) – played by maat
Titus Sphnchta (magic user) – played by maat the younger (the only character that speaks French in the group)

Out the first session
Jaques Van Dam (fighter) – played by steve
Richard Quigley (fighter) – played by john

Aleric, Fred and Titus made it to the inn along with the boy and Lucienne, while Jaques and Richard must have eaten something wrong earlier in the day and had to stop.  The three noticed immediately that there was a man in the doorway watching the street quite intently.  Frederic Fucher did some successful sneaking into the stables at the back of the inn and watched another man come out the back door bringing a shit bucket to the loo out back, then he staid there awhile.

Meanwhile, Titus charmed the man in the doorway and told him there was a package of money at the postal office across town and he needed to get it and bring it back to Remy, which he went off to do. Then he and Aleric snuck into the inn and heard some people playing lansquenet in an upstairs room. Along with the chatter over the cards, they overheard a conversation about some money coming in and the words: “that man is worth a lot of money.” The cleric and wizard, with the fighters lagging behind  decided to hide in the stables with Fred and discuss what to do next.

Luckily both of the fighters joined them in the stables after successful constitutionals, what with the door now unguarded and all. The decide to whack the guy in the loo, which they did, but very noisily with screaming and hacking and such. This alerted a man named Arsene who guarded the back door to the inn and would have let Hector, the man in the loo, back into the inn had he survived. Instead, he loaded his crossbow and waited. The group then barged through the front door and opened the door to the kitchen from the common room and quickly shut it, seeing Arsene there waiting by the rear door with a crossbow. Aresene, thinking it was a single man invading the inn, bowled into the common room from the kitchen and was noisily brought down by the fighters.

Knowing at this point surprise was not on their side, the group headed upstairs and posted watch on the outside back door  (Fred Fucher) and on the hallway/balcony on the second floor (Aleric).
“go through the front door to get the guy in the backdoor”

They busted into the room Remy and two of his men (Thibaud and Andriet) were waiting in, who had drawn weapons over their abandoned card game. Andriet threw a knife at them but missed, and the characters asked to parlay and Remy, trapped in a room with an unknown number of assailants outside,  decided to do so. They asked for the original map and explained that while it was rude of him to steal the possessions and money from the characters, it was a very bad mistake to steal the map that he had. After some cajoling, Remy produced the map and tossed it across the room, firing a pistol and leaping from the nearby window in the same moment– the pistol missed, but the ground didn’t, and Remy was knocked out by the fall, unlucky for him. Andriet, being a violent sort, attacked with knives, but got covered in lantern oil and then had his skull split with an axe. Thibaud decided to run, and climbed up a ladder into a loft above the room. After making sure Remy was taken care of, the fighters went up the loft and there was more parlaying with Thibaud who was just a hireling. He left them his sword and money and they let him run off into the streets of St. Omer. They noticed a well-appointed chest in the loft after he left. Could this be where Remy hid all of their stuff? Fred Fucher then opened the accidentally stolen map and noted that it was part of Africa, and Matt told the players (not the characters) that he knew what that was all about..

Meanwhile the fighters up stairs opened the well appointed chest and it did not contain anything that they had expected. A tendril of black ooze or something shot out of it into Jacques Van Dam’s mouth and pushed it’s way down his throat. As he gagged on the black mass, Richard began hacking at it with his axe, and after several blows, severed the tendril and it retracted into the chest, which snapped shut. Jacques flailed on the floor as the mass dissipated down his throat and into his stomach and bowels.

DCC – Funnel with scratch off 0-level character sheets

Last weekend I finished running a funnel with the DCC scratch off character sheets. This will be a bit of a review of the sheets and a bit of a review of the new, brutal, way you can handle characters in the funnel if you have these sheets.

First, the sheets are aesthetically pleasing, but they are not made with the best scratch off stuff. I don’t play the lottery or any of that parasitic shit, but I’ve scratched off some stuff in my time and it was better than the sheets– the stuff was challenging to get off without scratching the crap out of the paper underneath.

Secondly, the size of the type in the scratch off areas made it difficult to read the text, especially for the lucky signs and some of the equipment.

Last, I think these should have been a quad of four character sheets and not just one. There is a lot of space on the sheet wasted and frankly 0-level characters aren’t worth a full sheet of paper in the first place!

We followed the suggestion that came with the pack of ’emergent’ stats, that is: when you have to use a stat on a character, you scratch it off the sheet and reveal it. Only when you use a stat do you get to see what it is and what the bonuses are.

While this was fun, a couple of the players felt like they were bit upside the ass by it when their front character turned out to have a 16+ in some stat and they didn’t know and doomed the poor fellow to some trap.  Make sure if you do this that you have ample opportunity for tests (PER especially doesn’t come up often).

That said, my funnel turned out not to be a very dangerous one, and with careful play (in most instances), the players came out with multiple characters.

Overall, it was fun to use the scratch off sheets, but they could be better and there were some complaints about reading the entries at times.

Info on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition

I’m keen on the new Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay developed by Cubicle 7, having played 1st extensively and 2nd edition a few sessions.  In my middle years, I see many, many flaws in both 1st and 2nd’s system, but the game had some high quality short adventures and, of course, the Enemy Within Campaign which I never got to run players through because they— became like chaos itself, spiked off into random directions mostly due to crimes, and I had to start giving them chaos attributes until we quit playing halfway through college.  Others had similar experiences.  It could be that the nihilism inherent in the late 80’s that seeped entire into the Warhammer world view made players inherently nihilistic as well, or maybe Slaanesh is just that attractive…

That brings me to 3rd edition WFRP and… my worry that any of the things in 3rd edition make it into 4th.  3rd was the prototype for the much refined Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight, yet it was a total mess and completely unmanageable at the table.  I played it once as a player and was astounded at the number of chits and cards and stuff, as well as how long it took to finish a small combat with beastmen.  In Mythras or D&D the fight would have taken 30 minutes of combat time, where 3rd WFRP took well over an hour.  Yet, 3rd edition had quite a few excellent adventures (Witches Song and the new Enemy Within for starters).

Here is a published list of features so far:

The d100 system used will be broadly familiar, but a new implementation designed to offer three ways of resolving actions:
1 – a decision based on the characters’ abilities

2 – a simple pass/fail test

3 – a more nuanced dramatic test giving a range of outcomes and success levels

  1. GMs are encouraged to tailor their use of these to suit their group’s preferences.
  2. The combat system has been designed to be quick, dynamic and exciting, with something happening as the result of every roll.
  3. Careers remain an important feature. Dom waxed eloquent about how careers help immerse characters in the world, and give them something to fight for. He also talked about how that was reinforced in the new edition by Ambitions – personal goals that characters work towards.
  4. You can initially play a Human, Dwarf, Halfling or Elf, and that range will grow through future expansions.
  5. Dom did also talk about our ambitious plans for expansions. An expeditionary approach to Lustria was mentioned, as was his excitement about Dark Elf politics and how he always wanted to go to Ulthuan.

Influence from 3rd aside, what I worry most about here is that WFRP 4e will be a ‘story game,’ leaning far towards something like FATE than anything my players and myself would ever want, but let’s see how this shakes out.   There is always the option of running WFRP with Mythras, which can’t be beat system wise.

LotFP – the Lay of Remy Pardue

While Rol20 13th Age is in hiatus, I decided to bust out a LotFP adventure I have been working on and we’ve pulled a handful of sessions off.

PC’s
Aleric the Pious (cleric) – played by mouth
Fred Fucher (specialist) – played by maat
Jaques Van Dam (fighter) – played by steve
Richard Quigley (fighter) – played by john
Titus Sphnchta (magic user) – played by maat the younger (the only character that speaks French in the group)

Spring 1619, London. The adventure begins with the two fighters and the cleric being hired to find a strange cube rumored to be at a monastery in southern France by a representative of the new Lord of Manchester who wishes to gift the thing to a friend. They are given a map in a water-tight tube to the monastery, ample supplies and petty cash to spend on the way as well as a ride to the continent via a river boat that can make the crossing captained by one Remy Pardue. They were warned not to go to Paris (as the country had just been in a small civil war between the Queen of France and the heir apparent).

The group met the boat captain and his crew on the Thames the next morning. All went swimmingly until the boat was moored at Ramsgate after a day coming down the Thames. The group stayed at an inn and the next morning the boat, Remy and his crew and the map, and all of their supplies and monies were gone. They punched out the barkeep (who told them Remy was a bit sketchy) until he told them to check another, seedier, inn on the wharf for news of Remy. Just then Titus and Fred Fucher arrived with a message from the Lord of Manchester (or rather, his man), that they were given the wrong map and to send the original map back post haste. Of course, they didn’t have the original map any more…

Checking the seedy Inn (the Dried Boar), they found one of his crew, Giles Jegou, who our of guilt, could not go along with the theft and became summarily drunk instead. He told the group that they might find Remy at his mother’s house west of Saint-Omer, otherwise he had no idea where he was off to.

With help from the bartender, they got passage across the channel that day and walked to Saint Omer from the coast, not quite penniless, but certainly not in style.

Saint Omer was having a market day and the town was crowded with merchants and shoppers, even early in the morning when they arrived. After some inquiry and paying of bridge tolls, they found the farm of the Pardue’s and approached. Two of the characters waited in a flowering apple orchard overlooking the main house and the other three went straight there. They found an old woman cracking nuts on the stoop, a young woman with long black hair hanging laundry on a line (mostly diapers) and another woman with long black hair carrying a swaddled baby. The old woman was Remy’s mother and she spoke the English, though with a rougher burr native to Bristol and such unsavory places. Somewhere in the house another baby was crying.

Titus told her they had something for Remy and were trying to find him. She told them the price to find him was the same whether giving or receiving. She brought out a gaggle of children of many ages from inside and around the house and that they must pick one to take with them as their ward, since the farm was poor and there were constantly new mouths to feed as Remy brought his impregnated wives to the house with or without other by-blows.

They selected the eldest boy (11) and she told them that they could name him as well if they wanted (they named him Timmy). Then she told them that Remy had been at the house just yesterday and had gone on about finding a crew quickly and he had an opportunity that would make him rich. She said he then went to Paris and they should not have trouble finding him on the way there if they hurry (!?).

The party left the farm with the child in tow and went north to the nearest livery stable to purchase some horses. They had very little money and asked the stable master if there was anything they could do to procure some horses. With the chaos in the country those days horses were not easy to come by, and he offered them a few horses if they burned one of his competitors stables down without hurting any of the animals. After some debate, they agreed and got directions.

On the road south, near again to the Pardue farm, they came upon one of the women from the house (Lucienne), one of Remy’s ‘wives’ who told them that the old hag was lying and if they took her with them, she would tell them where Remy really was and take them there. They again reluctantly agreed (“Should we still burn the stables down?”) and Lucienne took them into Saint Omer in front of the Hotel D’Ville, a three story Inn with a brewery and stables.