Saturday, June 2, 2012

Appendix N Kickstarter by Brave Halfling - Adventures for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

I really am enjoy my Trek through the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

In the past I've enjoyed pretty much everything Brave Halfling has put out, and I have the gaming boxes that they released.  They friction' rock!

A Kickstarter for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Adventures published by the fine folks at Brave Halfling?  It's a win-win.  Or a ground ball.  Or a home run.  Depends on what direction you are coming to it from, but in all situations you really can'y go wrong.

I'm a bit of a collector, so I'm in at $51.  Without hitting any of the bonus goals, it gives me 3 copies each of two different DCC adventures and a PDF of the first one (the second one is a limited run that is only available through this Kickstarter).  For the first three stretch goals that are hit (if they are) I'll be getting 3 copies and a PDF of yet another adventure.  Oh, did I mention they are signed and numbered?  Or that I get to create a monster, NPC or location for a future adventure in the series at this pledge level?  I'd love to see Tenkar's Tavern be a location in a DCC adventure.  ;)

Announcing the Winners of the AD&D 2E Trivia Contest

Yah, I kinda screwed up my plans for this contest, what with the distractions of the release of D&D Next, the holiday weekend and my newfound obsession with Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I think I'll re-kick it off at the UA-LC site later today or tomorrow.  Kinda like a round Two ;)

In the meantime, the winners of round one are:

1st place - Beastman- Beastman, email me at trubluniteATgmailDOTcom so I can send you your $10 gift certificated to RPGNow.  Or just put your email in a comment of this post.

Runners Up - Shane Kynsh, Ryan, Greg Christopher, Eldric IV and Slatz Grubnik. Email me at the above with the Toys For the Sandbox (Classic Fantasy or SciFi) product you want, along with the email address you use at RPGNow and I'll make sure to purchase it for your account.

Fun fun :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

I Am a Warrior - Dungeon Crawl Classics Style

My Warrior Tastes Like Chicken!
I am my own random number generator, as I randomly bounce through the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

Tonight I'm looking at the Warrior.  The Warrior gets a few neat things.  Really neat things.

First, he gets a "Deed Die".  It starts at 1d3 and moves up in die size with each level (the higher levels get 1d10+x).  What does a Deed Die do?  (say that 5 times fast)  It grants it's rolled bonus to both the hit roll and the damage roll of the Warrior.  As far as attacks go, this is in lieu of a fixed attack modifier.  The die is rolled with each attack, and the bonus from that roll is applied to both the attack die and the damage die.

Now, the Deed Die has another use.  It can be used to accomplish combat maneuvers that might be consider skills or feats in another system.  If its a dramatic type of maneuver or attack, you would declare a Mighty Deed of Arms.  Roll 3 or higher on your Deed Die AND successfully attack and your deed works.  Want to trip someone?  Entangle?  Push them off a ledge?  Called shot to the eyes?  Push back the rushing enemies?  Jump out of a window on top of your enemy? This is how you do it.  Oh, and from the way I read the section, if you hit you also do normal damage (but the Deed Die is NOT added to the damage sum - it is however {I think} added to the attack roll).

Critical hits are a section unto themselves.  Suffice to say the Warrior has the potential to crit more than others.

Warriors also add their level to their initiative rolls, and add their luck modifier (if they have one) to a specific type of weapon (longsword or mace or dagger, etc).

I'm beginning to really like the look of the Warrior class.  I may have to look at Wizards next, but their spell charts scare me :(

Operation: Preparation Sandbox (after suitable period of Procrastination)

Tomorrow we pick up the ACKS campaign after taking last weekend off. Which means I'll be doing some game prep before Date Night with the wife (which just happens to coincide with Prom Night for the son and probably followed by Pick Me Up Night). Which means my game prep time is limited.

Have I mentioned in the past that I am a horrible procrastinator? Actually, I'm a pretty skilled procrastinator, but I'd rather not be a procrastinator at all. Especially when crunch time doesn't leave you with too much time.

I've been reading Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep from the folks at Gnome Stew. They sent me a prerelease copy (if memory serves in releases on June 4th), and I've been slowly working my way through it in the midst of everything else going on. So far, the one big thing that's struck home with me is that there is little discussion of game prep in the circles I travel in

There's lots of talk on how to GM, how to run a game session, how to run a campaign, the pros and cons of GM Fiat, why D&D Next Rocks / Sucks - but we don't talk much about GM prep. Not because it's a dirty secret, but because it's something that generally isnt as much fun as actually playing the game.

So, tonight I get to do some rushed game prep (although I may skim forward in Never Unprepared to pick up somethings that may expedite the process). Tomorrow, another birthday party for my son at my inlaws. Tomorrow night we game! Sunday I'll continue my quest to procrastinate less with my game prep (as i run a sandboxie campaign, I need to be ready for most anything, including improvising.)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bouncing Through the DCC RPG With Reckless Abandon - And Then Distracted by the Art

Wouldn't You Want THIS As a Framed Print in Your Man-Cave?
Cat wrestling time here at the Tavern - which means it's cat vs man on top of the keyboard!  I think I've won, for now.

In any case, Game Knight Reviews has been doing a wonderful multipart look at the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.  You really should take a look if you've been enjoying my ramblings on the DCC RPG.

One of my biggest surprises is how much I dislike the DCC Beta that came out last summer, yet I love the final result.  I'm not sure if my perspective changed, the rules change that much, or if it was a combination of the two.  I suspect it was the latter.  I'm finding that my desires to run an Old School style RPG fall to the likes of ACKS, LotFP's Weird Fantasy and Dungeon Crawl Classics.  The systems are far from similar (with the exception that they are all OGL based OSR type games) as far as D&D rooted games go, but they all take the preconceived notion of what one expects from the classic RPG engine and pushes it just a tad beyond.  Familiar and yet not.

As far as DCC goes, I'm bouncing around it's nearly 500 pages with reckless abandon.  At some point I'm going to have to force myself to actually read it from front to back, but for now I'm fairly random in the pieces that I'm reading and it's doing me fine.  Did I mention the art is so damn good it's almost distracting?  Really.  I said it about the maps that were in DCC # 67 and I'll say it in regards to the DCC RPG - Sell the artwork as fucking prints!  Do you know how many man caves could be saved from the typical boring decorating that men do?  You would be doing the RPG community a needed service and adding income for both the artists and Goodman Games, which could only lead to more and better products.

Hmmm - it MAY be a sin for a cleric to heal someone one step away from them in alignment and it pretty much IS a sin for them to heal someone two steps away from them in alignment.  Another reason besides the ability to wield swords to choose to be a neutral cleric.  Oh, I did mention that the clerics alignment decides what weapons they are proficient in, didn't I?  Yep, I'm still bouncing ;)

Three Years and Counting - The Year of Leather?

Yep, Tenkar's Tavern hits 3 years of age today (although my first post was in 2008, it was pretty much just to grab the name for the blog). Over 1800 posts. I'm surprised and not the least bit amazed. I don't think I expected to still be doing this after so much time, let alone still enjoy it.

I'm still doing it and I'm still enjoying it. ;)

So, if this was a wedding the gift would be "leather". What kind of cheap armor is that? I'd want plate, or at the very least chain... heh.

Back to our regularly scheduled posting later this evening...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Thief, The Thief and the Thief in the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

Why is it Thief x 3?  Because the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG breaks up the Thief Skills not just by level, but also by alignment.  Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic.  It's an interesting way to specialize the class.

Some quick observations (and a handful of accompanying questions):

I can understand why Chaotic Thieves would be the best at Backstabing, but why why are Neutrals a distant third and Lawfuls a fairly close second?  I would have thought those two positions to be reversed.

Why are Neutral by far the best at Forging Documents?  That seems more Chaotic to me... or possibly even Lawful (depending on how the documents are being used.

Why do Chaotics suck at Picking Pockets, yet Lawfuls and Neutrals excel?

The standard array at 10th level breaks down as the following for all - 8,8,9,9,13,13,13,13,15,15,15,15.  That array applies to all three alignments, it's just assigned differently to each.  The Neutral Thief has a die one size larger than either Lawfuls or Chaotics when it comes to casting from a scroll (casting from a scroll uses a different resolution system than the other Thief skills) which means that if you are purely crunching numbers, the Neutral Thief is the best choice.

The Thief ability to "Burn Luck" and recover lost luck may be hugely powerful in game.  I really need to see how this plays out, but any system where you can add another die to you die roll is a huge boon.

Alright, enough on thieves.  Time to read my PDF of the just released DCC #68 - People of the Pit.  Review will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

D&D Heartbreaker

This is my first post on Tenkar's blog. I am honored that he allowed me to post here. I had something to say and no venue to say it in that would not cause me endless headaches. I hope you enjoy it.

The first version of the D&D Next public playtest has been out now for a week. If you are anything like me, you have been quite amused. If you got the feeling that maybe you have seen the material before, that's because you have. What you saw was a stripped down rebuild of 3rd Edition D&D + exactly four innovations. That's it.

- Advantage / Disadvantage
- Themes / Backgrounds
- Orisons / Cantrips
- Healing Dice

For those of you that don't know, when a company that doesn't have millions of dollars does that, we call it a fantasy heartbreaker. In the heartbreaker tradition, the improvements are borderline cringe-worthy. And these guys didn't even have to type it up, they could just copy-paste from their own decade-old files. That is really what it looks like they did in a lot of cases. And changing terms a little. Enough to be slightly confusing for no reason.

The best way to view a game is not in a vacuum, but relative to everything else. And compared to other products on the market, this game is terrible. I would rather play any edition of D&D, Pathfinder, any retro-clone / OSR game, or a wide variety of other heartbreakers before playing this one. Those games actually have good ideas in them. Even when I don't like the design (as in 4e D&D), I can at least give them credit for having unique ideas about the direction they wanted to take.

Some people have claimed that this is a retro-clone of 3e. However, that is not true. The purpose of a retro-clone is to improve the base text. I would rather play LOTFP than the original D&D because of it's many innovations in streamlining play; such as the d6 skills, encumbrance rules, and so on. I would rather play ACKS because it really innovated with proficiencies and has some really great class designs. I would rather play DCC because it is going in a new direction. I would rather play any of the truly classic retro-clones like OSRIC, L&L, or S&W because they are just better written and easier to use.

This game is not like that. It is poorly written and lacks innovation. Even the pittance of so-called innovations are daft. 2d20? You got to be kidding me. They must be smoking the good stuff in Seattle these days. I need to stop by and get some of that sweet herb.

But spending more time than this picking on this game is a waste of my time and yours. Because the real lesson here is not the poor quality of the game itself, but what it says about Wizards of the Coast that they released this stinking turd. The true lesson of this game is that WotC has no idea what the hell they are doing. To release a work so amateurish, so obviously unrefined, so draft-stage; says more about the quality of the company that made it than it does about the quality of the text itself.

Imagine if the head of General Motors made a press release that they were working on a new car design. It was going to please the owners of minivans, trucks, cars, and motorcycles. It was going to be everything to everyone; the one vehicle to unite all vehicle drivers. After several months of vague press releases and strange internet polls, General Motors finally unveiled it's new product for everyone to see and it was a station-wagon with three headlights, slightly wider tires, and a fire-engine red sidecar. And they wanted your feedback on how to make it better..... you are probably going to instead call your broker and sell your GM stock.

And that is precisely what this whole fiasco says about Wizards of the Coast. Time to sell the stock folks. These people don't have a clue what they are doing. They have jumped the shark.

They supposedly worked on this game for the past six months? What the hell did they do? I could have written this entire game in one day. Maybe that's what happened. Monte Cook left and Mike Mearls sat down one afternoon and took a weed wacker to the 3e source files. Even the Caves of Chaos is ripped from Gygax.

They say the goal of the playtest is to fine-tune these rules. Here is my tip.

Write some first.

Then we'll talk.

The Grumpy Dwarf Gets a Sidekick :)

I have been approached by one of my readers about creating another persona to join the Grumpy Dwarf in his critiques of D&D Next. We talked about what kind of personality he would be crafting and I liked what I heard. So I am proud to introduce to you all: the Biting Halfling

The Biting Halfling has been digging his way through D&D Next materials and he is going to have quite a few rants to share with us in the coming months. His first post is going up tonight in a little while, so stay tuned.

Are You Experienced? Experience Points in Dungeon Crawl Classics

Poag Rock!

I've been working my way, haphazardly for those of you following at home, though the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG book.  To be brutally honest, I didn't much like the DCC Beta that was released last summer, but boy, has my opinion chanced upon actual release.  I find that there is a lot to like, even if someone may not desire to run a game of DCC.  Tonight, I'm looking at the Experience Points section.

One thing I've never been totally happy with is experience for loot.  I understand the need in earlier editions of D&D for the 1 GP = 1 XP rule, but it doesn't mean I like it.  Similarly, I'd like a system that doesn't only reward combat and defeating your foes, because it such a system, retreat, even when it might be the better part of valor, also robs one of needed experience.  You find your players start gaming the experience system.

Now, DCC RPG does things a bit differently.  The following paragraph is pretty much the core of the whole system.
Each encounter is worth from 0 to 4 XP, and those XP are not earned merely by killing monsters, disarming traps, looting treasure, or completing a quest. Rather, successfully surviving encounters earns the characters XP in DCC RPG. A typical encounter is worth 2 XP, and the system scales from 0 to 4 depending on difficulty.
Holy shit!  How sweet is that?  No worries about gold looted.  If the party flees for their lives and it is the right choice, they get rewarded.  That trap is now worth expo.  Damn this is good.

I might have to run this past my ACKS group on Saturday, because I really do think it has the possibility to enhance out gameplay (which would be amazing, as the gameplay is already at the highest level)


Putting Some DCC in my ACKS, or Some ACKS in my DCC

My ACKS campaign resumes this saturday after taking a weekend off. I'm very excited and nervous as all hell. Why? Because I'm running this as sandboxie as I can, and now that the initial story line is complete and the players have established their PCs, I need to make sure the have enough rumors and leads that they can make their own choice. Or they might go off on an unexpected tangent. So, I'm both excited and nervous.

I do want to bring some of the DCC attitude to my ACKS campaign. So I'll be spending some creative time thinking up some unique adversaries for them and some background rational for why they are and where they are and how they are and all of the other "are's" that I haven't thought up yet. Even of the players never learn of the background, I'll know it and it will make running these adversaries (monsters or otherwise) much easier for me.

Then again, one of my favorite monsters from AD&D were Mongrelmen, and they happen to be individually unique by nature. If my players are reading this - do not expect Mongrelmen to be part of any plot. Really. Maybe.

Now, if I were to run a DCC campaign, I'd want to use the Death and Dismemberment tables from ACKS in the game, as I think they are very suitable for the type of gaming DCC encourages.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Looking at "The" Monster vs. "A" Monster in Dungeon Crawl Classics

"The" Monster Vs. "A" Monster paragraph of the Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook reminds me quite a bit of a similar world view from the Lamentations of the Flame Princess' Weird Fantasy referee book on monsters.  Just like in LotFP WF, the key is to make sure they are special to the players.  
Is there more than one minotaur in your game world? Is there more than one unicorn or more than one chimera? To a provincial farmer with a ten-mile-wide worldview, does it really matter? You can make monsters more special by referring to them as “the” monster (minotaur, unicorn, chimera, etc.) rather than “a” monster. Whether it is you as the judge describing the creature or an NPC speaking to the player characters, remind yourself that the in-game point of view is often from a perspective of limited knowledge. To any serf with a fearful view of monsters, “the” minotaur is the only minotaur in the world. Describe it as such and its importance will grow in the mind of your players. They will be left wondering if there really is only one minotaur. (page 378 DCC RPG)
You will note that unlike almost every roleplaying game ever, there is no “stock” list of monsters included with this game. Because monsters should be unnatural and hopefully a little terrifying, using stock examples goes against the purpose of using monsters to begin with. Again, this is from an in game perspective. That the players need challenges and fights is understood, but the temptation is always too great to skim through a standard monster list to lazily fill out an adventure. Don’t do this. Not ever!  (page 48 LotFP Weird Fantasy Referee Book)

What I like about the DCC RPG world view is that there doesn't have to be just one minotaur.  It's that the characters' world view only allows them knowledge of the one.  Making monsters special in a game like DCC is part of it's aura and thesis a great tool.  Then again, giving the players something new and unique can be ever better ;)

On a side note, now that I think of it, most of the LotFP adventures would work very well with the DCC RPG.  Death Frost Doom and The Grinding Gear in particular come to mind.  I may need to break these out and look at them with fresh eyes.

The Grumpy Dwarf Wonders How He Missed Mike Mearls Interview at the Escapist'

Really, how the f' did I miss this?  How did my fans miss this (as they often send me messages directing The Grumpy Dwarf to an article they feel will entertain).  So, lets more on to yet another Mike Mearls The Man, The Manager and The Next.

You can read the original article here

The public playtest for the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons begins today, May 24th. (well, it began that day - if you could get past WotC's borked servers.) Mike Mearls is the head of the development team tasked with recreating the rules for the most iconic tabletop fantasy roleplaying game after the 4th edition unfortunately led to a fracturing of the game's core audience (and that was a surprise HOW exactly?) That's no easy feat, and the goal is to attempt to appeal to as many gamers as possible through a lengthy public playtesting period. You'll have the chance to play a version of D&D Next - as Mearls and company still call this new edition - and offer suggestions on how to improve the rules. (you really don't want Grumpy to make suggestions on how to improve D&D.  Really, you don't!)

This week, I (Greg Tito, not The Grumpy Dwarf) got Mearls to divulge his strategy for rolling out the playtest (bork the servers that send out the second email, and the crash the servers that link to the playtest documents themselves.  oh, and add restrictions to the D&D Next Playtest FAQ that weren't in the agreement you signed off on - everyone following so far?), what new rule he's most nervous about, and why he chose to write rules which concentrate on how your character behaves (because kids misbehave all of the time - shit, wrong set of rules) rather than how much damage he or she can deal.
Greg Tito: What are your goals for digital distribution of the Playtest Rules? How often will we see updates?

Mike Mearls: We want to get the playtest out to as many people as possible, so having a digital method of distribution allows us to do that (but since we dont want it being released too quickly - our lawyers say the internet is too fast - we plan on making it so that only one person can download the documents at a time, on good old solid dial up speeds.  We're using AOL to help with distribution). Plus, it helps make updates to the materials much easier. Once the playtest has begun, we will be balancing between taking in feedback, revising content and, of course, working on new content. (add salt and pepper and let simmer for one angry year) You can probably expect to see new material come through over a matter of weeks, but it all depends on how smoothly our process goes (smooth is not the word I would use for the process that went down on thursday.  like coarse sandpaper over a newly circumcised adult male's private member is about how the experience went down. which does mean it can only improve)

Greg Tito: How will you be shown the data from the playtest feedback? Will it be based more on hard numbers or anecdotal evidence? Which will you rely on more?

Mike Mearls: We'll use surveys as our primary method to collect quantitative feedback (I swear on the dark gods of the gully dwarves that mike has never read one of Wizards' surveys) and help us to make some of our larger decisions and revisions. We'll also be relying heavily on Live Chats, forum discussions and playtesting at key events, though, to gather more of the qualitative feedback. It's important to us to give players as many outlets as we can to tell us their thoughts and visions for the game.

Greg Tito: Why has it taken so long to implement the modularity or diversity of play that was a part of your initial design goals?  (holy shit!  someone is actually tossing mike a hard question!)

Mike Mearls: Most of our time has been dedicated to analyzing the initial player feedback and building a robust, core game (in other words, we aint there yet). It's all well and good to have a modular game, but if the game changes in ways that are irrelevant to players and DMs, then it's simply useless noise (huh?). It's important that we get a lot of feedback from players, because that will help us figure out where to focus our modularity.  (i'm glad to see it hasn't been chucked completely.  the problem is the core of the playtesters are 4e players - Hey, it's MY problem, ok!.  4e style playtesters will want 4e type changes)

Going back to Hit Dice and the mechanical change it represents (did I miss something?), that's precisely the kind of area where we can introduce options for DMs to use, rather than dictate a canonical model of play. (start up the Gregorian Chants...)

On top of that, it's critical that our core system functioned smoothly and with complete clarity. If the core game is hard to untangle or has lots of moving parts, it will be hard both for designers and DMs to figure out how to modify those things and what those changes might actually do. We've put a lot of work into the core game, and our initial playtest focuses on that. (fair enough)

Greg Tito: What part of the D&D Next rules are you the most nervous about receiving a bad reaction from fans?

Mike Mearls: The Hit Dice rules really stand out, because they touch on an area of the game where people have very different opinions (i'm not even going to touch on the mechanic - it's piss poor nomenclature). In the current rules, Hit Dice represent your character's ability to recover from injury through mundane means. Between fights, you can spend them to heal provided that you have bandages and similar gear. 

I know that some players really like extra healing so that they can keep adventuring without worry about resting too often. Other players feel that such resources are too unrealistic and don't fit in with the feel of D&D. (yep, many in the Old School corner of play feel that way.  That being said, if it was a Swords & Sorcery type fo game that lacked magical healing, i could see a version of this working.  See?  I can be flexible at times!)

In this case, we've taken care to isolate the Hit Die mechanic (again, poor naming). It exists on its own and would be trivial for us (or an enterprising DM) to remove. It's something we'll watch in our surveys and feedback to get a sense on whether D&D players see it as a step forward or a step back. (let me guess Mike - this is the first "modular" part added to the system ;)

Greg Tito: What is an example of a rule you've changed based solely on player feedback so far?

Mike Mearls: Funny enough, we added Hit Dice precisely because we had a lot of people frustrated with the lack of healing in the initial draft. We weren't planning on using such a mechanic, so it will be very interesting to see where it goes. (I played in the earlier {not earliest} drafts and this was already included, but it wasn't called Hit Dice)

Greg Tito: At the risk of alienating the fans who haven't yet read the rules, let's get into the nitty-gritty of why you made some design decisions with D&D Next. The rules introduce themes like "noble" or "pub crawler" (dude!  "Pub Crawler"  They named something after The Crazy Dwarf!) that define your character in more ways than just your class like fighter or wizard. The themes have been my favorite addition because of how they inform roleplay more than mechanics. (themes are actually pretty cool.  see, something I like.  So go screw if you think I gotta be negative all the time) Was that intentional? How have they played out in the playtest so far?

Mike Mearls: It was very intentional that themes, and backgrounds, inform how you portray your character. We felt that too many of the character customization options in D&D exist only as mechanics. (especially in 3e and 4e) They don't say anything about who your character is or what he/she has done in the past. We wanted an easy way for a player to connect the dots between what's on a character sheet and what's going on at the table.

Greg Tito: I've found that players are frustrated when Javelin of Flame (a Wizard at-will spell) or Charm doesn't work as often as they'd like because of failing against a high roll the DM makes. Why were opposed rolls made more frequent in the game? Has that slowed down play for you or made players feel bad? 

Mike Mearls: We've actually removed that rule, for precisely the reasons you cite. Some people liked it, but most players felt it slowed things down. Making the game move faster, while still keeping it fun and interesting, is one of our big goals. (i just don't fuckin' understand opposed rolls.  it's like rolling to hit againts a random number from 1 to 20)

Greg Tito: In D&D Next, your starting hit point total is the same as your Constitution score. Why was Constitution made the standard for hit point totals, when a Goblin with a con of 10 has 3 HP? (hey, is this the same Greg Tito that was one of the guys behind ACKS?  I ask because he is asking "game designer" type questions.) Dissociated mechanics didn't go well in 4th, why was this change made?

Mike Mearls: Hit points are probably the biggest issue in the game right now. As I mentioned above, we got a lot of feedback on healing and are trying the Hit Die mechanic to solve that. On top of that, we decided to err in the early going on the side of giving out more hit points rather than fewer. (i'll go along with this decision - for now ;) At this stage, if characters have it too easy people are at least playing a lot and giving us feedback on the core rules. We already have plans to roll back hit point totals, but we'll also see how the playtests go before making a final decision.

Chances are, you'll see hit points and damage both go down, so the game's overall lethality might not change much but the math is simpler and damage expressions simpler. (that actually makes sense.  see, i believe in less is more)

Greg Tito: What's more important for this new iteration: selling more books or protecting the legacy of D&D? (heh!  nice one greg!  like he's going to give the true answer over the correct one ;)

Mike Mearls: Without the legacy of D&D, you can't sell books. In many ways, it's an organic process (making compost is also an organic process - it's how things rot and break down). If the game feels like D&D, preserves what makes RPGs and D&D unique, and does that in a way that people can pick up, I think you end up doing both.

One thing I think we learned over the past 10 years is that adding lots of mechanics to the game is a bad idea over the long run (what!?!  mike actually said this?  holy shit!). The game doesn't really need new spells, new feats, and so on.

The Dead, The ACKS and the DCC

I got some decent cemetery photos yesterday, including the circle of Civil War soldiers. A lot has been done to the site. I'll try to post some later today

Whereas before it was partially hidden, as it was on a small hill surrounded by by trees, the trees have now been cleared out. A new memorial stone has been placed, a flag staff is in the middle of the circle and a small flag has been placed at each tombstone for the Memorial Day holiday here in the states. It no longer seems so ominous.

I did stay clear of my ACKS game over the weekend, not that it was ominous or anything. I just find I'm doing little things for it constantly, as I love doing it, but figured taking 2 days off completely as we had our Saturday off from gaming, would give me a set of fresh eyes. So, for the lads in my ACKS campaign, I'll be addressing your questions and concerns shortly ;)

Yes, more DCC coming later today if I can find the time. Probably a review of DCC #66.5 - Doom of the Savage Kings. It came with the preorders of the DCC RPG.

Alright, back to this thing called work ;)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Looking At Joseph Goodman's Words re: The OSR

With the following words in the back of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Mr. Goodman sparked a small firestorm on a number of blogs.  Although I can understand why, I think we need to look just a bit closer at was was actually said:
To the many and varied OSR publishers, I offer one comment.As Grognardia marks its fourth anniversary in 2012,the OSR has re-published a plethora of variants on the coreD&D concepts. The target customer is offered no shortageof retro-clones, adventures centered on goblin raiders, excursionsinto the underdeep, and genre-based campaignsettings. I started work on the volume you hold in yourhand because I believe the time has come to break thechains of D&D convention and step back one era further,to the original inspiration of Appendix N, beyond the confinesof genre assumptions. DCC RPG offers a free licenseto third party publishers who wish to publish compatiblematerial. Even if you choose not to take advantage of thislicense, I ask you to consider moving past the boundariesof “TSR mimicry.” The time has come to offer our sharedcustomer something both new and old-school.
"The OSR has re-published a plethora of variants on the core D&D concepts."  - S&W Whitebox, LL Original Characters Edition and the upcoming Delving Deeper gives us three clones of OD&D.  Do we need more?   Have all the original pre-3e editions been effectively cloned yet?  (I believe 2e is in the pipes)

"The target customer is offered no shortage of retro-clones" - I'd attempt to list them, but I fear I'd miss a few.  There is a list of links for free ones on the left side of this blog.

"I started work on the volume you hold in your hand because I believe the time has come to break the chains of D&D convention and step back one era further, to the original inspiration of Appendix N, beyond the confines of genre assumptions."  This is where folks start getting pissy.  This is where Joseph does a little chest thumping.

"I ask you to consider moving past the boundaries of “TSR mimicry.” The time has come to offer our shared customer something both new and old-school."  And now Joseph throws down the gauntlet!

Still, look at the retroclones.  How many go beyond what they are looking to imitate?  Besides DCC RPG I can think of only two.  (Truth be told, Joseph should have given credit to those that came before him.  Each game has different goals, different directions, but they all broke the mold)

LotFP Weird Fantasy takes the White Box assumption and turns it on it's head.  Only fighters getting a to-hit advancement.  Thieves use a 6d for skills, and advance the skills with "pips".  Monsters are unique - there is no section for a Monster Manual.  It's high on atmosphere.  It broke the mold.

Adventurer Conqueror King System adds a whole section of a character's career that was often hinted at in earlier editions but never truly addressed.  The PC as a ruler, as a guild master, as that crazy wizard in a tower.  While Weird Fantasy effectively takes the game "to eleven" and so does ACKS, but in a different direction.

Which is what Dungeon Crawl Classics is doing, in yet another direction.  I can't fault Joseph Goodman for wanting to push the "Old School" envelope and hoping that others will follow DCC, WF and ACKS into the realm of "Old School" but more.  There is a lot of comfort in playing (and DMing) in my comfort zones - I grew up on AD&D and later B/E/C/M/I.  There is, however, more excitement for me, as a GM and as a player, when I can move out of that zone, at least partially.  One foot in and one foot out.  

"Old School +" is how I see these games.  

Mini Review - Perils of the Sunken City (Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Adventure)

Continuing with my Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Experience.

This time up we are looking at Perils of the Sunken Sea by Purple Sorcerer Games.  I almost wish I had reviewed this before Sailors on the Starless Sea, as it would have stood out better without it being compared to the other.  

That being said, Perils of the Sunken City does offer something that SotSS does not offer - an urban environment that you can ground your party's initial adventures in.  The town of Muttontown Mustertown (oops)isn't described in detail as it doesn't need to be.  Broad stokes with detailed areas the players will interact with is what is supplied and it is ample for what is needed for the adventure.  If further is needed later, the GM has more than enough to build off of to make the location unique.  This is one of those times when less is certainly more.  Nicely done by Purple Sorcerer Games.

As for the adventure itself?  There is nothing inherently bad with it, but it lacks the emotional hook that drives Sailors on the Starless Sea.  When peasants raise arms to save their fellow villagers, the players will find themselves invested in the outcome.  It isn't the same when peasants are doing it for fame and fortune.

Interestingly enough, the set up of Perils on the Sunken City reminds me of Lich Dungeon.  Not in any direct manner, but in general feel.  Perils of the Sunken City pulls it off much better than Lich Dungeon, which can only be a good thing.

If you can only buy one DCC RPG Adventure PDF right now, I'd suggest getting Sailors on the Starless Sea first.  It will grab your players and invest them in their zero level noobs as the funnel weeds out the chaff.  If you can afford a second adventure, Perils of the Sunken City would work fine as a follow up for your newly minted 1st level party of adventurers.  They will be looking for fame and fortune after saving their village.

From the Blurb:

Prepare your players to walk the walk... teach them how to Crawl!
Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate few, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance! 

Challenge your players with Perils of the Sunken City, the first in a series of 0-level Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG adventures set in the massive crumbling ruins of the swamp-ravaged Sunken City. Easily introduce waves of beginning characters to your world, winnowing 0-level mobs down to bands of hardy explorers ready for even more dangerous fare!

Features of Perils of the Sunken City
  • Compatible with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games
  • Streamlines the process of integrating 0-level adventures into your world
  • Travel to and from the dangers of the Sunken City using demon-powered sending stones!
  • Battle dark powers in the forgotten arena of the dark necromancer Madazkan
  • Every foe encountered is a new and unique creation!
  • Deliciously deadly, but with elements of twisted humor to keep things fun
  • Free downloads available at purplesorcerer.com to support the adventure, including battle maps, adventure specific paper minatures, and more!

Some Thoughts on Using Published Adventures Versus Homebrewed

Mike Garcia and I had a conversation about using published adventures vs. homebrewed in your gaming the other night.  My thoughts on using published adventures can be found here.

This will be followed later today by my review of Perils of the Sunken Sea for Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.  Yep, my DCC kick is still going strong. ;)
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