Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More OSR Musings AKA "A Weight has been lifted"

I feel the weight has been lifted from my shoulders this morning, especially after looking at the present sitting on the table.  I hope to eventually be sitting on the other side of the DM's screen trying desperately to save or die!  I've learned a LOT in the last few months, and continue to learn everyday.  Now that my mind feels a little more free, I've turned my attention to the 3 books that I started with.  AD&D 2ed.  I'm not sure if that is in anyway considered OSR? Enlighten me.  I had read somewhere that everyone using 2ed atleast when they started out were basically playing D&D anyways.  This process of discovery and rediscovery has lead me down a interesting path.  What I've discovered is "that it ain't broke don't fix it".  While I love all of the retro clones out there! and have read thru B/X, my attention has turned back to the game that I started with.  Why try and figure out (convert) the AC/HD for a Balor, when its sitting right there in that huge monster manual tome?  That and the fact that I pretty much know all the rules inside and out.  Nothing says that you have to stick to the rules specifically, and that's why I love the OSR movement.  I plan to eventually play 2ed basically stripped down, using whatever seems right.

I've also posted briefly about going thru my campaign settings, and have come to the conclusion that is just better to write something yourself.  That being said, before I feel asleep last night, I came up with about 10 scenarios for low level PC's starting out.  I need to draw up the map region, and little town, and get started drawing up some dungeons!

The little nuggets I've learned have given me the following conclusions;

1st.  make rulings
2.  Steal great ideas!  Why try to come up with a name for an evil god, when there's one sitting right there in the FR setting.
3.  Need an idea for an adventure, there are tons out there, go ahead, take it run with it, modify it to your heart's content.

I think those 3 things are the essence of OSR.

My plan is after spending some time playing a very combat heavy game to switch it up to more of a role playing game, and the only way for me to do it properly and make it believable is to write it myself.

This guy blogged exactly what I was just thinking!


  1. 2nd ed AD&D diverges the prior versions of the game (& clones) in three significant ways that make a lot of people reject it from the old school camp:

    1. It replaced a bunch of imagination-first design with self-referential (or mechanics-first) design, and therefore abandons a lot of flavor and approachability inherent in the prior versions. For example, the 1e illusionist was originally designed from the imaginative archetype (i.e., a non-game concept that was part of common shared fantasy) of a person who deceives through magic. You can easily explain this to somebody unfamiliar with AD&D, and they'll get it. In 2nd edition, however, they took a game mechanic that was unrelated to common shared fantasy archetypes (the spell "type" — conjuration/summoning, illusion, abjuration, etc.) and then built classes around _that_. That's the self-referentiality. The obvious negative effect was the elimination of the unique flavor of the 1e illusionist. The more subtle negative effect was that the "specialist" sub-classes are not backed by the shared fantasy; the game became more ... foreign ... to new players, or to non-players. To understand the game, you need to already understand the game. The idea of an Abjurer or an Alterer has no association in real world fantasy/mythology. Specialists are not archetypes; the are "cheat" design ("I'm going to make new mechanics to fill mechanical open spaces, whether we need those new mechanics or not") that show either a lack of care for (or understanding of) the benefits of the design principles of the previous versions.

    2. The default XP system (XP comes from killing monsters) erodes the player agency focus of the prior versions' XP systems. Thankfully this is easy to change.

    3. The designers un-grounded some of the monsters from their "everyman" power level in the prior versions, and they also dissociated them from the shared fantasy. This is also easy to change. (Use an earlier edition's monster books.)

    1. Thanks for the comment Guy,

      1. I agree wholeheartedly and have never ran any of those specific types of magic users. As I stated I run AD&D 2e, pretty much like D&D. Basically 4 character types. I don't use bards, rangers, paladins and have never had a abjurer in a game. I do however like profencies. (or however you spell that).

      2. XP System, I give XP out for monsters killed, GP looted and the little extra's that are in the DM guide.. "PC has a good idea 200 XP" that kinda thing. I'm not really following how you mean "erodes the agency focus". From what I've read of clones, its basically XP for monsters killed.

      3. I agree, and what your talking about is the change in THACO for certain monsters correct?

  2. 2. The clones (and the originals) primarily supply XP through GP, not monsters killed. Prior to 2nd edition AD&D, typically about 75-80% of XP will be garnered from loot acquisition. XP for GP is a key to agency. It's possible to use a different primary XP source, but few things are as good as loot when it comes to keeping the primary XP source A) _tangible_ in the game world, B) _desirable_ in an imagined world, and C) dissociated from specific actions.

    On point B, yes this promotes PC selfishness (i.e., not heroism), but that also indirectly promotes selflessness; selfless actions have meaning because the PC made an _actual_ sacrifice (lost out on potential XP).

    On point C, if a referee is giving XP for good ideas, then whether and how the PC earns XP is not in the player's hands ... at least not as much. Thus less agency.

    More in a minute...

  3. 3. I'm not talking about THAC0 changes. On my first point (un-grounded monsters), I'm talking about the power increases for things like dragons and giants—more hit dice, more powerful attacks, etc. On the second point (dissociated from shared fantasy), I'm talking about changing demons & devils to baatezu and tanar'ri (or however they're spelled).

    1. 3. I'll have to go back and specifically look at a Red Dragon's HD in regular D&D vs 2e to see the difference. I didn't realize at first when I read and played blueholme but everyone got the same attack dice, that being d6. This makes things interesting. I believe there are variations on how many attacks that monster can get although I'll have to double check. I see where you are coming from on the demons thing, instead of being demons they came out of TSR lore basically. Which is why most of the clones stick to original monsters. Very good point. I have yet to have any players tough enough for me to even consider throwing something like that at them lol.

      I suppose the XP thing really comes down to house rules, I've often liked the idea of giving out XP for things, To just bring it down to how much gold you collected doesn't really work for my players.

    2. If your players don't feel the need to be in control of how & whether they receive XP, then obviously sticking to your current XP house rules certainly won't bother them :-)