Posts Tagged ‘Old School’

OD&D Links

November 23, 2016

The Outdoor Survival Map, Hexographer Edition

My friend Randy (TotalGMKills) sent me an email a few days ago regarding The Original D&D Setting by Wayne Rossi (Semper Initiativus Unum), an analysis of OD&D’s wilderness rules as applied to the Outdoor Survival Map.  I had already read Mr. Rossi’s PDF (indeed, I read it again the other day), but I was inspired to assemble as many OD&D related links as I could find: materials, resources and inspirations.

So, here it is, in no particular order:

No doubt there are things I’ve missed, probably even obvious things that I’ll later feel like an idiot for not having included in the first place.  So, as I find new OD&D related material, I’ll add links to it here.  I may eventually create a separate page on the blog for this list if it generates any interest.

I hope you’ve found this interesting and useful.  If you think of anything that should be added, feel free to comment and I’ll check it out.  Thanks, and cheers!

Androids, Cyborgs and Robots, Oh My!

October 26, 2012

I downloaded the new Delving Deeper Reference Rules  from RPGNow (available here for free, if you’re interested).  After perusing it a bit I got to the monster section and noticed it had listings for Androids, Cyborgs and Robots.  I’ve never seen a retro-clone make such a direct reference to the science-fantasy side of The Game before (well, other than Carcosa, I suppose), which I found to be pleasantly surprising.

Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any corresponding listings in the magic and treasure section for ray guns, disintegrators and such, though I suppose they could be added easily enough if you wanted them in your game.  Cheers.

‘New School’ Contributions to ‘The Game’

January 16, 2012

(Note:  By ‘The Game’, I mean Dungeons & Dragons in all it’s editions, variants, clones and simulacra).

I was reading a post over at Delta’s OD&D Hotspot about the simplicity of monster stats in OD&D (Original Dungeons & Dragons, for any readers who may not know what I’m talking about).  OD&D fit dozens of monsters on a single page, whereas 4E and Pathfinder use a minimum of one page to describe even the simplest monster (Pathfinder Beginner Box manages to squeeze two monsters per page).  It got me thinking a bit about my affinity for ‘old school’ rulesets…essentially OD&D and the more recent retroclones.

I spend a great deal of time here creating material for the Pathfinder Beginner Box, but I don’t think it’s any secret that I’d rather be playing Swords & Wizardry or one of the other clones (not that I’ve had a chance to play the BB yet, either 😦 ).  Yet despite my preference for ‘old school’, I think ‘new school’ games like 3E/Pathfinder, and even 4E, have made some important contributions to The Game, contributions that ‘old school’ games could benefit from:

  • Ascending Armor Class: Probably the biggest contribution to The Game, in my opinion.  Many ‘old schoolers’ swear by descending Armor Class, and that’s fine.  Play the game you want to play.  But no one will ever convince me that descending AC is in any way superior to ascending AC.  Ascending AC is what D&D should have been using from the get-go.
  • The Big 3:  Fortitude, Reflex and Willpower.  The five saving throws of old school D&D work well enough, but the three saving throws of 3E/Pathfinder are more elegant in my view.  The big 3 cover pretty much every conceivable situation, are a little easier to improvise with and can be easily rationalized (should you feel the need to rationalize your D&D).  It’s a case of less being more (of course, Swords & Wizardry’s single saving throw is even more elegant).
  • Creature Size:  OD&D kind of alludes to creature size, but later editions make great mechanical use of it (often too much use, imo).  However, better definition of creature size is something I think OD&D could put to good use and actually make monster stat blocks a bit more elegant.  Add one more column to the monster chart detailing each monster’s size category: S (small), M (medium/man-sized), L (large), H (huge) and G (gargantuan).  For those that don’t now, in OD&D most weapons and monsters do a single d6 of damage.  However, certain larger monsters, like giants, might do 2d6 or 3d6 damage per attack.  It would be quite simple to tie a monster’s damage to it’s size class:  S/M creatures do 1d6; L creatures do 2d6; H creatures do 3d6 and G creatures do 4d6.  A creature’s movement rate can also be tied to it’s size.  Thus, with a single letter designation you impart a great deal of information:  how large it is, how fast it moves and how much damage it does.
  • Feats:  As I’ve discussed before, I generally like the addition of feats to The Game, though I think feats in Pathfinder core tend to to be too complex, not to mention that there are simply too many of them.  OD&D (and the retroclones) could benefit from the addition of a few simple feats.  It would add a bit of character specialization/differentiation and  increase survivability at lower levels without dramatically increasing the power curve or adding significant complexity.
  • 4E Power Uses: I don’t like 4E powers per se, especially that every class has ‘powers’.  But, I do like the idea of at-will use, once per encounter use and daily use, as applied to spells.  Why not allow a magic-user to cast magic missile as many times as they want in a day?  More powerful spells, like charm person or sleep, can be limited to once per battle or once per day.  Going through the spell list and deciding which spells fall into which category would be tedious, but once done it would be a rather elegant solution to the problem of wizard utility at lower levels and it would flatten the wizard’s power curve at higher levels.  Granted, the idea needs a bit of tweaking to work with old school concepts, but I think it has some potential (another project to work on some day).

I guess my ultimate dream fantasy heart-breaker would combine the elements I like best from both the old school and the new school (something they claim to be doing for 5th edition…we’ll see about that).  I’ve tried a couple times to create my own Frankenstein-ish dream version of The Game but haven’t really been able to get a handle on it yet.  Maybe someday I will.

In the meantime, game on!

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