A Brief Update

Greetings, it’s been a long while since I have posted any new content on not just this blog but its companion. I have been dealing some personal issues the last several months from my computer issues and my mom’s health issues leading to her passing away on Sept. 21st this year. So blogging wasn’t the top on my list of priorities for months. But I am in a place that I need a creative outlet and this blog will be one of those outlets.

Going forward I will be posting about my new setting for my personal future campaigns and how Original Edition Rules (OER) will not only inform the setting but what house rules I’ll develop for my campaigns. I know that I have posted desires for similar attempts but things fizzled out for the above reasons – I was just in a too emotionally chaotic head-space.

I’ll be covering topics like OER default three fold alignment system including how it will impact my setting design and referring style. There will be one cosmetic change with Law becoming named Order. Order refers to both the cosmic order and civilization in general and generally equates “Good”, while Chaos will be solidly Evil; but I’ll discuss this more a future post.

Another topic that I’ll discuss is the defaults races and classes and what changes that will be made (if any) going forward within the context of my campaigns. I’ll also be discussing new Player Character (PC) races and character classes. Included with these topics will be discussions on magic and monsters (classic & new) and any changes made to them for my campaign.

Fin for now, see you again soon.

International Original Dungeons & Dragons Month 2019 Post 5

Greetings, welcome to my last post in celebration of International Original Dungeons & Dragons Month 2019. I wanted to end the month with a post as I had planned to start it but failed to do so. That said, I wanted to touch on something I’ve rarely seen actually discussed in practical manner that could be used as a template for others – how to turn monsters into playable characters. I’ll be giving you three examples of how I’ll be doing so in my campaigns if such races are allowed; those monsters will be Orc, Centaur and Dragon (Gold).

Gary & Dave never gave any rules for how to turn monsters into races in OD&D; it was up to each individual referee and the needs of their campaign to decide. It wasn’t until Gary & Rob Kuntz wrote the Greyhawk supplement was there an optional racial addition of Half-Elf. Further more it wasn’t until Advanced Dungeons & Dragons did other races and sub-races begin to appear. That said, there still weren’t any official rules for converting monsters (to my best knowledge) until 2nd edition AD&D. Before I go into how I’ll convert monsters into player character races I’ll first quote a passage from OD&D as my starting point.

Other Character Types: There is no reason that players cannot be allowed toplay as virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up tothe top, i.e., a player wishing to be a Dragon would have to begin as, let us say, a “young” one and progress upwards in the usual manner, steps being predetermined by the campaign referee.

From Dungeons & Dragons Book 1: Men & Magic by Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson TSR 1974.

As you can see from the above quote there is only the most basic of advice concerning the process, which I admit flustered me initially. I had come from games where nearly everything needed was laid out for both the referee & player as to how you’d make such rulings. It took nearly a year reading & discussing Old School gaming philosophy to finally break me from my previously by-the-book mentality.

Before I get to the nitty gritty of my examples I did want to set out how I’ll be doing so. First I’ll quote the monster info and stats, then I’ll them show you dear reader how I’d convert them for actual play. I’ll start with the simplest monster the Orc, then move to the Centaur and finally onto the Gold Dragon.

ORCS: The number of different tribes of Orcs can be as varied as desired. Oncedecided upon, simply generate a random number whenever Orcs are encountered,the number generated telling which tribe they belong to, keeping in mind inter-tribal hostility. When found in their “lair” it will be either a cave complex (die 1–4) or a village (die 5–6). The cave complex will be guarded by sentries. A village will be protected by a ditch and palisade defense, 1 light catapult per 50 Orcs, and a high central tower of some kind. Orcs found in a cave will possibly have strong leader/protector types, as will those in villages:

Cave Complex Village

7th- to 9th-level Fighting-Man Nil 25%/100 Orcs

11th-level Magic-User Nil 10%/100 Orcs

Dragon 10%/100 Orcs Nil

1–6 Ogres 10%/50 Orcs 15%/50 Orcs

1–4 Trolls 10%/100 Orcs Nil

Orcs will defend their lair without morale checks until they are outnumbered by 3 to 1.If found other than in their lair Orcs may be escorting a wagon train of from 1–8 wagons. There is a 50% chance for this. Each wagon will be carrying from 200–1,200 Gold Pieces. Wagon trains will have additional Orcs guarding them, 10 per wagon, and be led by either a Fighting-Man (die 1 = Champion, die 2–4 = Superhero, die 5–6 = Lord) or Magic-User (die 1 = Sorcerer, die 2–4 8= Necromancer, die 5–6 = Wizard), 50% chance for either (die 1–3 = fighter, die 4–6 = magical type.)

Note that if Orcs are encountered in an area which is part of a regular campaign map their location and tribal affiliation should be recorded, and other Orcs located in the same general area will be of the same tribe.

Orcs do not like full daylight, reacting as do Goblins. They attack Orcs of different tribes on sight unless they are under command of a stronger monster and can score better than 50% on an obedience check (4–6 with a six-sided die for example).

Move in Inches 9          Hit Dice 1

From Dungeons & Dragons Book 2: Monsters & Treasures by Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson TSR 1974

Okay, much of the above will be ignored as the info pertains to either Orc lairs or caravans, thus not necessary for the needs of a player character. But we can glean some info that is usable and helps paint a picture of the type of Orc player characters are possible.

Here is what we know of Orcs from the above:

  • They Move 9 Inches/Yards.
  • They are 1 Hit Dice creatures like the standard races.
  • That they have Fighting-Men & Magic-Users amongst them.
  • Orcs do not like full daylight thus like Goblins incur a -1 to all melee & morale rolls in full daylight or spell-like equivalent.
  • That they will often attack other Orcs of a different Tribe unless they under the command of a more powerful monster or being.

Since Orcs do not get racial benefits like Halflings, Dwarfs & Elves, I’ll not place racial class level limits, so they can advance as humans can but instead of recruiting human supporters they recruit Orcs from their tribe to build a new Orc stronghold. That said, depending on the campaign they could instead recruit Orc, Human & Ogre supporters to create a barony for a local Kingdom they Orc PC is aligned with.

Now onto Centaurs:

CENTAURS: At worst these creatures are semi-intelligent, and therefore Centaurs will always carry some form of weapon: 50% of a group will carry clubs (equal to Morning Stars), 25% will carry lance-like spears, and the balance will be armed with bows (composite bow, foot-type). In melee the Centaur will attack twice, once as a man and once as a medium horse. Centaurs will be found in hidden glens. It is there that both their females and young are and where their treasure is hidden. In the lair (glen) will be found from 1–6 additional males, females equal in number to twice the total number of males, and young equal to the number of males. Females are not generally armed and will not fight, and the young are also non-combatant, except in life-and-death situations.

Move in Inches 18       Hit Dice  4

From Dungeons & Dragons Book 2: Monsters & Treasures by  Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson TSR 1974.

From what we can glean from the above:

  • They are not very smart.
  • They move 18 inches/yards.
  • They are only able to be Fighting-Men.
  • They get two attacks, one as a man & once as a Medium Horse.
  • They have 4 Hit Dice

Taking the info above I’d rule that Player Character Centaurs are young men (if I use the above info as my default) who are Fighting-Men with 1 Hit Die. They get two attacks and are generally limited like Halflings to 4th Level Fighting-Men (Hero) before they return to their tribal glen. Since they are often very dim, they roll 2d6+1 on both Intelligence & Wisdom instead of the standard 3d6. Again this is only if I use the info above as my campaign default.

Now onto the Gold Dragon:

DRAGONS: There are six varieties of Dragons, each with separate characteristics in particular and other things in common. The varieties will be dealt with first:

Dragon Type Breath Weapon Range & Shape Hit Dice Talking/Sleeping

Golden Fire or Gas (as applicable) 10–12 100% / 10%

Breath Weapons: The Dragon is able to use its breath but three times per day, so sometimes it will bite instead. To determine this simply roll two six-sided dice; a score of six or less indicates the Dragon will bite, but a seven or better indicates it will breathe.

Cone-shaped breath weapons originate from the mouth of the Dragon at 1/2” diameter. Line-shaped breath weapons will travel in a straight line beginning at the height of the Dragon’s head at the time it releases. Cloud-shaped breath weapons extend from ground level to a height of 3”.

Hit Dice: The number of dice is an indication of the size of the creature. Most will fall in the middle, but 20% will be small and 20% very large. The value of the hit dice, as well as the value of the breath weapon, will be subject to the maturity of the Dragon.

Maturity:

Die Roll to                                                        Value of Hit Dice

Determine     Description/Age                 and Breath Weapon

      1                 Very Young/1–5 years                     1 per die

      2                 Young/6–15 years                              2 per die

      3                 Sub-Adult/16–25 years                    3 per die

      4                 Adult/26–75 years                             4 per die

      5                 Old/76–100 years                               5 per die

      6                  Very Old/100+ years                         6 per die

Special Characteristics:

 Golden Dragons are the only Dragons which are Lawful in nature although this exception is not noted on the Alignment table. They will often appear as human or in some other guise. They will not usually serve any character.

Attacking Dragons: Sleeping Dragons may be attacked with a free melee round by the attacker and +2 on hit dice for chances of hitting.

Certain weapons will be more or less effective than others against the various types of Dragons. This is indicated on the following chart, the number indicating the addition or subtraction for the probability of hitting as well as the amount of damage done.

Dragon

Type Attack by:        Water     Fire*    Ltng.     Air**     Earth***

        Golden                          —           —           —            —              —

*Includes attack by Efreet or Fire Elementals.

**Includes “whirlwind,” Air Elemental, or Djinn attack.

***Attack by an Earth Elemental.

Subduing Dragons: Any attack may be to subdue rather than to kill, but this intent must be announced before melee begins. When intent to subdue is announced, hits scored upon the Dragon are counted as subduing rather than killing points. Each round of melee the number of points scored in hits is ratioed over the total number the Dragon has (hit point total), the hits obtained being stated as a percentile of the total possible, i.e. 12%, 67%, etc. The percentile dice are then rolled to determine if the Dragon has been subdued. A roll equal to or less than the percentage of hits already obtained means the Dragon is subdued. For example:

A “Very Old” 11 Hit Dice Red Dragon is encountered asleep in its cavernous lair. Three fighters creep in and strike to subdue. All three hit, scoring respectively 2,3, and 6 points, or 11 points total. 11 ratioed over 66 (the number of hit points the Dragon can absorb before being killed or in this case subdued) is 1/6th or 17%. The referee checks to determine if the Dragon is subdued and rolls over 17 on the percentile dice. The Dragon is not subdued, and a check is then made to see whether he will bite or use his breath weapon during the second melee round. The result indicates he will breathe. The attackers strike again and once more all hit for a total of 12 points. The Dragon breathes and as none make their saving throws the attackers are all killed for they take 66 points of damage from Dragon fire. Subsequently, the referee rolls 01 on the percentile dice (any roll up to 34 would have indicated success) indicating that had the attackers survived, they would have subdued the Red Dragon that turn. Not more than eight man-sized creatures can attempt to subdue any one Dragon.

Value of Subdued Dragons: Subdued Dragons can be sold on the open market (going out of existence in the game) for from 500 to 1,000 Gold Pieces per hit point it can take. Thus, the Red Dragon in the above example would be worth from 33,000 to 66,000 Gold Pieces. Offers are determined by the referee merely by rolling a six-sided die to see if the offer will be 500 (die 1), 600 (die 2), etc. Gold Pieces. Of course the character or characters who subdued the Dragon could keep it in their own service or sell it to other players for whatever they could get.

Length of Subdual: A subdued Dragon will remain in that state until such time as an opportunity presents itself to escape or kill its master, but as long as the master is in a commanding position it will not attempt either course.

Two or More Dragons: If two Dragons are encountered they will be a mated pair of at least the 4th age category. If three or four Dragons are encountered they will constitute a family group of a male, female and one or two young. The adults will be of the 4th or greater age category, the young of the 1st. If the young are attacked both parents will automatically use their breath weapons. If the female is attacked the male will attack at double value unless he is simultaneously attacked, and vice versa.

Dragon Treasure: Very Young and Young Dragons are unlikely to have acquired treasure. Sub-Adult Dragons will have about half the indicated treasure for Dragons. Very Old Dragons can have as much as twice the indicated amount. 

Move in Inches 9/24 Fly       Hit Dice 5 -12

From Dungeons & Dragons Book 2: Monsters & Treasures by Gary Gygax & Dave Arneson TSR 1974. Edited to limit info quoted to Golden Dragon.

As with Orcs above much of the info is moot and only applies to Monster dragons and as a guide to referees on how best to convert them to a player character race. Since I chose Golden Dragons to simplify things for the sake of this post, I’ll focus on the info for them.

From what we glean above:

  • Golden Dragons are magical.
  • They can shape change.
  • They have 5 to 12 Hit Dice.
  • They can move 9 inches/yards on foot or 24 inches/yards by flying.
  • They are Lawful only.

How I’d rule for such campaigns that I’d allow dragons as a PC race, they’d be limited to being Magic-Users only; beginning at 3 Hit Dice thus level three. I’d only allow them if a character has died at 5th to 6th level and the player wanted to play a Golden Dragon. Unlike Monster Dragons though a Player Character may advance in level it’s Breath Weapon is static at 3d6 for its career until it retires & creates its lair. It’ll recruit Lawful creatures as its supporters when it does so to help defend its lair when it travels and to bring it offerings (food & treasure) when it is residing within its lair. It’ll often recruit Clerics, Paladins & Magic-Users dedicated to Law to aid it in any effort the Golden Dragon deems to require such aid.

As you can see it isn’t too hard to convert monsters into player character races, you just need to understand what kind of campaign you want to run and how such races could affect it and how it’d affect the party dynamic. It might take an hour to mull over everything and compose notes for the races but it is an easy task and one I suggest more referees look to take up. Your campaigns need not be cookie cutter clones of Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms, take a page out of the Eberron play book; that setting is rife with potential character options. An OD&D campaign set in Eberron would be a natural fit, outside converting the Eberron setting core races, you should have zero issues with it.

But I’ll end this post hoping that it might spur you to take the leap if you haven’t tried to incorporate non-standard races into your OD&D campaigns. This post is aimed at refs who are new to not just OD&D but its retro-clones such as Delving Deeper; as they old hands (should) know all this by now. I’ll be back next week with a new post likely discussing a new setting idea I am contemplating developing since I’ve hit a creative block on my older projects. Fin.

International Original Dungeons & Dragons Day 2019

Greetings, welcome to my International Original Dungeons & Dragons Day 2019 post. In this post I wanted to express my deep & abiding gratitude for not only Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, but everyone alive or who has passed on who contributed to OD&D. I’d like to thank artists Keenan Powell, Greg Bell, C. Corey, Tom Keogh, Dave Sutherland, Tracy Lesch & Gary Kwapisz, who rarely get their due. Though compared to modern D&D artists their art pales by comparison, but they played a role in painting a picture for Referees at the time when fantasy art & creatures were less known.

I’d like to also thank Rob Kuntz, Tim Kask, Brian Blume, Dennis Sustare, Jim Ward, Alan Lucion, Jeff Key & Mike Mornard aka Gronan of Simmerya. If it wasn’t for your contributions, however minor D&D would not be what it became.

Original D&D as you know is my default version of D&D, this might never occurred if it wasn’t for the Ruins of Murkhill forums. I’d like to thank Halenar Frosthelm aka The Perilous Dreamer, Rob, Mike, Chet & all the old hands that helped stoke my interest & love in OD&D. I had just joined to get Scott Anderson’s Treasure Hunters Referee PDF and if it wasn’t the members of this community that embraced me unlike at other forums. I’d also like to thank bestialwarlust, mao, mightydarcy, ripx187, bravewolf, el borak, piper and others I’ve had wonderful interactions with. You’ve all have fostered a great forum that helped me evolve my gaming mentality into a more “Make Shit Up” Old School one compared the “By-the-Book” mentality I was shackled with.

As I end this post I want to ask my readers (few they may be) to remember that without Gary & Dave and their game Dungeons & Dragon our beloved hobby would not exist or if it did, it’d be radically different than it has become. Also remember you do not need a ton of mechanical rules and artificial options to have fun. You just need some good and imaginative friends, a handful of dice, a pencil, and some paper; plus a few guidelines to create worlds of adventure for a few hours to escape the stress and anxiety that you might deal with day to day. Those few hours are a blessing & so please cherish them when you get the opportunity. And as Rob is fond of saying “just make shit up” & have fun. Cheers.

International Dungeons & Dragons Month 2019 Post 3

Greetings, in my last post I said that I would discuss the so-called “options” of later editions of D&D and how I’d emulate them via OD&D. I tried to introduce my old D&D group to Swords & Wizardry Complete but in the end they wouldn’t bite, and the group imploded there after. They thought S&WC was “Dumbed Down” or “Simplistic” 2e AD&D. They preferred 5e D&D, 3.5 D&D & Pathfinder; because of the options they gave players and mechanics to implement them. The mechanics & options in those games were so restrictive to me, but wasn’t sure why until I started looking into the OSR starting with Castles & Crusades, then Labyrinth Lord & Basic Fantasy in 2008. But even then I was too stuck in my old mentality.

Once my old group imploded I started to explore other OSR games trying to find the rule set I wanted. It wasn’t until I joined Ruins of Murkhill in February 2018 in search of Scott Anderson’s Referee Guide for his Treasure Hunters OSR game. It was via this community I was inspired to get OD&D and fell in love with it & its clone Delving Deeper by Simon J. Bull. It was also via the Ruins of Murkhill community that opened my eyes & heart to true Old School role playing & the concept of “Making Shit Up” (thanks Rob Kunst & Gronanofsymmeria for driving that into my head).

In newer editions of D&D a lot of what you can do as a character is listed on character sheets – often two or more pages of stats, racial and class abilities, plus skills and feats. Many of those feats are either skills, old racial or class abilities made general for all characters. Also many of those feats needed to be taken order to “open up” branching “Feat paths” which leads to a build mentality in players, where they can “customize” their character as it levels up.

But are they needed? Are they real options or simply restrictions on ones creativity & options in roleplay. Many of the feats & skills replaced things players were meant to roleplay in game and made into a mechanically based roll. Instead of describing something you checked your character sheet to see if you were capable of doing and also straightjacketed a referee in how they adjudicated things. Sure they could just make shit up but that could and often did lead to arguments about the “rules” and what was “allowed”.

But I said I’d discuss options so here we go:

Bull Rush:

In “Modern D&D”: You check and see if you have the required Feats to do it, compile bonuses and roll & the Referee decides if you succeed or not.

In OD&D: You simply describe what you desire to do, your referee then lets you know if it is difficult or not and the players chooses to do the action or not. If they do, they roll a d20 & the referee adjudicates the action based upon the situation.

It seems more complex but it isn’t in practice. If the enemy is larger & stronger than the character they’ll likely not succeed but can try. I’d rule that Bull Rushing a Giant or dragon is not only ill advised but likely impossible or dangerous to try. Whereas if the character was Bull Rushing an Orc or a few Goblins standing in front of him or her in a tunnel be simply a successful hit that shoves them back or off to the side maybe into a drop to one side of the tunnel. On a roll of a Natural twenty they maybe knocked prone and/or stunned.

Another example is “running towards a foe, hurdling a wall or table and striking the foe”.

In Modern D&D: You like the Bull Rush need to not only have the required feats possibly needed to perform the task but the referee must decide on the difficulty of the various actions and decide if it is possible.

In OD&D: You describe the above, the referee decides how difficult & relays that to the player & often the player than rolls maybe under their dex & if successful the player rolls their attack.

I’d rule that if the rolled a Natural One on their Dex Check they get a plus two to their attack roll. If successful in the attack and the foe survived but the player rolled a Natural Twenty I’d grant the player a second attack against the same foe. Otherwise the players turn is over and if the foe succeeds and has initiative they can fight back.

In both examples the same action is possible but in Modern D&D you first need to see if your character has the appropriate Feats and the referee decides on if you should be able to do it. You also have to toss in Tactical restrictions such as Threatened Squares and other potential mechanical restrictions the rules impose on the situation instead of just allowing the referee adjudicate based on the situation and how the character has been role played and style of campaign being played.

As you see in both examples in the Modern D&D you have two very different mentalities at play, one very tactical and where the players and referee need to micromanage every potential situation via options and mechanics. In OD&D you just need a competent ref and group of players who trust each other and would rather role play combats and other situations.

Another common complaint against OD&D & other older editions of D&D and AD&D is the lack of Class or race options. You’d be correct in OD&D, at least if you are limiting yourself to the Three Little Brown books (3LBBs) and not using the supplements. But this is not really true as in the OD&D rule book it even states Players can play anything they desire, they just need to discuss it with their referee and he/she needs to house rule ways to do so.

Say you only have OD&D’s 3LBBs and a player wanted to play a human Warrior-Mage, you can either use the Elf as a multi-class Fighter/Magic-User just minus the elfin abilities or reskin the Cleric discarding the Turn Undead ability & replace the Cleric Spells with Magic-User spells. The new Cleric based Warrior-Mage would have no spell at 1st Level & not have access to 6th Level spells a Wizard has access to. The Warrior-Mage would benefit from weapons & armor, plus spells but could be limited in combat prowess (such as no multiple attacks).

Options in OD&D are only as limited by your imagination and the competency of your referee; if you have a garbage referee just find another more competent one instead. I know often the pool of good referees and players are limited but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try or try to cultivate your referee so they’ll grow into a better ref and you as a better player. I know that I’ll strive to be the best referee for my future group deserves. I’ll see you next week with part 4 of this series of posts.

International Original Dungeons & Dragons month 2019 post 2

Greetings, I nearly forgot to write this week’s post in celebration of International Original Dungeons & Dragons month. In this weeks post I wanted to discuss the topic of why I’ll only ever run my fantasy games with OD&D. The short answer is I prefer rules-lite systems but that would be boring; the fact is I have yet to find a fantasy system that can run games I prefer to play that do it better than OD&D.

I checked out the Dragon Age TTRPG this last week from the library and though it is beautiful to look at but much of it outside of the setting info, adventures and mass combat rules is uneeded. Like 3.5 D&D, Pathfinder, Rolemaster, HARP and other more modern fantasy RPG systems the rules present character builds as a way to diversify characters and presenting an illusion of options for combat that are far more limiting.

Even the relatively rules-light Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert D&D are too codified for me. I like the openness of OD&D, the fact I can modify the core system to fit the needs of a campaign works for me. I’ve read too many blog and forum posts where some grognards get all pissy if you call OD&D a toolbox, they reply, “No, it is a perfectly capable stand alone game that can be played by-the-book and doesn’t need any house-rules”. In general that is true, you can play it by the book just fine; but that said you will house rule some things or use supplements to fill holes simply because the rules leave some things blank for the referee to fill; such as stats for Martian/Barsoonian creatures which are not in the books.

Gary & Dave never intended to give you everything you need out of the box – you were meant to tinker with things from the beginning. Whether it was choosing to use the “default” Chainmail rules or the “alternate combat” rules in the books and creating stats for monsters given a brief mention in the books but left without stats. The supplements just gave you options Gary and crew thought you might find neat to add to your game.

I like that I am encouraged by the rules to just make shit up and have fun. If I want to add a skill system to the game I can, it can be as simple or as complex as I desire it to be. But at the end of the day I like that I only need the combat matrix and saving throw charts to run a very enjoyable and satisfying game. I prefer a game where I can challenge my player’s creativity and role-playing ability instead of their character sheet.  I want a game where my players can try anything without having to scour through multiple sheets of character abilities and stats to figure out if something is possible or not.

In my next post I’ll give some examples of some of the shit I can make up that in more modern games “need” rules instead of rulings to pull off. So until next week take care and game on!

 

Lets celebrate Original Edition Dungeons & Dragons Month 2019

Greetings, it’s been awhile since I last posted to this blog; this will be the first of several interrelated posts in celebration of Original Edition Dungeons & Dragons month. I am late comer to OD&D as I was truly introduced to it via my primary forum where I moderate at – Ruins of Murkhill. That said I had been introduced to a retro-clone of OD&D and its supplements via the 3rd printing of Sword & Wizardry Complete late in 2017 just before my old face-to-face gaming group imploded. But I didn’t get introduced to OD&D proper until about March of 2018 around a month after I joined Ruins. I have to thank posts by a number of the older members & now former member Rob Kuntz, which inspired me to check out OD&D.

Though I am willing to play in a variety of other RPGS, I’ll only run OD&D, its clone Delving Deeper or Classic Traveller. I had considered running Moldvay & Cook’s Basic and Expert Dungeon & Dragons for awhile but after reading through my version I came to the realization that – why? I have OD&D and Delving Deeper, which is all I need to run my games.

It took me several months to finally come to the point and break the rusty chains that restrained my gaming mentality as both as a player and referee. In the past I thought I needed rules for everything & a robust skill system but I realized that I do not have the desire or ability to memorize hundreds if not thousands of pages of rules to just run a game. I don’t have instant recall, so the rules-lite toolbox of OD&D or Delving Deeper is perfect for me; plus I love DIY philosophy of Old School Role Play of the mid to late 70s that has been largely lost by modern D&D.

I come from the Metal & Punk scenes of the 80s where DIY was still largely a big part of the underground music based subcultures. So the Old School DIY gaming philosophy appeals to me on a deep level. I can tweak OD&D to fit the needs of the campaign I am running at a given time; where as more modern editions of D&D means you need to cut out chunks of interconnected subsystems and strip nearly everything that makes that edition what it is. So I have to ask why? To me the answer is very easy – there is zero need to use those editions when I got the perfect toolbox for my campaigns with OD&D.

In my following posts I’ll discuss aspects of OD&D that make up the whole but can be used either by-the-book, tweaked or dumped if so desired without changing the default role-playing philosophy and mentality that was integral to the original Role Play & War-gaming scenes. Well I’ll end this post here so I can publish it, Fin.

Another Update

Greetings, I just deleted several posts – I hit a wall again creatively. There are a few causes, 1) personal issues (I am attempting to work them out), 2) my misplaced desire to create a default setting based upon the assumptions in the OD&D 3LBBs & 3) my desire to get back to what I really want my ‘World of Skârn’ campaign setting to be.

One of the biggest issues I have is I often let a specific rule-set become the an undo influence upon the creation of my settings. That said, I have no problem with the ‘World of Skârn’ embodying OD&D tropes, but trying to make ‘Skârn’ into a By-the-Book expression of OD&D was the wrong choice to make.

Another big issue is the fact I got rid of the gonzo fun elements that made ‘Skârn’ special to me in the first place, once it evolved beyond its proto-Skârn incarnation. I tried to fuse ‘Traditional” D&D elements and real world cultural influences into it, thus making it a inconsistent and incoherent mess. In the end I made ‘Skârn’ into something that frustrated me to run and I began to repeat that mistake with my previous attempt at a revision.

I am a eclectic person with a number of interests and influences, I love things like ‘Sword & Sorcery’, ‘Traditional’ D&D based fantasy, Steampunk, Arcanepunk and Science Fantasy of varying kinds. The problem is not all these influences can fuse together into a internally consistent manner.

Right now this blog’s focus will be on the ‘World of Skârn’ setting and discussing OD&D or its clones in general. I’ll eventually post about my OD&D Gamma World setting, but that being said my ‘World of Skârn’ setting will be taking center stage creatively for now.

Concerning the ‘World of Skârn’ and its development I am going to revert to more of a mixed top down and ground up development paradigm. This will focus on the overall setting theme and overview, then move to a more organic ground up development on the various regions. I’ve chosen to move to this mixed development style as I need to have a framework to guide my development, something that will tie together the setting in a unified way.

The ground up regional development might work for some people but my brain doesn’t work that way. I am always thinking about how this piece works with that piece . What led to this event? How did this culture develop? Why did humans dominate the world when non-human races and monsters are so widespread and many have magic or natural abilities that most humanity cannot best. These are the things I think about as I develop my settings and while trying to develop my 4th incarnation of ‘Skârn’ via a bottom up method I kept being tempted to answer questions I swore I would even ask.

Will I try to develop every little detail? No, as there needs to be room to grow and explore with my players. But I do need to know some core things about the overall setting to give me a foundation to build from. So I need to answer only those questions I need to answer to create that foundation but nothing more except what will be needed for the core region in which my players will begin in.

My core influences on the ‘World of Skârn’ are Jack Vance’s Dying Earth Saga, Joe Madureira’s Battle Chasers, various science fantasy based anime that I enjoy and the Talislanta setting. I will also be mining my ‘World of Xôðûn’ setting and take many of the original elements that had been part of the ‘World of Skârn’ initially as well as anything I think my fit the 5th incarnation of the ‘World of Skârn’.

Well I’ll end this update so I can publish it and head out for the day. Please take care and I’ll see you soon, Fin.