D4:Art from the Greatest Gonzo RPG of All Time
Most people think Rifts is the ultimate kitchen sink game and in many ways it is. However, the greatest gonzo game in terms of raw inspiration in a small package is Lords of Creation by none other than Tom Moldvay. The art at the link is from the game and if those pictures plus the rules light set of your choice can’t spark adventure I probably wouldn’t enjoy your table.
D6:Another great description of why D&D (and games like it work)
After playing some indy games Zak decides:
I think D&D works like this: the rules, setting, and DM are relatively serious (or at least intense) so you–the player–don’t have to be. You can be drunk and play the goofiest half-troll half-gnome bard in the world and the game will keep chugging along and being a game full of twists and challenges and unexpected delights for all (including the drunk gnome) because it’s pre-loaded with serious business.
I think that’s a pretty serious insight both into why D&D is top of the heap (which Pathfinder outselling branded D&D doesn’t change. I also think this explains why Palladium survives…it’s this attitude turned up to 11.
D8:Forget the drip, she’ll cost me XP
The Land of Nod presents a very interesting alignment system which provides XP bonuses or awards based on behavior. Better yet Matt walks us through it’s logic so you could easily adapt it to your own worldview.
D10:D&D is Dead
Over at “I Waste the Buddha with my Crossbow” a declaration of the death of D&D. What’s interesting is this is a pattern I’ve seen in the boffer LARP world twice with Amtgard (which survived it) and with Dagorhir (which split into two organizations, Belegarth being the other). When you create something that isn’t a thing unto itself but a platform for others to build on with their own imagination you run this risk when you release it, that one day it will have a life of its own separate from you. You can either embrace that and be a light in this new world or try to take it back and make all the rules. I have yet to see the later succeed.
So, I’ve been wanting to get a second game going. And a third and maybe a fourth.
Insane I know, but let’s start with game two to begin with. Besides, in both The Complete Book of Wargames (A Fireside book) and article about D&D for Games Magazine Jon Freeman noted many people he played with played most days of the week. And yes, they were adults (this was the late 70s).
So, the bullet points:
- The genre is comic book space opera. Think Jack Kirby, Legion of Superheroes, Doc Smith, Robotech, and The War in Space.
- This is to be a Palladium based lego game. You need approval before hand but in general you can pick any race class from a Palladium book. I’d like to see the focus be on Heroes Unlimited, Splicers, Phase World, and System Failure. They’re also where you’ll least likely to get kick back. If you want to be Space Navy, look at the Robotech stuff because I will. We’ll just re-skin it.
- Don’t worry about balance…this is classic OSR gonzo where balance is something you make, not something baked into the characters.
- This is comic book space opera. That means you can pick magical characters as well as science fiction ones and superheroes.
- This isn’t Star Wars. In fact, that’s a direction I decidedly don’t want to go.
- I’ve just gotten both collected volumes of Jack Kirby’s Eternals. You have been warned.
Today I’m mostly posting a link for inspirational art because work has been busy. However, the art in question does have me thinking about OSR and what my old school gaming memories are. I’d like to say it will inspire a post but we know how good I am with follow-through.
Wanted, Classic 70s Sci-Fi Posters
However, I am going to post one of his images:
This image, more than any other on the page, screams out what science fiction and fantasy were about for me at the time I discovered D&D. They weren’t really separate and were mixed up with Yes and similar album covers, the kind of shows discussed at Space: 1970 (which is what pointed me to the poster site). It’s the same frision I still get from Palladium Books stuff and listening to Nightwish. It’s something I often try to capture. In fact The World After has huge dollops of it and part of the problems that campaign world has is trying to synthesize that with more serious elements.
Thought #1: This is a (probably incomplete) list of all the superhero (specific, not generics with supers supplements) I own: Superhero 2044, Villains and Vigilantes, Champions (boxed with 2 & 3 plus Big Blue Book), Marvel FASERIP, Heroes Unlimited (original, revised, and second editions), Batman (cut down Mayfair DC), Blood of Heroes (Mayfair DC minus DC), Mutants and Masterminds (2nd edition only), Truth and Justice, BASH (Ultimate Edition), Icons, and Mystery Men. Depending on how you count that’s as many as twelve (if Batman and Blood of Heroes are considered separately) but I’d really call it eleven. Of them, nine I’m willing to play. Champions is a bit heavy for me these days (Mutants and Masterminds barely makes the cut) and Superhero 2044 is incomplete (something I’ve thought since 7th grade when I got it) although both could make it into rotation. I’m especially excited about the additional material the upcoming Superhero 2044 will have. While it’s not the two books planned back in the day it’s something.
Now, just keep that in the back of your head.
Thought #2: One of the most common thread types on places like RPG.net is “what system for X?”. A similar type takes the inverse question “how to do X with Y?”. In fact, how often a system is mentioned as an answer to the first question is a bit of a bone of contention with the current darlings being mentioned for everything (when Exalted is the answer for the movie Outlands we’ve got issues). Still, it’s a valid question. D&D, as written, doesn’t mesh well with Tolkien, for example. Consider just the issue of Gandalf alone. He’s about 7th level as a magic-user and a sword wielding one at that. Even Conan, a clear inspiration, required dual classing abilities not achievable as per the AD&D rules book when presented by Gygax himself (see Dragon ### for the presentation, the fundamental problem is he goes up in two classes at once). This gets even more complicated when we consider characters that appear in different media by different authors. Do you mean Conan by Howard, in a Robert Jordon pastiche, in The Savage Sword of Conan comic, or the movies? Or, to tie it to my first question do you mean Captain America from the All Winner’s Squad, the Invaders, the Avengers, the recent Marvel Civil War, Ultimate Marvel, or that horrid 70s movie (please don’t let it be the later).
D4: 101 Days of Ersatz D&D
Maybe a slightly unfair thread name, but it works. For those who aren’t familiar with RPG.net, for a while a popular thread was “101 Days of X” where someone, in order to combat gamer ADD, decided they would only read/play/run/etc a given system for 101 days. The latest covers Palladium Fantasy. I have briefly discussed an older Palladium game, The Mechanoids before. I love Palladium’s stuff and although the system used to get me very wound up one side effect of being in the OSR is caring about that a bit less. It was one of the two systems featured in RPG Legos and the little discussed Dark Etiquette RPG has its roots in my efforts to “fix” Rifts.
D6:Choosing which class to be is for sissies… changelings roll for it.
Jeff Rients gives us an interesting take on changelings for OD&D type games complete with random class progression.
D8:For Extra Pages
Erin is back at THe Welsh Piper with a new edition of Basic Chimera close to being out. I’m glad his sabbatical was only January and part of February in length. I’m also excited about a new Basic Chimera as it’s one of two games I’m looking at for an actual campaign in a very changed The Demon Haunted Wordl.
In looking for links I found this draft which I thought I’d actually posted. It’s the genesis of the never really followed through which means the title was very accurate. Still, I figured it was worth posting as I have yet to see anyone discuss the kinds of books I brought up. Plus, Diadem of the Stars has been staring at me as I get ready to run Stars without Numbers at the D&D Meetup.
Over at Grognardia the wonderful Mr. Maliszewski asked for review suggestions.
Inspired by having recently purchased Jo Clayton’s Duel of Sorcery I suggested reviews of fantasy contemporary to the early editions of D&D because it became incestuous with fantasy fiction. There were, after, a lot of fantasy writers active in the 70s and early 80s who wrote neither pulp fantasy (which was the primary D&D inspiration) or Tolkien pastiche. Some fine examples are Bradley with her Darkover novels, Andre Norton who wrote a great number of Witch World books in the 70s, McCaffrey’s Pern, the afore mentioned Clayton and her numerous series (Diadem from the Stars (Diadem, Bk. 1)
was first published in 1977), the Deryni books, LeGuin’s Earthsea (and her excellent “The Language of the Night”, essays on fantasy writing well worth reading), Xanth, and the entire Ballentine Adult fantasy line (some of which did influence D&D).
The reason I asked is one thing I’ve realized in getting into the old school movement (and I remarked on this when discussing why “Swords of the Red Sun” failed) is my D&D experience wasn’t fueled by Conan et al. The more important realization was my inspiration comes from another line of fantasy (excluding my love of John Carter and his descendants) but something different. When I first got my basic set I read mostly sci-fi and looked for fantasy to fill the gaps. As currently hot I read lots of Pern, Darkover, Witchworld, and so on. While some might argue romantic fantasy owes its roots to these authors I’m disinclined to put them in that school.
Regardless, there are an equally valid influence for old school gaming in the sense that those of us who played back then read them. James said it would be a useful project but passed on it saying he lacked the knowledge (and, although he didn’t say as much, I suspect interest in acquiring it).
I’m probably being generous calling this a random campaign idea. More it’s a phrase stuck in my head as I’m thinking about both The World After and Stars without Number.
I’ve slowly been moving my ideas for The World After to more of a Georgian/Regency feel. Although Napoleonics are one of the least interesting war gaming periods for me the era in general fascinates me.
D4:Sure, they had Chariots but did they have magic items
Over at Grognardia James M. makes an interesting, but justifiable, addition to his Pulp Fantasy Library: Chariots of the Gods. For those of you who aren’t survivors of the 70s this is the iconic “space aliens built the pyramids” book. It’s not the most interesting (I reserve that for The Sirius Mystery: New Scientific Evidence of Alien Contact 5,000 Years Ago) but it is the iconic tome. If you want some science fantasy weirdness or an alternate conspiracy for your Mulder and Scully to run into it’s a great choice.
D6:Herb’s Horrendous Hiccups
Want a free copy of the next edition of Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy RPG? Well, come up with a prizing winning level one magic user spell. Even if you don’t come up with the winning entry you’ll have helped create a great resource of first level spells available under the OGL.
D8:My Memory, it is strange
Of course, the first ancient aliens appearance in the OSR to my memory was the heavy influence of Richard S. Shaver’s tales of underground mind controlling dero had on Scott’s World of Thool. Although the brilliant and very odd Thool is gone for a large part you can still find Shaver’s works online.
It’s been a short list today, but I’ve been busy. For those wondering where this weekend’s posts went, I screwed up and posted notes for upcoming entries, but starting this week Inspirational Art will start alternating with Inspired Creations which will draw on prior iterations of Inspirational Art for actual things I’m trying to use in game.
Speaking of in game, I’m looking to start an alternate Sunday evenings campaign set in The World After. Long term I’d like to start a third campaign as well for the alternate days featuring the latest ideas for A Demon Haunted World.
Finally, I hope to get a summary of the first four sessions of Crusade Beyond the Door up this week, hopefully followed by tomorrow’s fifth session.
As I pointed out last Friday in Mother of Elves the tie of Elves to creative chaos makes them inherently magical but skews their magic away from the destructive and towards the creative.
As a result, elves in The World After use a slightly different spell list: