SHOULD YOU BUY THIS BOOK?
If you’re part of the core target audience – people who want a way to spice up a game if B/X, OSE, Labyrinth Lord, or some other retroclone that sticks very closely to the original rules – then yes, absolutely. It’s a great upgrade to those systems in my opinion.
If you’re already committed to another OSR game … maybe. It’s only $5, there are definitely some cool system-agnostic ideas in here, and won’t take that much hacking to get it to work. Even if you’re playing a non-OSR D&D game (or D&D clone), there are some ideas in here that will likely work in your system, and it’s worth thinking about.
If you’re looking for something that will run perfectly out of the box with zero balance issues or duct-taping required to make it work, then no, probably not. Even if you’re running a B/X game. It’s simultaneously very fuzzy and loose in some places and hyper-specific in others. But if that’s what you want, why on earth are you playing a B/X clone? D&D was never balanced right out of the box.
I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.
- William Blake
Friday, September 30, 2022
Old School Feats review!
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Polyglot dwarves and elves - dungeon dialects
Monday, September 26, 2022
OSR Feats - in need of feedback and reviews [erased]
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Why I like minimalism: complexity is exponential, and exceptions raise complexity
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
OSR piecemal armor
In the first chapter, and throughout this book, we play fast and loose with “realism”. There are a few reasons for that.First, this is a game of dragons and flying wizards, and we don’t usually let realism get in the way of our fun until the suspension of disbelief becomes annoying (if it does, feel free to ignore any of the options present here). The usual rules are not particularly realistic, either. It is highly debatable, for example, if leather armor is particularly efficient (when compared to padded armor)...Second, even if we were trying to make things more realistic, we would have to recognize that there is no way to say, for example, that every breastplate weights (or costs) the same.Real armor can vary immensely in weight, size, composition, etc. There are layers (a breastplate with chain armor, with padding underneath), materials (linen, iron, leather, horn, stone), quality (hardened iron, leather from different monsters, etc.), symmetry (gladiator armor could be asymmetrical) and craftsmanship (butted mail versus riveted mail, etc.) to consider. Some of these topics are discussed on chapter IV.The issue is further complicated because, even in the original rules, some types or armor are just smaller parts of others, while some include greaves, many layers, or are completely fictional. As the nomenclature is all over [...]To make things a lot simpler, you could just ignore the names of the armor and judge it by weight and AC. Let the players choose if they are wearing a helmet, shoulder pads, leather or chain to protect the joints, etc.Now the table is neatly organized in order of AC and weight.Light Armor: Made from supple and thin materials, such as linen, leather, etc. Alternatively, fight bare-chested with an iron helmet and greaves, or heavy winter clothing.Medium Armor: made of hardier materials, mostly metal – in plates, scales, strips in varying sizes or metal rings (interlocking or sewn into leather), and a layer of padding underneath. Alternatively, a breastplate with greaves, braces, etc., but some exposed gaps (joints, etc.).Heavy Armor: covers the entire body in thick metal, mostly in large plates, plus padding. It includes a helmet, gorget, or both.Within these guidelines, you can call your armor padded, gambeson, leather, hide, scale, chain, ring, brigandine, breastplate, lorica segmentata, mirror armor, just helmet and braces, dark clothing and a cape, or anything of the sort. We used the terms “gambeson” and “brigandine” in chapter I to fill existing gaps, not to include any realistic versions of these types of armor. You might as well say you are wearing a “long, thick gambeson” for medium armor, for example.The materials you can use to build armor are described on chapter IV.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master (review)
I haven't read the first book yet, but this is an updated version, making the first unnecessary, apparently. This is a teaching tool; the advice is repeated and recapitulated often. The margins are big and colorful. In short, there is less content than you might expect from 100 pages, but the content included is good.
Let's skim through each chapter...
PREPARING FOR YOUR GAME - The book starts with a simple checklist off ideas on how to create a good session. It is a good, small yet comprehensive list: PCs, strong start, scenes, clues, locations, NPCs/monsters and magic item.
RUNNING YOUR GAME - Has some tips on improvising, when to use minis and grids, collaborative storytelling, pacing, etc. Good advice overall, if a bit superficial. It just states some of the author's tastes without dwelling much on the pros and cons of each, or other possibilities (for example, running entire campaigns without grids or minis).
THINKING ABOUT YOUR GAME - Is about getting ideas. It has the author's own "appendix N" of books, movies, etc., it suggest you take a walk while thinking of RPGs, etc. Taking a walk is good advice, I think...
APPENDICES - Lots of surveys on "what most people do", how many hours they prep, how many combats, etc. I do not think this data is particularly relevant, and the author admits the majority isn't necessarily right (70% of the 5e GMs alter the monster's HP during combat - make of that what you will).
Overall, this is a very good book for intermediate GMs. It doesn't teach you to play the game, nor does it go to deep into ideas like railroading*, house rules or pointcrawls. Beginner and advanced GMs will also benefit from the book, as it contains advice every GM should know (although not necessarily agree).
Thursday, September 15, 2022
Alternate Magic - First review!
Monday, September 12, 2022
Minimalist OSR: Target 18?
To do anything, roll 1d20, add your ability score modifier plus other modifiers (e.g., from class or race), with 18 or more signifying success. A “challenging” difficulty is assumed; the GM may set other difficulty number (DC) for particularly easy or hard task, as indicated in the table below.
Notice that a DC of 18 is similar to 1-in-6 chances or 15% chance, making it easy to convert tasks from other systems to this one (e.g., if you have 3-in-6 chances of getting lost, avoiding it is an “easy” check). 4-in-6 would be closer to DC 7 but I like the 6-10-14-18 progression. Maybe I change it to 4-7-10-14-18 to fit the x-in-6 pattern...
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