Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More OSR Blasphemies

I've been mulling things over when it comes to my gaming desires...which have of course evolved over the course of the last year and three months since I made a definitive return to table-top roleplaying.

I'm taking some time to step away from the GM's chair, how long I'm not yet sure. However long it takes to clear my real life of the crapstorm I'm under, and also to alleviate some RPG burnout from overloading myself with all things roleplaying.

I've been thinking: maybe pure old-school play is just not for me. Resource management? I've been good at depleting PC's ration stores during my gaming career (a day passes, everyone ticks off a day's rations). But keeping track of those torches and lantern oil flasks? Gimme a break. I'm not really into being a "bean counter."

I've never used encumbrance, really. The closest thing was the truly simple Lamentations of the Flame Princess system. Otherwise, it's all common sense ("No, you can't strap that chest to the dwarf hireling's back! Well, you could, but he would be extremely hindered in movement and combat...not to mention pissed off.")

Oh, and I think I'm getting tired of by-the-book experience points.

All of the above go for the two D&D-like games I've played over the last year or so: Castles & Crusades and Labyrinth Lord. I love both games, and for me they stand high above the vast selection of other retro-clones and D&D derivatives.

Yes, I can ignore those rules I don't like or create house rules to replace them. And I've done so, to my satisfaction and those of my players (at least it seems that way).

At this time in my life, I think that the statements above are endemic of my current situation: with only one session a week, and some of those skipped due to responsibilities, I don't want to be bogged down by what I consider superfluous.

Take experience points. It can take a long time for PCs to level up if you're going by the book. Not that my players are power gamers, but it would be nice to have a chance to have them experience higher-level play.

I think I favor the drama of the unfolding adventure to bean counting. There's a balance to be struck, and I'm trying to find the sweet spot.

All I know is, my style of play is indeed informed by what the OSR holds up as the gold standard for old-school gaming. But it's not the mechanics of the games I care about. It's the "attitude," the spirit, fostered by the editions of the game the OSR favors.

I shall babble no more today on this matter!


  1. I tend to do a loose xp reward system. Its pretty much how much I want to give them considering their actions and the results. I never check the xp from the books. I wing it.

    1. Yeah, I tend to give a lot of XP for roleplaying, problem solving, etc. I do try to calculate the XP for monsters and treasure, but I also give for "intangibles" liberally.

  2. Honestly as much as I love 2e and a lot of OSR stuff (mostly Castles & Crusades) I really feel like 3e hit the nail on the coffin as far as finding that balance. The mechanics are mostly the same as what everybody grew up with, there is room for the slow, resource management type of play or the power gaming, XP takes awhile but you could get high level in a year or two while playing weekly but there are also simple rules for slowing down advancement. Minis can be used or tossed. It's just good stuff if you can figure out how to toss out whatever annoys you about it, especially using Unearthed Arcana. Basically, its VERY easy to make 3e either an old school style game or a newer flashier style game.

  3. I'm going to eliminate XP for my next campaign. The PCs will level up every 3 adventures or so. Keeps bookkeeping to a minimum. And yes, 3.x's ability to withstand mad tinkering is amazing. Only thing that needs fixed is the bog-down at high level. That's easy enough to hammer out if you really want to.

    1. Yeah, I was thinking about a system that would have PCs level up after a certain number of sessions, and that number of sessions would increase as you level up. So at 1st level it might take you two sessions to get to second level, three sessions to get to third, etc. I think this is a good cure for the whole issue of different level characters in a group. It should only take a few sessions for PCs to level, so they can keep up with the higher level characters. Otherwise, someone making a new character for a campaign isn't staring at a huge gulf between their character and those who've been around longer.

  4. I just slow it down enough to where we never have to reach anything past early teens :p

  5. Have you looked at Dungeon Crawl Classics?

    Here's the XP rules: The judge gives 0-4 XP per encounter, depending upon how hard he thinks it was.

    Here's the encumbrance rules: Use your common sense.

    I freaking love this game, and highly recommend it. The second printing should be out soon, which has some advantages (in terms of incorporating errata and adding an index) over the first.

    1. Yes, I wrote about my growing love for DCC a couple posts back. I love how they toned down the number of XP. It's really looking more and more like a game I want to run.