Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How Simple Do You Like It?

It's no secret how much I love C&C, and by extension D&D. But I've found myself wondering if I can find an even simpler system.

I'm trying to find the right balance of simplicty for my current lifestyle. I think I can handle C&C, but sometimes I find myself craving specific things. Such as using a game that only needs d6's instead of all the other polyhedrons. Or a game that only has two or three ability scores. Or a game that has a limited number of skills and spells for players to choose from, meaning that I as GM would have less character options to contend with/memorize.

Or some combination of all of the above.

Again, I love my C&C and all that it offers me and my group. But as absurd as it sounds, sometimes I want a game that's even simpler! And not simpler in a "I'll just play Basic D&D instead of something based off of Advanced D&D" way. Part of what I've been feeling is a need to get away from D&D-based games, and all the associated mechanics.

Some of this might be motivated by gamer ADD, but like I said, it's also because my life seems to get getting busier all the time, as my job seeks to give me more and more responsibility and the kids are getting older.

I'm also looking for an RPG I can run in between sessions of my C&C game, on those nights when things just don't align and my regular campaign doesn't come together.

I know what you're saying: "Uh, Drance, you've only been back to playing table-top RPGs for about a year. You wanted to get back into some sort of D&D action specifically. And now you want to play a game that ISN'T some variation of D&D? You've got issues, man."

Tell me something I don't know.

I've also been fondly remembering my Amber Diceless RPG days of late. And I've been considering pulling out my copy of Barbarians of Lemuria again. Now, Amber may be diceless but that doesn't mean it's exactly simple. It takes a lot of consideration and connection between GM and players, and can get pretty intense with respect to descriptive detail and depth of interaction.

Anyway, the questions are:

1. Can you recommend a simple system that isn't one of the following: Any variation of Microlite, Dungeonslayers, Old School Hack, or Wizard Rogue Mage?

2. Does anyone have any experience with Advanced Fighting Fantasy or Dragon Warriors, and if so, are they fairly light? I'm assuming Dragon Warriors is not really that light (I have the Mongoose book, but haven't read it), but I could be wrong. Oh, and I have to admit that I've been getting very curious about British Old School games.

Another caveat: I'm also pretty familiar with Savage Worlds at this point, so you can skip suggesting that as well, if any of you think of suggesting that!

Sorry for the rambling. It's been one of those days. I know I'm not articulating things the way I want them to come out. I'm not completely happy with this post but I'm going to hit the publish button anyway! Throwing caution to the wind and all that bosh. Looking forward to hearing from you all.

To (mis)quote Edmund Burke...

All that is necessary for the triumph of douchebaggery is that compassionate gamers type nothing.

I'm not into flame wars, but I'm also not into sitting back while some petty Internet tyrant lounges in his ivory tower and belittles people. Especially when the people being belittled are those that I respect.

'Nuff said. I'm over the latest example of such douchery in our little corner of the blogosphere. But never fear, I always keep my eyes peeled.

UPDATE: True to form, THAT GUY created a post speaking of/to yours truly. He calls it "DRAMA!" I would call it "He's overestimating his effect on me, by far."

I'm not angry in the least. Being angry would imply that I have an emotional attachment to the man. Not at all. What I do feel attached to is our community here in the gaming blogosphere. And when someone starts flinging their bad attitude around with impunity, I feel compelled to speak out. 'Nuff said.

And since it may never see the light of day, here's my comment on his "Drama" post:

You are overthinking all of this, man. I'm just an average guy. No grand conspiracy against you. Note that I haven't commented at all on your blog for some time now. It's only when you start attacking people and getting up on your proverbial high horse that I feel I should speak up.

If you don't want to hear a different opinion about your behavior, why are you out here on the Internet? You can't expect to get all pissy and abuse people verbally and not take some shit for it, right? You shouldn't be surprised when you get bile for bile.

I just call it like I see it. Is there really any denying that you come off pretty harsh on people, and perhaps needlessly so? That you browbeat others, and you go off at the slightest provocation? Am I wrong?

And it's just baffling. It's so easy to be nice to other people. And nice doesn't mean you're a pushover. You can still have strong opinions, stand firm for your beliefs, and be a nice guy.

Doesn't all that bile choke you, ever? I don't care if it's real or just some act you put on, that vitriol is not good for you or for the community. That's all I've ever said to you, and all that I will ever say. Just give people a break. I'm not trying to get you to leave the blog community. That's an impossibility, and nor would I want it. I feel you do have a lot to offer the community.

All your literary allusions and purple prose are not needed in this instance, my friend. Spend that energy being a cheery chap once in a while. It might do you wonders.

P.S. And can we stop assuming that I'm "miserable," I hate my life, I'm not happy with my gaming situation, I'm always angry, and all the other stuff you're assuming? This is all just obfuscation on your part to steer the conversation away from your bad attitude. You don't know anything about me, as I don't know anything about your real, non-Internet self.

All I'm talking about is how you come across on your blog, man. You just come across as a bully, or whiny. Or some combination of the two. That's all. It baffles me why people put up with your crap out here.

Monday, January 30, 2012

I bequeath the Stick in the Mud scepter to...

King Nothing. And guess what, he's disappointed. Ruh roh! Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.

This one's for you, Your Majesty:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Question of the Day: Can you use B/X and Labyrinth Lord together?

Hi all, don't have much time to post today. But I wanted to ask another question, this one inspired by my re-readings of late. I've been delving once again into the pages of both the original B/X books as well as Labyrinth Lord. But since I have such limited time, one thing escapes me: true knowledge how the two would work together in actual use during a game session.

What I mean is, say I'm using the B/X books for reference and the players have copies of LL for reference. What problems would we run into, if any?

So, the question: can one safely use B/X and LL simultaneously during a game session and not get into trouble?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Question of the Day: The Caller!

So, I've decided to start tapping more often into the gaming community we got going on here (the kids call that "crowdsourcing" these days, right?)!

Here's the question of the day (just regarding playing D&D): Does anyone currently use, or ever used, a caller for their game sessions? And by extension, do you designate a mapper? I've been reading Molday, Cook/Marsh, and Mentzer again, and in reading about the caller and mapper once more, it made me wonder how often this is actually used.

Personally, I've never seen this done. When I've run games and played in them, each player was asked on an individual basis by the DM regarding what the players were doing at any given time.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

EDIT: Oh, and I guess the logical extension to my question is "If you use a caller, tell me why."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anyone else locked out of The Eternal Keep?

Uh, yeah, so I've been trying to look at The Eternal Keep for the last day or so, and it won't let me get in! I keep getting a message that I need to be invited to read it or something like that. Anyone know what's going on? And if one needs to be invited to read it these days, how does one go about getting such an invitation?! Any help would be appreciated!

EDIT: Thanks for checking in, ADD Grognard, with the details! Since Blogger has been sucking again lately and I can't f-ing post comments to my own blog, I'm putting this edit in. Good luck with everything! I'll miss The Eternal Keep if it goes away! Maybe we should all make a mass exodus from Blogger. That might get them to get their shite together.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Between hope, wonder, and ambivalence...

That's where I find myself, folks, in light of Wizards of the Coast's latest move: the announcement that they will be reprinting the 1E AD&D books that St. Gary laid down all those years ago. Wow. I really feel like this is surreal. Let's talk about this, shall we?

What is WotC up to? That's my gut reaction. Sorry to be cynical. But seriously. Are they really finally taking a page from the OSR, admitting that old editions have their place in the gaming world and not just some fringe movement? Are they giving props to the OSR, actually listening to long-time fans of the game's many incarnations from the last few decades? Do they want to play nice and live in harmony with fans of all editions of D&D? Is this an extension of the squishy 5E feelings that they're pushing?

Or is all this some ploy to steal the OSR's thunder? Because as expected, the news of 1E's reprinting (albeit a limited release, supposedly) has some OSR diehards crying foul. Why? Because, the diehards say, this will make OSRIC obsolete. Uh, I personally am not so sure about that. I can see how some might consider WotC re-releasing OOP edition as a move to quash the OSR. Every group has conspiracy theorists, right? I'm not so sure it would mean the end of all the retroclones, though. Ironically, some might find the clones to be more user-friendly, having given the old rules better organization, etc.

For me, these days, if I wanted to play in the 1E style, I would just keep playing Castles & Crusades. For me, C&C takes the spirit of 1E and blends it seamlessly with the best of the 3E mechanics (I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record, with the C&C love I constantly spout). I'm not sure I would even want to go back to the old 1E rules as originally written, as heretical as that may sound to some. But, let's keep in mind that Gary gave the C&C guys his blessings back in the day, so...there you go.

Is WotC just jumping on the bandwagon? That would be something of a victory for the OSR, eh? The movement has become something that WotC can no longer ignore, eh? I wonder what all the "This Is A Dying Hobby" doomsayers are thinking right now.

I've been so busy today that I haven't had time to do any reading on the 1E situation, so I don't know if WotC has released a longer statement as to why they are reprinting Gary's masterpiece. But between this and their "kumbaya" 5E love-fest ("it will bring all D&D lover's together!"), I'm really feeling a bit like I'm dreaming. I really don't know what to think at the moment. It seems to good to be true. Or at least to good to be kosher.

So I just wanted to vent. I sit here between hope, wonder, and ambivalence about all of these recent developments, and frankly I just don't know what to think. And I know I'm not alone. Thanks for listening to me babble. I'd love it if someone would babble back, to let me know what you're all thinking out there.

Interesting times we live in, eh?

UPDATE: Since I can't seem to post a comment to my own blog at the moment, I'll respond to all the people who stopped by through this update.

Chris Creel: Glad you got a laugh outta that! And I agree that there's a good likelyhood that 5E will take some inspiration from C&C (this opinion is no surprise given my *ahem* boner for C&C ;-).

Greyhawk Knight: Thanks for the insight, specifically the reminder that this is a limited print run. And those who don't want to plunk down the cash on the Hasbro of the Coast altar can also take up the OSRIC cause.

Martin: Hey there! Good to hear from you! How are things? Agreed on the hype factor on the part of WotC, the canny bastards! And you worked with WotC before, right (no judgement there, of course)? Who better than you to know their tactics? Yeah, this 1E reprint thing smacks of another olive branch that is designed to test the OSR interest in "official" D&D.

To Gwydion and all: thanks for the reminders of the real purpose behind the clones.

James and Tenkar: thats for stopping by and for helping to put things into perspective!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paragons of Waterdeep: Session 13

We had our “lucky 13th” session smack dab in the middle of the holidays, so not surprisingly only one player was able to show up. Bill arrived and was ready to go. He ran his Lathanderite cleric Oisin, as well as his wife Pam’s elven ranger Kale. The party wizard, Keseim (Player Wes absent), was still conveniently unconscious after being drugged by an arrow tipped with some sleep poison. The rogue Milo (Player Jamie absent) stormed off in a huff due to the fact that he was denied the chance to further pummel the Autumn Blade elf captive. He wasn’t seen for the rest of the session (again, conveniently ;-).

So, the party and their elven warriors were indeed saved by elves from an allied clan: the Summer Green clan. These newcomers, led by a ranger named Arilyn, revealed that their clan had been recently under attack by supposedly demonic forces from the eastern portion of the High Forest. This was worrisome, as the demon-controlled Hellgate Keep lies at the easternmost portion of the forest. The evil denizens of that fiend-ridden city had been responsible, in part, of the ancient elven realm of Eaerlann. However, small contingents of Summer Green elves, such as the one that had come to the party’s rescue, had managed to slip south when they heard that the Spring Dawn clan was in trouble.

After some debate as to what to do next (return to Kale’s clan, or track down the Autumn Blades and take the fight to them), the party decided to send a splinter group north to track down the Autumn Blades and test their strength. This group included the Summer Green elves, some elven warriors (led by the sometimes bumbling elven NPC named Otiver), Oisin, Kale, and Kale’s fellow Daughters of Mielikki rangers Karis and Rel. So this group struck out to see if they could hit back against their enemies.

After traveling for several hours tracking the very obvious movements of the Autumn Blades (they were obviously not trying to hide their tracks), the group came to the ruins of an elven-built watchtower. The Autumn Blade’s tracks led to the gaping entrance of the tower. The rangers snuck up to the tower and listened for sounds from within, but heard nothing. The group, convinced that the Autumn Blades were hiding within, decided to rush the interior of the tower and take the fight to their enemies.

The opening salvo of their attack would be a sonic attack spell cast by Oisin the cleric. When Oisin send his spell screaming through the entrance, the impact made the entire tower ring like a gigantic bell. Not long after, the sound of screeching emanated from the tower. This was followed by the emergence of two lizard-like humanoids from the tower’s entrance, which the group quickly identified as troglodytes.

The elven warriors who had taken up positions just outside the entrance cut the two creatures down quickly, with the help of arrows fired by the rangers. Then the warriors rushed into the tower as the first wave of the group’s attack. They were greeted by a ruined interior, at the center of which stood a spiral staircase leading up. Next to the staircase was a gaping hole in the floor. It was from this hole that more troglodytes began to clamber in what would become a flood of monstrous humanoids. The group fought valiantly, but was soon overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Several of the Summer Green clan elves were killed before the group was able to make good their retreat. The troglodytes gave up the chase quickly, seemingly unwilling to stray too far from the confines of the tower.

The session ended with the party heading back to where they had left the remainder of their companions.

To be continued…

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's All D&D to Me

I'm just gonna go off here a bit. Just a short tidbit of brain spew, sort of an offspring of the post I wrote yesterday regarding what I consider the "flavors" of D&D (including Castles & Crusades, my preferred flavor, and the upcoming 5th edition of D&D). Please let me know if you agree or disagree.

Here goes, according to my brain:


Labyrinth Lord is D&D.

Swords & Wizardry is D&D.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess is D&D.

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG is D&D.

[Insert title of D&D-inspired rule set] is D&D.

Are you seeing a theme here? A common thread?

Bottom line: for me, I don't care what you call it, it's all D&D. Like Shakespeare wrote, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

I don't care that there are small, medium, or large differences between the clones and the rules they emulate. I don't care how crazy the "house rules" found in rule sets like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, and their ilk may be.

It's no accident that images of the original D&D Red Box grace the front of the three-ring binders I use for my GM's screen during my Castles & Crusades games. C&C is in many ways the successor of D&D. It's is a successor from a mechanics standpoint, as well as the spiritual successor. So when I'm using those rules, if someone asks me what I'm playing, I usually say "A version of D&D" or just "Dungeons and Dragons." If they ask for more detail, I'll get down to the nitty gritty, but otherwise, I see no difference between C&C and the system that gave birth to it/inspired it.

The same goes for all the clones and clones of clones out there. That's the main reason the Edition Wars make no sense to me.

Back to Castles & Crusades: It may have a different name, have some different terms scattered throughout (i.e. Castle Keeper instead of Dungeon Master), and differ in mechanics in some ways. But in the end, it captures the feel of both 1E and 3.X D&D, paying homage to both iterations. Yet, at the same time, it has aspects that make it its own creature, especially the mechanics of the SIEGE Engine.

I know this is all my opinion, and I'm not some sort of missionary that seeks to show others the "true way." This is just MY path to D&D nirvana. Yours no doubt differs.

I am curious to see what 5E will be. Heck, I may even get into the playtesting if I am able. But I already have my version of D&D that I enjoy above all others. And it's called Castles & Crusades.

Does anyone else out there feel the same? I'm sure I am not breaking any new ground here. Does anyone disagree? I know I've probably written the same sentiments on this blog before, but sometimes we need to be reminded of things. Lemme know your thoughts. Or am I just shouting into the void here?

*EDIT: I should mention that I also consider Pathfinder to be D&D by another name (wait, is that a stupid statement?). I would even venture to say the unthinkable: 4E is even D&D to me, though a vastly altered version. I can hear the outrage at that statement! I don't say 4E is D&D because it has the brand name and is currently in print (for a little while longer, at least). I say it because it bears at least some resemblance to the editions of the past. Though I would never play 4E, it still gets grudging acknowledgement from me. Heresy, I know...

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year Ruminations

What’s up, fellow gamers? I’ve been silent lately mostly due to being struck by a plague of sorts. I won’t go into the sucky details, but it’s been a pisser, let me tell you. I haven’t been prolific of late anyway, what with family life and my job kicking it up a notch.

Blah blah blah, whatever, right? Anyway, I wanted to get the new year started with regard to posting, so here goes with some general thoughts and stuff:

1) I need to get the Session 13 report up for my Paragons of Waterdeep campaign. Now that the holidays are over, I’m looking forward to having our game sessions get back to “normal.” Meaning that our group should be able to get together more often again, with a full complement of players. Here’s hoping…

2) I’ve been banging my head against the “edition wall” again, thanks to my old nemesis: gamer ADD. I’ve been obtaining all sorts of D&D editions/clones over the last year or so, and I’ve gone through a merry-go-round of dabbling in all of the stuff. When it comes to yours truly, I think the proliferation of clones only serves to confound me. Perhaps it’s my stage of life, and the inherent lack of time to devote to the hobby. I’ve speculated about all this before, but I don’t feel any closer to a solution. It’s a hard pill to swallow for me, being afflicted with such distractibility. Chalk it up to “bad” nostalgia, perhaps.

The bottom line? I am happy that there are a lot of clones out there, some of which represent rule sets close to the originals (i.e. OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, S&W) and those that could perhaps be considered published house rules (i.e. LotFP, Delving Deeper, ACK, DCC RPG, Crypts & Things, etc.). It makes for a heady mix of options from which we can all pick and choose, until one finds the right rules to suit one’s unique fancies.

For those that can keep a clear head while exploring all of the options out there, godspeed and enjoy! I envy you! But for me, I just find myself going into this house rule “death spiral” that goes on and on. As I’ve said before, my personal requirements make me seek out rules that I don’t have to tweak all that much. For me, that flavor is Castles & Crusades. It does what I want it to do, without me having to spend a lot of time on house rules. And as I’ve been toying with other systems, I find myself house ruling them to make them more like C&C. So I keep thinking to myself “I should just stick with C&C and not waste my time making other games more like C&C!” Ugh, I’m such a spaz.

Your results may vary. Different strokes and all that. I’m not going to go out and yell at people that my way is the one true way, though I’m not shy about telling people how much I love C&C and why I think it’s so great. It’s a solid system that I am proud to use/support, created by some great people. But again, I wish that I could divine the source of my gamer ADD and turn it off for once. I go through spells of it that are really annoying. It takes away from the time I should be devoting to C&C and my current campaign. The struggle goes on…

3) And of course there’s the news that has the blogosphere buzzing: the announcement that a 5th Edition of D&D is/has been in the works (as usual, Akrasia has the news well covered). I signed up for the “playtesting” thing. We’ll see what comes of this. I for one am trying to be open minded. I usually defer to the “giving them the benefit of the doubt” side of things. I would love it if D&D got some of its “cred” back. From reading other blogs, it seems like at least some of you out there agree with me. Of course, there are some of you who think failure is inevitable. I don’t think that WotC could ever create “one game to rule them all” and end the Edition Wars, but from what I’ve read it seems they are aspiring to that very goal. I think they got caught up in marketing-speak madness, which usually makes people spout all sorts of pie-in-the-sky claims. Good luck with all that, Mike Mearls… So, at the moment I’m trying to remain optimistic. But I’m sure that it won’t be good for my gamer ADD…

Ok, folks, that’s all for now. As usual, I will try my best to blog as much as I can in the weeks to come. Happy gaming!