Friday, May 1, 2009

Old School Bender

I went on an Old School Bender this last week. Not like the kind I did in college (too old for chemical joy), but Old School RPGs.

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Within the last couple of weeks, and especially last week I picked up Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, Monsters of Myth, the Spellcraft & Swordplay boxed set, Spellcraft & Swordplay Pocket Ed and Monstrous Mayhem Pocket Ed

I want to say a bit about each of these.

Labyrinth Lord

What can I add here? It’s B/X. It’s cool. And I want to run this sometime. My only wish is I grabbed the Alternate cover, but I do like the purple.

Basic Fantasy

This was the “new” for me. I had gushed (somewhat embarrassingly so) about Labyrinth Lord, but I have mostly ignored this one. Well flipping through it I finally know what I am going to use this for. BF is a nice implementation of a stepping stone between Basic D&D and Advanced D&D. Back when I was playing B/X a lot of my friends were playing AD&D 1st ed, given my age I was confused about why two very similar games had such differences. Well like most I went on to AD&D. Now when I play or read B/X or BECMI rules, I want to preserve that nice 1981 feeling; so Elf is a race AND a class. Basic Fantasy splits them back up ala AD&D. This is actually kind of cool. If ever I wanted an nice blend of Basic and Advanced, then Basic Fantasy will be my game. I might house rule a few things, like go more with AD&D hit dice and other AD&D circa 1980 ideas. Plus the Basic Fantasy website has a ton of free supplemental documents to make this even more of a solid D&D and AD&D hybrid. Sure, I still have my old Blue Basic book, but I do like this game’s feel and approach.

Of course I will need some monsters.

Monsters of Myth

AKA AD&D Monster Manual III. Sure there are more monsters in *D&D than I will EVER, EVER use, but reading about monsters? No I can’t ever have enough. Thankfully there is Monsters of Myth from some of the guys that gave us OSRIC. So this is for “1st Edition” games, but a little tweaking and it works great for a LL/BF game. Not all the monsters are great of course, nature of the hmm…beast. But there is enough here to keep a 30+ year old vet like me going “wow, that is neat!”. Big selling point, my son loved the cover.

Spellcraft & Swordplay

Gotta support the home team here. So I picked up the Pocket Editions of the Spellcraft & Swordplay rules, both the core and the Monstrous Mayhem books. I also got my limited editions boxed set, with three books, character sheets, dice, reference pages and card. Like the others this one has filled me with no end of geek joy. But while I’ll freely mix and match items above with their spiritual ancestors (B/X and AD&D), I think I am going to keep Spellcraft & Swordplay separate; it’s own thing. The nice thing about all of these games is they can be played on their own or in conjunction with each other with some tinkering. Spellcraft & Swordplay is fine on its own doing its own thing. While I’ll happily play any game with my kids, I think this one works best with some veteran gamers. Ones that remember the “Old Ways” and can really sit back and enjoy the feel of this game. Looking up at that picture I realize I didn’t include the dice I got with the boxed set.

I do have a campaign setting that I think Spellcraft & Swordplay is perfect for. In fact it is a setting I have tried to build under d20, Unisystem and True20 and each time it felt a little off. With that I think Spellcraft & Swordplay will stop being a “nostalgia game” and move into the de-facto rules for my setting that I have been mulling around and playtesting for years. I just you get as big a kick out of it as I do.

Now all I need is a set of old-school looking dice to use with all of them; a couple of d6s, no d10, but rather a d20 numbered from 0-9 in one color and 0-9 in another color. And white. The dice need to be white to symbolize a return to innocence. Or something.

OH. I don’t have my Swords & Wizardry book up there since it hasn’t come in yet. S&W does share the same simplicity of S&S. Though in feel S&W does remind me of say OD&D, 2nd Edition. And I forgot to add my Wayfarers book as well (well in truth a friend has it now and I got that one a while back).

I plan to hit my regular gaming group with all of these rules here soon. Take a day-break from D&D 4 (yes I also play and enjoy D&D 4th edition) to try something else out.

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