Showing posts with label old-school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old-school. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My Old School Gaming Project

Spend any time here and you know that I do love my old-school gaming.  Also for me, my introduction to RPGs coincided with my introduction to computers.  For me, RPGs and computers have always gone hand-in-hand. 

So it should be no surprise then that if I am going to spend so much time working on bringing old-school games back to life I might be doing the same with old-school computers.

Here is my current project.  

Raspberry Pi CoCo

This a "proof of concept."  It is a 3D printed case, housing a Raspberry Pi with 8Gigs of RAM.  It is wifi enabled and has HDMI ports.  Currently running the CoCo-Pi software.

https://coco-pi.com/

Back in 1985, I bought my first computer. It was a Tandy Color Computer 2 with 16k of ROM, a tape-cassette drive for storage and I  plugged it into a color TV.  One of the first things I did with it was to write programs to roll dice, do character abilities and even mimic combat.  Eventually, my DM and I would spend our gaming sessions working on some software we called "BARD" and it was a combat manager.  We could load 10 characters in at a time, roll for initiative and have them battle any number of monsters we wanted.  Some special abilities were a problem (beholders gave us no end of grief) but we had it worked out so that even dragons with breath weapons worked well. I even had a character, my one and only even ninja, killed by a black dragon, taking 70 hp of damage in the first attack. The death was so spectacular that my DM and I sat back and laughed our asses off as this black dragon attacked only the ninja and kept on attacking him until he was at -400 hp. 

It was great fun and I still have the source code.

Fast forward to later this year when my brother got me this:

CoCo 2

CoCo 2

That's not just any CoCo2, that is the one my DM and I wrote BARD on.  He had sold it to my brother years ago because one of the EPROM pins broke off and at the time it was too costly to replace and better computers were out.  I have even gone from my CoCo2 to a CoCo3, to a Tandy 1000, to an 8086, and then to an Intel 286 by that time.  I was getting ready to buy my next computer, my Gateway 486 that I upgraded for years until it got to be so full I needed to keep the case off and have fans blowing in. 

But I digress.  This "new" machine is close to 40 years old and I have been spending my Christmas break cleaning it, upgrading the internal components, and even 3D printing new parts for it.  What I have not be able to make or re-use I have been ordering online.

I hope to show her off soon.  Right now I need to stop so I can transfer some files to USB.  Yes, I got it working with some new USB ports.

This will be a lot fun.  Scratch that, this has been a lot of fun already.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Boxing Day: Magic Realm

Magic Realm
After many years I finally treated myself to a game I have wanted for years.  Avalon Hill's "Magic Realm."

The game looks like a board game, but there are a lot of RPG elements as well.  And the game is notoriously difficult to learn. 

I have no experience with this game. At all. But I just knew I wanted it.   So instead of a review here are some other reviews.

So it looks like I have some learning ahead of me!

I also have no idea if my game is complete or not. I like what I have seen so far.



Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Plays Well With Others: Man, Myth & Magic and Lands of Adventure

Ok. "Plays Well With Others" might be stretching it a bit. Almost to the point of ridiculousness to be honest, but I have wanted to compare both Lands of Adventure and Man, Myth & Magic for a while now.

Man, Myth & Magic and Lands of Adventure

On the surface both games are attempts at presenting historical or at least semi-historical, roleplaying to a Post-AD&D world. Both games present various areas and eras of play to help facilitate that notion of historical roleplaying. LoA with its Culture Packs and MM&M with its adventures and Egyptian add-on.

Both games can best, and fairly, be described as overly complicated and in reality somewhat messy.

Both games have more complicated (than AD&D) character creation but attempt to create characters that are appropriate for their times.

Incidentally, both games also use real tiny d20 percentile dice that are difficult at best for me to read these days.

Thematically MM&M tries for historical accuracy despite having a rogue T-Rex running around as an ersatz dragon.  LoA probably does a little better here even though it does include several fantastic beasts and monsters.

LoA gives us two (more were planned) Culture Packs, Ancient Greece and Medival England.  They are separated by about 2000 years and characters are not expected to be able to travel to one from the other.

MM&M gives us a bunch of different cultures and the idea of "travel" between them is via Reincarnation.  The culture best (and I say that loosely) represented here is Rome circa 40 AD (or sometime around that).  Even then it has issues.

Neither system is one I want to cozy up with for long periods of time.  Not to mention there are plenty of other games that do historical roleplaying better, Pendragon and Chivalry & Sorcery are two that come to mind right away and there are others.  The idea of historical role-playing though is still an appealing one.

What is a Game Master to do?

The Fantastic Journey

Back in the late 70s there was a short-lived TV series, The Fantastic Journey, about a group of people that were traveling to different lands throughout time and space. It hit all the social and occult themes of the 1970s. A man from the future with psychic powers, the daughter of an Atlantean and an extraterrestrial, a scientist from the 60s (Roddy McDowall), a young African American doctor, and a super-smart teenager (Ike Eisenmann, fresh from Witch Mountain).  The show didn't last long, but it imprinted deeply on my psyche.  

It had similarities to the show Time Tunnel that came before it and Voyagers! and Quantum Leap that came after.  Though, unlike those shows that tried to pay a little lip service to time travel science, TFJ was pure fantasy.  There was magic and even a sorcerer and a werewolf.   I have often wondered how I could make a game that mimics this and fulfill the promises made by MM&M and LoA.

I could take a page from Herbie Brennan's other game Timeship for ideas. But honestly, that is just trading an easy solution for more problems.

I like the idea of a group of characters, unstuck in time, traveling to different periods.  Whether the characters themselves are doing it or they are reincarnations, I go back and forth on.   Part of me likes the idea of the idea reincarnation since that sets them in situ with the proper time and knowledge. OR maybe their consciousness is traveling and inhabiting new bodies ala Quantum Leap.  I would need a big bad of course.  Someone travelling through time, or maybe someone (or multiple someones) that are immortal and trying to do something to humanity.  Destroy it?  No, that is too easy. I am going to say advance them in the past so they are more powerful and deadly in the future for some nefarious means. I might take a page from the Doctor Who episode/serial City of Death.

Part of me wants to do this and each time the character travel in time use the system that best represents it.  So Pendragon, LoA, MM&M, even WitchHunt.   But that is, to put it mildly, insane.

I would use a simple system, likely NIGHT SHIFT to be honest. Survivors would work the best with the odd sage, psychic, and veteran.  Then adapting D&D-like games is easier. Each time the character travels they can pick up some odd skills or the like.

historical games? maybe.

Again, I hate to fall into another sunk cost fallacy here but I like to think I owe it to myself to have the game that I wish these games were.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Man, Myth & Magic

Man, Myth & Magic - PDF cover
It is the first of the month, so that means a new character.  I went through the effort of creating a new character for Man, Myth & Magic.  Well, I say "new" because it is a new character for this game, but it is someone I have used a lot in the past.

The Game: Man, Myth & Magic

I spent the day reviewing Man, Myth & Magic and it was rather fun. But not a game I am likely to play.  So in these cases I use the game to help inform characters that I might be using in other games.  In this case I am doing the human, still living version of a character that has so far only appeared in my games as a ghost.

The Character: Queen Boudica

Fans of the Ghosts of Albion RPG will recognize this name.  Boudica is the Queen of the Iceni Celts living in western Briton at the time of the Roman occupation.  So the time period is really perfect.  I set this at 61 CE.  If I am going to play a game in Roman Briton then I want to join the Queen as she burns down Londinium.

Boudica, or Boadicea, was a central figure in the Ghosts of Albion animations on the BBC and in the books by Christopher Golden and Amber Benson.  She became one of my personal favorite characters in the RPG as well.  While she is great fun as a ghost, getting the chance to play her as a still living and breathing human is too much of a temptation to pass up.

I am going to include a scan of the sheet with page numbers appended to it.  This was one of the bigger (but by no means unique) issues with this game.  You have to flip all over the place to get the information you need to create a character, let alone to play.  

Note: Windows updated and now can't find my scanner. So here is an image from my phone.

Queen Boudica

In Ghosts of Albion lore, Boadicea had some magic. She was in the middle of casting a spell when she was murdered in fact.

For Boudica here I did not include any spells, though I could have.  I didn't find any that fit well with the concept of her in this game.  Plus she is technically not a spell caster here.

In any case, she is a fascinating character and I could stat her up in several systems and not grow tired of her.

Boadicea Haranguing the Britons (called Boudicca, or Boadicea) by John Opie

Long live the Queen.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Review: Man, Myth & Magic (1982)

Man, Myth, & Magic RPG
I am going to be spending some quality time with the classic game Man, Myth & Magic by Herbert "Herbie" Brennan and J. Stephen Peek and published originally byYaquinto Publications in 1982, and now published (in PDF and single softcover formats) by Precis Intermedia.  

I was always kind of fascinated by this game. The name of course grabbed me for two reasons. There was the whole "Myth and Magic" side to it all which in 1982 was a big draw for me.  Also, there was the magazine and encyclopedia series also called Man, Myth & Magic that dealt with all sorts of occult-related topics.  

I read reviews for it in Dragon Magazine (#80) and White Dwarf (#41) and was actually quite curious about it.  The reviews really ripped into the game and I needed to know if it was as bad as they made it sound.  Sadly I never found a copy near me and a mail-order of $19.00 + tax and shipping and handling made it a little more out of reach when it was new.

But I was always drawn to historical games. I felt if I could play or run a game and learn something about history at the same time then it was time well spent really.  A few I have enjoyed quite a lot, mostly Victorian-era ones, and others I ripped online so much I promised I wasn't going to rip on them anymore. 

Man, Myth, & Magic sadly belongs to the camp of a historical mishmash, that is to say, it is about as historically accurate as an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Xena and it is very entertaining in the right frame of mind.  The same is true for this game. Great, in the right frame of mind.  In fact, I think that now, living in a post-Xena world, there is a place for this game that did not exist in 1982.   

Man, Myth, & Magic

For this review, I am going to consider my original boxed set from 1982 (now minus the dice) and the newer PDF versions found on DriveThruRPG published by Precis Intermedia.  In both cases, the material is the same minus some of the extras that came in the boxed set like the dice and a pad of character sheets.

Man, Myth, & Magic

Man, Myth, & Magic was published in a boxed set of three books (same covers), with a pad of character sheets, some maps, and dice.  The PDF combines the three books into one 132 page volume. The original boxed set retailed for $19.00 in 1982 ($55 in today's buying power) and the PDFs sell for $7.95 today.  The books feature color covers and black & white interiors. 

Book 1

Book 1 is 24 pages and covers the "Basic Game" and the game most like the one as originally conceived of by Herbie Brennan.  In this game, the players play gladiators in the time of the Roman Emperors. Which one? That is up to a random dice roll unless of course, the players want something different. 

Who's in charge around here?

It's an interesting idea, but...well there are some problems here. According to the back of the box, it is the Summer of 41 CE. Cool.  But Caligula was assassinated in January of 41 CE.  Tiberius ruled 14 to 37 CE and Nero was Emperor from 54 to 68 CE.  The only Emperor in the Summer of 41 was Claudius. Adding dates in parentheses would have been a nice touch.  Let's not even get into the fact that Cleopatra VII, the last of the Egyptian Pharaohs, had died back in 30 BCE, 71 years before the events of this game, but that looks like her on the cover.  I'll talk more about this later.  In theory you can tun this game from 4000 BCE to 500 (or 1000) CE. 

You begin with your Roman Gladiator and your two percentile d20s and roll up your characteristics.  The characteristics in the Basic Game are Strength, Speed, Skill (not used just yet), Endurance, Intelligence, and Courage. The scores range from 1 to 100.  You add all these up for your Life Points (so 5 to 500), you fall unconscious at 20 or below and dead at 0 or below. 

The Basic rules take your gladiator from start to a bit of combat and adventure with the maxim that the best way to learn is to do.   This is a tactic that the rest of the game uses.  At the end of this, your character is ready for new adventures.

The neat bit, and one I want to revisit, is the idea of reincarnation. That is if your character dies they can be reincarnated. 

Book 2

Book 2 covers the "Advanced Game" and includes 40 pages. Here we learn more about skills, the Power score, and the different Nationalities (10) and Classes associated with each (2-5 each).  All are completely random and no real attempt is made to explain why say an Egyptian Sorcerer, a Gaulish Barbarian, a Roman Gladiator, and a Hibernian Leprechaun would all be part of the same adventuring party.  Ok. That's not entirely true, but the explanation takes some digging. 

Up first is determining your Nationality. Again a random roll gives you African, Briton, Egyptian, Gaul, Greek, Hebrew, Hibernian, Visigoth, Roman, and Oriental. Each at 10% chance.   Within each nationality, there are character classes.  Regardless of how many there is an equal chance for any given class.  Most nationalities have a sort of "fighter" like class and all have merchant.  There are two classes open to women characters only, Wisewoman (African) and Sybil (Greek).  Details are given for all the classes, 20 in total, but not a lot of information.  In most cases only a paragraph here and some more details later on.  This brings up a persistent issue, the rules are a bit scattered everywhere throughout the book. 

Additionally, there are two "Special Categories" of players (not characters) of "Orator" and "Sage" or essentially a storyteller and a record keeper.  Much in the same way Basic D&D has a "Caller."  Not much else is mentioned about these roles however. 

This character is considered to be your first incarnation.  Anytime your character dies, you can then reincarnate.  This allows you to change your nationality, class, and gender and retain a little bit of the Skill from a previous incarnation.  It is an interesting idea, I am not 100% certain though that it works. Knowing gamers I see a situation where players would play a character only to get them to die for a chance at a better character next time. 

There is a fun chart on inheritance that would be fun to port over to other games.  Related there are our ubiquitous tables of equipment.   

Some of the other secondary "Optional" characteristics are also detailed.  These include Agility, Charm, Dexterity, Drinking, and so on.  These are really more akin to "skills." The trouble is that some of these you have to roll higher, some you have to roll lower and others you don't roll at all.  There is no rhyme or reason here. 

Combat rules follow and they remind me a bit of Runequest.  Nothing really special really.  Strength points over 50 can add to your damage, Skill points over 50 can add to your "To hit" chance. Combat, like all the rolls here, start with a basic 50% chance to hit.  The Basic game just has you roll. The Advanced game has you make called shots.  Classes with Combat as their "Prime Ability" can improve their ability to hit even more. All classes can spend Power to also increase their to-hit bonus; 10 points of Power to increase your chance by 1%.  Interestingly armor does not stop you from being hit, it does reduce damage taken.

The goal of the game though is the accumulation of Power.  Power advances your character and can overcome that 50% failure rate.  Power also is the, well, power behind Magic. 

The Magic part of M,M,&M

The last third or so of the book covers all sorts of additional rules.  Some seem tossed in, to be honest. Poisons are covered as are spells.  

Magic, as expected, is given some special attention, though not as much as I was expecting.  Magic is assumed to be real and work, at least part of the time.  Magic is described as "Coincidence," a spell is uttered and something happens whether it caused it or not. "Science," Damascus steel is given an example. The superior technology was seen as magic. "Psychic Phenomena" which not really an explanation at all, likewise "Trance State" and as "Lost Knowledge."  Though no explanation is really given as to how magic works.  

Book 3

The adventures take up Book 3 and is 64 pages.  This book is for the Lore Master (Game Master) only and is also one of the weaker parts of the game.  The Adventures, while interesting, are a bit of a railroad. In order to succeed the players have to hit all the parts in order and then move on to the next adventure.   

The adventures include the following:

  • The Dragon Loose in Rome. Not a dragon rally, but a rogue T-Rex.  Not that this makes any more sense, but ok, points for effort.  
  • Apollo's Temple. Emperor Caligula sends the characters to the Temple of Apollo aka Stonehenge.
  • The Witches of Lolag Shlige. The characters then have to go to Ireland (Hibernia) and rescue a child from some witches.
  • The Great Pyramid Revealed. Caligula has issued a death warrant for the characters. They find themselves in the Great Pyramid of Giza.

These adventures are a prelude to the published adventures.   There are some neat ideas here, but the adventures lack something for me. Actually, it lacks a lot of things for me, but I could make some changes to make them work.

There are some encounter tables, but they only cover the areas that the adventures are detailed here. I also have to note there are no monsters here.  Just humans. 

One of the bigger criticisms of this game at the time was the then $19.00 price tag, about $55 in today's buying power.  Now $20 for a boxed set of three books, character sheets, and dice sounds like a steal.  With the PDF at just $7.95 it is at a price I think should attract anyone that might have been interested in this game. 

The art is in black & white, which is expected and welcome, but there is not a lot of it and some of it is repeated throughout the books.  

Man, Myth, & Magic at times feels like two different games, or rather two different ideas merged into one game.  I feel that the classic Roman Gladiator/Basic Game was Herbie Brennan's idea and the worldwide game of various nations and types or the Advanced Game was Steve Peek's. Given that Brennan started working on a game called "Arena" which was a Gladitorial RPG.

About Reincarnation

Reincarnation is quite a big deal in this game. This is not a huge surprise given Herbert Brennan's publication history.  His book "The Reincarnation Workbook: A Complete Course in Recalling Past Lives" could work as a guide for this game.  Personally, I would like to use the reincarnation idea to help smooth out some of the issues with different times.  So adventurers from Cleopatra VII's Egypt, can then deal with Tiberius, and then help in Boudicea's raid on Londinium.   Something similar to the Old Soul quality in Unisystem.  

Somehow using the idea of the Distant Memory which, like Old Soul, allows the characters to draw on past life knowledge and skill.  That is easy to do in Unisystem, not so easy to do in D&D like games with very rigidly defined classes. Maybe taking a level in another class might do it. 

Man, Myth & Magic and Man, Myth & Magic

I am sure there is more in the expansion, The Egyptian Campaign, but I don't have access to that set right now.

There is an interesting game here but I think the concept of it is greater than the rules as presented actually allow.  It never quite lives up to what the box claims.  Nor is it the abomination that earlier reviews made it out to be.  I think most reviewers balked at the price tag and the fact that the game did not offer anything new; at least not anything that meant going through the rather clunky rules. 

It is most certainly not a historically accurate game.  Historically inspired to be sure, but not by any means accurate. 

The bottom line is that the game really isn't good, in fact, it is rather bad in many respects. That is not to say that someone won't find this game interesting or fun. I just think that there are far, far better games out there.

Should you buy it?

I would say the PDF at just under $8 makes it worthwhile for the very, very curious.  I have my boxed set and I am happy with it, but my expectations were low and my curiosity was really high. 

The game itself is only worth about 2 stars.  My curiosity about it and my desire to have pushed it closer to 4 stars.  In the end, I am going to give 3 stars since I don't want to unduly affect Precis Intermedia games' overall rating.  But don't grab this unless you are really curious (which is a good reason) or want to see how not to design a game. 

Links

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Review: Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore
Last week I reviewed that new monster book from BRW Games, Book of Lost Beasts.  Today I want to review the companion book from the same Kickstarter, Book of Lost Lore.  I went into this one less excited than I did with the Book of Lost Beasts, but not due to anything on the part of this book.  I am always more enthusiastic about monster books. I just have to make sure that I am not making unfair comparisons.  I will be making a lot of comparisons with this book and others, however.

Adventures Dark & Deep Book of Lost Lore

For this review, I am considering the Hardcover I received as a Kickstarter backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.  BRW does their print fulfillment via DriveThru, so I conveniently have my PDFs where I expect them and I know what sort of product I am getting in terms of Print on Demand.

The book itself is 134 pages, full-color cover, and has black and white interior art.  The layout and art are a tribute to the "2nd covers" of the AD&D 1st Edition line. So it looks nice with your original books and other OSR books designed the same way. 

Like the Book of Lost Beasts, this book carries the Adventures Dark & Deep banner, but it is not made for that game.  It is material from that game ported "Backwards" to the AD&D 1st Edition rules. So again like Book of Beasts, some of this material has been seen before, though not all in 1st Edition format/rules.  

Lost Beasts and Lost Lore

Much of the material does come from Bloch's "What If" game, Adventures Dark & Deep, and in particular, the Players Manual which itself was derived from BRW Games' very first product A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore (now discontinued).  This is all acknowledged in the Preface of the book.  The selling point of this book is that it is all revised and edited for the "First Edition of the world's most popular RPG."  Not to mention the layout now favors the 1st ed feel rather than the Adventures Dark & Deep feel.

Though as we move on you will see that the biggest comparison that needs to be made is this book to the AD&D Unearthed Arcana.  

On to the book proper now.

This book is split between a Players' Section (close to 98 pages) and GMs' section (36 or so pages).

Players' Section

Dwarf blacksmith
This section covers new races, classes, and spells among other topics that I will discuss. 

Up first, the new races.  Here we are given three "new" races for player characters. These are the Centaur, the Forrest Gnome, and the Half-Drow, of which we get Human-Drow and Elf-Drow.  Those unfamiliar with AD&D 1st ed might be surprised to see level limits and ability limits for the races.  Some are pretty obvious, centaurs tend to be stronger but can't climb walls as a thief. Others are culture-based, drow women can advance more in most classes than their male counterparts due to their matriarchal society, but not as much as wizards since that class is not valued.  While back in the day we really ignored all these rules in AD&D (and they do not exist in 21st Century D&D) they are consistent with the rules and anyone who plays AD&D 1st ed exclusively will take to these easy.

The races seem balanced enough.  The centaur is a nice addition and one that really could go into AD&D well enough.  I personally have never had a desire to play one, but they do seem to work.  The forest gnome is also a good choice and a good option for people more familiar with 21st century D&D gnomes.  The coverage of the half-drow is very interesting and the stand-out of the three.  Given some other things I have crossed my awareness this past week or so I am wanting to try out a half-drow now.  I will need to come back to this one later on. 

Classes are likely the top feature of this book.  They are also the ones that we have seen before.  There are Bards, Jesters, Skalds, Blackguards, Mystics, Savants, and Mountebanks.  Let me repeat. While we have seen these before in other BRW products they are presented here as 1st Edition characters classes and as subclasses of existing 1st Ed classes. Except the Bard, the Bard is it's own class with the Jester and Skald as sub-classes of the Bard.  The Blackguard (or Anti-Paladin) is a subclass of the Cavalier to give you an idea where this book would "fit" into the AD&D 1st Ed lineup. 

It should be noted is a usable single Bard class.  No more advancing as a thief, fighter, and then druid to get to the bard, this is a straight out bard class.  The bard also has some nice powers too. The mystic class seems closer to the BECMI/RC version than it does to the monk.  It was also the focus of one of my very first "Class Struggles" features.   I am a little surprised we didn't see versions of BRW Games'  Necromancer, Witch, or Demonolater classes. Likey to keep these with the Adventures Dark & Deep game. 

From Classes, we move on to Secondary Skills. AD&D 1st Ed has never really been about skills outside of what your character class can do.  While back then I saw this as a problem, I am less inclined to think so now.  Still, a good selection of secondary skills are listed here and how they can be used. 

The next 35 or so pages are dedicated to new spells. Mostly these support the new magic-using classes, though some spells are cross-listed for other classes. 

The last part of the player's section is given over to combat and new weapons and armor.  The arms and armor described here do show an appreciated level of research.  One that would have made Gary and his 6 pages of pole-arms very happy.

Game Masters' Section

This section is not as large but still has gems; figurative and literal. 

making magic items
Up first are some guidelines for social encounters including reactions.  There are some alternate treasure rules that uses the same Treasure Type classification but breaks it down into different categories.  Both the original system and this system can be used interchangeably, even within the same game, with the Game Master deciding what works better at the time. 

There are some new magic items, with updated tables to include them. 

Finally some discussion on the game environment including ability checks. 

Honestly, the only thing it is missing to be "Unearthed Arcana II" is an appendix on the gods of the Centaurs.

Unearthed Arcana and Lost Lore

Some art has appeared before in other BRW books but all of it captures the Old-School gaming feel.

So. Who is this book for?

The obvious answer is for anyone that plays First Edition AD&D.  It should work fine with OSRIC, since that cleaves so close to AD&D, but not sure if players of Advanced Labyrinth Lord or Old School Essentials Advanced will get the same benefits. For example, both of those other games have a Bard class that works about the same.  That is not to say they would not get benefits from this book, it's just the base design principles are not 100% the same.

If you are a player of Adventures Dark & Deep then there is likely nothing new here for you.  But if you have those books and still play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first ed. then there is enough here for you even if you can convert easily between the two games. 

If you play AD&D 1st ed then this is a great book and it will sit nicely on your shelf or on your table next to your other AD&D books. 

One minor point, the book was not released under the OGL.  Doesn't matter for play or use only if you wanted to reuse a class or spell elsewhere.  Though given the use I have seen of the OGL over the last 20+ years this is also likely not an issue. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Chromatic Dungeons, Part 4 Final Thoughts and Wrap-up

Chromatic Dungeons
Edited to add:  Here are all the parts to this series: Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

I am ending my week (or so) with Chromatic Dungeons today. It has been a real treat going through this game.  There is a feeling here of the first time I went through the AD&D 1st Ed Player's Handbook in terms of the potential I feel for my games.  There are some really great ideas here I plan to use, either running a CD game or adopting them for my other Old-School games.

Ancestry & Heritage

Along with such products such as Ancestry & Culture: An Alternative to Race in 5e from Arcanist Press and the new material in Pathfinder 2e, this is the way all games are going to move towards. I could go into the racist history of why "race" was originally used starting with examples from the Victorian age and moving on to practices in educational and biological "research" but the truth is the people that are least likely to change are also the most likely to ignore all of that. So what's the point.  I don't teach fish to read and I don't try to talk to people who have their minds made up.  I am convinced that we will see this in D&D 5.5/5r and it will soon migrate to other, even old-school, games.

I am likely to give it a try in my OSE-Advanced games. I would likely tweak it a bit more to fit my needs a little better.

No Alignments for Sentient Humanoids

Again, this is a sea-change in many games.  I have no issues with it at all.  I have had good orcs for years, and a lot of mostly neutral ones, and scores of completely evil ones.  Yes, yes, insert Tolkien arguments here...BUT as much as I adore the Professor and his works, he is not my DM.  Neither is Gygax, or Arneson, nor any others.  I get to decide what my world does or does not do.  Goblins are already all over the place in regards to alignment for me, I am even getting to a place where Drow might not all be evil. Yes the vast, vast majority of them are demon-worshiping sadists. But not all of them.  Interestingly enough, the one humanoid I have always seen as Always Evil are Gnolls.  Something the Gnoll Sage line rejects. 

Again there are things going on here that are just on paper that I have been doing (and posting about here) forever.

Which Witch to Use?

This is my blog so I want to talk about which witch I would use with this RPG.  Design-wise Chromatic Dungeons can be used with just about every or any version of D&D or clones thereof.  So by that logic, any of my witch books should work fine.  But some work better than others, to be honest.

Chromatic Witches

Given when my Chromatic Dungeons books came in the mail I also got my new Pumpkin Spice Witch mini with some Candy Corn Dice.   So I have always felt that my Pumpkin Spice Witch book for Advanced Labyrinth Lord would be perfect.

Chromatic Pumpkin Spice Witch

Rule wise the Classical Witch or Amazon Witch is a better choice. But in any case, if you are playing CD then use the XP values in the CD books and the powers from whichever book you choose.

Personally, I like the idea of Fleabag coming into a "Home, Hearth & Heart" and having a conversation with Becky my Pumpkin Spice Witch.  She would offer them a PSL (though I see Fleabag more as an herbal tea drinker) and go on about their fur ("It looks so soft! Do you use conditioner? We have one here that I LOVE, it's on the house! Wait, you are not allergic to lavender are you?") and have a nice conversation about witches in the world.

In true Chromatic Dungeons fashion though I think there should be a coven with a witch from every Tradition I have represented.  So Pumpkin Spice, White, Green, Classical, Amazon, MaraAiséiligh, Winter, Faerie, Aquarian, Maleficia, Hedge, and Pagan.  That would be a lot of fun.  Not sure how they would all get along though.  Chromatic coven to be sure.

Pumpkin Spice Witch


Thursday, November 4, 2021

Review: Chromatic Dungeons, Part 3 The Gnoll Sage

Edited to add:  Here are all the parts to this series: Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

Heading into the last of my three-part series on Izegrim Creations' Chromatic Dungeons game.  Today I want to review the first 5 issues of their Zine-like publication The Gnoll Sage.  What it adds to Chromatic Dungeons and what you can get out of these even if you are not a Chromatic Dungeons player.

The Gnoll Sage, #1 to #5

The Gnoll Sage

For this review, I am considering the PDFs from DriveThruRPG as well as the printed, digest-sized, soft-covers I received via Kickstarter.

Each book is 24 or so pages with Issue #5 coming in at 42 pages.  Color covers and black and white interiors. Each one is released under the OGL so a couple of pages go to the license statement.

On the surface, there is a strong influence from Dragon magazine, but not in the way say Gygax magazine tried to do.  The influence here is easily one of someone that had read and grown up on Dragon and wanted to recreate the feeling rather than the actual layout.  It serves The Gnoll Sage (TGS) well.  

The unifying thread through all these issues is the involvement of "Fleabag" the eponymous Gnoll Sage.  Not Phoebe Waller-Bridge (but that would be hilarious) but an intelligent, erudite, be-spectacled, and maybe a bit of a pacifist, Gnoll who presents topics from the issue/zine from their point of view.  I personally rather like it.  It fits well into the idea that no humanoid race in Chromatic Dungeons has a default alignment.  The funny part, for me at any rate, is I have often agreed with this idea on my blog EXCEPT for Gnolls.  Maybe I'll give Fleabag a try anyway.

Each zine has a main feature, usually depicted on the cover, and other details like some magic items, equipment, spells, and so on.  There is a comic section reminiscent of "Dragon Mirth" as well.  There is an editorial in each issue talking about the issue and what might be coming next. 

The material presented in each issue is overtly for the Chromatic Dungeons game, but it is all written in such a way, with extra notes when needed, that it can be used with just about any 80s or 90s versions of *D&D or any clone that emulates them.  In particular, I felt they would be very handy to use with B/X D&D or Old-School Essentials. 

The Gnoll Sage #1
The Gnoll Sage #1

The first issue details the Mrav Covjecka, a group of insectoid/humanoid hybrids that need humanoid blood to nurse their brood. We get an "Ecology of" article as told to us by Fleabag. A monster statblock that can be used by any d20 based game including D&D 5. 

There is also a brief adventure featuring the new monsters.  There is the humor section, some new magic items, some NPCs you can meet, a section of new spells and upcoming topics in future books. 

There is also the OGL statement at the end.


The Gnoll Sage #2
The Gnoll Sage #2

In this second issue we are given the Animist class which is designed to replace classes like "the Witch doctor" or Shaman or even "Spirit Guide."  This is a good thing since the term Animist encapsulates all of these ideas. It is a divine spellcaster in Chromatic Dungeons terms, but can easily be ported over to any other D&D/Clone.  It could also be tweaked and added to D&D 5 if you like.  The class and all it's powers take up 18 of the zine's 28 pages.  I have not played it yet but it looks pretty solid.

The remainder of the book is given over to humor, the look forward, and a copy of the OGL.


The Gnoll Sage #3
The Gnoll Sage #3

The third issue of The Gnoll Sage gives us the ecology of a monster introduced in the Chromatic Dungeons hardcover, the Mushropod. In the Ecology Of article, we get more details from our Gnoll on the Scene, Fleabag as they let us know what they have uncovered about the sentient mushrooms.  Again the stat block reminds me of a 5e one, but everything here lends itself well to use of any 20th century D&D or clone.

There is a very brief adventure featuring these guys, some humor, three new magic items, some new NPCs, and a new spell. We end with the State of the Business note from Waibel where he mentions his Rise of Authur project.  If you follow him at all online now (late Fall 2021) you have seen the characters he has been working on. 


The Gnoll Sage #4
The Gnoll Sage #4

Now here is one I was quite excited for.  This issue introduces us to the Psionist class for Chromatic Dungeons or any other clone.  We start with some fluff with Fleabag and the aftermath of the Mushropod attack from the last issue. Fleabag describes a unique "spellcaster" they had met who what not a spellcaster at all. We then get into the class proper.  Now I am very particular about my psychic and psionic using classes. Even to the point where I have a preferred term (it's "psychic" btw) and I need them to be very different than my spell-using classes. Also if their powers can be built up over time with disciplines, then all the better.  This class satisfies two of those three. The class is flexible to use just about anywhere and easy to introduce. In fact, with the most minor of tweaks, a 5th Edition class can be found here. The psionist can choose one of three disciplines; Psychometabolism, Telekinesis, and Telepathy.  There are powers with each one and they grow as the character levels up. 

We also get an ersatz Mind Flayer in the Mind Eater and some comics.  In the State of the Business, we learn this was the last issue of the original four set, with issue #5 coming as a stretch goal.


The Gnoll Sage #5
The Gnoll Sage #5

This issue is the last of the Kickstarter issues and also the largest so far at 42 pages.  This issue covers the Ecology of the Orc and sets out to challenge our notions, or at least stereotypes of orcs.  This is introduced in the starting fiction with Fleabag challenging the party to think about what sorts of orcs they might be dealing with.  What follows is a very long Ecology Of and details of seven very different Orc clans.  

In the Ecology Of we learn the basic structure of an orc clan including numbers, leadership, and organization.  What follows are descriptions of seven example clans.  They are, briefly: Small Clans are the various orc clans represented in pretty much all other RPGs.  The Iron Shield Clan, a group of orcs more interested in making weapons, and selling them, than using them. Yellow Fang, a group of plains orcs that wear the skins of their enemies as clothing. Chaka Plains orcs are not pacifists per see, but understand the value of life and death and respect it. Meet them peacefully and you will be respected, meet them with violence and they will happily escort you to your next life. There are the sea-faring orc pirates and privateers of the Red Sails, but they only attack the wealthiest of ships.  There are the imperialistic and arrogant orcs of the Baildan Daguulalt (Empire) that combine the best, and worst, characteristics of Imperialisy Britain and the Roman Empire. They are brilliant and utterly convinced of their own superiority, in fact they made the cover.  Finally the orcs of the Silver Glacier might be the most dangerous of all these clans. 

That is a lot! There are still a couple of magic items, some comics, new spells, and some hints about the next issue and a new class The Commander.

Each issue runs for $5.00 for the PDF and $6.00 for the print or print/PDF combination. 

Their digest size makes me think they will fit in well with the newest versions of Old-School Essentials or Swords & Wizardry. So even if you don't play the Chromatic Dungeons game, these are still great resources.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Review: Chromatic Dungeons, Part 2 "Advanced" Rules

Chromatic Dungeons RPG

Edited to add:  Here are all the parts to this series: Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4.

Today I want to cover the big game in the Chromatic Dungeons line.  I call it the "Advanced" game, but the name on the cover is just Chromatic Dungeons RPG.

Note.  I do want to point out that nowhere in the game nor in any online conversation has Roderic Waibel or Izegrim Creations called these rules "Advanced."  This is just what I am calling them to differentiate them from the Basic Rules.

Again for this review, I am considering the hardcover I got as a Kickstarter Backer and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

Note 2: I'll make allusions to the Basic game here.  This is only to describe how these rules go above and beyond the basic rules.  At no point in these rules did I see something that had you refer to the Basic rules for more details.  This rulebook is complete on its own.

Chromatic Dungeons RPG

330 pages, hardcover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

If the Basic Game was meant to invoke feelings of the 1981 Moldvay Basic set then this book is clearly influenced by the earlier AD&D 1st Edition core rules. It is a hardcover for starters, larger, and provides more details for playing a CD game.

The rules are largely in line with and much more compatible with each other than say Basic D&D was to AD&D.  This is one of the biggest reasons I was excited about this particular game.  Back in the day we played D&D and AD&D interchangeably and tried to deal with the rule contradictions the very best we could.  Here those contradictions do not exist except in the way that specific rules override general ones.  Characters are more detailed, as are spells, monsters, and a host of other options, but never in a way they feel contradictory to the Basic Rules.  Characters can move fairly freely between the games. 

Ability Scores are chosen the same way 4d6 and drop the lowest.  Here the general modifiers of the Basic game give way to specific ones for each ability and subscores, ie. to hit and damage adjustment for Strength, number of spells for Intelligence, followers for Charisma, and so on.  Ability Checks are handled in the same fashion.  Scores still cap at 18 for rolls or 20 with bonuses, but the charts go to 25 for the use of exceptional characters and monsters.

Ancestry covers what species you were born into. Dwarves come in Hill, Mountain, and Deep varieties. Elves can be High, Wood, or Deep. Humans and Halflings are back and joined by Gnomes.  A table of alternate Ancestries is also given so you could play Gnolls, Centaurs, Orcs, or Goblins to name but a few.  The system is simple enough that almost any sort of ancestry can be used.    

Ancestry

Heritage, like the Basic game, covers the character's upbringing. This chart is the same as the Basic game, but expanded with more types.  

Character Classes.  This is the first of the really big changes. Where the Basic game has only three basic character types, this one has four major class groups with many sub-classes underneath.  The feeling is that of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea or AD&D 2nd Edition to be honest, with maybe just a touch of 5th Edition D&D.  Each group shares an advancement table for HD calculations and to hit bonus along with a shared Saving Throw table.  All groups share the same single XP per level table as per D&D 3rd through 5th Editions.

The first group is the Divine, which gives us Clerics and Druids. Divine Spellcasters are limited to 7th level spells.  Warriors include the fighter, berserker, ranger, and paladin.  Rogues are the most diverse lot with thieves, assassins, bards, and monks.  Magic-users are arcane spellcasters and they get spells to 9th level.  They include the Wizard and the Sorcerer which is a spell-point-based spell caster. Like the sorcerers of 3rd to 5th edition, they have a bloodline and some examples are detailed.

Multiclassing and Alignment are the same here as the Basic game.  The unified XP chart makes multiclassing easier. Alignment is a three-point system of Law-Neutrality-Chaos. 

Equipment is next. Very similar but expanded over the Basic game. 

Spells is the next largest section of the book and also one of the three that gets the most changes.  Spells are split out into classes with the Divine first (Cleric then Druid) then all the Arcane spells. The spells are all listed out alphabetically.  Included now are staples like Area of Effect, Components, casting time, and saving throws. Each spell also has a school listed. 

Spells with Dean Spencer art

How to Play covers the game. This is roughly similar to the Basic Game, but it is expanded.  Saving Throws are now added to the game. They are an interesting remix of Basic/AD&D and D&D3 style saves.  More on traps, diseases, and hirelings are covered here. 

Combat gets its own section.  Here initiative is back to a d20 (not the d10 of the Basic game). 

The Campaign deals with adventures, granting XP and what kinds of monsters can be found where. It ends with a sample play session.

The Bestiary is the last of the three big changes. Not only are all the monsters expanded on, but there are also more of them.  The monsters are still sorted by categories or groups, but now there are more. There are Beasts, Demons, Devils, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Giants, Golems, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, Oozes, and Undead. The stat blocks are expanded to give average scores for Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma. Special Attacks. Special Defenses and Magic Resistance are all now included. 

Old School Monster art

As with the Basic game, many monsters do not have an alignment. Or rather their alignment is listed as n/a.  In the case of animals (Beasts and Dinosaurs), it is because they lack intelligence or awareness. Others like humanoids it is because the Game Master can choose what they want.  Notably, all Demons and Devils are Chaotic, Dragons are split between Lawful and Chaotic along the lines you think they are, Elementals are now properly Neutral, and Fey runs the spectrum.  We get the usual suspects here, nothing jumping out at me as new save for the Mi-Go (not new, but not usual) and the mushropod (sorta new, but certainly NOT usual). 

The Treasure section is also expanded. Included new are Sentient Weapons and rarity tables. There is a new section on crafting items including an ingredient listing with measures of rarity. 

We end with appendices of tables, blank character sheets, indexes, and our OGL statement. 

The PDF is fully bookmarked.

Like the Basic books, this book is filled with evocative old-school style art.  Some of it is from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art.  Much of it is clearly influenced by 40 years of playing.  The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and a variety of ethnicities, genders, and peoples are represented. 

Old School Art

Again like the Basic books this is really directed at and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art, in this case, is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger.  If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

The book "feels" like AD&D 1st Ed. Or maybe it is a 2nd Edition clone if that game had been produced later.

Because of how it is built it also feels like nearly anything can be used with it from nearly any area of D&D's history.   

Who Should Buy This?

I said this yesterday about the Basic Chromatic Dungeons game, and it is true for this version as well. This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s.  Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school.  Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on its own.  Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time and it is the perfect introduction to this "Advanced" game. 

If you are like me and grew up on old-school games and now have a family that loves the newest version of the game then this is a good way to introduce them to old-school play.  OR if you are new school player and want to try your hand at some old school play, but want to retain some of the options that make the new games so attractive, then this is a great game for you.   

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I am posting this as part of this month's RPG Blog Carnival on Indie Games hosted by The Rat Hole.


Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Review: Chromatic Dungeons, Part 1 Basic Rules

Edited to add:  Here are all the parts to this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The craziness that  is October is behind me now, time to settle in and read some books and do some reviews.  I have been planning to do this one now for some time and this feels like the best time for me.

For the next few days I am going to review the new Old-School Game on the block, Chromatic Dungeons from Roderic Waibel and Izegrim Creations.  Waibel ran a very successful Kickstarter for this over the Summer and the physical books and PDFs have been in my hands since the very start of Fall. I am happy to report I am very pleased with what I have received. I interviewed Waibel back when his Kickstarter was live so you can get an idea of the goals of Chromatic Dungeons.   I'll refer back to that to see how well his stated goals were met for me.

Chromatic Dungeons

Let me begin with noting that that there three distinct reviews I am doing here this week.  The first covers the "Basic Rules" made up of Player's Book and a Monsters & Treasures book.  The "advanced" or full game of Chromatic Dungeons will be tomorrow. Finally a zine-like product, The Gnoll Sage, will be after that.

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules

Basic Rules, Player's Book. 86 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.
Basic Rules, Monsters & Treasures. 58 pages, soft-cover, color cover art, black & white interior art.

Chromatic Dungeons, Basic Rules

For this review I am considering the two soft-cover Basic Rules books and PDFs.  

The Basic Rules of Chromatic Dungeons consists of two books a Players Book and a Monsters & Treasures book.  The material for the Game Masters is split between the two books.  Players only need the Player's book, but the GM will need both.  Considering the prices of the books this is not a problem.

The guiding principle for Chromatic Dungeons is to provide an old-school ruleset, say circa 1981, but still have some new school sensibilities.  Because of this it does not make much sense to call Chromatic Dungeons a "retro clone."  It is an old school game yes, but the rules inside are an interesting mix of old and new school mechanics.  I will point these out as I move through the text but to put the major selling point up front, this is the game you are likely to have the most success with when introducing old school play to newer players.  I will detail more (and a few more times) as we progress.

The Basic Rules are designed to introduce new players to the CD game.  It has a lot in common with it's progenitor game, Dungeons & Dragons, in particular the 1981 Moldvay Basic set.  It is written for people that have never played before.  This is still a good thing since one of the goals I believe of this game IS to introduce new players to old-school gaming.  

Basic Rules, Player's Book
Basic Rules, Player's Book

We get an Introduction and Forward that helps explain the nature of this game, but also to set the stage for what we will see. The author wants to make it plain up front that this is an inclusive game and that everyone should feel welcome to it.  This includes a brief overview of the game and a brief glosary of game terms to get everyone going.

Character Creation is first with the character concept and the rolling of ability scores.  The method used here is 4d6, drop the lowest and arrange to suit your concept. This strikes a good balance between getting the character you want and old-school randomness. Want 3d6 in order? That game was already written and likely you already have it.  After this you choose your Ancestry (and Heritage), Class and get equipment.  Lets go into some detail here.

XP per Level is covered first. Each class uses the same XP value much like you see in 21st century D&D games (3rd Edition and beyond).  This has a number of advantages of course.  Multi-classing becomes easier and it helps keep level progression fairly even.  Also it helps the intended audience, new gamers, become acclimated faster.  (Editorial aside: I have taught many players whose first experiences were 3e, Pathfinder or 5e and they adapt to differing XP level charts fine; often with an occasional reminder that the thief is higher level because of it. But still this is easier.)

Ability Scores are the standard six we are all familiar with.  Like the Moldvay Basic set the scores run 3-18 with simple modifiers they all share. Note. These mods are slightly different than what you might find in B/X, Labyrinth Lord, or Swords & Wizardry, so make sure you put them on your character sheet and don't go by memory.  A simple ability check system that is compatible with, well, really all sorts of versions of D&D/Clones is presented.

Note in this version of the Chromatic Dragons game there are no "Saving Throws" but rather specialized ability checks.  For example to "save" against some mind affecting magic you need to make a Wisdom check.  This actually works rather well in my mind.

Ancestry and Heritage is the system used to replace the antiquated notions of "Race."  Essentially this is a "Nature and Nurture" idea where Ancestry is your genetic or biologic make up and Heritage is how and under what conditions you were raised.   For ancestry you can choose Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human. Each has details common to members of the same Ancestry. Dwarves are short, live to 300 years or so, and also something called "solid build" which gives them the ability to reduce damage by blunt object by 1 point. Humans get to add 1 point to any ability score, elves don't need to sleep and so on.  Heritages are how you you were raised.  So this helps give players a bit of character creation control to that backstory in their minds.  You choose two heritages and the list can easily expanded.  For example you can be born a halfling and have all the benefits of the halfling ancestry, but maybe you lived in a a Dwarf community, so you have the heritages of "Crafting" and "Subterranean."

This is a great concept and one I would wholesale adopt for all my games in the future. It just works too well for me. But I do have a couple of nitpicks with how it is done here.  First under Ancestry everyone gets a language of their ancestry.  This is something I feel better goes under Heritage.  And there are some heritages that are better suited for ancestry.  For example my Halfling who grew up in the Dwarven community knows how to speak Halfling due to their Ancestry and has Infravision due their "Subterranean" heritage.  I can see "Dark Adapted" working, or even the ability to detect sloping corridors; but infravision feels like something you should be born with and languages are something that are learned later.  Again, a minor nitpick, but one I will adjust when playing.

Basic Rules Art
Character Classes cover the three basic classes; Fighter, Rogues, and Wizard.  Other 3-class games call these Warriors, Rogue (or Expert) and Adept, but the names in the book are more suited to this genre and make translations to the "Advanced" game easier.  Each class get an ability bonus, much like you see in newer games.  So fighters get a +1 bonus to Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity.  This can be easily rationalized as training. Each class also gets a set of abilities.  Note, the Rogue abilities are presented using the same system as all other ability checks.  They get bonuses for particular abilities; same name as the thief abilities of other games.  Each level they gain 6 points to improve their 9 abilities as they choose (reminds me of 2nd Ed AD&D's Rogues).  I do rather like this, yes it is different from the multiple subsystems that was either the curse or the charm of old-school games (depending on your point of view) but it also makes for a speedier game.  Wizards for this game cover wizards, magic-users and clerics.  Another small nitpick, since there is the Advanced game, I would have called this class a Magic-user, and then when the classes are separated out in the Advanced game called the Magic-users Wizards.  But again, this is minor.

Alignment is a basic, or rather Basic, affair of just Law, Neutrality and Chaos. 

Equipment covers everything you can buy.  I remember running some friend through the Keep on the Borderlands years decades ago and they spent the entire adventure shopping in the Keep and trying to get deals.

How to Play covers all the Basic rules starting with movement.  Movement scale is closer to that of newer, 21st century forms on D&D. We also get good coverage on time, vision, stealth and more.  Discussions on what you can do on your turn are detailed.  At this point we have read a little about about combat, but not all of it. That comes up now with initiative.  Here we are using a hybrid of Basic and 2nd Edition inspired initiative sequence.  We also get Morale another Basic/2nd Ed hybrid, but based on a max score of 10 as opposed to 12 (Basic) or 20 (2nd Ed). 

Armor class is Ascending, not Descending.  This is good since it gets rid of the need for attack tables. Characters have an attack bonus and they roll vs. AC. 

Experience Points are pretty much the same as seen in earlier versions of D&D.  A bit on creating adventures is given and a sample adventure is provided.

Wizard Spells follow.  Since there is only one spell casting class, all the spells to 5th level are here.

We end with a blank character sheet, Appendices of tables, sample characters and a combat quick guide.

Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure
Basic Rules, Monster & Treasure

This book is primarily for Game Masters.  

The bulk (2/3) of the book is about monsters.  It starts off with what the descriptions of the monsters mean, how to read the stat blocks and so on. The stat block is pretty similar to what is found in *D&D circa 1981, so reading or even adapting to other games is easy.  While XP values are listed Treasure type is not. 

There is a section on special monsters, such as having the abilities of a character type or class. As well as assigning numbers for ability checks for monsters.  Something that will be easier in the "Advanced" version of the game. 

The monsters are grouped by category rather than all alphabetical. The Categories are Beasts, Dinosaurs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Humanoids, Lycanthropes, Monstrosities, and Undead. Nearly all the usual suspects are here. 

Some monsters are given the alignment of "n/a."  This is typically true of creatures that are too unintelligent for alignment such as dinosaurs, or humanoids that can be any alignment.  I do think for creatures like beasts, dinosaurs and elementals that "neutral" would have been fine and for humanoids "any" would have worked.  Fiends are all Chaotic and so are most of the Dragons, Giants, and Undead.  

The Treasure section covers not only magical treasures as expected, but gives us an alternate treasure type system based on the monster's HD.  So not dissimilar to 3e or 5e. 

Both Books

Both books are filled with evocative old-school style art.  Some of it from various stock art artists the Old-School community knows, but a good deal is original and new art.  Much of it clearly enfluenced by 40 years of playing.  The art goes beyond "Euro-centric" D&D art and variety of ethnicities, genders and peoples are represented. 

Both books are really directed and written for people coming into the Old-School RPG scene anew. While there is a lot to enjoy here if you are an old Grog, and the art in this case is a particular treat, the audience that will get the most out of this are a generation younger.  If you still have your original D&D books from the 1970s and 80s you will still find enjoyment here. Especially if you are like me and enjoy seeing the design choices of "D&D's Greatest Hits" here.

Both PDFs are fully bookmarked.  Both books are fully OGC.

This game is a great game to introduce new players, new to RPGs or new to Old-School style games, to the ways of playing of the 1980s.  Sure it is not exactly how we did it, but it is a great compromise between Old and New school.  This game is also the perfect introduction to the "Advanced" game of Chromatic Dungeons.  Finally, someone has made a "Basic" game that works great as an introduction to an "Advanced" game and one that works well enough on it's own.  Yes, yes there is Old-School Essentials and Labyrinth Lord that have both Basic and Advanced options, but Chromatic Dungeons' Basic game is truly that, an introductory game, "Basic" and "basic" at the same time.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the full Advanced game.