Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My time for blogging has been eaten up with gaming in the RW. Thats a great thing and now Its moved to Roll20. I'm amazed at how easy Roll20 is to use. You do need to do some prep and it's sort of encourages a more tactical game than is strictly necessary. Even so, its a fun place to meet up and its in the comfort of your own home. No travel time, more gaming, which is a great thing too.

At present we are running ACK's more or less by default. People found the Labyrinth Lord + AEC to be difficult to understand go figure? I am surprised that it isn't an integrated offering by now just to make it easier for new people. We are using DCC magic as an overlay to the system and its working wonderfully. None of us really enjoy the way magic works at low levels in D&D. Having played since the 70's its one part of the game that is really quite ordinary right out of the box.

In investigating alternatives to LL+AEC I stumbled across Hackmaster Advanced and I'm hooked. I can see this becoming my gold standard for rpging now. People seem to have the feeling that its very complex and in reality its not that hard to use, It doesn't seem to get much love, which is an odd thing, give how well it's put together.

I discovered Fantasy Age,  possibly the best retro clone out there. It's not in reality a retro clone, but it's so close to a 3d6 version of D&D that is ridiculous. Moreover its an excellent streamlined game. You could do much worse then this system. I'd think Pathfinder is going to be feeling the heat from Dungeon crawl clasic, fith edition D&D and Fantasy Age. Yes this is the same system that powers Dragon Age, but removing the Theadas specific information. On the subject of Dragon Age; it may well be one of the nicest look best produced games in role playing, it's just gorgeous as a hard cover book. You want it for your collection.

All this fantasy gaming investigation brings me to a surprising realisation: the amount of vast deviation among the "clones" from the base rules. Most of the so called clones are what I would label 'simulators/emulators' then true clones. Most use ascending AC (pft ...Mathematically AC doesnt need to be "fixed" by making it ascending, to yield the results people want or the feel they are looking for, as the Target20 system demonstrates go over to Deltas blog and read the post on armour class. There is a lot of other personal preference things (fiddly little house rules) which have crept into these 'clones' as "fixes". This is not nesecarily a bad thing, however I would have thought one motivator to the designers would be to play old classic dungeons ( ie modules )'with a minimum of prep. Including matching the hit point totals of the modules enemies. Its annoying to have to make adjustments with games that claim to be clones when using them in conjunction with classic modules.

However the modules even the great classics, are not a draw card for all apparently. It seems sandbox play is a motivator for many groups. It's a wonderful movement if that's the case. I've tried many a sand box with my players. Most times and they become overwhelmed with choice and frozen by fear of making a deadly move and walking into a TPK by error.

Thankfully Hasbro/WotC are finally re-issuing the old game rules in numerous versions, so the clones are less needed. I'd expect to see more setting driven supplements, which will act as overlays to OD&D, BECMI or AD&D and yet this is not really happen and the clones keep coming, which I love. It is however a surprise people love to tinker with rules rather than write great setting material, like Dark Albion ( a land mark in gaming settings IMO). On the other hand it's a lot easier to tweak another's work and present it as your own than it is to produce and original, inspired work.

What this proves to me is something I'd thought for a long time. The OSR is really a DIY movement for creating your own game from pre made rules-modules and accepted gaming concepts. Thats a good thing. One of the best things is that peoples blinkers have come off in regards to Fantasy heartbreakers. I can see more general acceptance of fantasy games which share a common genetic code. More acceptance in the world is a good thing.      

Still I wish D&D had an edition which aped Dragon Warriors in presentation. The type of book that appeals to the ten year old boy in all of us. I can see it in my minds eye. Its a novel sized book or maybe comic book sized wich cool line art inside all black and white with maps and illustrations of swords and armour. Presenting very much the LL+AEC type information. One of the innovations I'd like to see is talents - essentially Feats and Stat improvements moved into the GM's section and presented as optional rewards that can be awarded alongside or brought with Treasure Points. That allows for the quick old school start up of the original game yet keeps some of the cool technology that has arisen over the years. As they are in the GM's hands getting talents can be as story motivated as you like. Magic needs to be simplified too but it needs to feel..well ... magical at the same time.

There is a project here if I can be botherd to take it up,


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