Archive | March 2012

Lair of the Purple Worm

In OD&D, either in the wilderness or out of it, monsters are either encountered in their “lairs” or out of them. The monsters in their “lairs” may – or may not – have certain kinds of treasure. Depending on the kind of monster encountered, the presence of these treasures are randomly determined by the DM.

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Index Card Glory & The OSR

I’ve said before that my favorite post about the OSR is this one. The simplicity and necessity of using the simple 3X5 card to record character information cannot be overstated. When I started playing again, I went out and bought a pile of these cards to use. I keep them stacked on my wife’s folding wooden secretary desk and, as I pass them on the way to our kitchen, I see them and I smile. The limitless possibilities of great D&D emanate from them like a strange and fascinating light.

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YA & The OSR

William, one of my friends over on Facebook, bravely lamented the way many of the adults he encounters now have become avid readers of YA (“Young Adult”) fiction. “We should aspire to be too old for young adult fiction. Otherwise, it may be a sign that we have failed to commit to the truths of our lives,” he wrote.

Naturally, this suggestion (or reproof) elicited a number of outraged replies…

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OSR: A Way Of Life?

Some of my friends have been complaining about the new Tim Burton adaptation of TV’s classic cult soap opera Dark Shadows. I admit to having a mighty big love for this series myself. I own a slew of the DVDs (though not all of them) and have, over the years, collected some fun memorabilia from the show. I bought and read biographies of the cast members, and have what I deem an admirable collection of autographed pictures of the actors (some personalized). I was not impressed with the trailer for the Burton film, but it didn’t bother me all that much.

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R.I.P. M.A.R. Barker

I just found out that noted linguist and FRP innovator M.A.R. Barker died. I have never played in his famous “World of Tékumel,” nor am I as steeped in his work and ideas as I might want to be, but I will readily admit to his great influence and importance and, so, mourn his passing and pay homage to his life.

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Creating Your Own Campaign

I was very glad to read this piece about personal campaign construction. As I struggle with my OD&D work, it’s a subject I come back to often.

 

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Pass The Distance

D&D uses a standard “hexagonal” mapping system that dates back to the very origins of the game. The first map for the wilderness was the map from another game entirely: Avalon Hill’s Outdoor Survival game. Both Avalon Hill and SPI used hex maps in their games and it was natural that D&D followed suit. Hex maps have many great advantages. You can use a D6 to determine random directions and movement is easier to calculate than it would be with other models. Traveller also adopted hexagon mapping, perhaps with even greater attention to standardization and detail. The Judges Guild added numbers to each hex so that the DM could refer back to their notes to see what that particular hex contained. That company also developed more elaborate sub-mapping systems, so that greater detail could be shown on hex maps within the standard hex.

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Isle of the Unknown

Most fantasy role playing (FRP) games can be assigned to two differing play “styles” or formats. The first is called the “sandbox.” The second is called the “railroad.” Originally, D&D was more geared to “sandbox” style play. Characters were given a large environment with many differing options to explore and engage in. Over time, however, the “railroad” format took over game style and predetermined events, with even pre-made characters, would take place sequentially – thus greatly diminishing the characters’ freedom, initiative, and range of options.

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The Lost Projects of the Judges Guild

When the Judges Guild stopped publishing, when the shop finally closed, what were the projects in the works which never saw the light of day? What marvelous plans went unfulfilled?

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My Favorite Clone

Which clone is your favorite clone? Do you need a clone at all? Obviously, “clone wars” can become the OSR version of “edition” wars – and it’s not an entirely unrelated set of subjects. Some people, I know, actually prefer the Holmes’ “Basic” to the OD&D (Oe) “White Box” rules. Others champion the “Red Box” or “B/X” (Basic/Expert). As each clone represents a different attempt to mimic one of the iconic rules sets, it’s natural to find partisans drifting to one clone or the other. Me, I dig “Swords & Wizardy: Whitebox” (S&W:WB).

Here’s why…

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