Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I've been thinking. Thinking about hit points.

The standard way to do hit points in classic D&D is to simply roll your hit die and adjust it for Constitution at every experience level, 1st through 9th. What you roll is what you get, and if you keep getting bad rolls, tough noogies. Some or even most DMs will amend this to allow player characters maximum hit points at level one, but otherwise there isn't much call (or need) in old-school games for different procedures like you see in WotC editions—taking the average or a roll if it's higher, re-rolling 1s or 2s, etc.

The thing is, though, no player ever finds it fun getting stuck with a low hit die roll, just as no player ever particularly enjoys getting level-drained by a spectre. That shit ain't fun, and I'm not some kind of macho old-school dogmatist here to tell you that you must implement harsh rules or else you're doing it wrong.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Annual Reminder RE: this thing we call "OSR"

Every once in a while, the OSR ties itself into an existential knot. "What are we? Who are we? What are we doing here? And what is it all for?" These questions burp up to the surface of the inter-blog-o-socio-media-sphere-i-web from time to time.

I'd like to take just a moment of your time to address a few of them.

1. What is the OSR?

The OSR, or "Old School Renaissance," is a movement within the tabletop role-playing hobby centered on playing, and publishing new material for, the TSR editions of D&D.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Engines & Empires: The Boxer Class

I guess I couldn't help myself. I just love the monk archetype too much. So I've put it back in the game. This little supplemental document I've written up now includes rules for both scholars and boxers, bringing the number of human classes in Engines & Empires back up to the original six.

Just like monks in D&D, boxers are kind of optional and funky, with attribute score requirements, a lower level limit than other human types, and some other quirks. But now the same six classes that appeared in the original Engines & Empires Campaign Compendium (fighter, expert, boxer, mage, scholar, and tech) are available in the Core Rules version of the game as well.

What prompted this?  Well, I was chugging along on revising Retro Phaze, hit the monster section, and then kind of stalled out when the homework started to pile up. (Seriously, I should really be working on homework and papers right now. The workload this semester has become insane.) It's gotten to the point where my Barrowmaze campaign, steadily and surely a weekly affair that I've run for my local game store group every single Saturday afternoon since the start of this year, has moved to a two-week turn.

And this, blast it, has given me space to think. Always a dangerous thing for a DM who suffers from chronic gamer ADD. It makes me long for variety away from crypts full of undead. It makes me want to cook up my own dungeon and put it in my own setting again. I don't actually have time to do the legwork for a completely new campaign of my own devising; but damn it if I can't stop thinking about it. Daydreaming about what sort of setting and what sort of dungeon I'd like to run.

And I realized that for my next campaign, whenever it rolls around, I really would like to try a human-only setting. No elves, no playable demi-humans. Just human characters who are only as interesting as the players make them. (Demi-humans are awfully crutchy that way sometimes. "What's your character like?" "He's an elf." "Okay, but what about his personality?" "He's an elf." "Yes, I got that, but what makes him interesting?" "Elf.") I've really been vibing a more modern-feeling setting, something with a tech level in the Final Fantasy VI through VIII range. And because of that, I think I've felt the need lately to expand the class system in anticipation of such a game. You know, just so that there's more variety available to the players when I tell them that my next game's setting isn't gonna have elves (because there's always that one guy who only plays elves).

I don't know; maybe I'll have changed my mind about it by the time I'm ready to switch games. But for now, it's comforting to have the option.