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  • I've said it once and I will say it again.

    I love the OSR and Old-School D&D in general.

    The thing about OD&D/Zero Edition in particular, more than any other edition, is that it's less of a defined game and more of a loose game engine with which to construct your own games with. The medieval and Sword & Sorcery elements serve as a basic springboard and guideline for the kind of campaigns that were being played by the people in the wargaming scene of Chicago and Milwaukee back in the late 1960's and early 1970's.

    Hell, Original Dungeons & Dragons itself is directly descended from a wargame scenario style called "Braunstein", which was created in 1967 but never officially published. It was a Proto-RPG, the missing link between wargames and RPG's. It was more of a play style than a defined set of game rules. The original Braunstein scenario took place in a Napoleonic setting and had no fantasy elements at all.

    Among the players of these Braunstein games were Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, who decided to run their own Braunstein campaigns with different settings and styles, which would lay the foundations for D&D, Boot Hill (originally conceived as a Wild West Braunstein game), and the campaign settings of Greyhawk and Blackmoor. Essentially, Gygax and Arneson took the Braunstein concept, made up some extra shit they thought would be fun, wrote down these rules and created the hobby of tabletop RPG's.

    In OD&D itself, there are references to robots, cyborgs, androids, Martians, and other stuff not typically associated with D&D. People often played as monster PC's (OD&D even cites an example on how to play a Dragon PC. A Level 1 Dragon would be a baby dragon, and they would grow at each level), while Dave Arneson would often include firearms and time travel in his Blackmoor games.

    J. Eric Holmes, a medical doctor who created Basic D&D by running a simplified and house-ruled version of OD&D White Box + Supplement I for his kids had been known to play Samurai, Witch, Spaceman, Centaur, and even an insect-like space alien PC's as concepts in the games he played.

    Mike Mornard (AKA Gronan of Symmeria at RPG Pub and formerly Old Geezer at RPG.net) was a friend of Gygax and Arneson and one of the few surviving playtesters of OD&D back in the 1970's. He has mentioned several times that he played a Balrog in some of the campaigns on multiple occasions.

    Because OD&D was so bare-bones and was the first RPG ever published, everyone had their own way of doing it and people used it for all sorts of genres and playstyles. It was a very free and creative game.

    People talk a lot about the freedom and unconventional style of so-called "story games" compared to traditional RPG's, and while I do not have anything against story games or the people who play them, a lot of people don't realize the immense freedom and open-ended play found in OD&D and its loose system. The three classes and four races of OD&D were simply examples of character archetypes one could use as a guide for their own campaigns, and a lot of the game itself was implied to be up to the Referee and the players to decide. The game rested heavily on rulings over hard rules (which is why OD&D is so bare-bones in terms of mechanics and not very well-worded or organized. Gygax and Arneson assumed the players would just make shit up like they did in their OD&D games (although knowledge of wargaming can help, and they assumed only wargamers would be playing D&D initially)

    It wasn't until OD&D turned out to be a smash success and gain an unexpected cult following that D&D tried to define itself and codify its own tropes with AD&D (which was originally envisioned as a mere compilation of OD&D along with its four supplements and the most common house rules that were circulating in the gaming magazines at the time) and the newer systems of today.

    I love the OSR, OD&D, and all the possibilities within it.

    Comment


    • Personally, "the system is so barebones you can make up whatever you want" isn't a strong selling point for me. If I'm making it up myself anyway, I don't see any particularly strong reason to use this system over another, or even none. I would much rather a system with clear design goals goals and rules that are well-suited for achieving those goals. Now, there's room for minimalism within that. If you can achieve your design goals in a way that requires less cognitive load, great! But "this system does (blank) really well and without a lot of unnecessary rules minutia" is going to be a much stronger selling point for me, whereas, "this system can do anything, because it's so minimalist" makes me wonder why I should bother.


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      • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
        Personally, "the system is so barebones you can make up whatever you want" isn't a strong selling point for me. If I'm making it up myself anyway, I don't see any particularly strong reason to use this system over another, or even none. I would much rather a system with clear design goals goals and rules that are well-suited for achieving those goals. Now, there's room for minimalism within that. If you can achieve your design goals in a way that requires less cognitive load, great! But "this system does (blank) really well and without a lot of unnecessary rules minutia" is going to be a much stronger selling point for me, whereas, "this system can do anything, because it's so minimalist" makes me wonder why I should bother.


        When you introduce the concept of a multiverse into any given cosmology, it's hard not to turn the setting into a sandbox narrative. And in the case of D&D, I think it works very well. There's so many different races, religions and entire planes of existence that you can really do anything you want with it. I'm watching the TFS session on youtube (uploads on thursdays) and as far as I can tell, it takes place in a home brewed setting, complete with its own home brewed deities and lore.

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        • Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
          When you introduce the concept of a multiverse into any given cosmology, it's hard not to turn the setting into a sandbox narrative. And in the case of D&D, I think it works very well. There's so many different races, religions and entire planes of existence that you can really do anything you want with it. I'm watching the TFS session on youtube (uploads on thursdays) and as far as I can tell, it takes place in a home brewed setting, complete with its own home brewed deities and lore.
          You're talking about something very different here. There's nothing wrong with toolbox games designed to be used for a variety of different settings. I'm saying, if that's the game you want to make, your mechanics should be designed to do that well. GURPS, FATE, BRP, PBTA, these are all examples of games designed to be toolbox systems with rules that lend themselves to it. D&D is a game with rules designed to create a more specific kind of play experience, and you can certainly adapt it to different settings, but you may not be playing to its strengths depending on how far that setting deviates from D&D's core assumptions. And again, "this systems rules are great for adapting to any setting or genre" is a strong selling point. "This system has really barebones rules and expects you to fill in the blanks" is a deterrent. It suggests not that the system is versatile, but that it is unfinished. Sell me on what a game's rules do well, not on what they don't do.


          Onyx Path Forum Moderator

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          • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
            You're talking about something very different here. There's nothing wrong with toolbox games designed to be used for a variety of different settings. I'm saying, if that's the game you want to make, your mechanics should be designed to do that well. GURPS, FATE, BRP, PBTA, these are all examples of games designed to be toolbox systems with rules that lend themselves to it. D&D is a game with rules designed to create a more specific kind of play experience, and you can certainly adapt it to different settings, but you may not be playing to its strengths depending on how far that setting deviates from D&D's core assumptions. And again, "this systems rules are great for adapting to any setting or genre" is a strong selling point. "This system has really barebones rules and expects you to fill in the blanks" is a deterrent. It suggests not that the system is versatile, but that it is unfinished. Sell me on what a game's rules do well, not on what they don't do.


            Oh, I thought you were talking about it's ability to tell a story, not it's mechanical functionality.

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            • Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
              Oh, I thought you were talking about it's ability to tell a story, not it's mechanical functionality.
              Nah, I was talking about what Camilla said - that they love OD&D because it's barebones.


              Onyx Path Forum Moderator

              My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

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              • One tiny mention of Eberron in the Tome of Foes. Ugh.


                Call me Regina or Lex.

                Female pronouns for me, please.

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                • Well, different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

                  Don't get me wrong, I do love the more detailed generic systems like GURPS, but I am a sucker for very rules-light and bare-bones systems like Big Eyes Small Mouth 1E (itself a generic system, albeit with a specific aesthetic in mind) and Original Dungeons & Dragons.

                  I just like having less rules to memorize and keep track of, that way I can focus more on the story and characters.

                  I do see your point, and perhaps I worded my earlier post a bit poorly.

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                  • Originally posted by Camilla View Post
                    Well, different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

                    Don't get me wrong, I do love the more detailed generic systems like GURPS, but I am a sucker for very rules-light and bare-bones systems like Big Eyes Small Mouth 1E (itself a generic system, albeit with a specific aesthetic in mind) and Original Dungeons & Dragons.

                    I just like having less rules to memorize and keep track of, that way I can focus more on the story and characters.

                    I do see your point, and perhaps I worded my earlier post a bit poorly.
                    I’m all for rules-light. I’m just for rules-light with a purpose. Decide what you want your game to do, and then build the rules to do that thing well in as light a way as possible. “This system is really rules-light and easy to use” is a strong selling point. “This system is really rules-light and you can make up your own rules” isn’t. Like I said, sell me on what the rules do well, not on what they don’t do. If one of those things is being user-friendly and easy to learn, awesome! But telling me how the designers left a lot blank for me to make up myself is less awesome. I don’t see “efficiently designed, lightweight rules,” I see “unfinished game.”
                    Last edited by Charlaquin; 05-17-2018, 11:10 AM.


                    Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                    My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

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                    • Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post

                      I’m all for rules-light. I’m just for rules-light with a purpose. Decide what you want your game to do, and then build the rules to do that thing well in as light a way as possible. “This system is really rules-light and easy to use” is a strong selling point. “This system is really rules-light and you can make up your own rules” isn’t. Like I said, sell me on what the rules do well, not on what they don’t do. If one of those things is being user-friendly and easy to learn, awesome! But telling me how the designers left a lot blank for me to make up myself is less awesome. I don’t see “efficiently designed, lightweight rules,” I see “unfinished game.”

                      Fair point, and in OD&D's defense, it was the first game of its kind, so there would naturally be some gaps.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Camilla View Post
                        Fair point, and in OD&D's defense, it was the first game of its kind, so there would naturally be some gaps.
                        Absolutely! You’ve got to give OD&D props for blazing the trail. I may give the impression that I don’t like it, but I respect OD&D immensely, and I’d love to give it a try some time. Unfortunately, the time I can devote to gaming is limited and it’s not my highest priority.


                        Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                        My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                        Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                        • On an unrelated note, the 5e game I play in online is finally back up and running after an 8 month hiatus, and it feels great to be playing again. I made an Arcane Archer Fighter, which means most of my combat turns I’m just shooting my longbow at the biggest threat, with the only real decision points being “do I take the -5/+10 from sharpshooter?” (to which the answer is basically always yes unless I know the target is at low enough HP that the +10 damage doesn’t matter), and “do I use an Arcane Shot this turn?” (to which the answer is usually no, unless there’s a cluster of enemies to use Bursting Shot on or a boss to use Shadow Shot on). But it feels pretty cool reliably dishing out about twice the damage per round as the rest of my party, and more importantly I’m enjoying the RP a lot. My character is turning more snarky than I expected her to be for how uptight I envisioned her being, but the dry, chiding sarcasm is working out nicely. Our party also has great chemistry, which is a nice change from our previous party. This time around we all have faith-related motivations, and between the five of us we have devout followers of two different gods, which are generally not allied, but we have good reason to put aside our differences and work together. Great recipie for a strong team that occasionally deals with some inner conflict and comes out stronger for it.
                          Last edited by Charlaquin; 05-17-2018, 11:53 AM.


                          Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                          My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                          • I like the Arcane Archer in theory, but in practice the two arrows per long or short rest just felt way too limiting. My group modified it so that they get the 2 shots per long/short rest as normal, and one additional shot each time they get an extra arrow (so at levels 7, 10 15 and 18 they get one extra type of Arcane Arrow and one extra shot per rest period).

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                            • By the way, this is a mystery that has confused the hell out of me for as long as I've known about it:

                              What is up with Drow making their weapons and armor disintegrate when coming into contact with sunlight?

                              I mean, I understand if you don't want the surfacers to get their hands on it, but that seems like a pretty extreme defensive precaution. I mean, what happens if they cut off your escape route back underground? Once the sun comes up, you've got a raiding party of unarmed, naked Drow caught behind enemy lines!

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                                I like the Arcane Archer in theory, but in practice the two arrows per long or short rest just felt way too limiting. My group modified it so that they get the 2 shots per long/short rest as normal, and one additional shot each time they get an extra arrow (so at levels 7, 10 15 and 18 they get one extra type of Arcane Arrow and one extra shot per rest period).
                                Given the guidelines surrounding encounters and rests in an adventuring day, one can assume that the intent with anything that recovers on a short rest is for it to be usable every other encounter. So, with two uses of Arcane Shot, they are balanced around the assumption of 1 per encounter. Problem is, I’ve never met a DM who actually uses those guidelines. One way to fix this would be to convert Arcane Shot to a daily resource by giving the character 6 uses that only recover on a long rest, or by reducing it to one use, but moving Ever-Ready Shot to 3rd level and moving the second use to 15th.

                                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                                By the way, this is a mystery that has confused the hell out of me for as long as I've known about it:

                                What is up with Drow making their weapons and armor disintegrate when coming into contact with sunlight?

                                I mean, I understand if you don't want the surfacers to get their hands on it, but that seems like a pretty extreme defensive precaution. I mean, what happens if they cut off your escape route back underground? Once the sun comes up, you've got a raiding party of unarmed, naked Drow caught behind enemy lines!
                                Are you talking about Drowcraft items? In-universe, I’m pretty sure the fact that they disintegrate in sunlight is a design flaw, not an intentional feature. The real answer is probably more meta-game; so the DM can give Drow enemies powerful weapons and armor that are impractical for PCs to loot.


                                Onyx Path Forum Moderator

                                My mod voice is red. I use it so you know when I'm speaking in an official capacity, not as an indication of tone.

                                Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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