I don’t care about D&D. My heart belongs to its children.

I don’t care about D&D.
Or to be exact, D&D as a ruleset? Can’t be bothered.
I really can’t. I don’t care (any more) about the original game, and I don’t care (never have) about 3rd, 4th and 5th edition. Too much to do and to choose from, too many moving parts, way too many rules and superheroic feats.
Way. Too. Many.
And sorry but not sorry, descending armor class is bullshit and completely counterintuitive. AAC makes it more bearable, but still… way too many rules.
Way. Too. Many.
I don’t care about much of the OSR, either. Retroclones, my ass. I have the original game(s) on my shelves, and even if I didn’t have them, I’d go buy pdfs or decently priced originals.
I DO care about a few OSR games, though.
I care about @Chris McDowall ‘s Into the Odd. Because it’s so quick and forgiving-unforgiving at the same time. Because it has so, so, so many awesome hacks people wrote for it. Its big brother, Bastionland, will be a piece of art. I’ll be backing this beaut on Kickstarter like crazy.
I care about @Olde House Rules 2d6 system (Blood of Pangea and Barons of Braunstein, specifically). Because it takes me back to a time before fancy dice invaded our hobby. Because it feels positively ancient, but still plays very, very quick.
I care about The GLOG. Because it’s the D&D I always dreamed of and always wanted to play (and tried to write, often enough). Because it has all I want in a game: classes galore, races galore, a magic system that blows my mind because it’s so freakishly awesome (and you can still use old D&D spells if you want).
So there you have it: I don’t care about D&D. I care about three of its children, and that’s really all that counts, isn’t it?

Moonhop – if you like OSR games, you’ll LOVE this.

I’ve said it before, and now I’m saying it again: Into the Odd beats almost any other OSR game (with @Olde House Rules games being the exception) in efficiency, quickness and pure joy of playing.

Another OSR game system that I consider to be among the best out there is The GLOG and its hacks (Arnold K.’s “Goblin Laws of Gaming”, original game is here: https://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-glog.html) because it makes writing new classes, flexible spells and multiclassing a snap. Currently, there are more than 300 classes and more than 500 spells available, all for free. Similar to Into the Odd, you can play any old school D&D module and convert it to Glog on the fly.

Now, Moonhop combines the super-quick gameplay, character generation and decisive combat of Into the Odd with the Glog’s class and magic system. This, gentlemen, is truly magnificent. Buy it here and play, play, play: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/271188/Moonhop

Playing Amber Diceless… with dice.

We started our new Amber campaign a few weeks ago. The first couple of sessions went well, as expected – to me, as GM, they also felt… a bit boring. Instantly, I felt teleported back to a time more than two decades ago, when we played our last Amber game. Some sessions were outstanding, while others felt pretty average, nothing to write home about.

While 28 years ago, playing Amber Diceless with dice was preposterous (and author Erick Wujick told everyone just how stupid the mere idea was), some things have changed over the years. I have come to like, even love, the randomness of dice in roleplaying games. I welcome their unpredictable results with open arms. There’s nothing more boring, more stale, than NOT rolling dice in rpgs. The OSR has done this to me, and I’ll be eternally grateful for this.

There are a few things in Amber Diceless I just can’t stand any more:

  • Being ranked first in an attribute guarantees you’ll always be the best in this stat. Fucking boring.
  • Walking The Pattern was described as enormously dangerous and potentially fatal in the novels. This inherent threat was completely neutralized in Amber Diceless. All you need is Endurance of at least Amber rank, and you’re safe. At least, no diceless GM worth their salt would even think about killing your princeling for walking The Pattern. Fucking Boring.
  • As someone who has been practicing and teaching reality-based self-protection and military combatives for more than 30 years, I know that randomness is a factor in combat. In a diceless (and even more, randomless) game like Amber, this is simply swept under the rug. Fucking boring.
  • Intrigues and cabals and conspiracies in the novels were on medium pulp level at best. The meat of the stories lies in the adventures and heroic deeds of Corwin and Merlin, the protagonists. Amber Diceless glorified the intrigue part, while every single Amber player I know liked the adventure part at least a bit more than the backstabbing. Adventure rpgs without random generators are Fucking Boring.  
So, I’ll play Amber With Dice. This is the rough version of the rules I’ll be using:
  1. Create characters as usual.
  2. Convert the Amber stats to Olde House Rules’ brilliant Blood of Pangea format. In a nutshell, the most important rule is this:
  3. Warfare/Psyche:
    In combat, roll 2d6 (as per the Blood of Pangea rules) and add a combat bonus:
    Human: +0
    Chaos: +1
    Amber: +2
    10: +2, one free reroll
    20 +3
    30: +3, one free reroll
    40: +3, two free rerolls
    50: +3, three free rerolls
    60: +3, four free rerolls
    70: +3, five free rerolls
    80: +3, six free rerolls
    90: +3, seven free rerolls
    100+ 3, eight free rerolls
    etc
  4. Strength:
    Human: Might 1-2
    Chaos: Might 3-4
    Amber: Might 8
    ranked: Might = 8+(STR/4)
  5. Damage
  6. Better Damage
    2-6: 0
    7-9: 1
    10: 2 (maximum damage possible for non-fighters)
    11: 3
    12: 4

Play worlds, not rules, part 3: playing around with dice

In part 1, I took a look into how people played roleplaying games before any “official rules set” was published. In part 2, I shared how we handle experience at our table.

In today’s part 3, I’m writing about the dice rulings I use at the table.

2d6 — the Blood of Pangea method

I much prefer target numbers (“roll on or over”) when I’m using 2d6. +Olde House Rules games are perfect in this regard:


There is no damage roll separated from the to-hit roll. The better you hit, the more damage you do.

d100 — d20 — 3d6

Here we’re stepping into the territory of Phil Barker’s Perfected rules. When using 3d6, d20 or d%, I prefer rolling against each other, with the higher number winning, and with short “negotiations” when the numbers are close. Another approach I like a lot is our house system (Wyaul Hyoiwto): I give the players a number to roll on or over, and if they do, it’s a good result.

Another system I’ve used quite often is the one Phil Barker also used (probably before he came up with the Perfected rules, but sometimes in addition to them): low=bad, middling=nothing changes or moves forward, high=good.

Very good dice results may trigger special abilities and/or behavior of monsters.

Ouch, I’m hit!

(or AAAAAAAAAAARGH!, as the case may be)
Sometimes, I’m using hit points or “hits” in the D&D sense, reducing their total amount by a certain number of damage points. Most of the times, I can’t be bothered, and use the characters’ hit points as a gauge for how much damage they can take, without any math. Rule of thumb: 3 hits and you’re down, plus/minus a couple more/less if you’re really tough/fragile.

Sometimes, I ask the players to roll dice when their characters are hit; good results mean they take the blow without serious consequences.

What I’m after

These rules are not for players interested in gaming procedures. They’re way too simple to be interesting. What they do, though, is: They get out of the way and allow my players to explore and experience the world, almost in real time. This is my goal: to present a living world that responds to the heroes’ actions, with minimal interference from rules. After using the guidelines described above for almost 30 years, I can say: They work.

One more thing

Sometimes, going from an existing rpg system to pre-rules is too demanding for the players. You can easily avoid that by using a game system you know to create characters, and then use the numbers/facts created as gauge for your pre-school rpg. This works very well. (And that’s how Phil Barker did it first, after OD&D had hit the shelves and some players were familiar with it).

Pitching my own free game here

minimald6 is a game I wrote with the principles I mentioned above in mind. Take a look: https://darkwormcolt.wordpress.com/minimald6/

 

Play worlds, not rules, part 1: Juggling ideas for stone-age rpg sessions
Play worlds, not rules, part 2: Experience levels
Play worlds, not rules, part 3: Playing around with dice
Play worlds, not rules, part 4: Short example of true Blackmoor gaming
Play worlds, not rules, part 5: How we roll