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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sword and Board 3rd Draft

I've got the mechanics done for now. I need to add flavor text, and format everything. I'd love comments from people, especially if you see some errata.

The game is a 2d6 system, but it has a lot of flavoring from DnD. It's amazing how much work it takes to get even a short game put together, and hopefully I'm not missing anything blatantly obvious.

Once I do the final format, I'm not sure if I should go with Letter or Digest size. I've actually gotten some art to add in, and I might use some Creative Commons stuff as well. I plan on eventually putting this on Lulu, so at least me and my friends would have copies. But if others would be interested, I'd be pretty damn happy about it.

Things I'm sorta considering adding:
Mass Combat

But I'm not really sure that material is worth the hassle. There are some fine rules already existing in DnD and the clones that I can use.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I don't use Turn Undead

I don't particularly care for the Turn Undead ability that clerics have. It makes them too potent in my games, as I like to included lots of undead. And by having the Turn Undead ability available, players aren't nearly as scared of undead as I think they should be. If you see a bunch of zombies ambling towards you, you should be crapping your pants and running, not just having Bob the cleric scare them away.

In my opinion, undead should be among the scariest opponents a character faces. Undead are usually fearless, have some type of special attack, and just might be the walking corpse of your grandma. They should not be something that any mid-level cleric can either just scare away or destroy at will. Facing undead should have consequences, but if they can't even reach the characters, they are just a sideshow, or even worse, a comedy bit.

In the end, this ability was only created by Gary because one of the original players had a vampire character, and another player wanted a way to trump his abilities. I don't think that's a good reason to invent a rule. Sure, it would be fine for the house game, but to add it into the main ruleset that thousands of people use is unnecessary.

My house rule to address this is that instead of turning undead, clerics gain a +1 damage bonus with melee weapons when fighting undead. This still gives them the simulation of holy wrath, but it's not unbalancing or overpowering.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why I prefer Ascending AC in my "clone" games

It seems to me that many old-school gamers feel that the retro-clones should be put in some kind of straitjacket, where as little deviation as possible is allowed. While I support the games being 95% the same, I really prefer the ascending Armor Class as introduced by DnD 3e.

Ascending AC is much easier to use in game, and very easy to explain to new players. It also is very friendly to math-averse players, as they can see the number they need without having to look at a table. It also takes up a lot less space in the rulebook, as you just need to add the Base-to-hit number in each class chart, and don't need another half to full page chart for players. In addition, just having monster BtH equal their HD will save an additional chart in the game, and makes it even easier for the DM.

I understand that many DMs want the old style, as then they won't have to do any conversions of older modules. But at least a few of them are fairly strident in saying that Ascending AC should not even be included in the retro games. It's the "Stay off my lawn!" syndrome. And it seems to be fairly prevalent in older gamers. I believe that having Ascending AC as the default, or at least as an option, will help bring in newer ex-3e players, as it's something they are already familiar with.

And like it or not, I think the Old School Revival needs at least a small influx of new players as time goes on, or it will sputter out and die in a few years, which would be very unfortunate. The current grognards aren't getting any younger, and to maintain at least some type of player base, new people, preferably younger, will be needed. Of course, this is looking at it from a publisher viewpoint, and not a gamer viewpoint, so many grognards will happily say they need no new blood, as long as they get their 4 or 5 new modules every year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

White Box Bard

Here's my bard for White Box S&W. I picture him as the typical minstrel, who is always watching everything and gathering information, so that he might sell it later for a tidy profit. I'm not sure if the Awareness or Lore chances of success are too high, or if they will be relatively sound. I'd like the bard to be useful in the average adventuring party, without tromping on the toes of any other classes.

Old School DnD and Sword and Board

I've recently gotten into the various retro-clones, including Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy, Labyrinth Lord, etc. I had burned out completely on DnD 3e, and I don't personally care for 4e. I've been following a number of blogs, and finally decided to add my two bits to the discussion.

I used to be a very vanilla DnD player, and was not comfortable straying far outside of that. Planescape helped expand my horizons a bit. Then the Necromancer Wilderlands stuff added in a few laser pistols and similar stuff, though it was really rare. Then I picked up Carcosa and started reading Planet Algol. Both of these are pretty fantastic sources of gaming. And they are not shy about adding in robots or Cthulhu monsters. I really enjoy this, and it actually makes the game feel more fun.

I'm also working on my own rpg, which is kind of a mix of OD&D and Traveller. It can be found at: if you are interested.