|What has 4 arms, 3 eyes 3 bat-like ears, and a purple tongue?|
I don't know. What?
I don't know either, but it's eating your henchman!
Thursday, December 22, 2022
Monday, December 19, 2022
I used to play boardgames once a week with my brother-in-law Jim and a couple of dudes named Bruce and Al. Bruce and Al are a couple of real old school mofos. As I recall, they were founding members of the University of Illinois wargames club and the original organizers of the local con. And Al bought a copy of OD&D at Gen Con the year it came out and turned the campus nerdos onto RPGs. In a side room in Bruce's basement is monster wargame that recreates the European theatre of WW2 at the battalion level. The two of them started playing this beast more than 20 years ago as a playtest. I'm pretty sure the publisher went out of business many years ago with the game unpublished, but last I knew they still play a turn or two some weekends.
So even as a grown-ass man with a job and a wife and a kid, I was still the snot-nosed newbie among these guys. For months one of the things that mystified me about these guys was the fact that, whatever game we were playing, these guys always referred to the equivalent of the Encounter Player as "the bunny." This practice mystified me, but I never asked because I was usually too busy trying to get the gist of whatever weird boardgame we were playing that night. Often, everybody else at the table had played it a bunch and it was new only to me, so I was always playing catch-up. Still, I would dutifully pass "the bunny" to the next player when instructed to do so. Finally, one night we played some train game (Santa Fe something?) and it all came into focus. The special token in whatever-game-it-was happened to be a little wooden steam engine token that, when stood up with the front of the train pointing to the sky, looked a helluva lot like a little black rabbit.
The reason I am bringing this up this dumb anecdote is because some days I wonder if some D&D groups could use a bunny at their table. What often happens in a dungeoneering expedition is that one player, the most energetic, motivated, and/or charismatic, tends to make the majority of the decisions, like whether to turn right or left at a T intersection. They become the de facto Caller. I sometimes call this person the Quarterback because if you metaphorically give them the ball they will try to do something with it. Not every player does.
But I think you could draw out a few more active players if there was something like a Bunny. If the Caller role passed after every combat or something like that. Everybody takes a turn leading the party. Maybe use a little skull as the marker.
Friday, December 16, 2022
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Sunday, December 11, 2022
- After clicking to begin, hit S for Start Game, then enter.
- You'll need a manual, particularly for spells. Here's one of several pdf versions online.
- I don't think you can save and come back to this archive.org version. I basically just kept the tab open for a week or so until the game crashed on me. Consider this the test drive version. If you like what you see, you'll have to get an emulator and all that junk to really play it.
That's the entire world of the first Wizardry game. Although obviously a limit of the early machines the game was built and played on, I find the compactness of the design absolutely delightful. In fact this image is one of the inspirations of my old Vaults of Vyzor campaign. (I just played the game for the first time last week but I read the manual years ago. I read old CRPG manuals for the same reason I will peruse fantasy heartbreakers: I'm looking for ideas to steal. Speaking of which...)
And now, a thing that should exist, if it doesn't
Monday, December 05, 2022
The other day I was wondering how Nicholas Mizer was doing. He played the elf Celumir the Bald (I hope I'm getting that PC name right) in my first FLAILSNAILS campaign, the one set in Wessex. If I am recalling correctly, Nicholas was the one who solved the Mystery of the Blue Lobster.
Around that time he did a crowdfunding campaign to raise some funds for his PhD research on tabletop RPGs. Out of the blue last week it occurred to me that I wanted to see what had come of that.
First of all, I found his dissertation. So congrats on finishing, Dr. Mizer. Also, he has a book out now, which I am going to try to convince my school library to buy.
I also found a couple academic articles Nicholas authored and a book review that was interesting to me professionally (Turns out there's an edited volume with chapters on RPGs and education. I smell a new faculty workshop in my future.). I forwarded a co-authored piece on an economic game to my buddy who teaches behavioral economics. He was pretty stoked, as the piece had been published in an anthropology journal and he had not seen it before.
Nicholas's 2014 article "The Paladin Ethic and the Spirit of Dungeoneering", published in The Journal of Popular Culture, is a really compelling piece. The conclusion contains what I suspect is one of the first mentions of the Old School Renaissance in an academic journal.
Now I was down the rabbit hole. I decided I needed to know if there were any more recent articles about the OSR. I found one, "Old School Renaissance as a Style of Play" by Tommi Brander of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The analysis is a little bit water-is-wet to anyone who actually plays old school style, but water-is-wet research is important. Playing isn't the same as documenting for the outside world, after all.
Anyhoo, I thought you all would be interested in who from the scene is cited in the article:
|Alexander, Jason||Jaquaying the Dungeon at the Alexandrian|
|Baker, D. Vincent|
The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions (cited as example of a failure to understand OSR as a style of play)
|Blacky the Blackball|
Dark Dungeons (Am I right in thinking this is a Rules Cyclopedia retroclone?)
article on the entourage approach in Open Game Table anthology
|Brockie, Dave and Pittman, Joe||Towers Two|
|Cone, Jason||Philotomy's Musings (cited multiple times)|
|Finch, Matthew J.||Old School Primer (multiple citations)|
Goblinpunch post on "rulings not rules" being insufficient
|Lynch, Bryce||tenfootpole review of Seclusium|
|Maliszewski, James||2009 escapist article on the history of the OSR|
|Maliszewski, James||"Time in the old school campaign" from Grognardia|
|McDowell, Chris||Into the Odd|
seminal dungeon mapping post from ENworld & dragonsfoot
|Milton, Ben; Lumpkin, Steven et al.||Principia Apocrypha (cited multiple times)|
|Princess, Scrap and Stuart, Patrick||Fire on the Velvet Horizon|
|Raggi, James Edward IV|
Guide to Adventure Writing in Open Game Table anthology
|Raggi, James Edward IV|
Lamentations referee book (the old one from the boxed set)(cited multiple times in article)'
|Raggi, James Edward IV||Lamentations player's hardback|
blogpost comparing Seclusium to Moldvay dungeon stocking
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on the R in OSR|
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on OSR Attributes|
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on his OSR survey|
|Strejcek, Brendan||Necropraxis article on OSR survey participation|
|Stukey, Randall S.|
Microlite 75 (cited as a possible alternative approach to OSR play)
multiple story-games.com forum threads about D&D (cited multiple times)
There are some pretty rad people on the list above. I am, of course, jealous. These are only the old schoolers mentioned in the piece. (Also appearing: Vincent Baker.)
What is a little more alarming is the amount of GNS in the article. John H. Kim, Brian Gleichman, Ben Lehman, and especially Ron Edwards are cited in this regards. Brander uses the threefold model to analyze old school play, which is totally legit to me. What concerns me is that a non-specialist, even an academic who studies mainstream D&D for a living, could easily conclude from this article that GNS and the associated people are part of the OSR.
But to circle back the the beginning: nice work, Nicholas!
Saturday, December 03, 2022
Many moons ago Brendan over at Necropraxis wrote a very smart blogpost called Overloading the Encounter Die. Marcia B. of Traverse Fantasy took the concept, expands it a bit, and remediates it into a threefold pamphlet called TURN. Since both original post and pamphlet are super short, I will not summarize them here. Although I found Brendan's idea to be very good at the time, I never implemented it. I'm not sure why. But in pamphlet form as TURN, I find it much more compelling. As in, I want to make it standard for my next dungeon campaign.
Some ideas just need the right packaging to speak to some people, I guess.
Traverse Fantasy also has a restatement/reinterpretation of OD&D called Fantastic Medieval Campaigns, but I haven't read it yet. Also, I discovered while writing this post that Marcia B. has a Traverse Fantasy blog and this post is an absolute winner.
Friday, December 02, 2022
I've talked about Asgard Miniatures a few times in the past. They used to run great full page ads in Dragon back in the day. I'm fond of several of their 25mm adventurers, particularly the Looter, their half-elf, and their magic-user. The latter is actually wearing a backpack and has some coiled rope. Not enough dungeoneering minis are properly equipped like that.
Today I want to talk about their amazing line of orcs, sculpted by Jes Goodwin. He went on to do big things with Citadel and Games Workshop, but his vision of orcs do not align with Warhammer big green goons half-inspired by the Incredible Hulk. Check these dudes out:
Here's a pic of some painted Asgard orcs I found just googling for additional photos: