With the imminent razing of Google+, I suppose it’s time to dust off this blog and reaffirm yet again an intention to post more frequently. To be honest, I’m not optimistic about the chances of that – I don’t enjoy wasting my time writing content someone else could produce and I’ve neither the hubris nor lack of self-awareness to mistake an idea new to me for one new to the larger community. Who knows, though? Perhaps with age I’ll lower my standards.
In the meantime, and perhaps in example of, here are my answers to Zak S.’s OSR Guide for the Perplexed. If nothing else, it should provide a useful metric by which to judge whether this site is worth purging from your blog roll.
1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me
Take the Rubies from the Demon’s Eyes
Given that subsequent questions provide ample space to praise specific OSR advice, mechanics, and content, I’ve decided to use this question to highlight an article that captures the zeitgeist of the movement instead. This is the same spirit that runs through early Renaissance writing: a “fuck you” to authority and the slavish imitation it encourages coupled with confidence that the new blood can produce their own masterpieces equal to any of the classics.
2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark
Complex rule systems limit imaginative solutions in favor of the predefined, often get forgotten at the table, and inevitably lead to absurdities or gimmicky exploits; simple rule systems supplemented by an individual dungeon master’s ad hoc rulings are superior.
3. Best OSR module/supplement
- Supplement: Richard LeBlanc’s D30 Sandbox Companion; this is an excellent resource for populating hexes, towns, NPC lists, etc. I’ve been especially fond of using the tavern name generator to name ships. Veins of the Earth and Yoon-Suin are also great, but a bit harder to use at the table.
- Module: Death Frost Doom (Revised); I don’t run modules as a general rule, but this one is an exception because it hits that balance of risk-and-reward for players exactly right while having real stakes for the larger setting. Broodmother Skyfortress also hits some of these notes, just not quite as strongly.
4. My favorite house rule (by someone else)
Goblinpunch’s inventory house rules (http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2013/11/armor-and-inventory.html and http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2013/11/armor-and-inventory-jr.html); this is the sanest method of encumbrance tracking I’ve ever encountered, making player choices meaningful without bogging things down in the counting of pounds (or gold pieces)
5. How I found out about the OSR
For years I tried to satisfy my RPG itch with video games and that led me to read a site called the Escapist for reviews and the like. One day they introduced a series called “I Hit it with My Axe” with Zak S. To be honest, the series itself did nothing for me – I’m old and the editing struck me as … idiosyncratic – but it led me to the blogosphere and from there to Google+.
6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy
I am partial to Meatshields! (http://www.barrowmaze.com/meatshields) to generate hirelings, but it’s probably more appropriate to highlight Roll20, Hangouts, and Discord, since those resources are fundamental to allowing the online gaming that makes up 90% of my engagement with the hobby.
7. Best Place to talk to other OSR gamers
Google+ was the clear answer to this question for the past several years. I’m not sure what the answer will be going forward: back to the blogs, another social network site like MeWe or Facebook, Reddit, or Discord servers. Maybe all of those and more.
8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games
As the introduction implies, you won’t find me talking about anything anywhere most of the time. If you want to know where I’m lurking, the answers are as follows:
9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough
I don’t have one and don’t have it in me to pretend otherwise.
10. My favorite non-OSR RPG
I don’t have one? I suppose if you don’t consider non-retroclones OSR (being just OS), then AD&D 1E and B/X could count.
11. Why I like OSR stuff
I’m starting to feel like this is a waste of time – the answers to the first two questions cover this fairly well and now we’re just belaboring the point.
12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet
The first would be anything produced by Sine Nomine (Kevin Crawford’s company), especially Stars without Number; his work is consistently excellent and I doubt this is news to most people reading this blog entry. Another thing would be the truly staggering amount of quality work, both artistic and otherwise, created by Luka Rejec. The first time I saw his drawings, it was obvious he was gifted and everything since then has cemented that impression.
13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be
Everyone knows the usual suspects, so I will instead name a blog that I found only recently and have enjoyed immensely: Cavegirl’s Game Stuff (https://cavegirlgames.blogspot.com/). The monsters are amazing and definitely worth stealing.
14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is
The most useful things I’ve created are the random generators on my blog (www.dwarvenautomata.com), especially the weather tool. I’m also partial to my short module called Automata Run Amok available for free at RPGNow, both illustrated and edited by Luka Rejec (see my note about him above; his contribution raised the level of my work)
15. I’m currently running/playing
Two weeks ago, I finished running a four year, 221 session, 884 hour online AD&D 1E campaign (although it will likely continue in some form after a hiatus). As a diversion during the current downtime, I will begin a Stars without Number campaign in a couple of weeks. I have also run an after-school AD&D game club for the past four years (and previously ran a 3E D&D club for five or six years in the early 2000s). In terms playing, I participate in an intermittent weekend online AD&D game and pick-up games every now and then.
16. I don’t care whether you use ascending or descending AC because
The only people invested in the fine points of combat resolution mechanics are game designers and rules lawyers. Otherwise, it’s six of one or a half dozen of the other.
17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice
Illustration by Steve Zieser.