Skip to main content

Posts

Fighting Giants and Other Huge Creatures in D&D

(Art by Satoshi Kamanaka https://www.artstation.com/artwork/X0xnL)
Battles with enormous creatures should be epic, yes? Some of the most exhilarating fights in cinema, literature, and video games have been arduous, grueling battles between our heroes and these cowering Titans who obliterate entire buildings without even meaning to.
Typically, in TTRPGs,  these combats are scarcely differentiated from combats with medium sized creatures that have massive amounts of hit points. Sure, there are size categories that have certain implications, and there are often hard hitting attacks or special abilities. But there's a lot of potential for greatness here that I believe isn't being capitalized on.
For the sake of our purposes here, I'm going to be speaking in terms of 5e D&D mechanics, simply because it's incredibly easy to pare down to OSR standards, but is more widely understood.
TIP ONE: PARTITIONING HP
My first tip is to take that big ol' HP pool and break it down int…
Recent posts

I Experienced A Shitty Player Today

Today, I had a player leave my game. For the first time I can recall, I had a player leave because he didn't like the system.  But was the system really the problem? I don't think so.
He was a 5e player, incredibly excited about the idea of Lion & Dragon. He said he was excited about medieval role-playing, that he felt as though D&D didn't really scratch that particular itch for historical accuracy. I briefed him on how this would be VERY low magic and very grounded in medieval realism. 
I welcomed him aboard with open arms. Problem is, he brought his presuppositions from 5e with him in spite of my warnings. I should have seen the writing on the wall after he argued with me about the possibility of a 6 INT Cleric in a game where a 6 is only a -1 and a Cleric is really a Templar Knight with miracles.  He got me very pissed off (an incredible feat) and I was tempted to ask him to leave then and there, but I deescalated and we were cool. I should have known better.
When …

CAUSALITY: Ecology, Gonzo, and Randomness in Dungeon Design

Basic Concepts
If you've been in the D&D circuit long enough, you've probably heard of "Dungeon Ecology." For the uninitiated, Dungeon Ecology is a reference to the element of dungeon design that takes into consideration that you have living (usually) creatures living in closed environments. You've got two polar opposites on this spectrum: total plausibility and utter chaos bereft of any semblance of verisimilitude.
It's easy to picture the latter:
You travel down the derelict halls of the ancient catacombs, the measured clanging of your iron footfalls echoing down the path. Taking a turn at the end, you see three elves in pink spandex. Immediately, they begin hurling water balloons at you while a Bugbear plays solitaire.
Nuts, yeah? This is clearly a medievalesque crypt. Where'd they get the spandex? The balloons? Let's try another.
You enter the room. The odor of feces, piss, and straw fills your nostrils as you spot a few goblin infants resting with…

World-Focused Adventuring, Death to the OSR!

The OSR is a concept with many understandings, many broad definitions, and much bemoaning about the usefulness of the term.


Is it a design philosophy? Is it a play-style? Is it a "community?" Depends on who you ask. In recent memory, there was at least one attempt to relocate individuals in the OSR into a more controlled environment (free of controversial figures, basically) called SWORDDREAM. It was a tiny splash, and it didn't do anything. Personally, I believe that's mostly due to the fact it was designed to be curated and it had a moral objective that was divisive.


If we're going to be divisive, let's do it for the right reasons. I'm going to be using another term that better describes what I'm doing and has clear boundaries and implications. It's what I use my OSR products for, what I show up to the table for, and what I try to spark interest for in others: World-Focused Adventuring.
It's all in the name, baby. We're running games that p…

Update on My WIP: Land of Mythic Horrors

BIG CHANGES

Originally, I had planned on making my Gothic Horror game a system in and of itself.  The more I've thought about it, the less I think that's the way to go.  Instead, my Gothic Horror project is going to be an OSR supplement that consists of subsystems and a campaign guide on doing Gothic Victorian Horror.

So what about the system?  BAM!  Enter Land of Mythic Horrors.

So Land of Mythic Horrors is my OSR system ruleset + implied setting deal.  The system has a generic OSR foundation but comes with extra shit to plaster on there.  It's designed to allow GMs to run OSR games with either a modular or kitchen-sink approach for adding in ancient cultures and mythology.  There are also some enhanced combat rules that add a little more for Warriors to do (not Mighty Deeds, don't worry), Magic that is based on what culture you choose, and an emphasis on madness, trauma, and coping mechanisms so that the game is a little more gritty than what you typically get.  The …

Why Customization Kills My Fun: GM-Facing Vs Player-Facing Complexity

Part One: My Trek to the OSR. (Skip to Part Two if you'd rather just talk shop)
When I first joined the RPG hobby, I was enamored by system complexity. I'm not like many in the OSR who come from a background of long nights with D&D in their youth, experiencing the rollercoaster of developments in the system through the years. I grew up on Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Star Wars (not the prequels, mind you), Stargate, and a scant few fantasy novels that I'd sneak in from time to time.
By the time I entered the Tabletop Role-playing scene, customization was all the rage.  My experience growing up with MMORPGs and JRPGs made me a perfect candidate for the build-obsessed WotC era D&D player. I spent hours upon hours engaging in whiteroom theory crafting exercises, trying to eke out the highest maximum benefits for games that hadn't even started yet. Compared to the peak of 3.5e (which I probably would have adored were it my first introduction), Fifth Edition's cus…

Death, Wounds, and Dying Test Material

I've been working on my OSR RPG, and this is more or less the generic version of how HP, Death, Wounds, and Dying works. I say generic, because I'll be adding more specifics that will fit the implied setting of the game more in the final product.  Anyway, tell me what you think.  Give it a shot.  If it's been tried before, I haven't seen it.  It's fairly simple, so I wouldn't be surprised, though.  Ignore the bottom unless you care about where I got the math from.
Hit Point Generation Level 1 Characters:  Roll d6 Hit Points, modified by CON.  Then, roll your Class Hit Die.  If you roll less than the average roll on the class hit die, take the average roll rounded up, then add CON one more time.  In both cases, you gain a minimum of 1 Max HP with each roll.  The minimum possible Max HP for a level 1 Character by default is 2.

When you level up: Martial classes get 2 HP per level increase.  Magical/Skill based classes get 1 HP per level increase.
Taking Damage: I…