Showing posts from 2021

Moulding The System To Suit Your World

How It Started My Old School Essentials game has truly grown in ways I never expected. What began as a modest attempt at trying Moldvay D&D within the organizational structure of a West Marches game has now become a couple dozen players, five referees, and well many more RPG enthusiasts discussing the games throughout the day. Originally, I had every intent of taking a considerable length of time to build a deep world for them to play with. Instead, I opted for scheduled dungeon delves in a shared world, such that the players get an opportunity to get their feet wet in some instant dungeon madness, laser-focusing their time into the thing that the game is all about. I decided that I'd make a regional map, write a couple dungeons, and get the ball rolling. Where It Has Gone I don't want to dwell here too long, but to be brief, I started putting in fairly vague world details for the players to work with. It was enough to help them understand, from a basic perspect

DCC Hole In The Sky by Brendan LaSalle Review

Good evening, everybody! This is Aaron the Pedantic and today I am reviewing Brendan LaSalle's Hole in the Sky for DCC.  This is a 0-level funnel, which means lots and lots of stabbity death. This was actually the first product I have ever run that was written by Brendan, so I didn't really have any expectations set, other than the general overall quality that most Goodman Games products have. The art is fantastic, the maps are fantastic, and the layout is fantastic.  The module is incredibly easy to pick up and run.  I read the module about 4 hours before game time and spent about an hour studying it.  With as little prep time as I took, the game ran smoothly with very few hitches.  Any questions I had were easily answered in the appropriate section. The module does a fantastic job of providing a solid hook for the players to bite into.  Each of the player characters are peasants who feel like they were always destined for something greater, and they begin having dreams of a L

Reframing Alignment For Newer Players

Let's not waste time with flowery language. Here's how I'm presenting alignment for my games. Alignment is not about personal beliefs. It's an abstraction that explains a character's place in a large-scale cosmological conflict. There are four alignments... Law - You fight for the side of order, creation, and justice. Adherents can include everyone from a cold-hearted but litigious judge to a devout acolyte or even a scout tracking the armies of Chaos. Neutral - You fight for the side of balance, preservation, and survival. Adherents could include fey creatures and servants or guardians of nature. Chaos - You fight for the side of entropy, self-determination, and power. This will include anarchists, slavers, cultists, raiders, and monsters. Unaligned -  You have no place in this conflict. Chances are, you're probably the citizen of a place of Law who benefits from the protections paid for with the blood of Lawful warriors. Perhaps you're weak or infirm. Mayb

My Agenda For Old School RPGs and D&D

 Where Did This Come From? I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine. He argued that D&D would benefit from having a prescriptive agenda in the vein of many of the modern RPGs (and indie RPGs especially) on the market.  The agenda would prescribe exactly what the activity of "playing D&D" would entail, and from his perspective, result in much more clarity in the hobby.  Instead of the incredible variety of interpretations people have on what it means to "play D&D," the variety would be much less on playstyles are much more in the vein of flavorings, setting material, and supplements. It's a double-edged sword, and an issue that I want to tackle in another article sometime.  For now, though, I'd like to show what my agenda for Old School Gaming is.  By reading it, people know exactly what to expect from the style of play I enjoy running and playing in, and perhaps we can have discussions on how your agenda compares to mine. The A-A-Ron O

Making 5e D&D More Appealing to Run

I recently made a video about hacking D&D to make it your own, and a lot of people seemed to feel where I was coming from with what I was saying. To provide a little more guidance on how I'd handle this and how I'd present it to a group, I thought I'd flesh this out for a future game I plan to run. First, I'd lay out exactly what I'm hoping to do. If you can sell them on a concept, the particulars will often follow with no pushback. If they like the concept and you can explain how every change you've made thereafter is to strengthen the concept, they'll probably jive with it. Here's my concept. We're going to play a low-magic, low-fantasy game kind of like a middle ground between Forgotten Realms and Westeros. The PCs will be retainers to an up-and-coming Lord in the Kingdom who is vying for the throne through the affinity of the heirless King. Demihumans are rare, and nonhumans are enemies. The game will be very deadly and low powered, but there

The Problem With Initiative

Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons.. Fucked in some ways, revolutionary in others. It is simultaneously the reason I barreled serendipitously into the RPG hobby and the bane of my OSR craving existence. It's often an absolute chore gathering the type of crowd that is willing and able to dedicate themselves to an OSR system. As a result, I'm left dismantling the edition that garners the least resistance. With enough tinkering, I can work it into the kind of game that I can really dig into.  All of this preamble is meant to put this into proper context. I wish to break down the concept of initiative, and how it's applied in 5e. Anytime you are going to be picky, pedantic little shit, as I am wont to do, you need to get definitions out of the way. As we all know, initiative is little more than the method by which we determine turn order. This is the most basic, stripped down definition. Taking this further, a turn is an opportunity in which a creature may do somethin

Chronicles of Andren Keep, by Tibbald the Librarian

The Chronicles of Andren Keep Preface It is with utmost curiosity that I take the task to chronicle the events surrounding Andren Keep.  Our collection of books is meager at best, and the stipend I receive is far more a courtesy of the Castellan than any earned payment of a service I provide.  Thus, I deem it appropriate to use my gift as a scribe to keep these aged hands from losing their precision. I. I have seen many groups of odd bands venture forth for gold and glory, but I have seen few so fortunate as the one that departed on Monday, January 11th.  Whether their tales are to be believed or not, the amount of wealth they recovered in an afternoon's time is absolutely astounding.  They returned with bags of coin and jewels, and more interestingly, with a weapon of note that was ancient enough for me to not recognize.  Even so, the inscription on the blade was an easy decipher.  Alberranoc, literally "Change Ender." Paired with the depiction of a serpent burying its f