Welcome to issue #10 of the Glatisant, a free newsletter by the Questing Beast YouTube channel. You can read previous issues here and help support the channel on Patreon here. Subscribe by hitting the button below to get new issues delivered right to your inbox!
New and Upcoming Products
The hivemind over at Luka Rejec’s Stratometaship discord channel has been assembling a free community zine called The Hexers’ Guide to the Anti-Verse. The first issue, Tales from the Gastro Zone, is out now.
Knock!, a beautifully illustrated compendium of OSR blog posts and other material, is live on Kickstarter! Only two weeks left!
Chris McDowall has just released The Twelve Failed Careers of Oddmass, including such backgrounds as the Primal Piper, Goose Allayer, and the Apprentice to a Paired Tree.
Since Playing at the World came out, I've been asked now and again about extending its historical timeline for just a few more years. After toying with a few potential approaches to that, I ended up writing The Elusive Shift, which focuses on what gamers meant when they called something a "role-playing game" once that term came into fashion. Thus, The Elusive Shift is first and foremost an early history of RPG theory, and an exploration of whether the 1970s community succeeded in delineating a new genre of games from previous practices -- which is the "elusive shift" in the title. The book is also my love letter to the many small press games and fanzines through which gamers explored the possibilities of this new genre in the first five years of its existence.
There are a lot of rulesets out there for the GLOG (the Goblin Laws of Gaming), and finding a starting point can be a bit of a chore. Sundered Shields and Silver Shillings has made that task easier with a series of 15 short reviews over four blog posts that break them down by flavor, playability, and comprehensibility.
I would suggest to new players curious about getting into “osr style” gaming that this would make an excellent entry point. You can have a nicely made product for a good price that also manages to be easy to use while expanding play rules beyond attributes, combat, and spellcasting.
How about a statue holding a bowl? With gemstone eyeballs Obs, you want to put something IN the bowl! Also, the statue is carved from compressed human teeth. Hmmm, I wonder what goes in the bowl? That’s good interactivity. Secrets to discover! Hints in a mosaic that reveal deeper truths further inside the dungeon! A chess game to play! You need this sort of stuff in your dungeon.
I also ran into this great review by a very small channel on why 6th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles is so great:
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At Whose Measure God Could Not Take, Phlox examines ten types of challenges where the default method would result in failure. In other words, challenges that require creativity on the part of the players.
Ben at Mazirian’s Garden discusses different solutions to dealing with record keeping over long-term campaigns.
I've come to the conclusion that session write-ups are a bad technology of memory, at least for me. The problem is that session write-ups, if they are going to serve as repositories of memory have to be reasonably detailed. And they take a while to write. The same goes for providing public, labelled maps, or separate treasure and XP posts. That's precious time that I, as the DM, could be using to imaginatively invest in the world, or even just stay one step ahead of my players in terms of dungeon and hexmap stocking, and other minor but important session prep.
James at Grognardia looks at the advantages of large RPG groups.
At Questing Beast, I answer a whole bunch of questions from viewers and patrons on concrete vs abstract mechanics, adventure writing, OSR movies, and more:
Tabletop vs Video Games
Game Maker’s Toolkit examines how Zelda’s puzzle dungeons work. A lot of inspiration here for tabletop games.
Mike Pondsmith, author of the Cyberpunk 2020 and Cyberpunk Red RPGs, gets profiled in The Atlantic ahead of the release of the Cyberpunk 2077 video game, which might be the launching point of a renaissance in scifi tabletop.
Chris McDowall looks at how his principles of Information, Choice, and Impact manifest themselves in the strategy video game Into the Breach.
At Swamp of Monsters, Nate once again looks at the concept of intractability in RPGs, using the new Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla game as an example.
The upcoming mini MMO Book of Travels has its first gameplay trailer out. Not sure if this relates much to tabletop games actually, but I was very pleased to see a game with such a strong focus on immersion and exploration rather than combat.
The Free Kriegsspiel (OSR with ultra-low crunch) discord has recently been discussing how diceless gaming would work.
Dreaming Dragonslayer has another post on diceless violence that helps explain why taking the randomness out of combat can put the focus on player decisions.
In diceless combat, the players always start on the path to losing. When they do the math, they should look at each other and say: “Okay. We can’t just charge in and wish for a good result. Time for a change of plans.” The real source of drama in a diceless fight comes when players must do something clever to “cheat” their way (in the world not the rules) in order to win.
The Miscast YouTube channel is continuing to work on a hack of Knave called Arcane Ugly with an episode on creating a magic system:
As well as an episode on how wands work in the system:
DIY & Dragons has a great overview of the city maps of the OSR, including Gossamer, Hembeck and Spooky City. I’m particularly fond of Evlyn Moreau’s city and overworld maps, most of which can be found on Artstation. They have a wonderfully toyetic and gameable quality to them.
On Facebook there’s a long, high quality video of some of the earliest RPG players playing a game in the style of Dave Arneson, who invented fantasy roleplaying.
Matt Colville has a series of videos on his channel looking at how to create a fighter in each edition of D&D. He just put out a new video on 3rd edition fighters, but it’s really more of a retrospective on how that edition was developed.
A long similar lines, Welcome to the Deathtrap has a post examining how 3rd Edition was engineered away from old-school play.
As the game's developers surveyed the players to understand how the game was being played, there was an assumption made that the way players were running the game was indicative of the best or most fun way to play, rather than being - at least in part - a product of the system itself.
This became a cycle in the development of newer editions of Dungeons and Dragons; the changes to the rules forced a change in play-style, which the development team interpreted as the preference of the players. In turn, they honed the rules to support that play-style. Eventually, this made older play-styles more difficult to support with new editions of the game.
The Original Oldhammer Artwork channel shows off a number of original John Blanche pencil sketches from Rogue Trader, the origin point of 40K.
101 Cursed Items
A theme in the blogosphere this month was cursed or anomalous items. Check out these lists from:
That’s it for this issue! See you in the new year!