Last month at Questing Beast I reviewed Esoteric Enterprises, Ultraviolet Grasslands, and an assortment of OSR zines (Ten People You Meet in the Undergarden, Temple of the Blood Moth, Hivemind, Brutal Imperilment in the Bag of Infinite Holding, and Artefact).
I also created A Beginner’s Guide to Old-School DnD Rulesets, which should help newcomers to the OSR get oriented.
Here is the author/illustrator/designer/cartographer Andrew Kolb explaining the book himself:
In a nutshell, it is to Classic Traveller what Into the Odd is to Dungeons & Dragons.
On a side note, Knave has recently joined Maze Rats as an Adamantine best seller, placing it among the 81 best-selling products on the whole of DriveThruRPG, up there with products like Cyberpunk 2020, Shadow of the Demon Lord, and Dungeon World.
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Free Kriegsspiel Roleplaying
The first issue of the FKR fan zine “The Neverending Drachenschwanz” is out! The theme of the second issue is “Every Book is a Sourcebook.” Submissions are due by December 11. Learn more at the FKR discord channel.
Darkworm Colt makes the argument that you should put more weight on character archetypes (similar to what Risus does) rather than starting equipment.
So we have…
A tight-lipped Barbarian from the North with scarred forearms
Another question: Can you imagine what equipment this barbarian is carrying?
Of course you can! A sword. A flask. Heavy fur boots. Drab. Fur cap. A backpack. Jerky.
The power of clichés at work.
So what really matters is not equipment lists or "starting equipment" (a perennial favorite in OSR circles), but a good, solid character description. And clichés work best for that.
Underground Adventures explains how you can take games that are already rules-lite and make them even simpler.
Rise Up Comus looks at how you can make classes diegetic by requiring PCs to fulfill specific quests or tasks in order to join them.
Sam Mameli at Better Legends has been doing redesigns of all the D&D dragon types. Here’s him rethinking the Green Dragon.
Skerples looks at why “Non-Euclidean” is often used as a shorthand for “horrifying.”
Sheep and Sorcery discusses why the question “Does System Matter?” is the wrong question to ask.
Anthony Huso discusses why “Say Yes to Your Players” is all about rewarding smart play.
Chris McDowall examines similarities between narrative wargaming and RPGs, in particular the kitbashing attitude.
Swamp of Monsters looks at what made Breath of the Wild so great, and brings up “tractability” a great term to use when discussing OSR settings.
"If you've ever played a video game and been frustrated the hero can't try to climb over a fence, you've experienced intractability. A tractable world rewards you for paying attention to what the dm describes. 'Oh wait, i remember there was a big delicious looking ham with a big poker fork jabbed into it two rooms back. I'll bet we could use it to prop this door open."
The Manse investigates what would happen if you made an RPG more “boardgamified.”
DIY and Dragons evaluates a number of different encumbrance systems.
Chris at the Bastionland Channel does a deep-dive into the design of Into the Odd:
The Miscast YouTube channel, which normally covers miniature games, is working on an RPG system that uses Knave as a base:
Against the Wicked City presents a ready-to-play gothic D&D adventure, The White Tower.
Swamp of Monsters presents a full dungeon crawl: The Many Patterned Halls.
This is a medium-sized dungeon written for high level adventurers used to dungeon crawling. It is meant to confound many of standard dungeon crawling tricks, particularly the reliability of "clearing" a dungeon. Completing the dungeon requires the players to solve a simple puzzle, made more challenging by the dungeon's central gimmick. At its center is a classic video game style multi-phase boss fight, meant to be attempted several times if the challenge is too difficult when encountered.
Mazirian’s Garden invents a method of running a citycrawl. Ben has come up with so many useful subsystems (especially his downtime activities). I really hope these get compiled and published at some point.
Patrick at False Machine re-imagines a Beholder as a ball of rats for his Goose Gold and Goblins game.
A Ratmaster is created when many very bad rats eat an extremely magical book, or more than half of a wizard.
Tables and Game Content
Against the Wicked City has a list of 20 double-edged potions.
Archons March On has 50 more potions, as well as 10 culinary curios you might find in a wizard’s kitchen.
DMiurgy has a list of 20 unrealistic but gameable insanities.
Self Portrait as a Giant has 3 meta rooms to find in a dungeon.
The Manse has 6 world-wide enchantments.
I Don’t Remember That Move presents The Black Auction 3, listing 20 more bizarre and unnatural artifacts.
LOT 6. LIGHTNING TEETH.
Set of opalised dinosaur teeth from Lightning Ridge, Australia. Grows into a legion of opalised skeleton warriors if sown in fertile soil. Discovered in 1993 by the miner John Hutt, whose attempt to declare his off-grid property an independent principality backed by a skeleton army was thwarted by the New South Wales police with only minimal casualities.
Coins and Scrolls has a massive community hexcrawl under development.
Speaking of Warhammer, Dana Howl has a wonderful retrospective on Warhammer Fantasy Battles 6th edition, which was the first edition of the game that I encountered as a child.
Chris McDowall has released an Into the Odd SRD, and a “Mark of the Odd” logo to go with it.
gg no re attempts to play Dragonlance absolutely straight. Flavor text and all.
See you next issue!