I just want to thank you again for starting this. Real life has gotten in the way of my submission making the deadline, and I'm not going to subject myself to crunch to squeeze something in. But the thing I'm working on (a small zine of monsters) wouldn't have existed without this jam. <3
Recent community posts
If you look at B/X, most of the rules are to do with exploration, then combat, with a smattering of social rules (reaction rolls, hiring mercenaries, charm person -- though the latter could be viewed as combat). Though it's true - some OSR games leave all that stuff to fiat, and only have carefully delineated rules for combat, usually justified with that argument that combat is where the game most needs to step in and provide rules, not rulings.
It *is* pretty counterintuitive though. "Combat is usually a bad idea" is usually an emergent property of the ruleset and is often a lesson that needs to be learned. PbtA games do a much better job of using basic moves to set expectations. Now I don't think that makes the PbtA approach *better*, a OSR ruleset can also just say "hey, treasure=XP in this game, so killing monsters is an unnecessary risk. Think about avoiding them or stealing from them instead". But because many OSR games assume an experienced audience, that advice often gets left out.
I agree that death is often an uninteresting consequence. Some OSR players definitely enjoy the revolving door of characters and black-comedic deaths. I think for others, it's more about the *threat* of their character's death to make consequences feel real. And because OSR generally doesn't go for illusionist DMing, that threat needs to be backed up.
Some people instead go for "your character becomes increasingly scarred", but I think my next game will instead go for forced retirement except in cases where survival is absurd. Your character is still around, but they're an NPC now.
I guess I'm lucky in that I fell into the OSR only recently (a couple of years ago), and some of the earliest sources I started following were people like Sophia Brandt and Michael Prescott who are open to (or prefer) other playstyles. The first few times I stumbled onto blogs that were outright mocking of games like Fate were pretty alienating. I know some people disagree that Fate can be OSR -- generally pointing to the dwindling resources in a dungeoncrawl vs the amassing of fate points for a big showdown -- but I lean more toward believing that the vast majority of good OSR content and principles of play can be applied to almost any system.
And yeah, I *still* don't have a good RSS replacement set up, so my blog consumption tends to be what gets linked to on twitter, and bingeing someone's cool blog before forgetting about it for months.
Thanks for sharing. I hope your engagement continues to be positive this time around (thank heavens for block/mute on twitter).
In addition to a self-only submission, I'd be interested in some collaborative work.
What about an exquisite corpse game where each person in a ring illustrates a monster, writes description for the next person's monster, and writes stats for the monster after that.
"I want this event to have x beats."
Yeah but why should I follow that whim (assuming it's not an invocation of a safety tool)?
The Last Jedi would have been a weaker film (i.e. it would have been The Force Awakens) if it polled some random sample of the fanbase and constructed its plot according to what they wanted. Rian Johnson knew what he was doing with the deliberate evocation of dissatisfaction.
And I'm not even trying to create a film. I'm trying to create a *game world to inhabit*, where NPCs have depth and meaning to their actions beyond some instrumental value to the protagonists' arc. For all that people like to point the finger at D&D and say "it treats NPCs as sacks of HP and loot, mere objects for the PCs to plunder", at least it's not treating them as sacks of plot points and tropes for the *players* to plunder. Why is that better, less problematic storytelling?
I dunno about you, but I just write people (sometimes human, usually not), with their own wants, needs, and assets. I don't think about shoehorning them into "character roles" or hitting "plot beats". I want to inhabit a character's mindset when playing, not sit outside it and check whether I'm hitting a checklist of tropes.
Sea Cave of the Selkie
A dungeon with 10 keyed rooms, 11 strange lichens, salt poppets, magic bat guano, 3 other magic items, cassowary skulls, and a sea witch who wants her father back by any means necessary.
I did my best to follow the principles of
- setting up a precarious situation for the players to knock off balance, with no assumptions about what they will do.
- keeping all dungeon description relevant to the characters as things they can interact with, while being as tight and evocative as I can manage (so not very, then).
- Enough information to make non-illusory choices, and real danger, generally telegraphed.
Dungeons & Possums's blog post is great if you specifically want to get into D&D retroclones, and the adventure recommendations & GMing advice is pretty well curated from what I can tell.
However it doesn't suggest any non-D&D rulesets that are generally considered OSR. Some suggestions:
- Maze Rats, a simple 2d6+stat game, the majority of the game and its world is implicit in random tables.
- Troika!, a game loosely based on the mechanics for Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, with a wild planescape-by-way-of-80s-UK-tabletop-games setting.
- Knave, designed as a framework for running material written for old-school D&D and its retroclones, generates similar numbers to those games with a lot fewer rules.
- Into the Odd, a rules-light game about recovering strange magic items beneath an industrial city. Embodies the OSR assumption that combat is generally a bad idea as you *will* get hurt, by skipping any to-hit roll.
One of the things that characterises a lot of OSR material, though, is that the game ruleset takes second place to the conversation at the table and internal logic of the game world. Much like a good game of Dungeon World, a good OSR session will often go quite a long time without a die roll, just using common-sense rulings.
Sealskin is a work in progress (not yet on itch, even in draft form, but about 75% of the manuscript is done).
It is 5e-compatible and presents rules for playing selkies. This includes a discussion of safety tools for handling what happens if a selkie's sealskin is stolen. Also includes less meta content: magic items and spells, an NPC gallery, random tables for fey crossings, nonsexual reasons why an NPC might steal a sealskin, etc.
If you want, you can check out bits I've posted here: https://glaucushauriant.blogspot.com/search/label/selkie
Splitting by system seems counterproductive.
Where would OSR games go? Into a D&D category? That assumes all OSR games are d20-based and-or retroclones of D&D, which they are not. Split across multiple subforums? That fragments the OSR scene and disincentivises us using the forum.
PbtA is also a nebulous category. Monsterhearts is nothing like World of Dungeons.
It silos off interesting ideas from each other and disincentivises breaking the mould. Some of the most interesting work I've seen lately are PbtA games adopting OSR ideas, or an otherwise OSR game adopting a mechanic that drives narrative toward a predetermined outcome.