A Project Begins that Probably Shouldn’t

The ill-advised retro-clone is under development. Unlike the misfire with combining the Fantasy Trip and M20, this project is actually gaining steam. I've developed my own "Appendix N" of influences on the game.


The main reason is that I house-rule just about every retro-clone I try. It's not that I don't like the system at all, it's just that I have a 'kitchen sink' mentality to what is included in games I run. For example, I love Spelljammer and Mystara. Both have flying airships and interplanetary travel. (Granted, you can only get to the moon in Mystara.) Looking at rules for aerial combat in various games, I rarely find any that are really straightforward that allow the player some diverse options. This generates a set of house rules for aerial combat. Once the rules for it are generated, I think about a class that specialized in it. That generates more house rules. Then I think about aerial travel over long distances, life on an aerial craft, fresh air for interplanetary travels, etc. More house rules and bolt-ons.

This is the way my first group played and I've never gotten far from it. You want lasers? Okay. Flintlocks and Aliens? No problem. A class of adventurers that use origami creatures to do its bidding? Sure, here's the XP chart.

I came this close to calling the system "Pocket Dragons & Pomegranates"

I abhor combat that takes 30 minutes for an encounter. I value combat, but not the feeling that a group of me and my friends are wading through layers of rules and charts. It's an element of the story. It could even be the focus of the story. Still, I award XP for good role-playing, treasure, innovative tactics, etc. Players wringing the rules for every ounce of advantage is just not for me, though I don't penalize for it. I have to admit that a couple times, this type of play generated some very unusual play that was fun  for everyone.

The real reason, though, is that I want to put together all the things my first group and I did into one cohesive whole. It's not easy, due in part to a lack of concern for contradiction. We just called it "gamer's paradox" and let conflicting rules lie. This time, I don't want a paradox, but I want largely cohesive system.

Having said all that, here's an sketch of what I imagine the system to be:

  • B/X and BECMI based with a mixture of M20, 1e and 2e.
  • Simple mechanics with lots of charts.
  • Build systems for new and existing classes, monsters, and races.
  • Race and class are separated.
  • Rules for adventuring in any locale (air, water, planes, ether, planets)

That says a lot, so here's a few specifics in no particular order. No THAC0 despite my love for it. No 2e style kits, at least not intentionally. I hope to achieve so-called game balance by XP, not by making everyone equal in power. I don't want to re-create a HERO system style build process for everything. I'll use BAB like Basic Fantasy does. There will be an optional silver-based economy set of rules. Lots of creatures, but not at the cost of making them look like they were created in a random generator. Yes, psionics, but using what I believe to be a non-traditional system.

In short, it will be a kit and a rudimentary setting ready for use. Folks will be able to pick and choose what rules they want to use, and what rules they want to discard.

As an added bonus, I hope to use Dokuwiki and the bookcreator plugin to allow individual players to download a customized ruleset. The layout may not be perfect and there may be a couple odd page-breaks, but it should work.

The class generator is complete. The monster generator only creates low-level creatures so far. True to my old school roots, they live as spreadsheets at the moment.

Otherwise, I can only say that I am fully aware that this is largely a vanity project. I have no illusions of 'energizing the OSR market' or being the next LL. More than anything, it's a labor of love for something I loved as a kid.

Stay tuned!