Electrum Pieces

How I Got Started in the OSR

In 1991, I stopped playing RPGs completely. At the time, I thought it was necessary for religious reasons. For what it is worth, I also gave up a piano career as I believed that I could never play the piano for a worship service and didn't believe I could do well in a band. These restrictions were self-imposed - I wish I had mentioned these things to someone at the time. In the end, it worked out as far as RPGs are concerned as I had little to no time to play anymore.

In 2002, I moved halfway across the country to start a new life. I had been unemployed for about 18 months and had just accepted a good job. I didn't know anyone here, so I had a lot of time to myself after work. About November of 2002, I discovered the d20 SRD. In some ways, it felt like games I played in high school - it was D&D, but there were these things called feats that were essentially class abilities to me. There were only three saves, all based on ability scores. I figured that was okay enough. I thought that maybe I'd have six saves based on all six ability scores.

I read through the combat section and pretty much threw it out. I wanted something close to the B/X I began gaming with or the weird amalgam ruleset (B/X with touches of AD&D, The C part of BECMI, 2e, and house rules) I played until college. Still, this seemed to be the popular thing, so I began buying books and attempting to work through D20.

In March 2003, another, more personal, catastrophe occurred. In some ways, I am still recovering from it. This inserted yet another gaming hiatus into my life. Once things calmed down years later, I discovered Microlite20 and I was very happy. This was a simple, modular system that could be used to make anything. I started working on a Psionics module, a monster spreadsheet to convert d20 monsters to M20 standards, and Spelljammer. Oh yes, Spelljammer...

Where was I? The last thing I remember, I was saying something about flying in wooden boats in space...

Oh yeah, M20. The community was awesome and new modules were created almost daily. I still enjoy M20 for its simplicity, adaptability and modularity.

In an old box, though, I kept returning to my rulebooks from days gone by. I played Ars Magica, Champions, Marvel FASERIP and a few other games in college, but it was the fantasy genre that I wanted to play. M20 was great, but I wanted the baroque rulebooks that are simply fun to read. I kept re-reading the Arduin books and thinking, "there's just no way to put any of this into M20 without losing the feeling you get from playing with any of Hargrave's ideas."

Naively, I wondered where would I find a B/X group that would let me run some of my unusual house rules?

A short time later, I discovered Basic Fantasy while surfing aroudn the internet, and that was when I discovered the OSR. From there, I began doing some writing and editing. This lead to a job at NeverMetPress where I wrote for Pathfinder and 4e, of all things. After NeverMetPress, I found Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, ACKS, and ultimately Swords & Wizardry.

Along the way, I've gotten any kind of OSR rules I can find. I have converted my house rules into Swords & Wizardry, complete with some of the weirdness I had all the way in high school. I have rules for mechs and hovertanks (Thanks Centurion, the best hovertank game evah!), the replacements for the Elemental planes, ritual spells, mass battles, and creating Spelljammer helms. Ah, Spelljammer...

Huh? what? Oh yeah, rules. I still have quite a bit to convert over - since I borrowed from other games outside D&D, some thing don't convert as easily as I'd like. Back in 1980ish, I just went with it, but nowadays I want the rules to make sense and be able to share with others. After all, the community of sharing, discussion and even the "get off my lawn crowd" is what makes the OSR special to me.