Commentary and Electrum Pieces

Because It Is Trendy

The English Major in me says that now is the time to be aloof and above it all. I should sit in a leather chair with my snifter and while looking on with disdain at all the fifth edition chatter.

Mind you, a snifter filled with a good Russian Imperial Stout would be quite tasty.

I am just not that person anymore. I like D&D in all its forms, clones, and houserules.

Truth is, that I will probably play the new version of D&D because it will be easier to find an in-person game. I will also look to get the stuff created by Kobold Press because it will be that darn good.

If (and that's a big if) I get the new edition, I know that I will houserule the heck out of it. I will also come up with Spelljammer rules for it including the giant space hamsters. I will gleefully hand over a house rule ebook for other peoples' tablets or kindles while digging out my notes from a three ring binder.

I don't think about how WOTC will make it encompass all the editions, I will make it do that. Give me the PHB so I know what others expect and I'm good. Heck, give me the starter set and I'll get by somehow. I say this knowing perfectly well that if I can afford the Monster Manual, that I'll buy it and any other creature book they publish.

For what it is worth, I'm not a fan of the 5e covers. Then again, I'm particular with RPG art. I like the DCC art style, I like Erol Otus, I like Matt Lichtenwalner, I like Jeff Dee, and I like Emily Vitori. Weird as it sounds, I wouldn't like them all together in one book, but I would be thrilled with each one illustrating an entire book including full color cover. If I ever win the lottery, I will do just that.

Maybe the final product will not make the executives at WOTC happy. I can imagine that if D&D doesn't dominate Pathfinder and fill up a couple rooms at convetions, that the RPG part of the brand will disappear. I don't know how D&D will do, but I hope it does not go away.

I know that I simply cannot afford it. Heck, I don't have five dollars to support all the OSR folks and zine makers I wish I could. (Then again, I wish I could make a zine and just give it away.) Still, I can dream, right? I can hold out for the winning lottery ticket numbers.

I believe that if Monte Cook had stuck around, it may have felt more old edition than new. Then again, I'm thrilled that he and Bruce Cordell have found success with Numenera.

The last playtest I saw, D&D felt like 3e and left me a bit cold. Then again, Dungeon World felt like 3e to me at first, and I love playing it. Go figure, there's no accounting for taste with me, I guess. 🙂

Since I enjoy older editions, I have Swords & Wizardry and For Gold & Glory to fit my needs. Practically, I don't need a new edition. Yet, I find an excitement in it all. Maybe it is my inner 12 year old that wants to see Yet Another Boxed Set. (After all, the beginner box comes with dice. Based on the mass production, those dice will probably be the most old school thing about the whole production.) Maybe this will be the box that comes after the Immortals set and starts off your second run at level 1 to 36. Maybe I'll win D&D with the new edition if I stick with it. Again, my inner 12 year old is yelling that I might still have a chance to finish what I started so long ago.

Good luck D&D. Seems like you'll need it.

Electrum Pieces, Microlite 20 and OSR Project

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!