Planning games: Greyhawk Dawn

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“Logo” for my new 5e Greyhawk game

Soon it is time to take a break from “Season 1” of our Lost Lands game and move to Curse of Strahd.

As I was thinking of how to introduce the players to Ravenloft this time I decided to have them drawn into the mists, old school style. And then I need a world to draw them from.

As I have mentioned before, Forgotten Realms isn’t really my cup of tea. One thing I dislike is the extent of canon for FR. Another is the generic high fantasy feel of the FR books as well as the assumption of a vast quantity of magic items on the market as well as all those high level NPCs that are running around.

Also, I wanted to move this game to a new setting that I can use for future 5e games and I wanted to play in one of the TSR classics: Mystara, Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk.

So I have been digging out my old TSR world-boxes and read some as well as studying the maps. For me, Forgotten Realms fell away at once (I have the 2e box set as well as the 3e book). Then, Mystara was discarded as well (I have the 2e box set) despite my old love for the Known World setting, which I disliked more and more as I read the official Mystara books.

Which left me with Greyhawk. I have the 1983 box and a bunch of 2e stuff as well as the 3e Living Greyhawk book. And the Paizo maps on top of that.

Funny thing is, that back in the day, we never used the Greyhawk setting in any of the groups I played with. It was all home brew back then.

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Das ist ein groovy combo, yes?

I think that it will be fun to try out 5e D&D in this classic setting. This is also where all the old classic modules are located. Maybe we’ll try out one of the converted classics after our foray into the Mists…

After playing through Curse of Strahd, I might also go for a pure Ravenloft game based on the Domains of Dread tome in combination with the 3e Ravenloft books from Arthaus.


Anyway, when deciding to use Greyhawk as my material plane world, I decided to check if there’s any online resources usable for 5e Greyhawk, and it turns out that there are some: 

World of Greyhawk for 5e (very good base site for 5e GH)

Canonfire 5e Greyhawk forums

From the Sorcerer’s Scroll blog

Greyhawk Grognard blog

Anna B Meyer Greyhawk Maps

Paizo Greyhawk map(s)

Classic Modules Today (about converting classic modules to 5e)

 

 

Lazy Sod Press | On Grognardism and skill checks

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Coolest Swords & Wizardry cover evar…

I have gotten some feedback that my inclusion of “skill checks” (albeit clearly labeled as optional) in my self-published S&W adventures might not be in the vein of old school gaming.

I do realize that inclusion of skill checks in old school games is a bit controversial in some circuits, but it is how I play when using the S&W rules, and I wanted to include my own system as a variant rules option for those so inclined.

However, I hear you and in the future I will exclude skill checks in the S&W versions of my adventures, keeping it cleaner and more in line with the aesthetics of the old school crowd. I will also release an “Olde Grognard” PDF version of the already published modules, with the skill checks removed and instead publish a free PDF with optional skill check rules for S&W for those who enjoy such things.

Old Schoolers – dawnrazor has your grognard a**es covered:)

And with that I wish you all a nice weekend!

GM thoughts: Not as old school as I once thought

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Ze Cultists Conspire…

Since my return to D&D back in 2010-11, I have played and GM:et a bunch of D&D-ish games: Rules Cyclopedia, Mentzer D&D, Labyrinth Lord AEC, Swords & Wizardry Core, Swords & Wizardry Complete, Blood & Treasure, D&D 5th edition, Pathfinder and Fantastic Heroes & Witchery.

And despite all sharing a fairly similar base in scope and concept, I would say that every edition and clone has its own specific flavor, which is cool.

In the start I was very much into the minimalistic and simpler versions of the game, but over time I have noticed that I definitely prefer games with a little more choice and crunch. I will never be a 3rd edition D&D/Pathfinder guy but these days the more minimalistic editions of the game goes away, as are the ones using “race-as-class”.

I have also felt my interest in pure old school style adventures waning, slowly gravitating away from the old classics in favor of more “modern” style adventures. This is also true rules-wise.

However, the new mega-modules from Wizards of the Coast have left me quite unimpressed (except for the new Curse of Strahd, which will be my next GM:ing project). I don’t know exacly what it is, but some modern ideas and concepts are extemely off-putting to me.

And while I find the 5th edition core rules pretty OK, they’re not my favourite rule set as there are some things that I have a hard time accepting.

I have come to the conclusion that what I want from my D&D games these days is a hybrid game:

Old school rules with new school hacks added. (Or, new school rules with some old school concepts added). Adventure-wise it is the same. And I have found a few game companies that provide just what I like:

Frog God Games’ adventures are pretty old school, but with a modern touch, making them ideal for me. I buy the Swords & Wizardry versions because I feel that they are the easiest to read and get a grasp of, and also the most versatile in terms of what game system to use. Most of their adventures have been available in Swords & Wizardry and Pathfinder editions, but now they have added 5th edition D&D to their stable as well. I know that some old schoolers are a bit sceptical towards 3.x/PF adventures being converted to old school format, but in my book it works really well. The only downside for me (being a resident of Sweden, i.e. Northlands) is that there’s no Swedish or European reseller of Frog God Games products, meaning in turn that their already quite expensive products get super expensive when adding currency conversion, international shipping and import tax. At the same time, the books are top notch quality with real sewn backs and in my opinion they give serious bang for the buck. We have been playing Stoneheart Valley (supplemented with some OSR side trek adventures) for about a year (we play about one or maybe two 6-8 hour sessions per month) and we still have lots of things to explore. I really like Frog God’s mix of old and new. And yeah, they are also the publishers of Swords & Wizardry Complete, of which I’m sure that you have heard of.

Troll Lord Games is another game company that provides an old school philosophy but with a more modern take. This company also publish their own excellent rule set – Castles & Crusades which is a modern but more simple game engine than for example Pathfinder. Basically, they have simplified D&D 3.x mechanics and turned the game back to a very 1e AD&D philosophy. For example, in C&C, bards, assassins and rangers cannot cast spells. TLG also publish their own game worlds, Aihrde and Haunted Highlands, which are awesome game worlds and usable with whatever game you prefer, complete with large beautiful colour maps. And they have a huge selection of adventures for those that prefer pre-written adventures. Old school philosophy with a modern take. We have not played Castles & Crusades yet though. I recently got into the game and have been reading their stuff a lot and I really like it as it is very complete and they offer books on subjects that no other publisher has done. Their books are also top notch with real sewn backs. Price wise they are also reasonable and on top of that they have both Swedish and European resellers, meaning that I don’t have to import them myself, which saves me a ton of money. After Curse of Strahd, this is where we’ll be going. Finally, as a note, TLG has also started to convert some books and adventures for 5e D&D.

Finally, I don’t think that anyone has missed that I really, really like John M Stater‘s games. He writes and publishes his games on his own and his neo-old school game Blood & Treasure has been a favourite of mine since it first came out in 2012. Blood & Treasure can be described as an old school clone but with lots of new school stuff thrown into the mix. It is very complete but still simple at heart. If Castles & Crusades is a 1e AD&D-ified version of 3.x, then Blood & Treasure is a OSR-ified version of 3.x. In Blood & Treasure, many of the concepts from 3.x are retained – bards, assassins and rangers have limited spell casting abilities for example. I like to think of Blood & Treasure as Swords & Wizardry Complete on steroids. Lots of options. Simple rules engine. This is the game we currently use, and it can easily be used to play adventures written for any version of D&D or clone thereof.

As an honorable mention, I would like to add Fantastic Heroes & Witchery published by Dominique Crouzet and his own publishing imprint DOM Publishing. I was really stoked with this game when it came out but it is not a complete game in the sense that it lacks both monsters, treasure and magic items. It is meant to be used as an alternative game engine along with your old books. For me, it has become a go-to GM source for inspiration and alternative rules ideas and concepts that I cannot find in another rule set. However, there is a monster book in the works right now. Between Blood & Treasure, Castles & Crusades and 5th edition D&D I’d say that I have alternative flavoured D&D-ish rules to run games indefinitely and while I’d really like to try out Fantastic Heroes & Witchery with my group, they have already signaled a certain “try-out-new-rules-fatigue”, so in the choice of letting something go, it will be FH&W for me. Still, an amazing game.

Sadly, I seem to one of the few that like this style of gaming. Pathfinder and 5e fans seem to scorn as soon as someone mentions old school or OSR style gaming and many old schoolers think that including things like skill checks in old school gaming is heresy. Sad, as I think that all gaming styles have cool ideas to offer. Or maybe, gamers like myself don’t care about “gamer politics” and aren’t that vocal of it online. I don’t know, but I feel quite alone in my game philosphy.

So, my mission when writing my own adventures for publishing is to show that older style games can be used for newer style gaming and vice versa. And while I won’t sell as much doing just that, rather than catering to peoples’ preconceptions of how an adventure should be if it’s “pure old school” or “pure new school”, it is my gaming style and I like to promote it.

Game on. Have fun. Mix and match. Don’t let others tell you what is OK and what is not.

 

 

Lazy Sod Press | Now on Tabletop Library

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New RPG shop in town!

Today I added my first product to the new Tabletop Library online RPG shop! Very smooth process for adding your stuff I must say.

Link to Lazy Sod Press on Tabletop Library

While I like OBS, I also think that healthy competition will lead to a beneficial development in a business segment, so all cred to the people behind this endeavour.

I also decided to go back to a pay model for my stuff. The last month I went back to PWYW over at DriveThru and while “sales” went up, paying customers did not.

Tabletop Library has no PWYW option so I figured that in order to be fair, my products are now POYDGI – Pay Or You Don’t Get It😉

In the future I will however have sales and giveaways instead of PWYW. And free content.

Over and out.

Free Delta Green Quickstart Rules!

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The cover of the new DG quickstart rules from Arc Dream Publishing

Yesterday, Arc Dream Publishing released their new Delta Green Quickstart rules as a free PDF (or Pay-What-You-Want to be exact).

I just browsed through it on my tablet and it looks very familiar to old Call of Cthulhu fans. Still, there’s some new innovations and ideas there and overall, it looks a bit toned down on the mechanics compared to the old CoC-based DG books.

This version of the rules are also the Delta Green RPG OGL, meaning that you can use many of the rules freely to create you own game or to publish ghastly modern day horror adventures. The DG universe is still resticted content of course, but I applaud the gesture by Arc Dream Publishing and I know that this will encourage happy RPG adventure writers (as myself) to write DG compatible materials in the future.

Awesome, Arc Dream, awesome!

Get it from RPGNow


 

And as a side note, today I finally broke down and pre-ordered a pretty big bunch of Delta Green RPG stuff from the BackerKit site – physical Case officer’s Handbook and a metric ton of PDFs to go with the book. Now I’m poor, but happy:)

I earlier decided to not back the Kickstarter because I have all the old DG books, collected over the years, but seeing that the new game would be OGL and based on the Legend OGL pushed me over the edge. And I have already informed my players that they will become approached by DG operatives in the near future…