Backgrounds in Fantasy RPGs

Seriously, too much background story is a lot of reading, however interesting, for GMs who usually have a lot on their plate already. Personally, I find anything much beyond three standard typed pages to be overkill. Other GMs might see this differently.

The comment in question specifically referred to D&D, but I think we can broaden it to all fantasy RPGs in general.

I personally love it when players take the time somewhere in the first session or two to provide me with some kind of background on their character. I realize some games have a basic background generator built into them. (Notably 5E and W.O.I.N.)

Dungeon Crawl Classics has its infamous 0-Level funnel wherein the PCs are considered peasants who decided to take up the life of adventuring and miraculously survived long enough reach an actual character class. Unfortunately, the town is now missing its butcher, candlestick maker, haberdasher, and about a dozen other peasants who went down into some scary hole in the ground and never returned. Some background of the surviving actual characters is already built in. That poor, poor village, though.

Whether it provides a statistical advantage or free item, it should still be worth creating a background.

Every character in books, theatre, TV, or movies has to start somewhere. True, Peasant #3 in the background of the bar scene probably lives out his entire life in those ten minutes, but he still might have had a cool backstory. If the group actually took a minute out to talk to him, they might even learn something. Maybe not even relevant to the plot, but… can’t win em all.

I know a lot of games are trying to coax players into coming up with more elaborate backgrounds with all kinds of rewards. Everything from skill boosts to items, even magic items can be awarded depending on the system and whether or not the GM thinks the player did enough. I’m even somewhat guilty of this. I’ve handed out Experience points for anything over half a page but fewer than three pages. I’ve also given out minor trinkets or even masterwork/low end magic items for a well-written, well thought out background. I like to have something to work with as much as any GM does.

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Plenty of resources to help players generate that background.

One of the best backstory generators ever made.

My all time favorite books for generating character backgrounds are Central Casting: Heroes of Legend. (Also Heroes Now! and Heroes for Tomorrow.) A quick search of DriveThruRPG gave thousands of options for fantasy character backgrounds. A quick Google search of fantasy character backstory generator listed several hundred more options, many of which were free.

Even the often maligned 1st Edition AD&D Unearthed Arcana had something of a background generator vaguely sandwiched into it. 3E D&D had the Hero Builder’s Guidebook which contained a very nice background generator. One of my absolute favorite 4th Ed D&D books, the Player’s Strategy Guide also had some great tools for building a backstory. These are all very helpful if you can find them.

Players: Please don’t write a novel about the character?

Lovingly submitted, your GM. Seriously, too much background story is a lot of reading, however interesting, for GMs who usually have a lot on their plate already. Personally, I find anything much beyond three standard typed pages to be overkill. Other GMs might see this differently.

It’s good to give the character some depth of personality. Reason and motivations that have helped shape the way the character acts in certain situations are good for roleplay. Not every character has to be suitable for television or movie drama. Too much background might make it look as if the character should already be 5th level and have some really decent magic items.

On the other side of this, I always ask players for at least a half page (even hand written) of background for their characters. I know there are plenty of minimalists and adult players with other commitments. I understand having a busy schedule. But, half a page? C’mon. Three key lines. I’m not picky.

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Here’s an example:

Bronk, Half Orc Fighter:
Bronk was born to a family of peasant sharecroppers who were very poor. Father was an Orc cast out of his traditional Orc clan and went to live with mom’s Human village. Bronk heard many tales from adventurers at the pub and thought adventuring would bring him more gold than farming and help his family.

Count it! Now we know a little about the character, who/what is important to him, and why he started adventuring. Not overly dramatic. No distinct character advantages written in. Manageable in less than 5 minutes.

Score! 500 XP for the character and inherits dad’s old leather armor and gets to keep his trusty farm ax to help him on his was courtesy of a grateful GM. Nothing freaky. No angst for anyone. Easy.

One of the new, great ongoing Internet debates.

Thank all of the gods, not another D&D edition war. (Although it’s probably coming.) One of the new Twit-ragers is going to be Backstories: Are they necessary? I know I’ve already seen some shameful examples of this, not to name any names.

There are two main camps of (mostly) D&D players on this one. Either you’re big on the newer editions and think backgrounds are an absolute must-have OR you’re totally old school and think backstory is something that might happen later if you absolutely must.

I’ve done it both ways over the years and seen it used, mistreated, and even abused in the past. Modern-ish D&D is systemically built about more drama and depth of character. Looking back and 2E and older, we were happy if the character survived long enough to warrant putting a last name on the their line.

Heck, I remember a time when physical description was asking a lot. Wouldn’t matter much if the character fell 30′ into a dungeon’s giant meat grinder. Alas, poor Dave Number 3 we knew him for one hour. Oh, look it’s Dave Number 4 coming around the corner with fresh rations and torches. Yay!

Now we have all kinds of Death Saves, healing and other second through fourth chances short of bribing the DM. (I accept bribes, or more like Faustian bargains, but at least your character gets to live.) 5th Ed has built up the notion that story comes before statistics. Do kids even have characters wander into dungeons any more in D&D?

Hopefully this has provided a little amusement. More on the story of backstories to come someday. Thanks for stopping by. Please be good to one another.

A (New?) Space Game.

Anything tremendously new in mind? Well, not necessarily. I mean, there are scores of games that do space sci-fi action. There are more space RPG titles than easily fit on a typed page. Everything from old school 1950’s rockets and rayguns all the way up to super-futuristic psionics and world ships is represented somewhere in TTRPG form. Do I have a completely new take?

Here we go again. Again…

I love space games. My all time, number one favorite without a doubt is still West End Games’ Star Wars. The D6 system is still one of the best of all time. But, time and trademarks being what they are, I’m not comfortable doing another Star Wars game although I do miss chopping up battle droids with a lightsaber.

I’ve noticed most space game franchises have a pretty specific universe mapped out. Babylon 5, Aliens, Galactica, Star Trek, Starship Troopers, and Star Wars are all super specific. The same is true of RPGs set in space. Look at Star Frontiers for example. There are almost as many named planets and lore for it to have its own movie franchise.

Reinventing the space wheel, so to speak.

I have a kind of interesting take on a setting that really hasn’t been done yet. It’s based loosely on modern Ufology with a little bit of anime thrown in. I don’t know exactly how unique my whole crazy plan is, but I’m going to take a stab in the dark at it. I’ve always been enamored with deep space mecha such as Robotech/Macross and the Clan storyline from Battletech (which is a riff on Robotech.)

Anything tremendously new in mind? Well, not necessarily. I mean, there are scores of games that do space sci-fi action. There are more space RPG titles than easily fit on a typed page. Everything from old school 1950’s rockets and rayguns all the way up to super-futuristic psionics and world ships is represented somewhere in TTRPG form. Do I have a completely new take?

Bits of other game concepts loosely joined.

My desire to create a brand new space RPG came from love and disgruntlement with multiple systems. Some games are too crunchy. Ever build a starship for the PCs in Traveler? May as well build it in my backyard. It would be easier. Anything Palladium? Miles of d00% skills and endless MDC vs SDC debates.

Some games don’t go far enough. I love Star Frontiers for its simplicity, but the skill system doesn’t quite get the job done. It’s good for beer-n-pretzels blowing off steam in the OSR, though. The skill system in Star Frontiers leaves a lot to be desired, however. The revision of the game in Zebulon’s Guide to the Frontier just didn’t quite go far enough for me. That, and I prefer the Marvel d00% CS system for that RPG.

ICRPG is great, but same lack of skill system. I love FUDGE/FATE, but if I’m going to design my skills from scratch anyway? Yes, FATE has a solid Space sourcebook. It’s cool, but then I have to mash in all the mecha components, too.

I’d go the Anime route with BESM or something similar, but it’s more mecha and less a space game at that point. I dunno. I could go on ruling out systems and settings for days. I want a game that takes the BEST components from all of these other RPGs and settings and combines them for something truly amazing.

That actually gives me another idea for Arpeggio of Blue Steel meets Space Battleship Yamato, but we’ll come back to that later.

So, here’s going to be the start of my as yet untitled space game.

By the time I’m done, it will cover all the things one might expect in an action/space opera game with mecha. Seems a tall order. My kids may have to finish it twenty years from now, but I’m going to give it a solid attempt.

I’m going to build it on the site here as I go as a sort of portfolio project and then compile/format it into a full pdf for better distribution, possibly Print On Demand. I’m going to try to keep the price as low as reasonably possible for the finished product.

More to come as I post the design blog. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you!

See you among the stars!

Would You Play in This Campaign?

What starts out as any other medieval forest fantasy game rapidly turns into a battle across dimensional planes to stop the Demon Emperor and his horrific army from rampaging across their world. The group will pretty much be all that stands between the dimensional conquerors and an innocent world full of otherwise good people. The PCs will also set the narrative for future campaigns.

Against the Shogun of Darkness

The first campaign set in my newest campaign world, but not the only one.

Campaign Pitch: What starts out as any other medieval forest fantasy game rapidly turns into a battle across dimensional planes to stop the Demon Emperor (Final name and title to be determined) and his horrific army from rampaging across their world. The group will pretty much be all that stands between the dimensional conquerors and an innocent world full of otherwise good people. The PCs will also set the narrative for future campaigns.

This campaign can be set in almost any fantasy world, but realize failure means the group sets a chain of events in motion that will undoubtedly rewrite canon and change the way the world develops.

The Emperor and his minions will introduce several new items and monsters to the game.

The entire campaign is planned for 12 episodes, with an episode lasting one to three sessions. The first two and the last two sessions are intended to be played in order, but otherwise, the DM is free to play the rest of the encounters in any order they wish. Episodes 11 and 12 can be moved up as needed. Episodes 3-10 can be skipped or shortened if preferred. There will be a lot of potential for character development lost in the middle, however.

The first two chapters included with the campaign will describe my world (to be named later.) This is intended to give the players some background and a feel for the world they will be trying to save. While monsters and evil things lurk in the shadows of dungeons and cities, there are good things everywhere. There are faeries, unicorns, good dragons and kind-hearted folk everywhere. Yes, there are bad people, as well, but fortunately, the hero populations keeps their numbers in check.

The PCs start out in the quiet village of Blooming Fern. It’s a quiet logging and farming community. It’s on a river which provides for commercial opportunities and plenty of fish. Daily life is quiet for the most part and other than the constable and a few night watchmen, a large police force is simply unnecessary. The mayor and the town council of elders make fair decisions and rulings, acting as both political leaders and judges for disputes and sentencing criminals. All are fair, hard-working, family fold with property and local businesses.

*Editor’s notes: This campaign idea was based off of some rough notes I scribbled into my calendar notebook. As I’m getting ready to switch notebooks, I found it and thought it might be cool to throw out there. Thank you to all who responded via #ttrpgTwitter

It’s pretty rough yet. Lots of revisions and changes before it would be a full fledged game.

Mining Old Books for New Content.

This trick works for more than just the superhero genre. Fantasy games, such as D&D, have far more modules already produced. Sometimes it’s as simple as updating the monsters and loot to the most current edition, which could involve some number crunching. However, if one is to choose a rules lite system such as ICRPG or Easy D6, conversions go very fast.

I keep a lot of old RPG books around that aren’t in PDF.

Good old MSH Reap the Whirlwind.

GM Tip: Never throw an old RPG book away. The same can be said for old modules, even homebrew ones. Please believe me when I say, “Never underestimate the value of an old module.”

The old adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure applies in this case. Take an old Marvel Superheroes Module like, Reap the Whirlwind, take the word “mutant” and change it to however supers are referred to in one’s own campaign and convert/add stats accordingly. Viola! Instant adventure for a couple of nights.

It’s one reason I favor simpler superhero games such as ICONS. They’re much easier to convert old Marvel and DC modules with. Games such as Mutants & Masterminds or Champions are a lot stat intensive and porting in all the baddies takes time and temperance.

Excavate those buried gems!

This trick works for more than just the superhero genre. Fantasy games, such as D&D, have far more modules already produced. Sometimes it’s as simple as updating the monsters and loot to the most current edition, which could involve some number crunching. However, if one is to choose a rules lite system such as ICRPG or Easy D6, conversions go very fast.

The same can be said for converting non-D&D adventures into other game systems. I know someone who really likes the Warhammer Fantasy setting, but doesn’t care much for the rule system. Solution: convert everything to D&D by approximation. One of my current projects is pulling old Basic D&D modules over into Dungeon Crawl Classics for my own use.

I’ve seen the Star Frontiers Crash on Volturnus module used as a Star Wars D6 adventure. I’ve seen Call of Cthulhu modules run in Beyond the Supernatural and D20 Modern. (Call of Cthulhu actually has a D20 variant, but the modules were original system.)

Wait, there’s more!

If you really want to expand your horizons as a GM, you might consider running modules across different genres. Call of Cthulhu investigators stumble into what looks an awful lot like a D&D dungeon full of monsters, riddles, and deadly traps. Star Wars characters have to go up against a rogue group of stormtroopers that have broken off of the Empire under the leadership of a maniacal megalomaniac with a skull shaped red mask. D&D characters suddenly find themselves up against Cthulhu cultists.

The possibilities are truly endless. If you’re a low prep GM and you have become adept at “winging it,” then this style of grab-n-go module prep might work very well for you. I’m more of a high prep GM, but I keep a LOT of old adventures around, especially D&D, that I can pull into my current game to run as a side trek or maybe as a one shot if key players are missing.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found this useful. Happy gaming!

Game World Creation Journal Revised

And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?

I won’t lie. I start a lot of projects. I don’t necessarily finish them. I get sidetracked rather easily. Okay, more like derailed. No promises on this one, but it’s a set of ideas that’s been brewing for ages now.

And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?

My latest venture, among others, is creating my own Dungeon Crawl Classics Campaign world. I have some challenges to overcome. I also have a ton of cool stuff I want to do, probably more than I can fit into one book or even one world. I get really excited because they’re all things I’ve wanted to do for years and years.

I have all these cool plans for kingdoms. Challenge: Mapping. I’m building it as open sandbox for now. I’m having my own little group of characters explore random hexes as we go. The cities, settlements, and kingdoms will be there when they’re discovered.

I have all these neat ideas for various race/culture combos. Challenge: Fitting everything on a map and still having characters discover them. Races have been controversial as of late. Do we even call them races any more? This is mostly an OSR issue. Maybe it’s time to borrow a page from Pathfinder 2e and D&D 5E?

I want to add a bunch of game mechanics including new classes, spells, deities. Challenge: Players are going to freak out. Possibly in a good way, but still. Am I literally trying to reinvent the wheel here? Maybe. It’s like Advanced Dungeon Crawl Classics or something.

Classes are one of my favorite things to tinker with. Challenge: How will players and Judges react to certain traditional classes and items being tossed out? I want to bring some old school D&D rules in. How’s that going to go over? Moreover what’s already been done before. DCC has a long and rich history.

I think world design and campaign design should break certain rules and go outside the guidelines. Creativity isn’t about stressing over who’s getting offended today. Maybe coming up with new ways of NOT stressing the audience out, sure.

So my plan here is to simply start the damn thing and see it all the way through. It may take me 20 years and be published after my death, but hey- we’ll get there. More to come as I develop it. Prepare to be freaked out, possibly.

Originally, I was going to do this with D&D 5E, but… where’s that edition going to be one year from now? I think I’m backing off of 5E until the dust settles a bit. Let’s be honest, that particular market is getting oversaturated anyway.

Thanks for stopping by. There’s a lot more coming. I appreciate you!

Retainers: The Forgotten.

Now, what we tend to forget mid-dungeon is that Lil Jimmy (thusly named because of his small stature, not age) probably has a family that would miss him and his 3 copper per week income. The family goat just died recently and they sent Jim out to try to earn enough to buy seed for next year’s bean crop. But, on paper he’s listed as Torchbearer Jim: AC 11, +0 Init, 3hp, +0 Saves, Club: 1d6 dmg.

Sounds like it could almost be an RPG in and of itself.

Game Masters/Dungeon Master tend to hate them because they’re one more name to come up with and one more stat block to keep track-of. Players tend to use and abuse them for all sorts of things. While I try to make them as entertaining and endearing as possible, let’s just say most adventuring parties tend to either forget them, or use them as fodder.

Some players forget they’re even available, preferring to haul their lucre home on their own backs. But more often than not, a wagonload of loot and everyday comfort items can bog down. It’s a little hard to fight in a dungeon while dragging a chest full of loot, carrying a torch in one hand and firing a crossbow with the other two…oops. Not many three and four armed characters out there. (*Thri-Kreen not withstanding.) At some point, the group must realize they’re going to have to hire some help.

Personality: a guide to NPC retainer survival.

Sure, Lil Jimmy the torchbearer only has one tiny line of stats. He’s armed with, uh, the torch. He’s had little to no training as a fighter and tends to trip over his own boots in the dark. He hasn’t found any deathtraps yet because he’s still with the group. Super useful for carrying the torch. That’s about it.

Now, what we tend to forget mid-dungeon is that Lil Jimmy (thusly named because of his small stature, not age) probably has a family that would miss him and his 3 copper per week income. The family goat just died recently and they sent Jim out to try to earn enough to buy seed for next year’s bean crop. But, on paper he’s listed as Torchbearer Jim: AC 11, +0 Init, 3hp, +0 Saves, Club: 1d6 dmg.

Maybe Lil Jimmy the torchbearer is a really nice guy. Kinda meager. Missing a few teeth so he talks with a lisp. He’s mostly human, but grandma always said there was a gnome far up the family tree. All of Jim’s extended family lives under one roof. Great grandma’s lumbago keeps her bedridden, so Jim’s 3 coppers often go for apothecary expenses. Sharecropping hasn’t paid so well lately, so the family is pretty far in debt to the landlords.

My aim here was to illustrate the more the characters get to know their trusted, loyal retainers, the less likely they are to have one walk into a room full of traps to act as a damage sponge. Every job, including adventuring, has its set of employer-employee relationships. Most worthy employers at least try to know a little bit about their employees.

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What? They ran off with the loot in the middle of the night again?

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Another thing that might keep an adventurer-retainer relationship healthy is that the retainers know when the group sleeps. There is very little to keep a number of disgruntled retainers from just wandering off in the middle of the night, possibly with the party’s gold and magic items. Those are just the scrupulous retainers. 3cp/week to haul around a veritable mountain of gold, magic, and misc objects d’art? You don’t have to be a noble to see that’s a really screwed up deal.

Yes, the adventurers might think they’re paying a fair wage. They have to do all the scary, heroic things to get the loot. Then again, porters and torchbearers might be risking all down in the dungeon right alongside the “brave heroes.” A bit of wage negotiation might be in order at that point.

Some games might include 0-level retainers/hirelings/henchmen as backup characters.

Dungeon Crawl Classics and other OSR games might allow for 0-level characters to be retainers in the event one or more party members happens to die mid-dungeon. The player may then treat the retainer as a character that freshly passed onto Level 1 and keep the action going.

Ed the cart driver suddenly becomes Ed the Wizard. Billy the torchbearer suddenly takes up the thiefly arts. Bob the dwarf cook suddenly becomes Bob the Dwarf Adventurer. Seems a bit unlikely in places, but perfectly logical in others.

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Retainers were automatic in some fantasy RPGs.

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We used to laugh in Warhammer FRPG when a new class automatically retained followers. The same was true of D&D back in the day. The question was always, “Who are these guys, and why should we care?” Sometimes characters would become landowners and need someone to watch the place while they were off dungeoneering. Enter the NPCs.

Well, obviously, Alfred the famous Warrior was worthy of a retinue of like-minded knights who want to travel with him. Fredo the Cleric had people who flocked to hear him speak, and Sunny the Thief had an entire guild of street urchins. Made total sense except for where did these people come from and why were they stalking our characters? The DM always had fun coming up with ways for these characters to obtain followers and why.

Some unscrupulous PCs would get their retainers killed and fake sympathy. One of my Warhammer players actually had his character start killing his off one by one. It was pretty grim, but it did settle the problem of people wanting to work for him ever again. That was a pretty, um…. murder hobo campaign, though.

Later editions of various rulesets made retainers optional or just not a thing, thankfully. It saved the GM/DM time in coming up with names, descriptions, etc. It was a lot less paperwork all around. Nowadays, if characters want to attract followers/retainers, cool. It can be a good roleplaying device and characters in some fantasy games these days don’t explore or crawl about in dungeons as much.

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All things said, I think it can be a good lesson, especially for younger players.

Treat people nicely (in game) and they’ll want to work for you. Please treat people with kindness and understanding, regardless. In a game, it’s just nice to reinforce positive values. That, and it’s better than having Bob the Former Dwarf Cook having to be triple encumbered carrying a mountain of loot home on his back.

Thanks for stopping by. You’re awesome. I appreciate you!

I’m grateful for you!

7 Demon Chest for DCC RPG

Characters discover a chest that will unleash seven very powerful demons along with untold treasure if opened. What else is in the chest? Are the rumors true? If they find it, will they open it? The renowned Demonologist, Priests, and Monks who captured the demon constructed an elaborate shrine to contain the chest and educate all those who enter about the demons inside. Unfortunately, it reads like a treasure map.

This most cursed chest contains 7 powerful demons concealed away in a temple and believed to be sealed away for all of eternity.

A series of dungeons/mini campaign for Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Monks, priests, and other holy warriors fought and gave their lives to seal these most powerful demons inside this chest. The chest is sealed away in a forgotten shrine, bound in blessed chains and ofuda. Scrolls detailing each demon and how they were first defeated line the walls of the shrine.

There is a rumor that seven items of incredible power are also contained in the chest. Relics used by those who captured the 7 Demons are rumored to be hidden within the shrine. The good news is the relics used by the original captors are present within the shrine. The bad news is the items within the chest accompany the demons when they disappear.

Judge’s Synopsis: Characters discover a chest that will unleash seven very powerful demons along with untold treasure if opened. What else is in the chest? Are the rumors true? If they find it, will they open it? The renowned Demonologist, Priests, and Monks who captured the demon constructed an elaborate shrine to contain the chest and educate all those who enter about the demons inside. Unfortunately, it reads like a treasure map.

The good news is the demons can be returned to the chest with great effort. It will become the quest of those who foolishly open the chest to retrieve all of them. If any adventurer refuses the quests, their existence will be cursed and will ultimately end in woe.

Balor: True name hidden in the shrine. No one dares speak it.
Demo-Dragon. Maybe not the Demodragon, but definitely one of them.
Ghost of Summoner Sorcerer Yamada Daisuke: Servant of the Hidden Lord
Oni Lord Shoko O Futen. (Divine Wind of the Underworld.)
Osyluthe: aka Splintered Demon.
Void Demon: The Ghost in Darkness
Twin-Headed Hariti-Baku. Servant of Sezrekan.

*Judge’s Note: If/when the chest is actually opened, the priests that sealed the demons away used many scrolls and spells to assure the demons all return to their original lairs from which they were captured. Each tale of where they were found except the Ghost of Summoner Sorcerer Yamada Daisuke who is bound within the shrine. He will be the first challenge any group who opens the chest must face. He is also one of the scariest and most powerful outside the shrine.

Some of the names and who they serve have been changed from my original adventure notes to reflect the world of DCC.
This series of adventures was loosely inspired by The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo.

And similar OSR games.

Only Show Respect.

Only Show Respect, the other abbreviation of OSR. The one that we all know and love is Old School Revival. It basically just means all of us OG’s like to play original or first edition D&D and other classics from the early days of RPGs.

I wish I’d thought of this one.

I’d been kind of kibitzing with Tom from TableTop Taproom in his YouTube comments about doing a “No Hate in the OSR” logo. I had one that I was working on, but I’m not maybe as artistic as the folx Tom has access to. I’ll start using this on my OSR content as soon as I can. Love it!

Only Show Respect, the other abbreviation of OSR. The one that we all know and love is Old School Revival. It basically just means all of us OG’s like to play original or first edition D&D and other classics from the early days of RPGs.

“We’re here to game.” – Tom/Jedion.

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The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.

Due to some seriously negative horse crap in the RPG community, a lot of us older fans really want to drive the point home that we’re NOT HERE TO HATE! I agree entirely. I’ve rallied behind this movement. Everyone is welcome, so long as they do no harm in the real world.

I’ve mentioned in other posts that a lot of us older gamers were raised in a different era. An era when treating some people with disdain, disrespect, and even hate was considered okay. Now, culture in the US and other countries has evolved. Some of us OGs are still evolving with it.

We’re taking charge of a narrative with this.

It’s no secret there are people in almost every community that hold some kind of bigoted beliefs or some personal ideals that seem a little sketchy. I shamefully fell into this category at one time. People can change! People are capable of opening their hearts and minds.

You don’t have to be a bitter, spiteful, Old Grognard forever! There is love in all of us. Open your heart and hopefully your gaming table up to new people. Leave ego and politics at the door and roll some dice together. It’s easy.

It’s not “Woke” culture.

Keep it warm and fuzzy out in the real world.

Please be respectful. Please be kind to others. Play nice. This is not new information. We didn’t just wake up one day in a world where people expect to be treated the way we want to be treated.

If one finds oneself on the receiving end of “Cancel Culture,” maybe it’s a signal that mistakes were made. In other words, if someone is getting pounded on social media for being rude, insensitive, or acting like an ass- some reflection is in order. That’s simple matter of social sanctions within a community against someone who is violating an unwritten or even sometimes written code of moral conduct.

Lovingly submitted, it’s not 1983 any more. The cultures we live in are changing. What was once considered socially acceptable is changing. It’s not a written law, it’s what others find ethically and morally acceptable now.

Hot take: What was acceptable in 1776 United States might not be so popular now.

They did what, exactly?

The Founding Fathers of the United States weren’t exactly angels in some respects. Some of them owned slaves, committed various crimes by today’s standards, and did some pretty reprehensible things back then. If someone acted that way in 2022 and got caught? They’d be going to jail for a long time.

I’ve seen many similar lists to this one from Ranker.com. While the history books paint pretty pictures of the Founding Fathers, they were not all sunshine and rainbows. My point is: what we think of as “right” and “wrong” today looks nothing like what it did in 1776, 1863, or even 1983.

RPGs written in 1980 or earlier are pretty cool, but remember from whence they came.

Even RPG designers of yesteryear are guilty of having some sketchy ethics and beliefs. I’m not going to name anyone specific. I think we all respect and admire certain RPG royalty in much the same way we admire the Founding Fathers. (Sorry, gotta go with what I know. I’m sure Canada, Great Britain, and other countries have their own versions.) None of our heroes are completely untarnished.

Pathfinder 2E (Paizo) and D&D 5E (Wizards of the Coast) are even changing what they are doing with what we called races back in the early days of gaming. We can change the way we look at our hobby and still have fun. Conflict in one form or another still drives a lot of RPGs. Those older games are still great, but we have to remember that morals and ethics were different when they were written. Things that would be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and ableist now were overlooked as the norm then.

The disclaimer that has caused so much uproar in the OSR RPG community.

That’s not to say that being a jerk is okay any time.

The “Old Grognard” in me wrestles with some these concepts regularly. Sometimes ethical and moral dilemmas are at the very heart of RPGs as well. I like a little deeper roleplaying when I’m not slugging it out with superheroes or blasting giant robots. Some of these very deep concepts can lead for epic storylines in RPGs assuming everyone at the table is cool with it.

Just because there’s literally a race reaction table in the Unearthed Arcana AD&D 1E, doesn’t mean we have to play it that way in Old School Revival. Part of the beauty of OSR is that it’s a revision or even a rewrite of the old rules. We can have the nostalgic old school feel without the messed-up old school racism, sexism, -phobia, etc.

Photo by Katie Rainbow ud83cudff3ufe0fu200dud83cudf08 on Pexels.com

I’m all about that OSR way of doing things because that’s my generation’s way of gaming.

Heck yeah! Let’s go romp through some dungeons the old beer-n-pretzels way! Slay that dragon. Grab some cool loot. Just leave the negative stuff toward other people out of the games we write and the way we play.

Then carry that attitude to our Friendly Local Game Stores. Let’s bring the fun with us to conventions. Let’s bring people into the hobby and show them how awesome roleplaying games can be. Please convey that positive, welcoming message everywhere we go.

O.nly S.how R.espect.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hex Crawl Advances

Mapping by hand really brings back that Old School feeling.

I took the liberty of rolling up the next ring.

After this, I’m only rolling for the hexes as the party enters them. Should be entertaining. I’ve already rolled one hex from the Paraelemental Plane of Mud, two jungle hexes, and and a random desert hex. Mapping by hand really brings back that Old School feeling.

The Hex Map Round 2
  • (Home) The quiet town of Dunbury Glen and its immediate surroundings before they were flung across time and space.
  • C3 Mountains. Dungeon here.
  • D4 Forest
  • D6 Wasteland. Elementals present.
  • C7 Plains/Grasslands. No roads.
  • B6 Fresh water.
  • B4 Plains/Grasslands.
  • C1 Grassy hills
  • D2 Forest
  • E3 Mud from the Paraelemental Plane of Mud. Elemental Chaos!
  • E5 Eerily cold, some trees, some grass
  • E7 Forest
  • D8 Jungle
  • C9 Grassy Hills
  • B9 Jungle
  • A7 Fresh water.
  • A5 Desert/Sand
  • A3 Jungle
  • B2 Grassy Hills.

So far, the group has explored enough to discover the 6 hexes directly around Dunbury Glen. They have not, however, run into sentient beings or any signs of civilization yet. They made a note of the dungeon in the mountains north of town, but decided to come back later. They are currently working their way Northeast through the forest at D4.

Thank you for stopping by. More fun tomorrow. I appreciate you!

1d12 Reasons Ships Drop Out of Hyperspace

Drive breakdown! Somebody missed something during the last maintenance cycle. The part that broke requires replacement.

Sometimes the Jump Drive shuts down mid-run.

Roll 1d12 to find out what went wrong with the long jump.

  1. Uncharted, unexplored planet! Group may wish to reconnoiter.
  2. Hyperspace particle waveform cloud. Ship must travel through regular space to get through the phenomenon.
  3. Life forms detected! A large life form or cloud of life forms that live in space.
  4. Another spacecraft in distress. Just close enough to cast a hyperspace shadow.
  5. Wreckage from a battle. May be pretty old.
  6. Pirates with a hyperspace shadow generator. Prepare to be boarded!
  7. Drive breakdown! Somebody missed something during the last maintenance cycle. The part that broke requires replacement.
  8. Binary star gravitational well.
  9. Astrogation malfunction! The drive is fine, but the computer controlling it has malfunctioned. Reprogramming requires skill and time.
  10. Hyper-intelligent cosmic energy being.
  11. Rogue comet or planetoid. Unmapped, unsurveyed chunk of ice, a moon or planet flying through space.
  12. Black Hole! Still time to maneuver out of it.

For use with any space RPG. Have fun with it. Thank you for stopping by.

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