Wayward Chimera

Something large has left a trail of blood and disturbed the ground as it crossed the trail. A little while later, there is a rustling in the brush. It almost sounds as if three animals are nearby together- A lion, a goat, and a dragon. What do you do?

Short Scenario for Dungeon Crawl Classics

This encounter works best is a wooded environment, but can be adapted to most other terrain types. Suitable for Characters Level 2 and up. The Judge will have to create his/her own maps or make use of theatre of the mind.

Read to party: You’ve been hearing commotion in the distance for most of the morning, but the morning’s fog and dense brush make it hard to discern exactly where from other than somewhere up ahead. It sounded as if two great beasts where having at one another. As you travel onward, the noise dies down to the horrible sound of a great wounded beast occasionally yowling from pain off in the distance.

Optional: [Something large has left a trail of blood and disturbed the ground as it crossed the trail. A little while later, there is a rustling in the brush. It almost sounds as if three animals are nearby together- A lion, a goat, and a dragon. What do you do? ]

Behind the Scenes (For the Judge.) Earlier in the day an enraged Manticore and a Chimera engaged in a bloody battle in the sky above the forest. The two creatures came into dispute when the Chimera stole an egg from the Manticore’s nest.

The great beasts tussled in mid-air and the chimera got the worst of it. It is now lurking in the underbrush with a broken, torn wing, foaming at the mouth from a venomous sting, and waiting for an easy kill to try to recover some strength.

Chimera: Init +0; Atk lion bite +5 melee (2d4) or goat gore +4 melee (2d4) or dragon bite +6 melee (1d10+2) or claws +4 melee (1d3) or breathe fire; AC 18; HD 5d8+8 (Currently 24hp) ; MV 30’ or fly 30’; Act 3d20; SP breathe fire 3/day; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +2; AL C.

The chimera is a winged creature with the body and head of a lion, a second head of a goat, and a dragon’s head. It is a flying predator that hunts the lowlands where the livestock it preys upon typically gather. Each round, it has
three attacks, one from each head. The lion head bites, the goat head gores, and the dragon-head can breathe fire 3/day in a cone measuring 90’ x 30’, causing 3d8 damage (DC 15 Ref save for half).

The chimera might wait, hiding out until it can take down a party member separated from the group or possibly one or two of the pack animals, horses, etc if there are any. If the group is too large or too dangerous-looking, it might attempt to limp back to its lair. It will take great care to avoid the manticore. (In which case- skip the second paragraph of the Read Aloud text.)

Meanwhile, the Manticore has gone off in search of its egg. It is only slightly damaged. It has gone to ground to search for the chimera’s nest. There is a 30% chance it will hear any combat the group engages in and come to see if there is an easy meal. It is watching from the not-too-distant treetops to see if the chimera attempts to return to its lair.

Manticore: Init +5; Atk bite +6 melee (1d8) or claw +4 melee (1d3); AC 16; HD 6d8+6 (Currently 41hp); MV 40’, fly 50’; Act 3d20; SP barbed tail; SV Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +6; AL C. The other 50% of manticores have barbed scorpion tails. In combat, they can use an action to lash out with a single tail strike per round at +8 melee (1d10 + poison). The poison requires a DC 16 Fort save or the target loses 1d6 Stamina with each strike.

Additionally, the group may wish to find the Chimera’s lair, a hole in the ground not too far from their current location, surrounded with rocks, sticks and assorted offal. A careful search will reveal a +1 shortsword, a potion of Strength, and a torn suit of +1 chainmail.

The manticore’s egg is also lying in a heap of bloodied rags and grass. It is undamaged. The manticore will continue looking as long as she is able.

Usable with other OSR games.

Please enjoy this short scenario. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate it.

Doing What I’m Passionate About.

I still love Role Playing Games wholeheartedly. I love writing. I like money, but we’re still working on that part. But a friend reminded me once that joy is a way bigger priority than money.

When last we left our hero…

July 19th was kind of a rough day. The day before was challenging because I went round with Imposter Syndrome yet again. I’ve had a bit of time to process. I’ve also had a TON of loving input from friends and and a certain amazing mentor.

Also, a huge shout-out to Space Freighter One on Twitter. He’s been encouraging the heck out of me before I’m even awake most days. I think it’s the benefit of being a sentient starship. Thanks!

Thanks always to Laura DiBenedetto as well. Without The Six Habits, I probably would have lost my marbles completely during the year that was 2020. Thanks for keeping me sane and reminding us it is possible to find joy. Laura on LinkedIn. If you ever need a Life Coach or just a good friend who’s unafraid to give you a swift but caring kick in the butt when needed.

Laura jumped right in with all kinds of suggestions and helpful ideas. I keep forgetting to mention, I own my failures. My successes I owe largely to The Six Habits and lots or great advice from its author.

I still love Role Playing Games wholeheartedly. I love writing. I like money, but we’re still working on that part. But a friend reminded me that joy is a way bigger priority than money. That feeling of being in my own zone every day is worth a million dollars and then some.

I knew it would be less than a day before I became inspired again.

Laura responded to both of my prior posts that went to LinkedIn.com. This amazing, talented, CEO with God-knows-how-much going on took time out to respond to my posts. Knock me over with a feather. Holy crap.

I watch a lot of YouTube when I’m not doing anything else. Or at least listening to podcasts while I’m in the shower. I shave my head while listening to Russell Brand talk about how messed up the world is or my friend @jedion357 talking about Star Frontiers and old D&D. Tom’s YouTube Channels are Table Top Taproom and Star Frontiers Gamer.

The thing I admire most about Laura, Russell Brand and Tom (aka Jedion) is their passion for what they do. Admittedly, Brand has something akin to 5.7 million followers. Tom has maybe 135 total? But regardless of follower count both of these talented and passionate individuals put out phenomenal content almost every day.

Tom is especially passionate about Star Frontiers and just listening to him talk about the game makes me want to run it. He’s been into the game a very long time and I admire his dedication to what is definitely considered part of the Old School Rules family. If he can stand so firmly behind this older game, I can certainly write about/run/play Dungeon Crawl Classics.

Let’s talk about Old School Rules.

Disclaimer: I want to clarify this is not about a specific product, but a category of RPG products. OSR and OSRIC are a line of RPGs that closely mimic rules of original fantasy and other games from the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dungeons & Dragons is the main focus of many of these games, but not the only one.

My goal in life is not to refresh the infamous Edition Wars of D&D past. Some of us are very passionate about games gone by. Whether it’s Basic, B/X, White Box, 1st Ed AD&D, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, or even something slightly more obscure- you can still find a solid fan base for it somewhere on the Internet.

The #RPGTwitter sphere covers all sectors of the RPG spectrum from OSR to 5E, and more Indie designers that ever. Unfortunately, a lot of the OG, Old Grognard, bitterly jaded, spiteful OSR crowd lurk all over social media. On any given day it depends on who you run into as to the reaction you might get. Some of us are pretty darn friendly.

Huzzah!

I’d run AD&D 1E or Basic from the Rules Cyclopedia tomorrow IF I had players and those players had a copy of the rules. Obviously a fresh 5E PHB is much easier to pick up. But, Dungeon Crawl Classics is firmly rooted in the OSR tradition and it is widely available.

I’d love more opportunities to run DCC. The potential for unexplored territory and old school huzzah! moments is great. But, I ran into my fears of imposter syndrome at the sheer amount of material that exists for this game already. Goodman has been going at it steadily since the 1990’s. Third Party publishers who came over from D&D 3rd Ed or Pathfinder 1E have been putting out their own material almost as long. How can anyone compete?

Competition.

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This is also why I’m not trying to cash in on the D&D 5E market. Yeah, it’s hot right now. But that’s also why some third party publishers are selling at $.99 or less. Many times it’s Pay What You Wish. Or even free. I can do free here on my blog. Easy.

I firmly believe there is still plenty of untapped potential in DCC and OSR in general, really. Sure, there’s plenty of well-trodden territory out there. But, I think I have some things that maybe haven’t been done as much in mind.

There’s a well known Law of Attraction saying, “There’s no such thing as competition.” I’m a fan of the saying, “There’s plenty of room for everyone.” Quips aside, I believe it’s possible to still create even in a crowded market as long as I’m having fun. The goal becomes having fun. Money is a very welcome side effect.

With that having been said, I’m going to keep making DCC stuff here on my blog for sure.

Love you, Family!

I’m going to stop looking at other third party publishers’ material, though. Just because someone else has done a thing, doesn’t mean I can’t do it differently or maybe better. Right now I just want to have fun with it and strive for personal growth.

Would I like to be the next Gygax or Arneson? Yes and no. Popular to the point of other writers and game designers quoting me regularly- heck yeah! Would I like to be dragging around some serious ethical and philosophical baggage long after I’m dead? Aw hell naw!

Update: New avenues of discovery.

After conferring with some very wise people, I’m going to start looking at >gasp!< non-TTRPG work again. Like it or not, my skill set does apply to more that one occupation. Now if I can stave off sheer terror and existential anxiety, I’ll be fine. Keep on keepin on til then.

Thank you for being here on my journey. I’m staving off the imposter syndrome again. Folks like Laura, Russell Brand and Tom have inspired me to keep going. I am grateful to all of you every day.

Does OSR Create Imposter Syndrome?

I mean, nothing new here, right? The RPG industry isn’t the first to run into this particular dilemma. How many truly original plots are there for movies, TV shows, YouTube podcasts, video games, comic books, and cartoons can there possibly be? The RPG industry is just one of the fresher faces on the block compared to other print media, radio, movies and TV.

Man, I thought this was going to be a gaming article.

Looking at the many various websites that have converted the old D&D material into Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC.) I was looking for old D&D modules from B/X and AD&D 1E that had been converted to DCC. I was also on my side quest for OA material that had been converted to Old School Rules. Turns out there’s a LOT of stuff out there. Like, a shockingly large amount out there.

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I’m just wondering what am I even doing here any more? OSR already felt a bit like we were reinventing the wheel. Now it’s more like I’m trying to reverse engineer a Lamborghini. It’s like I’m way in over my head AND it’s all been done before only better. I feel like I showed up late for the game, in the wrong season, for the wrong team, not even the same sport.

I get that the definition of “retro clone” means it has been done before.

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But, I was really digging DCC RPG anyway. I still do. I will probably even put some stuff up on the site here. But getting paid for it?

I feel like I’m barking up the wrong tree, in the dark, in the neighbor’s yard, three blocks over, and I’m a canary. Imposter syndrome? This is like a whole freaking plague of imposterism. Imposterishness? Imposteritis? Imposterior?

The idea was simple at first. Find a game I like. Find an OGL I can work with. Create material. Put material up for sale. Advertise and promote the material. Get paid, even if it’s a pittance in credit on DriveThruRPG. I mean, I can still do all of that, I guess.

I don’t remember the part where I discover new information, and then mentally trip, fall, stumble, and hit my head on the wall repeatedly.

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I mean, nothing new here, right? The RPG industry isn’t the first to run into this particular dilemma. How many truly original plots are there for movies, TV shows, YouTube podcasts, video games, comic books, and cartoons can there possibly be? The RPG industry is just one of the fresher faces on the block compared to other print media, radio, movies and TV.

There are probably over 100 different fantasy RPGs alone. Sci-Fi RPGs, Supers, Cyberpunk and Post Apocalyptic games are not far behind. I really feel sorry for folks operating in the Horror genre in any medium, much less RPGs. (Horror- literally competing with campfire stories in verbal tradition since man began creating stories. Yeesh.)

Retro RPGs are not entirely new, either. GURPS and Mythras are two examples of games born from much older roleplaying engines. GURPS isn’t new, either. The RPG industry is chock full of examples of people taking older games and repurposing/rebranding them to make money for themselves. D&D itself was an outgrowth of the miniatures wargaming hobby.

Disclaimer: I want to clarify this is not about a specific product, but a category of RPG products. OSR and OSRIC are a line of RPGs that closely mimic rules of original fantasy and other games from the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s. Dungeons & Dragons is the main focus of many of these games, but not the only one.

So, why am I here, exactly?

I’ll be in a better mood later.

The whole thing makes me wonder what do I have to offer? Like, at all? Should I go back to mopping floors or pumping coffee? (My back can’t really handle either, but sometimes I speculate. ) I’ve been at this for almost a year now. The self doubt has gone from creeping in to a flash flood. I just don’t know right now.

I’ve been posting daily to this blog in one form or another for almost six months solid. I’m not making a ton of money off of it. (Read: none whatsoever, much to the chagrin of my missus.)

Do I stop writing material for RPGs and about them? Do I just go back to running a game or two on the weekend for a few close friends and family members? It’s frustrating, it’s uncomfortable, and it likely means positive growth is coming in some way, shape or form.

Tonight, I’m upset. Tomorrow, I’ll meditate and be in a better mood. My inspiration will return. It’s just a small setback.

Back to the original question.

Why do we have OSR, anyway? I mean, I know a lot of well-meaning Old Grognards have a hard time accepting new editions of D&D. Okay. Back when reprints weren’t as commonly available, I can see that. But now? I own originals, reprints, pdf printouts, and digital copies of lots of old rulebooks. I also have a ton of bookmarks to sites that still rock the old game.

So, why is OSR a thing? It’s much the same idea as a throwback basketball jersey or reproduction Air Jordans. The idea is to take an old concept or product and alter it slightly and sell it for money. In RPG terms, same old rules, same old game, new title, art, and trade dress.

Where does the creative license come in?

Where’s the creative freedom in copying/rewriting the same old rules and slapping a new coat of paint on it? People like classic cars, too. I’d drive a rebuilt 1984 IROC-Z if I could. BUT… I wouldn’t be able to haul my family in it. In RPG terms, many of us run a current system/ruleset because it’s more widely available, popular and accessible to find a game.

If I walk into a FLGS on a Saturday and say, “Who wants to play in my 5E game?” I’m far more likely to get some takers than if I walk in and ask, “Who wants to play Tunnels & Trolls?” Many times, old fashioned bulletin boards or online groups/apps will help someone find a game for a specialized RPG such as Lancer. Likewise, it’s easy to walk into a club meeting full of Old Grognards and find a AD&D 1E game, Castles & Crusades, or White Box Swords & Wizardry, because those guys probably won’t need any explanation.

Why do I love DCC so darn much?

I chose that particular retro clone of D&D because it’s flexible, reminds me of multiple editions, and is a lot of fun to run. There’s nostalgia, cool dice, and lots of fun charts for everything/anything. It’s like Warhammer Fantasy and Rolemaster had a love child.

I love DCC because I can (re)create classes and concepts that I used to love. I can pump out new and different monsters or port them over from other games, D&D editions, etc. I own a sickening number of old monster books, especially from D&D 3rd Ed. They happen to work very well with DCC/MCC. So does Gamma World, strangely enough.

I’ll admit, I also have a strong sense of nostalgia and that’s present in DCC more than other games. I would still run Basic D&D per the Rules Cyclopedia if I didn’t have to come up with 5 copies of the game to distribute to my players. DCC is relatively cheap and easy to find, so is D&D 5E. Either works. One is easier to explain thanks to Critical Role.

The “Old Grognard Effect” does more damage to new players than Matt Mercer ever could.

Old Grognards of the world, OG roleplayers of the world, hear me please. There is a very ugly tendency amongst older gamers to exclude or act as gatekeepers to the hobby. The ugly act of discrimination affects the gaming table the same as anything else. Simply put- please treat people with kindness and understanding?

I hear a lot of stories about OGs gaming in public. Why do you go play at a game store with the same old group and the same old game if you’re not going to let other people join or even watch? Go hang out in the DM’s mom’s basement for five hours and continue to ignore the new players entirely.

Part of the appeal of D&D 5E is its current popularity. Please, let them learn about the “good old days” elsewhere after they’ve had a few sessions under their belts. Keeping new folx excluded from the hobby is ultimately self-destructive toward the hobby and industry. Please, don’t do it. Gatekeeping is unnecessary and kinda stupid.

The homebrew factor.

People have been hacking the rules and creating their own material for games since the dawn of D&D. B/X and AD&D 1E were a glorious and wonderful proving ground for funky new game mechanics, previously unseen or unheard-of monsters, and freakishly cool magic items. Some of us feel like D&D 5E is tied very heavily to the rules, even when they’re broken and dysfunctional.

We never needed a “Rule of cool” back then because all you ever needed was DM approval. It was the DM’s table, his rules. (I use male pronouns because unfortunately ladies were rare in the hobby back then.) Likewise, DMs could cook up some new, weird idea for a class, spell, magic item, or monster they could run it. If it flopped, it could be gone the next week or revised.

Heck, back then we didn’t have “Based on X Edition” mechanics. If someone built a game based on D&D, but set entirely in space? It was a “NEW” game. Most designers had the sense to rename the attributes, classes, abilities, magic and add spiffy rayguns. They wouldn’t rip the game off directly, but they could definitely steal concepts to make money. Sounds like what OSR games do. Hmmm….

Plenty more to discuss next time. Thanks for letting me rant. Feeling better now. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you.

Otterkin for DCC RPG

These small creatures average 2-3′ tall. They are extremely nimble in the water and have keen senses both underwater and on land. In general they are kind and gentle in nature. They do not seek encounters with other creatures unless they appear friendly or playful. Their first reaction in most other situations is to flee to the water immediately.

This was inspired by a meme on Twitter.

I love otters!

Here’s the pic.

The Otterkin:

Init +1; Atk tiny staff -2 melee (1d3); AC 11; HD 1d4; MV 20’ Swim 30′; Act 1d20; SP infravision 100’ Keen Smell; SV Fort -2, Ref +0, Will -2; AL N.

Their native language is a series of squeeks, whistles, and chirps. Their mastery of Common is quite good in many cases even though it is rarely ever spoken above a whisper. They also have an affinity for communicating with other aquatic mammals.

These small creatures average 2-3′ tall. They are extremely nimble in the water and have keen senses both underwater and on land. In general they are kind and gentle in nature. They do not seek encounters with other creatures unless they appear friendly or playful. Their first reaction in most other situations is to flee to the water immediately.

Otterkin are often found in pairs, families of 3-7, romps of 6 or more, or villages numbering in the dozens.

Each village is led by an elder (Same stats as above except +2 Init; HD 1d6; SV Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0)

Each village has a wise otterkin. (Can cast 1 Level 1 Cleric Spell. Heals as a Level 1 Cleric.)

Generally these creatures are non-violent and try to get along with everyone. They are extremely playful, especially in the water. Generally they wear minimal clothing and usually only trade for food and shiny trinkets. They are generous to a fault and will always attempt to accommodate friendly visitors to their tiny warrens.

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DCC or any other OSR compatible.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you!

Let’s Talk About: More Classes in DCC RPG.

Here are some classes I’d like to see come into DCC RPG. Please remember Races have their own class in DCC, just like Basic D&D and some other OSR games. Some classes deemed mention in order to be ruled out or suggested as variants within preexisting classes.

One of the few issues I have with Dungeon Crawl Classics and some other OSR games is the lack of variety in the character classes/races.

I know. I know. It’s the Interwebs. I’m sure if we can think of it, someone out there has already done it or something similar. With enough time and digging, I’m sure I can find the magical answer to the question: Has this already been done? I will do that digging later. Then again, “Do yer research,” has some people believing the Earth is flat, so…

Here are some classes I’d like to see come into DCC RPG. Please remember Races have their own class in DCC, just like Basic D&D and some other OSR games. Some classes deemed mention in order to be ruled out or suggested as variants within preexisting classes.

Let’s start with some of the classes from AD&D:

Acrobat: They’re nimble, dodgy and athletic. They may excellent second story burglars. This simple adaptation of Thief would focus on Strength, Agility and mobility in combat.

Assassin: I feel to properly capture this class it would need to be a blend of Warrior and Thief. The variation on this would be Ninja, much as Samurai are an adaptation of Warrior.

Barbarian: Is pretty much just a Warrior with a gnarly attitude and usually some sort of large weapon. Strictly a roleplaying choice unless the Judge wishes to modify it.

Cavalier: Cool as it might be, this class would only be a fit for certain campaigns and maybe be better relegated to a variation on Warrior. Originally I did consider it.

Druid: I have two schools of thought on this and the Shaman. One is they’re just dressed-up Clerics. The second one is, heck yeah. Separate class! Shapeshifting, different spells, different social orders, exciting spellcasting restrictions. Let’s do it! Druids are in tune with nature more than their gods. Maybe they would require a different casting table with new and exciting consequences?

Monk: This is somewhat the Mystic from D&D Rules Cyclopedia. It’s a freaky cross between the Shao-Lin tradition and like a Benedictine monk. I think it has a place in DCC. I suppose an argument could be made for making them a roleplaying variation of Warrior or Cleric. I would give them a little of both.

Paladin: Again, seemed like a cool idea at first, but maybe not. This can be played as a slightly holier-than-thou Warrior or a zealous, more aggressive Cleric. Probably not a good basic OSR choice overall.

Ranger: As I love this class is other games, I’m really tempted to convert this. But, it could just be a very woodsy Warrior or Thief. Again, somewhat like the Mystic from D&D Rules Cyclopedia, living alone in the woods, studying Wizard spells while practicing with a bow and two-weapon fighting, stealth… Yeah. This one has the potential to get out of hand real quick, so probably no.

I think a good case could be made for less powerful versions of the Ranger such as Scout, Archer, or some sort of Dual Wield specialist. It’s ultimately up to the Judge as to whether or not to allow a class to make Warriors almost completely obsolete overnight. Maybe it is best left as a simple roleplaying variation on Warrior, Thief, or Elf.

Shaman: “But Jeff, that’s just another Cleric!” Yes, it could play out that way. But I think it’s a very viable class. For those who remember 2nd Ed AD&D, there were some pretty cool Druid and/or Shaman spells. Shaman would also tap into the spirit world a lot more and their spell table would reflect it. It seems a very viable option to me, but could be a roleplaying variation of Cleric or maybe even Wizard.

Porting a couple of classes in from video game land.

I’d like to see a few classes brought over from newer editions of D&D and/or a couple of my favorite video games.

Necromancer: I would dare say there are a fair number of players from Everquest, Diablo 2 and 3, as well as other games who would eat this up as a class beyond Wizard. A similar argument could be made for Enchanter/Artificer with automatons or suits of magic armor.

Warlock: Take the magic table and make it super harsh. Have some sort of Void beings, Fell hounds, Succubi, or other nasty demons as servants. (*ala World of Warcraft.) Give them supernatural patrons that would make the player’s skin crawl a bit. With great power comes great sacrifice. Maybe not quite so evil, just creepy.

Things I think would be fun to bring in from Blizzard properties:

(Oh don’t sue me. Please don’t sue me…) I would like to see the Diablo 2 AD&D magic item tables converted for DCC. I think it would be fun to give players the Wailing Fiery Broadsword of the Whale, as a made-up example. That way if they find a really cool item, they know it’s legendary. I might work something similar into my game. I also like the idea of using green, blue, yellow, purple, and gold sticky notes with the items on them to denote rarity. Could be fun.

I also think it would be cool to bring in a lot of the spells from both Diablo games and WoW. They’re mostly quickly cast offensive spells for Wizards. The only downsides I could see to this would be failed casting checks and the poor Wizards wearing out rapidly from repeated casts.

“Third wizard this week that had to be put down because he sprouted extra tentacles and an eyeball in the middle of his forehead.” –Bob, Warrior Extraordinaire

I’m sure there could be cases made for bringing in all kinds of things unofficially from other RPGs, video games, and even movies/tv. (Krull’s spiky blade thing, for example.) I’m also giving thought to making my own campaign world where I can slip in a bunch of these character concepts, spells, and items.

Next time, I’ll cover races and possibly a few other class options that might be fun. I appreciate you! Thanks for being here!

Is OSR Really Better?

I’ll be gettin wheeled into the old gamer’s home with my notebooks, mechanical pencils and dice in hand some day. I don’t care which edition we play.

Why can’t we love all the editions equally?

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Old School Rules, or Old School Roleplaying, whichever you prefer. It’s really just throwbacks to older editions of D&D, usually First Ed AD&D or Basic/ BECMI. I get it. I had to buy a new copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia a couple of years ago because mine wore out.

I love all the editions equally. Well, okay… Maybe 4th Ed is just something I have a lot of respect for. It shares a lot of similarities with WoW, which I also still have a lot of regard for. Good times were had. I created a lot of neat stuff for that edition.

Then there’s 5E. We all love the Fifth Edition stuff. A lot of folx got their first taste of roleplaying through this edition. Unfortunately, some people also got turned away from the latest edition.

The Old Grognards are going to be coming at me with torches and pitchforks.

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I can just hear it now, “How dare you compare the greatness that was White Box D&D with this fruity Fifth Edition of the game? Grr blargh! It’s not even the same game we had back in my day… (Old Grognard noises.)”

To which I always reply, it is- but it’s not the same game. It’s all D&D. Apples and oranges are both still fruit. But the flavor is much different. With a new edition of the game around the corner in about a year and a half, a lot more people are going to be seeing eye to eye with the OSR and Pathfinder purists.

After all, Pathfinder began because some people didn’t want to let go of the goodness that was 3rd Ed D&D. Since then, it has grown into its own separate yet marvelous empire, but its humble roots are in D&D. Pathfinder isn’t OSR, but many of the players of each share a sort of quiet respect for one another.

Old School has its place.

I love Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games, which also shares a great deal with both BECMI and 3rd Ed. I also still do get the urge to go back to when my entire character fit on one side of one page in my wide rule notebook. Heck, we didn’t even need character sheets back then.

Maybe that’s why so many minimalist games have caught on in recent years. My favorite is probably ICRPG. The whole idea that your whole character can fit on a 3″x 5″ Index Card appeals to many of us. The rules are so simple, too. (I swear Runehammer did not put me up to this.)

Whether it’s nostalgia for simpler times or an easier game, OSR has gotten super popular. I won’t ever say “better” because it’s all a matter of preference. I would show up for any of the above. I have quite the PF2E collection, too. It’s all a game to me, and I love RPGs. Please, do what makes you happy!

Thanks for being here! Regardless of what game you play, you’re always welcome to stop by. I appreciate you!

Yes you. Really!

Casting Call for an RPG Campaign?!?

Take it from someone who has run a lot of convention games in a dozen different systems and never received a dime in cash or been in front of a camera doing it. Take it from anyone who survived the “Satanic Panic” era of Dungeons & Dragons when everyone was gunning for the hobby to be shut down. Heck, take it from someone who was bullied, insulted and rejected for being a gamer on a regular basis by the church, the school, the parents and his “peers.” Y’all kids have it lucky now. Trust me.

Sayyy whaat???

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I’m kinda passionate about this, so please bare with me? I was passing by a post on #RPGTwitter today that almost triggered me. They were holding auditions for a Blades in the Dark campaign. Auditions? For the cast? Like a TV show? WTAF?!? Okay, I’m triggered.

Not at the folks running the Blades campaign. Your game. You run it your way. Cool. It’s also an Actual Play podcast. I get that.

Matt Mercer and his crew of wannabe gamers are taking it too far, In MY Opinion!

Look, at first I thought Critical Role was a novel idea. Matt Mercer who is a poster child for Wizards of the Coast/D&D hosts a cute “game session” for a bunch of voice actors. Some of the actors are actually quite famous for their roles in anime, American cartoons, and video games. But here lately, I think it’s just gotten completely out of hand.

You know how many game sessions I’ve recorded and/or broadcast? That’s right. NONE. EVER. And honestly, I may never do it. Nor should I have to. I’m still perfectly capable of sitting down at a table in a game store or anywhere else with live human beings and rolling some dice and running original adventures that I have written myself- FOR FUN!

Congratulations, Critical Role. You flushed out this Old Grognard out of his basement. Now look what you’ve done!

And I should say kudos to Matt Mercer for putting D&D 5E on the map. Yay for him and his Critical Role efforts for that. The show has also spawned hundreds of Actual Play podcasts and dramas all over the Internet. I guess that’s cool if that’s what you’re into? Maybe?

I want to make two points about this whole thing and then I promise I’ll move on quietly; peacefully even. First, you don’t need an Actual Play broadcast of any kind to run your RPG. I can’t stress this enough. You need friends, dice, books, pencils/pens, maybe some minis. Cameras, batteries, and laptops not required. No fancy casting needed. No fancy character voices needed. No animators required afterward. Play the GAME for crying out loud!

Second, Dungeon/Game Masters don’t have to be Matt Mercer. I know a lot of people are calling this the “Matt Mercer Effect.” I think they’re giving him too much clout all around. Folks, I’m sure Matt’s a nice enough guy. (He’ll never see this and I’ll never hear from him. Ha ha.) But the one thing people forget, is that he is basically on WotC’s payroll.

Watch what happens when the game switches editions here in a couple of years. Do you think the entire cast will receive all new shiny copies of the latest PHB? Yeah… probably for free. Say what you want about the game and the show, but the people in charge are not stupid. (They do make some serious blunders at times…)

I’m not Matt Mercer. Likewise, he’s no Jeff Craigmile. (*Again, he’ll never see this. I’m small potatoes.) If someone rolled a truckload of money up to me to hang out with voice actors and pretend to roll some dice occasionally? Heck yeah!

But good old Matt will never run anything that’s not made by WotC, such as ICONS, ICRPG, or Starfinder. You’d certainly never get the “Mighty Nein” to sit down and play Dungeon Crawl Classics. I bet money their characters would die so fast in an old school dungeon crawl with a different DM, their heads would spin and we’d spend half an hour watching them all roll new characters.

They know how to make cartoons. They know how to do the voices. But are they gamers? Take it from someone who has spent a lot of hours sitting around a dark basement with five other guys who play RPGs as a hobby- Critical Role’s cast are almost the opposite of that. Yay. They make it look like fun…

Take it from someone who has run a lot of convention games in a dozen different systems and never received a dime in cash or been in front of a camera doing it. Take it from anyone who survived the “Satanic Panic” era of Dungeons & Dragons when everyone was gunning for the hobby to be shut down. Heck, take it from someone who was bullied, insulted and rejected for being a gamer on a regular basis by the church, the school, the parents and his “peers.” Y’all kids have it lucky now. Trust me.

Critical Role might look like they’re playing D&D, but the sweat equity in the game and in the industry just ain’t there, folks. Love em for it, but what you see is what you get. Play the game for yourself. It might not be as glamorous, but it can be a lot more fun. Hey, no cameras- no pressure.

Good for you if you’re only 20 something and just getting into D&D. Good for all the new players. I hope you stick with the hobby, even if times get rough again. If Critical Role inspired you to play or even DM for the first time, hallelujah! Just remember a lot of folks who will never see as much recognition came before Matt Mercer and his cast.

Okay, getting off my soapbox now.

I promise I’ll behave. Rant mode off. Luckily for WotC and their advertising department, I’m a small time blogger with a little bitterness toward their prizewinning show pony. Guess I’m lucky and blessed with a small audience and I can still be grateful for every last follower. Thank you, family!

Take care. See ya soon.

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