All posts by Stargazer

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

On the History of D&D

Today I read an interesting post on Kotaku, called Dungeons & Deceptions, about the role Dave Arneson had in the development of D&D. According to Rob Kuntz and others, the commonly told story that Gary Gygax was the main influence behind the roleplaying hobby is not the whole truth. In fact it has been Arneson who actually came up with what we now know as “role-playing”. The article gives a lot of interesting insights into the early days of the hobby and shines a light on some of the unsung heroes. The article also mentions the recently-released documentary “Secrets of Blackmoor” which tries to basically answer the same questions.

Dungeons & Deceptions is actually the third in a series of posts on Kotaku about the history of D&D. If you are interested in delving deeper into this mystery, you should check out these articles as well:

Aside from these articles I can also highly recommend checking out Shannon Applecline’s Designers & Dragons which is probably the most comprehensive picture on the RPG hobby from the 1970s to the 2000s. In my opinion it’s a must-have for everyone interested in learning more about the people and stories behind our favorite games.

Less well-known OSR Games worth a Look

Over the last decade or so, playing older editions of D&D or their modern simulacra has been pretty popular. Back in the day people wanted to play like in the old days, but since most older editions were out-of-print this was much harder than it is today. So eventually D&D fans started to make use the OGL in order to recreate their favorite editions of D&D.

Early examples where OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord and to a lesser extent Microlite20, which had an old-school variant called Microlite74. Over time the focus moved away from meticulously recreating old editions of D&D to creating something new. People put their own spin onto things, included house rules, or rebuilt the whole game from the ground up. Today I want to have a look at two less well-known OSR games worth your time.

The first game on my list is James Spahn’s “The Hero’s Journey”. It is based on Swords & Wizardry Whitebox, but deviates a lot from it. The first major change from regular D&D-based games is that it uses an additional attribute, Appearance, and changes Wisdom to Willpower. Armor doesn’t change one’s armor class (only shields do), but reduces damage caused. The game also uses variants on the standard classes, which helps to give it a different feel from most other D&D-based games. Last but not least “A Hero’s Journey” has an interesting mechanic to create magic items. Weapons and armors can get magical properties if used in heroic deeds! As a cherry on top “The Hero’s Journey” is an extremely well put together product with great art (including art pieces from Larry Elmore!).

A game I’ve actually mentioned before on this blog is Runehammer Games’ Index Card RPG. Even though my experiences with it were mixed, I still think it’s one of the most creative and interesting old-school-inspired titles out there. Check out my posts about the Index Card RPG here and here.

Both games are pretty inexpensive especially if you get the digital versions. Both games are also great examples on how you can take 40+ year-old concepts and still create something new with them. Both deviate from what people usually expect from a D&D-based game, but both do it in different ways. If you haven’t done so, you should definitely check out both games. I am pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Recommendation: Check Out Matt Colville on YouTube

A couple of days back I stumbled upon a video by Matthew Colville. He’s your regular white, middle-aged, bearded geek with many years of DMing under his belt. He has worked in the video games industry and he has written fantasy novels. He also comes across as a genuinely nice guy and he has a lot of advice for anyone interested in running D&D – veterans and newbies alike. I’ve watched a couple of his videos so far, and I recommend you to check him out. I embedded one of his videos below.

By the way, if you know of any other YouTubers talking about D&D worth checking out, feel free to post about them in the comments below!