Like the Spanish Inquisition in a Monty Python sketch, nobody expects a post by Sunglar! If you search for my last post, it was August 5th last year, the supposed first post in a series for #RPGaDay2019, and after that nothing. The post before that was September 1st, 2018, the last post in #RPGaDay2018. See a pattern? I still say I’m a contributor to this blog, so I better fess up and write my yearly post!
If you want to avoid the sappy recap, jump ahead three paragraphs! Look for the #RPGaDay2020 image below.
I’ve been participating in #RPGaDay since 2015, five years! So much has changed. I’m a dad, I have a fantastic job, but one that requires a lot from me, when the baby is asleep I don’t want to do any writing or recording, I just want to rest. Hey, that does not mean I’ve given up on RPGs. I still play my weekly game, currently paying my 33-year-old homebrew campaign using Castles & Crusades by Troll Lord Games. I’m still active with Puerto Rico Role Players, and if we are friends on Facebook or you follow me on Twitter (@Sunglar), you’ll see me talking about RPGs and other subjects.
Continue reading We interrupt this blog for… #RPGaDay2020!
Let me start by giving you some context. Even though I have enjoyed the roleplaying game hobby for almost 30 years now, I started playing at an older age than most of you. I was 16 when I first played in a TORG convention game in 1992. Shortly after that I was finally allowed to join a friend’s Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign, which lasted a couple of years and ended with our party saving the Empire from utter destruction! Even though I was aware of D&D at this time, I did only play it a few times. And – oh boy – I really didn’t like the AD&D 2nd Edition rules which were popular back then. I found the rules too restricting, and just plain weird. I still played it if I got the chance because everything aside from the rules was fun and I had the chance to spend some time with cool people.
Back then I didn’t know much about the history of the game, neither was I aware of Basic D&D. D&D 3rd Edition which came out a few years later was more to my liking and we played it quite extensively. But over the years my interest in rules-heavy games plummeted. It was somewhere in the 2010s when I first read blog posts about the Old School Renaissance (or whatever you want to call it) on the RPG Bloggers Network I had joined in 2008. As far as I remember I was pretty skeptical at first, but when I eventually looked closer into these “retro clones” I found something which I didn’t know I have been looking for all this time.
Old-school D&D had all the elements I liked in the D&D editions I played so far, but it was much more rules-light. The kind of gameplay it supported was also something I found intriguing. Eventually I started my long search for the “perfect” retro-clone (I know, there’s no such thing). I played Lamentations of the Flame Princess several times and it came pretty close to what I was looking for. I enjoyed the artwork associated with this game and some of the changes to the rules compared to the edition of D&D it emulated just felt right to me. Unfortunately the guy behind the game is not someone I want to support, so I looked for alternatives.
Over the years I have read basically everything OSR-ish I could get my hands on. There are some pretty popular games inspired by old-school D&D without trying to emulate the original rules which just didn’t click with me. Especially Index Card RPG is a game I really enjoy reading but I just can’t make it work at the game table. A game that almost worked perfectly for me was Swords & Wizardry Whitebox. It was simple and very easy to hack. But you know me, I kept hunting after my personal “white whale”, the perfect retro-clone.
Eventually I heard about Old-School Essentials by Necrotic Gnome. People all over the internet talked about it as if it was the best thing since sliced bread. At first I was seriously underwhelmed when I read it was trying to emulate the B/X edition of D&D perfectly. What I didn’t realize was that the author, Gavin Norman, rewrote it from scratch, so that the rules are much, much easier to understand, made some minor fixes, and added some optional rules like THAC0 or Ascending Armor Class.
Continue reading A Look At Old-School Essentials
But what really sets OSE apart is its layout. To call it perfect would almost be an understatement.
Some of you might have been wondering what I’ve been up to lately. There hasn’t been that much activity at the blog and one or the other might have feared I lost interest in blogging or even *gasp* the hobby altogether. Far from it!
I was pretty busy reading several new (at least to me) roleplaying games, I am still actively playing in quite a few online games and there are a couple of blog posts brewing in the back of my head.
At the moment I am actually struggling with a review I wanted to write for quite some time. Free League Publishing was nice enough to send me a copy of MÖRK BORG – a game which looks great – but I find it pretty hard to review. In a way, it’s more art project than game, and I find it hard to do it justice. So that’s what my review takes longer than usual. I hope the final result will be worth the wait.
Aside from that I am currently hunting one of my white whales: a D&D sandbox campaign. It’s something I wanted to do for ages, and I really feel now might be the perfect opportunity to prepare such a game. I already have a few interested players and even a couple of ideas, BUT I can’t make up my mind when it comes to the rules I want to use. I’ve looked into Basic D&D, but I just can’t deal with descending armor classes and some of the quirkness which come with rulesets from the 1980s. Swords & Wizardry Complete looks very compelling, but so does White Box. Especially the latter makes it very easy to mold the rules to my liking. The Hero’s Journey 2nd Edition looks awesome as well, but might not quite fit what I had in mind. I’ll make a decision … eventually.
On the last weekend I ran Shadowrun Anarchy for the third time and it worked pretty well. I didn’t really do much prep at all, but just picked one of the contact briefs and improvised. I played it a bit fast and loose with the rules, but I felt it worked well for an online game and the players didn’t mind. There’s some interest to turn this into a campaign, but we haven’t really decided on anything yet.
This is kind of a big deal for me since I struggled hard with running any games for quite some time. If I am not mistaken I haven’t run more than a couple sessions in the last two to three years but slowly but surely I am overcoming my anxiety. I am actually pretty excited to run games for my friends again.
2020 hasn’t really turned out in the way I thought it would. Especially this pandemic we’re currently wrangling with threw a wrench into a lot of our plans, but luckily playing tabletop roleplaying games online is a thing nowadays. Running Shadowrun Anarchy over Roll20 actually worked great so I might be tempted to start another online-only game in the near future.
What have you been up to lately? How has the pandemic affected your gaming life? Is there anything you really want to talk about? Please share your comments below!