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Incline OSR Games - Official thread

Discussion in 'The Gazebo' started by catfood, Oct 5, 2018.

  1. catfood AGAIN

    catfood
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    Since the mods here are too lazy to move a few posts around it is up to us to start the official OSR threat.

    Here's how it all began:

    Show Spoiler



    Talk about your favorite OSR systems.
     
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  2. udm Arcane Patron

    udm
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    Kevin Crawford has never made a bad game. Change my mind.
     
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  3. Elim Savant

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    He has not, but D&D is still shit.

    I use his books for the GM stuff, not for the rules.
     
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  4. RatTower Arcane Developer

    RatTower
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    I got a bit into Swords & Wizardry this week.
    It's fun and combat is pretty fast, but I also understand why ability modifiers became a thing after OD&D.
    Without modifiers, any sort of ability check becomes just a game of luck.
    In other words, its really hard to relate the character's abilities to whatever action he's performing (outside of combat).

    So I adopted some rules originally used in Realms of Arkania, where you'd roll a d20 and if the value is under the characters ability score the check would succeed.
    So e.g. the higher your strength, the easier it becomes to succeed in strength related tasks. The DM can also add a handicap on your roll.

    Any other suggestions, how to deal with ability checks in OD&D/OSR games?
     
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  5. udm Arcane Patron

    udm
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    You can houserule to include the ability mods from Scarlet Heroes. Shouldn't break anything since it's modular.

    EDIT: from the PDF
    Show Spoiler
    [​IMG]


    For non-combat skills, try combining the traits system from Scarlet Heroes with the Backgrounds system from 13th Age. Depending on how heroic you want it to be, I would say give players 4-8 points for backgrounds that can help them with skill checks, with each point allocated offering a direct +1 mod.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
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  6. nikolokolus Arcane

    nikolokolus
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    I like Lamentations of the Flame Princess's simple skill system. Basically everybody can try something with a 1-in-6 chance, and certain abilities adjust the odds (it uses the 13-15=+1, 16-17=+2, 18=+3 spread). Secondary to that, the specialist class gets a certain number of points to spend on skills. The list is really short and is meant to be pretty broad: Architecture, Bushcraft, Climb, Languages, Search, Sleight of Hand, Sneak Attack, Stealth, and Tinker.

    More than anything though, GMs should encourage players to describe their actions in detail and adjudicate the outcome; you should never ask for a roll if there is no consequence for failure, or the character is performing a task related to their occupation/class that they can take their time with and expect to succeed, (depending on the task). At it's core, old-school D&D is more about player skill than character skill. Furthermore players should get it in their heads that rolling dice should be a last resort, as should engaging in combat. This is why you get way more experience points for acquiring treasure in old versions of D&D than you do for killing things -- characters are squishy and the world is a hostile place and there isn't meant to be any expectation of carefully balanced encounters. Players have to decide on their own when it's time to run (and if they do run it's probably a good idea to drop treasure if the attackers are intelligent, or food if it's an animalistic creature).
     
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  7. catfood AGAIN

    catfood
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    Keep in mind though that 1 in 6 chance is not a whole lot if you think about it. There are going to be a lot of failures. I guess you can give bonuses depending on the situation. You're better off using ability modifiers IMO. You can also give situational bonuses (or decrease the DC); for example someone trying to climb a wall while wearing full plate is going to have a harder time than someone who is unarmored. Also like nikolokolus said always keep in mind that not every situation requires a roll. If the players are smart enough and come up with good solutions to problems then either decrease the DC or just let them pass automatically.
     
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  8. Morblot Savant Patron

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    I'd like to copy one more post from the 5e thread for safekeeping:

    ---

    And now an unrelated question. First a little background, though.

    I have been playing D&D 3, 3.5 and Pathfinder for ages and am now looking for something lighter and less autistic. Never played AD&D or OD&D. My current group consists of one player whose experience is similar to mine, three people with less than one year of experience in tabletop gaming in general, and one really good roleplayer who however doesn't seem to appreciate Pathfinder very much as a system (can't say I blame him). I'm usually the GM and my hope is to get by with less preparation between sessions compared to PF. (Coming up with NPC stats and figuring out balanced encounters and treasure can take quite some time.)

    With all that in mind, which OSR game would you recommend for me and my group? Yes, I know I should probably be getting D&D 5e instead, but I really want to give this OSR thing a go. Like I said in some thread, I'm probably going to buy Stars Without Number, but my players like fantasy more than scifi (bastards), so it would be nice to have something new in that genre too for them to try.

    Oh yeah, and I would prefer it to have ascending AC. Thanks.
     
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  9. nikolokolus Arcane

    nikolokolus
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    Morblot alot of games have free (usually without art) versions. Most of it comes down to taste:

    Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a very well supported, very slick version of B/X D&D. It has excellent niche protection, a robust and simple skill system, the best summon spell in any D&D game. It's tuned for fantasy-horror with an early-modern implied setting. Free PDF. Main drawback is no published monsters (the idea being ever monster is unique and horrific, "The monster" vs. "A monster.")

    Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
    Tons of classes, excellent built-in Conan-Cthulhu inspired setting. AD&D done right. Descending AC if I recall, but easy to switch it up, some good module support, no free PDF.

    Swords and Wizardry Complete.
    An excellent OD&D clone with all the supplements. Plenty of class options, tons of module support from Frog God Games. Easy to tinker with, free PDF (with art).

    Dungeon Crawl Classics.
    Amazingly well supported game. Highly lethal, lots of critical hit charts, the best magic system in any D&D like game you'll ever see (dangerous, corrupting, volatile), amazing old school art throughout the book. The character funnel is awesome. Pitfalls: Built for more episodic play, kind of tough to build a campaign out of it, no free PDF, but there is a cheap quickstart.

    Beyond The Wall
    Straight forward D20 based game with some simple class options, an interesting life path character/village generation system, an evocative magic system. No free PDF, some people don't like the playbook-style mechanics and find them restrictive (which is the "killer app" of the system). If you're not going to use it, then the game is still perfectly playable.

    That's my list of the "best in class" OSR systems that all bring something kind of unique to the table or at least have a ton of support. There's dozens of other games that are perfectly fine, but these are the ones I keep coming back to for inspiration 5 years after stumbling onto them.

    Full disclosure, I'm more of a BRP/D100 guy.. Classic Fantasy from The Design Mechanism, or Magic World (basically the old Elric!/Stormbringer from The Chaosium), or the newest Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay would all get my nod for fantasy games these days.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
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  10. catfood AGAIN

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    There's also Basic Fantasy RPG which has ascending AC and very good support. Every single PDF written for it is completely free and physical copies cost $5 or less.
     
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  11. Lord Rocket Erudite

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    I'd like to encourage everyone to read Philotomy's Musings, or at the very least the 'Dungeon as mythic underworld' section

    Also just to resurrect a long since resolved discussion, but one that took place while my net was down, I'm not sure ability checks are ever necessary. Just let them do anything they want, limited by the physics of the game world obviously, but modify the time taken based on circumstances -- trying to climb in plate without ropes is going to take longer than in leather with proper equipment, for example, and therefore significantly increase the chance of getting wandering monstered (everybody uses these, right?!?!?!?!?!). Not to mention the fact your lamp's getting dimmer by the minute.
    Admittedly there are fringe cases where a character wants to do something improbable in combat, but tbh any action that isn't 'I attack the monster' should be encouraged, so in that case I say let them succeed unless the monsters are able to stop them somehow. Like spells really. Also stuff that's almost purely luck based, but then ability mods aren't going to apply anyway, are they?

    This all might be viewed as excessively permissive, but if you're not pulling your punches with regard to monster capabilities (esp. intelligence), traps, encumbrance, etc. etc. you'll still end up with plenty of pc corpses and a reputation as a brutal and unfair GM, so never mind.
     
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  12. nikolokolus Arcane

    nikolokolus
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    Not every failure should be "you die" or take damage. Sometimes a climbing failure is simply, "you never get off the ground." Save the life and death stuff for saving throws (which have a much higher chance of success and improve with levels).
     
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  13. 7h30n Scholar

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    But if there is no failure which affects gameplay, then why roll the die at all? If you are implying there is a time loss which GM tracks and that will affect encounters or something else, then yeah, never getting of the ground is good alterntive. Also, one can get more creative with failure states for doing mundane things other than plain old damage. Perhaps the PC is clumsy and manages to cut the rope on a sharp rock. Or falling down from a rope breaks flasks of water in PC's backpack, etc.
     
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  14. Stormcrowfleet Cipher

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    I made my own OSR, I'm that grognard. That being said I appreciate DCC, B/X and the easyness of Dungeon World. Nowadays when I DM group of new players, I make my own bastardized OSR/Dungeon World game on the fly with couple of D6. My (now) main campaign is West Marches style with a homebrew OSR.
     
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  15. nikolokolus Arcane

    nikolokolus
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    Failure should force different tactics, alert guards, force another random encounter check, whatever. If theres no consequence for failure then don't ask for a check.
     
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  16. udm Arcane Patron

    udm
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    Speaking of which...

     
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  17. catfood AGAIN

    catfood
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    Me and my group started a new DCC campaign. This time I'm planning on combining published modules with own adventures. Normally I do my own stuff with fantasy RPGs, but after reading several DCC modules I just HAD to include them in somehow. They're awesome.

    We started with Sailors on the Starless Sea, probably the most famous level 0 adventure for this game. Suffice to say it was a yuge! success. It's mostly a straight up dungeon crawl, interspersed with puzzle solving and also one or two role-playing opportunities. There were 4 players, each with 4 characters. At the end there were 10 left standing, although they did receive 4 "reinforcements", so overall the mortality rate was normal for a funnel session. It lasted 3 1/2 hours. I'm going to go into details in the spoilers just in case there are people here who want to play it.

    Show Spoiler
    After having a few of their characters flayed alive by the zombie plants at the entrance of the keep they decided to play it safe and not use the front entrance, and instead they did the sensible thing and explored around the back. They found a collapsed wall and thanks to the dwarven miner (Grig) they had with them they did not trigger a rock slide. They also discovered a hidden tomb with a trapped door that burned one of them alive and singed some others a bit too.

    Inside they managed to get the axe from a mummified corpse, one (Felan) of the two lords of chaos that ruled the keep. A character nearly froze to death inside due to a trap, but the other managed to pull him out just in time by pulling him with a chain. The axe is awesomesauce but requires a character with at least 16 str to wield it. Luckily they had a gravedigger (El Guerro) with 18! str that survived until the end of the sessions so now they will have a warrior that can crit with the axe on a roll of 18-20! But there's a catch. The chaos lord placed a curse upon the would be thief that would dare to carry his prized weapon. El Guerro is going to receive a nasty surprise in the future in the form of a lighting bolt. He'd better find some Boots of Grounding until then. ;)

    There's a cursed well inside the courtyard that leads down to a vortex of chaos. One of the characters nearly fell inside, but got a lucky saving throw. They avoided the ruined chapel that was next to an interior wall. They missed a lot of neat treasure. Ah well, their loss. It seems like a did a good job of describing it as scary as possible. :D Next they entered the tower where they got ambushed by beastmen skulking in the shadows. A few of them bit the dust, but managed to drive them off eventually. Inside the freed 4 captured villagers that joined their group.

    Next they descended deep under the keep where they befriended some evil haunted skulls that wanted revenge on the other surviving chaos lord. They found some robes that would later help them for disguise. They found a natural pool underneath where one of the characters rolled a natural 20 on a luck roll and spotted a powerful magic ring. This allows the wielder to cast magic missle 3x a day, magic shield 2x a day, and scorching ray 1x a day. A neat artifact to say the least, but these kinds of items can attract the attention of nefarious characters... Not to mention that the ring was forged by the mad wizard Sezrakan, a potential patron for arcane casters. I can already foresee a future adventure where some minions of his would like to have the ring back.

    Anyway after all of this they descend even deep and arrive at an underground lake, reminiscent of the underground sea in Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth". There's a thick fog over the water that is intermittently lit by a glowing, pulsating yellow light from somewhere across the lake. The whole cavern is bathed in this diffuse yellow light. After lighting a candle atop of a menhir at the edge of the water, a boat appears from within the mists. Naturally the board the ship and it automatically carries them towards the light source. Halfway through they are stopped in their tracks by giant tentacles that spring up from beneath the water's surface which grab the ship preventing it from moving. The players were smart enough not to attack the thing. In a previous room they saw a mural depicting a similar scene and so they figure that they must make an offering to the creature. The problem is that they did not find enough treasures along they way, and the few measly copper and silver pieces were not enough to buy passage. And now here comes the most amazing moment of the entire session and one that I think everyone sitting at the (virtual) table will remember forever. Another gravedigger named Halebucea (they had 3 grave diggers in total in the partry lol) grabs Dodel the halfling and throws him out of the boat. The being accepts they generous sacrifice and lets them pass. Everyone else was horrified at first but after realizing that Dodel was a money lender they decided that it was probably for the best and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the too owed him money.

    The boat arrives to an island in the middle of which lies a ziggurat, with beastmen chanting and wailing across it's steps. There's a strong light atop it. They do the smart thing and don the robes they found earlier in an attempt to disguise themselves. They sneak past the beastmen who are in religious fervor and don't pay much attention to him. Atop the ziggurat they find a strange ritual being conducted by 3 robed beastmen. There's a strange 2 m tall obsidian statue with a flaming pit in front of it. The beastmen shove some villagers inside the pit and after that proceed dumping piles of treasure inside.

    The players decide they will take them by surprise and attack the beastmen. The plan succedes but the ritual is completed in time and so Molan the chaos lord is brought back to life (the dude on front of the module's cover). With Molan in their front and scores of beastmen climbing atop from their rear the PC's look like they're in for a lot of trouble. And they would have indeed been if not for an incredibly unlucky fumble on my part. Molan drops his flaming flail and half the remaining PC's gang up on him while the rest try to hold back the advancing beastmen. With the help of the evil skulls they found earlier they manage to beat Molan sending him back to the abyss. Like one might expect this triggers an eldritch reaction and the cave starts shaking. The beastmen flee in terror and the players are also smart enough not to waste too much time picking up the remaining treasure and fleeing towards the boat. They managed to scoop up Molan's flail though, which can deal an additional 1d6 fire damage 3x a day. Neat.

    Alas rocks start falling and a few of the PC's die a tragic death, including Grig the dwarven miner that I had a soft spot for. His stats were abysmal, 5 of them having a -1 modifier, with only stamina being at 16, but his dwarfish skills proved very useful and he also did pretty well in combat too. Now the PC's are on a boat that is rapidly floating across the water deeper into unknown caverns. Unfortunately for them they have managed to make the chaos gods quite upset with their actions today...


    What I also appreciated it about the adventure is the openendedness of it. The GM is free to do whatever they wish at the end and take them to wherever he desires. I'm still not sure whether I should try another module next time or make something of my own.
     
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  18. JagreenLern Erudite Patron

    JagreenLern
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    Any of you guys familiar with Empire of the Petal Throne? It's the second product TSR ever published, the first published campaign setting for an RPG, and to this day one of the best.
     
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  19. Morblot Savant Patron

    Morblot
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    Only by reputation.
     
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  20. Melan Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Melan
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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
    It is my favourite take on OD&D. The rules are sensible and well organised, and it works both as a dungeon crawling migrant worker RPG (which is what the basic premise is) and a deep immershun exotic worldbuilding game. It holds up wonderfully.

    I never ran it, but I did run a fairly long EPT-inspired city campaign.
     
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  21. catfood AGAIN

    catfood
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    Thanks. I've read many DCC modules up til now, but have only run Sailors on the Starless Sea and Well of the Worm. I'm going to try and add in many of them into my campaign because they are just awesome.
     
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  22. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    I take Stars Without Number and throw in AD&D 2nd Edition Attributes, Spells, Magic Items, and Two Weapon Fighting rules. I also use about half the Heroic Character rules, and house ruled some additional Foci (like 2W Fighting).

    This combination is especially good if you want to run an 80's Sci Fi/ Fantasy cartoon like He-Man, Thundercats, or especially Voltron. Or even better, create your own 80's fantasy cartoon type setting with it!
     
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  23. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Speaking of 80's fantasy cartoons, do you remember this one? I came across this video the other day. That theme song used to be such an adrenaline rush on Saturday mornings before playing D&D.

    Show Spoiler


     
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  24. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

    LeStryfe79
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    Thundarr was the best.
     
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  25. Morblot Savant Patron

    Morblot
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    I went ahead and ordered SWN & some supplements for it, and also Basic Fantasy RPG. I settled on the latter mostly due to its low price. :oops: Hopefully I get to actually play these at some point too...

    Oh, and today I also started reading the 1e AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide by Gary Gygax for fun. Fascinating stuff.
     
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