Sunday, March 19, 2017

Looking for a Place to Happen, Making Rolls along the Way

I think the problem is that Dungeons and Dragons was never my game. The Mentzer Red Box was the first gaming product I ever owned and it will forever occupy an honour place on my bookself, but by the time our group starting seriously playing, we'd already moved on from the occasional recess and rainy Sunday games of random D&D adventures, which were often nothing beyond the GM opening the Monster Manual and saying, 'Let's fight this!'

We did run AD&D a number of times, and even enjoyed a few different iterations of 3rd Edition, but our long running campaigns were all set in the WEG Star Wars universe, and our urge to 'zap and slash' was sated by RIFTS, in which you could play a mage if you wanted to, but it was much more fun to play a ten foot, four armed giant cyber-knight.

When I started growing interested in RPGs again few years ago, I was immediately drawn to the OSR through things like the Save or Die podcast and all the new ‘old school’ product, specifically lines like Labyrinth Lord and Dungeon Crawl Classics. Since my actual gaming time is sporadic at best, I even attempted to scratch my dice-itch by writing up my own far-future game world using a true mash-up between Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord.

I’ll play anything you put in front of me, and I do when I can make it to the local library game, but that’s when I have a GM who’s familiar enough with the system to be able to look up whether or not in this particular situation, I need to make a DC, or a skill roll, or a Saving Throw, or a percentile role, etc. What I don’t want is to be the GM who has to look that stuff up, or be in that position faced with a player who really wants to try something, and I have no idea how to let them do it. D&D is, imho, full of that kind of thing (related to its origin as a war game?). I know its modular, and that is one of its major strengths, I’m just too lazy to read and retain all of that knowledge.

I like simple systems and have a great affection for games like TWERPS, Toon! and Kobolds Ate My Baby. My first great rpg love is, and will forever be, the (now-called) Omni-System originally created by Steven Micheal Sechi, and used to brilliant effect in the Talislanta game. It’s all one chart, rolled with modifiers provided by stats and skills.
Congratulations, you can now play Talislanta. 
I quickly burned out my Mutant Future/Lab Lord project. Not because I’m not keen on doing it, I still want to explore that world, but because I didn’t want to deal with all those separate rule blocks. As I read through them, I would always try to simplify the process, often to the point where it didn’t feel like old school roleplaying anymore.

So I can’t write D&D, what old-school style to use? WEGd6, Omni-System feel like well explored waters already. TWERPS was a strong contender for a while. I still have some ideas for TWERPS books that I’d like to write up. But it doesn’t need much in the way of revisiting and reexamining the rules. So what system did I want to use? Turns out, the answer was staring me right in the face. At a flea market a few years ago, I picked up a beat up copy of Dungeoneer simply because I like to collect gamebooks and this had Fighting Fantasy on the cover. I read it and forgot about it, but then I few weeks ago I got a copy of Out of the Pit, and it was decided: Advanced Fighting Fantasy it is.

It’s got a minimal amount of simple crunch, and rules that can be played with and easily tweaked while still staying in the basic rule parameters and retaining that Old School feel. Plus there are dozens, if not hundreds of books and magazines to read and explore. I even discovered that some of my own scattered rule ideas (specifically with weapons and damage) plugged into the system without too much trouble at all.

So why not? From here on in, I will be concentrating on my own variant of the AFF system under its working title of WTF (Wizard, Thief Fighter), Fighting Fantasy and other gamebooks, along with my own game world of Yth, the Last Planet in the Universe.

Now, turn to 1.

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