Front Page

Content

Authors

Game Index

Forums

Site Tools

Submissions

About

MB
Michael Barnes
August 18, 2022
427 0

Godtear Beats the Odds - Review

Board Game Reviews
T
thegiantbrain
August 18, 2022
172 0
T
thegiantbrain
August 11, 2022
370 0
W
WadeMonnig
August 10, 2022
596 1
O
oliverkinne
August 09, 2022
670 0
T
thegiantbrain
August 04, 2022
547 0
O
oliverkinne
August 01, 2022
848 0

Scout Board Game Review

Board Game Reviews
O
oliverkinne
July 29, 2022
856 0
T
thegiantbrain
July 28, 2022
618 0
W
WadeMonnig
July 27, 2022
905 1
O
oliverkinne
July 26, 2022
1019 0
T
thegiantbrain
July 25, 2022
742 0

The Split - Review

Board Game Reviews
T
thegiantbrain
July 21, 2022
822 0
×
Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

Recent Topics paging, uploading images and preview bugs require a patch which has not yet been released.

OSE vs. 5E for newbs and kids

More
27 Jan 2021 12:16 #318396 by dragonstout
OK, after a week of reading Old-School Essentials and then being inspired to read so much more on the OSR...

Wow.

It's been *mind-blowing*. I feel like I just discovered the Rosetta Stone of fantasy gaming of ALL kinds. DungeonQuest makes SO much more sense now. Talisman makes more sense now. Breath of the Wild feels like the OSR philosophy as a video game (in fact I very much plan on bringing up Breath of the Wild to the family to get them in the right mindset of "you are a weakling but nevertheless might encounter the hardest monsters in the game, don't be afraid to run away and don't rush in without planning or you'll die").

Good God, the difference between 32-page modules that give you a location of stuff and people to interact with vs. 100+ page modules with an elaborate story and bajillion characters I'm supposed to memorize and understand how they fit into the story!

There were some things I was startled by: clerics don't get a spell at first level? ALL weapons do 1d6 damage? The magic-user gets ONE spell that they can cast ONCE per day? Humanoid monsters have a pretty decent chance of being not hostile if talked to?

I am pretty pumped about running this for the family in a way that I have never been about any RPG before. It feels like so much more of a GAME; I would've thought that "the version with more rules is more like a game", but now it's clear how those rules don't really contribute to the GAME aspect, just the simulation aspect (and also optimization). I see people talking about lists of Feats for 5E and I just wonder WTF, that shit is insane.

Nate, just curious, what told you "Stout will like OSE better"?

I do sometimes wonder if they'll feel left out of the loop when my older son gets back together with his friend who's been playing 5E over Zoom, but then I feel more bad for THAT kid being run through some story that someone else came up with, with lessened consequences and risk.

I will let y'all know how it goes.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Michael Barnes, dysjunct, Josh Look, jason10mm, sornars, Nodens

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 12:57 #318400 by dysjunct
Fun story re: weapon damage. Gygax changed that once players started buying the cheapest things they could wield as a weapon. IIRC everyone started running around the dungeon with iron spikes. So he decided that weapons would do different damage, to incentivize players to buy better weapons.

On one hand, it's mildly heartwarming that players have always been minmaxing twerps. On the other, this was probably the wrong fix, as it led down the road to hyper-detailed simulation of every dumb thing. Gygax should have fixed it via fictional positioning -- if you're wielding an iron spike vs. someone with literally any weapon designed to be a weapon, you get a -2 to hit or something.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Michael Barnes

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 13:29 #318403 by Michael Barnes
Ha ha! Yep. B/X (OSE) really is the bedrock. You can really see how the past 40 years of mainstream TTRPG development is really just a long marketing justification for more products. B/X does it all and it informs so much. They wrote a killer rule in their early on- that the rules are YOURS and you can do whatever you want, make up whatever you want. This invalidates thousands and thousands of RPG rule books, at least at a core level.

It is definitely more games if you play as written- tracking turns/torches, all that stuff. It’s more structured and it is tooled more for dungeon crawling. There are some quirks- I think that the 1d6 for all weapons makes sense but it also devalues weapons. THAC0 is a little doofy. Race as class isn’t great. But that stuff is so malleable and part of OSE’s “mod cons” are alternative options.

Where D&D really started to go amiss was in 2nd edition when the notion of high level play came into it. Then you started getting into characters that were being played for -years- and never died. The sense of risk, danger, and imminent death so crucial but it’s also not compatible with players who are creating idealizaed superhero in-game egos. Henchmen and hirelings were such a big part of the early game because you wanted to have a balance between satisfying players and killing characters. The essential morale roll is there so that encounters are not always to the last man- without it, TPKs are more common. But never impossible, even against kobolds or goblins:

The whole idea that runs through 5e of “encounter balancing” is absolutely ruinous to all of this. That you can plug in the parameters of an encounter into a web app and it tell you the “challenge level” and the percent chance of survival is ludicrous. Early adventures had deadly encounters built in to provide a sense of danger and to reward smart play. It is -often- better to run away.

Dungeon Crawl Classics has some of the best low level play ever- you start out with 3-4 absolute trash level 0 characters with random-rolled stats, background, and items. Whoever survives the level 0 funnel adventure matriculates into a full, classed level 1 character. Your ne’er-do-well becomes a hero. You don’t start as a perfect Tiefling Warlock that represents your idealized self.

As for modules...I can not at this point imagine running a WOTC 5e book. They have some cool ideas. They have great production. They are easy to buy. But fuck’s sake, who has time for that shit. The indie stuff is MILES ahead in terms of producing playable, succinct modules with plenty of DM space. Read these modules (all OSE compatible)

- Deep Carbon Observatory
- Anomalous Subsurface Environment
- Tomb of Black Sand (actually written for 5e)
- Hole in the Oak
- Winter’s Daughter
- Lorn Song of the Bachelor
- Willow
- Operation Unfathomable
- Crypts of Indormancy

...and see if running fucking Storm King’s Thunder for the next year is still appealing to you. Hell, read Classic modules like The Lost City or Castle Amber- they are 100% compatible with no conversions with OSE. Then there’s stuff like the incredible Trilemma Adventures l, a book of one page adventures that require no prep at all.

Here’s the truth of it. 5e is the most popular and most widely played system _because it is the easiest to buy_. People run Storm King’s Thunder because it is easy to purchase and fellow 5e players will nod affirmatively at it because wit is “real” D&D sanctioned by Matthew Mercer and Joe Mangienello. That also means that it is easier to find other players and the big, corporate-sponsored stream games are marketing tools for it. It is absolutely fine as a game system. But there is MUCH better available, including the first edition of the same game.

I used to think “well 5e is the done thing so it’s best to keep with the current edition”. But fuck that. The good stuff is elsewhere.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, Pugnax555

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 13:41 #318404 by ChristopherMD
This may be my ignorance showing, but wasn't Advanced D&D through 5E designed for tournament play? Like that was the whole reasoning behind adding all the details in later editions so rulings would be consistent in official play. Which, if true, implies that if you're not playing in official Wizards events then you don't need all that stuff and can stick with Basic.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Pugnax555

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 13:46 #318405 by Shellhead
I bought X2 Castle Amber under the mistaken notion that it would somehow involve Zelazny's Amber series. But it's still a neat early adventure because it is about 50/50 Edgar Allan Poe and Clarke Ashton Smith. B4 The Lost City is superficially appealing, but needs a little extra something from the DM to rise above a basic dungeon crawl. Of the other adventures listed, I have only read Deep Carbon Observatory, but it is wild and dark compared to most traditional D&D adventures. I look forward to running it at some point after this pandemic.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 13:58 - 27 Jan 2021 14:02 #318406 by Pugnax555

ChristopherMD wrote: This may be my ignorance showing, but wasn't Advanced D&D through 5E designed for tournament play? Like that was the whole reasoning behind adding all the details in later editions so rulings would be consistent in official play. Which, if true, implies that if you're not playing in official Wizards events then you don't need all that stuff and can stick with Basic.

Yep, was gonna chime in with this. OD&D and the various flavors of Basic that it spawned are the foundation games -- simple sets of rules with lots of GM discretion. AD&D and its offspring were the tournament rules and exceptions created to try to cover all sorts of situations. Or at least that's what I've been led to believe.
Last edit: 27 Jan 2021 14:02 by Pugnax555.
The following user(s) said Thank You: ChristopherMD

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 14:14 #318408 by Shellhead

ChristopherMD wrote: This may be my ignorance showing, but wasn't Advanced D&D through 5E designed for tournament play? Like that was the whole reasoning behind adding all the details in later editions so rulings would be consistent in official play. Which, if true, implies that if you're not playing in official Wizards events then you don't need all that stuff and can stick with Basic.


That seems plausible. Quite a few of the early AD&D adventures were published with notes about how to run them in a tournament, because that was where they were first played. A few early adventures even included detailed scoring information, like +1 if they solve this riddle and +2 if they escape this trap.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 14:46 #318409 by Michael Barnes
The original Lost City does need a little more...enter Goodman Games’ Original Adventures Reincarnated version release last year. It has the original module but also a 5e version that GREATLY expands all of the stuff Moldvay left for the DM to do...and it’s done by Michael Curtis (Stonehell Dungeon and a bunch of DCC’s best modules). The whole lower city is fleshed out.

The Castle Amber OAR book is also really good, it adds a lot of great material. I -love- that adventure.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 15:21 #318412 by dragonstout

Michael Barnes wrote: The original Lost City does need a little more...enter Goodman Games’ Original Adventures Reincarnated version release last year. It has the original module but also a 5e version that GREATLY expands all of the stuff Moldvay left for the DM to do...and it’s done by Michael Curtis (Stonehell Dungeon and a bunch of DCC’s best modules). The whole lower city is fleshed out.

The Castle Amber OAR book is also really good, it adds a lot of great material. I -love- that adventure.


Are those OAR books worth paying extra for if you're not planning on running them with 5E? The Lost City is the one that most sounds like it could be worth it, what with all that stuff left to the DM to flesh out.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 15:25 #318413 by Josh Look
I have the full set so far and they are lovely.

You can also find alot of the original adventures on Drive-Thru RPG. I think POD is even an option on many of them.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 15:37 #318414 by dragonstout
The encounter balance thing has been revelatory...it always REALLY bugged me in the D&D Adventure System board games that the map that you create while playing isn't a real map...like, if I go west, I'll arrive in whatever room is on top of the stack, but if I go north, I'll arrive in that exact same room. But this is actually kind of the attitude of modern D&D encounters, the illusion of choice and decisions mattering when really you're going to be facing appropriately balanced encounters no matter what you do, and you're going to be advancing the predetermined plot no matter what you do. Reading all these OSR and original TSR modules, it's amazing how there's all this stuff that might happen, or might not happen, dependent on where the players go and what random encounters and rumors and etc. are rolled. If you go in that passage, you'll get mauled by an owlbear, while this other passage leads to a room full of traps. Maybe you'll find neither; since there's not a predetermined story, that's just fine!

The emphasis on a pre-written story that the players become a part of, rather than the players CREATING a story based on their ACTIONS, is very...Lovecraftian, actually. It makes TOTAL sense in Call of Cthulhu, where the point is that you're not one of the main characters making the wheels turn, you're just a tiny meaningless speck that hopes to make a difference. It's weird, I LOVE the pre-existing LOCATIONS and SITUATIONS that are in the OSR/TSR stuff...what I dislike is the push that you need to herd your players from point A to point B.

You brought up the morale check; it's amazing just how much the morale roll and reaction roll imply a different way to THINK about interacting with monsters; sure, these things could theoretically be done in 5E games too, but in B/X it's BUILT-IN that you can try talking to the bugbears and that killing them all is unlikely to happen.
The following user(s) said Thank You: dysjunct

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 15:41 #318415 by dragonstout

Josh Look wrote: I have the full set so far and they are lovely.

You can also find alot of the original adventures on Drive-Thru RPG. I think POD is even an option on many of them.


Oh I have no doubt that they look nice, I'm a book nut and seek out hardcovers whenever possible. But they are also more expensive than buying the PDFs or even the original adventures on eBay, and the maps aren't separate or printable, so it looked to me like what I was really paying for was the 5E conversion, because the OAR versions were LESS convenient than the cheaper versions. But really good DMing tips, or things like a good expansion of the Lost City, would make them worth it.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 15:51 #318417 by Shellhead
While running my long 3.5 Ptolus campaign, I noticed eventually that the pre-balanced adventures and encounters gave my players too much confidence that every situation could be handled with combat, and that min-maxing could potentially give them an advantage against every pre-balanced encounter. It was fun when they got to the top of the Banewarrens, because that was a turning point in the campaign balance. After that, there was always a risk that they could face an encounter that was intended for a higher level party. Made the players more cautious and sometimes willing to run away.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 16:07 #318418 by Michael Barnes
The OAR books are absolutely worthwhile even if you don’t run 5e. The new content is easy enough to adapt on the fly back to B/X and no matter how nostalgic you are for the blue maps, the new ones are much better (illustrated by Stefan Poag). They are -mostly- 1:1 in terms of the adaptations, Goodman is VERY respectful of the original content and isn’t looking to change what’s there. You also get some supplemental stuff- interviews, retrospectives and so forth and those are nice. The next one they are doing is Temple of Elemental Evil.

WOTC actually has two 5e books that have reprints- Tales from the Yawning Portal and Ghosts of Saltmarsh. TftYP has Curse of Tamaochan, White Plume Mountain, Against the Giants and Tomb of Horrors as well as some 3e/4e revisions. Saltmarsh has S1-S3 and some others, wrapping them up in a very 5e sort of campaign thing. But the three modules are -great-. Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is one of my all time favorites.

I prefer the HC compilations and reprints to the old folios...I had a pretty good stack of them i gathered up but the condition of most of those old books these days is pretty bad. Hard to find quality copies of any of them. And I’m not big on using PDFs to actually run stuff. So I don’t mind paying more for the nicer books.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
27 Jan 2021 16:11 #318419 by Michael Barnes
Oh, on the morale/reaction tables...that is a great example of how gameplay tells the story. Somewhere along the way it turned into the DM tells the story, and that was a big mistake IMO. I think it’s really a good idea in DCC where you aren’t a DM, you are a -Judge-. You adjudicate the game’s events, and that guidance builds the story. It does not require memorizing the history of the Sword Coast and all the faction agendas to do this.

I usually don’t even name NPCs, magic items or locations...I ask the group to name them. We make the story together through what happens in the game.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary Sax
Time to create page: 0.372 seconds