Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vin Diesel is an Old School Gamer

I'm not a Vin Diesel fan (although he's quite good in Pitch Black if you haven't seen it), but I've been interested in the fact that he seems to be the only celebrity who at all talks about gaming as a positive thing.

I'm guessing he's an AD&D 1E guy from what he says here:

Monday, September 7, 2009

D&D My Way: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Make My Own House Rules

I've spent a lot of time in the last few years thinking about which edition of D&D is the best for me. I've got some real fondness for Basic D&D, AD&D 1E, OD&D, and I even think that if I was going to run the original Ravenloft: Realm of Terror boxed set I'd be willing to go with 2E just because that set is so brilliant(although I wouldn't pick 2E under many other circumstances). So. . .which edition (or retroclone) is the one I'd prefer? The answer is: there's good and bad with all of the above editions. There is no one ideal choice (although Moldvay comes pretty damn close in my book) which, I suppose, is WHY we all keep re-engaging with these rules.

I though I'd sort of found my answer in OD&D several years ago when I first stumbled onto Philotomy's OD&D musings (which you can find at http://www.philotomy.com/ ) . Initially, I was pretty fundmentalist. I thought: "Okay, just the three brown books from the original OD&D set. Who needs the Thief and screw variable weapon damage! We are going to go as old school as you can get!" Well almost. . .I didn't decide to play some crazy Blackmoor-styled Chainmail variant (although reading about that stuff is inspiring). Problem is that I almost never got to play OD&D, and when I did play it became clear that some of the elements of later editions were more valauble than I'd first believed. For example: I wanted more classes!

Which then led me to crack open my AD&D 1E Player's Handbook, and The Dungeon Master's Guide. The rules were both cumbersome and obscure in places, and in others as clear and as simple as daylight. My time looking at OD&D was very helpful, because for the first time I saw how AD&D had both retained and tried to move away from the previous ruleset. Instead of being clearer, AD&D was just obscure in different ways. I needed help, so I looked at OSRIC. I read posts online at various forums about AD&D. I studied, and I thought. In the end, I created a house rules document (which I posted here a few months ago) that took out all the stuff I didn't want, so my AD&D ended up looking more like OD&D. That was the hewing back AD&D approach, but it occured to me that there was another route to go as well.

What about OD&D with the supplements? That's when I started looking at Swords & Wizardry as an option. The PDF was free afterall, right? After poking around a bit, I found the wonderful S&W Companion at http://swcompanion.wikidot.com/ . The supplement at the S&W Companion site called White Box Heroes was pretty much exactly what I'd been looking for. So earlier this summer I ordered both S&W White Box and White Box Heroes from Lulu (along with the excellent S&W Monster Book).

I'm in the process of prepping a session for this Thursday with my gaming group. We decided that I was going to run a one shot of old school D&D for two of my players who are pretty much new to roleplaying. So what was I going to run them in? Moldvay? Holmes? AD&D? Nope. After almost deciding on Moldvay, I decided that using S&W White Box with the White Box Heroes book was just about perfect for new players. I revised an old OD&D character sheet I made, and I even created a house rules document and some reference sheets that are pretty spiffy.

I'm curious to see how OD&D/S&W plays with a few more options. I'll definitely post about it here afterwards.

In the end, I'm like a lot of folks who seem to be looking for something with the core simplicity of OD&D/Basic D&D with many of AD&D's options. James Maliszewski at Grognardia has called this D&D 0.75. The link to his post is here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I've Started

I've started working on a pulp science fantasy novel that I'm hoping to actually finish. It occurs to me that while I've written lots of stories with genre elements I haven't written anything quite like this since I was eighteen. For long time I wrote stories with "literary" aspirations (largely because I was writing in a college MFA program that encouraged those sorts of stories), but I never wanted to write like Hemingway or Graham Greene. When I was thirteen, I wrote a number of stories that were pretty much pastiches of Michael Moorcock, but they brimmed with imaginative imagery. I feel like I've gone back to that well for the first time in a long time. Maybe, I'll have a few more things to say now that I'm in my late thirties.

BUT. . .the book IS going to have swords, monsters, a doomed heroine, and all those things that have drenched my journal and my imagination for a long time. I feel like I'm finally letting them out to play.

I'll update on my progress as I make some.