Thursday, July 29, 2010

I think someone is paying attention. . .

Okay, well the OSR is a pretty small niche within a small niche but I just noticed this over on Wizards website concerning GenCon 2010.

Here's the quote:

Embrace Your Edition!
This year, we’ve invited many independent D&D DMs running games of any D&D variety to come up to the Sagamore Ballroom and host their tables alongside ours! Whether it's 1st Edition, 2nd Edition, 3rd or 3.5 Edition, or the original game, all fans of D&D have a place in the Sagamore Ballroom. If you have a hankering for an old-school game, the Sagamore is now the destination for all things D&D!

Here the link back to the page here.

I don't know what to think, but it would be cool to see some folks running OD&D in the midst of 4ELand. There's some recognition at least that there are still plenty of folks who prefer the older editions of D&D.

And have you seen the rather familiar cover to the new 4E "Starter" Box?
Check it out.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hey, you got OD&D in my 4th Edition!

So, yeah, I'm running D&D 4th Edition right now. I've been wanting to run a nice campaign of OD&D or AD&D 1st Edition with my weekly group for a while now, but they pretty universally were more interested in 4th Edition. So NEW D&D is better than NO D&D I suppose, and, besides, it appears that everyone is having fun.

However, almost immediately I started to figure out ways to reference back to these older editions--if only to entertain myself while I'm being DM. Okay, nobody in my group knows about stuff like how the Outdoor Survival Map was the original campaign map but that wasn't going to stop me from using it. I originally filled in far more of the map, but I soon discovered that I needed the breathing room to let things grow more organically, so I've pruned the map back a bit from the earlier version. I'll fill in more of the castles and adventure locations as time goes on.

As you see:

(BTW: big thanks to Snorri over on the OD&D boards for posting this redo of the Outdoor Survival map.)

I'm also thinking of using the wilderness travel rules from OD&D or the 1st Edition DMG. I've never really done a hex crawl type game before, but I've been curious about this style of play for a while now. The campaign won't be a "pure" sandbox, but I definitely want to incorporate some sandbox like elements into the game. If I'm going to run this game old school I'm going to have to make some good wandering monster tables, but it isn't as easy as I'd like it to be. Looks like they may have to be "wandering encounters" or something, but I think it can work.

My most radical move though is going to be this friday: running a mass combat using Chainmail!

I'll post more about that today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

H.G. Wells, Uncle Toby, & The Really Old School Gamers

I perpetually haunt used book stores in my area, and I recently picked up a copy of Little Wars by H.G. Wells. This book was originally published in 1913, and it is, essentially, the first modern book outlining rules for tabletop wargaming. My edition is a paperback reprint from the late seventies. I hadn't planned to even read it right now as I'm deep into teaching my summer English class, but I just was looking it over and its proving to be an interesting little book (no pun intended).

The opening chapter has some interesting speculations concerning the prevalence of this type of activity in the past. I was particularly struck by the following passage. Quoth Herbert George:

But first let it be noted in passing that there were prehistoric "Little Wars." This is no new thing, no crude novelty; but a thing tested by time, ancient and ripe in its freshness--like spring. There was a Someone who fought Little Wars in the days of Queen Anne; a garden Napoleon. His game was inaccurately observed and insufficiently recorded by Laurence Sterne. It is clear that Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim were playing Little Wars on a scale and with an elaboration exceeding even the richness and beauty of the contemporary game. But the curtain is drawn back only to tantalise us. It is scarcely conceivable that anywhere now on earth the Shandean Rules remain on record. Perhaps they were never committed to paper. . .

Tristram Shandy, for those unacquainted with Eighteenth century literature, is a remarkable book in which the above mentioned Uncle Toby spends most of the novel staging and re-playing a battle with toy soldiers. This battle is a re-creation of the events of an actual battle Uncle Toby was wounded in when he was younger. The specifics of his war wound are never gone into, but it is repeatedly implied to have been to his genitals.

What interests me about Wells' quote above is his particular interest in the rules of the game that Sterne was writing about. Wargaming, as Wells is pointing out here, has been with us for a very long time. You might also be surprised who some of the enthusiasts have been. James over at Grognardia posted an interesting Little Wars connected post a while back here featuring one of my favorite horror actors.

My weekly group is currently playing D&D 4E, and one aspect of it that I'm enjoying is the arts and crafty element of preparing a physical landscape and playing with miniature figures which is something I never really did when playing earlier editions of D&D.

This aspect of using the figures has got me more curious about Chainmail than I've been in some time, and after reading aldarron's wonderful distillation of the rules which you can get here. I'm rather excited about trying to play OD&D with Chainmail.

See you in the Garden!