Thursday, February 28, 2013

Story Based Games/ Road Trip Gaming

So this afternoon, while I was supposed to be teaching saxophone lessons, but had a few cancellations, I finished reading through Dungeon World. Personally, I've never played a game so based on story (I try to make my games a good 50/50 mix of roleplay/combat), but found it quite interesting. It definitely had some ideas that I am thinking about stealing, especially on the GM side. It is all stuff that I'm sure any good DM is doing already, but hey, I never said I was a GOOD DM ;)

I think some people will have a problem with Dungeon World, because at times it is basically telling you how to roleplay. My problem was just how often I felt it repeated itself. It was however, a quick and easy read (and quite long too, so that was surprising). The suggested names were a bit silly, but I think may be helpful for those of your friends who have never roleplayed before, or like for my group, where picking a name seems to be the toughest decisions for some of my players. The mechanics are really simple, usually just 2d6 with 6- meaning you usually fail, 7-9 succeed but with complications, 10+ being a good success. Granted this deviates a bit at times. Really lightweight game, all about creating a group story with your players. Sounds like a pretty fun game to me, but I'm not sure I could keep something like that up for an entire campaign.

I don't know if I'll run this anytime soon, but my players and I will be taking a roadtrip up to Maine this summer. I'm thinking in the car, while driving, it may be an easy game to play (especially since I'll be doing most of the driving, and it seems the DM doesn't need to do much rolling). I once ran a short 1e AD&D adventure during a roadtrip (luckily was a passenger) but never while driving. The simplified mechanics and base around story telling may make this a perfect fit.

Has anyone else ever tried this?

Saturday, February 23, 2013


So last night I ran my players through their first adventure in Carcosa using LotFP. I suppose you'd have to use the term adventure loosely, as they didn't get very far. One PC died, within the first 5-10 minutes. 2 hours later, we had an entire TPK.

Most of my players started with me back when we played 3.5, and a few are relative newbies to the game. Running this last night broke me of a habit that carried on from my 3.5 days, and I feel very happy about it. I had still had my DM bones stuck in balancing encounters. Never throwing my party at something they couldn't handle (granted sometimes they needed try some higher level thinking to do so at least).

I suppose, truly, they broke me of the habit themselves (or are starting too, I can't say its completely broken) as the TPK came about due to them angering all the men in the village they were in (first PCs death sort of led to this) and decided instead of running to try and take them on. Luckily, everyone at the table had a blast anyway (even the guy who died at the beginning and was rerolling during the session)! Now they have learned, and I have learned, that they NEED to run (or just try and not piss off the entire village ;) ).

I'm definitely not out to kill my players (as I had been trying to balance it before!), but it feels good to know that when they got themselves into some deep crud, that they still enjoyed it and want to play again. I'm looking forward to loosing that up and seeing what happens :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


With the recent announcement of the OD&D reprints the other day (Here: in case somehow my blog was the first place you heard about it, which I stronly doubt would be the case! they've been everywhere!), I thought I would write about OD&D and my recent studies into it and what I'm finding appealing about it a bit.

First, I'll go ahead and get this out of the way, I have never actually played or ran OD&D (we're going to be shortening this to OE for the rest of this post by the way). I sadly, don't even own any real hard copies. For months I have been trying, and failing. I do however run, and play in a Swords & Wizardry: Complete game, so a little different, but closing in, and own Delving Deeper and the Swords & Wizardry White Box boxed set. I plan on taking the S&W: White Box to my local comic shop and seeing if anyone is up for a one-shot for one of the adventures that was included in my box: The Vile Worm of the Eldritch Oak, written by Jimm Johnson I believe. If a campaign comes out of it, I'll be thrilled.

OE has just been a fascination of mine for the last 6 months. I've really been pining to play it, and just some more rules-lite games in general. I love SW: Complete, as it feels like a 1e lite to me, and it satisfies the old 3.5/PF gamer in me that wants options, but also satisfies the OSR gamer in me that doesn't want to be bogged down by too many options. I used to wonder why people still played OE and what was appealing about it, especially people that played specifically just with the little brown books. I couldn't grasp what people liked about it. Eventually I got the .pdfs and well, that didn't help, as I didn't own chainmail (and I still don't!), but I feel as I've been maturing as a gamer (and I suppose as a person too), I'm finding myself really wanting something so stripped down. The arguments I see people make, like adding house rules they want to something so stripped down, rather than removing rules from books, starts clicking.

Some of the unified systems and simplifications (like d6 hd and attacks for everyone), I'm slowly starting to understand more and more. It is certainly becoming more appealing, and it has actually strengthened my urge to use some mass combat in my campaigns as well. The massive home-brewed nature of what people had to do when playing OE is appealing too. As a jazz musician, and someone who spends a great deal of time improvising, that flows into my DM style too. I don't like doing too much prep work (probably because I am lazy), but such a stripped down game just seems so much easier to make rulings without upsetting anyone, or bothering those rules lawyers, because there isn't the rule to mess up (or just throw rule 0 in their face). It also seems like it would be easier to just roll with the players punches and expand the world as they're playing. No huge stat-blocks (or even more than a line really). Just the improvising seems easier and more appealing. Like trying to play Modal Jazz instead of Bebop (or at least the theory behind those two).

After writing this, I'm slowly realizing, I don't have a writing style. If this bothers you, I apologize. My writing will probably always seem to just be my train of thought. Really I'm just trying to write down my ideas, feelings, thoughts about the game(s) we love to play. Slowly tracing how much finding the OSR has altered my tastes.

All said and done (since I mentioned the reprints) I'll probably end up picking them up. I'd rather have originals, but if I still haven't been able to win over a set of them + the supplements, by the time they're released (or most of anyway) then I'll probably sink in and pick them up myself. Heck, maybe it'll get some of the guys at my comic shop interested in playing with me ;)

Monday, February 18, 2013


Welcome to my dungeon gamers! Many of you may know me from various OSR forums as DizzySaxophone, or just on google+. I'm interested in nearly any game, but my playing and Refereeing usually come to old school D&D. I think I may have some uncommon perspectives on some of the OSR (or I could just be full of it, who knows!).

Myself, I started gaming with D&D 3.5 back in 2007. I was a senior in high school, spring break just started, we went to a game store that one of my best friends, army recruiter's wife owned. He was looking to buy Axis & Allies, but decided it was too expensive for him. I was one of the few with a job back then (working at a musical instrument repair shop), and saw the basic box for D&D. I picked it up as a curiosity and read over the books that night as we planned to try it out the next day. We got hooked. After playing through that, I immediately went out and bought the PHB, DMG, and MM for 3.5 and scoured the rulebooks. It was truly the blind reading the blind (as I didn't know what I was doing either, but at least I had owned and read the books). The store owner, and people playing in store were happy to answer questions and show us the ropes. We played every night during spring break and then weekly until we all split up for college. A few friends went to Baylor with me, so we continued our gaming for a year. We eventually fell out of it until I found a game store there in Waco. I went in and found they had the core books for AD&D 1e. They were in pretty shoddy condition, but these books felt like magical tomes. Clearly well loved by their previous owners, as they were worn out. I found the Roll for Initiative podcast just a day or so later (which was only on episode 7 around that time I believe) and immediately started soaking in all the information DMs Vince and Jayson (and Nick eventually in those early days too!) shared. Feeling inspired, I joined their forums (before, where you may know me as a lead moderator at) was built. I was invited to play my first AD&D game by Dramaman who helped showed me the ropes. After a few sessions, I grabbed my friends from high school who were at Baylor with me, my girlfriend at the time, one of my other friends at a nearby university and pulled together a gaming group. We were immediately enticed by how the lighter rules worked, how we didn't need maps and miniatures, and how much easier it is to play when only the DM actually owns the rulebooks. Rulings make this game so much easier to introduce to complete newbies. While I understand now that you could do that with 3.5, I never thought too since there were just so many rules bogging down my brain.

Eventually my group started experimenting too, mixing in 2e until our first campaign ended after 18 months and they retired their characters. I had started running B/X for some online friends at the time and had just acquired and fell in love with Swords & Wizardry Complete. We've been playing with S&W:C for awhile now, and I find my interests slowly falling farther back into the origins, with S&W: WB (or OD&D if I could afford it on my teacher salary :P) being what is interesting me now. I've seen my players really grow from when we started gaming. They've bought their own PHBs now, and are more comfortable roleplaying and make decisions that get themselves killed less often. We've even just recently started up a Carcosa game using Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules as well.

Now I realize I got really brief at the end there, and I'll go ahead and be honest, I'm not a great writer. I am a musician by trade, but I try and hope I will continue to grow as a writer as I work on this blog. I want to get into basically why I'm writing this blog in the first place. I think there is a certain interest I can fill in the OSR world, that I haven't seen covered (but, I'm sure someone has) and that is the experience of playing old school games from someone who lived and learned with newer games. I think it may be an interesting perspective. I'll try to post here semi-regularly and see how it goes.

I hope you all got some enjoyment reading how someone worked they way back in time in terms of interest in the gaming world.