BOSR titles at the Drivethrurpg.com D&D sale

DriveThruRpg.com is having a big sale on D&D stuff which finishes tomorrow.  Its all pdfs, but its a good chance to check stuff out for a very very low price since titles are discounted up to 40%.

D101 Games has a selection on the sale, and Crypts and Things is 40% off.

There’s also a number of Brtish OldSchool Renaissance (BOSR)on sale

The Midderlands, Monkey Blood Publications fantasy take on medieval Britain, with the expansions is listed.

Cthulhu Hack 1st ed. Not specifically a version or even a take on D&D, I suspect this is listed because its derived from the The Black Hack. A new edition is incoming, but I’d still recommend it.

Scott Malthouse’s take on fantasy British folklore, published by Osprey Games, is also in the sale

If you re after old UK TSR stuff, that’s all in the sale.

Personal recommends from this long list, U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (1e), Fiend Folio, UK2 The Sentinel (1e) and its sequel UK3 The Gauntlet (1e), and UK 6 All that Glitters (an all time favourite of mine).

Why I Wrote Beyond Dread Portals

A guest post from Paul Mitchener (Liminal, Age of Arthur, Hunters of Alexandria, Tombs of the Necromancer to name a few author credits) explaining why he wrote our multi-dimensional Fantasy Adventure game, Beyond Dread Portals (now coming to Gamefound.com on 1st June).  Take it away Mitch! 

For me, it’s not usually a selling point when I hear that something was over 20 years in the making. So I’ll just say that Beyond Dread Portals is based on ideas I was playing with, and a fantasy campaign I ran about 20 years ago. The campaign was human-centric, without the usual elves and dwarves, world-hopping, and started the player characters off at high level, letting them rub against powerful enemies and make big changes to the setting.

As is the way of such things, I enjoyed it and then moved on to other things. But periodically I went back to it, sketching more things out in the setting, and started playing more with the mechanical side of things. It still wasn’t something I was aiming to publish, but it was something I was writing for fun.

It was only more recently, though still years ago now, that I started taking Beyond Dread Portals more seriously, thinking of it as something for other people to enjoy. This meant feedback, tightening up the writing, scrapping things which didn’t fit, and overall thinking about the design. Best of all, it meant more play, this time with a view to playtesting. It felt very natural to speak to Newt about this, as someone who likes and has published things of a similar nature and knows about tight game design.

Early feedback from Newt led to something simpler and better at the system end of things, and better presented and explained from the setting point of view. Best of all, he was engaged with it, clearly enjoying the setting and the concepts.

This is drifting away from the question, though… why did I write Beyond Dread Portals as something for publication? The short answer is that I needed to! But more specifically, it started to feel like it offered something a little different. Specifically.

  • Human-centric world-hopping fantasy. World-hopping is nothing new, but being more human-centric is rarer when combined with high magic world-hopping fantasy.
  • Military expansion of an empire and all its ills, while the core of the empire is thoroughly rotten.
  • Exploration of different places and cultures.
  • Political intrigue with competing factions and player characters absolutely changes the setting as a result.

As for the game system, it was a fun chance to design broadly in the OSR space, with all of its creativity, while still doing absolutely my own thing. Beyond Dread Portals began as an AD&D 2e setting but became something fresh and new. The inspiration there – things which effectively gave me permission – included rules sets which changed things to fit a concept, such as Newt’s own Crypts and Things – and systems I think of as post-OSR, which weren’t at all clones of the older D&D books, but changed things, sometimes radically. I won’t give a full ludography here, but some things I wanted from the design were.

  • A broadly familiar feel to the rules, as expected from the base. There are ability scores, classes, and levels – I’ve kept what I wanted for the game, and changed other things.
  • Rules elements that fit the setting along with simplicity. There are three broad classes – warrior, expert, and magician – and setting-appropriate abilities which customise these classes.
  • Less of an emphasis on looting and fighting, but more on exploration and intrigue. The combat rules are solid and streamlined, broadly as expected from the basis, but not everything is about combat. For instance, there are experience rewards for seeing new places, and firm guidance for the use of social abilities.

Taking the DIY ethos of OSR gaming on board, Beyond Dread Portals is my D&D, with my sensibilities. I can’t wait to see it out there, so that it’s no longer mine but ours.

Beyond Dread Portals is coming to crowdfunding via Gamefound.com on 1st June. 

The free artless preview edition is currently available via d101games.com. 

D&D vs OpenQuest

One of the things I’m trying to help with the upcoming OpenQuest Dungeons is the smooth transition of referees and players used to D&D to OpenQuest. This is an excerpt from a larger article OpenQuest for Dungeoneers, that directly addresses that

Here’s the cover by Jon Hodgson

Note the main OpenQuest rulebook is still 10% off in print over at Drivethrurpg.com until May 2nd.

OpenQuest 10% off in print until May 2nd

OpenQuest 3rd Edition is currently 10% off in print via Drivethrurpg.com as part of its Best In Print sale until May 2nd.

also available in print and pdf is the newly released OpenQuest Companion.

These titles and many other OpenQuest releases are also available directly from me via the D101 Web Store.

 

British Fantasy TV influences

As well as the standard gaming influences (Fighting Fantasy, White Dwarf etc.), there are various British TV series that have shaped my gaming habits over the years.

Mr Benn is a kids animation from the 70s where a mild-mannered banker called Mr Ben visits a magical costume shop and is given a costume by the Shop Keeper, who sends him through into the changing room from where he has an adventure. If that isn’t the very definition of Roleplaying, I don’t know what is 🙂

Chorlton and the Wheelies. Not going even to try to explain it. Here’s the music intro/outro, which does a bloody good job. Vibrant, imaginative and somewhat unsettling.

Finally, on the animation side of things is Trapdoor, a claymation epic of a master and overworked servant from the late 80s.

In modern times, we have Yonderland. It’s sort of a kid’s TV program, but in the good old tradition of British TV, it has lots of knowing references and depth for adults. By the same team who brought us Horrible Histories.

This is Jinsy, one of Sky’s first commissioned comedies, although the pilot was shown on BBC. Made by a duo, playing multiple parts, and based on a weird and wonderful fantasy version of Jersey. Each episode is a whos who of British Comedy actors in supporting roles.

Alas, they only did two series, which only seem to be available on DVD these days. But the creative duo behind it have continued making music, which was an integral part of the show, as the Jinsy Boys.

From back in the old days (the late 80s) comes ITV’s Knightmare. Basically D&D on TV if you wore a bucket on your head and relied on your mates to guide you.

And if I’m going to mention Knightmare, it would be amiss not to flag up the Adventure Game, and of course, the Crystal Maze.

Finally, good old Monty Python was an influence on many a British gaming table in the 80s, courtesy of the films and a well-timed repeat on BBC 2.  I know some groups who had a swear jar to avoid references to the show swamping actual gameplay. This scene, for some reason, comes to mind whenever I player RuneQuest 😀

 

The British Old School Review

#BOSR, you might have seen the hashtag on Twitter and wondered what the heck is it?

Must it be based on British Old School Roleplaying Games from the 70s and 80s?

I am beginning a personal research project where I revisit the games of my teenage years and a few that got away. I want to find out why I keep coming back to these games. Is it nostalgia, superior design, or simply because of cultural influences, these games have instant appeal and resonance with me?

I intend to revisit the following over the coming months.

Fighting Fantasy the Roleplaying Game, spawned off FF gamebooks.

UK TSR D&D Modules (All that Glitters, the Gauntlet, The Sentinel, etc.). There used to be a branch of TSR in the UK that put out a fine series of D&D Modules

Fiend Folio. This monster manual for AD&D 1st edition features a large selection of monsters by UK authors originally featured in White Dwarf’s Fiend Factory department.

White Dwarf magazine (up to issue 100) Games Workshop’s house organ and its fearsome legacy.

Imagine magazine. The house magazine for TSR UK had surprising gems amongst the adverts for games you’d already got.

Dragon Warriors. This RPG is a weird little game in a small paperback format built up through six books. I gazed for many hours in WH Smith, wondering whether I should take a chance on it or buy the latest Fighting Fantasy gamebook instead. By the time I decided I would, it had disappeared from the shelves. The one that got away now in my grubby mitts via eBay.

Maelstrom. Historical Fantasy roleplaying in the Tudor Age, again in gamebook format. Currently published by Arion Games.

Judge Dredd the RPG. Did you 2000AD’s famous lawman got his own RPG in the 80s courtesy of the same folks who brought you Warhammer? Despite being flawed rules-wise, it was a game that was a big draw at my table, due to a shared love of the comics.

What is Dungeons and Dragons? An 80s D&D and Dummies, with a much grimmer trade dress.

The Games Workshop editions of RuneQuest, Traveller and Call of Cthulhu. Along with D&D, these were the big four RPGs if you were growing up in the 80s. Game’s Workshop’s version of Stormbringer gets an honourable mention, and I’ve already covered my love for it previously.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition. In both size and appeal, it is a behemoth of a game that, for me, was the high point and the end of the British Old School.

Dragon Warriors Books 1 to 4

The original Dragon Warriors Books 1 to 4 from the 80s via the time machine that is eBay