Would you go to a UK Old School Con?

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Ok seriously considering this one for 2013.  D101 Games has a bit of a split personality, in that we have our OSR games ( OpenQuest  and Crypts & Things ) and then our Storytelling/indie games ( Monkey, WordPress and our HeroQuest supplements ).  This means that its always abit fun and games when I go to conventions. Which side of D101 should I show off the most? Well the answer depends on the focus of the con.  While most UK cons are a good mix of old and new, with indie games probably scoring a little bit higher because everyone wants to try new stuff out, unlike the storytelling/indie stuff there’s no dedicated con like Indie-con and Old School games while happening are sort of this novelty game in the corner type affair. In short I always feel a bit odd, that on one hand I meet some cracking players who I have a great game with but come away from the gaming table to the bar and wandering around and Old School gaming is a bit unloved.

So I’d like to have a dedicated residential con for Old School Gaming.

Game policy would be pretty draconian: Nothing after 1989 OR that doesn’t demonstrates a strong influence direct in its rules or game play, ie. a modern edition or a tribute game.  I would also want to encourage a wide selection of games, so its not just an OSR D&D con.

So talking three groups

Published before 1990: OD&D, D&D basic/expert/companion, AD&D 1st & 2nd ed, Traveller, RuneQuest II & III, Judge Dredd (GW), Warhammer Fantasy 1st Ed, DragonWarriors, Golden Heroes and of course Call of Cthulhu!

Retro-clones/Tribute Games: Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords and Wizardry, OpenQuest, Crypts and Things.

Modern Editions: MRQ2/Legend, Warhammer 2nd Ed (but not 3rd)

I do have a time and venue in mind, but I want to see if this one has legs before I risk the wrath of the short wee wifey.  D101 would be doing the organising (so it would have “D101 Games presents”), but I would hope to have other Old School publishers involved.

Drop me a line if you would be into helping with this at newt@d101games.com.

Leave comments below if you have any ideas.

The Eternal City of Damnation

Its time to go to Furnace, my annual pilgrimage to this two day con in Sheffield UK.

Last year I started what I hope will become an annual tradition, the Saturday night Old School D&D game.

In 2010 I ran the Furnace, using Labyrinth Lord, which was a ton of gonzo fun in a “quick run over here, kill this and save the world” sort of way. A lot of the high spirited epic S&S action of that game inspired me to write C&T, and it should be one of the first things that gets written up and released for that game. It was however very linear, so for a complete change of pace I’ll be going all Sandbox this year with the following offering:

The Eternal City of Damnation
“Once the glorious capital of a world wide empire, betrayed to Demons by an arrogant Emperor who traded his citizens souls for immortality, the City of Eternal Damnation offers riches and secrets to those willing to risk their very soul in the pursuit of them in its ruined streets.

Terror, Fear, Demons from the Otherworlds, Evil Sorcerers, Swashbuckling Fighters, Noble Barbarians, canny Rogues, all await you in this Swords and Sorcery adventure set in the decaying ruins of a once great city.”

This is going to be my ‘mega-dungeon’ which I’ll bring out at cons, or with my home group when when we are short of a game. A vast ruin of an ancient city,filled with weird encounters and mini-dungeons. Presently no plans to publish, just a scruffy pile of notes and head of ideas.

A full report when I get back from Furnace 🙂

OpenQuest at Big Bad Con

Big Bad Con is a con in the Bay Area , San Fransisco 7-9th October.

Ben Monroe will running the following OpenQuest game

Shadows Grey and Grim

GM: Ben Monroe
System: OpenQuest
Variations: Few
Power Level: Experienced Characters
Experience Required: None (OpenQuest is a BRP-derived fantasy game; the basics of the system can be taught quickly).
Maturity Rating: Mature Themes
Number of Players: 6
Game Length: 6 hours
Characters Provided: Provided: Yes, with room for customization.

The Thane’s son lies struck with fever and madness. The village healer says the only cure for the ailment ccan be found in the Dreadwall Forest: a place of hauntings and legend. You’ve been warned away from the Dreadwall forest since you were a child, but now must brave the dark boughs. Can you find what the child needs, or will you succumb to the terrors of the Dreadwall?

More details about Big Bad Con


The Furnace – how it went

Ok the short version of this was that it Rocked mightily 🙂

It was a Saturday night game and fully booked with with six players.  I’d been running all day and had been on the beers the night before, so at game start I had hit the wall. Frankly I was almost “rabbits in headlights” scared, and the players were already there keen and looking up at me as I arrived.  But I pulled my boots up, made my introductions and got into it.

Characters where handed out, and we ended up with a nice mix of Fighters, Elves, Dwarfs and Clerics from the pile of ten characters which had all the permutations of 5th Level Basic/Expert. Obviously no one was in the mood to play a Halfling or Thief 😉

I did my grand introduction about the Mad Tzar, a fiend of immeasurable evil shaking free of his prison in the Iron Moon suspended over the City of Eternal Shadow. Then the players got into it role-playing and exploring the city, before getting into a fight with 20 Zombies. Now in any other system, the players would have either a) run away and let the NPCs deal with it (there was a group of local Clerics who were on hand to deal with such threats) or b) complained bitterly about how the game was going to descend into a big grinding fight. Not so here, the players got into with gusto and relish and an epic zombie fight was embarked on! It was a good wetting of the feet as regards the system, as I think every one was a bit rusty. Even the D&D regulars used it as an excuse to test out which version of D&D we where playing (Labyrinth Lord). Of course they were triumphant, but one of the Clerics ,played by Andy, took a huge pounding, so there was a nice edge of danger there.  Throughout the fight the banter and roleplaying continued in a relaxed manner which was good as well. In fact it must be said although admitly D&D is more combat heavy than alot of games I play, at no point did the players treat it as a figurine-less war game, which mightly heartened and impressed me.

Play then flowed from this fight as they made their way up to the Iron Moon via a masusleum dedicated to the 10,000 who died in the Mad Tzar’s previous reign of terror.  I won’t say any more about it here, because I’m planning to write up and publish the adventure and because I didn’t intend this post to be an ‘actual play’ post. More me mulling over how it went.

Couple of other points arising from the game.

  • Use of 5th Level characters, as suggested by Sacha, was bang on. Magic-Users and Clerics had enough spells and other classes where generally effective enough so that they had lots of things to do. Therefore no one sat arround bored.
  • The online character generator I used was a great time saver, I really created this at the last minute, but some of the characters created were a bit odd. Clerics with no heal spells and Magic Users with no effective spells in their spell books. I should have reviewed and chucked out these duds before the game. DOH!
  • Tournament adventures with a fairly set goal of “go here and save the world” can be very linear as the players spend less time exploring. In its current form they players only visited about 50% of the locations. Either I mix it up a bit and make the dungeon levels a bit more ‘twisty’ and less easy to navigate by taking a direct route, or I live with that. For a four hour con scenario it was bang on, who’s to say that a home group would explore more of the finer points. One to mull over and work out in play testing.
  • Fireball spells really are the dogs bollocks 🙂

Overall we had a grand time and I was really surprised how straight forward the fun was. Looks like I’ll be doing regular D&D con scenarios from now on in.

We played D&D :)

A quick post, post-Furnace convention (Sheffield UK last weekend just gone). My fuzzled brain is still recovering from the sheer awesome that this con was, but for now some pics from my FULLY BOOKED Saturday night of D&D (powered by Labyrinth Lord) – The Furnace.  More detailed analysis to follow, but it fully rocked 😀

From behind the DM's Screen

Labyrinth Lord powering the fun

Labyrinth Lord powering the fun

The Furnace – Progress report

As the con (Furnace, Sheffield UK) approaches this weekend, I’m taking a slow but steady approach to writing the Furnace.

Systems wise I’ve settled on Labyrinth Lord. Even though I’ve got printed versions of Swords and Wizardry and Osric, LL best sums up the way that I used to play back in the day from the old Red Box Basic/Blue Box Expert sets, with bits of AD&D thrown in when I finally joined the big boys club and got a set of books second hand.  Another big deal breaker was that there’s a truly marvelous online character generator which allows you to roll up fully formed characters of any level (I’ve chosen 5th) and save them as pdf’s using the official character sheet 🙂 I should really get round to doing a similar webpage for  OpenQuest. So in the space of 10 minutes or so a pile of ten characters where generated 😀

As far as the adventure goes I’ve made it a series of Micro-Dungeons, starting with the City that the adventurers meet up in, no more than 10 locations each. This is allowing me to get the grand “save the world” scenario that I have in my head done in the time constraints (this is very last minute) and that will play in 3-4 hours. I’m getting there, I’m currently a third of the way through, but this is against a backdrop of me sorting out other things for Furnace (which ends tonight). That third is fully stated up and written up. Theres’ a good chance that this will be our first release for Albion Adventures 🙂

The Furnace

So the creative part of my brain was engaged last night, helped on by a couple of Hobgoblin beers (see previous post), and this is what I threw up for my game for Furnace:

The Furnace
The Iron Moon hangs five kilometres up in the sky, held in place by giant iron chains it looms over an ancient necropolis city, which is known as the City of Eternal Shadow.

The Moon was pulled down from the heavens by the Nine, a group of powerful ancient immortals, to act as a prison for an evil megalomaniac known only as The Mad Tzar, who once threatened all with his plots for world domination.

The Moon may be a prison, but it’s also rumoured a Furnace for the Tzar’s desire for vengeance and schemes to rule the world.

Two weeks ago a piece of the Iron Moon fell to Earth in the City of Eternal Shadow a sure sign that the Mad Tzar is about to break free.

Summoned by the last of the Nine, the White Wizard Arkasal, your small group of heroes must travel to the Iron Moon and stop the Mad Tsar. Remember the future of the world depends on you.

An Old School D&D game, for up to six characters of 5th Level.

I’m going for 5th Level characters, because as my Albion Adventures co-conspirator Sacha says ;

5th level is good. Fighters will have an extra attack every other round. MUs and Clerics will have access to 3rd level spells. Thief abilities should be over 50% in most cases if you factor in DEX and racial bonuses. As the DM you can start throwing in more interesting encounters and dangerous monsters. Clerics automatically turn skeletons, zombies and ghouls so the scarier undead beasties become an option too. Basically 5th level is where the PCs are becoming hardy, seasoned adventurers.

Even though the adventure blurb suggests a higher level characters, I’m sticking with 5th Level since this the power level I feel that I can handle as I ease myself back into DMing after a 20 odd year break.

I’m either looking at using Swords and Sorcery for quickness and speed, or Adv Labyrinth Lord, either of which I can print off and give the players a copy of. I shall of course be sitting behind my Ad&D DM’s screen, that I recently got in my amazing AD&D Ebay haul (more of this in a later post) 😀

The concept behind the Iron Moon was inspired by seeing my son’s 1st Birthday balloon, a helium filled thing, hovering over his Happy Land space station in the living room. I love the creativity that is being unlocked by this old skool trip 🙂