Thursday, June 26, 2014

D&D 5e: A few words on Diversity (or its lack)

UPDATE: Wizards of the Coast showed a sneak preview of Player's Handbook art that isn't just same old white guys in armor. I applaud them for taking the feedback from the play test community seriously. 

UPDATE 2: Since the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide are out, WotC has proven that it can do artwork right. Interesting. Diverse. Not Sexist. Fifth Edition art is amazeballs.

When considering the races and classes for the OSR game I'm developing, I couldn't help think about the cultural impact on classes. Because my mind often follows stream-of-conscious threads, this started me thinking about diversity in D&D in a larger context... not just fictional diversity from an in-game standpoint, but how that diversity (or lack) impacts D&D culture outside of the game itself.

How inviting is D&D to a person of color? Are you a Black gamer? Asian? Hispanic? Do you feel well represented in the game? Do you feel included? My guess is probably not. My concern is that this unfortunate status quo will continue in 5th Edition.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

OSR: 1st Adventures - Development Log #1

Over the last week or so I've taken some time to plot out what would be included in 1st Adventures from a design and development perspective.

OSR logo
When utilizing the d20 SRD as a starting point for a game design, a lot of the heavy lifting is already has already been done by default. But to get back to a simpler OSR-style game, you then have to take a critical eye at just what will and will not be included. This is actually harder than it sounds at first, because the SRD really does include a large array of mechanics. Decisions about one mechanic may impact others in unanticipated ways (especially around combat math).

The heavy lifting is disguised in trying to figure out what to cut. When you look at the SRD as a whole, there are pages and pages to review and the task seems almost overwhelming. So I took a step back to try to find the most simple view of what I wanted in an OSR game.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

D&D 5e: An Owlbear Rant on Healing Conniptions

So it seems after the preview of the Second Wind rules, the gaming internet has gone bat-shit crazy. Cries of "It'll be abused!" or "I can't control my players' actions!" or "Can you blame them for NOT abusing it?" are echoing from the roof tops.

OSR: Introducing 1st Adventures

So I'm feeling pretty nostalgic about the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons and lately I've really had a lot of creative juices flowing spurred on by my blog and the excitement over upcoming release of D&D 5th Edition.

So, I've started working on a new OSR system which I'm calling 1st Adventures.

Feeling nostalgic for these old gals
"Why?" you might ask.

Because it's there.

There are dozens of OSR systems out there which might scratch the same itch I currently have, but I'm not interested in pouring over dozens of PDF to find something that's close, but not quite what I want. There may even be one that is exactly what I'm looking for... but it wouldn't be mine, and therein lies the real reason.

D&D 5e: Starter Set Unboxing

In case you may have missed the live stream, here is the replay of the Starter Set unboxing with the talking points from Mike Mearls and Greg Bilsland. They reveal the contents and talk a bit about the Starter Set, Basic D&D and the upcoming Player's Handbook.

Monday, June 23, 2014

D&D: First Adventures

Dungeons & Dragons circa 1974
I was pretty young at the time, but I knew my brother Steve and his friends were on to something compelling. There were maps on blue lined graph paper and interesting looking toy soldiers that the guys were painting in their spare time. 

One day I saw by brother looking over this large map that appeared to be some kind of mansion. There was something about that map. It was this huge sepia tone parchment paper map. I immediately connected to it.   I later learned it was Tegel Manor, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

D&D 5e: 0-level NPCs WIP

The D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide will no doubt include all kinds of information on developing NPC's for a campaign... However, November is still a ways off and there are many of us currently playing a version of 5th Edition based on the most recent play test packets. If you haven't worked out your own house-rule mechanics for NPCs in D&D 5th Edition, I offer the following suggestions.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

D&D 5e Digital - Codename: Morningstar

Codename: Morningstar is on many gamers' lips this today. But what exactly is it?

Information has been trickling onto the web, Facebook and Twitter, and some of it is pretty intriguing. It appears to be the replacement for D&D Insider tools (this is not confirmed and supposition on my part). One way or another, it appears Wizards of the Coast has decided to stick to what it knows best (games design and publishing) and let a 3rd party pick up the digital initiative. Based on Wizard's past track record with digital, this is probably for the best.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

D&D Combat Math: The Internet Stikes Back

Last week I wrote a column on the notion of compatibility between the upcoming D&D 5th Edition and its elder brethren (and their OSR cousins). I started out the discussion with the very basic comparison of the progression of attack bonuses to see if I could draw any hypothesis based on the numbers presented by the different iterations.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Mega Dungeons: Under Mountain or Under Enthused?

Warning: This post will probably annoy a lot of people. If you are one of those people, know that before you read this, I am not saying your stlye of play is wrong. I am posting this to express why this style of play does not suit me.  If you are having fun in the Under Mountain or other sprawling labyrinth, more power to you! But it's not for me. If you disagree, we can chat, but please keep comments civil.

Everything old is new again. Old school D&D play style has seen a resurgence in recent years. Along with the rise of OSR systems, Wizards of the Coast has also steered the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons back in the direction of AD&D first and second editions. With this resurgence of interest in the old games, the old modules and dungeon crawls have also seen their Renaissance. 

... which brings me to the "Mega Dungeon".

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

D&D 5e: Backward Compatibility and Combat Math

UPDATE: There were several factors that I left out of the original analysis below that I covered better in my follow-up post.

The announcement of the free D&D Basic PDF and potential licensing arrangements coming in 2015 has a lot of the gaming internet wondering about the future of Open Gaming License (OGL) systems. Without getting into the particulars of the OGL or the mysterious non-announcement about licensing for 5th Edition (which would require an entirely separate post), the question has come up in the OSR community asking "How compatible will 5th Edition be with <insert OSR game>? Can I run an OSR module without conversion under 5th edition? Can I also run older AD&D modules in 5th Edition unchanged?

The answer is a definite... maybe. Possibly. It all comes down to the math.

Other Owlbear musings