Monday, April 27, 2015

Dangerous Journeys - Delving the Design of Gygax - Part 1

Recently I acquired some obscure gaming memorabilia:  Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus and Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus Magick. I purchased these largely out of curiosity but also because I'm a bit of a "complete-ist" when it comes to RPG collecting (my wife would substitute the word "hoarder") and they were both relatively cheap.

But the key component was curiosity. I've always wondered what Gygax's works were like after he was ousted from TSR and worked on projects unrelated to D&D, but I did not own any until now.

In my post the other day about old school play style in D&D 5th Edition, I made an off-the-cuff remark that got some attention from a few people in the comments. It read:

"While Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson were both incredible visionaries, it's clear from the rules that neither of them were outstanding game designers. AD&D was a hot mess of mismatched and inconsistent rules. Whether that was more due to Gary's influence than Dave's is a topic for another day."

In the comments I later clarified with the following:

But they didn't know how to organize their thoughts into manuals that made clear how to play the game. [...] That's what I mean by "game designers". It's more than just making up the rules... It's also creating a presentation that others can easily follow, and those old books just aren't that good at that.

They are still in the pantheon of gaming gods... but their thoughts could really have used a good editor who understood training manuals.  :)

Aside from the evidence in the 0D&D and AD&D rule books, the other part of this statement resulted from my recent forays into the Dangerous Journeys books (which also have lead me to believe that Gygax, not Arneson, is largely responsible for the convoluted systems within AD&D... but I'm getting ahead of myself).

Friday, April 17, 2015

D&D 5e Does "Old School" Better Than Many OSR Games

So, there was a little bit of an debate started in the comments of +Stan Shinn's posts about 5e. He basically asks the question "Is D&D 5e old school?"

[Side Note: I'm working on a B/X-style variant of 5th Edition that fits this idea well.]

Of course, that started the typical "Yes, it is - No, it isn't - Just what is Old School?" debate.

In one of my comments I noted that I believe 5e is a better at the old school play style than many old school systems, but didn't have the time or space to elaborate on that thought. So, I wanted to follow that up with what will likely be a controversial post...
Ah, memories...

But before you get your nerd rage up in my grill and pull out the flamethrowers, listen for a moment an consider my hypothesis. Also, this is a bit of a long article, so bear with me and please read to the end before setting fire to the comments.

First, I need to define what "old school" means to me. It may not always fit everyone else's definition (and it appears there are dozens of them), but it is important for me to define so one can understand my hypothesis and I believe my definition generally conforms to the OSR community as a whole:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

D&D 5e: Holding Actions (Delay) in 5th Edition

In order to better control the action economy during combat and speed things up, D&D 5th Edition streamlined actions that could be taken during combat. For the most part, this is a Really Good Thing because it eliminates much of the analysis paralysis that came with having a multitude of action types. However, one of the actions that was eliminated was the Delay which I believe could be re-introduced without the issues that accompanied it in older editions.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

D&D 5e: Buckler Shields

+Tabletop Gaming with Juce  recently wrote a post about buckler shields. I liked his ideas, but in my opinion his mechanics made bucklers a little bit too useful for certain class builds. Here is a variation based on how I think buckler should work in D&D 5th Edition.

Other Owlbear musings