Saturday, October 13, 2018

"OSR Guide For The Perplexed" Questionnaire: My Thoughts...

So Zak S. posed some very interesting questions in his "OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire" which has become a bit of a round-robin in the OSR blogging circles. What is the OSR? What does it mean to you? Is it important? What's the best parts of it?

Always willing to become One More Lemming with these things, I thought I'd jump in and give my thoughts on these queries...

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

When I first started poking around in this musty corner of the role-playing universe, I stumbled across Jeff's Gameblog and the long-since-defunct blog Grognardia. I can't really put my finger on one specific article that exemplifies the OSR, but these two encompass the spirit of the OSR best, so I'll go with that as my answer.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

The classic: "Rulings, not rules" maxim. And something my DM said back in the 80s after I argued about what I felt was an unfair PC death: "Of course it's unfair! It's D&D!"

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

I love, love, love Vornheim. I've never before seen an RPG supplement just CRAMMED with useful stuff. Every chart, every table, inside and out (including the dust jacket, for god's sake) is chock-full of useful in-game stuff. Blew my mind when I first got my hands on it.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):


The d30 Substitution Rule that sprang from The Order of the d30 G+ group. Once per session, any player can use a d30 rather than whatever dice the roll calls for. So that 1d4 dagger damage could instead cause 25 points of damage (severing a major artery for insta-kill) or that To Hit roll now has 10 chances to roll ABOVE a nat 20 to hit. (I usually give out uber-bonuses when someone rolls a nat 30.) This simple rule gives the PCs a chance to perform some legendary feats and/or epic failures.

5. How I found out about the OSR:

Used to be seriously into role-playing back in the 80s during the hey-day. Wandered away during the college days, though I still puttered around with shared-universe writing, a local LARP group, etc. Online about 10-11 years ago, and wondered if gaming was still a thing. Found Goblinoid Games by chance, bought Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future, jumped into the OSR movement, and haven't looked back.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

The online tools created by Purple Sorcerer Games for DCC RPG and MCC RPG is nothing short of amazing. PC generators, grimoires, charts, tables, etc. all at the click of a button. But their Crawler's Companion is a work of art. If you play DCC RPG, this handy app is all you need at the table. When I play DCC at conventions, everyone has this app running on their phones. And the fact it's free? Amazing.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

The current online resource for talking about OSR-related things is G+. For some reason, the OSR gaming fans and subgroups glommed onto this social network rather than Facebook and the like. However, for face-to-face interaction, you have to attend one of the OSR-centric conventions, such as Gary Con, North Texas RPG Con, and many, many smaller and well-attended game conventions.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:

Typically one of the local-ish game stores. The SoldieryThe Guardtower, and Ravenstone down in Columbus are good hangouts, as well as Weird Realms up north in Cleveland.

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

Whether you defeat the dragon, rescue the princess, thwart the evil wizard, etc. it doesn't matter. All the stuff leading up to those climatic game-ending events, that's the fun stuff.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

I consider it OSR as it's been around since the 80s, but other may not. I'm a huge fan of the Pacesetter line. The original games Timemaster, Star Ace, Chill are fantastic. Even though I wasn't playing for 20 years, I still held on to my well-played, well-loved Pacesetter games. The fact that Goblinoid Games now owns the trademark and - gasp - I've written stuff for the lines has been an amazing bit of karma for me.

11. Why I like OSR stuff:

If I'm being honest, what brought me back in was the nostalgia. OSR games were the games I played in the 80s. 3d6 in order. 18(00) STR. The DM's word was law. All of these trappings were familiar and comfortable, so I was able to pick right back up after a lengthy absence without missing a beat. However, I also see we have the ability to mix and match the best parts of various systems without a lot of conversion. The OSR has exploded from "yet another fantasy heartbreaker" to various genres and settings, various derivative rules, various creative folks putting their spin on the classics and releasing it into the wild for all to enjoy -- and all of it is both familiar and brand new. Exciting stuff always happening in the OSR!

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

1. Contrary to outsider opinion, there is no "wrong way" to play. I've not yet run into anyone with a "badwrongfun" attitude. For example: after one game I ran at Gary Con, one of the players came to me and said, "I didn't want to say anything, but you were throwing your saving throws backwards the entire game." When I asked why he didn't mention that during the game, he shrugged, smiled, and said, "It's your game. I figured you were running it the way you wanted."
2. The folks in the OSR are the friendly I've met in 35+ years of gaming. For a group commonly considered grognards with an "old school" outlook, these folks are open to new ideas and welcoming to new members.

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

Jeff's Gameblog. Lotsa good stuff there.

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

For purchase: One Year in the Savage AfterWorld -- a book of 52 mini-adventures for Mutant Future. Also, Burial Plots -- a book of 5 adventures for Cryptworld.
For freebies: The Apocalyptic Stormfront Mega-Table -- a table of 50 weird, wild weather patterns for gonzo post-apocalyptic RPGs. Had a lot of fun making this and have heard a lot of folks are still using it in their games.

15. I'm currently running/playing:

Always playing Timemaster, Cryptworld, and Mutant Future. Have taken a recent shine to Mutant Crawl Classics and am noodling around with the system and creating material for it.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

Either is fine by me. I don't care if your AC goes up, down, or sideways. Roll the damn dice, and let the DM figure it out.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Stared at this classic DM Screen image during my many games in high school. It's burned into my consciousness as "This Is Gaming":




Monday, October 8, 2018

[Review] Palm Island and Sprawlopolis - Two Micro-Card Games That Fit In The Palm Of Your Hand

During my lengthy hiatus from posting here at The Savage AfterWorld, I've been doing quite a bit of board gaming. Because I'm usually on my own here at Casa Sniderman, I've discovered solo board games. Typically these games are spread out all over your gaming table with many figures, cards, counters, pawns, dice, and a sundry of other bits and pieces to lose or knock onto the floor. However during a Kickstarter shopping spree of the past two years, I discovered two solo games that consist of no more than 18 cards....each. These two games literally fit in the palm of your hand. First we'll take a trip to Palm Island, followed shortly by a visit to the thriving metropolis of Sprawlopolis.


Palm Island by Portal Dragon tasks you to develop and expand the resources of your tiny Island Kingdom. You do this by amassing resources and spending them to “level up” your island's temples, housing, markets, etc. As your island begins to thrive, you have access to more resources to further expand your domain. Did I mention the game is played solely in the palm of your hand?
The 17-card deck is shuffled, then each card in the deck is dealt with one at a time. To store a resource (fish, logs, and stone) for future use, you turn it 90 degrees to expose it. If you amass enough stored resources, you can then spend them to develop your island's buildings and temples by straightening them back up, paying the cost to upgrade. As your island grows stronger, you have access to better and more abundant resources. When you've gone through the deck 8 times, the game ends. Each developed card is worth a certain point value depending on how far you managed to upgrade it. I've oversimplified how to play for this review, but there is an amazing amount of depth and gameplay here. Plus, if you meet certain goals in play, you can add additional cards to the game, such a "Feat" card which gives you special abilities and bonuses. There are Villagers who can offer their help to your island paradise. The game can be played head-to-head, both cooperatively and competitively! And watch out for disasters such as hurricanes and volcanoes that could destroy your kingdom! The portability of this game allows you to play it anywhere you have a free hand, because you don't need a playing surface at all! Very highly recommended!

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Sprawlopolis by Button Shy Games challenges you to build a thriving city made up of industrial, residential, commercial, and city park blocks, while meeting certain predetermined construction goals. And your city will come together with only the 18 cards in the deck!
To begin a game of Sprawlopolis, you shuffle the cards, then pull three at random. On the back of each card is a unique construction goal that applies only to this game. For example, one goal might be "Morning Commute" which gives you a two-point scoring bonus for any roads that pass through both a residential and commercial block. Or "Go Green" which gives you a point for every park block, but penalizes you three points for every industrial block! Each goal card also has a target score number -- adding the three goal numbers together gives you your final Target Score which must be reached or exceeded to win. To play, you use each card in order in the deck from top to bottom. You can play a new card next to or overlapping any card in play, as long as it's always lengthwise oriented and not played corner-to-corner. Your placement determines whether you can meet the scoring conditions on the construction goals. After the last card is placed, you score points per the beginning goals. You finally score one point per block in your largest area of each zone type. If you reached or beat your target score, you win! The Kickstarted version I got also has a few bonus cards, such as Points of Interest (city beautification!), Construction Zones (under development!), and Wrecktar (monster attack!).

Both of these games prove you don't need expansive boards and fiddly bits to have a great game. These 17-18-card decks have given me a lot of gameplay is a very small footprint. Sniderman says, "Check them out!"

Thursday, October 4, 2018

It's Labyrinth Lord....With The Great Seasonal Taste Of Pumpkin Spice!

It's autumn, and the flavor of pumpkin spice can be found in nearly everything -- pumpkin spice donuts, pumpkin spice cookies and breads, Pumpkin Spice Labyrinth Lord, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spi…

Wait a minute, back up one.

A bit of backstory: Last year at this time, Goblinoid Games' Overlord Dan Proctor was railing against the explosion of pumpkin spice-infused products appearing everywhere overnight. As a goof, he suggested he should release Pumpkin Spice Labyrinth Lord to take advantage of the yearly fall trend. So he created a new pumpkin spice-themed cover for the classic RPG and tossed it up on Lulu as a joke.

And folks loved it. And they bought it. And, true to the season, once Halloween rolled by, the Pumpkin Spice-Flavored edition disappeared as well.

However, due to popular demand, the 2018 edition of Pumpkin-Spice Labyrinth Lord is now available!

http://www.lulu.com/shop/daniel-proctor/labyrinth-lord-pumpkin-spice-edition/hardcover/product-23822766.html

The 2018 Pumpkin Spice Edition of Labyrinth Lord is only available in hardback at Lulu. And, once Halloween has come and gone, this edition will disappear as well. What started as a goof has (hopefully) become the start of a yearly tradition of spooky LL covers infused with pumpkin goodness!

(Oh, and if you'd also like an appropriately-themed Labyrinth Lord adventure, check out Scribe of Orcus Issue 1, which contains the adventure "The Pumpkin Lord of Shady Hollow"!)