Monday, June 21, 2010

Stewing and Chewing: D&D without the Weird Tales

One of the ideas I am playing around with is an Old School project that could basically summed up as D&D minus Lovecraft, Leiber, Howard and Moorcock.

It was kind of inspired by Mazes and Minotaurs which was of course inspired by this article.

Imagine Appendix N more inspired by The Hobbit, Oz, Gothic Horror , Faerie Tales, Ivanhoe, Lord Dunsany and the Man in the Iron Mask leavened with a bit of Vance. More Swashbuckling and quirky than the pulp stew that would later become D&D.

I see a slightly more family friendly and approachable game with more opportunities for heroism and less emphasis and the roguery that is part and parcel of most D&D. More rescued princess and less random harlots if you will.

The question that is plaguing me is a mechanical one. What retro-clone provides the best foundation for me to design a simple, fun and imaginative game of my own.


  1. You know, this is the way we played D&D when I was a kid and played with all my friends. Since I didn't have any knowledge of the pulp side of things until relatively recently, our games of yore were filled with rescued princesses and epic quests a la Tolkien. (We were all quite familiar with Tolkien back then!) Our games were Basic D&D and AD&D 2nd edition, and I recall we ran them pretty much right out of the book. I imagine you just ignore certain monsters and magic items and you're pretty much there.

  2. Ryan, there is a lot of truth to what you said. I still will have to decide between Basic Fantasy, S&W, Dark Dungeons or Lab Lord. Its a tyranny of choice issue. Knowing me I'll just kludge bit of all of them together into something good.

    Of course soon after I'll come full circle and offer a "pulp" plug in.

  3. Bah, that's taking out all of the fun parts, I'd much rather purge out everything ELSE :)

    But to answer your question I think Basic Fantasy with a kicker as in the older Hackmaster Edition (one time bonus HPs at level one) could work and XP gain that's tied to the sort of behavior you want to focus on.

  4. And what, pray, is wrong with random harlots?

  5. Nothing at all D.G. I even had a random harlot encounter in real life, I staying in cheap motel and right next door, door open splayed out naked on the bed ,ready for business was a brazen trull. I did not partake.

    Anyway its a style thing, I just wanted to try something different.

  6. To what David said, I love Howard and Leiber. However they don't feel like they belong in a world with pixie PC's and talking cats and rapiers and swashbucklers.

    I wanted that world instead of Newhon or the Hyborian Age where they do belong.

    And I like your kicker idea. Thanks.

  7. My games are very Hobbit-y with lavish amounts of Lord Dunsany, Gothic Horror, various Norse, Finnish, Japanese, African, South American and Pacific Islander mythology and horror. Plus CAS, but the more Hyperborea and Poseidonis material, not so much Zothique.

  8. AV, its interesting to here that. I always got a very sword and sorcery/weird tales vibe from your creations.

  9. Well, the weird is probably bits of Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith and Glen Cook's Black Company books. It is all stuck in my head.

    A couple of my players and I have seen some pretty horrific things, but instead of jading our games, it actually makes us reach for the more innocent stuff.

  10. I get the Ashton and Leiber vibe quite strongly actually.

    As to the horrific things, yeah I know that feeling too.