Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last call for OSWARP game masters!

Game proposals for this year's OSWARP (Old School Wargaming and Role Playing) convention, held in conjunction with Dexcon in Morristown, NJ July 3-5, are due by this Friday, June 5th!

Types of games we're looking for:

  • Old-school RPGs (Basic, AD&D, White Box, BECMI, Metamorphosis Alpha, Boot Hill, T&T, Runequest, Traveller, C&S, FASA Star Trek, etc. etc. etc.)
  • OSR retro-clones and associated games (OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, S&W, C&C, DCC, Barbarians of Lemuria, etc. etc. etc.)
  • Wargames (hex and counter types and others, like Afrika Korps, Third Reich, War in Europe, Campaign for North Africa, Kingmaker, Starfleet Battles, other AH/SPI/Victory Games/etc. - doesn't have to be from the 80's)
  • Miniatures (historical miniatures from any era, Chainmail (with or without the fantasy supplement), Battlesystem, System 7 Napoleonics, DBM, DBA, etc.)
  • Anything else you think would be appropriate for an "old school" convention

Click here to submit a game proposal for the convention. Deadline is June 5!

Make sure you select OSWARP in the "type of game" section in the form when you fill it out, so it can be included in the special OSWARP game schedule that will be available at the convention.

If you volunteer to run enough games (64 player-hours' worth if you're getting the special OSWARP membership, 128 player-hours' worth otherwise), you get comped into Dexcon/OSWARP altogether. If you're going to do that, submit your GM proposals first, and wait for the discount code to come via email, then register for the convention.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Remember

Remember those who gave their lives, that we might be free.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Game shelf porn

I've recently engaged in moving my office into another room of the house, to allow my daughter to use the spare bedroom as a music room (drums take up a lot of space). In so doing, I had the opportunity to go through my game collection, reorganize everything, get rid of junk, and generally get everything ship-shape again. And in the process realized I needed a fourth bookcase to hold all the stuff that was piled on the floor, double-stacked on shelves, tucked away in other parts of the house, etc. Here's the result (click to embiggen):
Board games #1. Yes, those are SPI flat boxes on the bottom shelf. You can't see it in this photo, but above is Cthulhu Wars, which is huge enough that it would take up an entire shelf on its own.

Board games #2. Top shelf is books about games. And at the very top is Ogre Designer's Edition, which literally wouldn't fit anywhere else.

End cap. Those rolling carts are full of miniatures (Ogre, 15mm medieval and fantasy wargaming, 25mm RPG, 1:2400 renaissance naval). Obviously, judging by the boxes piled on top, I need another. And yes, that's a "Dogs Playing D&D" picture.

RPG #1. With some miniatures supplies on the bottom.

RPG #2. It's hard to tell, but that shelf second from the bottom is where a lot of the real treasures lie. Those are mostly RPGs from the 70's and early 80's. Lots are just loose pages printed on dot-matrix printers. :-) Unpictured: on top of the bookcase is the Metamorphosis Alpha Deluxe Hardcover Edition.

Close up of the D&D shelf. Is that the AD&D coloring book on the end? Yes. Yes it is.

Close-up of the Greyhawk shelf. There are actually the contents of two Gold Box sets in there. Just no boxes any more. *sigh*

Close-up of the miniatures shelf, with all those glorious Grenadier boxes.

Close-up of the hex-and-counter wargame shelves.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Innovation: settings, rules, or... what?

Just like the good old days, there's a debate flying around certain centers of the OSR blogosphere, and naturally I've got a thought or two. The debate is (yet again) about innovation in the OSR. Some people seem bound and determined to shoot down anything the OSR has produced as derivative and stale; "just another orc with a different flavor of pie", so to speak. Others seem to swing the other way, claiming that giving a fighter a +2 bonus instead of a +1 bonus is worthy of an Origins Award. (I exaggerate, but you get the idea.)

Concomitant with this is the question of where innovation from the OSR should or will come. Is it in new sets of rules? Settings? Adventures? Some combination of those? Or something else entirely? Empire of the Petal Throne and Tekumel are being bandied about in these conversations as the yardstick by which such innovations are measured.

Before I get to where I think the path to innovation lies (hint: it's a combination), I would like to point out that there has been plenty of innovation coming from the OSR over the years. Doesn't anyone remember Carcosa? Like it or not, there's a setting that was unlike much of what had come before, and had some interesting mechanics (something involving magic as I recall *ahem*) that reinforced what the setting was doing. And Yoon-Suin? There's some weird and layered and in-depth stuff going on there, to be sure.

What about Vornheim? There was a product (a setting/toolbox) that was innovative not only in content, but in its very physical design. The book itself was a tool you used to flesh out the city. And what about Adventures in Oz? Sure, Oz is hardly an innovative setting, but it's not something that had been done to death in the RPG field at the time, and there was an entirely new, kid-friendly and violence-averse (and yet somehow still quite recognizably OSR in its way) rule system behind it. Neither of those were Greyhawk or the Realms warmed-over.

And what about things like Realms of Crawling Chaos? Some would label it as "just a reskin", because it's made for Labyrinth Lord, but I don't recall any of those rules for insanity or the new magics or new races or new monsters in the original LL books. Speaking of monsters, there has been a boom in OSR monster books over the years; Teratic Tome, Lusus Naturae, Malevolent and Benign, Creature Compendium, etc.

So don't tell me there hasn't been innovation coming out of the OSR, both mechanically and in terms of setting (and even physicality). So when people complain "where's the OSR's Tekumel?" what I hear is "where's the OSR's Tekumel for this month?" They forget what has come before, and just want something new to slake their jaded palate, or it wasn't exactly what they were looking for, so they discount any innovations it might otherwise have contained.

Now, personally, I don't like weird settings that take months or years to get to know. I'm on record as saying that I like plain-Jane, Tolkienesque fantasy. Much as I respect and enjoy reading about Tekumel, I just don't like Tekumel itself. I personally don't find it approachable, and I simply don't have the time to get to know it the way it deserves. The same goes for a lot of other settings and rules (and board games, for that matter) that I'm sure are fine in their way, but I'm pretty stuck in my ways, and I want rules that I can relate to, that are similar enough to the rules I've been playing since 1977 to not have to invest gobs of time I don't have in learning them. 5th Edition D&D was an exception, partly because so much of it did feel familiar, but I digress.

As for where I see the next wave of innovation coming? Well, as I stated a few years back, I think we're pretty well served for core fantasy rulebooks, and we're now well into Phase II of the OSR. As I wrote then:
But while the first phase of the OSR has seen foundational works such as those mentioned above, what we are now seeing in the OSR is a flowering of material that take off in wild new directions. Now that the final holes in the retro-clone coverage have been filled (the basic game-play of (A)D&D 0E, 1E, and now 2E are covered by multiple products), the OSR as a whole seems self-confident enough to break off in new directions.
Personally I would like, and think we're going, to see different genres explored within the context of the pretty-much-stable corpus of OSR "core rules". That is, rules expansions to cover different possible facets; settings with distinctive cultures that have associated sourcebooks with relevant rules (new classes, spells, races, social or combat or whatever other rules, etc.), different genres (which we just saw with White Star, which some complain, again is "just a reskin of White Box", to which I would say that not all innovation has to be mechanical), different sub-genres (we've seen Realms of Crawling Chaos for Lovecraftian horror, but there are tons of other possibilities out there; how about a Pendragon-like supplement with rules for chivalry, Courtly Love, and multi-generation gaming? There are tons of similar possibilities), different planes of existence (you could literally make a whole supplement for each plane, each with its own weird physical, social, magical, and even mechanical laws), and I'm sure there are a hundred things I've not mentioned that someone is thinking of doing. Not so much new restatements of core rules, so much as toolkits to be used with the existing core rules that we have.

That's what I want to buy. Not a straight-out setting, not a restatement of core rules, but supplements containing new rules and new slants on existing rules, whether tied to a particular setting or not. I'm sure others have other priorities, and that's certainly their prerogative, but that's what the guy writing this post wants, for everything that's worth. And monster books. I'm always a sucker for a new monster book.

My advice? Do it. Don't worry what people will say about your work, or whether you're being "innovative enough" to please some folks. The OSR is all about the hands-on, DIY ethic when it comes to games. There's no DIY unless YDI.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Call for GMs - Dexcon/OSWARP 2015

Registration for this year's Dexcon/OSWARP 2015 convention is open, and proposals for games are being accepted now! Last year's OSWARP, held in conjunction with the huge general gaming convention Dexcon in Morristown, NJ was a blast, and this year's convention should be better still.

The sort of games we're looking for include:

  • Old-school RPGs (Basic, AD&D, White Box, BECMI, Metamorphosis Alpha, Boot Hill, T&T, Runequest, Traveller, C&S, FASA Star Trek, etc. etc. etc.)
  • OSR retro-clones and associated games (White Star, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, S&W, C&C, DCC, Barbarians of Lemuria, etc. etc. etc.)
  • Wargames (hex and counter types and others, like Afrika Korps, Third Reich, War in Europe, Campaign for North Africa, Kingmaker, Starfleet Battles, other AH/SPI/Victory Games/etc. - doesn't have to be from the 80's)
  • Miniatures (historical miniatures from any era, Chainmail (with or without the fantasy supplement), Battlesystem, System 7 Napoleonics, DBM, DBA, etc.)
  • Anything else you think would be appropriate for an "old school" convention

When submitting your proposal, make sure you select "OSWARP" as the game type, to make sure you're included in the special SOWARP convention schedule that we'll be producing. Click here to submit a game proposal for the convention. Deadline is June 6!

General information about Dexcon can be found here, and more OSWARP-specific information can be found here.

If you're in the general vicinity of Morristown, NJ over July 4th weekend, I hope I'll be able to see you there!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Last hours for Ral Partha's Chaos Wars

You've only got a few hours to get in on the resurrection of Ral Partha's late great "Chaos Wars" minis and game. This is a real blast from the past, and I'm so very glad to see it coming back. So if you haven't pledged, now's your chance!

Click here to see the Kickstarter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

White Star: Commerce Raider and Raider Tender

The massive shipyards of Astor and New Austin, the premier industrial worlds of the Athena Sector, have been turning out spacecraft of all types and descriptions for centuries, many of which find their way to every corner of civilized space (and beyond). Here are some of the most commonly-encountered examples, statted for the White Star game and designated as Open Game Content under the OGL.

Commerce Raider

Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Points: 20
Shield Strength: 2
Movement: 15
Targeting: +1
Attack: Laser Canon (4d6) [pilot-linked]
Modifications: Cloaking device

Commerce raiders are used by pirates and those worlds that employ letters of marque against enemy freighters. Designed to be taken into the shipping lanes by a raider tender and deployed to lurk in wait for an enemy freighter or convoy, they don't have the punch of a stunt fighter but are quite adequate against lightly-armed and unescorted transport craft. When used in sizable numbers they can even overwhelm all but the largest escorted convoys.

Raider Tender

Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Points: 60
Shield Strength: 1
Movement: 9
Targeting: +0
Attack: Light Laser x4 (2d6), automated weapons
Modifications: FTL drive, can carry up to six fighters

Originally designed as a light fighter carrier, raider tenders were heavily used in the human-mr'rk'kog war. Since then, many have turned up in the inventories of petty despots and pirates, where they are used to ferry fighters used as fast-striking commerce raiders. Each requires a crew of twenty, plus pilots for the fighters.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I'm working on...


Deep in the heart of the Black Swan Nebula, mostly cut off from the rest of the civilized galaxy, lies the Cygnus Sector. Underpopulated, rich in resources, and wracked by conflict and religious strife, it is a magnet for the dregs of the Far Rim. Mercenaries looking for work, fanatics looking for converts, prospectors looking for the Big Strike, and colonists looking for a new home. 

Cygnus Sector is a “starcrawl” setting for the White Star RPG, offering numerous opportunities for players to find adventure, danger, and maybe fortune. They can choose from the myriad of different intrigues and plots they encounter, or go off and explore some unknown world. The choice is theirs.