OSR Retrospective: Blueholme

And the retoclones keep coming.   I’m going to rant about Blueholme this week. It kind of holds a special place in my heart.

To put it simply, BlueHolme is a retroclone of the Holmes Basic Blue Book.   Way back when, the Holmes Blue Book was my introduction to D&D. This was the first version that I played and the first version that I ran.  I still have my original book. To add even more insight on the way things were back then, I found Supplement 1: Greyhawk and I thought that this was a supplement to the Blue Book.  So I threw in the extras from that into my Blue Book game.

Like most of the other retroclones, BlueHolme uses the four basic classes and races. It’s pretty straight forward after that.  It has the usual selection of spells, monsters, and magic items.  This is another retroclone that I really don’t play but I do use for it reference. If I’m researching some specific spell, class ability, or monster then I like to look at as many versions of that thing as possible.  There just might little changes here and there which can be useful if you’re trying to mix things up a little bit.

Just because I’m not playing it doesn’t mean that it’s not a solid game. It is. You can grab up the rules and play it without any problem and have a great time.  And most of your miscellaneous supplements for old-school games still are perfectly usable with little or no conversion. Even if you’re completely sold on a later version of the basic rules, it’s nice to look back and see how they evolved.

You can grab up the Prentice Rules (Levels 1 to 3) for PWYW or the Journeyman Rules for a good price.

Judging A Game by Those Who Play It

Division and Drama.  I’m sick of it. Yes, it would be nice if folks would at least be able to politely disagree.

Has this ever happened to you?  You buy a new game and play it and like it. Then you go online and try talk about it.  You might go to a group or community specific to that game or even mention it amongst the general chatter.  And oh my god.  You just kicked a puppy or feel like you rolled around on a fire ant mound.

There’s some communities where you’re judged by how long you’ve been a member, how much you post, and how money you shell out to game’s designers.  You make think that’s silly but that was my experience on the old Paizo Forums when Pathfinder 1.0 was still in beta.  After those initial interactions, I walked away from the forum.  No point in sharing there.

Then there’s those communities, where they spend more time talking about other things rather than the actual game.  They tend to complain about “those people”. Generally it’s anybody that they disagree with on some non-gaming issue. Of course, it gets even more craptacular when the actual game designers/publishers are moderating, posting, and even encouraging it.   Often you’ll see the “we don’t money from those kind of people”. You’ve probably seen that more than once.

But what about when you mention a game in passing like in a normal post some where and you didn’t take the time to do a complete background check on the authors, artists, publisher, or whatever.  OMG, how can you like THAT GAME!  One of the artists did something six years ago that was BAD. But maybe it wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t bad then. It was rumor. It was proven false but is still “true” according to some one out there on the Internet.

If you’ve been around online gaming communities for any significant length of time, you’ve seen one or more of these little dramas play out. Sometimes even the flame wars started by these have literally lasted decades. Yes, the internet has been around that long.

So let me get back to my main point.  Judging a game by its community. You’ve bought a game and played a game and enjoyed then you went looking for the online communities.  Or maybe, you’re interested in a game and you hunt down an online group.  And you’re first  thought is “What the hell is wrong with these people?” You might post some slightly different view on something and out come the pitchforks and torches. It sours the whole experience.  Yeah, I know.  You’ve got your home game and they can’t change that. It still sours that home game experience.  It’s like when eat some bad sushi and get sick then months or even years later you have sushi again.  It’s perfectly good but it still turns your stomach because of that past experience.

I know a lot of these start of as political or moral arguments.  I have a pretty simple philosophy on that.  There’s obviously right and obviously wrong and a big assed gray area in between and in that gray area different people have different lines in the sand.  Any more, there’s very little “agree to disagree” and move on.

I don’t have any solutions for this.  I can’t tell anybody not to do X or Y. I really don’t think anybody is capable of doing anything to that would have any significant effect. It’s just one drama at a time and try to move on and hope there’s something left when the smoke clears.

And a couple of final thoughts.  No matter how many people agree with an opinion that still doesn’t make it a fact.  And who’s see this: If you are friends with/like X then you can’t be my “friend”.

Ugh.  Enough of this for now.  Need to get back and have some fun!

OSR Retrospective: Mazes & Perils

This week it’s another fine retroclone. Mazes & Perils. This is a pretty good little book.  It’s based on the good old Holmes blue book and comes in two versions; Original and Deluxe.

The Original Editions has your four basic classes (Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, and Thief), the standard races (Human, Dwarf, Elf and Halfling) and all the other  basics that you’d need to run a game.

The Deluxe Editions has the same basic rules but with some edits and nicer layout and art work. It also adds two new classes: The Enchanter and the Shaman. The Enchanter is sort of like an Illusionist but not quite. While the Shaman is sort of like a Druid but not quite. Both these classes stick to simple and easy design that comes along with using the Basic style rules. Each has their own spell list and most of the spells are unique to the class while some are similar to other spells. And each has their little other quirks. Non-Enchanters attempting to read an Enchanter’s spell book have a chance of going insane. While the Shaman has a quick self healing ability (Atunement) and can summon a Spirit Guardian that attacks like a watch dog.  These new classes are worth the price of admission.

I’ve got both editions of Mazes & Perils but I do reference and use the Deluxe edition more. I’ve house ruled the Enchanter and Shaman into my own Swords & Wizardry game and if I’m running some thing like Old School Essentials then I’ll go ahead add those classes into the mix.

You can get the Original and Deluxe Editions on DrivethruRPG. And there’s a Mazes & Perils Wiki on the Wild Games site.

Alternatives: Itch.io and Locals

Alternatives and choices are good.  So I’ve stumbled across a couple of platforms that I’m looking at.

First, let me talk about itch.io.  I’ve heard of it before and didn’t pay it much mind.  Then Necrotic Gnome put the preliminary PDF’s of their latest Kickstarter up ther and lots of folks started looking more closely at it.

ithch.io is more focused on video games rather than table top games but you can still upload and sell PDF’s there. So yes. It’s basically a store front. On the plus side, they don’t take as big of a chunk as DrivethruRPG. I went the non-exclusive route so their take 35%.  But then DrivethruRPG does have the name recognition and that’s where most folks will go when they’re looking for RPG stuff.  So you get that virtual foot traffic there.  On itch.io, you’re kind of on your own to drive the traffic to your stuff.  So that kind of balances out.  So I think it’d be good for new products or may be sales or just a back-up type store front.  I haven’t uploaded anything yet. I’m deciding what to put up there.  But it does appear to be a viable alternative.

Now on to Locals.com.  This more like a Patreon alternative but there’s some differences.  First, Patreon seems to be more focused on delivering some sort of product while Locals leans more towards building a community.  Sure you can still give folks stuff for subscribing.  The one with Locals is that a community generally won’t go a subscription model until it hits about 100 members because unlike Patreon you can follow a creator without actually paying them any money.  You will still be limited to certain posts, content, and so on like Patreon. They also use Stripe rather than PayPal. For me, that’s a bit annoying since I need to create another account to move around money.

I don’t have a plan to shut down my Patreon.  I still plan posting the occasional PDF and beta rules and early announcements and that sort of thing.  But I went a head started an community over there on Locals.  My plan for this is another place where us old grognards can sit back and yak.  It may grow from there.  Who knows?

I ain’t trying to get rich off this stuff. As I’ve said before, I just want to make enough to cover the web hosting, buy more games, and the occasional pizza and beer.

So come on over and join up the They Might Be Gazebos Locals community.  We’ll see what happens.

Dread Swamp of the Banshee

Dark Wizard Games is at again!  Or I should say still at it because Mark puts out some great stuff.  This time up, Dread Swamp of the Banshee.

I guess the best place to start is what set of rules is this written for?  Well, old-school rules.  It really isn’t written for specific set or version. The Dark Wizard does say that it was written based on the  OSRIC rules.  But that doesn’t mean you have to use those.  All of their modules can be played with just about any of the retroclones.  IMHO, if you want the least amount of conversion then go with Old School Essentials or Labyrinth Lord. If you’re an old hat at Swords & Wizardry then that works fine too.

So what is Dread Swamp of the Banshee?  Well, it’s a mid-level adventure. It’s part hex crawl with some mysteries thrown in. Since there’s some mysteries, I’m going to do this spoiler free. 

The very first thing I like is that it’s not for beginning characters.  So many hex crawls are designed for levels 1 to 3.  This one is for characters levels 4 to 8.  Much more of sweet spot when it comes to character abilities.  It doesn’t mean you can’t start off with low level characters but there’s a darned good chance that there will be at least one TPK in the mix.

As a hex crawl, it’s pretty good.  There’s a place for the characters to hang their hats and plenty of odd and interesting encounter areas and factions to keep the characters interested and on their toes. And you can’t have a new module without a few new monsters like the Bog Zombies, Lagoon Creeper, and Murder Hornets. 

Like all of Dark Wizard’s products, Dread Swamp of the Banshee is written and designed with strong dose of old-school flavor and just the right amount of humor.   The module is organized much the way your standard old-school module is.  If you’ve read or played with any of the original classics like Keep on the Borderlands then you understand what I’m talking about.  Sure there is some boxed text but it’s not overwhelming and still leaves the GM plenty of room to maneuver.  And the maps.  Well, how about those old-school blue maps? Yep.

I know this review is really, really vague.  But I’d rather be spoiler free. But I will say that yes there is a banshee.   Personally, I’d take this module and put it right next to Tegel Manor

Dread Swamp of the Banshee is available for pre-order (as of the this writing) on Dark Wizard’s site. I received an early PDF by being a Patron over at their Patreon page.

 

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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