OSR Retrospective: BX RPG

Do we really need another BX retroclone?  Hell, yes.  Like I said before each one brings something unique to the table and you don’t have to be tied to single one.  Practically everything is compatible or very easy to convert.  This week I bring you the BX RPG from Pacesetter Games & Simulations. (No not that one. I’ll talk about them later.)

As I said before this a BX clone and it does bring some new stuff to the table. It’s got the normal cadre of races and does race as class. There’s the normal classes plus Druid, Monk, Ranger, Paladin, and Necromancer. That’s right Necromancer as “core” class. It does the cool stuff that you would expect but what’s also cool is that standard classes aren’t exact recreations but have some unique twists to them like the Fighter getting a “Burst of Speed” or the Cleric’s Divine Favor.

BX RPG isn’t a duplicate of the original rules. I like that. The originals are available and some of us still have our original copies. It’s the different takes on the same basics that make old school games so damned interesting. BX RPG is prime material to mash up with Mazes & Perils, Labyrinth Lord, or Old School Essentials. Sure you could play any one of those on its own but mixing all the bits that you find the coolest makes the game more fun. Take the bits you like and roll some dice.

BX RPG is worth playing or at least checking out and adding to your RPG inspiration library. It comes as two PDF’s; the Player’s Guide and the Dungeon Guide available on DrivethruRPG or you can head on over to Pacesetter’s website and visit their web store. Oh yes and they make some pretty cool adventures too. Check those out.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & sorcery: Wanderers

Last time it was the Warriors and combat. This time, I talk about Wanderers and skills.
The Wanderer replaces the Thief class in many aspects. It’s the so-called Skill Monkey class. As I look at so many Sword and Sorcery characters, they often have a wide range of abilities and skills. There’s not such an implied niche for what a character can do. So many of those things that were considered things that just the Thief did, are things that any character can try. Anybody can back stab with bonuses, anybody can check for traps or try to open locks.
The system for this is pretty simple. You’ve probably noticed that each of the pre-gens has a check next to each Attribute (x in d6). The GM picks the appropriate Ability for the task and the player rolls for success. Pretty easy. You may have also noticed that the Checks don’t seem consistent. That’s because a character’s Checks improve based on their level and class.
But some characters are better at certain things than other characters. That’s where the Specializations come in. Specializations, as you can see on the examples, aren’t specific skills but much broader categories of knowledge and abilities. You might think of them as careers or professions.
Specializations work very simply. When a character attempts a task and fails their initial roll, if they have an appropriate Specialization then they can re-roll the Check but with a 2 in d6 chance for success. This gives them an edge over other characters but still keeps the probabilities on a more heroic rather than super heroic scale. It’s simple and flexible.
So how are Wanderers the Skill Monkeys? First, each character gains one Specialization plus more based on their Intelligence score. Wanderers gain an additional Specialization at 1st level and are the only class that gains more Specializations as they advance in level. Forgotten Tales doesn’t take an approach where characters achieve “mythic” or “epic” skill levels. Instead, a character can have a broad range of abilities which when used imaginatively create that heroic feel.

NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator.

OSR Retrospective: Why I’m doing this

It’s a short week and I know that everyone is really busy so I figured I’d take a little aside and explain a little more why I’m doing these posts.

If you’ve been around the old-school any length of time then you know there are more games than you can shake a stick at. It can be kind of pain to keep what all is going on and what games are available. The popularity of games ebb and flow. A game can be the darling of the day and then fade off into obscurity. Plus if you happen to be new then the choices are almost overwhelming.

The OSR Retrospective posts aren’t meant to be reviews. A single Internet search can give you a whole bunch of reviews for just about any game you happen to be looking at. What I want to do here is basically get folks to at least look at these games that may or may not a hot commodity right now or just may have fallen by the wayside.

And if you want the opinion of someone smarter and prettier than me then check out this video from Questing Beast.

Thanks for stopping by the blog and go out there and have a happy and safe holiday.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Archetypes & Vices

I know it’s a short week for most folks and that they’ve got a lot happening this week. So we’re doing only a little preview this week.

If you’ve been keeping up with the previews and looking at the example characters then might have notice a couple of “odd” things; Archetypes & Vices.

Archetypes: This is another way that characters are customized. We’ve to name them as adjectives that are added onto a class like Savage Warrior or Lucky Sorcerer. Each one of the Archetypes is codified in the rules and kept as simple as possible. For example, Savage means the character gains an additional HP each level. Lucky means the character gains a +1 bonus to all Saving Throws. The Archetypes are completely independent of the character’s class. So you could have a Savage Sorcerer or even Lucky Warrior or a Learned Warrior and so on. Another way to look at it is that Archetypes are a little bit like Feats in later editions but there some major differences. There is no long chain to get better and better bonuses and the player chooses one Archetype for their character at 1st Level and that’s it.

Vices: Sword & Sorcery tales and heroes tend to morally gray. The villains and monsters are just down right evil or alien. Because of this, we decided to completely drop Alignments but still felt we needed something to fill that void. There is no set list of Vices and the “Vices” don’t even have to actual vices. It can be an adjective or even a short phrase. A character’s Vice is what gets them into trouble or what urges them to make those decisions that may not always be in their best interests. There isn’t any codified game mechanic around Vices but a GM could award some bonus XP for good play. The Vices are intended as a quick and easy guideline for the player about how the character might act in certain situations. The GM could remind a player or suggest but still the final decision is still the player’s.

Thanks for stopping by and more previews are coming up.

OSR Retrospective: Blood & Treasure

This week I’m looking at Blood & Treasure.  This is a really interesting game.  What make Blood & Treasure so interesting?  Well, let me tell you.

Blood & Treasure is a real Franken-game.  It doesn’t try to emulate or recreate a specific older edition.  It takes the better parts of many editions including 3.x.  It includes Feats and Skills similar but still simpler than 3rd Edition. It includes the full range of races and classes including things like the Sorcerer.

These are all good things and makes things easier to introduce more of the old-school vibe to players who aren’t accustomed to it.  Also, if you’ve already got your old-school game of choice and want to add some of those things to your game then this is a good source of inspiration.

I do admit that I haven’t played Blood & Treasure that much but this is a game that I wouldn’t mind playing more.  Like I said, this game is a good bridge between those simpler old-school games and the 3rd Edition style game without all the excessive crunch.

It’s worth taking a look. You can get the PDf’s of the 1st Edition Blood & Treasure Complete Rules and Monster Tome for free. You can also pick the 2nd Edition of Blood & Treasure in a handy little bundle.

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

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