Category Archives: News, Rants & Reviews

OSR Bunkers

A couple of weeks ago the subject gatekeeping reared its ugly head, again. But this got me thinking and thinking and thinking. So here’s a post.

I’m one of those folks who remember the crazy days of G+. It did a lot for the OSR. Sure there was drama, flame wars, and trolling but since there was easy integration with Blogger and Blogger was the OSR go-to blogging platform then it was natural that folks congregated there.

At the end, things had really started to turn into utter crap and Google pulled the plug on G+. The great scattering of people began. Many went to MeWe. Some focused on Facebook. Discord became a favorite. Reddit gathered folks. And I’m sure there are some other social platforms that I don’t know about.

While it’s good that many use a spectrum of social media platforms, it is a bit difficult to have some ideas make the transition between platforms. Some folks refuse to use a particular platform for a variety of reason. I’ll be honest. I like MeWe. I tolerate Facebook. I deactivated my Twitter account because it was totally worthless. IMHO, Reddit becomes a popularity contest with up and down voting. And I just haven’t gotten into Discord. I’m trying. But when I have time, there just doesn’t seem to be anything happening on the servers that I’m a member.

If anything all these various groups across platforms are their own little things. Each one of these communities or groups or whatever you want to call it have their tone, written and unwritten rules. So when I hear someone talking about “gatekeeping” in the OSR because somebody somewhere on the Internet was a jerk, my usual first reaction is “Who? Where’s that?” Sure some groups are more popular and have more members than others. But there is no magic gatekeeper. No one wields that power. A few have tried and failed. A few are accused of it but from what I’ve seen it turns into much ado about nothing.

Here’s the thing. The way things are across the Internet in general, I don’t any one wants to the gatekeeper or the face of the OSR. Even being too popular is a recipe for disaster. There’s always somebody with too much time on their hands who will dig through years of blog and social media posts looking for something that just maybe construed by some one as just might, may be offensive to someone, somewhere, somehow. It’s just putting a target on your forehead.

It’s a good thing that there’s nobody like that. You are beholden to the design philosophies or sensibilities of any body. Sure, there are assholes out there. Just don’t deal, interact, or give them a place in your head. Like I say, “Roll dice, kill monsters, take their stuff, and have fun.”

Barbaric!, Quantum Sorcery & Thoughts

Ahh, Barbaric! This little gem just keeps on bouncing around inside my head and more neat stuff keeps showing up. But first let me talk about Quantum Sorcery first.

Barbaric! is already really rules lite but is you want to go even lighter then there’s Quantum Sorcery. This distills the already short rules down to two pages (or one if you print front and back). Sure it doesn’t have all the monsters, spells, and magic items. Nor does it have the extra stuff about overland land travel. But the core for a quick pick-up games is there. The game mechanics are all basically the same. So it’s good if you want to test drive the rules. I’ve already done a review on Barbaric! so if you want more details then check that out. Oh and did I mention that it’s free. So check it out.

Now on to what’s in my head. Much like that dog who chased cars all his life and finally catches one. I don’t know what to do with it. Sure, I’ve got a couple of ideas. One that I’m still batting around inside my head that is going to a while before I say anything about it. I’ve learned that an idea my sound good in my head but when I actually put pen to paper, well, that idea ain’t so hot. So we’ll wait on that one. But I am putting together some notes that I think are pretty cool. Once this comes together more and some dice hit the table to play test a bit then I’ll let you know. Yeah, I know I’m teasing but in that sort of mood.

The Quest for the Perfect Game

Let’s face it. Don’t we all do this. We just want that perfect that does everything that we want it to. What exactly that is different for each person. Heck, if ask ten people, you just might get fifteen answers.

I was thinking about this again the other day. I know I’ve posted about this before but it’s something pops into the old brain pan now and then. The old-school scene, or OSR, or whatever you want to call it is great for these little mental exercises. There’s so many darned retro-clones, recreations and other stuff that any GM could use for source material. Like a rule in one game but it’s not in the game you are running then add it. You want skills. You don’t want skills. Want a different way to handle character death? Don’t like a spell. Well, there’s an alternative.

The old-style games are good for this because so many of them are very similar with only some minor differences or additional rules tacked on. That’s OK. Pull all that stuff you like from here and there. And if you can’t find some thing you like then make it yourself.

But I don’t want to haul around a dozen core books. And all that stuff might confuse the players. If you’re reading this then there’s a good chance that you have gaming PDF’s and a word processor plus some other technological options. Cut paste, edit and basically make your own book. Print it. Use it. Heck, if it’s for you own use you can covert whatever rules want from any system.

With all that said, it doesn’t mean that your first idea will always be right. So don’t be afraid to go back and change something. Listen to the players. It’s OK to change or evolve your house rules.

And finally, I get this vibe in some gaming circles that there’s something that some folks need to hear. You don’t owe it to any publisher or game designer to run your game the way they wrote it or intended to write it. You bought it. You prepped for the session. You brought your friends together. It’s your group’s game. Play the way you want. If anything some of them need to shut up and let people play.

The Phylactery 2

This is a great little zine in case you missed that Kickstarter. Shame on you. I’ve got my greasy fingers on my hard copy.

So what do you get? Monsters, magic items, mini-dungeons, and more. So what else do I like about Phylactery 2 (and No1 as well)? First, the material isn’t tied to any one specific old school rules set. So use it for whatever rules that you are using. It’s got just enough gonzo but doesn’t go overboard or turn it up to 11 just to say that’s 11. So it’s not stupid gonzo. And finally, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Gaming is all about having fun.

This probably isn’t worth hauling around in my GM bag to every game. But having a handy mini-dungeon or a neat new magic item or monster to throw at the player characters is well worth the price of admission.

So you missed the Kickstarter? Well, Issue 1 in on DrivethruRPG and it’s just as cool and worth grabbing up. And Issue 3 in Kickstarter as of this writing. Yes, I backed it.

My New Found Gaming Love: Cepheus Quantum

As I’ve said before, I’m slowing getting back into the old-school Traveler scene. The game was fun as heck back in the day. We had some great sessions in high school. But as time passed, it was a system that fell by the wayside for me.

In this day and age of online gaming and everybody is always in a rush, I tend to look for games that I consider “rules efficient”. More than what most folks call rules light but not quite the massive or even some of the shorter books.

Enter Cepheus Quantum. This is the lightest (as far as I know) version of the Cepheus Engine. Think of it as the equivalent of Swords & Wizardry Light. It’s one page and you’ve got what you need. But just because it’s a single page doesn’t mean that it’s lacking. It has just what need and nothing more. Sure, GM’s will have to put in a little more work to create some standardized antagonists. But the time you save at the table is worth it. That’s why I like. It saves time at the table. Less time looking up rules and more time actually playing.

Let me give you the low down. Roll your Endurance (2d6) and Lifeblood (4d6). All that’s basically your Hit Points and to track damage. Pick your skills and go. That’s it. The rest of the actual system is resolved pretty much in the standard 2d6 way. While the full rules with careers offer and interesting back story for the character and it can be fun. It also takes a bit of time. And you’re not rolling the extra stats but you don’t actually need them since that role is taken up in the skills.

Another thing I like is that it’s easily hackable. If you know me then you know I love playing around the rules and tweaking them. An efficient rules systems makes that easier and there’s less chance of a cascade failure if you change one rules with unforeseen circumstances.

And of course, I’m a cheap bastard too. The base Cepheus Quantum rules are free on DrivethruRPG. But if you’re still and one page is still too much for you there’s Planck which distills the rules down to the front and back of a business card.

And as I mentioned, it’s hackable. Cepheus Quantum is SciFI roleplaying. Your standard Traveler type stuff but it’s hackable to other genres. There’s Barbaric! for something sort like D&D or Cepheus Atom! if you’re looking to do something like Gamma World. There may be more but those are the ones that I know of.

Any way. It’s cheap. Easy to play. And well worth looking into.