Thursday, June 23, 2011

Old School Archaeology: The Chronicle of Ryth

                        Chronicles of Ryth pdf at

Run, do not walk, to Risus Monkey and download this document. Now. Do you have it? I'll wait...

Okay, what you are holding is an ORIGINAL CAMPAIGN CHRONICLE FROM 1975-6. And it's 80 pages long. Published as a series of newsletters by John Van De Graaf and Len Scensny, these guys bought their white box straight from the hands of Gary himself. They concocted (of course!) a few house rules, and then began running and fairly exhaustingly, well, chronicling their multiple-GM, 40+ player campaign.

Yeah. You read that correctly. 40+ players.

I'm going to begin doing a cover-to-cover of this historic text in the next few days here on this blog. Until then, do yourself a favor and read it. No, actually, don't just read it--experience it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG---go get the beta!

Goodman Games had finally released the beta version of their long-discussed Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. Is it the Holy Grail of Old School Gaming? Is it just hyperbolic sound and fury, signifying nothing?

Only one way to find out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Old, One New...

It's so freaking impossible to keep up with the flood of goodness being produced these days, but here are a few I've had my eye on:

Beasts, Men, & Gods

This venerable game had approximately 1,000 copies in print. My friends and I, back in maybe '83 or '84 somehow got ahold of a copy and played the crap out of it. I think, at the time, we really loved the piecemeal armor system and the more detailed combat (well, more detailed than AD&D.) It's recently been reprinted by the author in the first, at least as far as I know, successful petitioning of an original author by a fan--the Vault Keeper. This enthusiastic Italian has actually been digging up a bunch of interesting lost RPGs; it's definitely worth your time to poke around through his blog.

You can by your own, brand-new, almost facsimile, copy of a piece of RPG history here:

Beasts, Men, & Gods

There's a sizable (60 pg.) pdf preview, so you can get a pretty good sense of what it's like. I would like to point out here that, not only do I have a vintage copy, it's signed by the author. :)

Oh, and there's also a strange Russian novel by the same name...

Holmes 77

The excellent Professor Thork has put together a "retro-edition" of the original Holmes Blue Book rules for Basic D&D. There have been a number of expansions for these rules floating around for a few years now, but Holmes 77 puts it all together in one document, altering as little as possible. Now you can get your Holmes on from levels 1-9 and beyond!

Holmes 77

On a related Holmsian note, the industrious Zenopus has put together and is rapidly updating a Holmes Basic website. Go there now.

Mystery Men

John Slater, from deep within The Land of Nod has produced, as far as I know, the first OSR superhero game. Grounded solidly in class and level D&D, it is a fascinating, incredibly inventive game. One of the cooler features is that the GM picks a starting Experience level for the campaign. All characters then start with that fund of XPs to "buy" superpowers. Any left over end up being added to actual XP, so a character with just a couple of powers can easily end up starting higher than first level. This is so simple and elegant a solution to both how to do superpowers within this particular framework of rules and how to give players an option to start higher than first level. The trade-off choice is beautiful.

Mystery Men

Oh, and did I mention it's FREE?

And, since it's made by John, the art and layout are superb. I will make time at some point to play this game!