VR: Peasant Competency Levels

One of the unfortunate things about filming video responses for my Youtube channel is that I tend to do them in an off-the-cuff manner, this is great for getting an unscripted and spontaneous feel to the video, however it does mean that on occasions I tend to forget things and only think about them after I’ve just spent an hour or so editing the video.

The same thing happened recently when I filmed a video response to the following video OSR Gatekeepers: I do not fear death by Your Humble Gamesmaster:

I filmed what I believed to be a fairly comprehensive response to the video in question, you can see my video here:

It was only after the upload had finished that I thought ‘Oh sh*t I forgot to mention the bit about peasant power levels in the video’ – now I’m not going to go back and record the whole thing again to cram that part in so I thought that I’d write a brief blog about it here instead.

The Humble Gamesmaster makes the point that peasants or commoners are often seen as being particularly weak in OSR style games, particularly when in funnel play or in comparison to characters who actually have levels in a more normal PC class (fighter, thief, mage, etc); this is a very valid point, I do have a few issues with it though. After thinking about it for some time, I realised that my main issue was based on an assumptions that I’d made about D&D and OSR style games:

  • Adventurers spend a lot of their “off-screen” time practicing their skills.

I’d always imagined that the fighter spent a lot of their off-screen time practicing combat whilst the thief was out engaging in nefarious activities, the mage was obsessively studying spells and the bard was playing their lute or whatever it is that they do when they’re not annoying the rest of the party and trying to grab some abilities from pretty much every other class.

The Humble Gamesmaster makes the point that peasants or commoners in a standard pseudo-medieval D&D world wouldn’t be weak, they would lead hard lives working the land, I certainly think that’s true, however, I’ve always seen the difference between commoners and PC classed characters in D&D as being akin to the difference between a fitness fanatic and a trained soldier in real life, sure the fitness fanatic might be fit and in reasonably good health, however they don’t exist in the constant state of readiness that the soldier does, knowing that s/he could be shipped out at any moment to face danger and death.

So let me know what you think, are commoners weak in your world or do they have some untapped wellspring of inner strength?

Only 3 days remaining to back Midderlands, an OSR sandbox setting

I have two great RPG loves in my life, one of these is the Fate RPG by Evil Hat Productions and the other is OSR gaming, something about the basic nature of OSR rules supplements really speaks to my style of gaming, I have numerous systems such as Basic Fantasy, Swords & Wizardry (core, White Box and complete), Lamentations of the Flame Princess and a few others. If you keep up with my social media then you’ll know that recently I back Midderlands, an OSR sandbox and mini-bestiary book set in a twisted version of the Midlands in the UK in the late middle-ages, as someone who actually lives in the real-world Midlands–and as a lover of OSR stuff–needless to say I was intrigued.

The book is designed principally for Swords & Wizardry, but should work with any OSR style game, personally I was thinking of breaking out my Lamentations of the Flame Princess book and running it using that; from the small amount of preview material I’ve seen the setting has elements that reminded me both of some of Lovecraft’s iconic odd settings (Innsmouth anyone?) and also cult game Fallen London, which has it’s own skewed take on urban Britain.

As of the time of writing the project needs another two and a half thousand pound (GBP) to reach it’s funding goal, with only three days remaining, personally I’m hoping to spread the love a bit and get some other people on board since I think this looks like an excellent book and deserves a chance to be published. So if you’re looking to scratch that weird OSR itch or you wants to take a journey through the odd places of a middle-England that never was, get yourself over to the kickstarter page and sign up now.

Star Hex Space Layout

I’ve been giving some more thought to my forthcoming Star Hex campaign while I was sat on the train this morning, and have decided a few things about the game in terms of the background and rules. Continue reading

Star Hex

Star Hex

 

Given my recent love affair with James M Spahn’s White Star–you can see my video review of it here–I’m thinking of running some OSR style sci-fi when when Dungeon World campaign wraps up in a few weeks or so; I’ve been looking at the concept of hex crawls and have even taken a few ideas from them to use in my ongoing FFG Star Wars campaign and the methodology seems to work well in a sci-fi genre. Given that so many sci-fi franchises have effectively been reskinning fantasy races to use as aliens for a long time, I thought it might be interesting to do the reverse and run a science-fiction setting where the fantasy analogues were embraced openly.

I’m not talking about a Spelljammer-esque fantasy in space style game but a science-fantasy game (ala Star Wars) that takes direct inspiration from fantasy races and ideas to use in the setting.

Sliding Towards Simplicity

Disclaimer: When I’m talking about crunchy, rules-heavy or simulationist games in this post, I’m not implying they’re bad–hell, play what you want–but they’re just not for me.

As you might gather from the disclaimer above, I’ve never really been a fan of simulationist games or ones that have vast tomes of increasing complex rules, TBH I’m surprised that I like FFG’s Star Wars so much given the number of specialisations, bonuses and other stuff that is in there, but I suppose preference is a fickle beast. Since sometime last year–probably even before that–I’ve been noticing that my preferences have been moving towards simpler and simpler RPGs. Whether you want to call them RPGs or Storytelling games is an argument for another time, I’m going to stick to using RPGs in this blog entry.

If you’ve seen any of my stuff online you’ll know I’m a big fan of the Fate and Dungeon World games, both of these have–in my opinion–a nice clear central mechanic that pretty much everything else in the rest of the game references, and for a long time I thought that was the big lure of these games for me, but I’ve also started taking an interest in OSR products.

Continue reading

RPG Review: Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook

In my latest RPG Review video I look at the OSR product, the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook: