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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 21 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Supplement V: Carcosa (split)  (Read 7546 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2009, 11:04:57 AM »

Actually Ron, James's answer was right on target for what I was looking for.  Raven's might be too, although I saw that behavior more in the AD&D 2E crowd than in my OD&D days.  But then back when I was playing OD&D I was too young to be cognizant of the larger scene.
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greyorm
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« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2009, 02:28:20 PM »

Actually Ron, James's answer was right on target for what I was looking for.  Raven's might be too, although I saw that behavior more in the AD&D 2E crowd than in my OD&D days.  But then back when I was playing OD&D I was too young to be cognizant of the larger scene.

Hrm. It might be a matter of which decade/timeframe we each played OD&D in. Mine was the late 80's, early 90's, at which time 2nd Edition was coming out, and the tail end of 1st edition certainly had the attitude I mentioned (what with things like Unearthed Arcana and various Wilderness and Dungeon guides), though the early Dragon always had wild rule extensions (like the orgy article). I don't know what timeframe you and James might be viewing it from (and as you state, locale certainly had an affect).
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
James_Nostack
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« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2009, 04:52:59 PM »

Raven: regardless of whether these guys are right or wrong about what OD&D was "really" like in 1974, the real issue is that a particular group of dudes in 2008 have identified a particular mode of play, and Carcosa is a product of those design sensibilities.  Based on about a year's study of these guys, I think Carcosa manages to be pretty representative of some of the best stuff they can do for those priorities. 

If anything, I think the book is a little too randomization-happy, but it's designed in part to be a Rules Supplement in the tradition of Greyhawk, Blackmoor, Eldritch Wizardry, Gods Demigods & Heroes, etc.  So you've got a new method of rolling hit points (the LBB's didn't really make it clear how hit points were to be determined, and alternate hit-point methods are a meme in this crowd), a new magic system, a randomized monster-generator, and so forth.
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2009, 11:49:56 PM »

That's a very sensible way to look at it.

BTW, I apologize if it seemed like I was trying to argue what D&D was "really" like in any given time period. I would consider that a stupid claim to argue about for a number of reasons, some of which have been touched on, and so I'm very sorry if it sounded like that was where I was coming from.

(I'm far more interested in taking a look at the various expressions of "what this thing was" among various disparate play-groups and how those interacted to form a perception of "the scene" during any given time period among any given group. I don't believe that's a good subject-direction for this particular thread, though.)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2009, 09:25:51 AM »

James, I'd really, really like a quick list of links, with some minimal orienting information, to gain a better understanding of the New Old Skool (let's not make this a term). Sean (Calithema) is active there too, so maybe he can help. I have the first three issues of Fight On!, but the lack of discussion context and the aggravating tendency to use only usernames makes it hard to get into, besides appreciating the fun, which is easy.

I have also corresponded with Geof McKinney, the author of Carcosa, and maybe if we get a substantial topic going in this thread, he can join in.

Best, Ron
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2009, 10:26:11 AM »

I hope you don't mind me jumping on the tasks of providing a guide to the Old School Renaissance, as they like to be called. Outside of the Forge, my infant's crib, so to speak, the OSR is my favorite RPG community on the Internet.

James Maliszewski's Grognardia is by far the best weblog to read on the topic. His 4-part review of Carcosa was level-headed and well done. (Part 1, 2, 3, and 4)

The other major OSR weblog I read is Lamentations of the Flame Princess which can be more inflammatory, but is good. Both weblogs have a serious set of links to follow to see more of the community.

I find the best description of the dungeon part of D&D to be found at Philotomy's "The Dungeon as a Mythic Underworld." The viewpoint here isn't universal in the community, but I think it explains a lot of the love of OD&D and its recent set of "retro-clones."

I'd be amiss not to include a link to the Dragonsfoot forums or "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming", the movement's major treatise.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2009, 11:13:45 AM »

Clinton's hit the major places: I'd throw in The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope and Sham's Grog & Blog among the blog sites, in addition to the aforementioned Jeff's Gameblog and Grognardia--Rients and Malizewski are both pretty insightful, with Rients favoring a more "Wahoo!" style of gaming (and writing) and Malizewski favoring a more mannered approach to "Gygaxian Naturalism."

The most active discussion forum for OD&D specifically appears to be Original D&D Discussion, though there's a lot of bleed-over into Dragonsfoot, which is far more ecumenical with respect to "early edition" D&D play. 

Of course, none of this Internet-based discussion makes any dang sense without the Three Little Brown Books which are available in PDF for pennies.  It's a fascinatingly unplayable game, just on the sane side of complete gibberish (possibly because we've lost contact with the 1970's war-gaming culture which gave birth to it).  But considering that this is D&D's "indie press" years, I think it should be of some interest to RPG designers. 

But as to Carcosa and Sorcerer & Sword...

Demon: Scrying Glass of the Old Ones
Type: Object
Telltale: A hundred pound chunk of obsidian... its center appears to swirl with an even deeper blackness

* Perception (user): Great Old Ones' location
* Perception + Ranged (Great Old One): user's location
* Hint
* Taint (d): user

Stamina: 4
Will: 5
Lore: 4
Power: 5

Desire: Knowledge
Need: To be used within total, stygian darkness
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2009, 11:42:51 AM »

Oh shoot, I totally forgot something else that's pretty germane to the Forge crowd: these guys are publishing their own "retro-clones" of D&D, usually under some kind of Creative Commons or OGL type of deal, so that they can publish their own adventures and other supplements without running afoul of Wizards' intellectual property rights.

I don't really pay close attention to this, because I'm not a publisher or designer, but I think there's...

* Swords & Wizardry - "open" version of the 1974 rules
* Microlite74 - "open" verison of the 1974 rules
* Mutant Future - "open" version of Gamma World
* Labyrinth Lord - "open" version of the Basic Sets from late 70's / early 80's
* Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game - "open" version of Basic Sets from late 70's / early 80's

All of these versions are pretty faithful to the originals, but they contain either design "fixes" to recurring problems in OD&D (how to run combat, how often you roll hit points, how to create an Elf PC), or else deliberately changed other elements so as to avoid possible litigation. 

Naturally these "retro-clones" don't contain too much innovative RPG design because they're meant to imitate, as slavishly as possible, a game already published--but in principle they're a ground floor for people to create a bunch of innovative adventures/modules/Situations, whatever they're called.  I'm not sure this part of the plan has really come to fruition, but I do like Eldritch Weirdness, a list of very strange Jack Vance-flavored spells, quite a bit.
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greyorm
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« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2009, 01:36:31 PM »

There's also
* OSRIC
* Mazes & Minotaurs
* Castles & Crusades
* Encounter Critical

OSRIC is a 1e clone, so I'm only including it for completeness, and C&C is a pastiche of various editions with a solid old school foundation/feel. M&M is interesting in that it starts with a "1972" version (the original D&D) and also has an expanded and streamlined "1987" version (1e) called Revised Mazes & Minotaurs. Like M&M, EC is another alternate history "inside joke", but I know little about it at this point (I only recently discovered it, but I've been aware of the others for quite some time).

All of these have active lists and/or Yahoo! groups and such where the members communicate.

There's also The Red Box Hack and Vincent's own Storming the Wizard's Tower, both of which are individuated as attempts to re-do Red Box D&D that go beyond the purist revivalism of (most of) the above endeavors and twist things up (and I think Donjon also counts here, spiritually at the very least). But we know about these efforts.

On the whole, the revivalist scene is a really vibrant and interesting movement with perhaps surprising variety, given the fact we're talking about multiple faithful recreations of another product; though, just like the larger RPG culture, there are places I won't go inside of it--for example, unlike Clinton I find absolutely nothing of value in the one of the blogs he mentions).

However, complete disclosure: I was actively involved only some years ago--AFAIK the list I used to participate in has long since gone the way of dust or possibly moved to Dragonsfoot--and I've basically been an intermittent sideline lurker since.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
robertsconley
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« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2009, 10:30:25 AM »

Naturally these "retro-clones" don't contain too much innovative RPG design because they're meant to imitate, as slavishly as possible, a game already published--but in principle they're a ground floor for people to create a bunch of innovative adventures/modules/Situations, whatever they're called.  I'm not sure this part of the plan has really come to fruition, but I do like Eldritch Weirdness, a list of very strange Jack Vance-flavored spells, quite a bit.

The essential problem for fans of older editions of Dungeons and Dragons is that their game is out of print. They don't get new material for their games, they have a hard time finding new players as the years go by. While the release of original rules in PDF form helps, people still like to have physical books in hand, Also the largest number of fans for any RPG still comes from people browsing in stores. If players of older edition want to expand their base they need to address these issues.

Castle and Crusades was one of the first. People dissatisfied with it's approach went on to crease other version of older games. Today we have a wide range of "retro-clones" that you and use to made NEW material. For example for fans of the 1974 rules can turn to Swords & Wizardry, B/X (Basic D&D/ Expert D&D) edition fans can turn to Labyrinth Lords, AD&D fans have OSRIC. The fundamental reason that these retro-clones can exist is that the Open Gaming License has made the terms needed for these games available.

Dragonsfoot (http://www.dragonsfoot.org)has produced a series of high quality non-commercial modules and supplements for older editions. But in recent years many commercial release have been created. Fight On! is a quarterly magazine devoted to original D&D (http://www.fightonmagazine.com/),  Eldritch Weirdness mentioned in a previous post is another. I myself have had Points of Light (http://www.goodman-games.com/4380preview.html) published by  Goodman Games. Points of Light is suitable for any edition of D&D. It contains four settings designed for a sandbox style fantasy campaign.

Now the base estabilshed the Old School community is now moving beyond just rehashing old material. We are now using the rules and concept to make new material that hasn't been seen before.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2009, 11:58:09 AM »

Hi Robert, and welcome!

I don't know if you've seen my essay from a few years ago, "A Hard Look at Dungeons & Dragons," linked in the Articles section (top right of any Forge page). I wrote about how any play of anything called Dungeons & Dragons in the mid-late 1970s was, effectively, inventing role-playing on-site. Furthermore, when I say "anything called," I mean that every group was working from a hodge-podge of materials, no one of which, and no combination of which, actually explained or showed how to play.

There were a lot of good things about that situation, and although it was necessarily transitory, a lot of what became concrete ("industry standard," quotes very much intended in the derogatory) in published games between 1987 and 1997 was, in my view, not worth even a fraction of the original potential. I think the Old School Renaissance is celebrating the rather crazed and wonderful potential of role-playing by revisiting those times.

And yet, it's not a mere re-visitation, as you say. For one thing, there is no single thing to re-visit. Whether it's dressed up as "Gygaxian" or "traditional" or whatever label one wants, the fact is, publishing back then was at best a kaleidoscope and at worst a mess (even at the worst, a glorious mess), and play back then was a local construction of whatever pieces one had. So I think it's not a return based on dogmatic re-creation (even if some people today feel and think as if it were), it's kind of a return to the primordial soup using those tropes, with the eventual result being a resurrection of creativity.

Looking at my essay again, I discovered a point which was left out, which is to say, something no one would notice but me. What I wanted to convey by describing the transition in role-playing from (say) 1980 to 1984 in my life was not discarding of a flawed thing, but sadness at the passing of its zest and replacement by comparatively humdrum consumerism. I don't think I managed to convey that point well enough, and I hope members of the Old School Renaissance who read that essay can be convinced that's where I was coming from. So what's going on with them (any views I might have of any particular product or claim aside), is right in line with what was in my gut as I wrote it.

As I wrote above, I have the Fight On! issues, and I'm liking them a lot. As far as I'm concerned, the Old School Renaissance is a great thing.

Best, Ron
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robertsconley
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« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2009, 03:45:10 PM »

Hi Robert, and welcome!

Thanks and Good to be here


I mean that every group was working from a hodge-podge of materials, no one of which, and no combination of which, actually explained or showed how to play.

While writing Points of Light, I had to keep four broad and overlapping "traditions'  in the current old school market in mind. The first is the original 1974 Rules + Supplements, the second AD&D, the third the B/X rules, and last Castles and Crusades. Luckily my product is such that stat blocks are not a big part of it. (look at the preview to see what I mean). However if I was writing a more stat heavy product then I would definitely have to decide which of the four I am targeting.

For example in Issue #3 of Fight-On! I wrote a setting designed as a map to add onto the Wilderlands of High Fantasy (by Judges Guild, Necromancer Games). I deliberately wrote the Wild North using the 1974 rules + supplements in mind. There is a completely original side in how I used  Russian Myth creating the background. However there are a strong tide of OD&D running through the locales I detailed. For example just about every magic sword has a bit of intelligence or powers associated with it. This is due to the fact when use the random treasure tables magic sword tend to be just that.

There were a lot of good things about that situation, and although it was necessarily transitory, a lot of what became concrete ("industry standard," quotes very much intended in the derogatory) in published games between 1987 and 1997 was, in my view, not worth even a fraction of the original potential.

In my opinion the flexibility of RPGs has a dark side in that a author can easily choose to focus on one aspect to the detriment to others. By the late 80s a lot of what you could do with RPGs had been discovered and people started pushing it to extremes. OK let's detail a WHOLE WORLD. OK lets have a combat system that gives the exact depth in inches of that stab room. Let's detail the Dark Reaver Clan unto the 13th generation and so on.

I created a light background for all four settings in my Points of Lights product so if a referee wants to combine them they could. I had to resist going beyond a certain point as it would be really easy just to go on about the dark god Sarrath, or prattle on about The Bright Empire. The primary purpose of Points of Lights wasn't to show off my literacy skill at creating a secondary world. It was to make four settings that could drop into any referee running a D&D style fantasy campaign.

I think the Old School Renaissance is celebrating the rather crazed and wonderful potential of role-playing by revisiting those times.

Fight On! has been quite enjoyable in that regard. There been a wide range of material presented some straight foward treatment of fantasy to other that are really "out" there. A great deal of fun to read. The enthusiasm and diversity was one of the reason I wrote for the the magazine and will continue to do so.

As I wrote above, I have the Fight On! issues, and I'm liking them a lot. As far as I'm concerned, the Old School Renaissance is a great thing.

Around 1980, switched to running a sandbox fantasy campaign using the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. Since then I continued that campaign and the sandbox style through a variety of rule systems (Fantasy Hero, GURPS, etc). I always felt a bit of an odd duck because of the mega settings like Forgotten Realm and later the rise of the Adventure Path. It good to have a market that can use the sandbox material I am creating.

Enjoy
Rob Conley
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James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2009, 08:55:23 PM »

Because a couple of guys from the Old Skool D&D crowd are looking at "us" while we're looking at "them," (ignoring the fact that there's probably a decent amount of overlap in the margins), I just wanted to point out that the goal of the Forge is to promote the design and publication of creator-owned RPG's.  Everything else is secondary.  Sometimes that fact gets lost on the Internet.

Which is to say, if you want playtesters, or someone to bounce ideas off, or some practical suggestions about publication models from people who have done this stuff themselves, or to connect with an artist, or work out some convention stuff - that's exactly what the Forge was built for.  You can use all these features without having to give a tinker's damn about "RPG theory" or whatever Internet hullabaloo is making the rounds this month.

If you want to write your own game (or game supplement, or whatever), and get it to a bunch of people, the Forge was built to be useful for you, should you ever feel like dropping by and talking about your project.
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Calithena
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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aka Sean


« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2009, 08:44:08 AM »

Hey guys,

As a member of both communities I'm happy to discuss issues with folks. I currently help publish Fight On! magazine, which I think played a significant role in spreading the 'old school renaissance' label and growing the current community. The label isn't important though.

Carcosa is a usable gaming product with some really nice color (crayola people aside, though that does create a certain alien sensibility for me personally). Mearls pointed out that the extensive ritual descriptions don't just provide magic spells, they also tie the magic into the setting - a design feature that has some precedent for example in Reve: the Dream Ouroboros but is generallly under-utilized in RPGs. Mechanically Carcosan sorcerers are just fighters who can do rituals and in that sense Sorcerer might actually handle baseline characters better (with the naive sorcerer vs. trained distinction). I would consider Carcosa for a Sorcerer setting - I think it could work very well.
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