Monday, December 27, 2010

OSR - Outer Space Redux

First off, I've got to level with you. The last few days have been rough.

The Holiday largely stank, I'm just getting over a cold and I'm feeling those end of the year blues.

Of course, this is the time my mind decides is just picture perfect for a huge spurt of creativity. When I read over my last few posts I find them far to chaotic and unfocused. There are some cool ideas in there, but I'm not really selling them, or getting the point across.

The same thing can be said of some recent comments I made on other game blogs. I stand by what I said, but I wish I had explained myself more eloquently. One specific point I'd like to rectify was my mention of the RPG Stars Without Number.

Some may have gleaned from my post that I didn't think it was a good game. That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I think it's an extremely good Science Fiction RPG, and quite well done. It reminds me a bit of my favorite RPG (well, one of my top three), the ICON System version of Star Trek by Last Unicorn Games. And therein lies the problem.

The game is too modern to convince me it is an OSR compatible Science Fiction game inspired by D&D. Its (and I don't mean to be facetious) too well put together. It makes almost too much sense the way they went about it. It needs to feel more clunky, arbitrary and odd. It doesn't need to really be those things, but it needs to generate that kind of vibe.

What I think an OSR Sci-Fi/Space Opera RPG should be like may well be impossible to make. Maybe it shouldn't be done. Honestly, I'm almost looking forward to a game I wouldn't play. Not really of course...but sort of.

To that end I issue myself a challenge! I, Adam Dickstein, will create an Old School, D&D inspired, Science Fiction/Space Opera RPG and save it to PDF by the First of the Year! Yes, racing rocket fans you heard (-pst-read-) er, read correctly. I give my lazy, candy ass 1 week to put my money where my mouth is and make Aliens and Astrobases available to the online viewing public. It'll be a nice practice run before I complete my real RPG project sometime in March. Who knows? Might have a hit and have to do a sellable version. Damn, but that would be funny, no?

Anyway, a few disclaimers...First and foremost, it might be very, very bad. Second, it will be an unplaytested game so it may have numerous flaws I don't even know about. Play it and send my feed back. It will have art but not a lot and not the best. I'll likely be using assorted old sketches from my previous Sci-Fi campaigns. Lastly, it will beg, borrow and steal heavily from Swords & Wizardry, Jeff Rients, SRS Basic* and numerous other places. I said I was going to do it in a week. I didn't say it was going to be super original or mind-blowing. This is more of an excercise in "Can Adam make the Old School feel, Sci-Fi RPG he always imagined TSR should've created but didn't."

It will be free to download but if you decide to use it as a substitute life support system device for intelligent, plant based aliens, I will have to charge you.

Comment, questions, words of encouragement and even the shaking of your heads is welcome.

I better get cracking!

Barking Alien

*SRS Basic is the Basic version of the 'Standard Roleplaying System', the house engine used by Japanese tabletop RPG company FarEast Amusement Research (F.E.A.R.) for all of their games.

P.S. - Zak S of the forever awesome 'Playing D&D with Pornstars' and I are having a difference of opinion. Nothing hostile. I appreciate where Zak is coming from as I too came from there some 20 something years ago. It is a cool place to be. It rocks. Now I am
here and here

P.S.S. And speaking of there, I mean here, I mean...screw it. Look at this. Apocalypse World will change the way so wake up in the morning, go to sleep at night and enjoy spending time with your significant other. And I am understating how *&#^ing cool it is.


  1. Keep your chin up regarding the mess over at Zak's. I get where you're coming from and understand your point of view.

  2. Thanks Christian. That means a lot coming from you.

    Thing is, I think a lot of other people do to. I just don't see them making comments on that page.

    Here in NYC my GMing is much requested and my games well attended (for the most part). I always get good responses to my forum posts on EN World. I have 60 followers!

    I'm good at what I do and I love doing it. It bums me out a little but then I'll run Star Trek or Faery's Tale Deluxe and forget all about it.

  3. I wanted to jump into the fray and wrote several responses. The thing is, I knew I'd just be shouted down. I think that f some of those peopel sat down and actually played Storyteller, Icons, FATE, etc, then they'd see where you were coming from.


    Keep on keepin' on.

  4. I'm a Jewish guy with two Christians!


    I may be the bad guy here. I am asked a rock not to be a rock. To consider being a river. But it isn't a river, its a rock. Its solid, unyielding, been that way a long time and happy with it.

    That's cool. But its not my. I am a river. I flow. Sometimes I have dry spells, sometimes it floods and I have a strong connection and relationship with the life in and around me.

    Oh yeah. I got Zen Hippie RPG action going on here.

  5. Speaking as the author of SWN, I didn't take either of your posts amiss, really; "old-school" is such a deeply personal and idiosyncratic set of characteristics for each observer that the best you can do is aim a game in its general direction and hope you've pronounced enough shibboleths to appeal to the majority. Just as an example, the idea that "old-school D&D was characterized by simplicity" has never made sense to me; one glance at the weapon-type-versus-AC table in the PHB seems to put paid to that. Yet there are others who take it as an article of faith that any system that can't be expressed in twelve pages is unacceptably baroque. Much of SWN was simply designed to take advantage of the intrinsic non-orthogonality of old-school D&D, built to let DMs peel off chunks and stick them on their own games without difficulty, particularly the world and adventure generation sections. If it makes a useful salvage yard for DMs, I'm content.

  6. I appreciate not only what you're saying but your level of understanding of my particular brand of 'net speak.

    That brand is essentially no different than how I normally talk or write but I do sometimes forget that the internet is read differently than other forms of literary communication (like letters, books or magazines).

    People read something on a blog, have an immediate reaction and immediately respond. I am guilty of this myself though I try to control it. The result is a culture that writes and hits enter before it really absorbs and considers what they read, let alone wrote in their response to it.

    Yours is a damn fine game Kevin. I'm reading it over again and finding it a very cool take on a very tough game to design.

    I don't consider myself Old School at all but as my friend Erin Palette of Lurking Rhythmically said to me yesterday, nor am I truly New School. In her words, "You're some kind of weird hybrid."

    I take it as a compliment.