Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trying to Spin Gold into Lead

Hey gang! Happy Nearly New Year to all!I want to thank everyone who commented (and those that didn't. My page hits are high recently. Don't be afraid to talk. I don't bite. What? Barkley's wants me to assure you that he most certainly does however) and showed an interest in Aliens and Astrobases. Rest assured it will be made. When and how remains to be seen.

Kobold commented, " So why wed yourself to OSR if it will give you hives and, as you say, your game has evolved in your head?"

An excellent question with a barely rational answer. For a pretty rational and logical fellow I do sometimes have patterns of thinking that show off the geek in me. And those aren't hives...its just a mild skin irritation.

Let me see if I can make clearer what I'm trying to do by way of this somewhat odd example:

Let's say, when you were little, your Aunt made these amazing Gingerbread Pumpkin Cookies.

Now people make Pumpkin Cookies and people make Gingerbread Cookies, yet nobody but nobody makes Gingerbread Pumpkin Cookies like Auntie did.

Well Auntie's passed on and she was never any good at writing down recipes. That stinks because this holiday season you are determined to remake her awesome cookies. You research and talk to family members, check out Cookie cookbooks and after a long time and a lot of work, you think you can make them. And you do. And everyone loves them.

They say they're lighter then Auntie's cookies. Yes, they melt in your mouth. They're more buttery! Not as sharp a ginger taste but sweeter. The whole family loves them!

But you don't. Why? Because they're better...but they're not your Aunt's Gingerbread Pumpkin Cookies. They just aren't the same.

See, I can make a good, no damn it, a GREAT Sci-Fi/Space Opera RPG. It would incorporate stuff from my favorite games and some nifty new ideas and focus on characters and story and relationships with the PCs, the NPCs and the vast galaxy they live in.

But that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm a modern aviation designer trying to restore a World War II airplane, not build the latest and greatest in aerospace technology.

I want to understand the old school and find a way to convey it in a Sci-Fi game that has classes, levels, an archaic experience point system, virtually no skills to speak of and the other things that people fond of those things are fond of.

Obviously you can see my handicap.

Kobold also said...

"I'm obviously a bit dense as I seriously don't get the whole OSR - good, everything else - bad. It would appear, from what I've seen and heard, that a number of these "retro-clones" are essentially various versions of D&D with all the rules the writer doesn't like thrown out and all his houserules stuck in. Am I missing something, here?"

No. At least not to me. As I've been researching this and reading my copies of Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardy and a few others, I'm struck with the notion that I have paid money for someone's campaign houserules for old editions of D&D.

Kudos! Seriously. As someone who views P.T. Barnum as an inspiration and personal hero I am all for getting the public to pay tickets to see the Bearded Lady, Lana the Hairy Woman and She-Wolf, Woman with a Beard and have them all be the same rather hirsute gal.
One interesting thing I'd like to end with is that everything on my blog is my opinion. Its not yours. It might be but for the most part all I can guarantee is its mine. I also have a rather peculiar sense of humor. So if I have offended your sensitivities over my particular approach to describing the old school - get over it. Kick your shoes off while you're here. Relax. Laugh for a change. Seriously, I have 62 followers. No ones going to know if you can over, stayed a bit, looked at some old posts and actually enjoyed yourself. I'm not gonna tell anybody. Dude chill, its all good.

Barking Alien


  1. Thanks for clearing up the OSR/Retro clone thing for me - I was beginning to feel like the little boy commenting on the Emperor's new line of summer wear :)

    I think I understand your desire to recapture the naiveté and wonder of our first roleplaying experiences in a science fiction game, and if you'd added that your character could die during chargen, I would have said "LBB Traveller - Book 1". LOL!

    From what you have described of your D&D for those who dislike D&D rule set, I would suggest that it would be kinda cool in a swashbuckling, boy's-own-adventure, Duck Dodgers in the 25th-and-a-half Century sorta way to carry this concept over into Science Fiction. Where adventures are fast and furious, small creatures from Alpha Centauri are small creatures from Alpha Centauri, and where physics and mathmatics happen off-stage.

    But anyway, we're 4 and 3/4 hours to New Years, so all the best for 2011!

  2. Looking forward to the work. As a participant in the OSR, I do have a feeling that folks are trying too hard to simply ape the tropes of the past. In all fairness, OSRIC, one of the original retro-clones (I really don't care for that term much - I guess simulacrae is better?) and the intent was not ro release a house ruled version of D&D, but to create a publishing vehicle so people could use the original rule sets to create new product (same with the others). Somewhere along the line folks just wanted to keep mimicing the past instead of try and use the rules for interesting things (although I think we're starting to see some innovation). I like the old rule sets, wonkiness and all. I guess it is a comfort thing. Unlike some of the other grognards though, I don't castigate folks who choose to play with the modern rule sets (hell, I own EVERY edition of D&D from 1974 up to today - I just like it). For me, it actually boils down to taste and aesthetics I guess. I just like the look and feel of the older edition cause thems the cookies I was so fond of as a kid;). At any rate, Buon Anno!

  3. Interesting responses guys and thanks.

    My personal preferences obviously lie with games from the eighties (Star Trek, Star Wars D6, Mekton, Teenagers from Outer Space, Ars Magica) and the current age of indie games (InSpectres, Fiasco, Apocalyse World, Faery's Tale Deluxe) even thought I started with Basic D&D.

    I really want to produce my own game but I'm pretty sure it will sell more to an indie crowd than an old school crowd. Fine with me. Yet the ever-amazing Erin Palette pointed out I'm not really indie either. She says I'm some kind of Old School/New School hybrid. Frightening but basically true.

    That's why Johnathan's post in particular strikes me as intriguing. The idea that the OSRIC game (which I have btw), can be thought of as a launch pad for new approaches and not just as an emulator of a game from the past.

    Renewed vigor! Perhaps a bit of old and a bit of new mixed together is just what the AutoDoc ordered.

    I really appreciate this guys. Thanks.

  4. Don't forget that D&D started out as house rules. Dividing things into 'professional rules' and 'house rules' is more about perception, perhaps, than any objective quality.