my preferred old-school system). These activities help me examine what I like about various elements and how to improve those that don’t work for me. So I come to the shield conundrum: they seem underpowered. In looking at alternative shield mechanics I found myself questioning the very core rationale behind armor and shields in D&D combat.
(Throughout this post I refer to various bonuses to armor class as
+1, etc., as I’m using ascending armor class; for the traditional
descending armor class read that as -1. Either way, “bonus” means
a benefit to armor class in the context of whatever system you’re
I prefer a more heroic style of play rather than the deadly
“grinder” style (as I’ve discussed before), so I look to
provide my characters with every possible advantage within the bounds
of the rules...and then house-rule some mechanics to offer some minor
benefits. Of the three characters I’m running through various
solitaire scenarios, two have shields and one has eschewed a shield
in favor of two-handed weapons (the underpowered battle axe...a topic
Jonathan Becker has discussed before at his B/X Blackrazor blog).
While one of the shield-bearers has no ranged weapon, the other must
set aside her shield if she chooses to use her long bow, temporarily
shedding its armor class bonus. I’m examining the shield rules with
an eye to making my low-level characters less monster-fodder and
slightly more heroic.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Engaging Youth in History (& Games)
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
– Albert Einstein
Getting young adults interested in anything these days seems difficult. They’re distracted by a sometimes-overwhelming amount of schoolwork focused more on scoring well on standardized tests than actually developing learning skills. They’re immersed in the complex social intrigues of school and friends. They’re plugged in to smart phones and tablets (much like a rapidly growing segment of the adult population...). How do parents and teachers tempt them to explore and possibly engage with new experiences? It’s easier when parent gently share and nurture their own interests with their kids – adventure games, comic books, sports, reading, hobbies – but children reach an age where they want to head off on their own...a journey that doesn’t always result in the discovery of some engaging academic or extracurricular interest. I recently explored two resources to help inspire an interest in history (and perhaps even games with historical themes): interactive fiction and speculative fiction
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Evolving RPG Collection Habits
How did I acquire all these roleplaying games? All 23+ linear shelf feet of them? Kept through several arduous moves? Throughout my gaming life I passed through several stages as a player and consumer. Where I stood often influenced what and how much I bought.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Screen or No Screen?
The gamemaster screen remains a stereotypical part of roleplaying games. Even members of the general, non-gaming public with popularized impression of the hobby view the gamemaster as a guy hunched behind a screen secretly rolling dice and consulting esoteric charts.* The screen became popularized as a seemingly required accessory by early editions of Dungeons & Dragons. Numerous other roleplaying games issued gamemaster screens; traditional ones still publish screens even today, when some might view the accessory as outdated. In today’s varied landscape of games new and nostalgic, are gamemaster screens still an essential part of gaming? Using a screen remains one of those choices individual gamemasters make; it’s sometimes helpful but certainly never required.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Equipping the Party Off List
Paging through Kabuki Kaiser’s Ruins of the Undercity for a recent post I realized how much I liked this approach to buying equipment in Dungeons & Dragons or other Old School Renaissance (OSR) games. Rather than simply purchasing items off a few lists in a rulebook, readers can wander tables for aptly named shops filled with wares both conventional and extraordinary. I prefer the characters shopping in a setting than players buying stuff off a rulebook’s limited list. Yet from its earliest days D&D focused more on the dungeon delve than down time at the nearby base of operations; certainly this aspect of character creation and maintenance could form the basis of some adventurer base interactions that enhance both characters and setting.
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