Sunday, August 15, 2010

My version of D&D (but why?)

The purpose of my authoring this game was to write a fantasy game that gets back to the "feel" of Dungeons & Dragons. The Original Edition, while playable in its own right, had too little of what I wanted, so I wasn't too interested in playing something that limited my options. The Supplements added complications I wasn't keen on dealing with either.

I got more of a charge out of the Basic rulebook as authored by Moldvay. Erol Otus, David Sutherland, David Trampier, Jeff Easley, Bill Willingham, Jeff Dee, together with Elmore's early work really defined what I thought D&D looked like. Despite the art, I felt AD&D was rather a chaotic mess that the PHB and DMG did nothing to clear up, system-wise (though I loved adapting everything else under the AD&D banner).

AD&D 2nd edition and 3rd edition really did nothing for me. Whatever happened to the days when players were supposed to be clever instead of just relying on dice and character sheets? So gone are the the 3300 Feats, 187 Base Classes, and the 762 Prestige Classes from D&D3E. Overkill doesn't even begin to describe it.

When I was young, players described what they were doing. The best of them were precise (“I check the 3rd block from the right, five blocks up, to trigger the secret door”) or cool (“Ragnar leaps into battle, his axe drinking blood from foes left and right”). There were no rules for this, per se, just people's imaginations – and they were rewarded for it. Nowadays, the style of play appears to be min-maxing to squeeze every last “plus” out of the rules. Half a dozen bonuses from this and that and the other to give you this number which affects that number. Why use your imagination when you can just read what's on your character sheet and roll some dice? The author of this game prefers the first option, and wrote this game to help address it. Characters shouldn't take longer than 10 or 15 minutes to whip up, and should have a fair amount of leeway in what they're allowed to do.

What I'm trying to do here is to re-create the early feel of D&D, trying hard to give it the same “gee whiz” factor it had back in the day.  The editions by Moldvay and Holmes; the Judges Guild add-ons, the Arduin Grimoire booklets, and Role Aids supplements; all of these have tons of flavor.  I would love to give back to D&D what I got out of it, and more.   My hope is, as you read this, is that I succeed.

Choose from unique races, such as the Pa'arr (Tigermen), S'srath (Lizardmen), Pachyars (Elephant men), the Aerosi (winged humans), and Skrettle (mouse men).  Yes we have Elves, but we have other races as well!

No skills!  Your character is unique and does have abilities all his own, and the rules allow anything to be attempted easily!

Experience points reward actually doing things during the adventure.  Treasure allows for a wide variety to be collected, but in a plausible manner.  Hint: collecting spider venom sacs to sell in town is more realistic than collecting coins or gems from its lair.

New combat mechanics allow for any action to be taken, with instant effects rather than “+2 to Armor Class!” 

Almost infinite variety.  We have nearly 40 character classes with 15+ types of Spellcasters and Priest-types.  Unique mechanics allow selection to be a breeze!  Get a character up and running in 10 minutes!

New and different spells, contained in the same Vancian spell slot system, but now with full power over your spells and how they're cast!  Options for variants allow for a richer magic system!  You have 8 different schools of magic to choose from.  A 9th, "Prayer," works the same way as the others, we just refer to it differently. 

Rules on gadgets, potion creation, golems, homunculi, and more.  Easy, logical, and consistent rules.

All this together with a unique fantasy setting informed by the works of Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, and more!  Make a name for yourself in the magical land of Andurantha!

Not Old School, not New School, but rather Alternative School.  Backwards compatible with most editions of D&D.