Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What I'd like to see in OSR products

Most awesome feature of the whole OSR community is fact that it's constantly releasing tons of stuff - games, modules, supplements, both paid and free. However, I noticed that almost all these products are written in very "modern" style - 100% content, no fluff and - most importantly - absolute lack of author's commentary.

I want more games and supplements with tons of author's comments. Products containing stuff like "that's why I used this rule", "you can use it this way or that way", "I was inspired by this or that". I don't encourage anyone to use Gygaxian twisted style but that's something pretty easy to do.


  1. I agree. I like the use of author's comments. It really makes the rules come across as more personal and less textbook.

  2. Unfortunately I'm afraid that I'll be unable to add such comments to the Bandits & Battlecruisers rulebook :-( It will be too big (even now I guess it will have over 130 a5 pages...)

  3. True. Some explanation for why the rule works that way would be cool too. Is it because it's a rule that will be used frequently and granularity doesn't matter as much as speed? Is this a rule that you could use for a bunch of different applications? Did I leave this rule out because it would never get used and you should just make a ruling? Is this a rule you should probably leave alone or are there variants and expansions you could easily make? Did this rule come about because of some specific player activity or campaign events?

  4. Mainly, I like no fluff for a game system, but mostly fluff for game settings.

    I should explain that better.

    A game system is a set of rules you need to be able to read quickly and find the important bit easily when you have a rules question. Your Magic Missile spell should be something like

    "Magic Missile (M-U 1) Range 30", Duration Instant, Casting Time 1, Area of Effect Special, No Save. A glowing meteor hits one target for 1d4+1 damage. You get one missile per 2 levels (round up) which can be split among different targets in a single 10' cube area."

    It should probably be shorter if you change the rules:

    "Magic Missile (M-U 1) Range 30", Duration Instant, No Save. A glowing meteor hits one target for 1d4+1 damage. You get one missile per 2 levels (round up) and each missile can hit a different target.

    Here we assume a casting time that's either standard or based on spell level unless otherwise mentioned in the description. Same with Area of Effect, it's described in the text.

    Now if I get a game setting, I don't want stats for town guards or the king. It's enough that the town guards are Fighter-1 to Fighter-3 depending on rank and travel in squads, and that they have browned iron chainmail and scimitars. I don't care what the king's Jump skill is, I'd rather know whether he's especially vulnerable to bribery or if he has sixteen illegitimate sons. You might say you can get both fluff and crunch in a game setting, but there's a limited amount of space. Cut out the stat blocks and spellbook lists and either lower pagecount so you can charge me less or add in more roleplaying information to refill the pages.

    I want a monster manual to have monster stats, and the game setting to describe its ecology and society. Since every game setting should be pretty different from each other, I don't see why Ratmen in Eberron should be anything at all like Ratmen in Warhammer, Dragonlance, Nehwon, or Warcraft.

  5. You havent read Barrowmaze, obviously :)

    1. Nope, i don't buy modules, maybe it's right time to change it. Unfortunately its way too expensive for me (for now).

  6. Yeah. I've been working on a handbook for the OSR to address exactly this. I'm profiling 16 different OSR systems, and explaining each system's basic approach, mechanics, and stats, with advice for both DMs and players on how the system "feels."

    FYI, when I publish it in January, I'll have it at