Friday, December 3, 2010

Getting the ball rolling

I've been following various OSR blogs for a few years now, ever since I stumbled onto Jeff's Gameblog and Grognardia. I've enjoyed seeing the ideas tossed around, and pitching in my two cents now and then via comments.

I think I want to get a little more involved. My campaign has just begun Season 2, and I've been finding that I want to share my ideas with my fellow gamers, and I want to get feedback on my experiments. This seems to be the way to do that. This might require me to be a little more organized in my thinking than I normally strive to be. We'll see how it goes.

What brought me to the OSR was a pretty basic issue. I love gaming. I mean that pretty broadly - I'm interested in minis, board games, card games, videogames, just about anything with the word "game" in it. But my greatest love is still RPGs. I got into 'em back in the 80s, when my brother ran the West End version of Star Wars. It wasn't long before I wanted to run my own games, and started collecting: Ghostbusters International, TMNT, Call of Cthulhu, and of course D&D.

I've continued to collect since then. I own more RPGs than most gamers I know have ever played in. Over the years I've tried all kinds of play styles, all kinds of mechanical evolutions, all kinds of nifty tricks and holistic-theatre finery. Over the years, it became a quest. Each new game was measured in its ability to satisfy that quest, and I just couldn't find what I needed. Not until I followed a little white rabbit with a pocketwatch, muttering something about "Retro-Stupid" and found myself, one rabbit-hole later, in a whole new kind of wonderland.

See, this quest was to find the Perfect Game. Well, the perfect game for me. I like my games to provide a solid mechanical support  for the gaming experience, but I also like them to get the hell out of the way and let me have fun. I've tried some very robust game systems over the years, but found that I would eventually expurgate a lot of what I considered mechanical clutter - Palladium without skills, anyone? I've tried some very light games, but found I wanted a bit more of a system to hang my ideas on.

Weirdly, D&D works for me. Specifically Basic-style, classic D&D as seen in the LBBs, the Whitebox, the Blue Book, and B/X. The mechanics are solid enough I can tell 'em to do their job and then ignore 'em, simple enough I can fit them into my brain (okay, I made reference sheets for my DM screen, so sue me), and spare enough that I can dream up just about anything I want for the game, without worrying too much about how the rules are going to digest it.

Sure, there's tweaks and alterations I make. Sure, there are some tricky issues with e.g. customizing the classes to suit a particular campaign. But it totally works for my needs.

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