Category Archives: Legacy D&D

Ravenloft and Retro Clones

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Halloween is definitely not as popular over here as it is in the US, but I just had the thought running a horror-themed roleplaying game in the days around the end of October could be a fun thing to do. Last weekend I installed Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession on my PC and played it for a couple of hours basking in nostalgia while cursing the wonky controls and way too fast combat. So it’s only natural that the idea to run a Ravenloft game slowly formed in my brain.

I own both the original Ravenloft module for 1E as well as two of the boxed sets TSR relased for 2E: Ravenloft – Realm of Terror and Ravenloft Campaign Setting. I also faintly remember that I picked up the Ravenloft Campaign Setting for D&D 3rd Edition, but I couldn’t find it on my shelf yesterday. So it’s probably easier to rely on the AD&D 1E and 2E material I have in digital form.

There’s only one problem: I don’t like AD&D 2nd Edition that much, and I don’t think I have a copy of the AD&D 1st Edition rules. Since it’s 2017 I could probably use one of the many available retro-clones from Swords & Wizardy to Lamentations of the Flame Princess to run a Ravenloft game, but I am actually not sure how easily I could pull this off. From what I understand most of the D&D simulacra I’ve played in the past are based on Basic D&D and older editions.

I am pretty sure there are people much more familiar with D&D in all its iterations among my readers, so I hope you can help me out a bit. How hard would it be to run Ravenloft with – let’s say – Swords & Wizardry, or are there any other retro-clone better suited for the task? Any advice in this matter is highly appreciated!

Alternatives to Lovecraft?

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We all love Lovecraftian horror. Call of Cthulhu has always been a pretty popular roleplaying game. For most people it’s THE horror roleplaying game. But this popularity comes at a price. Over the years, you have seen it all. You quickly know so much about the Cthulhu Mythos, that there are fewer and fewer surprises. Sure, the story presented by the GM may have unexpected twists, but the mystery at the core of it all becomes a bit stale after a while.

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Luckily there are games that try to press the same buttons as CoC without actually being based on Lovecraft’s stories. Unfortunately these games don’t get the attention they deserve, so that’s why I want to talk about two games dear to my heart.

Continue reading Alternatives to Lovecraft?

Why I Love Kevin Crawford’s Games

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If you haven’t been living under a rock you’ve at least heard of one of his games: Stars Without Number, Silent Legions, Godbound, Other Dust, just to name a few. I first heard about about him when suddenly everyone started to talk about that exciting new (and free!) science fiction roleplaying game, which combined sandbox gaming, with OD&D combat and a Traveller-like skill system. This game was Stars Without Number.

Over the last few years Kevin has successfully kickstarted a couple of games which have two things in common: 1) OD&D-like rules and 2) advice and tables to help the GM to run sandbox campaign. Some of his games also make use of a skill system reminiscent of classic Traveller. On top of that especially the more recent books are just gorgeous and Kevin also made the artwork used available for free and under a CC license as well, so that other small publishers can use it in their own work. Have I mentioned that most (if not all) of his games are also available in a free edition? That means you can basically get the whole game for free, before deciding if the deluxe version is for you. That level of generosity is unprecedented.

One of the main selling points for me is the sandbox advice included in the books. Since I first read about sandbox campaigns I wanted to run one myself, but it always felt like a very daunting task. The GM chapters in SWN, Silent Legions, etc. not only give you advice on how to run the game in general but also gives specific advice on how to run a sandbox. The included tables and rules for factions, etc. make the GM’s job much easier. Suddenly the idea of running a sandbox campaign doesn’t sound that bad anymore.

If you haven’t done so, I recommend you check out Kevin Crawford’s work. He recently successfully kickstarted the revised edition of Stars Without Number which should be out in early 2018. But you can already have a look at the beta version for free. I did mention that Kevin is incredibly generous, didn’t I?

Unfortunately I haven’t really had the chance to either run or play one of his games. This is a real bummer since I enjoy reading his games so much. In my regular gaming group science fiction and post-apoc games are a tough sell, so SWN and Other Dust are probably off the table, but Godbound and especially Silent Legion should be a better fit for my players…