Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Own Sword and Sorcery Game

In a recent post, I spoke of my wish to design my own version of D&D; however, not for general consumption, but only for my own use. I now realize that what I really want is my own Sword and Sorcery game.

I make this distinction because while a quick look at the Appendix N (from the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide) will show that D&D is strongly rooted in the traditional roots of Sword and Sorcery (i.e. Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber), it also tries to be rooted in the genre of High Fantasy (J.R.R Tolkien being the most obvious example listed in Appendix N). In fact, I believe this is D&D's greatest appeal; however, it is also it's greatest limitation.

While it is cool that players can "make their own game" by simply omitting aspects of the game they do not wish to include; I suspect that the willingness to do so is more apt to be found amongst those that enjoy the OSR. Furthermore, I believe, and this is merely opinion, I believe that with the publication of AD&D, TSR began moving its fan base away from the idea of "it's your game, do what you want", and more towards, "this is the official way you should play". This is, as I said opinion only, but consider the old house organ magazine of Dragon back in the day and the regular feature "Sage Advice" in which any questions of "what's the official rule here?" were answered. I don't mean to be repetitive, but there was a definite drive towards making things "official".

It is damn hard to be "official" and all encompassing with a game like D&D, for it involves the tropes of Sword and Sorcery, High Fantasy and at times even a splash of Historical Fantasy and Sword and Planet. I believe as the game progressed towards the late 80's there was a drive to be more High Fantasy then anything else.

All of this is fine, but it's not the game I want. So fine, I'm a firm believer in the OSR (even if I don't solidly play in the OSR sandbox), so I am free to do what I want. Don't like the Cleric class? Nix it. Don't want Players running magic-users? Don't let them. Don't want hordes of cannon fodder monsters running around? Fine, then throw out the Monster Manual and make your own creepy-crawlers. All of those decisions are easy.

It is even easy enough to make crunchy rules decisions. Don't like alignment? Don't use it. Think Wisdom is a silly attribute? Don't use it. etc. etc. etc..

It comes to a point though when you have to ask yourself: am I still playing D&D? It's okay if the answer is no. My answer is No. I find it liberating. I am now free to do whatever I want.

In another recent post, I listed my ten favorite rpg products.
Now that I am free to do whatever I want, why not combine all of the elements I like from those products and make my own game? The first non game changing rule I would make is my game will be grounded in Sword and Sorcery, minus all the high fantasy. It will be markedly low fantasy. I'm simply going to mash together everything I like and make it work.

This will be fun. Now if I only actually had time to game. *Sigh*

1 comment:

  1. If only everyone could find their way to this. Old School, to myself and everyone I ever gamed with BitD, did this.

    In Old School there is only one rule:

    You inform the players of the rules at the start.

    That's it. Some will agree, some will disagree and that is how gaming groups got formed.

    Like the movie Krull because of that wild weapon?...put it in. Like Thundarr the Barbarian?...same goes there.

    Our game books were always out numbered by novels and history books. My work shelf is still 10 to 1 non-game to game.

    Giger art books, a huge myths of the world book, Celtic shamanism books, Froud's Faeries, Oracle of the Dreamtime...just a few I always keep close at hand for inspiration.

    So yes, please, go hog wild, have fun and then come back and share the story. That's what is great about gaming :)

    This is one of mine: