2014/09/28

A new milestone in the OSR


 As i previously pointed out in other posts, time to be emotionally aroused by yet another AD&D clone or simulacrum has ended.

The future now can only be focused on the resurfacing of other fantasy role-playing games and this phenomenon is quietly advancing, although unnoticed by many.

After the release of Heroes by Dave Millward, Wizards' world by Goblinoid games, Beasts men & gods by Bill Underwood and (still in development) Vikings & Valkyrs by Bruce Gillespie, Heroes & other worlds (clone of Fantasy trip), now even Phantasy Conclave (look here) got a second edition. I can hardly believe that, but it's true.

Another very obscure and out of print fantasy rpg has been republished (i should say "revamped", because it comes in a 208 page format now!) and it is currenty available both on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles (links here and here).

On those sites you can read a brief description of the author and the games as well.

As i wrote, all this is happening slowly and quietly, and they are huge accomplishments from an historical perspective (take for instance Beasts men & gods -it was a tremendously obscure fantasy rpg- it was not something such as, say, Dragonquest by SPI or The Fantasy trip). These games were really games of niche and after more than thirty years we can use them at our play table.

The time of yet another D&D clone has ended, who needs it again? It is plain and evident that OSR 2.0 is in front of our eyes. If you don't want to accept it, it still won't vanish.

The first era of the OSR was centered around a multitude of D&D clones but now we are flooded with them and we can honestly say that we don't need others so much now. Things are moving on, and the next logical step is the republishing of other fantasy rpg's from the past.

The hegemony of Dungeons & Dragons will always persist, but now that OSR has accomplished its main goal (with all the D&D clones and simulacrum), the fact that our attention is still focused on the next clone is anachronistic.

There won't be a downfall of D&D, you can stay assured. But history goes on, new milestones are being reached now. There is a natural evolution in the OSR and its fruits are visible now, in the forms of the other less-known fantasy rpg's that -one by one- are coming out again. The last one in order of time is Phantasy Conclave. And i suspect it won't be the last.

Denying that there can be another step in the OSR is tantamount to admitting that we have become fainéant.

The sudden resurrection of these obscure fantasy rpg's is a phenomenon germane to the OSR that we can't but take into account.

Again, i'd like to stress that it is not lèse majesté towards Dungeons & Dragons.

It is just the development of the old-school renaissance that is alive and kicking, you are not bound to follow its consequences, nevertheless they are blossoming under our eyes.

2014/09/08

Vardy combat system (pdf format)

 http://lh3.ggpht.com/_IN_i6ZrSzKI/SlzS0O5OiOI/AAAAAAAAAGs/3gLq5zN5o5I/Dragon_thumb%5B3%5D.jpg?imgmax=800

Thanks to one of the readers of this blog- and meanwhile we wait for more information on the "Proportional combat system", here is the link for an easy-to-read version of another forgotten alternative system for D&D (about which i already spoke in the past), the "Vardy combat system".

http://dfiles.eu/files/gqice84uu

Enjoy.

2014/08/29

Proportional combat system (1986)

Even among the most Advanced Dungeons & Dragons fanatics scattered around the globe, only a few are aware of the existence of this alternative combat systen for AD&D that was published in 1986.

 At last, i managed to obtain a copy, and it is odd that it is this blogger who eventually has the burden of unveiling this super-rare item to OSR enthusiasts.

Stay tuned while i dive into this forsaken piece of history.

The premises are quite interesting, that i must admit: the authors argue that this system will change the way AD&D is played.

The point is that this 14 page booklet is something new and never-before-seen in the field of AD&D study and analysis, and precisely in this lies its value.

How many in the eighties adopted this alternative combat rules, and more importantly why? The authors' claims are sound? Is this really a better system than the one devised by Gigax?

If one is sick and tired of always reading the same old threads on forums such as Dragonsfoot, here is a one-of-a-kind AD&D item that has resurfaced, for them to ponder. Just when you thought you knew everything about the most famous ever fantasy rpg. As i said, i will read this and tell you, my dear readers.

We'll make this voyage together.





2014/08/05

Phantasy conclave is so old-school


 Yesterday evening we played for the first tim Phantasy conclave rpg with my group.

It was so fun and awesome. My players were enthusiast and appreciated a lot some particular mechanics of the game.

Now, Phantasy conclave is an obscure fantasy rpg first published in 1982 and i can tell you that it is very old-school in feeling and i am sure that a revised version to offer to the OSR community would be a great gift!

Keep in mind that i'm not a fan of rules-light games. I regularly play Powers & Perils which, though it was published in the eighties, it's quite convoluted in terms of game mechanics because, basically, i adore complicated role-playing games.

So no Swords & Wizardry for me or Labyrinth lord. I have come to despise such games...i prefer playing a different kind of stuff.

But was i wrong? Why i was engrossed whilst playing Phantasy conclave?

I comprehended the rules in a couple of hours. Three little books inside the boxed set: one devoted to rules, and the others to races and available classes.

Yes, you can play some strange races if you want, like the Meren (sort of mermaids) and the Aerlings (sort of human eagle with wings), but apart from that there are the basic races such as halfling, dwarf, elf, human.

The classes available are wizard, elven healer,fighter, scout (basically, the ranger).

You have your usual primary abilities, from which your secondary characteristics arise: you PAL and your MAL.

PAL stands for Physical aptitude rating while MAL stands for Magical aptitude rating.

PAL is the peak level of physical or combat proficiency an adventurer has reached.It is the sum of Physique and Endurance (so if i roll 16 and 15, PAL is 31 at the beginning of my career).

What struck us most was this feature of the game, which you rely on during combat: in combat you just need to refer to one single table, where you compare you PAL with the DR (defense rating) of your adversary (which stems from his worn armor).

Your PAL is, at the same time, your hit points AND your capacity for fighting.
Physical damage lowers your PAL.

So here it is how it works: during character generation you roll 4d6, in order for all of your characteristics: physique, intellect, wisdom, dexterity, endurance, appearance.

You discard the lowest die among the four. After all six totals are obtained, you may interchange (this time only) your highest individual score for another score of your choice.

With high scores in physique you can do more damage with your weapon, high scores in dexterity make you harder to hit because you can dodge a little bit blows aimed at you.High scores in endurance give you a bonuse to your PAL.

But the most important attribute is by far your score in PAL (Physical aptitude level).

During combat, i cross-reference my PAL with the DR (defense rating) of the monster i am fighting with and i find my percentage of scoring a hit.

If the monster hits me and damages me for 5 hit points, my PAL drops to 26 (while my PAL never changes, now my PAR [physical aptitude rating] is 26).

So now, just because i am wounded, i won't be able to function like before!
Yes, now i am functioning at PAR 26 instead of 31, it means that i am wounded and somehow fatigued, so when trying again to hit the monster i will cross-reference a PAR 26 with its usual DR (which has not changed).

To make a comparison in AD&D terms, it's as if i have been hit for 5 hit points, and just because of this fact- my THAC0 is no more 18 but becomes 21, for instance.

This was so cool, simple and realistic, and my players appreciated it a lot.
Each time i lose hit points, i deduct them from my PAR so i become more and more fatigued at attacking.

To cut it short, PAR is at the same time your hit points and your combat fighting potency.

Obviously, you can recover your PAR with nourishment and rest, so that you may reach your peak level again (that is, your PAL).

There are other cool aspects, such as rules for aging adventurers, rules for gaining experience (you must spend at least 24 hours away from adventuring to be able to benefit from recent utilization of your abilities),rules for fumbles,and several special rules dealing with injury and death (maybe i'll detail them in a later post).

Weapon damage is much like AD&D, with different weapons making different damage.

The only thing i disliked was the rules for armor, because your defense rating depends on the type of armor worn, whereas i think armor should instead absorb damage (probably because i am accustomed to Powers & perils's way of handling this).

But all in all this game is so cute and it was a surprise for me.
I am sure it would delight many OSR fans if it was in print nowadays.

It is fast and realistic at the same time.
As said before, i am not used to playing this kind of games, but yesterday it was a blast.

I just hope that the new revised edition of this game, which is currently being developed, will stay true to the original version as much as possible.

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