Thursday, 29 May 2014

What is the "Old School Renaissance"?

Return to The Temple of Illhan

Copyright  Dyson Logos. Used under these terms.
The Old School Renaissance, or OSR for short, is about playing and re-interpreting the original editions of Dungeons & Dragons which were released in the 70s and 80s. I have become very interested in OSR D&D in the last few months, and I am now running a campaign with some friends. I want to write about our game here on my blog. However, not everyone is familiar with this kind of game - this has certainly all been new to me in the last few months. So in this post I'll sketch out the nature of the game and in future posts I'll go into more detail.

First of all, I would like to thank Eero Tuovinen for his writing on this topic, and in answering the questions I posed to him.

There are many different views on what OSR means. What follows is just a description of the kind of game that I mean when I say "OSR".

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Help John Harper make more great, free games

The Owl, from Lady Blackbird

John Harper is the author of, among others, Lady Blackbird, Danger Patrol, Ghost Lines, Ghost/Echo, and Lasers and Feelings. He made all these free games while working at his day job, and most of his games are Creative Commons licensed, meaning they are free to play, remix and share. He wants to spend more time making great, free games, and so he has launched a Patreon to get some finance.

What is a Patreon, you say? Patreon is a crowdfunding platform. Unlike Kickstarter, which is about getting a big pile of capital for a single project, Patreon allows you to pledge some money - $1, $5, $100 - to the creator, every time they release something. You do this because you trust that you will enjoy and appreciate most things this author creates, or just because you want to support them. You can cap your monthly payments, so if the author goes on a publishing spree and makes ten things in one month, you don't pay loads of money unexpectedly.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Doctor Magnethands!

My own work. Source images: This lab coat from
Gentleman's Emporium, used with permission, and
this magnet, used under licence.
Yesterday evening we played Doctor Magnethands which is a... thing. I mean, I guess it's technically a story game, but it's much too silly to deserve that title.

"In this game, you'll play superheroes who must defeat Doctor Magnethands as he prepares to destroy the earth by firing his radioactive rocket castle on the moon into the White House on Christmas Eve! Yeah! Because shut up, that's why!"

This is a silly game that is designed to be played by drunk people. The rules says "get drunk before you even think about playing this stupid game, and don't stop drinking until after you've finished" but we played whilst completely sober and had a great, side-splitting time. I guess we're just too daft as a group to need alcohol to be extremely ridiculous.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Intrepid: The Shattered Light

Intrepid is a story telling adventure game. You and your friends quickly create an oracle of a setting backdrop, character names, place names, important themes, factions and quests. Then, following simple but powerful rules, you improvise from that basis to create exciting adventure stories. It's really fun, and you can play a whole game in an afternoon.

Both games I have played have been buckets of fun. In the first we told the stories of the race for a lost city in a desert filled with sand ships and strange monstrous witches. The denouement tied together story threads that we had never planned to be related into a satisfying whole that suggested the magic of that world went deeper than we had expected. Plus, I got to play a nomadic sand-ship pirate who was made of pure awesome.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Free indie games: Part 3

Knytt

I have been sitting on these games for a while, depriving you of them, for which I apologise. Here are five more short, free games made by small teams or individual developers that I am happy to recommend to you. Please read, play, and let me know in the comments what you think of these games.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Wizards who dream

Cascade by Arrowfire

Used with permission
The man blinked, rolled over, and stood up, gathering his blue robes around him. He found himself by a pool of water, deep in a forest he had never seen before. He reached out with his magical senses even as he began to slowly turn and survey the ancient trees. Using those senses always reminded him of the time he had first begun to learn them, in another world, in another body. Then he had been called... but names never lasted when he woke up.

His eyes showed him an ancient, thickly entwined forest, darkened by the thick canopy. Only the clearing he now stood in was lit by sunlight, which some part of his brain whispered
(two suns)
wasn't quite normal. But already, he was adjusting to this new place, his instincts changing to match this world.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Can I use castles in my story?

13th Century, Metz, France

Used with permission from here
In Aged Chemical Keep I talked about an imaginary, post-apocalyptic future where the survivors huddle in concrete castles, fighting off other tribes that want the security they offer. But is there any place for castles in a world that has modern explosives? Surprisingly, the answer seems to be yes. This post should be helpful to you if you are thinking of creating a world with defensive structures with weaponry more powerful than that of traditional medieval fantasy.