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81

This answer is rooted deeply in the principles of the specific Old School playstyle that the question is about, and which loosely define the OSR movement. By making mapping a part of play, you can both increase engagement with the mapping, make the time spent mapping less separate and more overlapping with the “interesting” things, and decrease the absolute ...


42

How do I tell the players "This house rule sucks and we shouldn't do it anymore?" That's exactly how you do it! Say, "This house rule sucks and I think we shouldn't do it anymore." If they object, well... then they don't mind the paperwork. If they agree, then you don't have a problem. Either way they don't feel cheated, because they're part of deciding ...


41

You Should Be Dead, But... Save-or-die mechanics are pretty awful for straight-up challenges. I mean, you wouldn't exactly get a lot of tactical thrills from a game that boils down to "Flip a coin to see if you lose," would you? But that's not the only way they've been used. Practices and opinions vary pretty widely in the OD&D/OSR community, ...


39

It's always easy to remember the flashiest effects of any roll. Everyone remembers rolling a 20 is a crit, right? Get into the habit of putting signs and tracks everywhere Since you mention your worlds can be a little empty, start every single random encounter as a give-more-information cue. Only then roll for effect. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but ...


26

Some years ago I made just such a system; I've made it work for D&D, RuneQuest 2/3, Pendragon & Ars Magica, so I suppose it is reasonably generic. This is a "pure genetic" system, and does not allow for the effects of environment. The first step is to retrieve - or recreate - the original dice rolls involved in creating the parent characters' ...


22

Drop formal mapping by the players from the game, if the process of mapping in details is getting in the way of fun. OSR games do not mean you have to sacrifice your fun, and though it is realistically "old school" to get out the graph paper and describe the turns of every wall to the designated mapper, it is equally accurate (at least from the early 1980s ...


22

The only system I've seen which directly addresses this question is ACKS, which is a B/X neoclone, so it should fall under the "osr" tag. This is covered in the SRD in Chapter 7: Campaigns under the heading "Populating a Dungeon", or on page 141 of the published core rulebook. (While the specific context of that section is determining what monsters move in ...


20

Gygax answered that questions many times. Here is the first one Google found for me. At first blush I decided that 18 was the maximum for a human, but then to make fighters more viable, and because the concpt of degrees of strength in the 18 cap followed logically, I used the percentile measurement. As for strength over 18, any such ability is superhuman ...


19

Change the order of evaluation. Currently it is determine "random encounter" or "signs and tracks", then roll on table. The payoff of rolling on the table for mere "signs and tracks" is low. Instead, roll for the random encounter first. Then roll what kind of encounter: signs and tracks, lair, ambush, etc. So 1-3 is "roll random encounter". 4-6 means "...


18

You're asking one of the hardest questions in the industry. Tabletop game publishers are very reluctant to release firm figures, being very skittish about appearing as 'weak'; this problem has plagued the industry since I got in in the early 90s, and doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. Also, the numbers you report are self-reported, which is not ...


17

Before you can place a town or city, you must first have a world to place it in. When building your world you will need to determine general aspects that apply to your entire world, such as gods and their religions, races and their cultures, empires and their locations and other questions beyond the scope of this question. Once you have your world, you then ...


17

Take a spare 6-sided die. If you don't have one, buy a cheap one at a dollar store. Print out two monster footprint icons like these and one monster icon like this. Cut out the icons into small squares and glue them to the appropriate sides of your die. Optionally, glue blank pieces of paper to sides 4, 5, and 6. Use the die only for monster encounter rolls.


16

Perhaps this exists in earlier games, but Dungeon Crawl Classics, first published in 2012, makes this explicit. Dungeon Crawl Classics, page 378 (4th printing) Never describe a monster using a specific noun (e.g., “goblin” or “orc”). Always describe a monster using physical characteristics (e.g., “a four-foot-tall man-like creature with green ...


15

It appears that you have conflicting interests: a lack of permanent character death, but a real threat of death which involves real problems. There are no obvious ways to reconcile these two points. An easy way out of permanent character death reduces the problems associated with dying, and having a god decide to resurrect a player seems too much like Deus ...


14

BX doesn't put the same weight on the ability scores as you appear to, so beware that adding an ability score advancement mechanic will redirect some of your players motivations away from looking for harder-to-achieve bonuses to their effectiveness. On the other hand, you don't have to worry much about breaking the balance of the game with this, because ...


14

Yes. in my experience both Basic AD&D and OD&D (1st and 2nd) run faster than 3e/3.5 and 4e and indeed PF. Why? Combat Extra feats, manoeuvring and counting squares, attacks of opportunity (and trying to avoid them) adding up multiple bonuses from powers/abilities (bards songs, situational, etc) all work to slow down combat. Yes the to hit DC's are ...


14

This is a decision that rests entirely with you as DM and the answer should be whatever provides the most fun with the least work and cognitive dissonance. You actually have the answer in your question: "my restocking results are pretty oppressive, as in: Lots of new monsters and treasure in cleared areas, which is something I want to avoid." Therefore the ...


12

I like the definition of OSR gaming presented by Matthew Finch in "A Primer For Old School Gaming," available in pdf for free from Lulu. In short, he refers to four major conceits ("Zen Moments") that define old school gaming. Rulings, Not Rules - GM-driven world interpretation over a law degree Player Skill, not Character Abilities Heroic, not Superhero - ...


11

Give them something better. If you're removing the rule because it's not worth it, why not just replace it with something that is worth it? That way they won't feel cheated. Like, every two levels, pick an ability score. Roll 3d6, and if it's higher than your current score, it goes up by one. Lets you improve your crappy scores, but prevents you from ...


11

In D&D next, Experience and tracking experience is just one way to play. You can track XP through killing monsters, or through advancement in plot. Or you can not track XP at all. While they will not have any modules published which will be balanced around treasure or gold equaling XP, you can easily implement that method of counting, since the game ...


10

Moldvay is great... in part because it's short. Tom and I spoke at some length about the 'tack' he would take. I later used a lot of ideas that he omitted because he just didn't have room. The following will address the BECMI treatment, being the most detailed expansion of Moldvay's data. At this distance (almost 30 years), most players consider the two ...


9

Tim Kask, first employee at TSR, recalls what OD&D was intended to provide to the wargaming circles that many of the creators "pal'd around" in... Tim Kask discusses the "original goal" of OD&D in a historical context (link takes you to the direct anecdote, watch the whole video for more context). Tim relates a "gaming story&...


9

The single difference that will have the most effect on an ongoing campaign or one shot adventures with characters above 3rd level is in Lamentations of the Flame Princess the only increases to to-hit bonus are received by the fighter. The fighter has a +1 bonus to-hit over the other classes at level one as well. The result is a 10th level cleric, magic-...


8

Replacing analogous monsters with their equivalent from your actual system (D&D Next in this case) is the right way to convert encounters in OSR adventures, but for when there isn't an equivalent, yeah, it's nice to have a quick conversion method. Armour Class AC is pretty easy: LotFP AC starts at 12 and goes up, D&D Next AC starts at 10 and goes ...


8

"The world is cruel. And the only morality in a cruel world is chance. Unbiased. Unprejudiced. Fair." You said it yourself in the question, your two goals are inherently at odds with one another. Save-or-Die effects are incompatible with attempting to tell a story where the characters only die at appropriate, dramatic moments. Any neutering of death in the ...


8

I like the definition presented by Matthew Finch in "A Primer For Old School Gaming," available in pdf for free from Lulu. In short, he refers to four major conceits ("Zen Moments") that define old school gaming. Rulings, Not Rules - GM-driven world interpretation over a law degree Player Skill, not Character Abilities Heroic, not Superhero - even early ...


8

Most retroclones are very similar. Personally, I use many of them interchangeably, including content from Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, LotFP, AD&D, and more. They are so similar, conversion is rarely necessary and it is very simple when it is. So I wouldn't stress compatibility. Some Considerations for Choosing: The most relevant difference ...


8

Based off of DDAL1 modules... The Table: \begin{array}{l c l} \text{Total GP Expended} & \text{Level} & \text{(Expenditure for next level)} \\ \hline 0 & 1 & (700) \\ 700 & 2 & (1,000) \\ 1,700 & 3 & (1,350) \\ 3,050 & 4 & (1,850) \\ 4,900 & 5 & (2,500) \\ 7,400 & 6 & (3,500) \\ 10,900 & 7 & (...


8

"Balance" is a nebulous term, somewhat meaningless for OSR style adventures. Modern D&D (at least 3e and 4e, perhaps someone else can speak to 5e if it differs significantly) expects PCs to kick down doors and fight everything that's inside. There are tables for calculating resonable fight difficulties, and advice on how many of those PCs can ...


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