Explanation of abilities and skills (Reading OD&D from cover to cover)

Abilities in OD&D in some respect are well acquainted: strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution and charisma have become landmarks in the way many roleplaying games define characters. At the dawn of time things were slightly different...


Rolling abilities (Reading OD&D from cover to cover)

The rolling of abilities in OD&D is extremely straightforward:
  • The referee rolls for the abilities.
  • The referee rolls 3d6 in order.
That's it.


Researching OD&D at the OD&D discussion boards

[After posting this stuff in the morning I added a few more links in the evening that I missed during the first run due to some browser tabs I had overlooked]

In the past couple of weeks I had a lot of fun reading through the various postings at the OD&D discussion boards (and I'm still going strong). I find the comments there very helpful in getting into the right mindset for reading the little brown books and to get sensitive about the finer formulations used in the rules.

Reading OD&D from cover to cover: Abilities versus attributes

In my second to last post about attributes I made a mistake resulting from preconceptions created by later editions of the game: I called strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution and charisma attributes instead of abilities. While this might seem to be a minor point at first I now believe (after some thinking) that it is one of those essential tiny points that really characterize OD&D (and the OSR).


On bondage in OD&D

Todays post will intercept the discussion of attributes in OD&D with some thoughts and questions about how much players and player characters tended to 'bond' in campaigns played in ancient times. And no, I don't mean that type of bondage but the title was too cool to resist ;-)


Reading OD&D from cover to cover: Rolling attributes (part I) starting with an amazing revelation

By now I am well into writing the sections about attributes for 'The Fantasy Game' and I was kind of suprised by the initial statement in the LBB about the process of doing. So much surprised that I was speechless for a moment as I don't remember seeing that statement in any edition of D&D ever... but maybe that is just my faulty memory. The initial statement in the attributes section is:


New cover design attempt

To the right you find another attempt at designing the cover for 'The Fantasy Game': I have replaced the classic knight from the initial attempt with a new kind of knight, who is somewhat more fantastic. In any case the image also is more vivid and dynamic... what do you think?

Personally I have become somewhat accustomed to the classic knight (yeah, I already cal it a "classic" ;-) ). It has kind of grown on me and now I miss it :-) To me the classic knight seems to represent the early days of the hobby in a more appropriate way, even if it seems more Arthurian that alternatives.


Reading OD&D from cover to cover: Changing classes

Before we continue our discussion of elves we look a bit ahead in the rules in order to see what other surprises and detail rules await us. Some might shed new light on certain of the more complex issues we have found with the race descriptions. So next up are the rules for changing classes.


Reading OD&D from cover to cover: Alignment

Alignment is one of the interesting topics that usually raises a lot of controversy. As far as I am concerned OD&D has a pretty good stance on the topic: Namely almost no stance.


Reading OD&D from cover to cover: The races

So next up in our tour through the OD&D rules in the LBB are the character races. Specifically mentioned are dwarves, elves and hobbits. Additionally there are some remarks concerning arbitrary other races. Men are not explicitly explained probably assuming that they mostly equal their real world counter parts.

How did RPG publishing actually work in 1975?

While I was at two conferences during the past couple of days I seriously started to wonder about the technical aspect of RPG publishing in 1975. Did anyone ever research on how our RPG forefathers specifically handled publishing in the early TSR days? It's a time so far before I was interested in such stuff that I have difficulties imagining how this might have worked.

'Outdoor Survival' arrived!

After coming home after my conference week I was surprised with a nice package from the United States containing "Outdoor Survival" in decent shape. Thus I am now complete to resume my OD&D research and quickly progress with 'The Fantasy Game'.


Reference material added to the blog

Just a quick notice: I freshly added a reference section to his blog (see the top navigation bar) that will host a growing list of materials used in order to distill the best of the LBB and create 'The Fantasy Game'. You are welcome to recommend more stuff to read or take into account if you have good pointers as my fascination with this kind of OSR research keeps growing by leaps and bounds.
And since I finally have started to write 'The Fantasy Game' (after previously just fiddling with the cover designs) it is also great to watch a love child growing. Ok, back to work for this night - I still have to finish a presentation...


Researching OD&D: Magic-users in arms and armor - case closed for now

After reading and rereading the class descriptions in the LBB again and again I am (for now) totally convinced that the literal interpretation of the rules allows for but one result:

Magic-users may use any kind of non-magical weapon or armor.


Reading OD&D from cover to cover: The character classes

I have been anticipating the coming parts of Men & Magic a lot as now we finally get to the rules. Here I expect quite a number of surprises and my intention s to (at initially) read the rules as literally as possible and revise them in a clearer (yet brief) way. In no way do I intend to add much fluff, so I was particularly curious about the very short character class section in OD&D: One and a half pages in total for the classes (with clerics getting the most text which I find interesting), three total if taking the races into account (which I will review in another post).


From cover to cover: Introduction, Scope & Recommended Equipment

Today we are going to read through the introductory explanations of the white box edition of Men & Magic before starting out with the actual game rules.


OD&D manual I from cover to cover: Forward

First of all: Is that a nice trifle with words or a bad typo? "Forward" might be a great call to take action in the exciting field of fantasy wargaming or a very bad typo (correct me - I'm just a native German - but I would have expected "Foreword").

Free product swack for blog followers

I just had to repeat this here - I will reward three randomly chosen persons among the first 100 followers this blog collects. As 'The Fantasy Game' will consist of three books (at the current planning stage) I will reward three randomly chosen followers among the first 100. Every winner will receive a complete set of 'The Fantasy Game' once released, signed if you want that. Free of cost naturally - I pay for shipping and printing.

So become a follower of the blog (see the links to the right), spread the word about the project and draw others into the discussion here. I really would love to have a lot more input from a lot more OSR fans. Luckily the "cover to cover" series soon will get to the crunchier rules parts - I guess those things are of more general interest ;-)

Sexy elves... old school style!

What blog could be complete without sexy elves? So here we go as requested by ber_12 with sexy elves from The Fantasy Game:


Revised cover design for the Fantasy Game

Thanks due to the help of Sascha Schnitzer I managed to remove the ugly white surroundings from the picture of my TFG cover proposal. Additionally the spacing now is more balanced. I yet need to find a better / other image though, as some readers suggested that a knight implies too much Arthurian fantasy which IMHO is a correct suggestion. We'll see what I can dig up in the weeks to come. So here's the revised cover to the right.

From cover to cover: Index

The biggest surprise about the index is: There actually is one. It's only moderately helpful as it's not very detailed but the rules themselves are pretty brief, so that's probably ok. The one thing that surprised me is that...


From cover to cover: Inside the front cover

Next on my list is the inside cover of volume I: Men & Magic. While it does not present many surprises there are a couple of interesting details I today noticed for the first time:

'The Fantasy Game' versus TFG

I'm slowly getting tired of endlessly repeating the name of my OD&D clone. Thus I hereby declare
as the future abbreviation to be used when talking about 'The Fantasy Game' in this blog.

Reading OD&D from cover to cover: The cover itself

Today I will start with reading OD&D from cover to cover, line by line. For me this is going to be a very interesting experiment as I usually do not read any RPG rules completely (ever - I skim through them and use them, but reading rules completely to me would be like reading my VCR manual completely).


Getting started with 'The Fantasy Game'

Here we go with the first actual post concerning the live design process. I will try to describe the basic decisions I so far have made for 'The Fantasy Game':
  • Naturally the format should follow its role model. Thus the game will be designed in three DIN A5 sized rulebooks (as that format is nicely supported by Lulu for the print edition I am going to produce).
  • I will only use both the little brown books from the white box to create 'The Fantasy Game' and Chainmail (as both are required according to the preface in the LBB).
  • The only sources used to extends and modify the given rules will be the collected house rules of Gary Gygax for OD&D as collected by Robert Fisher and Cyclopeatron. Philotomy's OD&D musings will serve for further inspiration although my goal is to stay as close as possible to the official rules.
  • For image sources I only will use historical images (taken from Dover Publications and their excellent resource CDs).
And here we go with with a preview of the cover for book 1 (I once more felt compelled to work on the design first):