sabato 13 ottobre 2018

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire (answered)

UPDATE: This piece mentions Zak S and has links to his blog, but since I wrote this post, this happened (CW: sexual and psychological abuse). Because of this, I am no longer promoting his work, but I will keep the post unchanged because it is part of this blog's (and my) history nevertheless.

So Zak made a questionnaire to answer about the DIY/OSR movement which is very well done and useful and I'm going to fill it.
Here's the original post, you should fill it too and share it.

Here are my replies:

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:
That's the most difficult. I'll go with Gygaxian Democracy.
It quickly became a staple of the DIY/OSR movement.

2. My favourite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:
You should interact with the world and its inhabitants as if they were really existing and should expect consequences accordingly to this.

3. Best OSR module/supplement:
Better than Any Man as a sandbox campaign (NSFW and gory -you have been warned)
Tomb of the Serpent Kings as an introductory OSR dungeon for both GMs and players.
Vorheim: The Complete City Kit as a toolbox.

4. My favourite house rule (by someone else):
Funerals for the Fallen by James Young
Shields Shall Be Splintered! by Trollsmyth

5. How I found out about the OSR:
When I begun playing RPGs 8-9 years ago I was supposed to be a GM, and I didn't like the complexity of D&D 3.5 (the most popular RPG in Italy at the time) and the fact that characters were more like superheroes than adventurers.
Searching in the net I ended up reading A Quick Primer for Old School Playing by Matt Finch and I started playing Dungeonslayers (a nice old school inspired German RPG) and shortly after I discovered the actual OSR movement and got sucked by it.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:
All the apps of Save vs Total Party Kill by Ramanan S to quickly generate characters for different games
The (incomplete) list of stuff it can generate is here:
The Troika! character generator is not listed but it's there.
Other stuff like here like a random dugeon generator.

Principia Apocrypha: Principles of Old School is the best primer ever for the Old School style of play.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:
It is (for now) Google Plus with its vibrant communities like OSR.
I dunno now what will happen but a lot of people is migrating on MeWe right now (search for "OSR" in the groups section).

In Italy the best place is the Facebook group OSR D&D Italia.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:
UPDATE: I misread the question: it is about where else I can be found rambling about games, not other places where to ramble about games.
Here's the new reply, but I'll leave the other 'cause it's still useful:

- Google Plus: (for now at least)
- MeWe is the new GPlus apparently:
- Twitter:
- Facebook page:
- Facebook account:

Where else to ramble:
Facebook has some nice groups like Vintage Role Playing Games, Old School Roleplaying or Old School Gaming Rocks!

The best Italian group for GMs (non OSR specific) is GMI - Game Master Italia followed by Fantasika! (non GM specific).

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:
You can enjoy killing your player's characters (by chance -not by purpose!) and at the same time be their fan.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:
Risus: The Anything RPG - a generic minimalist game
Traveller - generic sci-fi
On Mighty Thews - a pulp sword & sorcery rpg/storygame

11. Why I like OSR stuff:
Because it's "player skills not character abilities" so there's a real opportunity and need for players to overcome problems with ingenuity, and concrete risk of character death even at high levels is one the stakes.

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:
Most of OSR games (specifically D&D retroclones) are very similar therefore you can take adventures, monsters and supplements published for nearly all OSR D&D-like systems an use them without or with minimal conversion.

Another benefit of these games being very similar is that you can mix and match pieces of them to make your own frankenstein OSR RPG because they are also very modular and simple.
And you can also house-rule them very easily. Customisation is a must.

A third for my Italian fellow players: you can like OSR games and be neither old nor nostalgic (a common cliché around here).

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be: without the "Zak Wars" posts (because things like these should not happen and are very sad).

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:
Random Complete Equipment Generator for LotFP and other fantasy games to generate the whole equipment list for a character with a single die roll.

15. I'm currently running/playing:
A couple of Lamentation of the Flame Princess campaigns on Discord as player after 8 years of being a full-time GM.
Eight years ago I started playing role-playing games by the way.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because
you can always say "armour as chain" instead of using numbers and I'll convert it to my preferred system.
And if I were playing I'd have the to-hit values on my sheet, and the math is not difficult anyway.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Treasure for the survivors, by David A. Trampier

Again, here's the original post, you should fill it too and share it!

giovedì 11 ottobre 2018

Insect - a System Shock 2 hack of Knave

Preview of the possible cover

I will keep it simple: I love Knave, it's a simple and elegant system, quick to play and easy to master, with a very cool classless concept: you are your equipment.
This concept is actually not new in videogames (I'm not sure about tabletop rpgs though), therefore I decided to try my own hand in a hack inspired by one of the best "old school" games out there: System Shock 2.

SS2 (from now on) is a horror science-fiction First Person Shooter where you are a cybernetically enhanced soldier with the mission to navigate a huge megadungeon starship facing mutated crew, cyborgs and robots in order to destroy The Many, a alien hive mind which is controlling the place.
If all of this is not cool enough, SS2 has also some RPG features, like abilities, skills, magic psionic powers and cybernetic implants. And all of this fits well in Knave.


Citadel Station, System Shock 3 conept art

An adaptation

"How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?"

Insect will not be a faithful adaptation of the videogame. It will be neither as deep nor as complex as SS2 is, and it's fine like this. I want this game to have more or less the same complexity as Knave, and therefore a lot of simplifications will be made, but I also want Insect to convey as much as I can the same experience as the videogame with the rules I'm using.
It will be difficult, it will be not completely successful, but it will be fun and I hope you will enjoy the final result.


Shodan by JimHatama
Shodan by JimHatama

Why the name?

"Welcome to my world, insect."

The main antagonist of the System Shock series is SHODAN, an incredibly powerful and intelligent AI with a god-complex. She sees herself as divinity, and everyone else is, of course, below her. Insects, nothing more.
And "insect" you are called very often by SHODAN in both games.

So, as in Knave you are a knave, in Insect you are an "insect".


System Shock: Hiding in the Shadowsby Jason Burhans

What will be Insect about

"The Many has grown to a massive size. It has wrapped itself around these two ships, preventing their separation."

In Insect you are a cybernetically enhanced individual who will face horrors and perils in claustrophobic spaceships, labyrinthine space stations and hazardous planets.
The cosmos is inhabited by nightmares, be these natural or artificial, man-made or coming from the depths of space.

You may be part of a crew of a battered spaceship trying to keep flying, exploring derelicts and seemingly abandoned bases trying to savage supplies and spare parts.
You may be a mercenary, hired by companies who want to save what they can from a space station controlled by a murderous AI --or destroy compromising data.
You may be one the few survivors of an infection that mutated the rest of the crew of the space freighter you were working on into terrible monstrosities.

But in the end, you are just an insect in front of the grandiosity of the universe. And what lurks in the darkness.


The UNN Von Braun really is a megadungeon

Starmap of the project

"I re-examine my priorities, and draw new conclusions."

These are the things I will tweak and do (and some that I'd like to do) in order to adapt Knave to System Shock 2. They are presented in no particular order.

  • Abilities: renamed to reflect those in SS2, some changes in their uses
  • Armor and weapons: most of them will be ranged and with a sci-fi feel
  • Equipment: specialized and mundane items from the far future
  • Implants: cybernetic and psionic implants that will give bonuses and powers
  • Psionic powers: the magic of the future
  • Upgrades as advancement: no experience points will be used, upgrades (=levels) will be bought with currency and installed
  • Random traits: these are mostly ok as they are in Knave, maybe I will add some touches
  • Random missions and locales: tables to generate missions, hooks and places
  • Horrors of the cosmos and the cyberspace: monstrosities both natural and artificial to throw at our sweating insects
  • Introductory adventure: to give the feel of the game
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess: this project was actually born as a conversion for LotFP, and I will continue it after I'll finish with Insect and it will be more complex and detailed
A Cyborg Midwife, the creepiest enemy of SS2
"Little Ones need lots of meat to grow big and strong"