Monday, May 9, 2011

In Order to Discover New Places, You Must First Throw Out the Old Maps

My Labyrinth Lord campaign recently experienced a complete party wipe, which can happen if you decide to let events unfurl naturally rather than guided by a firm yet biased hand. I look upon it with mixed emotions. It puts a damper on campaign momentum, but also allows me to introduce a few changes, ones I was lamenting over in my yearly review not so long ago.

In retrospect, I realize that I made an error in introducing material from the Advanced Edition Companion. Not because the supplement is flawed, but because it essentially undermined my whole purpose for going back to the roots of the hobby for this campaign. The campaign began to resemble AD&D in rules and style, and if that was the case, why wasn’t I just playing AD&D? It was time to chuck all the extraneous material and go back to basics and cultivate anew.

One of my primary goals in keeping to the basics and building from there was that I was hoping to create a game that was uniquely my own and not just another standard D&D world. This has been a mental hobgoblin of mine for quite awhile now, one which gets aggravated every time someone decides to expand the types of playable classes and wanders into the same old paladin, ranger, bard, druid, etc. territory. Having seen some of that appear in my own world, I had had enough and was seriously looking to break out of these same old variations on a theme.

It was a route I had taken before with both my Mule and Octopus class—solid, yet unorthodox player classes that explored what you can do with a class-based fantasy RPG—and one I plan to continue following. So, instead of adhering to the classic fantasy archetypes, I’ve become more inspired by other driving forces: “Is it something I’d like to play?” and “Is it something different?” The answers to these questions so far are indeed inspired.

As an example of where my mind had been wandering, an instance I’m most proud of, I’d like to present you with my latest class: the ghost. That is not a metaphorical name; it is a dead adventurer who continues to practice his former profession, unwilling to let a little thing like kicking the breathing habit slow him down.

I’m continuing to tinker with a trader class, one that relies more on role-playing than combat and avoids the granting of magical powers, which is a route I’ve seen before, but never quite understood. There are a few other classes (or races, rather) in the stew pot and I’ll either debut them here or submit them for publication as they come to completion.

The ghost may not be for everyone, and it is certainly not for all campaign worlds. My vision of what D&D continues to change, even more so after a year-plus of old school playing. It is unlikely that I’ll ever return to what I once considered its default settings, and I’m looking forward to what this new territory contains.

Download the ghost class here.


limpey said...

How fun! Perhaps you can continue your old campaign by having all the players now play 'ghosts' of their former selves?
My first thought on reading about characters like 'ghosts' and 'mules' and whatnot was, "no way," but then I decided that is just me having a stick up my butt.

Rob Conley said...

I started out with AD&D 1st and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy. In the late 80s and the early 90s it started to become it own thing. Since I was using GURPS at the time, the result was a set of template describing the various sects, organization, and cultures of the Majestic Wilderlands.

The creation of these templates is when I "rewrote" the Wilderlands of High Fantasy into the Majestic Wilderlands. Even tho I was using GURPS I will still equating everything to the traditional AD&D line-up. After this it was it's own thing.

When when I decided to publish this it was natural to make a whole new set of classes to represent the rewrite.

My advice to anybody doing this is to decide what the setting is and then figure out how to best represent that in the edition of your choice by making new rules, classes, and mechanics.

Also be aware that certain things will feel more D&Dish and than other. For example the D&D 4e ritual rule felt very D&Dish to me for older editions. Spell point system do not feel very D&Dish.

Carter Soles said...

The Ghost class rules! And I can empathize with your regrets at incorporating the AEC -- I have been regretting my liberal AEC policies lately in my own campaign as well. I mean, I like letting players play what they want to and all, but multi-classing? Starting to feel too AD&D to me.

Anonymous said...

One of my own biggest pet peeves with the clone/OSR stuff is that as soon as the topic of expanding a more basic/original set of rules comes up we immediately see "new" versions of the same old ranger, paladin, illusionist, yadda yadda again, as if TSR was still controlling and limiting everyone's imaginations. Sure, people will champion the concept of these older rules allowing a fresh start and the taking of new and different path, but when push comes to shove it's always heading right down the old AD&D route. I find it very disheartening and a little sad. The only limit is your imagination... and that of some guys in Wisconsin over 30 years ago, apparently.

limpey said...

...we immediately see "new" versions of the same old ranger, paladin, illusionist, yadda yadda...
And is that stopping you from writing up a new paladin, ranger, etc., and changing the paradigm?

I dunno. Rather than hear people complain about "what has been done" or "what has not been done," I think I'd rather see them try and do it...

crowking said...

The Ghost class might "tip the scale" a bit if you trying to keep the game more on the 0e side of things, but it’s too good not to use. Two ideas I have that could work is maybe incorporating the class either as a NPC to the party(general Jed Stuart from Haunted Tank instantly comes to mind) or something that happens completely unexpectedly to a player/PC who comes back after he dies from wearing a cursed ring or maybe a bad resurrection/ or whimsey spell. Either way, when it happens it should become a shocking-yet-fun surprise to the player who never imagined playing his "dead" PC ever again.I’m definitely going to incorporate this somehow into a future gaming sessions.

Roger the GS said...

I sympathize - precisely the reason I eschewed AEC, Castles and Crusades, OSRIC etc.