Monday, October 6, 2008

New and Old

There seems to be a bit of a slowdown on the old school board these days.

Oddly enough, this mirrors my own life; I'm experiencing a bit of a disconnect from old school D&D gaming. Although, I am (in a way) getting back together with old school gaming which was derived from D&D.

I'm talking about StarSiege: Event Horizon, from Troll Lord Games. It's brand new, but has a bunch of old school goodness.

First of all, it's dedicated to the memory of E. Gary Gygax, so how cool is that?

Second of all, it says right on the box that it's a toolkit. You know going in that you'll need to do some of the design work yourself. And that's about as old school as it comes.

Third of all, the game comes with everything your group needs to play. There's a sample setting, a GM's guide, and four (count 'em! Four!) copies of the players book. I've often wondered why some enterprising company didn't just go ahead and do that.

For those of you who missed the excellent review Doc Rotwang gave it, here's a link: StarSiege Event Horizon.

I have little to add, except that what the good Doc found as a gripe (it's a toolkit) is what I find perhaps the most appealing. I'm a proto-gearhead anyway; I was quite the Traveller gearhead, except that I stuck with Book 2 and never really got into High Guard.

The game is not without its flaws, of course. As is virtually inevitable for a Troll Lord Games release, it looks as though they really need to hire a copy editor. In the example of character creation, the starting character picks gear. A list is introduced, with a full colon even, but what follows is an entirely new paragraph. No starting gear list. Oops!

Also, there are other quibbles I have, but they all add up to just that: Quibbles. Sure, a table of contents or an index would have been nice, but this is still a pretty spiffy game.

One thing that also strikes me as ingenious is the way they handle ability scores: There aren't any. Instead, you just have the bonus or penalty you'd have from those scores.

These are rolled on 1d20, but for those who like a gritty game, you can instead use 3d6. This gives us the same table we remember from Tom Moldvay's D&D Basic rulebook: 3 gives -3, 4-5 gives -2, and so on up to 18 gives +3.

Except in StarSiege, you just have the +3. I like that.

Obviously, the game is "powered by" the Siege Engine, from Castles and Crusades. And what's interesting about that is that none of the game is OGL. It's all their own stuff, so no matter what WOTC does, they can still produce this game. And that's pretty nifty.

So, now I have a few different ideas for settings, and for stories in those settings. I could probably spend the rest of the fall and all winter just noodling around with the Trappings, getting everything just right for a game.

But I really wanna run something. Maybe I'll do something online? Who knows. Who cares?

It feels good to be optimistic again.


Jack Badelaire said...

I've also seen that the Old-School crowd has chilled out a little bit. Nothing wrong with that really - there was a "surge", and now it's cooling down, but people are still in the spirit of things. I am not myself super-enamored of the whole "Old School is the Best School" philosophy, but rather I just like to see that people are enjoying and promoting the older material. It's not like you can't play an old RPG just because it's been out of print for 25+ years.

Dr Rotwang said...

Glad you enjoyed the review! It's good to see a little more love from the game out here in Internetland.

Minor thing: I said the toolkit nature might be a gripe. To me (and to you, obviously) it's not, but to some folks, it might.

Okay! Good. There we go.