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Author Topic: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?  (Read 572 times)

Persimmon

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Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« on: November 15, 2021, 01:14:03 PM »
Okay, so the title here is total click bait, designed to get guys like Shark to smell blood in the water and prepare to rage ;)

But in fact this is related to my thread a few weeks back where I was questing for my OSR "Unicorn" game.  Turns out, much like the the narrator in Rupert Holmes' classic Pina Colada song, what I was looking for was right in front of me all along.

So essentially over the past few months I've messed around with a bunch of OSR systems like OSE, LL, S&W, Hyperborea, DCC, ACKS, and Castles & Crusades trying to find the perfect fit for me and my group.  Like most of us I ended up house-ruling to get where I wanted, cribbing from these and other systems.  Then, upon going through all my house rule documents I discovered that the system which I had house-ruled the least because it was the most flexible in design was actually the first OSR system I had played: Castles & Crusades.  And it also has several features that make it essentially Rosetta Stone (or Rainbow coalition, if you prefer) of old school games.  So I'll enumerate the ones here that I find especially salient.


  • Unified mechanic in the form of their Siege Engine system
[/b][/u]
This is super easy to grasp & very easy to implement in practice and can be tweaked as needed.  But it really requires no combat or saving throw charts or tables; just glance at your character sheet or the monster's stat block

It plays like 1e AD&D
It has mechanical adjustments like ascending AC but for the most part, it "feels" like the AD&D I grew up with from the character classes to the monsters to the spells & magic items. 

They make small tweaks to AD&D that improve it
Despite what I said above, there are some interesting improvements to AD&D such as 0 level spells, which effectively make low level spell-casting characters much more interesting; great rules for multi-classing; and encouraged racial class restrictions, which I like.  But they add tweaks like saying all races can be bards or half-orcs can be monks.  Personally I like racial restrictions on classes, so this is a plus for me.  They have a version of the DMG, called the Castle Keeper's Guide, but it's totally optional.  You don't need it to play.  But it includes a variety of interesting alternative rules, some of which we've adopted.

It's easily compatible forwards & backwards
With the possible exception of 4e D&D, you can pretty much adapt any module from any edition of D&D or one of its retroclones and play it on the fly.  Sure, this is somewhat true of other OSR games, but the C&C Siege Engine makes this even easier, especially with respect to say, 5e stuff

They have systems for other genres
Troll Lord Games also have systems for Indiana Jones-style pulp (Amazing Adventures) and Sci-fi Gaming (Star Siege) so you can use the base system for other styles.  But at their heart the mechanics are exactly the same.  You're just getting different classes and setting info.  And from what I've seen, you can just supplements for the other games just using C&C.  I have the massive Starship Warden book and I'm planning on a Barrie Peaks type one-shot using it solely the core C&C rules

They don't fuck around changing editions every 3-5 years
While they have added a few supplements and do new printings and alternate covers, the base rules have stayed the same since 2004.  That's great for older guys like me who don't want to mess around learning new systems.

The Troll Lords are good guys
Steve & Davis Chennault are veterans and very friendly to the veteran community.  If you're on active duty you get free stuff and free shipping.  They produce all their products here in the USA and only work with American companies.  They're not printing your stuff in China or Serbia or wherever.  They are also very responsive to the community & offer great customer service.  During Covid last year they started making their PHB available as a free pdf and have kept that going.  On the negative side, they tend to run too many Kickstarters, are often late on delivery, and their editing is shoddy, to put it nicely.  But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Note that I have no affiliation with TLG.  I'm just an old school gamer who has cast about looking for my ideal system and I think I have found it.  I'm currently writing up a mega-dungeon based on Nargathrond from The Silmarillion and while using C&C as the base system, I'm drawing monsters, magic items, etc., from a full range of OSR games and it's been seamless. 

So consider this my rainbow unicorn....




SHARK

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2021, 01:54:51 PM »
Okay, so the title here is total click bait, designed to get guys like Shark to smell blood in the water and prepare to rage ;)

But in fact this is related to my thread a few weeks back where I was questing for my OSR "Unicorn" game.  Turns out, much like the the narrator in Rupert Holmes' classic Pina Colada song, what I was looking for was right in front of me all along.

So essentially over the past few months I've messed around with a bunch of OSR systems like OSE, LL, S&W, Hyperborea, DCC, ACKS, and Castles & Crusades trying to find the perfect fit for me and my group.  Like most of us I ended up house-ruling to get where I wanted, cribbing from these and other systems.  Then, upon going through all my house rule documents I discovered that the system which I had house-ruled the least because it was the most flexible in design was actually the first OSR system I had played: Castles & Crusades.  And it also has several features that make it essentially Rosetta Stone (or Rainbow coalition, if you prefer) of old school games.  So I'll enumerate the ones here that I find especially salient.


  • Unified mechanic in the form of their Siege Engine system
[/b][/u]
This is super easy to grasp & very easy to implement in practice and can be tweaked as needed.  But it really requires no combat or saving throw charts or tables; just glance at your character sheet or the monster's stat block

It plays like 1e AD&D
It has mechanical adjustments like ascending AC but for the most part, it "feels" like the AD&D I grew up with from the character classes to the monsters to the spells & magic items. 

They make small tweaks to AD&D that improve it
Despite what I said above, there are some interesting improvements to AD&D such as 0 level spells, which effectively make low level spell-casting characters much more interesting; great rules for multi-classing; and encouraged racial class restrictions, which I like.  But they add tweaks like saying all races can be bards or half-orcs can be monks.  Personally I like racial restrictions on classes, so this is a plus for me.  They have a version of the DMG, called the Castle Keeper's Guide, but it's totally optional.  You don't need it to play.  But it includes a variety of interesting alternative rules, some of which we've adopted.

It's easily compatible forwards & backwards
With the possible exception of 4e D&D, you can pretty much adapt any module from any edition of D&D or one of its retroclones and play it on the fly.  Sure, this is somewhat true of other OSR games, but the C&C Siege Engine makes this even easier, especially with respect to say, 5e stuff

They have systems for other genres
Troll Lord Games also have systems for Indiana Jones-style pulp (Amazing Adventures) and Sci-fi Gaming (Star Siege) so you can use the base system for other styles.  But at their heart the mechanics are exactly the same.  You're just getting different classes and setting info.  And from what I've seen, you can just supplements for the other games just using C&C.  I have the massive Starship Warden book and I'm planning on a Barrie Peaks type one-shot using it solely the core C&C rules

They don't fuck around changing editions every 3-5 years
While they have added a few supplements and do new printings and alternate covers, the base rules have stayed the same since 2004.  That's great for older guys like me who don't want to mess around learning new systems.

The Troll Lords are good guys
Steve & Davis Chennault are veterans and very friendly to the veteran community.  If you're on active duty you get free stuff and free shipping.  They produce all their products here in the USA and only work with American companies.  They're not printing your stuff in China or Serbia or wherever.  They are also very responsive to the community & offer great customer service.  During Covid last year they started making their PHB available as a free pdf and have kept that going.  On the negative side, they tend to run too many Kickstarters, are often late on delivery, and their editing is shoddy, to put it nicely.  But the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Note that I have no affiliation with TLG.  I'm just an old school gamer who has cast about looking for my ideal system and I think I have found it.  I'm currently writing up a mega-dungeon based on Nargathrond from The Silmarillion and while using C&C as the base system, I'm drawing monsters, magic items, etc., from a full range of OSR games and it's been seamless. 

So consider this my rainbow unicorn....

Greetings!

*CHOMP* *CHOMP*!!! ;D

*Laughing* Yes, Persimmon, I was smelling blood in the water!

Your plans sound very cool. C&C sounds like a good system, too. I met the guys of C&C back in Gen Con 2004, I want to say. Very nce and cool guys.

Your mega dungeon of Nargothrond sounds fucking awesome, too! Tolkien's Silmarilliion has so many awesome locations that just scream with adventure potential!

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
"It is the Marine Corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with self. It is the Corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last, each will own the privilege of looking inside himself  to discover what truly resides there. Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body. And robs the soul of spirit and determination. Comfort is neither welcome nor tolerated here."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what you have to, in spite of the fear."
"Let Death and Fire Be Their Portion!"
"Delenda Est Parthia!"

Persimmon

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2021, 05:02:29 PM »
Thanks, Shark. 

My dungeon is called Thindrongol, which apparently means "hidden vault" in some online version of Dwarvish.  But I'm moving well beyond Tolkien, even though that's the inspiration.  For example, one level is a secret alien base, complete with a prison and chambers for experimentation on the hapless captives.  Other levels are full of undead, dark fey, demons, etc.  Not quite gonzo, but definitely some weird fantasy elements mixed in with the more traditional stuff.  Hopefully my players' characters will get high enough level to actually play it...

PsyXypher

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2021, 06:15:18 PM »
The reaction I get from a title is less "Shark smelling blood in the water" and more "Did I just hear gunshots?"

Anyway you said that they made their PHB free? I'll have to check it out!

Also racial restrictions on classes always bothered me. Not them specifically, but how they were implemented. Dwarves aren't unlimited as Fighters? Elves aren't unlimited as Wizards? Only humans can be divinely empowered as Paladins or train their ass off to become Monks?

A bit weird to me. Though I understand why the mechanic is in place.
I am not X/Y/Z race. I am a mutant. Based and mutantpilled, if you will.

The Spaniard

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2021, 06:51:47 PM »
I agree with all your points Persimmon, well stated.   C&C is my go to fantasy game.

Persimmon

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2021, 11:29:21 PM »
The reaction I get from a title is less "Shark smelling blood in the water" and more "Did I just hear gunshots?"

Anyway you said that they made their PHB free? I'll have to check it out!

Also racial restrictions on classes always bothered me. Not them specifically, but how they were implemented. Dwarves aren't unlimited as Fighters? Elves aren't unlimited as Wizards? Only humans can be divinely empowered as Paladins or train their ass off to become Monks?

A bit weird to me. Though I understand why the mechanic is in place.

The way they do it in C&C is that the different races have favored classes (all in the case of humans), but they don't explicitly forbid any race/class combos and there are no level restrictions.  So elves are unlimited as rangers, wizards, archers, etc.  I like this as I enjoy the challenge of having some restrictions on classes for demi-humans, who have other special abilities already.  Additionally, in my campaign, only demi-humans can multi-class, which also balances things out.

SHARK

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2021, 12:18:29 AM »
The reaction I get from a title is less "Shark smelling blood in the water" and more "Did I just hear gunshots?"

Anyway you said that they made their PHB free? I'll have to check it out!

Also racial restrictions on classes always bothered me. Not them specifically, but how they were implemented. Dwarves aren't unlimited as Fighters? Elves aren't unlimited as Wizards? Only humans can be divinely empowered as Paladins or train their ass off to become Monks?

A bit weird to me. Though I understand why the mechanic is in place.

The way they do it in C&C is that the different races have favored classes (all in the case of humans), but they don't explicitly forbid any race/class combos and there are no level restrictions.  So elves are unlimited as rangers, wizards, archers, etc.  I like this as I enjoy the challenge of having some restrictions on classes for demi-humans, who have other special abilities already.  Additionally, in my campaign, only demi-humans can multi-class, which also balances things out.

Greetings!

Nice! I like having different races having different abilities. Different classes, skills, spells, magic. Whatever. They should be different!

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
"It is the Marine Corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with self. It is the Corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last, each will own the privilege of looking inside himself  to discover what truly resides there. Comfort is an illusion. A false security bred from familiar things and familiar ways. It narrows the mind. Weakens the body. And robs the soul of spirit and determination. Comfort is neither welcome nor tolerated here."

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but is doing what you have to, in spite of the fear."
"Let Death and Fire Be Their Portion!"
"Delenda Est Parthia!"

FingerRod

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2021, 06:34:54 AM »
I am glad you found your game. I ordered the box set a while back, and on page five it claims the attack mechanic is:

Attack Roll: Ability bonus + BtH + 1d10

That seemed odd to have d10 as the primary roll for combat. I looked it up, and it should be d20. This is the basic combat resolution and it was a typo. I wasn’t willing to go through the process of verifying every single mechanic and chart, so in the graveyard of RPGs it went.

Perhaps I was hasty. It sounds really cool.

Persimmon

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2021, 09:21:53 AM »
I am glad you found your game. I ordered the box set a while back, and on page five it claims the attack mechanic is:

Attack Roll: Ability bonus + BtH + 1d10

That seemed odd to have d10 as the primary roll for combat. I looked it up, and it should be d20. This is the basic combat resolution and it was a typo. I wasn’t willing to go through the process of verifying every single mechanic and chart, so in the graveyard of RPGs it went.

Perhaps I was hasty. It sounds really cool.

Isn't the boxed set their streamlined, AKA White Box, version of the game?  Not sure, because I just have the regular hardcover books.

FingerRod

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Re: Rainbow Coalition of the OSR?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2021, 09:23:55 AM »
I am glad you found your game. I ordered the box set a while back, and on page five it claims the attack mechanic is:

Attack Roll: Ability bonus + BtH + 1d10

That seemed odd to have d10 as the primary roll for combat. I looked it up, and it should be d20. This is the basic combat resolution and it was a typo. I wasn’t willing to go through the process of verifying every single mechanic and chart, so in the graveyard of RPGs it went.

Perhaps I was hasty. It sounds really cool.

Isn't the boxed set their streamlined, AKA White Box, version of the game?  Not sure, because I just have the regular hardcover books.

Indeed