Saturday, 17 November 2018

Why I like the OSR

There's been lots of doom and gloom in my gaming circles lately, so I'm writing about why I love the OSR to cheer myself up.

My gaming has really four distinct areas I'm interested in. Namely larping, Warhammer, World of Darkness and the OSR. I only really publish stuff for one of those, though.
In the case of larping it's because a successful larp is an event. You need a good venue, a team working with you, supplies for your effects and sets and stuff. You need a budget and a supply of people willing to follow your instructions. I don't have those. So, as a larper I mostly just play and have fun, or occasionally I follow instructions and make special effects.

For Warhammer and WoD, the issue is a little different. I have, in the past, produced a whole load of content for Warhammer. Alternate army lists, campaigns, rules hacks, and so on. Even entire variants on the game. I've produced homebrew for WoD as well. None of it got published. None of it is really publishable because it's so tied to somebody else's IP.
This is what bothers me. People over at The Gardens of Hecate or Iron Sleet is producing work as skillful, as beautiful, as creative as anything in the OSR. But because the IP they're working with is so tightly tied to the company that makes Warhammer, they'll never be able to really capitalise on on that, promote themselves and carve out their own niche like you might in the OSR.
Likewise in the World of Darkness communities I see STs putting huge amounts of work and creativity and funds into their projects. (One recent larp I was at booked out an entire hotel for their post-event crew party. The larp itself was at a different venue, this was just so the crew could unwind and get sozzled somewhere nice afterwards). Again, they don't get the recognition the deserve, while people pick apart what White Wolf are doing with a fine toothed comb.

This is a problem. These projects are, ultimately, fan works. They're a rank below the stuff officially published. It restricts creativity, but more than that it restricts your ability to publish. You can't buy anybody's homebrewed hacked together Vampire the Masquerade project on DTRPG.

This, then, is what I love about the whole OSR movement. Nobody owns it. Nobody has authority over it. It's a shared communal space that exists either through a weird quirk of a licensing agreement around D&D or else in a sort of rejection of the big company's claim that they get to decide what D&D is.
Rather the OSR is made up of fans, creators, the small press, the indie outfits, and the homebrewers. The lines between all of those are vague and blurry. Anybody can make something good, and publish it, and get recognition, without needing to give too much of a shit about the rigors of intillectual property. This is, really, wonderful and rather unique if you compare it to any other tabletop gaming community.*

The OSR has fuck all barriers to entry. Most gamers are familiar with the basics of six stats, hit-dice, levels, armour class. It's a lingua franca of sorts. You can get yourself some cheap-ass layout software (I use MS Office), some public domain art, and just make whatever you think is cool. Self-publishing is super easy and if you have a blog or any sort of social-media presence, you'll find an audience who are keen to see new, weird content from new, weird creators.
Nine months ago I released a daft project about using random tables to make a fairy garden, basically out of nowhere and with no industry credentials, and it went great. I'm not special in this regard: loads of people are dropping cool stuff (so many that I'm not gonna try linking, as this post will be entirely made of links) these days. It's a great time to be into D&D.
These days, if you want to make stuff for the OSR, the single biggest obstacle is sitting down and writing it. Everything else is great.

So, yeah. Not to downplay various real issues, but I felt it worth writing out why I wanted to be part of this creative community in the first place, at least in part for my own sake.

*the only exception I can think of is the historical wargamers, who again aren't really limited to specific franchises.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Law Enforcement in Esoteric Enterprises

Security Guard
The standard rent-a-cop that might be found guarding warehouses, banks and so on. Training and experience are very varied, some are veterans of the police or military that have drifted into the career, others are pretty much sitting ducks. Equipment is typically poor.
Security Guard: 3 flesh (1 dice), 3 grit (1 dice). AC 14 (stab vest). Saves 17+. Nightstick (+1, d8 damage). Radio and flashlight.

Beat Cop
The standard officer on the street. Reasonably well trained. Reactions and equipment vary wildly depending on your location; cops in the UK have only basic weaponry and are trained to de-escalate or restrain, while American cops have sidearms and the will to use them.
Beat Cop: 3 flesh (1 dice), 6 grit (2 dice). AC 14 (stab vest). Saves 16+. Nightstick (+2, d8+1 damage) or tazer (+1, d6 damage and save or be stunned for a round) or pistol (+1, d8 damage). Strength and Wisdom 13. Handcuffs, radio.

Plain Clothes Officer
An undercover cop. Could pop up in all sorts of situations, from a plant in a criminal organisation to an unrelated officer pretending to be an environmental protestor. Smooth talking yet reserved.
Undercover Cop: 3 flesh (1 dice), 6 grit (2 dice). AC 14 (stab vest). Saves 16+. pistol (+1, d8 damage). Charisma and Wisdom 13.

Riot Cop
Heavily armoured police sent to deal with large-scale disturbances. Seasoned veterans equipped for close combat. Aggressive, well disciplined.
Riot Cop: 3 flesh (1 dice), 9grit (3 dice). AC 17 (riot armour & shield, high dexterity). Saves 15+. Club (+3, d8+1 damage) or stun baton (+3, d6+1 damage and save or be stunned for a round). Strength and Dexterity 13. Handcuffs, gas-mask, radio.

Firearms Officer
For when the police really want to shoot somebody, typically only brought out to deal with armed standoffs, raids on criminal bases, and dealing with occult criminals. Well trained and determined.
Riot Cop: 3 flesh (1 dice), 9grit (3 dice). AC 16 (riot armour). Saves 15+. Shotgun (+3, d12) or automatic rifle (+3, d10) Wisdom and Dexterity 13. Handcuffs,  radio.

Police Marksman
As with firearms officers. Employed to shoot people the police really want dead. Slow, careful snipers. 
Riot Cop: 3 flesh (1 dice), 9grit (3 dice). AC 16 (riot armour). Saves 15+. Marksman’s Rifle (+3, d12 or –1, d12 if not aimed already) or pistol (+3, d8) Wisdom and Dexterity 13. Handcuffs,  radio.

Men In Black Field Agent
Black suits. Dark glasses. Earpieces. Strange firearms. ID doesn’t match any agency you’ve encountered.
An unearthly presence. Unsettling, commanding. Always composed, relentless, seems not to feel fear or pain. Civilians shy away from the instinctively. The police obey them without question.
Field Agent: 6 flesh (2 dice), 9 grit (3 dice). AC 15 (smart suit). Saves 14+. Hypertech Pistol (+4, d12). All stats are 13.
Can cast any of the following spells by brandishing their ID, 3-in-6 chance the spell is cast successfully when they do. Command, Sleep, Silence Dispel Magic, Antimagic Shell.
Their attacks count as holy & magical. Immune to mind-control.

Men In Black Paladin
Smart suits. Scarred skin glimpsed behind porcelain masks. Odd weapons. Strange sigils on their cufflinks. Voices are mere whispers.
The specialists of the Men in Black. They display agency ID that hurts to look at. Their command of police and bystanders is absolute, mundane humans submit to their will wordlessly or cower beneath their gaze.
Field Agent: 6 flesh (2 dice), 15 grit (5 dice). AC 15 (smart suit). Saves 12+. Hypertech Pistol (+4, d12). All stats are 13.
Can cast any of the following spells by brandishing their ID, 5-in-6 chance the spell is cast successfully when they do. Suggestion, Dispel Magic, Protection from Weapons, Spectral Step, Spell Immunity, Time Stop.
Their attacks count as holy & magical. Immune to mind-control.

Men In Black Abomination
Dressed in a smart black suit. Gloves over their hands. Face hidden behind a reflective black glass mask. They smell of ozone, the air around them crackles with static electricity. Silent. Unarmed.
Looking at this thing makes your eyes hurt. Civilians and the police shudder and weep where they pass. Small animals die, plants wither.
Their demeanour is blank and emotionless. They pursue their targets with a single-minded dedication. Injury doesn’t seem to bother them. The powers that be only bring out such creatures when dealing with the worst disturbances.
Abomination: 9 flesh (3 dice), 12 grit (4 dice). AC 15 (smart suit). Saves 8+. Hand (+4, d8 and memory wipe). All stats are 13.
On first encountering an Abomanation, Save vs Stunning or spend d4 rounds weeping and cowering. Save again if you see what’s under the mask.
Touching the Abomination’s skin attacks your memory: Save vs Stunning or forget the last 5 minutes.
Their attacks count as holy & magical. Immune to mind-control.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Look at this cool thing!

So this guy Oddsbod did art of the White Librarians from the stygian library. Here it is:

Suffice to say I really like it, and if you do too you can find more stuff like it at and