- I'm sure I've plugged Jon Peterson's blog Playing at the World for its exhaustive and energetic sleuthing about the early days of D&D. Recently he discovered a key 1970 precursor to a better-known 1971 precursor of the game. If that sounds boring, it's all my fault... the story of Leonard Patt and the Pelennor Fields is pretty fascinating!
- Old-school D&D often gets a bad rap as always devolving into "hack and slash" combat mode. Even lots of the fantasy fiction it's inspired by (hint: see previous bullet) is often grounded in battle and war as the primary narrative structure. But is that necessary? In a fantastic blog post that I missed when it was published, Joe Manola shows that romantic fantasy (in which the bad guys might be redeemed, befriended, or defeated by something less lethal than the sword) is an ideal fit for the old-school D&D rules. Think about reaction rolls, morale checks, combat that can actually kill your PC, and the presence of hearty level-zero retainers:
"The cumulative impact of these four systems is to create situations which heavily favour relationship-building and non-violent forms of conflict resolution. Of course there will still be fights; of course the PCs will occasionally just say 'fuck it' and shoot a bunch of guys in the head. Of course there are going to be some people who just need killing. But mass violence isn't the default solution, and it usually isn't the best solution. The best solution is talking: treating your potential enemies like people, negotiating, finding common ground. With a bit of work, you can turn them into allies instead of enemies, leaving the encounter stronger than you were when you came in."
|Not every melee ends with negative hp|
- Switching gears: Have you ever thought much about the holographic claymation chess game aboard the Millennium Falcon? I was amazed at how much work J. J. Abrams and crew did to recreate it, with the original animators, in the new movie. Of course, if you ever wanted to build your own set and play, you can read the full rules for several versions of the game here.
- Lastly, although I haven't spent much time on my own gaming projects lately, the idea for a computerized DM's assistant never seems far from my mind. When doing a search for something else, the following image popped up: