the wonder of role-playing games: reviews, solo rpgs, old-school & narrative games

09 Feb 2017

Friday Grab Bag: Thoughts About Old School D&D and Procedures, Crowdfunding and Other Links

Writing is a distraction-free minimalist writing tool in your browser. It uses HTML5 storage to save your text. Export as plain text, Markdown or HTML.
Stackedit slows down a lot on my Chromebook. Then you can’t use it with ease. Neat free tool for the minimalist writer.
(I wrote this post with!)


Hex Kit Desktop App by Cecil Howe makes my heart beat faster. It is a multi-platform map making software with beautiful images.
Looks like it’s easy to use and that’s a plus. The team behind this has an alpha version ready. No stretch goals, so no unnecessary bloat. How to Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck is Goodman Game’s contribution to helping the guys and gals behind the screen. If you like the DCC adventures, there might be good stuff here.
I hope for practical advice and how-tos. General design principles are useful. But it’s the implementation that I have problems with.


I listened to Hobbs & Friends of the OSR. In Episode 2 they talk about B/X (D&D Basic Expert from 1981). My big takeaway was that old school gaming is emergent. There are only a few rules.
Mechanically, your Fighter is almost like my Fighter. Our characters develop during play. I like that.


A Procedure for Play is a simple way to handle what to do as a Game Master. As a newbie, I love hands-on advice and this piece from Chris McDowall applies to other RPGs, too. The Powered-by-the-Apocalypse-World games emphasize an interplay between directives and procedures. Look at this flowchart for Dungeon World.
So all the “hard moves”, “soft moves”, “ask the players: what do you do?” are procedures. And they tie in the directives for the game: the agendas (“portray a fantastic world”) and principles (“draw maps, leave blanks”). D&D also has directives. Sometimes they are in the Referee’s chapter. But they often hide in extra documents like the Quick Primer for Old School Gaming or Philotomy’s Dungeons and Dragons Musings. That’s one of the reasons why different groups play different games. Their Referees use different directives. I would like to see a cheat sheet for useful procedures and directives for old school D&D like the flowchart above. The Angry GM’s guide to adjudicate actions offers me a simple way for procedures. But it only covers skill checks and has no directives. Maze Rats (PWYW affiliate link) comes to mind. It has both procedures (how to do stuff like attacking) and directives (“reveal the world”, “offer tough choices”). Any thoughts?