I’ve seen people try to make healing more and more rules-light in their OSR games. No rolling of hit die. No “1HP per night”. No “well you need to have had at least an hour for your Short Rest”1. Just heal, or die already.
Into The Odd has “five minutes and a glass of water” for healing temporary effects. And Wombat (among others) has proposed “eat/drink/rest makes you heal”. And I wondered how to make eating more interesting, without making it more complicated. How can we add some roleplay, rather than some roll-play?
Finally got around to playing this! The description from the website is better than I could write.
Beak, Feather, & Bone is a collaborative worldbuilding tool as well as a competitive map-labeling RPG. Starting with an unlabeled city map, players are assigned community roles before taking turns claiming and describing locations. Players draw from a standard 52-card deck to determine a building’s purpose and then describe its beak (reputation), feather (appearance), and bone (interior). As buildings are claimed, a narrative for the town and its inhabitants emerges, including major NPCs and shifting power-dynamics.
It’s designed to be played in person, but I’m still playing online1. Unlike The Quiet Year, it does not encourage playing in silence, and the map is already drawn. There’s also no events occurring, any timeline would grow from natural RP.
I finally got round to trying Into The Odd. It’s by Chris McDowall and a forerunner of Electric Bastionland. I was interested in something rules-light, but I’d previously struggled using Maze Rats. The most contraversial thing of ItO is that it has no to-hit mechanic. All attacks hit, you only roll damage. That’s certainly an efficiency saving, you’re halving the rolls. Players don’t have to wait through a turn and then flub their attack. The only problem, the enemies don’t miss either…
The dungeon I used was the Stellarium of the Vinteralf. The vinteralf are glacier-dwellers, and æons ago built a stellarium to investigate the heavens. It’s been abandoned and forgotten for some time, but the heroes have been told it’s poking out of the ice again. Pillage it!
I finally had a go playing Dungeon Crawl Classics. As a player, too. It’s a D&D retroclone with those dice, the “funky” ones. We played the game from the Quickstart Rules, which are free, and include two adventures. We played The Portal Under The Stars.
I decided to shake up my Evils of Illmire campaign with something different, and I’d been meaning to run “Do Not Let Us Die”1 for a while. It’s by Cecil Howe who made Hex Kit which I’ve mentioned and used a few times.
The premise is basically almost a board-game. The players are nebulous here, they don’t have physical characters, they’re just each in charge of a fraction of a town that is under-resourced for a fearsomely cold winter that restricts the ability to gather resource. They get abstracted to being a Wizard, Fighter, or Thief, with attendant bonus at gathering one of the following resources.
Villagers need wood (collected best by Fighters), to prevent freezing to death immediately. They need food (which Thieves spot best) every other turn, or they will starve. They can need medication (gathered by Wizards) within a few turns or will die of some malady.
It is, in short, grimdark.
Design challenge: Icebound horror
18 Mar, 2021
Jim Parkin likes making and playing very streamlined games. Really, very very streamlined games. He’s into the idea of free kriegsspiel (FK) feeding back into RPGs (the FK revolution, FKR) and summarises it well. This goes past OSR’s “rulings not rules”, and could be encapsulated as “why have the rules? Just talk through the action and agree what should happen”. This requires trust at the gaming table (no /r/rpghorrorstories), and (I personally think) a bit of confidence for the Referee.