Friday, December 8, 2023

Perilous Shores Hexcrawl Campaign

It's been quite a while since I've written anything here.  But there's always something going on in my head.  (Be afraid.  Be very afraid!)  Here's one of the things I've been pondering.

I've mentioned the online map generator Perilous Shores before.  It is a really useful tool then and I really like it.  Well, it keeps getting better.  Watabou, it's creator, keeps adding features that improve it and make it more flexible.  He also has several different generators including a village generator, a city generator and a one page dungeon generator.  All of which have options to customize and/or modify the output.

One of the really cool improvements to Perilous Shores is that Watabou connected the other generators to the map maker.  So, if you want to instantly create a village that is on the map, you right click the village and you have the option to have the village generator create it.  The same for adventure sites and the One Page Dungeon generator.

This got me to thinking.  If you wanted to create a hexcrawl but were feeling lazy you could use the generators to get a head start.  In fact, if you combine it with other generators for NPCs and monsters you could create an entire hexcrawl pretty quickly.

Here's a short example:

This is the bare-bone beginnings for the Island of Storms hexcrawl using Watabou's generators.

First, I generate a map.  I'm going to make this a small map just for sake of example.

This entire map was created by the map maker, including names.  I did modify it.  As generated, it had a city but no adventure sites.  Being a small, isolated island, I didn't want it to have a city so I deleted it, leaving only the village of Crimson Gate.  I also added the two adventure sites so there would be places for characters to explore.  This is all menu driven so it's simple to do.

Next I created a players map.  I would only do this if I wanted the players to know the geography of the area.  The generator makes it easy to modify the map to hide the adventure sites and other features.

Second, I'll create the map of the village.

Then on to the adventure sites.

The information is automatically generated with the dungeon.  And it can be formatted in a couple of different ways.  This is just the default style.  However, if you want complete control over stocking the dungeon or want to use a different generator you can hide the descriptions and just have numbers.

Now the second dungeon.

The integration of the generators isn't perfect as you can tell by the description of the Haunted Vault.  It does not lie in the bend of a river.

It took me about ten minutes to put all of this together.  Now, I'll need to come up with some NPCs, stock the dungeons, create a wandering monster table for the island and I'm set to go.  Or as I mentioned, find generators to do this for me.  They are out there.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A Hobbit Inspired Campaign V: System

I was debating whether to talk about system or the setting first.  I've decided to tentatively select a system because I believe it will help focus the setting creation.  And I can always change the system later if I'm not satisfied with the outcome.

For this exercise I am going to use White Box: FMAG with a few modifications.  This was a difficult choice.  I was sorely tempted by both B/X and The Hero's Journey.  But for simplicities sake I am going to go with White Box for now.  For the most part the changes will be plug-and-play.

Starting with base SW: FMAG I would make the following changes and additions.

From James Spahn' White Box Omnibus and Compendium I would add:

  • Greenleaf Elf - Although elves are magical, some are more magical than others.  Greenleaf Elves do not command magic but are very attuned to the forest and have forest related skills.
  • The Ranger - The Ranger would not use the magic option.  This class, as well as the Fighter, would represent the Woodmen.  I was also considering the Barbarian for this but went with the Ranger instead.

Other changes I would make:

  • Remove Cleric.
  • Elves would use the variant rules if they are not Greenleaf Elves.  They would use Clerical magic. I still need to decide whether they would use the Elf Variant spell progression or the Cleric Spell progression.  And I would lower the XP needed to reach second level to 4000.  Since Elves are not fading and disappearing into the west, I may let elves progress to the 10th level.  This is were White Box maxes out.
  • Half-Elf - Though I can't quite figure out how to do it.  The one Half-Elf mentioned is Elrond and he seems like any other elf.  The Half-Elf classes I've seen aren't satisfactory.  They usually give the half-elf a single first level spell and some of the Elf abilities.  I might just make Half-Elves the same as elves.
  • Berserker - If I can find a Berserker class that I like I will include it to represent the skin-changing Beornings.
  • Experience Points - Ultimately, The Hobbit is a treasure hunt. And the characters get their hands on two hoards during their travels, the trolls' and the dragon's.  However, gold as XP doesn't necessarily feel right for a game based on the book.  I could either substitute or supplement the traditional system with one that rewards reaching goals, completing quests or being heroic or something like that.  The Hero's Journey has an experience system like this.

And a couple of house rules off the top of my head:

  • Though there is no mention of Plate Armor that I recall it will exist but will be rare and VERY expensive.
  • Add Scale Armor -3 [+3]
  • Max HP at 1st level.

This is what I have so far.  I may add more or change my mind on system completely.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Friday, April 7, 2023

A Hobbit Inspired Campaign IV: Details About the 1937 Version of "The Hobbit"

In this post I want to highlight some specific points about the 1937 version of The Hobbit.  For this I'm going to draw on The Hobbit itself, the two blog posts that inspired my series, "The Hobbit 1937" and "1937 Hobbit as a Setting",  as well as a couple of forum threads talking about the subject, including "Using 'The Hobbit' as the only canon and starting point" and "D&D: The Hobbit".  

The Annotated Hobbit was a big help with this because it has the text of the 1937 edition in parallel with the current edition.  Also, many of these items were pointed out in the blog posts and on the forums, so most of this didn't originate with me.

  • *EDIT* I seemed to have missed kind of a big one.  The Elves in particular but other races also don't seem to be fading away.  There is no mention of the Elves heading West and leaving that I recall.  This definitely changes the tone.
  • The term Middle-Earth does not appear in the book.  Neither does Shire, only Hobbiton.

  • Wizards are people, too.  Gandalf is just a wizard, there is no indication that he is anything more.  He visited "a great council of the white wizards" who are masters of good magic.  He has a cousin named Radagast who is also a wizard and lives near the Southern borders of Mirkwood.  Gandalf has an enemy called the Necromancer who is also a wizard.  He turned the Greenwood into Mirkwood with his evil.  That means there are evil wizards in the world.  The fact that he is called a necromancer also implies the existence of the undead.  Gandalf and the Council of White Wizards drove him out of Mirkwood.  It appears anyone can be a wizard with enough talent and practice.
  • Gollum is an honorable creature.  Even though he will eat any humanoid he can.  He is not obsessed with his ring of invisibility.  He is very upset when he discovers that his ring is missing and he can't give it to Bilbo as the prize for winning the riddle contest.  He offers to lead Bilbo out of the mountain as a consolation prize.
  • Rings of Invisibility are just what they seem.  And you leave a shadow when invisible.
  • Orc is the Hobbit word for Goblin.  Hobgoblins are larger Goblins.
  • Goblins speak the common language used by Hobbits, Men and Dwarves.
  • Dragons also speak the common language.
  • In fact giant spiders, trolls and some birds speak the same common language.
  • Other birds, like the giant eagles, and creatures such as Wargs speak their own language that people can learn or know if they are the right bloodline.
  • Heck, even troll purses are enchanted to warn their owners of theft.
  • Stone Giants exist and some are friendly enough to help wizards occasionally.  Perhaps other types of giants exist, too.
  • There was once a king west of the Wilderlands that people have now forgotten.
  • Between Hobbiton and Rivendell "There were castles on some of the hills, and many looked as if they had not been built for any good purpose."  When I read the revised version of the line, "On some of them were old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by wicked people."  I always assumed that the castles were ruins.  I'm not sure why.  I'll probably run with this assumption.
  • Elrond states that the trolls may have"...come on the remnants of old robberies in some hold in the mountains of the North. I have heard that there are still forgotten treasures of old to be found in the deserted caverns of the mines of Moria, since the dwarf and goblin war.”  It sounds like there are dungeons or adventure sites to be plundered.
  • Rivendell does not seem very large.  Particularly if you use Tolkien's paintings as evidence.
  • Elrond is a Half-Elf thus Half-Elves exist.
  • An Elf-Goblin War occurred in the far past.
  • A Dwarf-Goblin War occurred in the recent past.  Many of Dain's warriors participated in it.
  • Elves are not immortal. "Already behind him among the goblin dead lay...many a fair elf that should have lived yet long ages merrily in the wood."
  • Elves are magical.
  • Elves aren't always nice.
  • Elves like to party and they get drunk.
  • Elves trade with Men.
  • There are larger trade networks even if the quantity of goods is small.
  • Dwarves were master smiths and used to make marvelous toys, in addition tomasterful weapons and armor.
  • Wicked Dwarves were known to ally with Goblins.
  • Smaug is not the titanic dragon he is often depicted as.  Once again, if you use Tolkien's paintings as evidence.
  • There are skin-changers/shape-changers in the Wilderlands.  And the ability is passed from generation to generation.  At least one skin-changer had animals that acted as his servants.  They even walked on their hind legs.
  • Men are expanding north into the land between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, the land of the Great River of the Wildlands, settling and creating villages.
  • Chain mail seemed to be the most common heavy armor.
  • Golf is a game.  Originally played with a goblin's head.

Ok.  That's a lot of details.  In the next couple of posts I'll actually try to put together a setting inspired by the book and the points above.

You can find the first three posts in the series here:

You can find the first part of A Hobbit Inspired Campaign here.
You can find the second part of A Hobbit Inspired Campaign II here.
You can find the third part of A Hobbit Inspired Campaign III here.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

A Hobbit Inspired Campaign III


You can find the first part of A Hobbit Inspired Campaign here.
You can find the second part of A Hobbit Inspired Campaign II here.

I have been looking at RPGs that might be a good fit to run a campaign based on the 1937 version of The Hobbit.  My first post covered several possible OSR candidates.  The seconds looked at The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game and its clones and derivatives.  

This installment will look at a couple of unrelated games that look like they could work.  They include one that was inspired by same blog posts that inspired this series, 1937 Hobbit as a Setting and The Hobbit 1937.

So let's talk about it first.  Unfortunately, like most of the games I own, I have not had the opportunity to play it.  It is titled, appropriately enough, There and Back Again.  This is a little one sheet gem by Ray Otus, the same fellow who put together the campaign/worldbuilding pamphlet The Gygax 75 Challenge based on an article written by Gary Gygax.  Ray briefly talks about the genesis of the game on his old blog.  Note that the game itself is no longer available there.  You can find it here.

There and Back Again (TABA) is rules-lite, as one would expect from a two page game.  It is a limited d6 dice pool system.  The pool gets no larger than three dice and you succeed if even one of dice comes up a 5 or 6.

Each character has two attributes, Toughness and Fate.  Toughness is essentially hit points and Fate is spent to cast spells and is used as a meta-currency to add dice to your pool.  A starting character also has two Traits with three associated Skills.  There are eight Traits total, which includes magic, and each trait has three or four associated skills.  Or in the case of magic, spells.

I'm not going to go into it much more because it's only two pages and it's free.  How would TABA work?  If you like ultralite games, I think it would work really well.  It was written to the exact specifications I laid out in my first post.  In its two pages TABA somehow evokes the feel of The Hobbit.  I don't quite know how Mr. Otus did it but for me he did.  Would I actually use it for a campaign?  I don't know.  One point in its favor is that it does have advancement rules.  But it is so lite that the GM would have to fill in a lot of the gaps.  It also lacks a bestiary.  It has three sample creatures.  Now, creatures are dead simple to come up with, but you would still need to think of their Traits.  So, for me I don't think I would run a full campaign with it but I would definitely use it for one-shots or a two or three session arc.

Next is Legends of Middle Earth.  It is a free game that is 25 pages long that uses its own system.  LoME is a game pointed directly at the full Lord of the Rings experience.  One of the races a player can choose is Descended Maiar.  

Players choose a Race for their character.  These include, as mentioned, Descended Maiar, Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, Man and Numenorians.  Then a Role which include Burglar, Commoner, Diplomat, Leader, Ne'er Do Well, Ranger, Scholar and Warrior.

Characters are defined by skills.  There are three groups of skills - Prowess, Bearing and Lore - with eight skills in each group.  Most skills start at 8 and are modified by Race and Role.  Then a player gets extra points to spend between Skills, Passions, Story Tokens, Special Abilities and Artifacts.

The system uses a d6 roll under/equal dice pool.  For regular tasks the GM determines the difficulty and from that selects the appropriate number of dice to roll.  A very difficult task uses 4d and the player must roll under the skill being used.  Bonuses and penalties can be assigned by adding or removing dice.

For combat, LoME uses a sort of bidding system.  Whichever combatant has initiative chooses the number of dice to roll.  If the roll is successful character A has hit.  Character B then gets to make a "saving" throw against the most appropriate skill using the same number of dice as the attacker.  If he makes it the nothing serious happens but character A gets to act with advantage next time.  One less die.  If the attack succeeds, fight over.  If the fight continues then character B attacks.  He can use the same number of dice or add one or more.  It seems like an interesting process.  The harder you make it for you to hit, the harder it is for the defender to defend himself.

Magic is divided into two parts, Parlor Tricks and True Magic.  Parlor Tricks are what the rules call imitation-magic.  It covers sleight of hand and things like alchemy.  I'm assuming alchemy would cover Gandalf's fireworks.  True Magic, however, is the real deal.  It is divided into three types, Light Magic, Elven Magic and Dark Magic.  It can only be performed by Descended Maiar, Elves and to a lesser extent Numenorians.  Magic is pretty freeform with no set spell list.  The magic user states what he wants to accomplish, the GM sets the difficulty, the player pays a story token and then rolls against his magic skill.

Story tokens allow the use of magic, are used to activate certain special abilities and to edit the story.

Passions, Story Tokens, Special Abilities and Artifacts all affect the game and assist rolls.  It does have a brief section about character advancement.  The last four or five pages are a GM's section.  It discusses how to create NPCs that are the right level of challenge for the players, when to roll the dice for maximum fun and when not to, campaign and adventure creation and it has a couple of campaign seeds.

I'd like to talk about how it would work for gaming in The Hobbit-verse.  I'll stand by my statement that it is aimed firmly at gaming in the full Third Age Middle-Earth.  However, the Adventure section starts in an interesting way.  I'm going to quote it in full.

When preparing for a game in Middle Earth, a Game Master must make one decision before all others:  The Hobbit, or Lord of the Rings?  Basically, the feel of which book would you like to emulate? Both are completely valid choices, but also altogether completely different. Games modeled after The Hobbit are likely to be more lighthearted, silly, and clich├ęd. Those emulating the trilogy will be more melodramatic and grim, focusing upon the interplay of character’s Passions. And perhaps most importantly, servants of dark forces in Hobbit style games have names like Tom, Bert, and William. In Trilogy like games, they’re more likely to be like Grishnak, and mean something in some dark language or another.
The author outright acknowledges that there is a difference in the style and tone of the two "settings".  He then goes on to briefly outline the next two steps the GM needs to take but I like the fact that he sees this as the foundation on which the rest of the game will be built.  Unfortunately, he doesn't go on to suggest any mechanical changes the gamers can or should make.  He just speaks to the tone.  If he would've talked about the changes that could be made to help capture the tone I would be much more enthused about this.  However, as it stands it doesn't meet my criteria.  Of course I could modify and hack it but I'm not interested in doing that with this game.  So, I think it would make a good Middle- Earth game but not necessarily a good The Hobbit only game.

There are two other games I would like to talk about but can't.  The first is Under Hill, By Water.  This is actually written by Josh McCrowell, the author of the blog post 1937 Hobbit as a Setting.  I can't write about it because I haven't read the rules yet despite owning them.  I get the impression that, even though the game is all about Halflings, it might not be a good fit.  That's because its tag line is:

Adventures? No thank you.

And part of its blurb reads:

What do you do in Under Hill, By Water?
This game is about capturing your aunt’s escaped ornery goat. 
This game is about growing the biggest turnip for the Harvest Festival.
This game is about gathering rare ingredients for a birthday feast. 
This game is about being simple and silly. 

So, unless something changes my mind when I finally get a chance to read it, I don't think this is in contention.

The second one I would like to talk about but can't is There and Hack Again.  I don't own it yet.  This is a Black Hack hack modified to capture the Tolkien feel.  And I've grown rather interested in The Black Hack and its variants recently.  It includes rules for journeying and despair, as I understand the more recent LotR games do.  So I'm looking forward to getting this one to see what it's like.

As I wrap this post up I want to leave you with a couple of links from the Rise Up Comus blog.  The cover several Middle-Earth games both official and unofficial.  You can find them here.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

A Hobbit Inspired Campaign II

You can find the first part of A Hobbit Inspired Campaign here.

So, it's time to get away for OSR type games.  I mentioned the Lord of the Rings Adventure Game in the last post.  It is the only official Tolkien licensed RPG that I'm interested in at this point.  LOR was published by Iron Crown Enterprises in 1991 as a kind of simple introduction to roleplaying in Middle-Earth and as a lead in to their Middle-Earth Role Playing game.  And it, apparently, had its genesis in the "Middle-Earth Quest" choose your own adventure game books.  

LOR is a simple system that uses 2d6.  You roll, with appropriate modifiers, and attempt to equal or exceed a target number to succeed at a task.  In combat, you roll on a chart with appropriate modifiers to determine the outcome of an attack.  Characters have 12 Stats, 5 that I would call attributes (Strength, Agility, etc.), 6 skills and Defense, which doesn't seem to fit in either category.  These essentially act as modifiers to rolls.  You can play as a Hobbit, Elf, Half-Elf, Human or Dwarf and be a Scout, Warrior, Ranger or a Bard.  Gandalf is listed as a Human Bard, Thorin as a Dwarf Warrior and Bilbo as a Hobbit Scout to give three examples.  There are limitations though.  If you wanted to play a Hobbit you are limited to being a Scout and Dwarves are limited to being Warriors.

Magic is also limited as there are only 15 spells.  Some may not like this but I have heard that others think that it fits the feel of Middle-Earth well.  Spells include Shield, Charm Animal and Fire Bolt.

The boxed set included, besides the short rulebook, maps, pre-generated characters, cardboard character figures and an adventure.  Two further adventures were released before I.C.E. lost the rights to publish the games.  And all of their Tolkien related games.

Much to my surprise there have been several clones and homages to LOR.  In one way though, it shouldn't have been much of a surprise.  Just like many of the older games, the price of the LOR boxed set has seen a sharp rise on the second-hand market. On the other hand it is a somewhat obscure game so I was a little thrown to see not only one but multiple versions.

The first game I ran across was the Middle-Earth Adventure Game (MEAG).  It's listed as being published in 2002.  Which is only a couple of years after LOR went out of production.  But it didn't come to my attention until years later when I became aware of and interested in LOR.  It adheres pretty closely to LOR but does make some changes.  Mostly additions.  MEAG adds specializations, special abilities and negative traits.  

It also expands the number of spells and changes the way they are cast.  In LOR, when a Bard cast a spell, it costs the character Endurance, which for Bards starts at 30 or 35.  MEAG adds a mana pool.  It is only after the mana pool is depleted that spells affect Endurance.  MEAG also changes the Bard to the Mage/Scholar.

Another significant change is that they separated race and profession.  So a Hobbit can be any of the five professions (MEAG adds Rogue), not just a Scout as in the original game.  However, Hobbits are intrinsically less capable of using magic than others so there is that to take into account when choosing a profession.

Two other games based on LOR are Tales & Legends and Simple Fantasy AdventureTales & Legends follows MEAG pretty closely but cuts the professions to three: Warrior, Scout and Mage.  It adds a 80+ creature bestiary, which MEAG doesn't have.  And come to think of it, neither does LOR!  

I think my favorite version is Simple Fantasy Adventure.  It strips things down bringing it closer to LOR again.  It is simple and clearly explained.  Any race can be any class, as SFA calls them, so it does differ in that respect.  The spell list is pared down to the original.  It has a minuscule bestiary.  It's lean and mean.  I also prefer the formatting, which is much easier for me to read than MEAG, for example.

Now the beauty of all of these games is you can borrow from any of them and mix and match to your hearts content.  For example, I could take the bestiary from Tales & Legends and use it with the other games without any modification. (Unfortunately, Tales & Legends is a commercial product, albeit very low priced in PDF.)

How would these games work for a game emulating The Hobbit?  I think any of them would work excellently.  Though ostensibly sold as a "Lord of the Rings" game, LOR and its emulators fit the feel described in the articles well. The professions are tailored for Middle-Earth which will make it easy to slide into the The Hobbit 1937 setting.  The games are also rules-lite, which is definitely my preference.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


I don't know if I've mentioned Hexfriend yet.  My favorite mapping program at this point is Hex Kit.  It's a downloadable program that is simple to use and has a bunch of tile sets that you can use to make different style maps.

A map made with Hexfriend
However, if you can't afford the price of a paid program or only have access to a computer that won't run downloaded programs there is Hexfriend.  Hexfriend is my favorite online mapping program.  It is simple to use.  It allows you to create classic looking hex maps, download the source file so you can work on it again later and export the final product as a PNG for printing or distributing to your players electronically.

It has several features that somewhat surprised me for an online program.  Besides being able to choose the size of the map, you can choose whether to have a classic rectangular map or a hexflower style map.  You can have the hexes either flat top or pointed.  Coordinates on or off and one of four styles.  The tiles and icons are reminiscent of the classic TSR maps of yore.  And, theoretically, you can import your own tiles and icons.  I know there is at least one set for sale on DriveThru.

One downside to it is that there isn't layering other than the automatic layering between terrain, icons, rivers/roads and text.  Also, the icons are fairly limited.  On the upside, the icons are scalable in size.

But, if you want any easy online mapping program you might like Hexfriend.  You can find it here.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Quickstarts I Like: Dungeon Crawl Classics

I think of the Dungeon Crawl Classics Quick Start Rules as the modern day gaming equivalent of the Basic D&D boxed sets of old.  Well almost.

You see, the core rules for Dungeon Crawl Classics are massive.  Over 500 pages!  That can be intimidating!!!  The Quick Start is 52 pages, including the covers.

So, what do you get in these 52 pages?  Well, as I mentioned, it reminds me a bit of on of the Basic boxed sets.  You get the 52 page booklet which covers character generation for your 0 level mooks who will die by the dozens.  (There is also an excellent online generator at Purple Sorcerer Games if you don't want to do it manually.)  It also covers the first two levels of character advancement including how experience points work. A list of appropriate level spell.  A list of weapons, armor and equipment. And two adventures.  A 0-1 level funnel and a 1st level adventure.  (So everything you need to get you up and running and playing for a while without having to invest in the full ruleset.  

So what are the downsides?  Obviously, you do get all of the rules or details you would get with the full ruleset.  One example is supernatural patrons.  Wizards get their magic from supernatural patrons such as demons or elementals.  This isn't covered in the Quick Start.

Another thing to be aware of is that there are a couple of different versions of the Quick Start.  There is a free version on the Goodman Games website.  This version has one adventure though, the funnel, and is 44 pages.  Before I discovered it I had purchased my copy at DriveThru and it is the version that has 52 pages and two adventures.

Whichever version you get I really think it's worth a look if you have even a passing interest in DCC.  Particularly since there is a free version.  I had kind of dismissed DCC until I read the Quick Start.  Reading it prompted me to buy the full rulebook.

It turns out Goodman Games has several variations of the Quick Start on sale.  Each has two adventures but the second adventure varies.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

A Hobbit Inspired Campaign

I've mentioned before my love of Tolkien's The Hobbit.  I really, really like it.  My fondness for it has only been growing over the years.  On the other hand, I don't much care for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  But that's another story.  (Oddly enough, though, I really like The Lord of the Rings movies but not The Hobbit movies.)

Two of my favorite blog posts out there on the gaming blogs are "The Hobbit 1937" at The Hydra's Grotto and "1937 Hobbit as a Setting" at Rise Up Comus.  Both of these riff on using The Hobbit as it was originally written as a campaign setting.  The current version of The Hobbit was modified when The Lord of the Rings was publish in the 1950s to fit better the series' lore.  So the posts ask, what would a campaign be like with just the information available in The Hobbit, as originally published, but with none of the later lore added by The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien's other works?

These two blog posts really make me want to play/run a campaign in that world.  It's essentially a points of light campaign, which I find fascinating.  Though it can be a harsh and grim world it also has a touches of fairytale whimsy.  And it shows how a small group of people can have an oversized effect on the world.

While I'm interested in playing in the setting itself or a close analog, I'm not really interested in using any of the of the licensed games.  Except, perhaps, The Lord of the Rings Adventure Game (LOR), a simple game released in the early 90s by Ice Crown Enterprises as an introduction to their Middle Earth Role Playing game.  But I'll talk about this game in another post.

I can think of several rulesets that I could use for this.  TSR D&D and OSR rulesets jump to mind immediately because that is what I'm most familiar with.

The first for me, of course, is B/X.  With the exception of the cleric it fits quite nicely.  The demi-human race-as-class fits the archetypes well in my mind and the other classes are spot on.  As for the cleric, many people online have suggested that the cleric's magic actually fits Tolkien elves better than magic-user spells.  I will take their word for it because as much as I like The Hobbit I am not a Tolkien scholar in any way, shape or form.  I could do away with the cleric altogether and have elves use clerical magic instead.  I just purchased BX Options: Class Builder by Erin Smale (aka The Welsh Piper) so I could just build the class from the ground up so it would be customized to my liking and have different x.p. requirements suitable for their modified powers.

The second to come to mind is The Hero's Journey by James Spahn.  Either the First or Second Edition would work fine.  The First Edition adheres more closely to its White Box roots.  It does add more classes, modifies how attributes are generated and actually adds two attributes, luck and appearance.  It also uses only shields and dexterity to determine armor class and has armor reduce damage.  The Second Edition makes many more changes to better match Mr. Spahn's vision.  I wrote about it in more detail in this post.  I like both editions but the First Edition draws me to it more at this point.  So if I were to go with The Hero's Journey I would use First Edition suitably modified.  I would throw out some classes and a race to make it fit my vision better.  (Buh-bye Bard, buh-bye Jester, etc.)  And the cleric would have to be dealt with again.

I could go with White Box with added classes and options from Mr. Spahn's White Box Omnibus and White Box Compendium.  This would essentially be taking the building blocks that he used to make The Hero's Journey and brew up my own version to try to more exactly meet my vision.  I would certainly add Greenleaf Elves, rangers and druids and perhaps the barbarian.  I would also probably add the druid spell list from White Box Expanded Lore by Simon "Noobirus" Piecha.  A little more time consuming but the process can be fun in and of itself.

Then there are several other noncommercial OSR games that are aimed at a LotRs feel.  There is Drums in the Deep, which is a modification meant for Holmes Basic.  There is also Balrogs & BagginsesB&B states you will need a version of Basic or AD&D to use it.  Whereas Drums in the Deep is 11 pages, B&B clocks in at 58.  I haven't read these in quite a while so I'm not going to say much about them at this time.

I think I'll wrap this post up for now and talk about non-OSR options next time.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Christmas Gift

 I realized I haven't mentioned my Christmas gift yet!  I received the newest version of Traveller!  Pretty cool!