Sunday, June 26, 2016

OSR Campaign Prep & Running Back To Back Games In Old School Campaigns

So things have gotten quiet over the weekend & I've been able to bust out my copy of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea for my Monday & Tuesday night games. There are  number of options that AS&SH brings to the table that are both fun & have a very interesting sword and sorcery to them. Because of the fact that AS&SH takes place in Hyperborea a flat world of incredibly dangerous aspect. I love the human-centric system and the base/expanded class options that AS&SH brings to the table. There's something very dangerous & otherworldly about some of the weird monsters that AS&SH brings to the table. The way that AS&SH is another aspect that I really love, magick in the system is ritualistic, dark, and very dangerous for PC's to mess with. There's also a sense that mucking around with the edges of the Outer Darkness are things and powers best not messed with(you know PC's are going to get involved with those).
The real spoke that is holding everything together is of course the Keep of the Borderlands but the more I read through it, the more I'm motivated to create a side quest or two in the wilderness with a smaller set of ruins for the party to really cut their teeth on.

But I'm haunted by some of the useful tools that Dark Albion brings to the table some of these are especially useful for generating backstories, NPC histories,social standing aspects and more. But the demonic and ritual magick are really some of the draw for me. The powers of Hell and chaos is really brought home with the magick system of Dark Albion. A system that involves some very dangerous risks for the occultist or magus and while I've had a few folks question my choices at the table for these campaigns the response by my players has been overwhelmingly positive. While Dark Cults isn't out for another month for Dark Albion some of the ideas in it are startling when it comes to presenting the ins and outs things like the star cults and chaos borne horrors of Dark Albion. But its the fact that this tool box makes such excellent fodder for all kinds of gaming for me especially the post apocalyptic. There is a lot of ulility and value to this material which makes it seductively appealing to work with.

I'm not the only one feeling this way, my friend Brandon did a really solid video review where he hits some of the high notes of the Dark Albion setting. Its a really well done video review that captures many of the incredible details that makes the book very seductive to use. The damn book seems to leap into my hands, I especially like the low level NPC's that the players can assassinate and change the entire world's setting. This is something I'm going to be stealing for not only my campaign but also the AS&SH games that I'm going to be running in the near future. I also think its an aspect that I could use as a dynamic force in other science fiction and fantasy games that I run. 

So what does all of this have to do with post apocalyptic gaming? Well I personally don't separate AD&D 1st edition games from Gamma World or the Metamorphosis Alpha because of the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide Appendixes. This is also a trait that has carried over into the OSR with Goblinoid Games Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future material. Its also an opinion on OSR play  that many of my players share as well. Its also very neatly tucked into the thread of post apocalyptic and science fantasy gaming that Fantastic Heroes & Witchery has running through it. In fact right in the OGL of FH&W Mutant Future is mentioned & sited. This one of the reasons why this retroclone is so appealing to me, the Swiss Army knife aspect of the game. All of these reasons make these game easy to back fit with classic old school resources and for me that's part of the appeal. Getting the most out of both classic & OSR resources.
I think for me both Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and Dark Albion have been solid investments. I also think that Dark Cults is going to make an impact on any OSR campaign and can't praise the book enough.

'Surprise encounter!' the players get a photo snapped
and had to deal with a weird peddler. They drove a hard bargain.

Running back to back games makes using the same setting and material very appealing. It means that PC's raise in level quickly, domain level play is going to come into play, the players have an investment in the game and very quickly become involved and there is going to have to be a certain level of commitment on the DM's part. Well one of the books that really help to convince me to do this madness was Venger Satanis's 'How To Game Master Like a Fucking Boss'  There are a couple of guidelines and ideas in there that really crystallized a few themes for me. 

In conclusion running games is one of the only ways that players and DM's find out what works for them at their tables. Back to back games are an exciting and interesting way of dealing with sprawling and expansive campaigns. It is also a way for a DM to limit the incredible range of resources that the OSR brings to market. More as we progress including upcoming play reports.

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