Wendy's RPG

What. Wendy's made a free tabletop RPG about fast food kingdoms.

Very weird. It's D&D5E-like (but not explicitly; it isn't OGL, it doesn't use any WotC trademarks, but it rips 5E off completely), very rules-light. I don't like all the 4d4 rolls (some Wendy's marketing thing is "4 for 4", so this pun is all over), otherwise it's unexceptional.

I do like this variation on critical:

FEAST MODE
If you roll a 20 on an attack or skill roll, you go into FEAST MODE. You do the maximum amount of attack damage, plus an additional roll of the normal attack dice. You also get advantage on your next roll, making going into FEAST MODE again even more likely. Going into FEAST MODE can completely change the tide of a confrontation.
Likewise, rolling a 20 on any skills check will result in your character’s best possible outcome in their current situation. After all, you went into FEAST MODE.

The equipment list is ridiculous, with Ukuleles, Tiaras, healing by eating Chicken Nuggets, fishing poles. Armor's silly (Apron, Red Polo Black Visor, etc.) but an interesting idea: Some adds to Defense, some to Arcana (magic stat) or Grace (dexterity). Weapons range from Spoon (1d4) to Cast-iron Skillet (3d6). I kinda want to steal a bunch of these stupid ideas.

The book gives you buffs/debuffs based on the food the player eats, obviously encouraging Wendy's food and not anyone else's. What a bunch of jackasses.

The classes are Order of the Chicken (magic-user/thief depending on subclass, 5 subclasses), Order of the Beef (fighter, 4 subclasses), Order of the Sides (spoony bards, 5 subclasses). The powers are jokes but overpowered if you did play them out, and it goes up to level 5; there's no experience, the adventure just says "everyone levels up" after each boss fight. No choices anywhere, just roll stats, pick class, go.

PCs can't actually die, just pass out from hunger and then wake up when the team camps. I guess you could TPK a group, and that'd be a sweet merciful release to death.

So then there's the adventure, which is a pretty standard 5E railroad with five chapters and a couple side-quest areas; zero difference between this and any "adventure path" or recent WotC adventure book, except the branding is different. Some puzzles aimed at small children or drunk frat boys, some very silly monsters. Queen Wendy ("of the Clapback" which either means something very different than I think, or is rather rude) commands heroes who brave the french fry forest to yadda yadda light a bacon beacon, yadda yadda go murder an ice clown in his funhouse and castle. Dave is dead which by my understanding of the rules can't happen, so I suspect Wendy froze him into a statue to seize the throne. Really no sillier than that Chult book.

The art, maps, and layout are very professional (aside from the maps being so linear even Disney couldn't run them as rides), it really makes it clear how commercial-friendly Wizards of the Coast & Paizo are, as if He-Man was selling junk food instead of toys.

★★☆☆☆

Back in the latter days of TSR, Inc, there was a module WG7 Castle Greyhawk, with 13 short comedic adventures by different writers around the themes of Gary's mega-dungeon (some humorless people really take offense to this module; I think it's a funny homage and several levels are great). Level 8: Of Kings & Colonels, by John Nephew (who wrote for TSR, Ars Magica, and Over the Edge) covers a similar gag, with a cavern wilderness fought over by Colonel Sandpaper and King Burger. But he wasn't being paid by KFC to say how great their chicken parts in a bucket are.

Blueholme Referee Repository

Just a collection of the charts from Blueholme, plus a new chart listing all the monsters with Size, AC, HD, Movement, Damage, Align, Treasure, Page; that's super helpful for a game with some weird monsters.

The front and back covers don't show up in Preview or Skim on Mac, only in Adobe's reader (ugh), but the clean art version does on page 3, and the interior seems to render fine. There's some scaling & half-toning artifacts in a few pieces, some of which are rendered differently but also wrong in Adobe. I think the editor needs to ship printable and screen versions.

There may be too much whitespace and large fonts. Holmes was Futura 10 or 11pt, mostly tightly-packed paragraphs; maybe that's too small for quick reference sheets, but this goes too far the other way. The art's great, though. Like the main book, it has the tone of the original Holmes boxed set, but modern artists.

You could make a home-made Referee screen out of these pages, but you'd have to do some editing: Pages 16-17 are the combat charts, but Turn Undead is buried with the classes on page 7, and page 11 has the movement & getting lost charts.

★★★½☆: It's a buncha charts.

Coincidentally, I'd been thinking about and writing some notes for using Blueholme in a Discord or Skype chat game, so this comes at a good time.

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

Matt Finch's Swords of Jordoba youtubes, which have been hilarious and accurate to how we played/still play original games. Except the minis, which I'm not really into, but it makes for better youtubes.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

I liked my simple Rules for the OSR.

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

There's a lot to choose from, but in no real order:

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

Poison damage-over-time/effect rules in Judges' Guild Ready Ref Sheets (1978). Changed the game for me when I first read them (probably early '80s?); save or die poisons are boring, DOT poisons make the players panic and start counting rounds to escape.

Second favorite is "Orgies, Inc" in Dragon #10, which changed XP-for-gold (which ends up with giant piles of loot which is anti-genre) into XP-for-gold-spent-uselessly and created all these interesting side effects of blowing your gold.

5. How I found out about the OSR:

I'd picked up the PDF of Holmes Basic from Paizo, and went looking for house rules to better hook it into OD&D than the hacks we'd used back in the day. Rules expansions were already starting to appear, and that led to a bunch of blogs.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

donjon

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

It's becoming MeWe's OSR group, but I'm not that social, I prefer to make things and release them, however infrequently.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:

I'll talk about games as @mdhughes@cybre.space on Fediverse (Mastodon).

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

I prefer dark fantasy and swords & sorcery, not "high fantasy". I dislike Tolkien and his works, and I'm in the process of deleting such nonsense from my games and getting back to mythological roots, and in every way that makes them better. Ban elves, non-Wagnerian dwarfs, and fobbits (portmanteau "fucking hobbits").

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

RoleMaster 2nd Ed or Space Master. I'm unlikely to play RM again soon, especially with "Iron Crown" (the company doing business in the name Iron Crown) taking so long on the "RoleMaster Unlimited" rewrite, which is weird since they already have RoleMaster Classic and should just support that. The fiasco of this company (or the people who bought its IP) with the best game ever made, dicking around with unplayable variants for decades, is just infuriating. Hi. I'm Mark, and I have opinions about RoleMaster.

And Stormbringer 1st Ed. Every later edition got less and less like the books of the black blade and his little albino buddy, and then Moorcock pulled the license, but Chaosium made a decent not-Elric game of it, Magic World. Then they ran out of money and Greg Stafford bought them and killed everything that wasn't Glorantha or Call of Cthulhu. And now RIP Greg Stafford, who knows what they're doing.

11. Why I like OSR stuff:

Simpler rules, and access to all the old dungeons and new dungeons in the style of the old ones. I've got plenty of games, almost always better ones, and written many myself, but it's the adventure support that makes OSR work for me.

But I also very much like Jeff Rients' answer:

Gygax and Arneson hit on something magical, but there's no good reason why that magical needs to be bottle and sold to us by a big corporation. There's no reason why a central committee needs to set an agenda for the hobby. As a kid new to the hobby I didn't understand how slavishly lapping up the offerings of TSR shaped my view of what D&D could be, what behaviors (good or ill) it reinforced, what doors it closed. Fantasy roleplaying is an open-ended, artistic, mythological activity between human beings. We don't need an official imprimatur to make that work, in fact such approval inevitable cuts us off from some avenues of exploration. Within the vague concept of "games like this," the OSR is a diffuse, non-centralized, network of individual exploration and group interchange, respecting the right of the individual soul to dream while keeping us connected to each other.
Also, I am not over wizards and dragons and never will be.
Jeff Rients

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

  • Delvers in Darkness, my new game which isn't out today but very soon (like, this week if I can get some art done and playtest the adventure).

15. I'm currently running/playing:

Not much, too much time developing software and writing the next game (see previous) which I will run, and it will be my standard "online chat RPG" from now on. I've played a few Tunnels & Trolls solos.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

We're probably using AAC in my OSR games, but if not, you've got your to-hit-AC table on your charsheet and I've got a Referee screen/Wall of Fear & Ignorance with to-hit tables.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Elric-Ritual

Gamer Migration

As noted in Google Minus, G+ shutting down hurts a large RPG community. Over the last few days, most have settled on a startup called MeWe as a replacement. Couple videos on the topic:

I've been trying it out, and it's not bad, it's a functional forum, except for: No public posts (which they're working on), and the very annoying chat popups (which you can disable from notifying you, but can't hide entirely). I don't know if it's going to survive very long, but they're ideologically motivated to privacy and not being Facebook, which is good.

It's unnerving, though, how fast everyone coalesced on this obscure service. There weren't a lot of other good options, though. Facebook is evil, Diaspora doesn't really support the kind of sharing and consistent timeline people need, old-style forums are, as I noted, run by shitty people.

Some people made really weird suggestions, like Youtube or Twitch, posting everything as a video and comments on it? Oh hell no.

Google Minus

Actually kind of a pain in the ass: G+ has been a somewhat decent forum for OSR gaming discussions. The alternatives now are:

  • Discord. Fine for small groups, in fact one of the best chat/voice systems around. But the public gaming discords are like a game shop full of drunk gamers, with every asshole shouting at you in text AND voice. Fuck those guys.
  • Reddit, which is still full of Nazis, and they've been redesigning the site to make it impossible to read or post text, just browse through meme images. Fuck those guys.
  • Web forums, which are generally run by actual Nazis (rpg dot net) or screaming children, see Discord.

So I guess the conversation part is over, back to isolated gaming blogs, sometimes linking to each other.

As for Google, I mean, it's not like anyone expected privacy posting to G+. It's a fucking spyware program from the spyware company.

Rules for the OSR (Old-School Renaissance)

Housekeeping note: I'm still too busy with programming on the new Perilar, and some other things, to get back to my tabletop and/or online chat games regularly, but I'll be moving all my RPG stuff over to this blog from Mark Rolls Dice, I'd like to have one site to maintain which I own.

So, start with basic principles. How do I run games.

I'm a caveman from the '70s and '80s, so my Old-School is literally old and from school, as noted in Five Games. The Old-School Renaissance is my frozen caveman ass being thawed out to do it again.

There's a bunch of guides to how to do this, but they're kind of bullshit. Matt Finch's Quick Primer for Old-School Gaming is close to my view, and has gameplay dialogue examples which can be read in funny voices, but it goes on too long about irrelevant stuff. Principia Apocrypha and a bunch of other bloviating diatribes just go on forever, I started to nod off, make a little hand-puppet with my hand and flap its mouth up and down.

Here's my OSR principles:

  1. Let the dice fall where they may. ( Knights of the Dinner Table's Law )
  2. Be excellent to each other. ( Bill & Ted's Law, the inverse of Wheaton's Law )
  3. The Referee is always right, but the players can choose to stay or leave.
  4. Rules are just recordings of what we've previously done. We can change them at any time.

Like the Three Laws of Robotics, each principle is tempered by the ones previous: The Referee can override new rules. But, be excellent to each other. But, don't cheat and take away risk.

Five Games (and then some)

The following challenge/meme on Fediverse is interesting:

"If you had to recommend someone play 5 games to really get a feel for you/your tastes, what five would you pick?"

Videogames:

  1. Ultima II (1982)
  2. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1984)
  3. Alternate Reality: The City (Atari 800 version, 1985)
  4. Doom (1993)
  5. Elder Scrolls Online (2014)

Runners Up:

  1. Star Raiders (1979)
  2. Telengard (1982)
  3. Pitfall! (1982)
  4. Omega (1987)
  5. Llamatron (1992)

Tabletop:

  1. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (ed. Eric Holmes, 1977)
  2. Ogre (1977)
  3. Gamma World (1978)
  4. Tunnels & Trolls (4th-5th Ed, 1977-1979)
  5. Rolemaster (1980)

Runners Up:

  1. Star Fleet Battles (1979)
  2. Champions (1981)
  3. Stormbringer (1st Ed, accept no substitutes, 1981)
  4. Call of Cthulhu (1981)
  5. Kult (1993)