Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Call to Arms

Inspired by the late John Eric Holmes...
Spurred on by the continued explorations of James M. of Grognardia..
Galvanized into action by the Al of Beyond the Black Gate & Warriors of the Red Planet...
I am pleased to present my plan for an "Old School" inspired Sword and Planet RPG.
For thirty years I have wanted to roleplay "Sword & Planet" style adventures inspired by the fiction of Edward Arnold Lester, Lin Cater, Gardner Fox, Otis Adelbert Kline, Leigh Brackett, and, of course, Edgar Rice Burroughs. Dr. Holmes, author of the first D&D basic ruleset was also a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He even wrote a Pellucidar novel which was authorised by ERB inc and published in 1980. Unfortunately there was never published an official ERB roleplaying system – such a project would have been a natural fit for Dr. Holmes.
I have run S&P style adventures with AD&D and TORG, and made several starts over the years at an S&P style rpg. I had planned until recently to make it a skill based game akin to the Chaosium BRP system. Nostalgia and the number of references to Barsoom in the Little Brown Books of OD&D have convinced me that a class-based system could work.
There are many points on which I will not be following the "Old School" model. Combat will be less abstract than the "Old School" version to allow for the epic duels recorded in Sword and Planet fiction. The relationship between AC, hit points, and damage will be revamped to allow heroes to avoid damage rather than “soak” it. Spells, class abilities, racial characteristics, and saving throws will be rationalized to use 1 or perhaps 2 core systems.
Conversely, there are some things I plan to keep standard. Weapons and damage would follow the "Old School" model. The creature and NPC stat format will be standard to allow any adventures created using "Old School" style monsters would be compatible with my rules.
Why not use Gareth-Michael Skarka's MARS rpg or some existing system? I admire GMS's MARS background. He captured the S&P aesthetic very well. But I could never get my head around the d20 “system” - too many special case rules. I want a coherent intuitive system. I could and have played S&P with Chaosium BRP. But the idea of combining the “Old School” paradigm of class based gaming with the foundational but almost forgotten genre of S&P fiction really appeals to me.
Why throw my hat into the ring when Al Krombach's Warriors of the Red Planet looks so promising? It appears Al is very much on the same wave-length as me in terms of translating S&P tropes into the OD&D paradigm. There will be lots of overlap. However close our plans are they cannot be identical. I hope there will an opportunity for some synergy or even cooperation though I have not corresponded with Al about that.

Onwards to Mars and Beyond!