The Best In Old School Roleplaying

The Best In Old School Roleplaying
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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Honoring Basic Fantasy Role Play: A Rule I REALLY Like

Maybe you are familiar with Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game.  Maybe you aren't.  To be honest, it is probably one of the most overlooked of all of the retro-clones.  In fact, I often overlook this gem myself.  While my ideal cup of tea lies within Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry and sometimes B/X, this has a solid rule set, good presentation, and a great price Free for the PDF and very cheap for hard copies.  These can both be acquired here.  There you go.  I'm happy that I helped to get you a free copy of a new game, maybe some modules and supplements too (did you see those?)  

Now that you have this let me draw your attention to something that I REALLY like.  Page 48:  Wrestling rules.  This ruling is what many modern rpg's refer to as "grappling."  Typically the rules for grappling are long winded and difficult to remember.  This version of the rule is a good rule.  I think a variation of it should replace the "grappling" rules in every game that contains them, and be given as an option in games that do not yet have such a rule.  This is really a good way of handling said action.  Let's take a look:

A wrestling attack requires a successful melee attack roll,
where success indicates the attacker has grabbed his or her
opponent. This hold is maintained until the attacker
releases it or the defender makes a save vs. Death Ray,
which is attempted at the defender's next action (according
to Initiative). A successful wrestling attack causes the
attacker to move into the same “space” as the defender (if
miniature figures are used).

After achieving a hold on an opponent, the attacker can
automatically inflict unarmed damage (as if striking with a
fist), prevent a held opponent from speaking, use simple
magic items such as rings, or take any other action the GM
allows. The attacker may also attempt to acquire an item
the opponent is holding (such as a weapon) or attempt to
move the opponent (as described below). A held
character may be voluntarily released whenever the
attacker so desires.

The attacker can’t draw or use a weapon or use a wand,
staff, scroll or potion, escape another’s wrestling attack,
cast a spell, or pin another character while holding an

Moving the Opponent: The attacker can move up to
one-half speed (bringing the defender along) with a
successful attack roll, if the attacker is strong enough to
carry or drag the defender.

Acquiring an Object: The attacker may attempt to take
an item away from the defender. This requires an
additional attack roll; if the roll fails, the defender may
immediately attempt an attack roll (even if he or she has
already attacked this round) which, if successful, results in
the defender pinning the attacker; or, the defender may
choose to escape instead of reversing the hold.

Actions Allowed to the Defender: The target of a
successful hold is usually immobile (but not helpless) at
least until his or her next action, as determined by
Initiative. Such characters suffer a penalty of -4 to AC
against opponents other than the attacker.

If the defender is significantly stronger and/or larger than
the attacker, he or she may move at up to one-half speed,
dragging the attacker along.

On the defender's next action, he or she can try to escape
the pin with a saving throw vs. Death Ray; the defender
must apply the better of his or her Strength or Dexterity
bonuses (or penalties) on this roll. If the escape roll
succeeds, the defender finishes the action by moving into
any space adjacent to the attacker.

If more than one attacker has a hold on a particular
defender, a successful escape roll frees the defender from
just one of those attackers.

Held characters may also use simple magic items such as
rings. A character being held may not normally cast a
spell, even if he or she has not been silenced by the

Multiple Opponents: Several combatants can be
involved in a wrestling match. Up to four combatants can
wrestle a single opponent of normal size in a given round.
Creatures that are smaller than the attacker count for half,
while creatures that are larger count at least double (as
determined by the GM). Note that, after an opponent is
pinned, other attackers benefit from the -4 AC penalty
applied to the defender. However, this AC penalty is not
cumulative (that is, each successful attack does not lower
the defender's AC further).

It is also possible for another character to attack the
attacker in an ongoing wrestling bout. In this case, a
successful hold on the attacker grants the original defender
a +4 bonus on subsequent escape rolls.

Wrestling With Monsters: In general, the rules above
can be used not only when character races wrestle but also
when humanoid monsters are involved. The GM will
decide whether or not to allow wrestling involving nonhumanoid
creatures on a case-by-case basis; if this is
allowed, the following adjustments apply:
Creatures with extra grasping appendages (more than the
usual two) gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls or saving throws
for each such appendage. This includes creatures with
feet capable of grasping (such as monkeys or apes, giant
spiders, etc.)

Large creatures able to fly may attempt to carry off their
opponents (even if the flying creature is the defender).

Wrestling attacks against creatures with touch attacks (such
as wights) will cause the attacker to suffer one such attack
automatically every round.

This is all really good stuff!  I dig it.  It would take minimal effort to insert (or replace an existing rule) in any D&D based system.  That being said all that would need to be replaces is the "save" required to break free.  I would argue that this might be better (and more universal) if it were altered to making opposed strength checks or attack roles.  Either way, I do believe that I am adopting this into my C&C and S&W games!  Enjoy your free game!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gygax Magazine Release Party

First off, allow me to apologize to my readers.  Things have been hectic and rough since the holidays.  My home life has gotten busier and my work has started booming at the same time.  I have also gotten the Castles & Crusades Rappan Athuk game back into full swing, though I do not intend to post play updates of it.  I have barely had time to get anything done on the "Equipment & Encumbrance Manual" let alone blogging.  For this I apologize, but life must come first.  The fact is that this week I have put out my first posts  since the 2012 retrospective on 1/1/13!  I haven't even gotten to post on the "Dwimmermount Affair" and that has been hefty news on the OSR front.  That aside, two things are going on this week that I MUST report on.  The first of these is here.  The second relates to the "rage" that I was covering back in late November.  That's right, I'm talking about the Gygax magazine release this Saturday.  

I received this (as many did) in my email this morning:

Gygax Magazine Launch Party


Watch live online or attend in person

Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 2:00pm


We'll be opening the first box of magazines at 2pm sharp, and doing a live + video Q&A with the crew: Ernie Gygax, Luke Gygax, Jayson Elliot, Tim Kask, Jim Wampler, and James Carpio.
There's a full day of gaming, including Savage Worlds, Marvel RPG, and Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. Admission is free, games require tickets, sold at the event.
Plus a massive AD&D 1E dungeon delve with the founder of Dwarven Forge!

Magazines go on sale, online and in-store, as soon as the first box is opened.

I'm pretty excited about this, seeing as how I got a quick first shot at the inside scoop, and it seems like it will be living up to the hype!  I'll be watching/listening if at all possible this Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Dungeons & Dragons (Now With Multiple Editions)

If you are reading this, it likely is not the first time you have read it today.  WOTC has officially started "supporting every edition."  They have made good on the "promise" to reprint in "electronic format" that I had mentioned here and I am glad to say that my fears of the format not being PDF were unfounded.  Everything is in pdf and the first wave is available for download at RPGnow and a new extension specifically for D&D called D&D Classics.  You can download B1 for free this week as a special promotion of the first wave of releases!  In addition, they seem to be honoring ALL PREVIOUS PURCHASES of pdf's.  Therefore, if you purchased a pdf in the past and it was pulled, when it is re-released you will get a copy!  For these reasons, RPGnow is completely flooded at the time of this writing, due to the fact that word spread well before I got a chance to post this.  It will likely be difficult to get on and get the new cleaned up pdf's for at least a few hours.  Currently there is a fair amount of material available, including entire series of modules and sourcebooks from B/X, 1E, 2E, 3/3.5 and 4E.

In other OSR pdf news, Goblinoid games has announced that the also have a free pdf module up at RPGnow.  You can get a copy of The Gibbering Tower at the same time as your old school D&D downloads, that is, if we don't eternally crash RPGnow...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Retrospective

2012 was a good year in the OSR.  We saw the release (and Kickstarting) of some great products, as well as well as a huge announcement regarding a certain upcoming magazine.  It was also my first year within the OSR Blogosphere.  I've had other blogs running for a while, but finally started working with my love of old school gaming.  I figure that on the first of the new year, and a day off of work, while I take a brief break from housework, it's time to recap a bit, as I have far more readers than I did in the beginning.  In fact, my early coverage of the TSR leak has lead the majority of my readers here, and so, most of you weren't even reading as late as three months ago.  So, without further ado, I give you what I believe to be some of the best of my 2012 posts.

I would have to say that one big thing that happened in the OSR is that one of our games actually got an SRD.  Thanks to John Reyst for his hard work on this:

Swords & Wizardry SRD

Brenden of Untimately's Top Ten Challenge  of which one or two things might change on my list, but for the most part it remains the same.

A look at my Appendix N which I still believe to be a good advertisement for any GM to loosely let players know what a campaign might be like.

My version of an Old School "Sorcerer" which was first created for Castles & Crusades, but I hope to post a Swords & Wizardry version sometime this winter:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Last but not least, as a favorite moment for me on the blog this year, was my conversation with Tim Kask, which I hope had clarified some things with the pre-mature leak of information regarding the new TSR:

A Conversation With Tim Kask

So there it is, some of my favorite moments on the blog this year.  I also enjoyed my retrospectives from various conventions, but did not post any as I failed to find the time to post about U-Con shortly after my return.

Thank you all for a great 2012 here at Gamers & Grognards.  I hope that 2013 will be an even better year.