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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Goldenrod Guide To Combat Reviews, Designer Notes and Simulationist Rules

So, back on Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day 2015  +John Reyst of Pathfinder SRD and Swords & Wizardry SRD fame released my Goldenrod Guide: A Guide to Swords & Wizardry Combat (now available for purchase on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow) and it hit with little fanfare. Since then I have become aware of some reviews of the product, and feel that I should probably give some notes on my thought process in creating the guide.
First off, the reviews. I'm pulling the first from PFSRD itself, where the product was initially made available:
"Deadeye" wrote:
A good add-on for additional martial flexibility
This guide presents some new rules for Swords & Wizardry that are both useful to S&W GMs and also enticing to players of more mainstream fantasy games who might miss some of the granular nuance of modern d20 systems when they play retroclones. It's a great buy for the price if you enjoy the streamlined ease of play S&W offers compared
to D&D 3rd Edition or Pathfinder, but still want to include elements like individual initiative, more in-depth rules for two-weapon and two-handed fighting, combat styles that simulate the abilities of OGL martial classes, weapon specialization, and rudimentary attacks of opportunity. There is also a section on running archery and jousting tournaments. The editing of the product could be better, but the content is solid. If you want a slightly crunchier S&W experience when steel is bared and initiative is rolled, it's well worth the price.

+Follow Me, And Die! had a review directly on the blog:

Follow Me And Die!

Just yesterday, +Eric Fabiaschi wrote a great review. I think that Eric really gets the angle that I was coming at this thing from. You can read his review here on his blog:

Swords & Stitchery

Now to share a bit of how I came at this thing. Not much, but just to give a little taste of my process, which might help you to understand the work itself. It is likely clear that I don't like anything too crunchy in my games. My favorite RPG at present IS Swords & Wizardry, so it should be apparent. That said, I like my games to be somewhat simulationist. See, I'm that guy that actually likes the idea of encumbrance rules (I just don't think they have been done quite right... yet) and keeping track of consumable equipment. I like my games to simulate an adventurer's life in the setting that it is being run in. Therefore I like my rules to have a "real feel" to them. While combat overall would get too bogged down by feeling overly real (thus taking to long to resolve) I felt that it could feel a bit more simulationist in areas. Of course a feeling of simulation can come from descriptions in play by both referees and players, I like the mechanics emulate the action, in a way. This may be a part of why I was never quite comfortable with the mechanics of the D20 system. It was all the same, nothing was different, nothing felt like an emulation of what was happening in a game. It was too gamey and not simulationist enough.
As for common rules that already have this, one of the best examples is the ability to turn undead. Nearly all editions and clones have some variant on this, and it is almost universally it's own mechanic. The mechanic works differently than the mechanic for hitting a foe or the mechanic for picking a lock. It says "You hold up your holy symbol and..." You make your checks, and the mechanic has it's own "feel." You know and "feel" that you are holding up your holy symbol to avert evil when you make these checks, because they have their own little system. I borrowed this for using the elder sign, as the two are similar, and thus should feel similar mechanically. As for another rule I made free to the public, my lycanthropic ritual rule uses existing rules in concert with "fluff" to give a feel that a diabolical ritual is actually being performed.
So when it came to the Guide to Combat, I drew upon similar ideas. When you lock shields to form a shield wall, it should feel like you are in a shield wall. When you joust, it should feel like you're jousting, or tilting at rings or shooting at a target or anything else you can think of! Similarly, this is why I streamlined the AD&D idea of weapon proficiencies. They are slightly less fiddly than what TSR produced back in the day, but they give a real simulationist feel that your character has trained with something. As for the aforementioned jousting rules, I liberally borrowed from Chainmail, which already presented a great system for simulating jousts, and gave it a few tweaks. I believe that it is a very solid jousting simulation as it stands now.
So, if adding a bit of simulation to combat appeals to you, click the link I supplied above to DriveThruRPG and pick up a copy from John. It's less than $3.00 and I can almost guarantee that I have something in there you will be interested in lifting.