I still haven’t figured out why I can get a jellybean that tastes exactly like freshly cut summer grass, buttered popcorn, or vomit (ew) but I can’t find an artificial sweetener that doesn’t make my coffee or tea taste weird and off-putting… That probably doesn’t seem all that relevant to gaming (it isn’t) but I tend to think of things in parallels and as my wife has gotten more into cooking lately I’ve been thinking about how things come together. Cooking is science, it’s alchemy, it’s taking bits and making a cohesive, enjoyable whole. And there are a thousand recipes for just about any dish you can think of – but they all claim to be making the same dish. There are low-fat, high-fat, gluten-free, dairy-free, lots of butter, you name it you can make it versions of just about everything.

And that makes me think about my quest for a game lately. I’ve been without a group for about six months now… roughly corresponding to my taking a pseudo-break from writing here. It’s given me a lot of time to read and plan.

I’ve been in an OSR kind of place for a while now. I’ve been thinking about old school play, missing old school play… And with Wizards of the Coast releasing their back catalog of D&D adventures (hurry up and get the Thunder Rift stuff up!) and Goodman Games making spectacular adventures for DCC, I’ve really been craving some old school. I dug out my Dungeon Magazines from the 80’s, my B/X D&D sets, my Rules Compendium, The Arcanum. I downloaded Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, Legends of the Flame Princess, and Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS), and Castles and Crusades. I even bought Dungeon World and reread Old School Hack. And I realized along the way that there are a lot of Old School games. There are even New School/Old School games. It’s weird.

There are 31 Flavors of Old School gaming and that’s a good thing… Hell, Talislanta is free now. Seriously.

And they all do it a little bit different. They all do it just a little bit “their own way.”

I ran a short game of Castles and Crusades and I really liked it… but much like Goldilocks in the three bears’ house, it was just not quite right. I was really close to announcing a game using The Arcanum rules… I’ve always had a soft spot for those rules and I feel like they are an underappreciated piece of gaming history. That book is a gold mine of gaming goodness. And that too was just not quite right (partly because of the work invovlved in translating old school D&D adventures for Arcanum play). Recently though, Autarch put out the Players’ Companion for ACKS and I picked it up, knowing I’d enjoyed reading the core book and looking forward to more of the same. And as I read I had the urge to go back and read the core book again. This is what I’ve been looking for. I missed it the first time but really, this is a great game.

So I’m starting an Adventurer Conqueror King System game – that is – provided I actually get any players. I’ll let you know how it goes.


2 responses

  1. What did you find missing from castles and crusades?

  2. I’m not sure if this will make any sense but… it’s not that I found anything particularly missing from C&C. I actually really like Castles and Crusades and it’s a game I’d be happy to play and enjoyed the little bit of time I spent running it… I think it’s just a matter of taste. It felt to me like C&C was what would happen if 1E and 3E had a baby.

    My fondest D&D memories came with Original Basic D&D and AD&D 2E. And ACKS feels more like that to me. I like the proficiency system and the interesting variations on “race as class.” I’ll also freely admit, I love the fact that all casters are — effectively — spontaneous casters in ACKS. Huge fan of that. Hate memorizing spells.

    So, yeah, really more of a taste thing. Nothing bad to say about C&C at all and I still think that C&C is the system I’d choose if I ever decided to run Dragonlance again.

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