Hat Tips (Jan 4, 2014)
Starting a new run of Hat Tip posts, linking to some of my favorite output from the firehose of OSR content I consume every day. Since it’s the start of 2014, I figure I’ll run long in this inaugural edition and hit my personal highlights of last year’s reading.
d12 Wandering Sorcerors—Dungeon Dozen: How to pick just one Dungeon Dozen post! They really are the Crown Jewels of the Old School Renaissance. But this pairs with the Anomalous Subsurface Environment like goat cheese and honey (my product of the year, incidentally), and generally encapsulates what makes Dungeon Dozen great.
“Surviving Levels 1-3 of Basic D&D”—Ben Lehman: Some fantastic strategy tips for players on how to survive Basic D&D’s insanely deadly combat. Reminds me of the lessons I had to learn playing rogulikes, and I sure wish my own players would take this to heart.
On Fractional Ability Points—The Disoriented Ranger: A fun and pithy houserule for increasing a character’s ability scores, but in a way that feels old-school and dice-y. I rejigged this as a pdf for my own players.
Orangutan Character Class—Monstrous Television: A simple, silly, fun character class. Favorite quote? “They can communicate enough to purchase gear (assuming they are allowed into a shop unattended), although they will likely be charged extra by greedy merchants.” I also pdf-ified this one for my D&D binder. Please also see: Amazing illustration of my brother’s Orangutan character, by my friend Josh (LEFT).
Gibbering Mouther Character Class—Dyson’s Dodecahedron: If Dungeon Dozen is the OSR crown jewels, Dyson’s Dodecahedron is its scepter (and I guess Tenkar’s Tavern is the orb?). Of all his efforts this year, the one I loved best was this writeup of the Gibbering Mouther as a class. The Gibbering Mouther PC was, hands-down, my gaming group’s most memorable charcter of the year. (I made a PDF of this guy too.)
How Interesting Can Rocks Be?—False Machine: Unexpectedly interesting, as it turns out! The best one is Spark: “Spark’s intent is blunt but its effects are subtle. It usually hits when thrown. If cast at a policeman, general, king or pope it will always knock their headgear off. Spark will be ignored if you are searched for weapons. Spark wants to cut chains and smash locks, to shatter spears and cut blunt notches in expensive swords.”
Hexographer Map of Europe—ADMC: A gorgeous, insanely-detailed (insanely-detailed) hex map of Europe. I haven’t used this yet, but I am simply dying to send my players hexcrawling through Medieval Europe. Also includes the Hexographer source files, an issue close to my heart.
Starting Equipment—Untimately: The best equipment generator I’ve ever seen. Curves starting weapons and armor based on hit dice, so fighters tend to get better kit than wizards. A very nifty piece of design. (What’s that? You also have an insane B/X binder full of house rules and want a pdf of this too? It’s your lucky day.)
d12 Subclasses—Dyson’s Dodecahedron: Dyson’s other standout work of the year. These d12-based subclasses remind me of fractional ability points, in that they are a very OSR way to add some of the character differentiation modern players demand.
Handmade B/X Character Sheet—Pontos de Experienca: Fantastically evocative character sheet, far better than my own handmade efforts last year year.
D100 Random “Minor” Science Fantasy Treasures—Dungeon of Signs: Written to integrate with ASE and Dungeon of Signs own fantastic Tomb of the Rocketmen series, this is a standout set of treasures. Of particular note: The “fragile” column, and entries like “Silk Corset boned with broken sword blades of fine steel”.
The Incredible Changing Brick—Blog of Holding: Quite simply, my favorite magic item of the year.
If you’re looking for even more OSR goodness, look no farther than Links to Wisdom, a directory of all that is best about our end of the hobby.
As for my own year, I have two posts I’d particularly like to highlight. My most popular post was the B/X Quick Reference Sheet. But while that ref sheet is well and good, my favorite was IDA0: Plague-Stricken Halls. I loved that the finished module looked almost like a “real”, professional module. Oh, and that it was a work unto itself! Oh, and I loved the cover art by my friend Alex Langenstein. Go download that noise (and steal the magic items, they’re all Creative Commons-licensed).