Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Monday, October 27, 2014


Olde House Rules (that's us) has a shiny new product out; a variation of an old theme, to be sure, but cast in an entirely new light - Braunstein!, Rules for 1:1 scale historical adventures, inspired by the very first games of it's kind!  Even so, you can expect some very modern ideas as well...

First, a little history lesson.  In 1967, Napoleonic war-gamer Dave Wesely tried something different.  Instead of having his players command an army, he placed his game between battles in the little town of Brausntein and had each assume the role of an important towns-person, like the mayor, each with their own goals and personal agenda.  Modern role-playing was born!

For awhile, these games came to be known as a "Braunstein", an evolutionary step between war-game and RPG.  The eponymously named Braunstein! aims to capture the experience of these games, but employing entirely different rules:

First, these games emphasized personal interactions, where individual decisions had consequence and were often the deciding factor in critical situations.

Next, the rules were minimal and simpler, because they were being invented on the spot, and for reasons already stated.

Finally, they were historical because, well, they evolved from historical war-games, although the fantasy stuff came soon enough and changed everything.  Yeah, forever.

Braunstein! tries to capture the above ethos, being suited for adventures between the 4-15th centuries, although expandable to the following two centuries as well...  

A thousand years is a long time, so this slim (18-page) rule set doesn't even bother to address this.  Judges are asked to find whatever books they like on the period they wish to use and create their own chronicle (campaign) from that.

Braunstein comes as a digital download from the Drive-Thru network
for only $1.49, if you're interested...

Characters are simply "adventurers", knowing how to fight and perform any actions available to an able-bodies adult, although the choice of armor, shield, and weaponry matters, as does their literacy, with advantages either way.  Social class also matters, with great implications for character development. 

While this might seem to diminish characters; background, history, and story line are never boring, and while fantasy games are wonderful (we love 'em), they can sometimes obscure the idea of characters as humans running on their wits... 

Braunstein! would bring this back.

One interesting feature of the game is each character's written description.  Using 25 words or less, players describe their adventurer's background and personal history, which might indicate other skills and abilities, like being a blacksmith or a former clergyman, etc.  Who needs class or skill points!

The rest of the rules are simple and straightforward, but also designed so a judge (GM) can create things "on-the-fly" and go the impromptu route seamlessly and uninterrupted.

Oh, and in the back there's simple rules for real magic and witchcraft, being centered around calling and commanding spirits to do just about anything and at double human capacity.  This is a uniquely historical take on how magic works, and it opens the way for understated fantasy games.

More than anything, Braunstein! tries to bring back a time when gaming was really just people sitting around a table talking to each other and only rolling dice for the truly unpredictable things, including combat.  We hope you find it to your liking...     


  1. So in the post above Wesely is spelled wrong. That's a bit of a concern. Did you consult with the good Major on this project?

    1. Good catch! Spellchecker, you know...

      We'd LOVE to contact Wesely and give him a copy of our little rule set, which is dedicated to him, by the way...

      In truth, Brausntein is a "style" of play that can use any rule set, although one emphasizing (1) player interactions, (2) some reward for satisfying personal goals, and (3) a historical context, traditionally.

      Braunstein! is "our Braunstein", inspired by Wesely's pioneering ideas, for which we owe so much as gamers.

      I only made it to Captain, so Wesely outranks me, and I at least owe him the proper spelling of his name! Thanks again for the catch...

  2. I just purchased these from RPGNow. So far I really like what I see. I have wanted to do a 12th-13th century medieval game for some time,and I think this might be the way to do it. By the way If you are interested in this period check out Barony Miniatures. They have some very affordable figures that paint up very nicely.

    1. Thanks! We hope you enjoy. We'll no doubt be releasing some supplementary materials in the months ahead. Oh, and the miniatures look awesome, so thanks for that tip as well - got some buyin' to do...