Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Friday, February 20, 2015

In Praise of the DMG

In the earliest days of the hobby there weren't as many games available, and those few that did exist were often so incompletely written (we're talking to you, OD&D) that players HAD to create their own house rules.  This isn't really a failing though, as it was understood (and explicitly stated) that these were just a guide for the referee to follow...

This aspect of old-school gaming has already been talked about by better bloggers than us.  And, in fact, we devote some space to this very topic in our introduction to the Infernal Realms supplement, although our purpose was to emphasize the interchangeability of many early systems and how this made a difference.

After all, part of making your own stuff was converting what you liked from other systems.  The result was a common core and a shared history that made each campaign a regional dialect of some mother tongue, like English with an accent!

This book is practically a general reference
for, and required reading by, anyone running fantasy games!

Now, we design (and play) Pits & Perils, but we also borrow from other sources as well, and have a list of go-to books we use extensively.  One of these is the original (AD&D) Dungeon Master's Guide, and for obvious reasons.  Despite introducing extensive content for that game, much, if not most, of what it has to offer is applicable to any system.  Some highlights include:

Detailed information on gems and the reputed magical properties of each, usable in any system...

Accurate explanations of armor and shields.

Complete rules for henchmen and hirelings that are easily converted to just about anything you so desire.

Rules for insanity, including detailed explanations of the various maladies (and none of them good, except for the game).

Advice and information on campaign building, covering the full spectrum of politics, religion, climate, weather, and philosophy for the placement of wealth and monstrous guardians...

How to build a castle or fortress, including all the fine print, like construction times and the sorts of skilled specialists needed to get the job done.  Something you may wanna get right.

In other words, it's a HUGE trip to your local library conveniently  rolled into a single book for easy reference!

The Dungeon Master's Guide is written for AD&D, but it really doubles as a standard reference for whatever fantasy game you happen to be playing.  Everything since is just redundant...

Put another way, so much of what's been done in other systems is already addressed here.  And when designing Pits & Perils, we didn't even bother to regurgitate what's already been done.  Some things you just can't even touch, so why bother!

If you haven't done so in awhile, crack this book open again and reacquaint yourself with what it has to offer.  We're betting you'll find lots of useful stuff for whatever system you play, whether (__________) or our own Pits & Perils.  Most of what happens in a game is system-neutral; raw materials for the games you make with your friends.  If you want to do old-school, this is how!

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