Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

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Johann
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Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by Johann »

Finnish RPG designer Eero Tuovinen is setting set out to write Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D at IndieGoGo. This is a project very much in the vein of Matthew Finch's seminal Quick Primer for Old School Gaming and Jason Cone’s unforgettable Philotomy's Musings.

Eero’s been blogging and writing about the philosophically underpinnings of wargamey D&D and how to run and play in a sandbox campaign for many years. I've been running a DCC campaign heavily influenced by him an Ben Robbins’ West Marches campaign for eight years now. But enough with all the OSR links – go check out Eero’s crowdfunding pitch for yourself!

Best wishes,

Johann

(I’m not affiliated with Eero in any way, but an obviously enthusiastic backer. You can check out my journey to become a Killer DM via DCC at my (defunct) blog. Eight years and 80+ PC casualties and counting -- though admittedly, the funnels help the numbers!)
SammyAlex

Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by SammyAlex »

Thanks! Really useful!
Johann
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by Johann »

Glad you like it! There should be a major update very soon. I'll keep you posted and also hope to write about why I chose DCC for my wargamey D&D campaign.
Johann
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by Johann »

Eero has provided a major update to the project yesterday! :smiley: It links to his blog, where he covers Muster’s substance in broad strokes and the manuscript outline, among many other things.

This is shaping up to be a thorough treatment and the “playing well” section alone will be well worth it, discussing "useful player tasks (party caller, mapping, logistics, etc.)", "character stables" (which we're kinda used to from the funnels, heh!) and more.

Eero’s got a knack for simple, yet powerful procedures (e.g. intuitively creating and easily maintaining encounter tables via nested tables etc.) and often poignantly expresses his views. Here's a favorite of mine from the (defunct) Story-Games forum regarding difficulty (emphasis mine):
I should say that while it is possible to make things "too difficult", my experience is that GMs generally vastly underestimate the level to which players are willing to rise. The thing is, if you've already decided that the PCs shall, by and large, live and prosper, then you've already made it impossible for the group to find out how high you can go on the difficulty before the players give up. They'll never have the chance to encounter the setting in all of its true brutality if you as GM shirk away from it. You have to be brave first, or the players never get the chance to be.
Funding is at 75% but has slowed down, so listen to the commando skirkmish operator in you and charge over there. Victory may depend on you!
The Disgruntled Poet
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by The Disgruntled Poet »

Johann wrote: Fri Nov 27, 2020 9:47 pm Eight years and 80+ PC casualties and counting -- though admittedly, the funnels help the numbers!)
only 80 PCs in 8 years? Including funnels? :lol:
Johann
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by Johann »

The Disgruntled Poet wrote: Fri Dec 18, 2020 6:17 pm only 80 PCs in 8 years? Including funnels? :lol:
Yeah, it's high. :oops: About half are casualties from funnels and most of the rest died at level 1 or 2. Still, we've lost characters at all levels (8th being the highest so far). That said, this level of lethality is not at all necessary for a wargamey DCC campaign. It's easy enough to set the dial to more starting hit points, more Luck etc. The important thing for this approach is to let the dice fall where they may and be a neutral Judge.

Here's a little nugget of advice from one of Eero's old forum posts:
I choose a single potential random encounter, and then roll a 50/50 check to see if I may accept that as the event to occur here. If not, then I imagine another alternative, and do the same. I continue until the coin allows me to use the idea. The logic in this procedure is simply that I am most likely to think of obvious and reasonable ideas first, and exotic and unlikely ideas last [...] [E]ven at my most subjective I can do no more than put an undeserving encounter on top of the pile, from whence it'll still get discarded 50% of the time. [...]

I can't say that I strongly recommend this method for extensive hexcrawling, as it tends to produce somewhat subjective (and occasionally predictable) results. It's fine for short-term minor improvisation, and [...] has some advantages in being organic, varied and imaginative in comparison to more mechanical alternatives.
Using little techniques like that adds up and instills a 'neutral' mindset, in my experience. I expect a more systematic and in-depth treatment in the primer!
The Disgruntled Poet
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by The Disgruntled Poet »

I thought 80 PCs over 8 years is kind of light. I mean, if you are running an 8 year campaign (much respect!) then of course you probably have mostly high level PCs who don't die much. But if you do 4-5 funnels, that right there would be 10-15 deaths apiece...60ish? Sounds like one year of con games.
:)
Johann
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by Johann »

The Disgruntled Poet wrote: Mon Dec 21, 2020 6:44 pm I thought 80 PCs over 8 years is kind of light. I mean, if you are running an 8 year campaign (much respect!) then of course you probably have mostly high level PCs who don't die much. But if you do 4-5 funnels, that right there would be 10-15 deaths apiece...60ish? Sounds like one year of con games.
:)
I have underestimated you, sir! :D I hadn't thought of con games at all (and have zero experience with them). Certainly a good venue to pull out all the stops. Hats off! :shock:

(We technically play a weekly game, but jobs, families and life get in the way, so effectively it's not even bi-weekly. Those 80+ deaths happened in 150+ sessions.)
Johann
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Re: Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D

Post by Johann »

I'm happy to report that Muster: a friendly primer to old school D&D has been funded! This is great news, not least because the resulting primer will be made freely available on the net (via Creative Commons, most likely), so everyone can discuss and use it! I'll let you know when it's out.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Johann
--
P.S.: Of course, it is still possible to contribute, whether to get a printed version or one of the various perks, or simply for the warm fuzzy feeling from giving back to the hobby. Personally, I expect the primer to be discussed and used years from now.
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