Be that as it may, I still hold four names in higher esteem than the others for their work. They are:
Arneson, Gygax, Holmes, and Moldvay
...and if that is terribly unfair of me, I apologize. It is what it is, and I have spent at least a little time criticizing each of them over the years for various design "missteps." Usually gently, but no one's perfect.
I have, at this point in my life, written a few game books...books heavily influenced by the work of these four men. My B/X Companion was done in the style of Moldvay's 64 page rule book, and my Five Ancient Kingdoms was written in the small, three volume fashion of the original D&D books. As I begin my newest project (stupidly, ridiculously...I have so many other irons in the fire), I set my eyes on the work of the one author whose work I've never used at the table, the one man who may have done more singly than any D&D designer in history, with the sole exception of E. Gary Gygax:
That would be John Eric Holmes.
Holmes Basic is a 48 page masterpiece. There, I've said it. Previously, I've referred to it as the "badass edition" of Dungeons & Dragons (that's meant as a compliment); these days, I don't think I've gone far enough in my praise. It is exquisitely concise, and provides near everything needed for a game. Well, a game that goes to 3rd level...but there's certainly enough here to build upon (as many folks have). I've seen many D&D campaigns (my own and others) fail to chart past the 3rd level.
What Holmes did in 48 pages is amazing. Of course, he was a brain surgeon...I think most folks would expect a bit of brilliance. Personally, I'm no rocket scientist...heck, I'm not even employed at the moment...but even so, I want to take a swing at doing this, doing what Holmes did: writing an adult fantasy role-playing game in 48 pages. That doesn't sound terribly hard does it? Even for someone of my hack writing skills?
Of course, it won't be a retroclone of Holmes...the Blueholme Prentice Rules already does a fine job of cloning John Eric. No, this will be using that "different paradigm" I was starting to talk about last month. And it will be a game designed to emulate (if possible) the feeling/style of those "good old days" I was waxing on about a couple days ago...something I want to play, in other words. Though I admit that trying to convey style AND rules in 48 pages is a pretty tall order. Really tall.
Yeah, maybe it's a pipe dream. But I'm going to give it a shot. We'll see what happens.
|The plan is to go down swinging.|
If any Holmes knowledgeable folks can hip me to the proper font and type size for such a project (assuming an emulation of style), I'd really appreciate the information. Not sure what I'll do about artwork at this point, though Holmes himself only used 14 or 15 small pieces (including maps). Probably more important that I just leave some blank spaces for insertion of illustrations.
More to come (I hope)!