Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Poll: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

So...just winding down for the evening after a couple hours of hiking with the fam (the beagles are completely passed out), and my fantasy football team is all set for tomorrow, and the wife is watching Little Women on the HD...

AND...I've been trying to figure out what I wanted to post for the last hour or so...

[God, sometimes I really want to turn this thing into a political rant forum when I see how F'ing retarded some Americans are. UGH! I can't help being ethnocentric's human nature...but FUCK I just want to beat some sense into these people...with a cudgel! Anyway...this isn't the proper place...sorry for the tangential venting]

...anyway, I've been reading a LOT o blogs today (well, earlier today), and I couldn't help but take interest in several, throwing my two cents hither and yon (I'm like a goddamn rash all over the internet these days), AND I couldn't help but notice this little piece by Al over at Beyond the Black Gate. Here's the gist of my interest:

I think the OSR really needs a "showcase" adventure. It needs a Keep on the Borderlands or Temple of Elemental Evil of its very own, something shared from group to group regardless of whether they're using LL, S&W, OSRIC, or the systems that orignally inspired them. That's not to say there havn't been some great adventures released for the RCs, there certainly have been. But I think the emphasis of the last couple of years has been on honing the rule sets themselves, diligently recreating the spirit of the three big old-school games into three faithful and marvellous RCs. I'd love to see that level of commitment put into recreating something as epic and iconic as the G or A series of modules.

The other part of the blog is also food for thought, but mainly I think he may have something here...I mean, many OS publishers are putting out a slew of new material, but how many are putting out new modules? Certainly a few, and several of note (if you can believe the blog hype). My thought is: not enough.

But it's tough. Tough because there IS a lack of organization in the many independent knuckleheads firing on all cylinders for their own particular pet projects. Tons of creativity, energy, drive...but is there real direction?

No, of course not. We aren't a single company like TSR was or WotC is. There is no one setting project goals for the OSR, no one setting deadlines...hell, no quality control. We are self-policing, and as others have pointed out, we ain't always especially good at it.

However, while it's all well and good to sit around blogging about what we'd like to see happen (for example: writing the new classic adventure of the OSR), the real thing to do is to sit down and write it. Some are already attempting it (you know who you are, even if the rest of us don't), but this is a particular market in little danger of being saturated, unlike "new retro-clone" market. Not that quick-start rules, 2nd editions, advanced character editions, and new basic editions truly have worth and value and part of the OSR is a return to the idea that gaming groups are perfectly capable of establishing their own game worlds and adventures outside of pre-packaged game settings and story-pathed scenarios.

But shared Keep on the Borderlands, like Tomb of Horrors...create a shared mythology, a shared history, a shared camaraderie, a shared culture. Shared adventures can become the ties that bind between different gamers and otherwise insular groups.

Anyway, as I commented over at Al's, I'm as guilty of sitting on my hands in the adventure department as anyone else. Sure I'm working on my own OS project (my B/X Companion), but as said, there's already plenty of material ready-made to play with (original editions and retro-clones). Maybe we should ALL put off our little projects until we've put out at least one decent adventure with which we're satisfied/proud.

My personal challenge is that my map-making skills are a bit lacking (as far as I'm concerned). Sure, I have some good ideas and I can write and write and write (note the blog), but I prefer to collaborate with someone a bit more skilled in the drawing department.

Enter my buddy Kris, AKA "Dr. Love" AKA "the Doctor" or "Doc" (don't's a long story in and of itself). I've mentioned Kris before (he's plays the perennial thief) an excellent artist (and fine musician). I called him up today and asked him if he wanted to collaborate with me on an old school adventure module...and lo and behold, Doc agreed! Very cool, as he has rejected other requests for collaboration (despite being a fairly creative dude himself).

So now we finally get to the new poll I've posted to the blog. No, I am not recreating, rewriting, converting or retro-cloning S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. There are some similarities of structure being considered for my new adventure (no, there aren't robots nor spaceships) and I'd appreciate a little honest feedback. I know how I feel about the particular adventure...but I'd like to hear from others. Please post any comments you have about your experience with the Barrier Peaks her on this post. Thanks!
: )


  1. I completely agree. The shared mythology is important. Whenever Brave Halfling, Goblinoid, etc as what people want to see next, I always say adventures. The OSR NEEDS more adventures. And - while I would never criticize anyone's creativity - it needs standard D&D-type fantasy adventures. The more adventures put out the better because one cannot set out to make the "keystone" adventure.

    However, I am starting to believe this OSR thing is happening in an online cavern. Every once in awhile someone might stumble in but for the most part it is just us morlocks talking amongst ourselves.

  2. A competition, like the One Page Dungeon contest, may be in order. That way the community can decide on which is the best adventure, and then, once a winner is chosen, the community can pitch in to polish the module for publishing, so that it doesn't matter if your maps aren't great, or you can't draw for toffee, because someone on one of these blogs will be able to step in.

  3. Much love for S3 - great art, sci-fi elements, & non-dungeon unique setting. It's been so long since I played it as a kid, nothing specifically stands out too much... I remember being awfully annoyed at those doors though.

  4. Kelvingreen may be on to something. The one page dungeon contest really produced some fine material.

    Heck, look at what happens when someone is inspired by a spambot verification word. 5 of us create and publish new magic items! I created my blog so that I could join in!

    Also isn't hiking with the dogs just a great way to tire them out?

  5. @ Pat: don’t lose the faith, man. YOU are certainly in a position to “spread the gospel” as it were with your semi-frequent forays into random gaming groups. A few good OS adventures in your tool-box may be enough to start a fire; you never know!

    @ Kelvin: much as I am all about competition, my gut reaction is “this is not the way.” Yeah, the one-page dungeon brought out A LOT of good material, but I would like to ideally see some actual modules…and until we get more material I wouldn’t want to turn anything away based on competition. I DO think it’s an excellent idea to use our family o blogs as a networking resource for collaborators, editors, artistes, etc.

    @zb: Thanks…this is the kind of commentary I want to get!

    @ David: Hiking with the dogs is an EXCELLENT way to tire them out; plus it helps ME burn some calories as well. My beagles are slim and trim right now (they eat better than me!), and I’d like to look the same.

    : )