Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Page By F**ing Page

Happy Holy Week to folks. I suppose we all have reasons to send up prayers to our respective deities these days (though, don't we always?). I'm pretty bummed at the lack of Mass and such (I can't quite bring myself to stream church services...it's just not the same as participating in the celebration), but to be perfectly honest I'm fairly numb to the state of spiritual life these days. I totally grok the defiance of some religious leaders in wanting to keep their institutions open and functioning (even though I disagree with the decision to do so)...stubbornly clinging to habits has often been a bastion against the fears, sadness, and traumas that threaten our functionality.

[as with all human traits, there are reasons for the various evolutional developments of our psychology]

ANYway...more classic (original) D&D last night. I'll recount an amusing anecdote: the PCs, in making their third excursion to a reportedly "haunted" island, were making their way to the ruined tower on the central mountain when a wandering encounter resulted in several beastmen emerging from the jungle. Surprised, they found themselves immediately engaged in melee and thus unable to use their crossbows. As the entire party was bloodied in the first round, the party magic-user decided to flee back through the jungle to their boat, figuring it was every adventurer for herself. "Dabby" the fighting-man likewise tried to flee (after seeing both the party's mercenaries slain), but since he was wearing plate armor, the beastmen were easily able to keep up, bashing him all the way.

After a round or two of this he decided to stand his ground and fight, whereupon he discovered that sometimes the best defense is a good offense (the plate stood up just fine to the beastmen's clubs and he was able to kill all three in single combat). Unfortunately for Dabby, the magic-user had given him up for dead, and by the time the warrior reached the beach, the boat was gone. Knowing it would be impossible to swim the 25 miles back to the mainland, he resigned himself to his fate as a castaway. A wandering encounter in the night with a giant poison snake ended his melancholy situation.

[I'll point out that while Diego was justifiably irritated at being left behind on the island, his sister didn't strand him maliciously: she honestly figured he was a dead duck and was just trying to save her self from the same fate. D also learned valuable lessons about speed, evasion, and encumbrance and his new character...also a fighter...decided to go with chain armor instead of plate]


Regarding the title of this post, I've decided that my new stupid gaming project is to rewrite Original D&D, and I mean that in the most literal sense of the term. I am copying the exact text, line-by-line, chart-by-chart, page-by-f'ing-page into an A5 sized word document. I may (or may not) attempt to copy the illustrations, but for the time being, I'm mainly concerned with the text.

There are several reasons behind this madness, not a single one of which involves "profit." Aside from allowing me to get a deeper dive (and, hopefully, understanding) of the rules and system, my intention is to have a working document I can edit as necessary to meet the needs of my game. I really, really like the format of the original three books...I find them far more practical than a fat volume rulebook (like, say, Swords & Wizardry). But while I own (and actually use at table) copies of the original LBBs, they are in danger of falling apart from age and I'm intensely hesitant to mark them up with changes.  Putting them in a Word doc will allow me to cut, paste, and edit as I want, order monsters, spells, etc. alphabetically, clean up text formatting I don't like...plus add rule updates from later supplements (if I desire) or cut things (that I don't).  It will allow me to print copies that I and my children can use or even (some day, if I'm lucky) distribute to other players that might sit at my table.

Anyway, it's not a huge project. Book I is only 36 (A5) pages in length, much of which is not text, and I'm more than two-thirds the way through after only a couple mornings of working on the thing. It's not a bad exercise...it's helped clear up a few things, and refreshed my memory on certain procedures. And it's kept my mind thinking and percolating with regard to Dungeons & Dragons, rather than simply succumbing to ennui and depression and numbness. Which I'm sure all of us are staring down the barrel at on some level or other.

So there. My other books...well, I've been getting some good updates from my artists (apparently they're still finding time to draw), so I might be able to release a couple eBooks in the near future. I'm going to shoot for something earlier than Summer; we'll see what happens.


  1. Interesting stuff! I did did a similar project, only with Moldvay's Basic instead of OD&D. Ended up very different from the original because of the enormous number of house rules... In the end it is an (almost) entirely version of D&D. But I was very pleased with the result:

    1. Cool! I’ll check this out next chance I get.

      You blog in both English and French? Have you seen “Portes, Monstres, & Tresores?”

    2. English and Portuguese, I'm afraid (separate blogs, though).
      Haven't read it - my french is pretty bad TBH, although I did take a look at Epées & Sorcelleries (interesting OD&D retroclone IIRC).

  2. You should check out Mothshade's Men & Magic Compilation on his blog, 3d6 Traps and Thieves. It's formatted for use on a laptop screen rather than for printing, but it might still prove extremely handy in play.

  3. Good luck. When did copy and paste of B/X I learned a lot about the game I had forgotten or skimmed. The whole project was a lot of fun.

  4. In the late 1990s I scanned and OCRed my OD&D set. OCR was so "good" back then that I probably spent as much time correcting it as I would have spend just typing it in myself. I'll have to see if I still have the ascii text files that were the result. I can't remember if I also did this with my copy of Greyhawk. I idea was to produce my own copy so I could modify it with all my house rules and such. By the time i was finished correcting it, however, I did not want to see it again for a while so that project never happened.

  5. I've been tempted to do the same with the first 3 Traveller books.

    1. You probably should. Ha...*I* probably should! I've been searching form print copies of the Little Black Books for a while now (I bought the PDFs off DriveThru) but they're tough to find. I really prefer hardcopy rulebooks to eBooks at the table.

    2. I started Traveller Books 1-3 around 2004 or so. Got 90% done and they sat for FIFTEEN YEARS until I just finished them last November. At some point around 2010 I tried making my personal version of Traveller, incorporating a lot of house rules and additional material. Looking over that document was fun, but what I finished off is 1981 LBB 1-3 with corrections and a very few modifications. The layout is identical except enlarged to fit letter-size paper. I am very pleased with it.

  6. A long-running B-and-X-in-one project continues to languish. My intent is to combine the text into one book, eliminate duplications, fix the few errors present, and (maybe) incorporate my few minor houserules. That intent has been there since around 2010, and I have a loooonnnngggg ways to go. But the early work I did on that was what got me to shift to all-B/X-all-the-time. A couple of years ago I built my own player's manual for my personally-restated B/X, and even had copies printed up through Lulu. But I'm back to using the original books again (printed PDFs comb-bound into one volume) and honestly think that that's okay.

    One thing I like about using printed PDFs is that I have no qualms about marking them up.