Choosing a Direction

Readers have probably figured out that I am quite streaky when it comes to posting here, ripping off a post a day for stretches lasting weeks or even months, then going almost totally silent for periods just as long. That is no way to run a web site, and I apologize. I knew when I started this that I didn’t really have time for it, and I was right.

Anyway, my game playing, sadly, runs in the same sort of cycle. When other demands aren’t hogging all of the discretionary time (and then some), we usually make an effort to play more and, as a result, I end up creating all sorts of new material and posting some of it here.

Over the past few years, I’ve waffled on just what we’re going to play when we have time, and just how we’re going to play it. My initial plan to play Labyrinth Lord by the book and Swords & Wizardry White Box heavily house-ruled gave way to reality and the lack of time to play two different systems, let alone one that required a lot of tinkering. So we decided to go All Labyrinth Lord All the Time, with the idea that we’d incorporate a number of house rules and ideas that we had planned to use in our modified S&W White Box game.

My guess is that what happened to us happens to many gamers. Once we started tinkering, we couldn’t stop. A plan to make some adjustments led to the need to create modified rule outlines and accompanying tables, and once we crossed the line into creating our own material we failed our save vs. “houseruling.”

Our separate experiment with Five Color Magic resulting in a desire to incorporate this system into our game, and at that point, needing a fully-written player’s guide, we were looking at a totally separate system. Which is what I had been trying to avoid.

So here we are in 2011 and I am again looking at the options and wondering how to proceed.

Do we play a mostly-by-the-book Labyrinth Lord? If so, with or without the excellent Advanced Edition Companion? The advantage here is that it’s virtually 100% compatible with nearly everything else out there, including most OSR clone material and original TSR D&D material.

Do we play a heavily-modified Labyrinth Lord? If so, do we worry about our modifications breaking easy compatibility with standard LL? Giving thieves d6 hit dice or letting clerics use swords is no big deal. Re-organizing all spellcasters into five color-based classes or changing all monsters to use a one-roll lower-damage attack is. This is closer to what we want but not nearly so compatible.

Or do we play our homebrew Five Color Wizards & Warriors game, with two only two classes and five versions of each? We are 90% done with the rules guide, and we’re liking what we see. The problem, of course, is that no one else plays this game. The only ready material that exists is what we’ve written, and a lot of what I create won’t be terribly useful to blog readers, at least not as-is.

The freedom to create your own professional-looking material is a blessing and a curse. Back when the options to “publish” your own stuff was limited, my willingness to tinker was was limited to a few sheets of houserules that I’d photocopy. Things are so much better now that you can incorporate your changes directly into the text of the rules and print them up nicely, but that capability removes a reason to minimize your alterations.

What’s the best way? Whichever way gets you the game you want to play the most and gets the most use.

For us, that looks like our homebrew game.

We’ll always have the option to play another system, of course, but we’re going to throw our effort into this. Our playing has languished and that needs to change. I think our little creation gives us the best chance to do that, so that’s the plan.

What I post on the blog will probably remain fully-compatible with standard systems so as to be most useful to readers. I’m also left with the dilemma of how to proceed with the Forbidden Jungle. I’ve got a fair amount of work into it already and it’s looking pretty good (if I may say so myself), and I know that there are at least a few readers interested in seeing more FJ material. But how to make that material most accessible to those not playing my own little game? Not to mention the possibility of considering it for publication some day.

We’ll see.

UPDATE: I should add that the dilemma of “which game to play” is sometimes a contributing factor in our lack of playing. Without a clear direction, our effort has sometimes been splintered between things and we haven’t settled down and just done it. Time to do so.

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