Kilgore’s B/X

Due to popular demand, Kilgore is launching a new D&D game. Since I’ve come to the realization that the 1981 Basic/Expert version is possibly the best single version of the game ever published, that is the ruleset we’ll be using. There will be a number of houserules applied to tweak it a bit, but we’re going to try to keep as close to BTB as we can in most respects.

One of the BTB things we will be using is the magic-user’s spellbook as actually described in the rules. This is a controversial topic of much discussion over the years, and I’m going to make a few minor tweaks to get it to where I think we’ll enjoy it the most, but those used to the standard method of known spells may be surprised that B/X, as written, departs from all the other oldschool editions. I will have a detailed post in the near future explaining our implementation.

One of the largest houserules in Kilgore’s B/X (KBX) is that player characters shall be human-only. This means–at least initially–a four-class game. But I believe that Fighter+Cleric+Magic-User+Thief will give us everything we need. If not, I’m willing to consider some additional classes. But they’ll all be human. Elves in this game are not like elves in other games.

Another big change will be to the cleric class. Though mechanically not altered too terribly much, I am modifying it to be closer to the mystic warrior I’ve always envisioned it to be. A post detailing my changed to the cleric class will be coming soon.

Hopefully, Kilgore’s B/X will be a little pulpier while remaining fairly true to the high-fantasy B/X ideal. A proto-KBX campaign which has been in stasis for a couple of years may possibly be the beneficiary of a raise dead spell, too. Many of the changes I’m going to be implementing here were introduced and trialled there, and working on this has brought that back from death’s door. I’m excited for an opportunity to try again and especially to introduce the game to some who have never played it before.

Adventure is our goal and fun is how we earn our XP.

UPDATE: I should also mention that the Trav81 Traveller game I’ve been working on is not dead or even shelved. The push for D&D simply moved it down a rung on the ladder. It’s still in the works and is close to launching. Just skimming a gas giant for a little fuel at the moment.

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Preparing to do a little Travelling

Kilgore has not been doing much gaming lately. But the on-again, off-again B/X D&D game has been requested a number of times and hopefully will see a new session soon.

Even more surprising, a new Classic Traveller campaign is being prepped. This will be a mostly-BTB game based on the 1981 LBB rules without much of anything beyond Books 1,2,and 3. No Third Imperium. No advanced career types. No High Guard ship designs. No Spinward Marches.

I plan to post about the campaign, which I’m initially calling Trav81, here on the blog.

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Temple Labyrinth by Sergey Grechanyuk

Kilgore approves. Wow.

Temple Labyrinth by Sergey Grechanyuk

Temple Labyrinth by Sergey Grechanyuk

From Artstation.

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The box that started it all for me

Possibly the best birthday gift I ever received. Definitely one of the most influential.

Deluxe Traveller

Deluxe Traveller

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Tuesday Treasure: Toad Cloak

Kilgore is trying to dust off the cobwebs here. He has some new content but nothing that is quite ready, so go check out the Toad Cloak iat Ancient Vaults and Eldritch Secrets. Exactly the sort of weird-but-cool item that I like to drop into campaigns. The power is fairly limited but the enjoyment level and stories that it generates are more valuable than plusses on saving throws or bonuses to attack rolls.

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Cheap D6s

Kilgore loves the D6. You can never have too many D6s. And while half the fun of casting fireball is the epic damage your magic-user can dish out, the other half is that the player gets to roll tons of D6s.

Unlike many gamers, I’m not super particular about my dice. Of course, I have favorites and want dice to be reasonably well-balanced for random results. But I’m not going to pay a ton for top-shelf dice in order to get Vegas-level randomness. These dice here are from a couple of sets of Liar’s Dice. I love them.

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Low Fantasy Gaming

I’ve only glanced at it but Low Fantasy Gaming appears to be a decent take on oldschool sword & sorcery using d20 OGL mechanics.

Low Fantasy Gaming (“LFG”) is a tabletop roleplaying game built for sword & sorcery adventures in low magic worlds.

Rules Light
LFG is rules light, with a heavy emphasis on Games Master (“GM”) rulings. It’s a hybrid of old school and modern game design, based on the 1d20 Open Game Licence.

Fast & Engaging Combat
Combat is designed to be fast and engaging, with minimal waiting between turns. Creativity is encouraged via martial exploits and magic.

Dangerous & Gritty
Battle is genuinely dangerous and every skirmish takes a toll. The threat of serious injury or death is never far away.

A “Realistic” World
LFG worlds tend to mimic our own classical or medieval periods. Humans are the default player race. Magic and fantastic monsters exist, but are very rare.

If anyone has played LFG and has some feedback, particularly about how the game would appeal to oldschool gamers who prefer OD&D, AD&D, or Classic D&D, let me know.

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Hiding in Plain Sight

Saw someone on Reddit ask about a house rule where players don’t see the results of perception check rolls so that they don’t know whether or not the PCs succeeded. These types of rolls are a lot more common in newer versions of the games, but they aren’t unheard of in oldschool games, either. Finding traps and searching for secret doors are the first two that come to mind.

It seems obvious to me that players should NOT see the rolls for these sorts of checks. It’s self-evident.

After years of fudging rolls in my younger days, I’ve switched to rolling in the open. This has been accompanied by an increase in PC mortality, but it adds an element of excitement to the game that I feel is missing when players have a sense that the DM is guiding things by fudging. It’s also more fun as the DM, as I can never be quite sure what’s going to happen next.

The problem with rolling in the open, of course, is the above-mentioned perception-style checks. The players should not know whether their attempt to detect whether a rope bridge over a bottomless chasm is an illusion was successful or not. The obvious solution to this is for the DM to make the roll and simply tell the players what their PCs perceive.

Another option, though, would be to make the roll in the open, but obfuscate the result by rolling several dice. This would work best with a single-die roll, such as a d20 attribute check or a d6 roll while searching for secret doors. Roll two or three different-colored dice and use the result from the one determined beforehand. This roll could be made by the players, which would add to their feeling of being in control of their characters rather than at the mercy of someone else’s luck with the dice.

For example: Bob the Barbarian is searching for secret passages. The player rolls 3d6, each of a different color, and the DM chooses which one to count beforehand. The results are red 1, white 4, blue 5. The DM says, “Bob doesn’t find anything.” The player doesn’t know which die counted or if the lack of found doors means that there aren’t any secret passages or if they just failed to find them because it wasn’t the red die that counted.

This can have the added factor of giving the players a better idea of things. Say, for example, that Bob the Barbarian’s player rolled three 1s and the DM still said “Bob doesn’t find anything.” Now the player can have a high degree of confidence that there are no doors to be found. This could be especially applicable if players make the rolls, as they are rewarded for rolling “well.”

Some may argue that letting the players see these rolls will detract from the mystery, and I can see that viewpoint. But it may not be a bad thing. For instance, players already see the results of to-hit rolls. When they roll a 16 and miss, they get a sense of how tough their opponent is. Much more so than if the DM rolled behind the screen and just said “you miss.”

This element could be a way of adding knowledge that is tough to convey. If the PCs were real, they’d have all sorts of input, conscious and subconscious, on which to form opinions. But in the game, the player is basically limited to the words the DM speaks. Players know that their PC searched for secret doors and didn’t find any, but they don’t really have a sense of whether they could have missed one. Seeing the rolls, even when uncertain of which die counted, could help them determine whether or not another search is in order.

It seems that I’ve used this idea a few times in the past for various things, but never as a standard mechanic. I might have to try it to see how it goes. Just a thought.

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