Sunday 20 September 2020

Early Fantasy Settings

Map of Arduin.

Early Unique Fantasy Campaigns.  

For some time now, I have been compiling a list of unique fantasy settings from the 70s and 80s but there are certainly some that I've missed. If you can think of any more, please put them in the comments and I'll include them here.

Note, that these are unique settings, ie not those based on literary works like Middle Earth, Lankhmar or Hyboria, all of which got the their own rpg system settings during this period.

At the moment the list isn't in any order. I think I'll try to put in chronological order however, rather than by rules system or just alphabetically. I think having it in date order may show something about the developing character of the fantasy settings as the hobby began to mature over the 80s.

Blackmoor (Arneson)  

The Known World (ODD-Basic D&D)  

Mystara (Basic D&D)  

Blackmoor ii (ODD-ADD)  

Greyhawk (ODD-ADD)  

Arduin (ODD-Basic-ADD-own system) 

Wizard's Realm (Own system)

Melanda (Own System)

Verbosh (ODD) 

Kingdom Of Alusia (Dragon Quest)  

Harn (Own System)  

Delos (ODD-Arduin)  

Glorantha (Runequest) 

Questworld (Runequest) 

Tekumel (Empire of the Petal Throne)  

The Wilderlands (Judges Guild, ODD-Basic-ADD-own system)  

Arden (Chivalry and Sorcery)  

Archaeron (Own System)  

Jorune (Skyrealms of Jorune)  

Cidri (The Fantasy Trip)  

The Hollow World (Basic D&D)

Aventuria (The Dark Eye)

Forgotten Realms (ADD) 

The Perilous Lands (Powers and Perils) 

Achaeus (Talislanta)  

The Trollworld (Tunnels and Trolls)  

Ravenloft (ADD)  

Lands Of Legend (Dragon Warriors)  

Pelinore (ADD)  

Dragon Lance (ADD)  

Spelljammer (ADD)  

Dark Sun (ADD)  

The Old World (Warhammer FRPG)  

Titan (Fighting Fantasy)  

Yrth (GURPS)  

Palladia (Palladium rpg)  

Vog Mur (Rolemaster)  

Free City Of Haven (Thieves Guild)  

Ysgarth (The Ysgarth Rule System)  

Kulthea (Rolemaster: Shadow Lands)  

Atlantis (Arcanum) 

The Misty Isles (OD&D, AD&D)

Minaria (Divine Right)

Thursday 17 September 2020

The ENIOTS Manifesto

What is the ENIOTS Manifesto? 

ENIOTS is an acronym for:  

Everything Needed Is On The Sheet: E.N.I.O.T.S  

(NOTE: this is still a work in progress!)  

Games which comply with the ENIOTS Framework follow these rubrics:  

1. Everything a player needs to know, in order to play successfully, is on the Character Sheet s/he uses.  

2. Both sides of the sheet may be used, although the reverse will be reserved for notes written during play.  

3. Not all players' sheets need be identical.  

4. Rules 2 & 3 do not necessarily imply, that all characters are pre-gens.  

5. Players do not necessarily need to know all the rules.  

6. Players do not necessarily need to know how characters are generated.  

7. In a pure ENIOTS game, all the rules the GM needs, are also on one sheet.  

8. The reverse of GM's sheet can contain creature lists, item or spell or skill descriptions etc.  

9. Rules 7 & 8 do not necessarily imply that all of the rules of the game are written on a single page.  

10. ENIOTS games are not necessarily one shots. Character progression may be possible.

Version 0.2

What ENIOTS is, and what it is not.

The ENIOTS Framework is a set of rules or rubrics to which the designer of a role playing game adheres when creating a rules set. It is designed to aid both designers and players. If a game announces itself to be an ENIOTS game, players will know what to expect to some degree when they sit down to play.  

ENIOTS is not an attempt to  claim that one way of designing a game is any better or worse than another. It is not a call to make all rpgs, ENIOTS compliant.

Why would designers want to use these rubrics?

The aim of the ENIOTS Framework is to create games which do not overburden players with information, things to learn or time spent carefully calculating statistics. The idea is to make games which can start very quickly, with little explanation from the Referee. The aim is also that in an ENIOTS game, the Referee too, is free from clutter and from the need constantly to refer to tables, calculation methods and exact rulings on trivial details.

This does not imply, that ENIOTS games are of necessity, 'rules light', although many games will be. There is nothing in the the rubrics which prohibits the rule book for a game being long and detailed: As long as all rules required for both players and referee to play, fit on one page per person, the game may still be called an ENIOTS game.

Designers, writers and artists often find that having a set of guidelines to work to, can create a focus which aids creativity rather than constricting it. Hopefully, using the ENIOTS Framework will help to create rule systems which are more tightly written and less filled with clutter.

Although an ENIOTS game would seem to lend itself to one-shots, Con games or fillers, this need not necessarily be so. There is nothing in the framework which is designed to inhibit longer running games or campaigns. Gamers who become very familiar with a set of rules, become so fluent in their use that they rarely need to consult the rule book(s). The aim of the ENIOTS framework is that this state of expert use, happens quickly and easily.

Finally, there is no plan to 'vet' any games which are designed to fit the ENIOTS Framework at present. I do not propose to set myself up as a judge of the continually excellent work that gamers in this astonishing hobby create. If a designer says s/he has used the ENIOTS Framework, then that's enough for me. There will be a post which should provide links to ENIOTS games which have been made.

Sunday 6 September 2020

Fighting Fantasy...

 The First attempt at turning Fighting Fantasy into a full rpg.


Fighting Fantasy

Before the Advanced Fighting Fantasy book was published, Steve Jackson put out a set of rules entitled Fighting Fantasy The Introductory Role-Playing Game (Puffin, 1984).  

This book has all of the rules from the well known gamebooks plus extra rules for dealing with common adventuring situations (losing weapons, listening at doors, opening chests etc, things that would otherwise be handled by the text of the gamebook) as well as advice on games mastering etc. There are expanded sections on running bigger battles (ie with a party of adventurers rather than the typically solo adventurer from the gamebooks). There are also two adventures provided.  

There's enough for simple dungeon bashing. But soon on  it's heels came The Riddling Reaver (Puffin, 1986). This is essentially a mini campaign of four interlinked scenarios all revolving around the eponymous wicked Reaver character. However, this book also brings in extra rules which fill in the gaps from the first. There is variable weapon damage, reactions to injury, unconsciousness and death. And advice on running games in the wilderness. But what makes this book invaluable to a GM is the section on magic and spell casting. It's minimal (there are only ten or eleven spells if I remember) but it takes the claim that this is a proper rpg into the realms of credibility. Add to these two the marvellous Titan (a world source book), Out of the Pit (aka a monster manual) and you're off!  

A great addition to these in my opinion is Steve Jackson's Sorcery Spell Book. This is a book written for the Advanced version but is really useful as an alternative magic system to that presented in the Riddling Reaver. The great thing about this book is that each of the spells has a proper name but also a three letter abbreviated form. This short form in intended for use by the players literally to shout out during play! What fun.

Mertwig's Maze

Mertwig's Maze box art.

Mertwig's Maze by Tom Wham, TSR, 1988. 

 Mertwig's Maze is an interesting hybrid game. It describes itself as a *Gamefolio* essentially because there is an outer cardboard cover and stapled rules booklet (much like TSR adventure modules of the time, but it also contains hundreds of cards and sturdy cardboard counters as well as several cardboard maps. So it's a mix of boardgame and D&D adventure. All laced through with Tom Wham whimsy and great art (by Wham himself but also other TSR stalwarts such as Dave Sutherland. Although published in 1988, it was apparently first created in 1983 as a card game and sold to TSR as that. But, when Gygax and TSR 'parted ways', the game lost it's way and sat in a cupboard. The game as published was really down to James Ward taking it up and persuading TSR and Wham to nominally place it within the Forgotten Realms world and thereby making it technically (just) an AD&D product. It says so on the front cover!  

How much replay value it has I shall see. But I'm not going to punch those counters and cards until I've found a good box to keep it all in!