I have been thinking about this for a while now and I figure it is about time to share it with all of you. When I was about 11 I used to head up with a friend named Fred to his grandparent’s house up on a lake in a closes community. It was great, we had free reign to bike, hike, swim,whatever we wanted to…so long as we were home for dinner. It was truly a fun and inviting place that probably couldn’t exist any more. We were both avid gamers and at the time enjoyed playing D&D, this would be around ’83-84 or somewhere around there, so odds are we had been playing the original Red Box Basic Rules D&D.
I distinctly remember one trip where we had forgotten our books, dice, everything, and as luck would have it rained all day. Bored out of our minds (remember we were at grandma’s house in the 80s), we pillaged a board game for d6s and set about playing a game. I say playing because we didn’t think we were creating a game, we were playing a game called D&D just sans the rulebooks.
Reaching back now, I can barely remember the details of the game we played, but I feel this had a long, and far reaching effect on my gaming.
It was not long after this that I began working on what would later become the first solid version of my home-brew game world called Sylnae. Shortly after this began the never-ending search for, or subsequent writing of ‘The Perfect Game’. I feel the steps I took to create a game we could play in the fly, with by-seat-of-my-pants GMing that I was later known for, really opened my mind to a different side of gaming. One where GMs really had to be on their toes to create compelling, if simpler, story that engaged the players more than a simple hack & slash.
So you might be asking what I created, to be honest and unfortunately I don’t not fully recall. I do remember it had all the normal D&D stats, and being that we only had d6s everything had to be resolved via that mechanic. I also remember that while we picked a class (the classic fighter, thief, cleric or mage) what you could do, a skill list if you would, was really just almost a cliche from Risus. You picked a thief? We knew that meant you could sneak, locate and disarm traps, backstabbing someone for loads of damage and you can pick pockets. How well? Well, what is your Dexterity? 16, you get a +1 to your roll! You need to roll a 12 to steal the purse.
Now, today, looking back at my attempted rules-medium with that ‘Old School Feel™’ called Dungeon Delvers! I can see where perhaps I should aim more in that direction. I am not so much wanting to create the perfect OSR game as there are a good number of well-written clones out already, no need to reinvent the wheel. I also feel that I could really use this very first attempt at a game as a catalyst for this new game.
Additionally, looking at current games such as Warrior, Rogue & Mage or the oft-spoken of yet rarely played Risus, I can see that much of my younger day games were spent in a sort of home-brewed hacked Red Box that leaned very closely those later games. I remember that I would often make GMing calls on attribute checks where I had players roll a difficulty of 13 or 15 to scale a wall when they lacked the official skill or attempted to decipher some tome that they failed to take the language.
That said, I am wondering if a simple game could be devised without the long winded write up that Dungeon Delvers! has become.