Old School: How Do you Roll?

I have ever so slowly been reading through Elric! By Chaosium as well as Mongoose’s take on Elric (the first edition) and beginning to realize that the game I actually WANT to be playing is B/X D&D with the AD&D aesthetic and a 0e LBB class simplicity with some bits of Elric/Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu thrown in as well as some of the magic from Palladium Fantasy Second edition. I really started thinking about this after reading Beedo’s blog post over at Dreams in the Lich House regarding emulation vs. D&D. I think I’ve ALWAYS twisted D&D to suit my gaming needs of the time. Sure, I’ve played some straight up dungeon crawls, but really, what I want is to emulate stories like the Elric saga, but with all of the skills in Stombringer/Elric. I like the simplicity that the core B/X D&D brings to the table for stats, combat, armor class, etc. but I don’t like being restricted to Vancian magic. I love the aesthetic of 1e AD&D, but there are too many fiddly bits that I never used such as weapons vs. armor, weapon speed, etc. Palladium seems like a house rulled version of 1e but I don’t like the combat system. I do like the wards, summoning, circle magic in Palladium Fantasy. Overall though, I’m not fond of a huge selection of classes. I think classes are actually more restrictive than liberating in creating your character type. I’d rather have a man of action, man of intellect, and man of faith template and hang everything off of those paper dolls. I want to play Elric or Corum, or Fafhrd, Grey Mouser, etc without having to multiclass. Who else essentially cobbles together their own system in order to play the game they want?


  1. Aye, that'd be me.
    --So many times that I finally gave up on existing systems as the answer, and made my own and played them almost to exclusion.

    DIY, I say. :)

  2. Mine has been a slow but steady cobbling together. If anything it's only the need for some kind of consistency in the campaign for the players that prevents me from pulling all the various experimental bits from my blog together into one homebrewed system.

  3. Yes, my players and I have been working on a major cobbling job lately in order to make Bards "work" in our campaign. But in general, we've been very happy with Labyrinth Lord + the Advanced Edition Companion as our core ruleset.

    confirmation code: mysins

  4. @Timeshadows - yeah, looks like you have some pretty interesting session reports. I'd like to see your home brew.

    @ckutalik - I love the domain level stuff you've been working on. Had I more time, I'd love to participate. I'm very interested to see what you do with it.

    @Carter Soles - I think LL + AEC + RoCC + some tacked on magic stuff is where I'm headed.

    To be honest, the whole idea of AEC really bothered me at first with OSRIC out there. It seemed to be detrimental to that work. However, when I finally got my copy, I realized that this was actually closer to the way I played 1e than 1e RAW or OSRIC. I still love 1e for the wonkiness, presentation, and overall aesthetic, but AEC is probably my system of choice (even if I do a lot of artwork for OSRIC and OSRIC products). I've talked about it before, but it is a long process for me to make the system tweaks that I want and get them out there for others to peruse. But, it WILL happen ;).

  5. That's the part that's hard to get your head around, it's that AEC is NOT REALLY a 1E AD&D clone in the same way that OSRIC is. What it does do is takes B/X and staples on the "good parts" of 1st ed in much the same way we did in the late 70s, early 80s. In actual play, LL & AEC almost perfectly resemble the way that most of us played 1E AD&D in that period before everyone had ALL of the hardbacks since by and large, most groups threw out weapon speeds, segmented combat, etc.

    We roll w/ LL/AEC and a healthy portion of houserules (found on my blog). I think you should seriously consider the Ritual Magic houserule (from, if memory serves BTBG blog) if you dig that Sword and Sorcery feel. This single tweak gives you a nice break from the rigid Vancian magic model that bothers a lot of fans.

  6. @scadgrad - I'll read through Al's notes on ritual magic and see how I can adapt them to my needs. He definately posts some great stuff.

  7. I'm playing in a MRQII 'Elric' campaign right now, and highly recommend checking it out. It does a brilliant job in capturing the 'feel' of the Young Kingdoms. (I'm also a fan of Chaosium's 'Elric!'.)

    As for bending D&D into something like what you're looking for, I tried to do that with my 'Akratic Wizardry' house rules in 2009. Using 'Swords and Wizardry' as a base, I tweaked the system into something that could be used for a 'swords and sorcery' (Elric/Conan/Fafhrd) style game. It worked quite well for a campaign that I ran in spring-summer 2009.

    An index, with appropriate links, can be found here (along with a link to a PDF with all the rules):

  8. @Akrasia - Cool, I'll check it out. How do you think MRQ II holds up? Mongoose really seems to be hit or miss so I'm kind of wary of them.

  9. I agree that Mongoose is pretty inconsistent. The original Mongoose attempt at RQ was something of a disaster. I'm always careful to read a review, or check out a copy, before purchasing anything from them.

    MRQII, though, is a great game, the best version of RuneQuest ever published IMO. I highly recommend it, as well as the 'Elric of Melnibone' book for it. The designers have decades of BRP and RQ-related experience behind them, so they avoided the mistakes that afflicted the original MRQ.

  10. Oh yeah, in case you're curious, I've been blogging about my MRQII campaign, the 'index' or 'hub' for which (i.e., links to all relevant posts) can be found here:

    I should mention that one of the authors of MRQII, Lawrence Whitaker, is my GM, so you may want to take my praise with a grain of salt. However, in my defence, I was praising MRQII *long* before I ever met Lawrence. (E.g., see: http://akraticwizardry.blogspot.com/2010/03/runequest-ii-versus-openquest.html)

  11. @Akrasia - I've been hearing quite a few good things about MRQII I'll have to check it out. I did just get all of the Elric stuff from them on eBay for something crazy like $6. I'll check out the MRQII vs. OpenQuest as well. I just got my copy of OpenQuest in the mail a few weeks back. It's on the read pile ;).

  12. I play in Carter's campaign, and as he says we're doing LL + AEC. As I got back into my B/X and 1e books recently, I realize (as I keep saying over and over again as if it's some profound insight) that the AEC approximates the way we used to play AD&D back in the day, which is essentially B/X but with expanded classes, spells, etc. from the PHB, but not all the hyper-fiddly stuff in the DMG.

    As you say, weapons vs. armor tables and all that ... seriously? Part of the appeal of our system now is that we have relative RPG newbies in our group that will NEVER obsess over the difference between a glaive and a glaive-guisarme like we did when we were 12 years old. Trying to get that geeky would probably alienate some of our players now.

    On the other hand, I'm becoming more sympathetic to alternate magic systems. I don't have much experience with them, but a lot of folks seem to key in on this.


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