How do you play?

That’s me on the left

My cousin Christopher taught me how to play D&D, he gave me the context to digest the text. Without that starting point I would have been lost. I imagine that today this is still the case for new comers to the hobby.

Last year (?) in my exploration of the OSR RPGs of today I stumbled on the concept of solo RPGs. This looked like a good way to explore the roots of my hobby without the complexity of organizing a face-to-face game.

Selecting Ruins of the Undercity for my first effort I was surprised to read that I would use whatever core rules I desired to play this game. As I wanted an experience as closely aligned with how the game was original played, I selected the 3 little brown books that started it all.

Trouble was the text for these rules wasn’t very clear and rather disjointed

So I set about drafting a summary of these rules that would allow me to better understand the core mechanics and refer to easily during play. 12 little pages that I should now print on brown paper (which I’m very proud of) you can find them here.

I haven’t yet returned to Ruins of the Undercity, or my exploration of solo RPGs, perhaps one day.

In the beginning…

Fitting that my first post touches on the game that started it all. Why at age 9 in 1980 this was at the top of my Christmas list I have no idea, but there it was and it was wonderful. In fact, it still is wonderful.

It would be difficult to describe how this one game propelled me into a world of sword & sorcery, science fiction, and fanciful day-dreams. Flights of fancy emerging between players clutching strange dice and scribbling on paper. I played this game every spare moment I had, for years, until I didn’t.

Why I stopped playing with such devotion I cannot rightly say: other hobbies competing for my attention, video games, girls? Whatever the case I hadn’t played D&D until something caught my attention in 2012.

Return to the glory days of fantasy with the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game. Adventure as 1974 intended you to, with modern rules grounded in the origins of sword & sorcery. Fast play, cryptic secrets, and a mysterious past await you.

https://goodman-games.com/dungeon-crawl-classics-rpg/

I had good fun with DCC, sharing this game with friends and exploring the OSR in general. Then in 2019 I committed to run my original D&D at a local convention. I picked up that original rule book and said “err, what the…?” The rules were not clearly organized, naturally archaic, and difficult to understand – not good for convention play.

So I created a summary; a control panel that the DM or PCs could use to quickly understand all the core rules. This would allow us to play the game in our allotted time of three hours without constantly flipping through a rulebook.

  • PC Control Panel – provides core character rules, equipment list, and more all on a single page.
  • DM Control Panel – provides turn track, core wandering monsters, reaction table, basic deeds, combat summary, and more all on a single page.

I’ve run this game now 7 or 8 times and these references have been invaluable. I’m intrigued by this control panel / quick reference sheet concept and want to do more. Though I am conscious that more than a single sheet of paper just gets in the way. Perhaps I’ll find a use of the other sides of these sheets.

Update Feb. 1

Our regular Thursday night group that plays online has been having good fun playing Holmes Basic D&D. We are delving into Gabor Lux’s Castle Morthimion – which I will also run at DunDraCon44 in just 2 weeks. I had always planned to put a little something on the 2nd side of these control panels & inspiration recently struck for the PC version – a simple character sheet, update is linked above.