Sunday, May 02, 2010

From Another Blog: The Twelve Touchstones of Old School Modules...

Good Evening, All:

The other day I read a great blog entry on the 12 Touchstones of Old School Modules that pretty much blew me away. When I look at a list like that, it reminds me not to forget certain elements in my adventures if I really want to capture that Old School feel. For the sake of covering the basics, here's the list in brief:

  1. Environmental hazards, such as slippery floors, ledges, extreme temperatures, etc.
  2. Combat encounters with baseline monsters, increasing the difficulty through use of terrain and/or circumstances.
  3. At least one encounter that would best be resolved by means other than combat, lest it lead to a TPK.
  4. At least one trick, puzzle or obstacle that requires the players to think rather than rely on a die roll to resolve it.
  5. At least one item, location or creature that causes a significant permanent effect to the character, as determined (good or bad) by rolling on a random chart.
  6. At least one item of treasure that is cursed or has a detrimental side effect when used.
  7. A "false climax" that sends inattentive players home or takes them off their guard, while clever players will realize that this could not have been the true climax of the adventure.
  8. At least one disorienting effect that makes mapping difficult.
  9. At least one location where resources are an issue due to environmental circumstances.
  10. At least one area that has items of value that are too large to transport without considerable detriment.
  11. At least one creature that appears to be something it is not.
  12. One encounter (and only one) that makes absolutely no logical sense, for the players to explain through their own imagination.

I tend to write smaller adventures than this, simply to keep a smaller scope on "modules" and give players a greater sense of accomplishment and forward motion. However, it wouldn't hurt for me to expand my repertoire to include these elements at least once every other adventure, just to make sure that the campaign as a whole captures that Old School feel.

Now, don't let this kind of thing fool you. Having an Old School campaign is not simply a matter of following a formula. It's really a flavor of how you run the game. Still, certain iconic experiences trigger certain reactions in your players. If you tap into those iconic experiences, you can encourage them to feel the same way about your game that they've come to associate with other Old School campaigns. These elements, when used judiciously, can help you achieve exactly that.

And besides, it's just a lot of fun. :)

More Tomorrow,

1 comment:

Aos said...

Thanks for drawing my attention to this. It is definitely something to think about.