Wednesday, March 11, 2009

If this be madness ...

St. Cuthbert help me but I've begun doing a hack of the Eldritch Wizardry psionics rules for Swords & Wizardry -- and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I started it up on a lark, trying to see how easy it'd be and I soon found it wasn't that bad at all. I'm especially grateful to the D20 SRD, which has proven very useful in this little lark of a project. My feelings about 3e's complexity to the contrary, if you dig deeply into it, you'll find a lot of the game's OD&D/AD&D is buried under the surface, just waiting to be mined for old school projects. It's frankly amazing to me that WotC allowed so much of the Gygaxo-Arnesonian patrimony of the game to enter into public use through the OGL, but thank goodness for that.

If this gets anywhere, I'll probably just make a little PDF of the whole thing and make it a free download somewhere.

37 comments:

  1. I can do free downloads through the S&W site (I think - something weird happened when I tried to upload the Core Rules Second Printing, and I had to do it through Lulu). Either way, though, you can do free downloads via Lulu, too. That would be a great addition to the various free downloads already on the S&W site.

    (which I am re-doing this very evening after Verhaden went in and did some incredible eldritch-magic web design ... stuff). It will be really cool.

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  2. How much does the 3e version have in common with the one presented for OD&D? I always rather liked the flavor of psionics in 3e, but all I know about pre-WotC psionics is that a lot of people consider the AD&D version confusing and "unbalanced." All I know about the Eldritch Wizardry version is that it existed.

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  3. Monte Cook, 3e Psionics... Since 3.x has turned old-school, our Pope is tempted by a reformation ;) Soon a Council of Trent?

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  4. Personally I like the 3.0 version of psionics very much -- the mechanics especially. There are some interesting powers and I like the way it connected each discipline to a qualifying stat.

    The 3.5 revision was drab by comparison.

    I'll be interested in how you handle the attack & defense modes. They've always seemed cumbersome.

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  5. Matt,

    I'll certainly send the finished version of this your way.

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  6. How much does the 3e version have in common with the one presented for OD&D?

    Not a huge amount mechanically. Much of the terminology is similar, though, which is what's important form my perspective, since I don't have to file the serial numbers off most of them to use them.

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  7. Soon a Council of Trent?

    Any man who proclaims that 3e be called by the holy name of "old school," anathema sit.

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  8. I'll be interested in how you handle the attack & defense modes. They've always seemed cumbersome.

    Well, the goal here is to recreate, as best as possible, the system from Eldritch Wizardry with some simplifications to make it work well with S&W, so it may still be cumbersome by many standards. We'll see.

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  9. James,

    I'm glad you mentioned that you are doing this, become I was going to start doing the same thing this weekend. Now that I've "finished" with Microlite74 2.0 and its supplement, I'm moving to working on S&W and psionics was near the top of my list of rules I really needed. If your psionics rules will be open content under the OGL, I'll skip on to the next thing on my list instead.

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  10. I can see a Barsoom S&W game on the horizon.

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  11. I'd like to see that. I've had a soft spot for all thing psionic since I started playing D&D.

    My first character was a psionist--under second edition--though I didn't see the actual rules for them until the third time I played him.

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  12. I tried a similar thing about a year ago.

    For me, the hardest part was making the attack & defense modes used for psionic combat make sense.

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  13. But... why?

    Psionics was a bastard child from the get-go, and one that Gygax deeply regretted ever including in the game. Why include it?

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  14. The Freudian attack forms are a couple serial numbers I wouldn't mind seeing filed off.

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  15. Monte Cook, 3e Psionics... Since 3.x has turned old-school, our Pope is tempted by a reformation ;) Soon a Council of Trent?

    Exactly. Run away, and fast. Next thing you know we'll have a Nicene Edition with a Trinity of acceptible psionics systems. Where will the madness end? Curb thy enthusiasm.

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  16. What's interesting here, I think, is the way in which we're recapitulating the evolution of Original D&D - various discussions of various supplements, like here, and finding ways to adapt or recreate these systems for availability and use today. This doesn't surprise me, but there is an interesting possibility in all of this: at some point, Original D&D will have been fully re-imagined, but it's not at all clear that AD&D 1st Edition is the "natural" next step. Nothing against the fine folk who have put together OSRIC, but fairly soon we will be able to take our "Original D&D" in directions that were not thought of "back in the day" - and that will be a good thing, I think. YMMV.

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  17. I would really love to see this happen. I would like to S&W-ize races like the githyanki (with another name, of course) for Ancient Vaults & Eldritch Secrets. I cannot wait to see what you come up with.

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  18. Huh...I have never thought about the evolution that Vraymond suggested. Interesting. I for one, like OSRIC, but then again I don't see the need for only "one" flavor of RPG in this arena.

    The nice thing about this creative momentum is that much of the stuff produced is easily translated across systems. (LL, S&W, OSRIC)

    More power to you James.

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  19. I can see a Barsoom S&W game on the horizon.

    I think that would be very cool.

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  20. For me, the hardest part was making the attack & defense modes used for psionic combat make sense.

    The psionic combat is a tricky thing to get to work properly, I'll admit, but I think it's doable.

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  21. But... why?

    Because I like it :)

    Much as I revere Gary's memory, I think his dislike for the system was colored by a number of issues, not least being his preference for more "pure" fantasy in his later years. I don't see anything necessarily incoherent with the idea of psionics in D&D.

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  22. The Freudian attack forms are a couple serial numbers I wouldn't mind seeing filed off.

    Unlikely, at least in my initial pass over the system. The goal here is to recreate the OD&D version of the rules as closely as is possible under the OGL and that includes the terminology.

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  23. Victor,

    You've just intuited the germ of the next post I'll be making to the blog later today :)

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  24. I was just thinking about this yesterday in reposne to Jason Vey's on-going rpgnet thread, rereading AD&D. I never liked Psionics in a world with Vancian magic, but the idea of replacing magic with psionics...that has some legs. I've idly pondered running a game where psionics was the only sorcery (soemthing like the Deryni novels). I'd use the Psionist class (from some old issue of the Dragon) as the MU stand-in. The benefits would be:

    1. An easy way to represent a setting where anyone could have a little magic, but where there are also dedicated wizards; and

    2. A nifty little game of Duel Arcane via Psionic Combat, which has this almost formalized feel to it. I always get the image from an old X-Men comic where young Charles Xavier is in Cairo and he fights this psychic duel with a guy sitting in a cafe. They just sit, drinking coffee, until the guy keels over dead. I love that idea.

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  25. I'm excited to hear this. I've always had a soft spot for psionics, partly because my first foray into AD&D was through Dark Sun, a setting that would be right at home in the Planet Stories collection. I've had a hankering for running an adventure through my own Planetary Romance setting... I think I might even rework Moldvay's Lost City to that effect.

    Still, I've always found psionics work well even in a relatively 'pure' fantasy setting with nothing more than a little semantic drift. Much of the terminology is borrowed from scifi and pseudo-science, but if it were relabeled with more fantasy-friendly terms, it would blend right in. Mentalism, Psychic Powers, Faerie Magic, Chi Magic - take your pick.

    As my sleep-addled rambling draws to a close, I will note that my verification word was, no kidding around here, "bless," the first actual word I've had. I'm prepared to take this as a favorable omen.

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  26. I never liked Psionics in a world with Vancian magic, but the idea of replacing magic with psionics...that has some legs.

    I agree. One of my hopes is that, once I finish this, someone will take it and run with it to create a more elaborate system that could handle such a thing. My own approach is primarily recreationist, at least initially.

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  27. Without meaning to, I spent too much time last night already beginning to think of a setting with psionics as the magic. I'm seeing a sort of love-child of Gamma World, Kamandi, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Dying Earth, and the Book of the New Sun.

    I have this image of a far future Antartica, where mankind's last civilization has risen and fallen and struggles to rise again.

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  28. I have this image of a far future Antartica, where mankind's last civilization has risen and fallen and struggles to rise again.

    That's awesome.

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  29. I tell you what--you finish up those rules and I'll start working on it. :D

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  30. I tell you what--you finish up those rules and I'll start working on it. :D

    Deal.

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  31. Well, my imagination has really gotten away from me. I have not only started work on this little thing, but I decided to start a blog for working on it. So, if anyone is interested in this little project, hop over to http://wheel-of-samsara.blogspot.com and help me out.

    Now, get to work James! :D

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  32. Now, get to work James! :D

    A preliminary draft of the rules should be done sometime this week.

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  33. Did I miss the final version of this? How is it coming along?

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  34. I haven't done much work on it since last year. I've been distracted by other things and, honestly, I think Matt Slepin's take on S&W psionics is better than what I had in mind.

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  35. Cheers. If anyone wants to see the current state of my thing, it's at [http://sites.google.com/site/thefiendish/Home/under-the-dying-sun]

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  36. Thanks very much to both of you. Matthew, that looks like a very interesting sword & planet setting, and I like your implementation of the psionics rules.

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