Sunday, August 23, 2009

Searchers of the Unknown

For those who haven't seen it, here's Nicolas Dessaux's Searchers of the Unknown, a one-page distillation of OD&D for those who like their fantasy RPGs really rules-light.


  1. Dang! That's about as lite as you can get D&D without the game blowing away in a breeze. Nic's done an excellent job of distillation.

    My favourite details:
    * melee weapons do more damage than ranged (implicit tactical choice!)
    * Roll-under THAC
    * Monsters taking unconscious PCs prisoner
    * Danger scaling ("If it could kill X, then nd8")
    *super simple magic

    In fact I like pretty much all of it. :)

    Beau travail!

    vw: ovess - fitting, considering that this deserves an ovation.

  2. Neat! Combine that with 3x5 card character sheets and a one page dungeon, and you'd have a great convention hallway game.

  3. That's hardcore.

    Too hardcore for me though.

    I *like* fiddly bits, which is one of the reasons why I love going back to BD&D and AD&D, but not OD&D.

    There's a certain point where streamlining goes too far for me.

  4. There's a certain point where streamlining goes too far for me.

    The same is true for me. I like a little heft to my games, which is why my OD&D games include a lot of material from the supplements and generally veer toward "AD&D Lite" rather than the pristine simplicity of the LBBs alone.

  5. Yeah, I think between my penchant for adding classes, variant spell lists based on deity, and Variant Classes (which show up in World of Arkara), that I'm running 1.5, taking a lot of 2e concepts and making them um, good.

    I know that sounds horribly arrogant and it probably is but a lot of the ideas of 2e always struck me as sound at the time, and STILL do.

    I love the *idea* of kits, for example, and they're basically the starting point for my variant classes concept.

    What made me exclude kits was that no thought whatsoever went into balancing one kit against another.

    So my variant classes (in theory) are balanced with each other, but also with classes that don't use variants (you don't become a more powerful Ranger if you add the Bounty Hunter variant class, you're just different).

  6. It's ok, but I prefer my system which does without the needless complexity of hit points and damage rolls. >:)

    Introductory Dungeons & Dragons

    I recommend Basic Fantasy RPG as the template, but any OGL version of d20 D&D should work (eg 3e D&D, C&C), as long as it uses "higher is better".

    Task Resolution Mechanic: Roll Target Number or higher on d20+Level to succeed.

    Combat: PCs normally act first, unless surprised, then alternate. A hit inflicts 1 Wound.

    PC Fighters
    Level XP Wounds to Kill
    1 0 2
    2 20 3
    3 40 4
    4 80 5
    5 160 6
    6 320 7
    7 640 8
    8 1200 9
    9 2400 10
    10 3600 10
    +1 +1200 +1/2 levels

    Base AC: 17 (heavy armour), 15 (medium armour), 13 (light armour), 11 (no armour)
    Shield: +1 AC.
    2-handed weapon: +1 to-hit.

    Fighting Defensively: Add Level to AC rather than to Attack roll.

    PC Magic-Users

    Magic-User to Level 10

    Level XP Wounds Spells by Level
    1 2 3 4 5 6
    1 0 2 1 - - - - -
    2 25 2 2 - - - - -
    3 50 3 2 1 - - - -
    4 100 3 2 2 - - - -
    5 200 4 2 2 1 - - -
    6 400 4 3 2 2 - - -
    7 800 5 3 2 2 1 - -
    8 1500 5 3 3 2 2 - -
    9 3000 6 3 3 2 2 1 -
    10 4500 6 4 3 3 2 2 -

    The Magic-User cannot wear armour and cast spells, so AC 11.
    The Magic-User only adds 1/2 their level to rolls, including attack rolls.

    NB I gave both Fighter and Magic-User 2 Wounds at 1st level as dying in 1 blow is no fun, especially when you're 5 years old. Their low AC still makes them plenty vulnerable.


    Multiple Attacks
    Level Attacks
    1-6 1
    7-12 3/2
    13-18 2
    19-24 3
    25+ 4

    Magical weapons and armour bonuses apply normally.
    Healing potions restore 1 wound.

    D&D monsters may be used normally. A monster's Level = its Hit Dice

    Monster Attack Bonus & Wounds both = monster Level

    Damage: Monsters normallly inflict 1 wound per attack. For BFRPG, S&W etc those that do 2d8 on a hit can inflict 2 wounds, 3d8 3 wounds, etc.

    XP: Monster XP totals are divided by 10 (1 orc = 1 XP). Optionally 100 gold = 1 XP.

    Sample monster stat block:

    Orc: Level 1 AC 14 XPV 1
    Goblin: Level 0 (1 wound) AC 14 XPV 1
    Fighters count as +1 Level (1st level Fighter worth 2 XP).

  7. Multiple Attacks are only for Fighters, not M-Us.

    I plan to use this system especially for online PBEMs where stats are less important than writing.

  8. Awesome. I loved Microlite20 when it showd up, and this just looks so neat. Is it usable? Maybe. :)

  9. Nice! I could see more and more players using these rules, writing adventures, and eventually someone will put out a 128 page supplement "for use with Searchers of the Unknown". ;)

  10. I love the concept. Plus, these distillations are attempts at "getting at the heart" of what makes D&D fun and unique. I applaud the effort.

    For me, there is floor, below which the game ceases to be D&D. That floor includes the 6 character stats, and variable hit points.

    I, too, have toyed with the idea of moving towards a "wounds" system, rather than hit points. But it undermines the variable damage-by-weapon concept, which I cannot (yet) bring myself to abandon.

  11. I find it inspiring. I think I'll try one of my own at some point.

    The particular implementation leaves me cold in a few places (characters can't die?), but it's a neat concept and I like the idea of it.

  12. Harrumph. (1) The individual initiative is actually too rules-heavy for me. (2) The roll-low (instead of d20 + level > 20) and (3) "rest and bandages" reinterpretation of hit points is not stuff I could stomach.

  13. Very nice. Very inspiring.

    I like playing around with this kind of thing myself. I’m really interested in: (1) How much can I strip away and still enjoy? (2) Proto-D&D. (And actually, attempts at “reconstructing” a proto-D&D my be more interesting to me than anything too informed. ^_^) (3) Exploring some of the different directions a proto-D&D might have gone in.

  14. I have to say, thanks for posting this James. It was interesting enough for me to pass it along to a few other people, and before I knew it, there were five people rolling up characters on IRC while I grabbed Gary's random dungeon generation tables in the 1e DMG. It went fantastically: everyone was agreeing that it was great fun doing things in such a rules-light way. (Keep in mind our usual game of choice is 4e.) We're definitely going to keep doing it as quick pickup games, although the current idea is to switch to S&W. Thanks again!

  15. Thanks a lot all! I'd like to get an advice from playtests ;)

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  18. What an awesome rules-lite game!

    I DO love to play clerics and wizards; here is a 1 page "supplement" to add them to the game. The link below is to my mediashare folder that has both an Openoffice file (for modifying to fit YOUR game) and a pdf (which I think looks a little better) - have fun.

    Thanks again Nicolas!