Thursday, April 23, 2015

Making Olde School Mischief

As some readers know, I've been slowly cooking away on my home-brew, all-wizard role-playing game, occasionally adding a pinch of this and that, with a vague idea of producing something fit for print-on-demand one of these days.

I began fiddling with what would become Olde School Wizardry in 2002, pushing around some ideas for an extended B/X D&D campaign featuring only 1st level magic-users (one spell per day!).

Remodeling a home, switching careers, and starting a family intervened however, and my idea for a campaign was shelved along with these others:

  • Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense Hellboy RPG (it's an actual thing now)
  • Reverse Dungeon of monster PCs (didn't know it had already been done!)
  • COPS: Arkham
  • D&D in 11th century Europe
  • African lions RPG (kill zebra, eat zebra, mmm...)
  • Bunnies & Burrows RPG
  • Something sentai-robot style set loosely within the (already loose) Robotech universe
  • D&D in 13th century Europe (Mongols!)
  • Colonial Landships inspired by THIS ... which is quite literally the best thing on the internet
  • Something set in the Rogue Trader / Necromunda universe ... which is now a thing also
Around 2009 life started to quiet down a little, so naturally I went and got a master's degree, but after that, with the encouragement of some friends, we began to play what has become Olde School Wizardry about twice a month for the last five years or so.

Now, when I'm not designing mini games to run at school, teaching, walking the dog, or running/planning for one of my four current D&D campaigns, I'm steadily spilling electronic ink, with a goal of completing a first full draft of Olde School Wizardry by the end of this summer.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 6: Campaign & Setting

Wizards are, as a rule, keenly jealous of their accumulated arcane knowledge.  It is, after all, what sets them apart from the masses of “unschooled” artisans and craftsmen.  For this reason, many wizards decline to take on an assistant or, if they do, it is merely to have someone available to carry the Quintessence cost of invoking Runes or applying a few basic Formulae while the wizard himself pursues the perfection of his Science.  Therefore, rather than receiving much instruction, the assistant is often left to pick things up on his own.  

A true apprenticeship is rare and many times will only begin when the senior wizard has begun to feel the end of his life approaching.  In these cases, instruction tends to be a muddled, half-finished affair in which the younger wizard gets what is, at best, a partial education in the Sciences that granted his mentor such prestige

Finally, many wizards choose to take their arcane knowledge with them to the grave, in hopes of preserving their reputation as masters of the esoteric.  Rather than be collected and organized by agents of the Estates Arcanum, or pillaged by ambitious apprentices, many a wizard’s library is intentionally destroyed by carefully prepared spells, triggered to activate upon the moment of his death.

I can't say where this project will go in the end -- perhaps no farther than the circle of gamers who gather in my home -- but I believe that being able to step back and look at something that I've crafted with help and encouragement from friends will be tremendously satisfying.

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