Monday, March 19, 2012

Red Box Vancouver and B/X Wisdom

One of the things I enjoy about the OSR is hearing the various opinions people have about old school games and how to play them. I particularly enjoy talking D&D with cr0m of Red Box Vancouver. Our first collaboration, Meatshields, has been a success and hopefully saved DMs time preparing for their games. Cr0m, and his fellow DM Johnstone, were both gracious enough to take part in my undergraduate course on the history and culture of role-playing games (and get bombarded with questions from my students on gaming subculture). I also use cr0m as a sounding board for Barrowmaze. This is a great out for me, anything you don't like is his fault. Huzzah! JK.

Cr0m and I were emailing recently with he hit me with with this bit of B/X knowledge neatly distilled into one sentence.

B/X D&D is "a grim deathmarch punctuated by moments of absurdity and improbable heroism." Of course, he means that in the nicest way possible :)

Here's another cr0m-ism I'm fond of:

"You play your character like you play a game of Space Invaders. You know you’re going to die. It’s just a question of how much glory!"

I like to share these with my players, to remind them of how awesome it is to level, and if by chance you make it to third level, you can say you won Dungeons and Dragons!

Red Box Vancouver just had their 91st session. If you've never checked out their site you should.


  1. Yes, i thought the many Cr0m-isms were very insightful, if not very depressing for the PCs.

  2. What's depressing for one can be a challenge for another :)

    I like challenges.

  3. After our second session of Barrowmaze on Sunday, Tess said, "I have no idea why I'm being so cautious. I'm only first level and I should be spending this time doing crazy shit. Who cares if I die?"

    We had just ended a year long campaign; they had characters at 5th and 6th level. The higher the level the character, the more concerned they were with death.

    I guess it just took two sessions (and an insane sacrifice by another player) to remind her they were starting off fresh again.

  4. Sure, the more invested in a character the tougher they are to lose.

    I was pretty proud of Alex, one of my players. When Vith his third lvl elf MU bought it he took it like a man. That's tough if you came from later editions.

    We have had numerous party members go missing as the result of monsters with fear effects. Are you at that point yet?

  5. Yesterday, they came across their first "fear creature" (a phantom). They were able to track the PC down, but the girls were so focused on the running dwarf, that they lost sight of the real danger lurking in the darkness and lost several men.

  6. I just got my copy of Barrowmaze in hardcover. Very nice. I posted a review on my blog. Looking forward to running this puppy.

  7. I feel for you, Alex. There are times when a cool character (or even just a character that's starting to get interesting) buys the farm due to some bad luck, and it's heartbreaking.

    In the B/X game I'm playing in right now, our main "tough guy" fighter (a PC named Gold Sonja) get completely punked by a series of bad rolls and a Gray Ooze. She was a total bad ass, had just hit 2nd level, and had both magic armor and a magic sword. She was destined for greatness.

    The next game I run, I may adopt the Gygax rule of starting PCs at 3rd level. I'd really like to try out this mid-level play I've read about. :)

  8. p.s. @yaksman, if you think I have some smart things to say about B/X, you should talk to Johnstone of RBV fame.

    That guy is a freakin' wizard.