This is intended to be a straight-forward guide to our current Basic Fantasy RPG games. I will try my best to keep the information herein succinct and relevant.
The intent of these games is to have fun! That is paramount. If you’re not having fun, please let me know. You won’t hurt my feelings, and I’d rather quit early than have someone miserable. I may be disappointed, but it would not be the end of the world!
I want us to experience roleplaying like it was in the early days, before it had been re-thought, revised, and re-invented. I am convinced that the folks involved in Dungeons and Dragons in the late 1970s and early 1980s created an experience just as good - and in some cases much better - than those that came afterwards.
Many of the conundrums regarding mechanics “addressed” by “modern” rpgs today were dealt with back then, too. The decisions made to solve those problems, however, are all too often seen as antiquated, half-baked, or otherwise incomplete. This is simply not the case: given any such problem, there are certain choices evident to solve it. The creators back then chose one, and moved on. Inevitably there would be those who disagreed with a chosen solution, but add 30+ years of opinion (raised to the power of infinity with the advent of the internet) and all of a sudden the solution needs to be rethought. Fans of the Old School Renaissance (OSR) camp disagree with that, and I think you’ve already seen that these rules are elegantly simple and work just fine.
I want to keep the game simple. I truly believe that in rpgs, less is more. In many respects, more options actually work to create more restrictions. That’s why I want to avoid a codified skill system all together, and keep alignment simple; it’s why I want to stick to the core rules as closely as possible.
I want to challenge you, as players, and not your characters per se. I want to see what you can do to get out of an impossible situation instead of some rule or character option that acts as a trump card.
I intend to be more of a referee, and less of a “world builder” or “story teller”. I will strive to be impartial, but reserve the right to intervene on behalf of your characters if I feel I did not explain something correctly, etc. As you know, the game is deadly. Expect extreme danger.
To wit, I urge you not to get too attached to your characters. I want you attached, just not too attached. We’ve all cheated character death and dismemberment due to GM fiat. That causes an unnecessarily complex relationship between the GM and the players, and I want to avoid that. I don’t want to give anyone a false sense of security. I will be fair - and I can’t say there will never be a lifeline thrown out to you - but such a decision would have to make logical sense within the game.
This will be a relatively generic campaign setting that will be fleshed out as needed as our story unfolds. I may use locations from official TSR products and Basic Fantasy material (to name but two), and I may even use exact names.
An example would be the name “The Great Kingdom”. If this were introduced into our games, it would not be the same “Great Kingdom” from Greyhawk. That name just happens to be two adjectives and a noun that work extremely well for fantasy rpg purposes!
Our games will focus on the adventure at hand in the immediate environs in which your characters exist. I urge you not to get too concerned about setting details, but do take comfort knowing that general assumptions are probably true (e.g. there are royals, tradesmen, merchants, peasants; rivers, streams, mountains, caves; empirical sciences work as do in the real world; etc.).
Things will not always be congruous, or appear logical. A healthy self-inoculation of “suspension of disbelief” will go a long way, and will be much appreciated! Since my main goal is for all of us to have fun, putting a red dragon in a 10’ x 10’ room 100 yards underground should be looked upon in awe instead of pity for the inept GM! I’m not going to get too bent out of shape about how goblins obtain iron ore to make weapons, or how cloud giants gather enough hides to make a loincloth!
The intent is that there is only one, true God - and that *is* God. However, the denizens understand this concept in some ways like that of Native Americans’ believe in the Great Spirit. That is to say, this world has not experienced the literal events of the Bible (Old or New Testament), but other truths - and mayhap even similar events - have been revealed to the world’s denizens that believers find irrefutably point to The Creator. Much like in Narnia, the myriad races and intelligent beasts understood this to be fact. Whether they followed and worshiped The Creator, however, is a different story.
There are evil, fallen forces in this setting: demons, devils, and other damned. Just like in our world, many sentient beings have made a conscious decision to reject the Good and embrace the Darkness. For those, there are all manner of pagan deities and other wretched, supernatural forces that manifest in thousands of different ways. Even the most knowledgeable sage could never hope to catalog them all.
Agnostics and atheists are virtually unheard of in this setting. While The Creator may work in mysterious ways, the pain, misery, and woe that Darkness sows is unfortunately all too obvious and well-known.
Hopefully this will information will suffice on this subject. I don’t want or intend to spend a lot of time on the minutia of religion. I think the general idea I have in mind is evident.
The alignment descriptions below are taken from the D&D Basic Set edited by Tom Moldvay:
Law (or Lawful) is the belief that everything should follow an order, and that obeying rules is the natural way of life. Lawful creatures will try to tell the truth, obey laws, and care about all living things. Lawful characters always try to keep their promises. They will try to obey laws as long as such laws are fair and just.
If a choice must be made between the benefit of a group or an individual, a Lawful character will usually choose the group. Sometimes individual freedoms must be given up for the good of the group. Lawful characters and monsters often act in predictable ways. Lawful behaviour is usually [but not always - Lee] the same as behavior that could be called “good”.
Chaos (or Chaotic) is the opposite of Law. It is the belief that life is random, and that chance and luck rule the world. Everything happens by accident, and nothing can be predicted. Laws are made to be broken, as long as a person can get away with it. It is not important to keep promises, and lying and telling the truth are both useful.
To a Chaotic creature, the individual is the most important of all things. Selfishness is the normal way of life, and the group is not important. Chaotics often act on sudden desires and whims. They cannot be trusted, and their behavior is hard to predict. They have a strong belief in the power of luck. Chaotic behavior is usually [but not always - Lee] the same as behavior that could be called “evil”.
Neutrality (or Neutral) is the belief that the world is a balance between Law and Chaos. It is important that neither side get too much power and upset the balance. The individual is important, but so is the group; the two sides must work together.
A Neutral character is most interested in personal survival. Such characters believe in their own wits and abilities rather than luck. They tend to return the treatment they receive from others. Neutral characters will join a party if they think it is in their own best interest, but will not be overly helpful unless there is some sort of profit in it. Neutral behavior may be considered “good” or “evil” (or neither!), depending on the situation.
Example of Alignment Behavior
THE SITUATION: A group of player characters is attacked by a large number of monsters. Escape is not possible unless the monsters are slowed down.
A Lawful character will fight to protect the group, whatever the danger. The character will not run away unless the whole group does.
A Neutral character will fight to protect the group as long as it is reasonably safe to do so. If the danger gets too great, the character will try to save himself (or herself), even at the expense of the party.
See the next section for material and rules that are allowed for your character.
At any time, you may retire or otherwise “bench” a character as long as it makes sense within the game. I don’t expect you to keep playing a character that no longer interests you.
If you are interested in rolling up a character at home, please use RPG Library Secure Dice dice roller at https://www.rpglibrary.org/software/securedice/ and e-mail me the results (the interface is pretty self-explanatory). You can do this for your attribute scores and starting gold.
MATERIAL ALLOWED FROM BASICFANTASY.ORG
The following is referenced in the same order used at the BasicFantasy.org downloads section for ease of use.
Basic Fantasy RPG Core Rules
Basic Fantasy Core Rulebook:
Note: These are the official rules, and I like 99.9% of what is in there, but as GM I reserve the right to veto, tweak, or outright ignore certain things at my whim! I will always try to be fair, however. As GM, the rules are a guide and not a straight-jacket.
Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Beginner’s Essentials:
Note: You may find this worth printing out and keeping handy.
The Basic Fantasy Field Guide
Note: I understand your curiosity! If you must peruse, don’t commit anything to memory!
Note: I may use one or more of these in the future, so if you peruse don’t commit to memory, please. Also, I will not be beholden to any background or campaign material introduced in a module, so please do not use these as a reference for such.
Aids for the Player and Game Master
Note: Any are allowed, but please do not commit anything GM related to memory!
Supplements: Additional Classes
Note: Nothing in this section is allowed, at least not yet. I am looking at the Necromancer Class, however, for a conversion of an existing character in another campaign using another system.
Supplements: Additional Character Races
Gnomes: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Half Humans: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: Half-Elves are allowed for sure. Half-Ogres or Half-Orcs… convince me.
Old Monsters as New Races: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: I’m thinking Goblin and Kobold only. Could be fun, but I’m not sold yet.
Supplements: Additional and Alternate Rules
0 Level Spells: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: I reserve the right to tweak or veto anything in here.
Armor and Shields: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: I’ll probably allow this, but not sold yet. Convince me if you’re interested.
Background Skills: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: This may become the law of the land! Be sure to read.
Equipment Packs: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: THIS IS A MUST HAVE!!
New Spells: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: I’m more interested in the additional lower level spells than giving clerics and magic users access to 7th level spells. Let me know if you’re interested in the spells.
Quick Character Generation: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: I don’t know if I’m interested in all of it, but you can try to convince me. You may be interested in the quick method of “rolling” attribute scores and other things.
Thief Options: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: Some of this is interesting, but I’m not sold yet. Convince me.
Magic-User Options: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: I put this here really only to share the Arcane Bolt optional rules, which could be used to make a Warlock class in the future. I am very uninterested in the rest of it, and even hesitant to share it (like you couldn’t find it yourselves)! Don’t get any ideas! The only other part that is tolerable is Free Cantrip Use, and we are using it already.
Equipment Emporium: A Basic Fantasy Supplement
Note: This will most likely be used, but I reserve the right to veto and tweak. Do not use these lists and items when rolling up a new character except for adding mundane items that are omitted from the Basic Fantasy Rulebook.
Character Sheets and Other Forms
Note: Have at it!
Optional Race: Pixie/Sprite: eligible for fighter or magic-user class for sure, and I could be convinced to expand that option; will be adapted from the D&D supplement Tall Tales of the Wee Folk. Let me know if you’re interested.
Optional Rule: Dual-Wielding: eligible for fighter class. Restricted to melee weapons and crossbows that are wielded single-handedly (no two-handed weapons allowed). Effect: +1 “to hit” with primary weapon. Note: this does not cause additional damage. Think of it as the opposite of wielding a shield, which gives +1 to Armor Class.