Friday, February 4, 2011

The Dreaded Isle! and Further OSR Adventure Path Thoughts

Firstly: ; an Awesome-Awesome-Awesome tribute to the X1:Isle of Dread; holy crap, the 4th level chimpanzee thief!

Secondly, the grumpy old man of the OSR, The Chicago Wizard, has some great feedback regarding my musing regarding a theoretical OSR Adventure Path:
"...Paths limit what a player can do. I'm not interested in appealing to mass market. If someone isn't going to "grok" out-of-the-box thinking, then probably old school gaming isn't what's going to appeal to them.

In those "paths", certain things "have to happen" just like in a computer game or our favorite later editions. How does that promote out of the box thinking, original creativity or freedom?"
Those are pertinent points; firstly, I think there is no shame in a railroad as long as that's what all of the participants expect and want (just as long as they are made aware of other options!); secondly, although I care little for mass market appeal, I think such an OSR Adventure Path could be a great way to bring folks that do not care for complex iterations of D&D into the OSR, you grab a copy of Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord and an Adventure Path and you've got a campaign, ready to use!

However, what I would be interested in would be an Adventure Path without the "Paths"; an Adventure Path where "certain things do not have to happen," an Adventure Path that does promote out of the box thinking, original creativity and freedom.

That's why I think an archipelago treasure hunt could be a great framing device for a non-railroady, creative Adventure that encourages lateral thinking, originality, unconventional play. An Adventure Path that won't be broken if the players don't follow the script.


  1. Well, here's another thing that often gets tossed to the side when discussing an adventure path. The adventure part is only part of the whole thing. In Shackled City, you also get the city of Cauldron, numerous NPCs, and a ton of other important bits of information as well as several dungeons that you could use outside of each other. With the shorter monster blocks in the OSR field, an adventure path for such should be much much smaller in total page count if just doing the adventurers, like WoTC did with the launch of 3e or 4e where the adventurers are linked but really tenuously or not at all in some installments.

  2. An archipelago treasure hunt would be a fantastic adventure path. I could see it being Greek/Sinbad style really easily.

    That's an adventure I'd even be willing to pay for!

  3. Yes, this archipelago concept sounds great to me too! If each isle had a key clue or piece of treasure, yet the whole did not depend of finding every last one, it could retain the modularity / flexibility we old-schoolers value. I also think the comments about "Shackled City" -- one of the few new-school adventure paths I have played in -- are pertinent. Perhaps a home-base port city with a few prominent NPCs is needed.

    (Hell, I already statted the Harryhausen cyclops from THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD. . . )

  4. I love many of the ideas in this post and the previous one (including those in the comments and links), but why, oh why, saddle these cool ideas with such a sucky name like "Adventure Path?" Just to pull in 3e/4e players who don't know anything different?

  5. Yeah, the Adventure Path name has a lot of baggage that goes along with it. Maybe "Islands of Adventure" or "Adventure Archipelago"

  6. I think a rules lite series of adventures - no more hung together, for example, than the Against the Giants or Slave Lords modules, but with helpful advice for DM's used to running newer systems (a la Finch's old school primer), would be great for folks who want to try a different style of rules, but maybe don't have the capability to just fully jump into the full old school aesthetic. I tend to take a wide approach to the hobby - somebody who enjoys railroad-y adventures with old school rules doesn't negate my enjoyment of the kinds of adventures I like using the same set of rules. So - I say go for it and if time allows I would be happy to contribute in some way.

  7. Sorry to hear that Chgowiz thinks so poorly of the Giants/Drow modules.

  8. Masks of Nyarlathotep is, as always, a good source of inspiration here. Although it is a "path", and certain things will happen, the structure is very loose, and the players can tackle it in any order they like. Such a structure seems like a good fit for the archipelago idea.

  9. Thanks for your thoughts!

    @ JoeGKushner: Oh definitely, the inclusion of sandbox elements really make such a product far more versatile and utilitarian!

    @ David: Than I hope someone "Petty Gods" this idea ;)

    @ Carter Soles: My gaming group has two or three Harryhausen cyclops miniatures...

    @ Cygnus and Pat: I'd use Adventure Path as it seems to be the established terminology for what I'm discussing? Although "campaign" seems to be the older term for products such as Masks of Nyarathotep, etc.

    @ Matt: Exactly my thoughts!

    @ Joseph: Hmm, I don't recall him saying anything about GDQ, and I have reservations about ascribing opinions to folks without their prior expression of said opinons; BTW I love the ADD GM's Toolkit...a great DMing resource regardless of what game your running!

    @ Kelvingreen: MoN sure seems to keep popping up in this discussion; definitely relevant!

  10. Isles of Adventure/Weird Isles in the Sea of Os'r...with a home port in Mr. McKinney's weird new island or Freeport or something else? Seems like this could be a lot of fun...especially like David says above, it includes a bit of Sinbad or Greek (Homer?) influeces...Oddysseus, Jason, Blackbeard, Horatio Hornblower...toss 'em all in a blender...hmmm...

  11. I'm really getting into the historical Asian sword & sorcery!