Thursday, February 3, 2011

Random Thoughts - Does The OSR Need An Adventure Path?

Now we all know that Sandboxes are the one-true-way of the highest expressions of RPG mastery, but... not everyone wants the same thing. There's been discussion about what is needed as an introductory product to draw new players into oldschool D&D-ish games; what kind of experience do most contemporary (non-mmo) computer & console RPGs offer? What kind of expectations would some kid off the street have regarding fantasy adventure?

There's no reason that an Adventure Path has to be a tasteless save-the-world railroad. It can be a series of interconnected sandbox-ish environments with an overarching narrative. A picaresque pulp serial instead of Dragonlance.

Now, just as a thought experiment,  imagine an Adventure Path released by a respectable, quality OSR publisher. An Adventure Path that has a grand caper as the overarching structure, a treasure hunt, perhaps the pieces of a treasure map need to be assembled; a series of MacGuffins that need to be collected before one can get their paws on the super-super MacGuffinf?

I'm imagining an Adventure Path in the vein of Ulysses, Odysseys, and Sinbad. A mysterious sea with a variety of fantastic and bizarre islands. As most published and homebrew campaign settings include oceans, and most also do not describe the entire world, such a setting should be easy to shoehorn into an established campaign world.

Imagine such a path with episodes written by Gabor Lux, Matt Finch, James Raggi, Geoffrey Mckinnley, etc...

24 comments:

  1. Mmh, maybe something like X1: The Isle of Dread but bigger? I mean, a couple of island instead of a single island.

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  2. I remember a few months ago someone suggested the idea that all the old school bloggers write up an isolated island (similar to X1, but of whatever size/complexity one wished,) which would all then be put into a big sea. Add adventurers, hijinx ensue. I suggested a name for the body of water - The Sea of Os'r :)

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  3. We could always do something like Jeff Rients's suggestion:

    http://jrients.blogspot.com/2009/07/epic-sandboxery.html

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  4. What ever happened to the LL/Otherworld box sets?

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  5. Sure, why not. Afterall, wasn't the GDQ sereis pretty much an adventure path? I've been toying with something of the sort. I can never seem to get focused enough to really complete the first adventure but it is on my mind for sure. I will get to it at some point. Although I've been saying that since 2006. Ah well, I can't complain. My side tracks are mostly due to illustration commissions rather than sheer flakiness although I'm sure there is a bit of that involved as well ;).

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  6. @Migellito: That sounds like an incredibly fun idea. We'll whip up an isolated island for the Sea of Os'r next week. and no, it won't be in Zalchis...though there might be a cavern that leads down to a long lost ruin that holds a peculiar green gem in it...

    Who started this Isolated Island idea/meme anyhow? It's sheer genius, really...in a gamer-lunatic sort of way...just the way we like this sort of thing...

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  7. I did my Quick Start as an open ended game. You could call it "sandbox" but it was not written as a 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?

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  8. "It can be a series of interconnected sandbox-ish environments with an overarching narrative."

    That's essentially every campaign I've ever run. The procession of environments tends to be player-driven for the most part.

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  9. NetherWerks: I've squeezed my brain trying to remember who it was, and I haven't been able to yet. Hopefully they see this and remember! :)

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  10. Great idea -- I'd love to participate in and/or purchase such an epic project!

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  11. I offer the trolls and their language, from Morillar.

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  12. A mega-archipelago you say? Hmm. Intriguing...

    Isn't Geoffrey McKinney working on an island-based sandbox for LoTFP?

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  13. @ Il Male: Oh Man, do I have a link for you! http://www.goblinoidgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=284

    @ Migellito: That sounds AWESOME!

    @ Evan: That pretty awesome, but a little to save-the-world for my aesthetic :)

    @ Bluskreem: Good question...reminds me of the Swords & Wizardry miniature affair; the OSR is cursed when it comes to lead tie-ins!

    @ Johnathan: I forgot about GDQ!

    @ Netherwerks: It seems to be an almost universal folklore motif, but if I had to blame anyone, perhaps Homer?

    @ Chicagowiz: Those are some very good points, and highlight the things I would like to be avoided in an OSR Adventure Path, although I feel there's no shame in a railroad if that's what all of the concerned parties want.

    @ Greg: Now imagine such a thing as a product for beginners!

    @ Carter: I'd prefer something gritty and worldly as opposed to epic ;)

    @ C'nor: I'm not sure I'm following you?

    @ Satyre: And I'm sure it will be amazing; and it's another example of the universal "weird island" motif!

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  14. For the Island.

    Capcha: Curseco. Curse Co. for all your cursing needs!

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  15. The 'path' framework is simply imposing an objective/win/completion trigger on a location. You can go back to Kenya plenty of times in MoN, but it's not going to be to blow up the same things. And the 'path' framework also implies a succession of environments, so the question is how to boot players out (with carrot or stick) once they've used it up.

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  16. @ Blair: OH MAN MY BRAIN IS BLEEDING!!!! This is exactly the kind of module I would have a blast running!

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  17. @ C'nor: Ahh, I got you :)

    @ huth: Who's to say that they players need to be booted out of any environment? If they give up on the treasure hunt and decide to colonize the island they're exploring to become gentleman mango farmers, well, than the DM should play along and improvise...even if they have to deal with typhoons, cannibals, pirates, sea monsters, disease, etc.

    @ Il Male: You're welcome! :)

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  18. Then it's just a very horizontal sandbox : P

    It's probably why adventure paths usually involve a save-the-world incentive; Mango farmers in Kenya will be equally screwed by Nyarlathotep.

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  19. Odysseus, at least, started the Path with a goal and a bunch of bad rolls on the 'How's Poseidon Feeling Today?' chart. Perhaps if you arrange the entire path like a dungeon, the progressive exploration of each zone will make sense within the larger context (e.g. the 'Get In And Get Out' of most dungeons, or just the 'Get Out' of the Odyssey).

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  20. @ huth: Yes...a mega-dungeon structure w/o the actual dungeon seems like an excellent template!

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  21. "I've squeezed my brain trying to remember who it was, and I haven't been able to yet."

    It was Telecanter, in a comment to his own post about Snake Island.

    And I'm still in favor of this idea. In fact, maybe I'll take a run at it tonight. We had a round of 1-hour dungeon maps. How about a round 3-hour islets to jump-start this collaborative island-hopping sandbox?

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  22. Yay! Thanks Paul!! I should have just used your osr blog search tool :)
    http://paulgorman.org/roleplaying/dnd/misc/osrsearch.html

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  23. @ Paul: Looking forward to what comes of it :)

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