Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflections on an Old School Campgain

We've been playing in Rob's S&W Wilderlands campaign for a good while now. I can't even remember when we started. My character Ashling is 10th level Mountebank. Which means I'm part thief, part magic-user. A fun combination.

Our group is using  Rob's Supplement VI: The Majestic Wilderlands. This is my first old school campaign in many years. I believe that last 'D&D' campaign I played in must have been in '86. I'm guessing. Might have been later, but not much.

I do not hide the fact that I like options and flexibility in the games I play. When I read old school clones and especially the original it seems very confined and strict. Three classes and race classes (which I cannot tell you how much I loathe). But with Rob's addition there are sub-types of classes that provide specialized options. I'm not one who needs to know the science of the damage differential between falling 20' on stone or 20' on grass. I like to know when I reach 5th level in any class that I am just not a carbon copy of every other person who is 5th level in that class.  

Rob balances it well and his campaign world is as rich as ever. There is a ton of places to explore and always something new to discover. I think S&W has suited this campaign and made it easy to run without too many runs to the rule book.

And I think that's what makes it a success striking a balance between exploration, gaining power, and conflict both socially and physically.  The depth of the history of the land is evident at every turn.  When you walk into a town or dungeon there is a history there.  Footsteps of contemporaries and ancients are before you.    There is a sort of poetry to it.  A balance.  Something you can appreciate during your first campaign or the twentieth. 


  1. That's good that no matter how often you go through it you appreciate it, with wargaming you get scenarios but very little towards as you call it the history of the land unless you know about it already from researching it beforehand.

  2. Nicely written piece, Tim. I aspire to one day either run or play in a campaign that gets to me like Rob's has done for you. Thank you.

  3. As a fellow player in Rob's campaign, it is an amazing thing to participate in a world that is filled such gaming goodness. There is a depth of history, but it also a living history that is created more fully during the course of each adventure. It feels more like a world and less like a setting.

  4. Nice commentary.

    "striking a balance between exploration, gaining power, and conflict both socially and physically"

    That is a very true statement to a successful sandbox style (or any) campaign.

  5. Lurker > I'm sure its quite a sight when you get all those miniatures on the boards that take up a room to reinact some battle. Some of the conventions I've been to I've seen them do a small version. The best one I saw was one where they had a miniature version of Rome that was supposed to be accurate. It was amazing.

    Flea > Rob has been running this world for thirty years. I wish everyone had a chance to play in it, but getting his Majestic Wilderlands gives you a taste of what its like.

    Rusty > Absolutely, the best thing about his world is that it is pliable, something he can alter if we can create the right circumstance. Its when you get to play multiple times and you see the effects of what your character did come into play years down the line is a lot of fun.

    Bliss > Thanks you. It is a tricky balancing act, but when done correctly is a ton of fun.

  6. Oh, I have the book, Tim, and refer to it often for inspiration. It's one of my favourite pieces of OSR literature ;D