Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Open Gaming

I've got my regular game every Sunday... I've got eight players. We use the BFRPG rules.

You'd think that would be enough, right?

I'm currently working on (between my other projects like Insect Shrine (just got another art sketch last week, just a few more to go) and the Duvan'Ku thing (which is now destined to be seem as a Carcosa knockoff)) ... no life, no life, I have no life)) my own OD&D game - yes I've caught the bug - with an attempt to use Chainmail combat for it... the idea taken from Spellcraft and Swordplay.

Since the OD&D community had started online and I'd bought the rules on pdf, I'd considered OD&D incomplete and unplayable on its own... it left so many holes needing to be filled in, and I'd mentally substitute rules from other editions... so why not just use one of those other editions? Today, I'm thinking, "OD&D as the base, combat from Chainmail, and then any holes that need to be filled will be filled with info from BFRPG or Labyrinth Lord or Mentzer D&D or AD&D or whatever!" Work continues, I'll hopefully have that ready to go in a couple weeks.

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about today. I was going to talk about... Open Gaming.

No, not legalities or licensing or anything like that. I'm talking about hosting my game in a public place - like a shopping center food court or the like - on a regular schedule, and then advertising around that Whoever Shows Up Can Play. No regular roster of players and characters (aside from those that decide to show up every week!), people who pass by and intrigued can just join in (it's OD&D... roll 6 stats, pick a class... maybe get handed a standard "adventurer's kit" for equipment... readysetgo!), and here we are! It will be a megadungeon (set pieces and planned levels and rooms whenever I have the inspiration, randomly generated otherwise), and we can just make the game rule "Everyone out of the dungeon before we wrap up!" so there's no continuity issues session to session if all the players are different.

It's a terribly naïve notion, granted... Finland has its share of socially clueless putzes (worse than me, even!), this approach surely invites hecklers, etc. And there's the question if it'll draw anybody in the first place... but finding a place shouldn't be difficult, especially in a restaurant situation... (you mind if I take over that corner there for some hours every week? It'll draw people in... maybe... they'll buy food!) I already use a certain restaurant to meet potential new players and make characters, so this is just a next step.

Open Gaming. Game in a public place, throw up some advertisements in different places, and if you show up and express interest... you're playing.

What do you guys think?


  1. Jim - timely. Very timely post. I'm predicting that 4E D&D will be the last gasp from WotC becuase it will become increasing more difficult to control the product line. The internet has so much better (free) content that much of what the major publishers offer its amazing (not that all of it is bad, its not - but the stuff online is free and open). You probably missed it, but Sunday I announced OPEN GAME TABLE, which may be in line with what you are talking about here - the idea that the RPG blogging community is producing content that is on par, if not often times better then, the major published material. Please check it out, and hopefully you will contribute. If you do, then there's a google group I've set up for the volunteers to use to get organized that can be found here: Open Game Table Google Group.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. We played in McDonaldses, Burger Kings very very much... It was nearly regular, as they throw us out from the gaming club at 8 pm or so, we went for some burgers and another few hours of gaming... No one came to us though, and I'm speaking of years of weekly gaming. Of course we weren't advertising ourselves... It's strange too, because D&D and roleplaying wasn't known here back then. The general public didn't know anythig about it...

    Maybe hungarians don't speak much with strangers, or something...

  3. There's tons of evidence that this is not entirely unlike how dungeons ran in the very early days of the game. Each referee had his or her dungeon, and there are frequent stories in early issues of Alarums & Excursions of players "dropping in on" other dungeons, obviously with the referee's own house rules. I wouldn't say that this was the norm or anything, but it was much more significant as a phenomenon than it is today.

  4. A game that really lent itself well to that type of play was MtG... In the early days you'd find people playing that game in all sorts of public forums.

    RPGs are a little different I've found. When it comes to a public forum where anyone can observe, many of the participants don't feel comfortable enough to let loose. I've currently got a DM that works in a Coffee Shop / Game Store and he refuses to run his game in the store. A GAME store no less! He says that he's not into people wandering up during play and asking inane questions, thus disturbing the flow.

    So I suppose that it's strictly up to your players. It sounds like you'd have zero issues.

    Good Luck.

  5. jim, I've been thinking along the same lines for a while now. The basic deal as I see it is that you arrange the game on the players end to run much like a pick-up game, while your side of the screen has an operational campaign.

  6. This idea appeals to me in the sense of creating a neat shared dungeon and having players meet new people and possibly draw in outsiders and nonplayers.

    Sounds a bit WestMarch-ish. I believe the blog Ars Ludi is the one that had that campaign documented.

    Anyway, It wouldn't work where I live: in the southeastern U.S. you might play a day or two before you had some dumb ape berating you, or some obese fundamentalist screeching at you, telling you that you were going to hell.

    Still, I say you should go for it. At least give it a shot; the idea itself has merit.

  7. you have EIGHT players;
    be happy and enjoy your time together
    you will NOT reinvite our hobby . . .

  8. I’ve been thinking about doing something like this since what’s-his-name—Stormcrow?—made an inspirational post at DF along similar lines.

    Due to recent (though unwanted) changes in my life, I can actually see having time to do it in the not-too-distant future.

  9. I’ve been thinking about doing something like this since what’s-his-name—Stormcrow?—made an inspirational post at DF along similar lines.

    I've poked around a bit and come up empty. Do you have a link?

  10. Whoops. Finally saw this gathering dust at the bottom of my to do list. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to turn up the post either.

    This would’ve been c. 2003 or 2004. Basically IIRC, he said that if you want to “fight for oAD&D” there’s one good way to do it. Be at your FLGS one night a week. Make it known that you will be there. Run oAD&D for whoever is there and willing. Show them why the game isn’t what its critics claim. Show them what is great about it.

    (I think it was written about oAD&D, but—of course—it could apply equally to oD&D or any edition.)