Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How John Carter broke my OD@D

So I watched Disney's John Carter of Mars again recently. I really enjoyed it. Really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it more this time than the first time. I collected the comic books, read the books etc. Never really go into Tarzan. These were my go to Burroughs books.

Watching the movie made me think about the adventures Steve and me used  to run as kids. He would play John Carter and I would run him through a mish-mash of martian adventures. All good fun. The same would go with Tarzan and Conan.

In trying to emulate these genres in play using the the rules I had before me left me wanting. At least, the manner of leveling up, gaining experience etc. were just not working for these games. An infamous game of 13 deaths is an example. Steve wanted to play a Tarzan type character. So he kept rolling up Tarzan's and we went through 13 Tarzan's in one night.

The rules were not working. So I made some up.

Don't get me wrong here. We still played OD&D to the wee hours of the morning, had awesome fun and continued playing for - well we still play our version of the game today.

Back to the story, after making my first new rule, I kept making up rules until today. Almost none of the new rules were applied to our games (one here or there) but just sat on sheaves of paper and were pulled out whenever we tried to do something different. I kept making rules and making up rules.

Over the years I tried various games: Warhammer, Gurps, Tunnels and Trolls, Rolemaster and others. I played Rolemaster the longest and enjoyed (on some level, it supported a grim style play I liked) Warhammer the most. Though AD@D remained the staple.

However, I kept tinkering and tinkering and tinkering adding and subtracting rules (and even using them in the AD@D games) and making stuff up all along.

All of this because those little brown books could not get me to mars or Hyoperboria.

In retrospect, as a kid I probably over-thought the issue as I see now how they could almost get me to mars. That's only after decades of playing though and the rules would still require a lot of work to emulate adventures on mars.

I still need some rules. So, I found myself pulling out my Sword and Sorcery file the other night and going over some of my rules. I think maybe I will compile and play test them. Heck, Steve and I own our company, I might as well throw them out there and see what happens. 


Unknown said...

Please do this. Barsoom is a fantastic setting that I've never seen officially done, or at least done well. Make this a thing and I will send you money.

Zelgar said...

I know that Exile Games are coming out with a new book "Revelations of Mars" based on the Ubiquity System. It was funded by Kickstarter and I wouldn't be surprised if it's available at GenCON this year. I think they're planning on it using Barsoom as the background as the Hollow Earth Expedition is a pulp-based RPG.