Saturday, October 17, 2020

OSR Interviews 3 - Xenophon of Athens

 This is the continuation of a series, where I interview members of the OSR community. 

A: So, introduce yourself - name, blog, social security number, etc.

X: Well, I'm Xenophon of Athens (not the real historical one, of course... or am I?) of, and my social security number is 000-00-0000.

A: Huh, I thought that was mine. Must've been mistaken. 

What have you been playing and running recently? Anything you've enjoyed?

X: I've been running a GLOG campaign in my own (unfinished) GLOG hack, Carolingia. I'm running Patrick Stuart's Deep Carbon Observatory, which is a fantastic module, and it's been great fun. I'm also in a GLOG campaign of deus ex parabola's G20 hack/Unfinished World setting, which has been going for a while now. Finally, I have been playing in a "bucket list" group where we play one- to three-shots of various games we want to play but haven't yet. Vayra DMed Sailors on the Starless Sea in DCC, and next week is Esoteric Enterprises run by Erika.

A: Deep Carbon Observatory was the first RPG book I bought in print, but I've never run it - it's good to see it's gone well.

I'm excited to see Carolingia when it's finished - what's going to make it different from other GLOG hacks?

X: Well, the basics are that it's a roll vs DC system rather than roll-under, and it is very thematically/aesthetically tied to the Early Medieval period in Western Europe (specifically ~800-840 CE). It's also got some slight differences in skills, and weapons deal class-based damage with weapon-defined to-hit bonuses. I'm planning to write some fairly in-depth domain play and mass battle rules, although those might be a while in the making, and religion rules similar to the ones Arnold K and Lexi have made recently.

It's also got its fair share of classes, some of which I'm currently very happy with and some of which still need some polishing.

A: I have a feeling you'll think some of them need polishing until you're dead.

I don't think we have any GLOG hacks with domain rules - that'll be good to see. Other than Carolingia, do you have any large projects?

X: I've got three other projects that I want to make, although none of them have anything substantial put to paper as of yet. A hard sci-fi RPG about being a mercenary with a spaceship in this solar system about 2-300 years in the future, an Earthsea-inspired RPG about being wizards with some sort of freeform magic system (somewhat like Mage: The Ascension but hopefully not bad), and an OSR adventure about journeying through the wilderness to a dragon's lair beneath a mountain.

A: Back to the classics, I guess.

And speaking of back, how'd you get into RPGs?

X: I've only been into RPGs for, what is it, three years now? Something like that. A friend invited me to play D&D 5e, I happily joined with a character that is in retrospect very cringeworthy - an attempt at making Gandalf a 5e character, using the Unearthed Arcana Mystic class (which was a terrible choice for a first ever character) and literally named Olorin. 

I played 5e for a couple of years, then got linked to Goblin Punch somehow, I think from a Reddit post about the False Hydra. From there I got into some other OSR blogs, and then eventually clicked on the link to the OSR Discord on Chris McDowall's blog about 7 or 8 months ago, and here we are.

A: ... that's exactly what happened to me (minus the Gandalf)

Which other OSR blogs would you recommend?

X: That's a hard question. There are far too many good ones. Goblin Punch and Coins and Scrolls are of course the biggest and most popular GLOG blogs, and are always excellent. Every GLOG blog run by someone on the OSR server is worth recommending, but I'll give a particular shout-out to As They Must, Mad Queen's Court, Caput Caprae, and of course Archon's Court, among many others. As far as non-GLOG blogs go, there are once again so many worth reading, but BASTIONLAND, Cavegirl's Games, and Throne of Salt are ones I read often.

A: What books (RPG or otherwise) have you enjoyed recently?

X: I haven't had too much time to read recently, but as far as RPGs go I've just read a fair bit of Cavegirl's Esoteric Enterprises in preparation for an upcoming game I'm playing in. It's a really fantastic game, and even though I'm not generally a fan of urban fantasy it really captures it perfectly and compellingly. It's also got a ton of excellent random tables that could work in any game. There's Deep Carbon Observatory, of course, since I started running that, and as I said before, it's a really good adventure. 

I started reading Robert McFarlane's Underland, which is a non-fiction book about, well, everything under the ground, and specifically the human relation to the underground. I only got a couple of chapters in before school and such made me put it down, but what I did read was excellent. It definitely should be suggested reading for a Veins of the Earth campaign. 

And since rereading things takes less brainpower, a severely limited resource for me currently, than reading them for the first time, I've reread Ursula Le Guin's truly classic novel The Dispossessed and started rereading Lord of the Rings for the 27th time or so.

A: Alright! Thanks for coming, and I hope you have a good night.

X: Thank you as well! I enjoyed this a lot.

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