Meditations on the right D&D system - how to choose?

I have recently felt a yearning to settle on a proper system as a lens to express and think D&D through. The ones that are floating through my mind are B/X, Swords & Wizardry, 5e, DCC and Fantastic Heroes & Witchery. For pure nostalgia, B/X is the one. And also why I am not feeling it for Labyrinth Lord. I don't really see what it is supposed to offer as a new  iteration of BECMI when simplicity+ nostalgia is a driving force? Less nostalgia and with little better solutions to make up for it that I can tell. 5th edition is the easy choice. It is modern, streamlined, easy to run. But its strength is also its weakness. It is so very tight and balanced - meaning every tinkering has a consequence (although far less than 3.5 or 4e). This sort of system also creates an expectation of balance, 'fair progression' etc. These may be valid concerns, but I'd like a system that flips players into a world where these concerns are trivial. This concern is contradi

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For the blog and whatever pdf and such I end up releasing. that is all. 

Fixing the Cleric? Make Sense of the Cleric

Googling "Fixing the Cleric" in quotes give ca 17900 results. Obviously, this is a recurring theme of frustration among D&Ders. So here is take 17901 trying to do the same. Why this keeps coming up is not hard to see - There are no clerics in fiction. It doesn't match to any sort of narrative archetype. The only archetypes it is recognised as is gamist: "the healer". As it is, it falls squarely between the two stools of religious warrior (which is the Paladin) and Mystic (which doesn't really exist in D&D). It's not that divine classes themselves struggle with this. Paladins are an easily recognisable archetype, as are druids. Yet, somehow clerics seem to expertly evade narrative recognition after decades of being a core class in D&D. The Cleric as Gamist Archetype Maybe if they had made the cleric more like the monk, using simple weapons and little armor but being somewhat capable in melee anyway and then jazzed that up with cl

Adventures in Middle Earth for D&D 5e pre-ordered

I just  Pre-ordered Adventures in Middle-earth Player's Guide and Loremaster's Guide  from Cubicle 7. Probably the first pre-order I've ever done as I normally like to wait for reviews. I am dead excited about this one. I bought The Heart of the Wild  from them, knowing I would likely never play it, just to see their take on this type of area as a gaming setting - and loved it. I have admired the craftmanship of ToR for a while, but also know that my gaming group dislikes spending time on learning a new system and convincing them to switch would be next to impossible. Adventures in Middle Earth not only allows me to pitch a "Middle Earth Done Right" campaign with 5e - But from looking at  their FAQ , it seems they plan on re-tooling classes and backgrounds to suit Middle Earth. Presumably making them much less overt and more setting-grounded flavourful than the 'sling fireball / epic smite'  style of D&D. I am also eagerly anticipating what

Re-blog: A great article on worldbuilding

Today, I stumbled on the excellent  Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque  blog and found this article that any aspiring setting brewer should read: World-Building: When is Enough Too Much? It really spells out and crystalises some of my own thoughts on why 'Brevity is king' In particular this passage: (B) A lot of world-builders are kidding themselves about the uniqueness of the history they've written for their settings. If it fits into the familiar pattern of “In the Age of Fire, the dragons rose and gathered these followers, but were eventually beaten back by the Knights of Gorro, led by the Great King Fajadhul who founded the city of Dahan in the Year 100030” you should realize that the words and dates could be swapped out to create the back story of a million other nondescript fantasy settings. This is sub-Tolkienism. Struck home with me. I have been brutally guilty of this in the past, and still am to a certain extent, though I am trying to condense it on

Fantasy Map Review - A Teaser for Erce

I've been stalling on finishing my  Map Review Series  - Given that the last one to review is my own. I am a bit shy and self-conscious about it really, given the body of work I have reviewed prior to it. Anyway, I probably should just accept it will never be finished and get around to sharing it. Until then, here is a teaser to share with players for the Calmir Eastwilds, one of the Borderland regions in Erce and one of the prime campaign areas Here is a snapshot of the whole setting and where the Eastwilds fit in.

Now you too can use Alignment Languages

Back in the day, when I thought alignments were stupid and confining to character development and lawful/chaotic made the least sense of all, nothing was more contrived than alignment languages . From the Rules Cyclopedia: Each alignment has a secret language of pass- words, hand signals, and other body motions. Player characters and intelligent monsters always know their alignment languages. They will also recognize when another alignment language is being spoken, but will not understand it. Alignment languages have no written form. A character may not learn a different alignment language unless he changes alignments. In such a case, the character forgets the old alignment language and starts using the new one immediately. So because of your philosophical convictions, you learn how to speak a new language. Right, way to go putting everything in black and white. I wondered if anyone ever actually used this bizarre device at the table. Of course, since then I've done a