Ancient Lands: Game or Sourcebook?

I am currently working on a manuscript for an actual Ancient Lands setting book. It’s happening. Any year now.

While organizing the material I have so far I came upon the important question of how much rules stuff I should be putting into it. All my material is very directly based on the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules and 90% identical. Legally and technically I could write and publish my personal customized LotFP variant but I’ve started to have serious doubt whether this is really a good idea.

The first thing, obviously, is that it’s a considerable amount of work. Raggi’s voice and choice of vocabulary is very different from my own and often not what I think fitting for the setting and that means I have to write everything all over again in my own words. Really not looking forward to that prospect. Simply copying it would also feel just indecent to me. Doing it with the original System Reference Document from WotC is one thing, but with something that has such a personal stylistic touch to it it just doesn’t seem right.

Another big reason is that I think most people really don’t want to see another retroclone. People already have the rules that they want to play with and I think I could be quite certain that nobody would be using the rules as written unless they are already using LotFP. If they even bother reading it in the first place and have not been put off by someone trying to peddle another retroclone.

Instead it seems a much better approach to me to simply take those really new elements that I’ve created and put them all into an appendix at the end. It’s two character classes (including an alternative spellcasting system), seven character races (which can be added to the standard/human classes of B/X), a simplified Encumbrance system and new travel speed tables, an alternative currency system and reduced equipment lists, rules for diving and drowning. As an appendix it would only be 20 pages and nothing of this is really crucial to playing an Ancient Lands campaign. I think playing with clerics and magic-users with access to high level spells wouldn’t be the same as playing with witches, but it’s not something that directly conflicts with the fiction of the world.

I think there would be very few people interested in a book like this who don’t already have their own oldschool roleplaying game of choice and for the odd ones who don’t there are plenty of free options out there. In addition to LotFP, all the rules content could easily be added to Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy, and Sword & Wizardry as well. The biggest difference is always armor class, but LotFP writers have long found a good solution to that. AC 16 (as chainmail) is something that every GM using anither AC system can instantly grasp and covert without requiring knowledge of the LotFP armor system.

There are a lot of good reasons to not include a full set of rules in the setting book and very few for it. It not only seems unnecessary, but like something that might even hurt the chances of the setting getting people’s attention. So I guess I leave it at an optional appendix. This seems the much better choice.

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