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OSR Chromatic Dungeons Pre-Launch: Books in Hand!

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
They say life is full of coincidences. Today is no exception. Today I received the final approved proof copies of all of the books that are going to be part of the Chromatic Dungeons Kickstarter that is launching next week (see the pre-launch page here). Why is this such a coincidence?

Because recently Ernie Gygax announced how they have restarted a new TSR company with the goal of creating products of that era where they could exclude modern views on equality and diversity and inclusivity. I won't talk about that (this is not the place, please don't) other to mention how it relates to Chromatic Dungeons.

You see, the impetus behind Chromatic Dungeons was in response to how many of the more well known personalities in the OSR community were espousing toxic and exclusionary behaviors, and that's not how I want my favorite era of gaming to be. So the goal is to take the feel of old school gaming during the TSR era, and apply modern sensibilities of design to it, and to present it so it represents all gamers of our community. To be inclusive. And welcoming. And diverse. Nearly all of the freelancers hired belong to underrepresented groups themselves. Sensitivity readers were hired. An OSR game, with an old school feel of game play and aesthetic, but to show how the OSR can be inclusive as well, and to act as a counter product to those OSR games who reject or ignore much of the gaming community, or actively endorse problematic attitudes. I love the OSR, I love old school gaming, but I am not going to sit by and let it be overtaken by toxic elements. Not if I can help it. Because I do believe there is a place in modern gaming to also enjoy the classics. This is a good game outside of all that, which is the most important thing. But it's also more than that.

Chromatic Dungeons is the antithesis to what's been dominating the gaming news in the past week. And I am proud of that. So coincidence or not, fate seems to have aligned the timing of this product with what's been going on.

If you are interested in supporting this project, click the link above and follow it. Or head to the Chromatic Dungeons FB page for the most recent updates.

What it is:
  • OSR retro clone emulating the best aspects of B/X, 1e, and 2e, with modern design sensibilities (ascending AC, no dead levels, customized heritages, ancestries replace races, and alignment is very simplified and no intelligent humanoid has default alignments. Optional rules to add as much crunch as you want, or you can play streamlined.)
  • Inclusive. From hiring diverse freelancers, to depicting diverse people, everyone who picks this up should find themselves welcome to play. Because that's who we are a gamers.
  • Done. It's complete. That means if you back it, you will get it when the campaign ends. No year or two year, or five year delays. Our hobby has enough of those. And my word matters to me.

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GuyBoy

Adventurer
This looks awesome.
I look back with fondness to teen years of gaming in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but not with the same fondness that I now have for values such as diversity and inclusion for all.
My immediate reaction to the sight of Giantlands, Elmore art and, yes, the name Gygax was totally positive. But then, thanks to this site, I learned a lot more......not touching with barge poles now.

This project, however, looks great. Old school feel but aware of what is morally right.
Count me in and good luck with the project.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Thank you all for all of the kind words. They mean a lot. Also, feel free to ask any questions. And I mean any questions. Transparency is important to me, because as a consumer, I'd appreciate that from companies I support.
 


thirdkingdom

Adventurer
Publisher
Looks like a great project. As an OSR-publisher trying to be as inclusive as possible it's great to see other folks doing it. What was your experience with the sensitivity readers? Did they catch stuff that you didn't even think of might be an issue?
 



Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Looks like a great project. As an OSR-publisher trying to be as inclusive as possible it's great to see other folks doing it. What was your experience with the sensitivity readers? Did they catch stuff that you didn't even think of might be an issue?
It was a good experience. And yes, they totally caught things that seem obvious in hindsight, but I didn't catch. For example, in my sample play section, the DM was male, one player was male, one was they/them, and the other a female. The female was the only one who asked how a rule worked (totally random), but in hindsight, I can see how it completely reinforced "women don't know the rules and a man needs to explain it" trope. So I quickly changed that and swapped places with her and the DM, so the DM was a woman, and the questioning new player was male.

A trickier example was with a piece of art. Because the game's aesthetic was to capture that old sword and sorcery style, there are a few pieces that could be considered cheesecake. I'll attach both versions here. The artist has Mesoamerican heritage, so no cultural appropriation (which was important for me to avoid). And I wanted to avoid having the male in the typical rescue pose, while the woman was needing to be rescued, so I had those roles reversed. I thought I was good to go. Nope! The sensitivity reader, and other women they polled, all had an issue with underboob (which was only done to try to capture that 60s/70s S&S feel). I will say the artist, Billy Blue, was extremely receptive to the feedback and changed it right away.

The one big piece of advice I'd give re: sensitivity readers is this. They will pick out things that you might want to keep, or you really like. Swallow your pride. Listen to them. If you won't listen to them, why hire them in the first place?

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Well, you've got me intrigued. Can you give me an idea of what kind of rules system you're using.
One of the goals was to be compatible with TSR era D&D (although I guess I now need to say TSRv1.0...) So the core rules structure emulates that pretty closely. There are different saving throws (a bit more simplified, but you'd easily recognize them if you played AD&D). Skills are essentially roll under ability checks. It's how we did it back in the day anyway, before there was a skill system in D&D. Want to make a stealth check? Anyone can attempt it. Roll under DEX (with potential modifiers based on factors that may be relevant). The only other real major change from AD&D is ascending AC. Again, easily convertable with those old modules, but the best way to go.

Other major changes from TSR.1 era D&D?
  • races are called ancestries, and while they offer some traits based on physiology, most things known as "racial modifiers" are now part of a heritage. When you create your character, you choose two heritage options. These are basically your culture and background. If you choose "fey", you might gain immunity to sleep and charm (any ancestry can choose this. For example, a human who grew up and spent their life in an elven city). Or if you choose mountain, you might get resistance to cold or other traits.
  • ability score modifiers are not based on race, but by class choice. So rather than get a +1 DEX for being an elf, you would get a +1 DEX for choosing thief or assassin.
  • Alignments are more like B/X. There's only law, neutrality, and chaos. And those are tied to cosmic forces that impart their influence to you. It is not as strict as the 9 alignment system, and in fact, no intelligent mundane humanoid species has a default alignment. All of that should be at the preference of the GM at their table.
  • dead levels are largely gone. Every class will get something at every level. For casters, that can me a higher level spell slot. But for classes like fighters, they gain something else. The tricky part is to keep the simplicity of old school (fast char gen and level up) while giving some options. So not nearly as robust as options as 5e, but a little more than AD&D while still being fast to create and play.

For example:
Class Features
Weapon Skill (1st level): The fighter is exceptionally trained with weapons, gaining a +1 bonus to damage. If using the optional speed factor rules, all weapons will have their speed factor reduced by 1 (min 1) when wielded by a fighter character.

Zero Level Opponents (2nd level): Whenever a fighter is fighting a 0 level creature, or a creature with 1 HD or less, the fighter has a number of attacks equal to their level against that creature or other “zero” level creatures within reach of their weapon throughout the fighter’s turn.

Weapon Specialization (3rd level): Upon reaching 3rd level, the fighter becomes so specialized in weapon use, that whenever you initially roll a natural 1 on the damage die, you can reroll damage, taking the new roll even if it’s a 1.

Defensive Stalwart (4th level): The fighter has learned to use their armor more effectively. Whenever wearing armor, they will receive a +1 bonus to their AC. This bonus is increased to +2 at 11th level.

Extra Attacks (5th level): At 5th level, whenever the fighter attacks with a weapon or natural attack, they may make one extra bonus attack on their turn. This attack can be split up between moving, but must be made during the same turn. At 10th level and at 15th level an additional attack is also gained.

Precision Attacks (6th level): The fighter’s attacks can overcome the resistance to non-magical weapons some creatures have. Additionally, any attempts by the target to resist a disarm or tripping attack from the fighter will suffer a -2 penalty to their ability check roll (See Combat section).

Resilient (6th level): Whenever the fighter fails an ability check or Saving Throw, they may attempt to reroll another attempt. This can be used twice a day at 6th level, three times a day at 9th level, and four times a day at 12th level.

Push Through (7th level): When 7th level is reached, the fighter can tap into reserves of energy to fuel their efficiency. By sacrificing 2 HP from their current total, the fighter can increase any attack, damage, saving throw, or ability check roll by 1. By sacrificing 5 HP, this bonus is increased to 3.

Protector (8th level): At 8th level, when wielding a shield or off-hand weapon and within 5ft of an ally, the fighter may once per round impose a -4 penalty to attack rolls coming from an opponent that is attacking said ally. This must be declared immediately after the opponent attacks an ally before damage is tallied.

Weapon Mastery (9th level): When 9th level is reached, the fighter’s weapon specialization is further improved. The fighter will gain an additional +1 to hit and damage when fighting with weapons or unarmed attacks. At 13th level, the fighter can reroll any 1s or 2s on the weapon damage dice, taking the new roll even if it’s a 1 or 2
 
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thirdkingdom

Adventurer
Publisher
Nice, I like that. One thing I've done with my re-worked OSE classes is to flatten the THAC0 and saving throw progressions, so instead of seeing, for instance, all of the fighter's saves improve by 2 at reaching 4th level they improve by 1 at reaching 3rd and then another 1 at 4th.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Nice, I like that. One thing I've done with my re-worked OSE classes is to flatten the THAC0 and saving throw progressions, so instead of seeing, for instance, all of the fighter's saves improve by 2 at reaching 4th level they improve by 1 at reaching 3rd and then another 1 at 4th.
Yes, I also did that for AD&D. I prefer a smoother progression.
 




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