Jan 8, 2018

Introducing Hawkmoor the OSR Game!

For the past few years I have been working on a game combining elements of old-school rules and boiling them down into a single game night experience for family and friends. Basically the goal was to be able to play the original fantasy RPG without the commitment of a long term campaign, and without complication so that everyone could fit it into their schedule on game night.

Hawkmoor is the original edition rules you know and love, condensed into a quick simple cooperative game experience.

The first goal was to make set up very fast. Whenever starting a new campaign everyone sitting around creating characters takes up most of the first game session. This is one of the longest steps other than the dozens of hours of thought and labor the GM puts into creating the adventure setting in the first place, but I'll get to that in a bit. How do you speed up character creation? You can only simplify the stats and options so much before you start losing flavor, so the fastest way is to use pre-generated characters.

I know, not everyone loves pre-gens, so the Hawkmoor RPG book does have complete character generation rules for those interested. For fast set-up the game has a selection of six basic characters. This led to one of the first big design decisions, putting the characters on cards in a deck that could be shuffled and dealt out randomly or use an alternate system which allows players to choose.

This was version 1.0 of the character sheet. You can see a lot of simplification, like ability scores only have their modifiers not their base number. Other stats have been boiled down to Initiative (the boot), Hit Points (the heart), Armor Class (the shield), Melee Attack Bonus (the sword), Ranged Attack Bonus (the bow), and Saving Throw (the star), and everything is baked in; for example no rolling for hit points each level. Also levels have been capped at 5. But why would it need up to 5 levels if the game is only designed to be played in a single evening?

Fast advancement was key to keeping the game engaging and have casual appeal. Most of the play testing was done with my kids and occasionally with my game group. And my kids definitely were much more into the game when they could advance their characters quickly. Also, I found older players enjoying it too.

Looking at this character sheet you can see how you could take this card and play it as is in most of your favorite OSR games, like Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, Adventurer Conqueror King, or those published by Night Owl; Warriors of the Red Planet (a little elf action on Mars!), and others. This started out as a generically useful card.

And that is character selection. There are six in total: Human Paladin, Dwarf Fighter, Elf Magic User, Hoblet Burglar, Human Cleric, and the Elf Ranger.

Hoblet is the new character race included in the core RPG book. You might be able to guess what they are like.

It's not enough to have a great game system, it should be coupled with a compelling world. I've been developing a high fantasy setting as well to go with it. A world once dominated by a great empire that is now falling into ruin. Skies sundered by dark sorceries and an aerial kingdom ruled by knights on winged beasts. A land that has seen much of its oceans drained leaving vast canyons and deep underground chasms filled with beasts from an ancient time, and their treasure. But, more on that later.

I'll be posting more previews in the coming weeks on this game up till publication. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, or join the Hawkmoor group by clicking here and get advance notice and access to other goodies as they are made available.