Monday, September 21, 2015

OSR Game: Motley

I had an idea for an OSR game last night, but I suspect some people would really hate it. It might hit that terrible sweet spot of too mechanical for indie fans and too non-violent for old school fans. For now, I'm calling the game Motley.
Imagine a fairly typical dungeon crawl system where hit points represent not just how alive something is, but how able to fight it is. So a specially trained character could reduce hit points with a joke or a distracting magic trick.
Now imagine that in the Equipment section, next to the weapons table and armor table, there are tables for comedy, friendship, and distraction. A character with the right proficiency can use exotic friendship techniques to convince monsters not to fight.
Depending on your setting, you may scrap traditional weapons completely, or you may use them alongside these non-violent techniques. Perhaps your elf dual wields fart jokes and a rapier. Perhaps your dwarf uses long-stemmed roses as a ranged friendship attack and an axe as melee combat attack. Perhaps your orc is a firespinner, who can awe someone right before kicking them in the shins.
I imagine that this system would deserve its own classes, like jester, performer, and bon vivant. Each would grant certain proficiencies and special abilities. I might have to retroactively write fighter, wizard, thief, and cleric classes just to clarify what abilities they have.
Would monsters use combat or would they try to use these abilities, too? Is the dragon trying to kill you or befriend you? What happen if it succeeds? What happens if it befriends half the party? All of these issues would have to be worked out. My default would be to have most monsters trying to harm the PCs, at least until the GM figures out how to run comedy monsters, etc.

What do you think? Do you hate this idea? I'm particularly interested in hearing from OSR fans on this one. What do I need to add for the game to work?


  1. I really like this idea! I wonder if you even need the "traditional" weapons and armor. Perhaps they're in a character's description like a hat or a cape.You could get very subversive with this very quickly.

    "Sure, you can have a broadsword strapped to your hip, but its not really going to be effective in dealing with the monsters you'll be up against. Nice look, though. Very macho."

    1. Good suggestion. And there could be some sort of armor equivalent that protects you from these attacks. Maybe wearing make-up or a mask makes it harder to influence you socially, sort of an armor analog. Maybe books work like shields.
      There's probably a better match, but I'm sure something fits.