Night Wolf Inn (2016)
Lvl 1 – 15
I started reading this because I was looking for good high level material and Anthony Huso wrote Dream-House of the Nether Prince, arguably the best high level adventure ever made, and certainly the best one I ever played. About 40 pages into the 189 page PDF I went online and ordered a hardcopy. Reading too much Artpunk and OSE adventures for level 1 to 2 brings with it a deep malaise, a blanket on the soul. But every once in a while you come across a pure gem, the distilled efforts of years and even decades of campaigning by a man with a deep and obsessive understanding of both gamedesign and AD&D 1e, a game already notorious for demanding greater investment then almost any other game, and you think, perhaps those fertilizer bombs can wait for another day. You could argue with all the colorful descriptions and the boxed text and the ornamentation like the subtle transition from black text on white paper to white text on black paper when you reach THE DARK PASSAGE that this is Artpunk but you would be wrong.
Let me show you the ways.
The concept of the Night Wolf Inn is that it exists on many planes, each room leads to another place, and threaded throughout the place are secret doors, riddles, secrets, mysteries and dangers, all tied together by an overarching mystery that the players might never see. 18 Guest suites, each leading to a unique plane dotted with both creatures culled from 3 monster manuals, a host of Dragon magazine articles and the manual of the planes and a light dusting of unique creatures. Add to this the various nooks, crannies, catacombs and extraplanar areas that exist under, within and between the Inn and you have yourself a delight, and intricate puzzlebox for the players to unravel at their own pace.
Night Wolf Inn is a love letter to AD&D 1e and the Manual of the Planes, sprinkled with some 2e-isms that are more redeeming then damning, a compelling mystery that you place somewhere in your campaign world and that the players can explore pretty much on their own terms, choosing their own level of engagement. It is explicitly created as something that can be placed in a campaign world and visited at the PCs leisure, alongside business as usual. Indeed, it is in many ways a redeemer for the sins of Planescape, an eminently playable tonic against the disease of meta-plot wankery and coffee-table mummery.
This is not a casual thing that can be kicked off within 2 hours of purchase and will require careful study and preparation so the GM may become familiar with its contents. Taking into account the uncompromising choice of system and the virtual neccessity of using several sourcebooks, the cause of its relative obscurity when compared to other vastly inferior works becomes more apparent. This is a high-investment book for people that do not shy away from a random encounter table with references to Jun 1983 Dragon mag articles or liberal use of the Psionics rules. I mean there’s a reference to DUNGEONEER SURVIVAL GUIDE for gygaxssake.
The Inn itself: numerous special effects are present, from a restricted spell list (which is fairly easy to remember), to a chance of glimmer doors appearing that if entered will propel the character and any comers into certain areas of the Inn so as to facilitate exploration. You notice as you read into it that Huso, who has a background in gamedesign and is well known in the Thief- community, knows when to push buttons and knows when to exact a price. He is liberal with his rewards but you get a great sense of checks- and balances. The guest-rooms, which allow entry into various demi-planes, each have a very high cost per night (from 50 gp to 350 gp per night, but then very often the guest rooms will have some item in them that the PCs can borrow, only for it to return to its original location in 24 hours. There is even an enchanted Ballroom that can be rented for 1000 gp, allowing the PCs to conjure illusionary versions of anything they have seen or heard from to try themselves out in battle, which grants about 15% of the combat XP and provides no treasure.
Room descriptions are lengthy but not bloated, and make use of an intriguing division. Purple Prose Boxed text consigns all the atmospheric description to a specific location and then fucks off into clear, descriptive text, using lists and bullet points where appropriate further divided into The Obvious which is information that is immediately apparent, and the Not So Obvious which is information that is only revealed after closer examination (or worse!). The playful anachronism of a victorian fantasy inn run by a charismatic butler named Jeeves is offset by a sense of tangible menace to some of the encounters. Magic, rich reward or horrible danger is at times only a few steps away, or subtly hidden in a way that rewards closer scrutiny. The inn is deadly as well as enticing. There are fountains filled with undead koi pond, towers of steps that turn to serpents, hidden hatches that must be researched and open only on a certain time of the month and far, far worse. A pure hack and slash party might enjoy some forays into the planes to fight various outer planar horrors and certainly the Dungeons in the Cellars would be enticing but those who enjoy riddles, subtle hints, deadly puzzles, hidden meanings that hint at a greater signficance and most importantly EXPLORATION, are likely to gain the greatest enjoyment from this non-euclidean puzzle maze. The light touch of modern game design is present but not intrusive, as Huso has an excellent grasp for the type of stimuli that are likely to lead players to explore further, often using it to great effect, sometimes using it cruelly to ensnare and trap in a way that is absolutely brutal.
Do you go in?
Beyond the immediate guest rooms and habitable places there are crawlways, cellars, belfreys and attics. Here the Inn becomes properly deadly. The spatially deranged nature of the place is taken full advantage off through non-euclidean geometry, temporal distortion, spatial trickery and the appearence of concealed doors. Huso is not afraid to utilize some of the more dreadful entries in all of three monster manuals and employs to cruel effect, among others, Thought Eaters, Shadow Dragons, Beholders, Ghosts, Mind Flayers, Disenchanters, Apparitions, Rakshasas, and a host of other deadly creatures, some of which his own tasteful creations. You fight a dungeon master who knows full well the awesome power contained within those three tomes, and you forget this at your own peril.
The CELLAR is perhaps closest to a regular dungeon but even this is an intricate maze, entered through one of a dozen ways, connected to the Inn in one other. There are, scattered throughout it lightly, some doorways to other planes, another dimension and why the fuck not, the Underdark or for that matter, a Necropolis of some buried Giant Kingdom. These are left as seeds for the GM to develop, something that is impossible to avoid when dealing with alternate realities, planes, deeper layers and so on, but Huso gives you enough to work with (more on this later). All of this is given room to breathe, and interspersed with wholesome and very deadly dungeon crawling. I think I noted somewhere that the better and fairer you were at GMing and adventure creation, the deadlier you could afford to be. Huso is pretty good and fair from what I can tell, so get ready for some very nasty punches. Ageing, statt loss, item destruction, level drain, these are all employed, tastefully and with restraint.
Notice the mature mapping technique, use of elevation, inclusion of natural hazards like water. Encounters are weighted towards something more in line with late (WotC era) 2e or even S4 then hordes of simple but well-organized antagonists with orders of battle. That means relatively low numbers of deadly antagonists with complex arrays of abilities. This is interspersed with intriguing weirdness (say, a shimmering curtain of fog that has a chance to duplicate anyone walking into it along with his items but it might also cause instant death), areas that lead to another plane but can only be accessed via a secret concealed elsewhere in the inn, strange altars surrounded by a pool of regenerating Black Pudding and Puzzles. A handful of new monsters, each with tasteful and deadly abilities, is added as seasoning, providing a unique threat where it is warranted to keep the players guessing. But if the full range (including the dragon articles) is utilized, even the most jaded player in the game is likely to come up against multiple threats he has never heard of.
Puzzles don’t have to suck but they very often do. I have seen people throw up at the sight of yet another chessboard floor. Using some synergistic power of video game design, years of GMing and what I assume is at least 3% Atlantean DNA, Huso manages to make them more or less not suck. Part of it comes from Night Wolf Inn always providing about 50 different other possible avenues of exploration, part of it is subtlety. In case of Huso, some of the puzzles will trap you and you either solve them or you die.
There is a way to do these things that is quite subtle because they obviously cannot be too hard so that a reasonably intelligent player cannot solve them with enough persistence but if they are too easy the GM faces ridicule and possible bombardement with faeces (in the case of BECMI players). Take say, the room of air that holds the (very hard to find) Four Winds Bar. You are in the room, besides some skeletons and the bar it is more or less featureless besides a fresco on the floor of air and clouds. It is called the Four Winds Bar, this is written on it. If you touch it to a corner you hear a chime. The skeletons signal the price of waiting. How do you proceed? I am wary but they work at this level. In other cases he allows brute force or multiple solutions. And then there is the semi-random teleportation maze that ages you several months each time you try. Brutal.
Treasure is lavish, hard to estimate because of the wide level range but you get the feeling Huso is an easy come easy go type of guy. Large rewards are followed up with brutal punches. Ability scores can be gained and lost. A stray detail, easily missed, can reveal a tremendous reward or save you from a horrible fate. Even though Night Wolf Inn must have three billion unique items in it this is never noticed because all of it is more or less seamlessly integrated with the existing library of magic items and treasure. It all feels like an extension, with well considered additions meant to enrich an already welcome experience.
In some cases, exploring the Inn can put PCs out of comission for weeks or in some cases years and Huso makes it clear it is expected that each Player will likely have more then one character and considering some of the threats that are to be found in the Inn, this is likely to be as much neccessity as it is luxury.
The main draw of the inn is not even this intricate death maze but the suites and rooms, each leading to a seperate demi-plane. It feels like an extension, and welcome elaboration of an alternate Planes, never shit up by Monte Cook. A forest of dreams, a dowsing web of Phase Spiders, a high-gravity cavern inhabited by lizard races, offering up human sacrifices to Mind flayers wielding futuristic space technology. A dimension of Piracy, black powder weapons and high adventure. All of this and more awaits, some very rich and providing a hint to the overlapping mystery of the Inn, some of it conceals a deadly trap, some of it is merely inert. There is even, and I dare say it not, a room that leads into a dimension of blank hex paper. Often times the rooms have magic items in them that will return to their starting locations after 24 hours, providing further incentive to try out the various rooms.
There is a way to do these types of things and Huso explains his rationale. The idea is that you don’t know what suite the PCs are going to pick in advance. Therefore you get the prevailing conditions on the plane, a list/random encounter table of its inhabitants (here the Dragon magazine articles might trip people up), and either a minor location (equivalent to a lair), or a series of bullet points with adventure seeds, encounters and ideas. The idea is that you have enough material to run about a session’s worth out of your ass and then have time to further expand the area if the PCs consider it exciting. Occasional forays into blackpowder or even high technology might be shocking to genre purists, but in 1e land, this is delightful and certainly not beyond the pale.
There is so much material here that any description will only scratch the surface. It would already be great. But buried in this well of nested infinities and areas is a greater mystery, a trail of breadcrumbs that is merely hinted at. According to Huso it has not even been ‘solved.’ Wankery you think. In most other cases, absolutely. Here, like an actual game designer, so many encounters and areas point to these elements and features. Huso even offers ‘membership’ of the Inn at a high fee, which gives the PCs a discount, a magical tattoo that gives you +1 AC, and an obligation to perform tasks for the mysterious Master of the Inn. At first these tasks will seem significant but are actually innocuous, later they will seem cryptic, but they place the PCs in areas where they are likely to interact or come across one of the puzzle pieces to the central mystery. And then you can, if you reach a certain level and have been at the inn for multiple years (PACING! PACING!) gain a new rank and a stronger mark, which will in turn place you under a greater obligation. It all rewards greater investment but it is always just light-handed enough.
Unlike many another review, I will not spoil the central mystery. Several of the initial steps take place within the fully actualized and gameable environs of the Inn. Some of it takes place on the Planes and requires the GM get his GM hands properly dirty, which is also great to see. Nightwolf Inn does not feel like something that is made for a lazy consoomer, desperate to fill the hole in his life with yet another chunk of gameable, unchallenging material. Instead you are given something that will require some investment on your part but that gives you seeds and ideas to inspire you. The task feels properly herculean, but is not made artifically difficult by the massive employment of high level monsters. Perhaps appropriately, it is more about piecing together what is going on, figuring out how to counteract it, possibly dying or losing a few characters in the attempt if you are incautious, and finally putting it all together. The amount of convolution is kept to a tasteful amount, about 1/3 Cordell, and the lack of universe-shattering threats are appreciated.
There are a few points to remark on. Though the inn comes equipped with a giant list of 100 readymade NPCs to be used as rivals, retainers or enemies which is FANTASTIC, the major NPCs are described in long, flowery passages that might be a bit much for some oldschoolers. Here too we perhaps detect a spectre of 2e.While some of the characters like the Butler (duelist class) Jeeves might come off as charming, there is a worrying veering off into drama-club land and I did have to raise my brow a bit at the detailed procedures (and primary requisite ability score enhancements) for getting in a relationship with the sexy moon-elf bard character that, yes virginia, has hair that changes color with her moods (surprise is Pastel Pink!). While this is not Medusa BBG with primary motivation to have gay sex levels of cringe, it is still cringe.
Questionable stylistic eccentricities and occasional thick canisters of purple prose aside, Night Wolf Inn is the product of a deep understanding of and commitment to AD&D, honed over years of play, gorgeously produced, imparts its own vision onto a proud tradition, is made to be dropped inside and used alongside one’s own campaign, presents an intriguing opportunity to introduce planar adventuring to unsuspecting parties in a way that is compatible with the hierarchy of the original game and leaves the mystery mostly intact, has a host of fine Gygaxian building blocks to delight in and die to, does planar adventuring correct (haters shall quibble), does puzzles correct, does regular adventuring correct, understands MYSTERY and that the way to introduce something like this is one of GRADUAL UNFOLDING and recursion and is overal one of the most intricate, complex, detailed and advanced things that I have ever seen in my almost decade long torturous hellish existence as a reviewer of our Dead but Eternally Reborn OSR. When the last of us are turned into soylent green doritos for the Alphas to enjoy during their 2 hour games of Shadowdark 6e, we may be pulped and mashed contentedly, looking back at the few great things that it has produced. This is no product for the uninitiated and the normie, but should prove delightful to intermediate and even veteran GMs, even if the flavor leans more into late 2e then gygaxian 1e.
TLDR: Night Wolf Inn is so impressive that it makes me want to rate other things lower. My vision in the desert of an OSR that existed as a wholesome continuation of Old school gaming continues to prove itself correct.
49 thoughts on “[Review] Night Wolf Inn (AD&D 3PP); Promised Land”
I have been running the NWI for most of my recent Labyrinth Lord game, we just had our 40th session. My players have the Four Winds Bar – they barely made it out of the cellars alive, but they did it! I know another guy on Pedantic is running it too, which is awesome.
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Thanks for the review. It’s too kind. Peace and happy gaming.
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My fear is that I fell short of doing it justice. The planar currencies, the sly riddles, the new telepathic creature that atunes itself to its opponents, the four wind bars and countless impressive items. To echo a commenter, it is difficult to believe something can be this good.
I mean those are super kind words. And they get me right in the feels, not because of the night wolf inn per se but because my real hope is that the first edition books continue to be used after all of us (that played them when we were 10) are dead. That’s the real test right? Is there an efreeti on the cover of your DMs guide in the year 2075? In my opinion that’s what all of us who love this game should truly be concerned about. I think it’s about passing something down. We might all be trapped in our own sentimentality for a time when things were simpler with our mullets and jean jackets. But I like to think there’s some intrinsic magic to the disorganized chaos of this first stab at the greatest game in the world. I think it comes down to the passion and the language of those old books. There’s something infectious in it. The way they hint at Legends and speak in prose that you have to get a dictionary for. My vocabulary tripled in size thanks to Gary gygax. I’m so glad you loved NWI, but it’s a little hard to parse, could use some better organization, and I could do a much better job if I tried again. I think in that way it is like those old books. What I really want is for it to be part of a collective foundation of quality materials not entirely authored by me that support a gygaxian approach to a game we love so much because it’s NOT about me-monsters. It’s about cooperation and friendships we found at the table. I just wanted to do for kids of the future what it did for me. Because it literally saved my life.
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Anthony, I’m the person you chatted with on your site that commiserated with you re: escaping SXSW recently – your work is possibly the strongest effort anybody has made regarding demystifying and promoting the advanced style of play (like up there with OSRIC and the OSRIC foundry porting team), your character sheets do so much legwork, it’s amazing, and there is of course your fantastic blog, then your releases… For reference I was in elementary school when Fight On! was coming out, not even a wink in my pappy’s eye when 2E was out and Zeb Cook was Zebbing Out all over the place, so I am in that “never played it when I was a kid” camp: you have helped pass something down.
You bring up a good point re: preservation. I have seen that there are many more efforts dedicated to understanding, say, 0E, than 1E. I think this is the biggest problem to the question of “will people still play this when the grognards are dead?”. 1E has enough system-based complexity that it repels tourists (but sometimes the interested), but there are much less contemporary resources that help demystify it compared to 0E – a cursory glance at any mainstream “OSR” space will show this to be true (to say nothing about BX)…how did this happen when OSRIC was the first of the retroclones and the desire to keep playing and publishing material for 1E was arguably the start of the OSR?
It’s still a mystery to me how the “wrong” version of retro-D&D has become the most popular. Is it all because Labyrinth Lotd had a more generous OGC designation than OSRIC? Or because people got really turned off by the borderline-cabalistic dissection of and endless debates about 1E rules minutiae at Dragonsfoot? Or what? Because all through the 80s, 90s, and 00s up until about 2010 it wasn’t like that at all.
[re: Trent and the “cabalistic dissections”]
Yes, it is probably the reputation of 1E as a field of study as much of a game that has driven people into the arms of B/X. From the newfriend POV, the POV of most entryists is that it’s too hard to understand and that playing something like OSE:A is “pretty much the same thing”. People hear about grognards and just dismiss 1E out of hand. I guess OSRIC didn’t have enough bullet points? AFAIK the only 1E retroclones are OSRIC, adventures dark and deep (which I know nothing about to be honest), and ASSH (which is practically its own thing), I guess none have enough of a “cool” factor? Could it be the audience at the start of the OSR (men entering or around middle age) just really want something fun to do on weekends and BX play is easier to get started and lets them “weekend warrior” it up? I am sure the reason the modern OSR turns its head up is bullet points.
Of course anything I say should be qualified by the point I have not ran a 1E game and I am just now reading the PHB/DMG for the first time. But that gives me a good perspective as to why people don’t play 1E :^)
@ Trent (and Goose):
I will shoulder at least some of the blame for the influence of the B/X rule set on the OSR. Certainly I talked up that edition of the game a shit-ton, with more than 1000 blog posts from 2009-2011, and putting out multiple books for B/X during that time. I will even take some credit for swaying Maliszewski into transitioning from OD&D to B/X during his Dwimmermount play-testing.
But my writings were originally inspired by other B/X aficionados writing blogs that I enjoyed.
I cannot speak for other “B/X influencers” but for myself, I was finding my way back into the D&D hobby after decades of absence…not absence from role-playing, but absence from DUNGEONS & DRAGONS specifically. And when I got back into the hobby I decided to start with the root source of my gaming life, and B/X was my youthful introduction to the game. But I was no longer a youth…and so I scrutinized and analyzed and experimented and fell in love with a simple system and its possibilities. And I marketed and promoted the thing and encouraged others who I saw doing the same.
I am not calling myself the cause. I am confessing my culpability in being part of the cause.
It took a while to become disillusioned with the Basic game, but eventually I did. B/X isn’t enough game for the true degenerates amongst D&D fans/players. It’s still a wonder instructional text for teaching the basics of game play to new players (Moldvay’s work especially), but once the introductory period is over, it’s simply insufficient to sustain long-term game play at more than a superficial level.
Perhaps that’s something that can only be discovered with experience. Certainly it doesn’t help to shout at people about how they’re wasting their time, failing to advance to the Advanced game. I know…I’ve tried shouting plenty of times (and to be fair, AD&D players spent a bit of time shouting at me back when I was running B/X only; I didn’t listen either).
Huso’s work and writing is a large part of what drew me back to the AD&D fold, and for that I will always be grateful. I’d recommend his most recent post on the subject of starting an AD&D campaign as an excellent starting point for any perspective advanced DM:
The transition from OD&D/AD&D to B/X becoming prevalent in the OSR is likely treated as more of a generational thing resulting from ease of entry then a metamorphosis of existing preferences. As for my own meanderings, the future is bright. Running a more complex edition does feel like I can stretch my limbs again and every day is fresh. We will see if it remains enjoyable once I depart from this hyper-charged format.
As for not doing it justice, it is true! The outline for a high level plane travelling adventure is hugely ambitious, massive in scope, but does not fall into Cordellian blockbuster habits, remaining a sort of personal quest. I am reminded of subtleties like the Time-stop room or the Bell-Tower fiend monster and the way it all interlinks, or encounters hint at the history of the Inn and its sinister master, it rocks.
“The B/X question” is one for the ages. For my part, when I got sick of 21st-century D&D and looked for something else to play: I admit that black & white cover art on Labyrinth Lord really got me.
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Replying to Trent Smith:
One of the things that happened was Glee.
Trace an arc through Lamentations from their first through to their most recent books.
It’s like watching a decade-long Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
And I really like Lamentations’ economy-of-force rules, the now-default setting and a lot of the adventures.
But Holy Hannah!
This is one I’ve been curious about. Guilty of a popular contest, but whatever– I don’t buy much content…but Huso, Melan, Chainsaw, Terrible Sorcery, Rosethorn Publishing, Hawk, and a very short list of others raises my brow and may take my money. They get it.
I remember hearing good things about and being intrigued by this back when it was first released, but ultimately decided against purchasing because it was simply too big (I don’t want something 200 pages long that covers levels 1-15 with hundreds of rooms and 18 planes – that’s effectively an entire campaign, not an adventure) and because I found the same post-Gygax 2E-style flavor elements that you cite here kind of offputting. I’m glad that he’s doing this ambitious stuff, though, even though it’s not my preferred flavor of play, and sure wish I could draw maps as well as he does.
…Trent, you’re WRITING something that’s like 200 pages long.
Though I bet yours doesn’t have anime elf bard wankbait.
Touché. But in fairness I hadn’t started writing my book yet (or if I had I was still envisioning it as around 64pp) then. Also, while my book is looking likely to end up around 160pp, it’s also episodic and more like 4-5 modules with shared theme and setting packaged together than a singular epic. Griffin Mountain is my lodestar, after all.
As a fellow AD&D grandmaster-fanatic I think you might appreciate the artistry on display, some thematic ‘choices’ notwithstanding.
I’m sure you’re right, it really does sound extraordinary. I’m just very wary of actually paying money and making space on my shelves for something I will almost certainly never run. I don’t buy rpg stuff to read for fun or to study; in my middle age years I’m strictly utilitarian. It’s the same reason I don’t own most of the other famous heavy-hitter OSR adventures (and, circling back to the other comment, yes I acknowledge that irony as somebody writing and eventually selling something that would hopefully be categorized alongside them).
I have this on my nightstand currently. It is so good that it is hard to believe that its real.
Elven waifu and portals to different worlds? Now I know what to recommend the next time someone wants to run an isekai campaign.
I have yet to read this one, but I expect nothing less than excellent after the chunky Fabled City of Brass.
Huso has been getting it right for a long time now. There’s no one saying better (publicly) “Don’t believe the slander. AD&D (1e) just plain works….and here’s the proof.”
Equally fascinating to me has been watching Prince’s own metamorphosis/journey to reach this point.
It’s a great game on many levels. Being a player is one thing. Learning to be a proper (creative) DM is a whole other. Being capable of sharing that with others, still a third. Grandmaster status.
Now I’m curious, which monsters were used from Dragon magazine? I’m betting quite a few are from the Creature Catalogs (I-III).
Dragon mag Sept 1985, 1984, mar 1987, june 1983 & 1988 oct 1984 etc. etc. etc.
Lol that’s fair. I’ll have to buy it to see which monsters got used. At the very least I suspect the Utukku and the Lillend were used (the latter was even added to 3e’s Monster Manual).
Sept 1985 was Creature Catalog III. June 1983 was the issue with landdragons. Interesting! Well. That issue also had the Electrum Dragon (by Ed Greenwood), but the landdragons would be more interesting to use.
O Prince, advance the cause of AYY DEE EN DEE further, please continue to not follow in the path of Lynch and review slop, review the sweetest wines, nectar and ambrosia for your soul, review more Huso, review Melan, review Gunderholfen, and then RUN Huso, RUN Melan, RUN Gunderholfen, maybe even run some Gygax on the pendantic server once the High Level Holocaust is at its end. RETVRN TO TRADITION, COME HOME DUTCH MAN, AD&D IS WAITING.
I did run Gygax already for B2. I could always try a full on AD&D sandbox for my next project.
You know what I mean!
I envision something meaty, a sprawling region, inhabited by the classics, fortified by White Dwarf and The Beholder locations. Is that a Role Aids adventure in the background? A sprinkling of Dungeon? A wandering Knockspell? A dash of mine own creation? F3? Hyqueous Vaults? Oh DnD, how I love thee!
>Taking into account the uncompromising choice of system and the virtual neccessity of using several sourcebooks, the cause of its relative obscurity when compared to other vastly inferior works becomes more apparent. This is a high-investment book for
What resources do you need? Is there are list anyone could provide?
Manual of the Planes and UA, heavy use of optional psionics, but consider also dozens of Dragonmag articles. You do have to know what you are doing.
Night Wolf Inn is indeed very good. It is that one highly specific book that inhabits its niche perfectly. Furthermore, as the review highlights, it is also a rare example of something with a large, campaign-length or multi-campaign scope. Sort of a mainstay you can return to time after time. It is something which could only have happened as a result of lengthy play, and then only as a highly personal creation. That’s a real rarity, and truly valuable.
Even wearing my new make-up I was about to make some derisory remark about this review and a few following comments. Melan and Trent have sucked on my loathing with their mouthy remarks, and Prince has already used “cringe” in a defensive posture. As a gentleman I am rattled.
I have discovered a distinction:
1. Those who use AD&D as a means of Creation
2. Those who create from The Raw and implement with AD&D or the like
3. Those who create from The Raw
Huso is 1, Patrick Stuart is 3, I am 2 and I believe Melan is 2, and Trent is 1 though I will not argue the point !
That’s fair. I like to think that I incorporate some Raw elements and it’s not a totally closed/self-referential loop, I always make a concerted effort to twist and mold them into the AD&D paradigm rather than twisting AD&D to fit them, and I assume that ordering of priority is the distinction you’re seeing.
What’s so strange (well, to me anyway) is that I remember a time when we would never have dared (let alone deigned) to tinker with or wander far from the Rules As Written. The challenge was mastery of the instructions presented…the game was considered fine and dandy as is.
What have we become? Sheesh.
I see you have taken the liberty to expand the province of this noble establishment from ‘3 am guiness-binge emergency runway’ to ‘circuit for my rampant Psychosexual fantasia’ and while I am sure some of my readers at the Nu-SR discord could not be more pleased at the return of Count Pompadoodaloo and his band of pleasure ogres, this is hardly within the purview of gentlemanly conduct.
The locus of the creative drive is paramount. Do you innovate ON something, using it as a medium, or do you try to express innovation in the language of the game. I think I touch on this in NAP too.
I agree with your innovation r.e. Stuart that severely limits his range in an interactive medium. I can see some good things come out of it in the form of inspirational tables or scattered flights of Gygaxian building blocks but in contributing to an extant game in a structured fashion, in the way of modules and games, you must understand its parameters.
I think Kent has a great point here. Replying to JB, my OD&D DM from 1978-ish on was always a 2, leaning towards 3. My point being only that OD&D (LBB) always encourage/required a huge amount of invention.
Very nice review of a book I still need to get in print (I have the PDF but like so many PDFs, I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it yet).
Love the quote/caption under Rain’s picture, by the way. It’s from Alexis, nyet?
Quintessentially Alexis I would say.
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For those interested in true AD&D 1e goodness in Europe, come to CAULDRON in October. There will be a sizable bunch of players and DMs from our shared-DM open 1e campaign, including strategic gameplay and Chainmail battles for the sufficiently advanced. Of course, megadungeons, raw creativity as well as lower level offerings, too.
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I am extremely tempted to do this. How many participants are you expecting?
Accomodations (beds) are limited in the venue, so ~50.
Yeah, I just saw that. Best to book now, I suppose.
The family is on-board with me going (though I feel a bit of a shit-heel flying to Europe without them), and I’ve got the money (who knew selling D&D books was so lucrative?), but my wife wants to see if she can find me a cheaper plane ticket, since she’s the travel guru of the family.
Man…the lengths one has to go to find some definitive 1E play. Pretty amazing.
[I will not be bringing the Unearthed Arcana]
AWESOME! If you want, we can coordinate via the Alehouse.
Hmm. Not sure if I have an account there. I’ll know for sure in the next couple days whether or not I’m going…but, yeah, I’ll definitely need some “coordination.” I speak all of six phrases of German, and the last time I was in Frankfort was to drop off a rental car and hop a train…trying to find my way to Hohenroda looks a tad daunting
At least I can run games in English, right? RIGHT?
Yes indeed, of course English games are possible.
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Got a question for you, Prince. If you despise Artpunk so much, why you keep reading it? Is it a BDSM thing?
Fair Question, the answer is…I don’t review that much of it.
In the previous year I’ve reviewed Cairn, Holy Mountain Shaker (which is debatably not Artpunk), Troika & Demon Bone Sarcophagus. Most of these are fairly well known and if I want to be an OSR reviewer I should at some point cover them (Cairn is of course, below criticism).
I think its fair to investigate what its about so I can adjust or confirm my initial opinion. This means that while my contest is ongoing, occasionally I must wade into the sewers, get my hands dirty and keep my axe sharp.
And there is always the off-chance I will find something good. Yoon-Suin for example might be worthwhile and I have heard good things about Meal of Osregal.