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Free Old School RPG: Monsters and Mazes

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Sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, John Garwood wrote a small roleplaying game called Monsters & Mazes. It was published as a text file designed to be printed on a printer -- complete with "end of page" codes to break the file into its proper pages. Some mistook the game as a parody, but it actually plays quite well as an "old-school" RPG. Here is the description of how to play from the rules:

First thing read booklet. Second make characters (one for each "player"). Third have GM construct maze. Fourth "stock" maze. Fifth play.

Playing in this game means the GM describes the environment the characters are in or can see. In turn the characters ask questions,move,perform actions, fight monsters,collect treasure, and most of all have fun. Then the process repeats itself over and over till the Maze or "Adventure" is finished.

In construction of maze sertain tables may have a general skill modifier placed on roll done on that table. There is four"skill levels" that are suggested they are Beginner, Novice, Expert, and Difficult.

Those tables with a preceeding @ sign may be decreased and those tables with a preceeding ! may be increased.
Beginner........No modifier 0
     Novice..........+1
     Expert..........+2
     Difficult.......+3
Results that go off the table use the lowest or highest accordingly.

Using "miniatures" adds a lot of fun to the game. You can use a chessboard or vinyl mats for the grid. The GM simply redraws or exposes that portion of the maze that the characters can see or are in on the playing board. In combat place the monsters strategically and place the characters at the point where the characters first "see" the monster/s. Commence movement as each square = 10' so the movement rolls = number of squares the participants can move. Example if Goerge the fighter rolls a 6 then Goerge moves 6 squares (60') and may attack. You may use the rule that no 2 characters can occupy the same square at once and fight or cast.
There were 11 classes (Wizard, Conjurer, Magician, Ranger, Fighter, Martial Artist, Robber, Knight, Paladin, Cleric, and Holyman) and you could roll 2d6 to determine your class (with Fighter, Martial Artists, and Robbers the most common rolls) Class were distinguished by armor and weapons they could use and some special abilities. Spells were described in one line each. For example:
Spell          Dice  Durat.  Effect  Description
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Fireball       4d6   inst.   30'r   Exploding ball of flame
Ice Storm      4d6   inst.   50'con Cone of ice shards
Lightning Bolt 5d6   inst.   50'lin Bolt of electricity that bounces
*Mr. Sandman   n/a   3d6 rnd 30'con Puts all within asleep
Advancement was very fast, but each level only gave the character one new ability of the player's choice: a new spell, a new hit die, a better save, more ability with a given spell, etc. What advances were possible varied by class.

Combat was simple and abstract -- a hit and parry system. No minis were really needed. Critical hits and fumbles were included.

Monsters were simple and like spells were described in one line (although a special abilities list was needed). Here are some examples:
TYPE      TH/IH   HP      # ACTS TREA # app. DAMAGE/OTHER
-----------------------------------------------------------
Skeleton  8/6     2d6     1      n    2d6-1  wep/1d6
Werewolf  5/6     6d6     6      y    1d3*   2Cl 4d6,Bi 3d6
Zombie    7/5     2d6+2   1      y    1d6+2  wep/1d6+1,Dis.
TH was the "to hit" roll (on 2d6). IH was the "is hit?" (aka parry/defend) roll.

Treasure tables, random dungeon generation tables, and a character sheet rounded out this little game. A complete old school RPG in about 20 pages of ascii text. It is actually quite good and fun to play. If you'd like a copy, you can download it from the following link.

Download Monsters & Mazes (60K Text File)

5 comments:
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Will Mistretta said...
November 9, 2009 at 7:43 PM  

Searching for other mentions of this one online led me to this:

http://www.textfiles.com/rpg/

This sucker could have me busy for a long, long time.

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Matthew Slepin said...
November 9, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

As charming as this looks, my brain actually refuses to read that old code-like language. :)

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Randall said...
November 9, 2009 at 8:34 PM  

Will,

http://www.textfiles.com/rpg/?

Oh wow! That site is a really nifty find. There's a whole lot of stuff there I used to have copies of on those old 5 inch floppies, downloaded from BBSes. Downloading madly. Thank you very much!

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ze bulette said...
November 9, 2009 at 10:50 PM  

nice, thanks for the link... I've just started watching "BBS: The Documentary" on DVD lately. This stuff really takes me back!

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Badelaire said...
November 10, 2009 at 9:58 AM  

Wow, that's a pretty awesome website. I was on the USENET groups while at college right around this time period, and I actually recognize a lot of the names listed there, especially from the games.frp.dnd board.

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