In which I engage in some Tony Dowler fanboyism

Mon 30
Posted by at 5:42 pm. Filed under: Inspiration

I haven’t made an “Inspirations” post for a while so I thought I’d elaborate a little more on how I got hooked on Red Box Hack and got involved in developing a more D&D-based version of it.

Mostly it was this thread over on Story Games, an “Actual Play” report of RBH done by artistic designers Tony Dowler, John Harper and friends.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve looked over the Playtest Docs (a new revision is coming! Honest!) I approach gameplay and game-running from a pretty strong graphic design perspective: “How can I make this quickly understandable just from a glance” kind of way. I feel a certain kindred spirit in Tony, and it was his and John’s art in that particular Red Box Hack thread that made me go, “Okay wow, this is worth checking out.”

Little did I know that Tony himself was the designer of the excellent “How to Host a Dungeon” solo game, which has been a driving inspiration for the initial direction of my Old School Hack design – a sort of “Adventure Builder Toolbox” package for nostalgic Dungeon Masters, though it’s pretty clear right now that I need to put the horse before the cart and focus on the fundamental rules presentation first. You can see my own foray into HtHaD play here.

Not satisfied with simply helping us all build awesome and complex dungeons on our own, he’s cheerfully started a micro-dungeon blog, Year of the Dungeon, filled with all his bitchin’ little dungeon sketches and ideas, a must for any fan of nostalgic dungeoncrawling to follow.

So this post is basically a shout-out to Tony, without whom I would never have sacked up and invested myself in putting together my own hack and working hard to get it into some sort of presentable and appealing format.

Also, if you haven’t seen what he’s doing with his Apocalypse D&D hack, you should. It’s the new hotness and easily gives exactly what I’m trying to do a real run for it’s money.

Thanks for being Awesome, Tony. An Awesome Point for you!

Also, speaking of Awesomeness and Inspiration, I want to give a real shout-out as well to my buddy Scott (Rel), who’s fallen in love with Old School Hack and is really giving it an intensely-needed adrenaline boost of design finesse over in the forums, and is also pretty close to passing my record of most OSH games run and playtested. Thanks, Rel, keep being Awesome.

2 Comments on “In which I engage in some Tony Dowler fanboyism”

  1. 1 Rel said at 10:03 am on August 31st, 2010:


    What can I say? I’m not that great at impulse control. When I get a hold on something I love, I run with it.

    All the energy I’m pouring into OSH right now is helping to keep me from feeling stupid that I didn’t get more involved sooner. 😉 Keep up the good work.

  2. 2 Sean said at 6:13 am on September 2nd, 2010:

    I so, so wish I hadn’t started my kids playing 3.5 now … I may try to convert the game to OSH at some point, because I think they’ll jump on the story-games ideas (i.e., Awesomeness and its provenance) naturally.

    I mean, Anya (8 yrs) is playing a wizard. The first time she cast Magic Missile, I asked what it looked like – her response:

    “A ball of energy comes up in my hand, and it’s glowing but it doesn’t hurt me or anything. I point at the goblin and the ball hits him, not in the heart but, like, in the soul.”

    See, she should have gotten an Awesome point for that. Ergo, conversion.

What do you think?