What is BareBones?
When I was a kid, I learned to play D&D with my Dad and brothers- once a month, my Dad would go out and buy an adventure, spend the morning reading over it, and then he would help us make our characters and we would play all afternoon. My Dad would describe each room in detail that I now know was not written into any of the adventures, flooded hallways that stank of mildew and decay- dungeons with roots growing out of the ceilings, deserted battlefields filled with the rusted armaments and bones of the dead- the world was made of magic, and he did voices of the different characters; the cackling of a madman, the somber baritone of the old soldier, the wise voice of a king.
A few years ago, I realized how far away from those magical times we had moved- how we focused on the triumph of combat, and the roll of the dice. I determined that it was time to start over with a “bare-bones” approach to the rules. No five hundred classes to pick from, with fifteen different books of feats, skills and items.
The BareBones campaign first started as a way to get back to the basic rules of the game- my group of friends had just played a 3.5 Monster campaign where everyone was a monster race (savage species), and then a drow campaign, where everyone was trying to murder each other, and we discovered that we didn’t trust each other anymore as players (because of the drow), and we were making way-overpowered characters (because of the monsters). I talked with my other two GMs in the group, and we decided to start a game with just the three basic books- barebones rules, with no extras. In addition, we wanted to teach everyone to play together and we restricted everyone to good alignments, so that the party would be forced to work together.