May 052011

I found some neat stuff in the closet that should never be opened or named and that got me really thinking about Old School Games.

old school games

When you hear Old School just about everybody first thinks about the old editions of D&D. But for me it means more than just that. It’s not about a particular sacred cow game mechanic or rules system, it’s more about a philosophy. I have fond memories of the so many games from those innocent days.
I’ve heard some folks say that old school games are “incomplete”. Not really, It just doesn’t hold your hand and tell you the obvious crap. You know stuff like a dead character can take no actions. RPG’s aren’t supposed to be a cut throat competitive games. They’re about escapist tales. I just want my rules to be a loose framework that can I mold as needed. Rules lawyering, min-maxing, power gaming, number crunching, cross referencing splat books and general munchkism are bull crap. A decent game is flexible enough to be interpreted by the GM for the situation at hand. You don’t need rules for every damned little thing.
At a while, it actually becomes a burden. Let me explain. It’s not remembering all that crap. It’s once you do, you start playing more based on RAW (Rules As Written) rather than WCMCD (What Could My Character Do?). I’ve seen players (including myself) try to solve problems and challenges based on the way the rules work not by what is creative, cool or interesting. I’ve seen folks dive for rules books over imagination. Just think dammit!
I know somebody out there is thinking, “Who the hell is this guy trying to tell me how to play?!” I’m not. Just simmer down. Play however the hell you want to. You gots your game and I gots mine. Playing different doesn’t mean playing it wrong. But that’s a whole other bitch session.

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  6 Responses to “What Old School Means To Me”

  1. Amen brudda! I’ve really started to go back to my roots of RPGing after getting severely burned out on complexity of rules and rules lawyers.

  2. To me, Old-School was all about the story, role-playing, and atmosphere. Now it’s all about character options/optimization. One reason that I prefer Essentials 4e is that it limits character options/optimization and more easily puts the focus back on story and role-playing.

  3. See people. Even 4E can be Old School. It’s a state of mind.

  4. Here is another OSR game coming out this fall: Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

    It looks like it has some promise.

    In regard to this blog post: problem with any Old School attempt I make, it is never “flashy” enough for my players who are used to power cards, video game combo-moves, and min/maxing.
    To a degree – I agree with them. While it is cool to say/imagine my dwarf is a kick-a** hammer specialist who excels at fighting goblins…but if his character sheet shows he’s no different than the dwarf fighter of the player sitting next to him – he’ll be disappointed.
    Most (not all) OS games have little variance within a class/race. So most distinction between characters comes from ‘fluff’ (one smokes a pipe, the other always wears a green hat, etc). This is fine (and seriously laching from my new-school games), but my players want more…er…options.

    Now show me an OS game with lots of options, and I might be able to sell my players on it!

  5. To be honest, I’ve look a little bit about the news on Dungeon Crawl. Not too crazy about about the chart for each spell and the use of the very odd die types.
    And wait for next week. I’ve got some plans and ideas that I’m going to share.

  6. An interesting thing about game philosophy/design:

    Do abilities/classes/races/etc make each character do something special that no other player can do, OR does it make your character do something better than the others?

    Both approaches have their pros and cons.

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