Thursday, January 13, 2011

RPG Blog Carnival - Going Old School... Help!

There is one thing this year which I would love to change, almost more than anything else, and that is the fact that I have never played an old school RPG.  The closest thing that I have come to playing with an old school game is the series on Classic Traveller Character creation that I did a few weeks ago.  But, I have never played one of the earlier editions of D&D; this fact has haunted me quite a bit since I became a blogger for one important reason: I don't understand my roots.  Take for example this motivational poster that I pulled off the web.  Sure, it is funny, and I get it, but, to some extent, I don't really understand it. 

One of the games that I was happy to have picked up in Canada over my last vacation was the classic red box from 1983.  I had the option of picking that and the blue box up for $10 or getting the new red box for $15 on Amazon.  I went with the classic stuff for a change.  I have been reading this book over the last week and have been marveling at all its classic RPG glory.  I can't but imagine what a fun time it would have been to have played this game while it was still in its youth.  I get the benefit of being a young guy right now; some of the other RPG Bloggers out there have been doing this since before I was alive, but the the downside of this is that I never got to see the hobby in its golden age, though arguably, you could say we are in a different Golden Age now, one dominated by Indie publishers and digital publishing, making it easier than ever ot get your game into the public eye.

I posted earlier this week about the game I am playing over at Hill Cantons which focuses on Domain level play, but one of the other things that it does is use the Labyrinth Lords rules set published by Goblinoid Games.  So, in a way, this Domain Level game is the first chance that I have had to play something that is based off of the OSR.  Character creation was a highly enjoyable experience.  I hope that even if this Domain game goes in an entirely different direction from classic D&D, that I will get a chance to use the Labyrinth Lord rules again, in a session or five of old school gaming goodness. That would be a lot of fun I think.

I think that in addition to this month's RPG Blog Carnival being about trying something new in the new year, it should be about all of us New School gamers giving old school a new look.  I don't think that I am the only new school gamer who would love to give the OSR a try, but I think we could all use someone to guide us.  So, to all you old school gamers out there, maybe this month you should also be, "adopt a new school gamer month."  We could all use somebody to guide us through the OSR.  So, somebody, anybody, HALP!!


  1. This past year after we hit a stopping point for our 4E characters, I ran a few weeks of AD&D 1E (as well as getting to actually play with a group of old schoolers who've never changed editions this entire time!)

    I think it's great to go back and experience the'll see how many ideas haven't changed, and yet how drastic they have. You'll experience the Thief being the only class with "skills" and normally the DM rolls'll experience minimal hitpoints and only a couple daily spells.

    But you'll also find teamwork, thinking on your feet and having to rely on your creative abilities more than what the stats on your sheet says. When you go back to 4E, you'll have an arsenal of tools to improve your game with and learn it's not bad to let the players try out crazy stunts, or telling everyone to put their cards down for a moment and THINK.

    I <3 being a DM of all eras (except 2nd edition....but I may change that.)

  2. "Old School Gaming" seems to be a very vague term to me. What does the phrase mean to you?

  3. I'd also like to know what you mean by "Old School Gaming"

  4. Ooo. I feel really on the spot here. In my understanding, when you play games "old school" you could be referring to a number of different terms. I have kind of built my understanding of the term based on what Jeff over at the Bone Scroll and the other guys at RPG Circus talked about in one of their early podcasts. Gaming old school can mean two things, that I know of: 1) Playing using a) the actual old rules, i.e. the original origins of our hobby, whether that be in classic D&D or whatever, or playing b) playing using a retro type game which is meant to bring back the old feeling of the classic games, but it can also be used to refer to a game that is played in 2) a manner which uses current rules, which would not be considered retro or mimics of a classic game, but using those rules in a manner which revives the spirit of the classic, original, RPG's.

    If you would like to add to this definition, and thus to my generally understanding of what Old School means, please feel free to provide feedback. This is really something that I don't understand, so I am kind of trying to get educated with these posts.

    That is probably a really complicated response. Honestly, I can pretty confidently say that no game I have ever played falls into any of these categories. In my mind, that has to change. Like a child abandoned to the wilderness, it is time to go back and find my birth parents. Some OSR Gamer needs to adopt me.

  5. "Old School" in this context seems to be wide open to interpretation. I started playing RPGs in the early 80s, and to a certain extent it's impossible to recreate that era. For one thing, immersive fantasy could be found in two places: books and RPGs. There were no fantasy video games, much less MMORGs. The geeks hadn't yet taken over the world. When I first heard about D&D (the blue box Basic set), it was fairly mind-blowing.

    At the time it was enough to just be lost in a fantasy world, hacking and slashing monsters, finding loot, and gaining levels. One aspect of what I would call "old school" gaming that tends to be forgotten is that even in the relatively early days, there were divisions over what constituted "real" gaming. My comrades and I looked down our noses at "Monty Haul" dungeonmasters, who would give out lavish rewards to player characters at the drop of a hat. We preferred games where the characters started at 1st level and might play for half a dozen sessions before moving up to 2nd level. A 9th level character was a rarity that was gained only after months if not years of play, and the chance of a PC dying without resurrection was a very real possibility. I'll admit to a personal bias here: I feel that video games have conditioned gamers to think that their characters shouldn't ever truly perish, and that strips a certain vitality away.

    We didn't fuss much with verisimilitude, being more concerned with fast, fun play. Quirkiness was par for the course. I'd draw an analogy with the original Star Trek. Back in the 1960s they winged it, making the whole thing up as they went. The idea was to entertain, not to create a finely-detailed, internally-consistent imagined world. Over time, the Star Trek universe was taken over by fans, who demanded a more holistic universe, and were rewarded with shows that slavishly followed canon.

    Over time, gaming followed a similar course. I'm quite glad that more immersive and holistic worlds are now par for the course, but once in a while it's fun to jump back in time, to an era when you literally could pull together a game session on the spur of the moment, without fear of misstep.