Friday, 27 January 2012

Selling the Old School to the New Guard

"I need feats!"

Last night one of my players came over for dinner, and we started talking about my plans for Saturday. As it turns out, neither my wife or the other guy are completely convinced about this old school thingy. You may say a minor battle in the Edition Wars was fought at that table. I was outnumbered two to one, and the opposing side even had The Punk cheering from the sidelines. 

Perhaps this shouldn't have come as a surprise, given that both of them have done most of their killing and looting in 3.X territories, and both of them view skills and feats as being vital elements in their character building.

As we talked, it became clear that my plans for a semester of hexcrawling may have been hastily laid. As the wife said, "this system seems to have all the things I don't like about 3.5, and none of the things I do like." I tried my best to explain why I think this is a good idea, and while they certainly didn't walk away as glassy eyed OSR converts, they did agree to give it a whirl.

Who knows, my OSR days may already have come to their middle.

[Picture source: Nick Harris]


  1. Is OSR just about the old editions of Dungeon&Dragons? I guess going back to first editions from While Wolf don't count:)

    Anyway, I kind of agree with your wife and friend. There something about feats and prestige classes that I just find enjoyable.

    1. OSR is basically about games that emulate the feel and flow of the first RPG's, i.e. D&D and AD&D. The system I've ended up with is Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Edition Companion, which, as I understand, makes for a system very close to AD&D.

      Yeah... I kinda see where you're coming from, but there's something about the workload of generating a 3.X character I don't like - the way I see it, the time invested rises the narrative death threshold, and this again makes for a more, for lack of a better word, careful game. I am aware that this mostly sits in my head, and that other people will have other opinions on this matter.

      Mostly, I just want to run a rough and dirty game where the goal is to kick ass and take names, where people die, and any epic that comes out of it is by accident, not design. And again, yes, I am well aware that I may be over-thinking it, and that I probably could accomplish the same with 3.X/PF or ST.

      Lastly, on the matter of choosing the system, I think we all agree that even if the system isn't the game, it affects the mood of the game. If the engine supports superhero stunts, it'll play differently than one that'll break both your legs if you jump out of a window.

  2. Huh. Most people I've introduced to Old-School games like Labyrinth Lord or Tunnels & Trolls 5.5 or BRP Games like Call of Cthulu and Stormbringer are GLAD that there isn't a range of mostly meaningless 'choice' in character building and are rather non-plussed by the more recent fixation on 'optimization'.(If they want that much complexity, they'll pick up an X-Box 360/Wii/PS3 controller..) Also, combat and PC generation doesn't take ridiculously long times. And best of all, the system doesn't foster character sheet dependency is nil with these systems.(I don't have 'x' skill or feat or whateva, I guess I'm screwed... :-/)

    On Feats/Skills/Prestige Classes and such cruft:
    I suspect they fill the same need that 'Achievements' and the like do for certain Video Gamers. *Hey, look what I got!*

    'I probably could accomplish the same with 3.X/PF or ST.':
    I personally wouldn't say it'd be worth fighting the system and the expectations bestowed by it. But, if you end up going with Pathfinder, the Beginner Box may help a bit as it's more streamlined version of the 3.X beast.

    Hope you guys have fun in any event!

    On the 'OSR':
    It's mostly (A)D&D people who use this acronym, but there's people (re)discovering other older RPGs all over, it seems. There's a Tunnels & Trolls revival underway, too, for example. And a Basic Roleplaying Renaissance! Traveller seems to be getting more love, too. All to the good, imo.