Friday, April 22, 2011

[RPG] A Hat Tip To OSR

I've mentioned  it here more than a few times that I don't play D&D.

I really never did. I don't have any early years Moldavy/Holmes/Red Box nostalgia, nor any Temple, Mountain, or Lair adventure stories. Really- I don't.

I did give it a try once when I was about 19. I was young, in college, recently married, and playing with some very good friends. I can say I honestly tried it. I think it was AD&D, but I honestly don't know. TheDude might.

I know I got frustrated by a lot of the inherent design- how random generation made the possibilities for character ideas much more restricted. I didn't like how limiting it seemed to me, after playing points-buy games. I found class constraints infuriating, and the lack of rationale for the rules more than slightly annoying. I wanted to know "why" a lot.  "It just IS that way" became my GM's mantra, which was a drain to him, I'm sure.

THAC0 was my number one enemy and I railed on it incessantly. It just seemed DUMB to me that the more armor you had, the harder you were to be hit. Understandably, every rule system needs a baseline on how to attack, and this was the standard for years. I comprehend the concept intellectually- but in common sense terms, it was the dumbest thing I'd heard in a long time. My GM started calling it something else, just to get me to be quiet.

The campaign had a pretty serious storyline, but a lot of laughs were had. "I got better" was a pretty major one-liner that's still used by those of us that were in the game. (I can't remember who said it first, though.)  Going into a bar became the code for going to the next town. I drove the rogue insane and I think I captured some bad guys.

I don't remember the game because of the system. I remember it because of the people and the time in my life. I remember being young and having fun with my pals despite all the problems I found with the system.

Whether I like the system or am part of the OSR movement is not the point- the point is that there are literally hundreds of bloggers out there, producing insanely crazy-good materials for a system that THEY love.

They're talking about and finding new things to do with their system of choice, and engaging others while they're at it. Despite some minor quibbles on language and reason, the entire "Old School Is Cool Again" mentality is a good thing for the community.

Even WITH disagreements and face-offs and general frustrations, these guys (for the very most part- I've seen one or two lady OSR bloggers) are helping the roleplaying/gaming community simply by having discussions. The passion and intensity behind their work is unreal and definitely a bonus for everyone involved.

I don't hold any grudges or unpleasantness about the OSR stuff, despite being a "new school" player, for the most part. Why would I? The OSR guys know their stuff, they like to talk about it, and in general, help grow a cottage industry when no one else is doing it. Besides, these guys are pretty nice overall. One of the VERY nicest people I have met in my life happens to game at my store, and writes a pretty darn good blog

In fact, his blog was part of my inspiration when I was contemplating starting a gaming blog. The only real issue I had was that I knew I'd never be as good. I'm simply not as talented a writer, nor as creative a mind- but he got me thinking that maybe MY voice might be of interest to others. Thanks, Jeff.

Being passionate about what you do, and getting others to join in - whether to agree or find fault- is something we as gamers could do more; and benefit greatly.

So, to all you THAC0 nuts out there, thanks for making the community so much fun. I'm glad I'm benefitting and watch some of you in serious awe.

But I'm keeping my new-fangled wuji games, thank you very much.  =)


  1. (and just for the reference) Given your love of THAC0, you ought to check out the THAC0 podcast.


    Actually D&D rarely if ever gets a mention on there. They're a bunch of RPGers and the subject matter is all over the place, that said, of all the gaming podcasts out there THAC0 is my favorite!

  2. I have a lot of sympathy with the Old School guys. Elegant mechanics, rulings over rules, inclusion over narrative determinism and a general do-it-yerself approach sit well with me, despite my limitations in the last two departments.

    That said, I feel more affinity toward character-driven armchair-theatre stuff than exploratory small-scale wargame stuff (maybe 'cause I play a fairly small-scale wargame rather a lot?) and little to no affinity toward D&D of any sort (Elf is a good archetype, but all player Elves conforming to the same mechanical manifestations and 'being the same' in those terms is not a good use of it), so I'm never sure whether I could be part of this Thing or not.

    I think I'd rather err on the side of caution and not identify with a crowd. Shame there's not an online movement for that...

  3. That came out kind of contradictory and stupid. Let me try again: I think I'd rather err on the side of caution than identify with a 'movement', but there's not a blogroll for that, so who's to know or care?

  4. Von: I can agree with that viewpoint almost entirely.