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Knaight
2012-08-14, 02:24 PM
Old School is one of the most ambiguous, vague, and conflicting definitions floating around the hobby. Moreover, unlike most of the other ambiguous, vague, and conflicting definitions floating around we don't have anything that has come to specificity on this forum. This thread aims to change that, though I know full well that this is a quixotic task doomed to failure. Still, it might provide some sort of framework that can be used for clarification.

To that end, I'm suggesting that games be evaluated on six criterion, with the possibility for more. I'd consider all six of these indicative of old school games, though all six of them have old school games that defy them. With no further ado:
Old School Traits
Zero to Hero: Old school games generally start with fairly week characters, who later become extremely powerful heroes. By contrast, modern games usually have characters start a little less powerful, and almost always have much less dramatic mechanical character growth.

Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles: Old school games generally have very clear GM and player roles. Mechanisms for direct control of narrative by players generally don't exist, rules are often written to be read by the GM and not players, and as far as I know there were absolutely no GMless systems for quite a while. Put succinctly, old school games have a very clear GM role, and a very clear player role. Newer games often include player access into the GM role, if they even have GMs.

Exploration of Space: Old school games often focus on exploration. Maps and mapmaking are common, clearly delineated spatial areas defined with units are common, and there is often a sense of the new frontier. I'd posit that newer games are often less connected to the exploration of physical space and more connected to discovery of characters, relationships between characters, and plot - assuming they are even connected to exploration.

What and How, not Who: Old school games almost monolithically have mechanics only for what characters can do. Who they are, what their personality is, and similar things simply do not have mechanics in the vast majority of old school games. Modern games, by contrast include a whole bunch of mechanics that follow who a character is - Aspects are perhaps the best symbol of this.

Disconnected Mechanics: Modern games usually have some sort of core mechanic, be it 1d20+X vs Y, draw from a Jenga tower, if it collapses then Z, or roll NdM dice, count how many are over O. Older games frequently don't have this, instead having different systems for each subsystem within the game.

Classes and Levels: D&D aside, classes and levels are generally not seeing much use anymore. They were everywhere in early gaming though, so I'd call class and level systems inherently old school.
There are too many exceptions, this one just doesn't hold up.

Old School Traits, Extended

Character Disposability: Old school games generally have a focus on deadly situations, whereas newer games include a bunch where death doesn't even make sense (e.g. Breaking the Ice). Moreover, even in games with a focus on deadly situations, there are usually more measures to avoid outright character removal in newer games.

The Adventuring Party: The whole conceit of a distinct party, which is dedicated to adventuring is an old school one. Between troupe play, an increased focus on intra party conflict, and spreading outward away from "adventuring" and away from what could really be called a party, this isn't a characterization of newer games.
Thoughts?

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 02:58 PM
Well, as one of the Old School gamers here that nearly everyone disagrees with.....
1.Zero to Hero: This does not fit at all. Most games start you out at nothing and you gain something.

2.Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles: Sounds ok, but this is just too vague.

3.Exploration of Space: Again has no place on an Old School list. This is just the type of thing New School gamers say to attack and put down Old School.

4.What and How, not Who: What? I'm not sure what your even talking about here. Unless your just saying that New School has more mechanics.

5.Disconnected Mechanics: I agree with this one.

6.Classes and Levels: Levels and classes are very Old School, the 'Free Form' game where you can be anything is very New School.


My List of Defining Old School is a bit different
1.Let the dice roll where they may!: The whole point of having dice to make random rolls is that anything, good or bad can happen. And in Old School anything can happen at the roll of some dice.

2.The GM is God!: In Old School, whatever the GM said was absolute truth of God.

3.Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles: The GM is separate and impartial in Old School. Way, way, way too many New School games to the 'Best Buddy GM' method or no GM at all. It's bad enough when everyone in a New School game is 'just a player'.

4.Rules Lite Most Old School games only cover a bit of what might happen in a game. Most New School games try to bury you under tons of rules.

5.Death Old School highly favors the idea that a character can die anywhere, anyhow, anytime. ''Just like real life''. New School games are stuck in the more cinematic type method: all characters have 'plot armor' and can only 'die' at set dramatic times. Old School: your character looks through a random window in an alley and is shot in the head with an arrow dead! New School:Unless your at the big fight boss encounter you can just take a nap as your character will never 'just be killed'.


6.Story Old School told the simple story of adventure and a group that did great things together. New School is full of crazy obsessed fanatics that demand the game be changed to fit whatever fantasy they want to role play out.

Knaight
2012-08-14, 03:16 PM
Well, as one of the Old School gamers here that nearly everyone disagrees with.....
1.Zero to Hero: This does not fit at all. Most games start you out at nothing and you gain something.

2.Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles: Sounds ok, but this is just too vague.

3.Exploration of Space: Again has no place on an Old School list. This is just the type of thing New School gamers say to attack and put down Old School.

4.What and How, not Who: What? I'm not sure what your even talking about here. Unless your just saying that New School has more mechanics.

5.Disconnected Mechanics: I agree with this one.

6.Classes and Levels: Levels and classes are very Old School, the 'Free Form' game where you can be anything is very New School.


My List of Defining Old School is a bit different
1.Let the dice roll where they may!: The whole point of having dice to make random rolls is that anything, good or bad can happen. And in Old School anything can happen at the roll of some dice.

2.The GM is God!: In Old School, whatever the GM said was absolute truth of God.

3.Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles: The GM is separate and impartial in Old School. Way, way, way too many New School games to the 'Best Buddy GM' method or no GM at all. It's bad enough when everyone in a New School game is 'just a player'.

4.Rules Lite Most Old School games only cover a bit of what might happen in a game. Most New School games try to bury you under tons of rules.

5.Death Old School highly favors the idea that a character can die anywhere, anyhow, anytime. ''Just like real life''. New School games are stuck in the more cinematic type method: all characters have 'plot armor' and can only 'die' at set dramatic times. Old School: your character looks through a random window in an alley and is shot in the head with an arrow dead! New School:Unless your at the big fight boss encounter you can just take a nap as your character will never 'just be killed'.


6.Story Old School told the simple story of adventure and a group that did great things together. New School is full of crazy obsessed fanatics that demand the game be changed to fit whatever fantasy they want to role play out.

On my list:
1. Most new school games really don't. Newer editions of D&D do, but the rest of the hobby has diverged quite strongly.

2. Your GM is god entry is pretty much a subset of things. That said, I'll be clarifying this - basically, there are the things the GM does, and the things the players do in old school games. In new school games, even ignoring rotating GMs and GMless games, there are often mechanics where a player can do something that is GM role (e.g introduce NPCs).

3. This is a neutral description, not an attack.

4. Basically, rules in old school games only cover what the characters can do. Who they are doesn't enter into it at all. In new games, there are often rules that interact heavily with who characters are.

Your rules:
1. I'd actually consider this fairly universal. With the obvious exceptions of modern D&D (which, again, has very little to do with new school as a whole) new school games usually come down really hard on die fudging. "If you need to fudge the dice in your game, your game is fundamentally broken" is practically axiomatic.

2, 3. This is basically the same as my number 2, it's just attached to a value judgement.

4. I'd disagree. 1e D&D is a fairly crunchy system, early GURPS is an incredibly crunchy system, Champions/HERO are pretty much poster systems for burying people under crunch, Rolemaster is incredibly high on rules. These are all oldschool games. New school games include stuff like Wushu and Risus, where the entire game book is all of 20-30 pages of large text with pages with a lot of empty space. If anything, games have been getting lighter, though D&D is again going off on its own in a very different direction.

5. I'd agree with this one to some extent, and will be adding it to the OP, though I plan on rephrasing it to be neutrally phrased.

6. To some extent I'd agree, though I'd consider calling old school more story based in general laughable. Still, the whole concept of the adventuring party is an old school phenomenon.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 03:31 PM
Yours:

1. It's kind of a game basic to start small and work your way up. What New School game has you start as a god?

2. I can agree on the distinct roles in Old School vs the Everyone is Equal Mash' in New school.

3. It's a classic Old School attack to say ''they just wandered around and explored.'' But that aside, really any role-playing game is exploring a fictional world.

4.Guess I still don't get this at all. Are you talking about the kind of rules like ''my character is happy, so they get a +1 vs sad effects''?


Mine:

1. Oh but it's very New School in philosophy no matter what the game rules say. Most modern New School GM's are super soft and would ''never let some silly dice control my game!''

4. It's hard to compare every game out there. Most Old School games had tons of rules, sure, but they still only covered somethings and left huge holes. New School games try to cover everything with a rule.


5. I wonder what you disagree on. Old School was Death all the time, New School is more like a Disney adventure of all action but little death.

6. Again this is the Ye Old Attack on Old School that ''they were just a bunch of dumb barbarian-like gamers that had no story''. Yet, as an Old School gamer I have 1,000's of stories.

Water_Bear
2012-08-14, 04:05 PM
1. It's kind of a game basic to start small and work your way up. What New School game has you start as a god?

2.[/B] I can agree on the distinct roles in Old School vs the Everyone is Equal Mash' in New school.

I'm not sure those are fair characterizations.

A lot of modern games like Spirit of the Century, nWoD, etc start you as a solid capable character (no 1d4hp at start) but make it very difficult to advance much beyond that due to tiny suggested xp gain.

In addition, a lot of these games don't have a Level system; you use points to buy various abilities and skills, and your point total is your power level. Characters are forced to specialize to be effective, but they can divide up their abilities more-or-less any way they want rather than using pre-made classes.


4.Guess I still don't get this at all. Are you talking about the kind of rules like ''my character is happy, so they get a +1 vs sad effects''?

More like abilities tied into your background/personality, like Aspects in any of the FATE games. Or even small static bonuses from backgrounds, or even requiring RP to maintain advantages like Contacts in nWoD.



1. Oh but it's very New School in philosophy no matter what the game rules say. Most modern New School GM's are super soft and would ''never let some silly dice control my game!''

...

5. I wonder what you disagree on. Old School was Death all the time, New School is more like a Disney adventure of all action but little death.

6. Again this is the Ye Old Attack on Old School that ''they were just a bunch of dumb barbarian-like gamers that had no story''. Yet, as an Old School gamer I have 1,000's of stories.

This just seems like a series of attacks on modern gamers which are... well saying they're misinformed is the most charitable way I can put it.

I'd link it to comparing Nintendo Hard 8-bit games with modern JRPGs and Western RPGs; Old School games are absolutely more lethal and less forgiving, but the newer games have more of an emphasis on story.

Obviously they both can tell compelling stories; the old games wouldn't be nostalgic if they were completely mindless. But now that we have more tools to tell stories in games, tabletop or video, so they are judged more on their story than before.

And on the subject of die fudging; I consider myself a new school DM, and I have literally never fudged a die roll or used homebrew, even a single time, in any game system. Good DMing, IMO, is about set-up and system mastery and those are qualities which exist independently of preferred type of play.


TL;DR: Griping about the new kids and their music games makes people sound like ignorant Grognards, rather than the intelligent and experienced people we know they are.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 04:13 PM
I'd say:

Character Disposability: Old school games have deadly situations, whereas newer games include a bunch where death doesn't even make sense. In short you could loose in and Old School game. New School is more about 'Disney Action Adventure' where there is lots of interaction and fluff, but nothing bad can happen. Or in short, you can't loose.

The Adventuring Party: Old School was about a group of characters(and players) getting together, to adventure together in a group. New School is more about each player being a 'star' and only being with a group as they are 'forced too'.


Some more:

1.Old School is all about the player solving problems. As OS was very vague and had lots of rule holes, a player needed to think about how they could solve a problem. New School games are about characters solving problems. What ability or skill does the character have to solve a problem.

2. Old School had negativity, such as drawbacks, consequences, and other bad stuff. New School is all about the positive where everything is always good and works out for the best.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 04:19 PM
And on the subject of die fudging; I consider myself a new school DM, and I have literally never fudged a die roll or used homebrew, even a single time, in any game system. Good DMing, IMO, is about set-up and system mastery and those are qualities which exist independently of preferred type of play.
{Scrubbed} Most New School DM's would never kill off a character with a random dice roll..ever.


You say your New School, would you randomly let a character die. Just a simple fight, lets say bandits. Bandit number 12 rolls a crit and will does massive damage to a character. Do you let that stand, or do you chance things?

Knaight
2012-08-14, 04:25 PM
Yours:

1. It's kind of a game basic to start small and work your way up. What New School game has you start as a god?

2. I can agree on the distinct roles in Old School vs the Everyone is Equal Mash' in New school.

3. It's a classic Old School attack to say ''they just wandered around and explored.'' But that aside, really any role-playing game is exploring a fictional world.

4.Guess I still don't get this at all. Are you talking about the kind of rules like ''my character is happy, so they get a +1 vs sad effects''?


Mine:

1. Oh but it's very New School in philosophy no matter what the game rules say. Most modern New School GM's are super soft and would ''never let some silly dice control my game!''

4. It's hard to compare every game out there. Most Old School games had tons of rules, sure, but they still only covered somethings and left huge holes. New School games try to cover everything with a rule.


5. I wonder what you disagree on. Old School was Death all the time, New School is more like a Disney adventure of all action but little death.

6. Again this is the Ye Old Attack on Old School that ''they were just a bunch of dumb barbarian-like gamers that had no story''. Yet, as an Old School gamer I have 1,000's of stories.
1. Exalted and Nobilis are probably the best examples of starting as a god. That said, I'd say the difference is more that Old School games usually reach higher. In Old School D&D, for instance, you start fairly low. But high level early D&D characters are really quite powerful. Now take Chronica Feudalis, a new game. Characters are competent, yes, but if an expert knight gets in a fight with eight random peasants with spears, the random peasants are almost certainly going to win. An expert courtier deep within politics is still probably goint to end up on the losing side of a coalition of minor, comparatively incompetent nobles.

I'm not saying characters start as a god. I'm saying they start competent, often a bit better than most, and they end competent, almost always a bit better than most. In early D&D terms, characters often start somewhere around level 2, and end somewhere around level 4, with much more gradual advancement. Or, for another extreme, take the Fudge on the Fly character generation system for Fudge. You have 1 Superb skill, 2 Great skills, 3 Good Skills, 4 Fair skills, and 5 Mediocre skills at the start of the game, along with one fault. You have the exact same thing at the end of the game, though which skills go where may well have changed. There is absolutely no mechanical power growth, at all.

3. I'm not saying "they just wandered around an explored". I'm saying that exploration of places was much more common. For instance, old school games generally don't take place entirely within one city, start to finish, with any exploration being learning about what connects various groups, people, etc. in the city. Some modern games (e.g Dresden Files) pretty much assume this. Similarly, older space opera games likely involved a bunch of character on a ship, exploring the frontier, whereas now it is equally likely that there is a particular space station, at a particular point in space, and you will spend most of your time there.

4. I'll use Fate Aspects as an example here. Say a character has an Aspect "It can't be real! It can't!"*. They are clearly deep in denial. As such, when they try to find something out, the GM could use that aspect of who they are to make it difficult for them. However, they could also use it to resist something like madness upon seeing Cthulhu, because they will deny it completely. Say they also have "If They Can't Find Me, They Can't Hurt Me"*. This is a part of who they are, in this case centered around their mistaken belief that they are safe. It could be used to make it harder for them to do anything that garners publicity, but it could also be used by the player to stay incognito or hide, because that is who they are. Then, on the same character, we have "Homeless Alchemist With A Debt"*. It details their basic concept, and could be used against them to introduce various creditors (and given who this character is, these are less likely to be banks than dangerous loan sharks), but could also be used to help know something about life while homeless, or alchemy, or whatever.

As for you "my character is happy", you could have something like that. Have an aspect of "Eternal Opitmist" or "Irrationally Joyful". The second would be useful to resist stuff like mood altering spells that create depression, but it could also be used to compel the character to do something tactless and stupid when interacting with, say, another character grieving over the death of someone. Plus, compelling them to tell someone to "turn that frown upside down" at a funeral has the potential to be hilarious.

6. I'm not saying that there is no story. I'm saying that there isn't more than in new school games, and that characterizing old school games as having more story is absurd. Calling not doing that an attack is basically trying to say that anything other than outright favoritism of them is an attack.

Character Disposability: Old school games have deadly situations, whereas newer games include a bunch where death doesn't even make sense. In short you could loose in and Old School game. New School is more about 'Disney Action Adventure' where there is lots of interaction and fluff, but nothing bad can happen. Or in short, you can't loose.

The Adventuring Party: Old School was about a group of characters(and players) getting together, to adventure together in a group. New School is more about each player being a 'star' and only being with a group as they are 'forced too'.
For one, a whole bunch of new school games are not action adventure at all. There will be games centered around conflict, where none of the conflict is combat. Loss and death are not and have never been synonymous. Lets take a hypothetical game - there is a politician (PC character), and they are aiming for high office. They have various people helping them (other PCs), and the stakes are the future of their region. If illegal conduct from another PC is discovered, the politician tries to bury it, this provokes a media reaction they utterly fail to control, their accounts get frozen, and they end up living in poverty and disgrace, they have lost. Notice that they are still alive.

Again, no. Lets use Fiasco as an example this time. The fundamental structure isn't that of an adventuring party against the world, with the PCs being adventuring parties. It is a structure of ambitious characters (the PCs) each with their own goal, who are all connected in some way. Fiasco being what it is, this tends to mean the characters all get sucked into a gigantic mess, everything spirals out of control, and if they are very, very lucky they might end up where they started instead of dead in a gutter or in jail. Incidentally, Fiasco often doesn't have anything that could really be called combat at all.

*All of these are from one of my current characters, who is basically a very bright person with terrible judgement, who thinks that magic isn't real and that he is merely a chemist despite performing alchemy with some frequency. Most of the uses detailed have already come up, though some are hypothetical.

Water_Bear
2012-08-14, 04:36 PM
You say your New School, would you randomly let a character die. Just a simple fight, lets say bandits. Bandit number 12 rolls a crit and will does massive damage to a character. Do you let that stand, or do you chance things?

I usually have 1 fight per session; they are large, lethal, and hooked into the main plot arc. If a PC dies in one of those fights, it's pretty much automatically going to be in a heroic battle with a direct impact on the plot.

On the other hand, stupid players will usually have a chance to get their characters killed before the session-ending fight. Don't make a jump across the chasm? Be prepared to eat a handful of d6's. Provoke the city guard? I have pre-statted squads of mook NPCs who are easily capable of killing a mid-level character in a fair fight.

So, yes I will kill a PC if the dice come down that way. But I also make sure to keep potentially lethal situations meaningful, so that death is interesting rather than frustrating.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 04:40 PM
[QUOTE=Knaight;13726866]1. I guess I see most games as starting out a character as 'just a gal' and then getting them more powerful the longer you play. Some games do have no advancement, but that's comparing games, not schools.



3. This is more of a play style then a type of school. Even if you 'just' explore a New Your sized city..that is a lot of exploration. Even Star Wars 'Only' takes place on like five planets in a whole galaxy.



4. So what your trying to say is New School games have lots more role playing help for players, mostly in the form of mechanics tied to role playing fluff. While Old School games just left you high and dry and you had too add your own fluff with no mechanics.



6.I don't think either school has more story, as that is more of a play style. There are just as many 'rule zombies' in both schools.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 04:43 PM
I usually have 1 fight per session; they are large, lethal, and hooked into the main plot arc. If a PC dies in one of those fights, it's pretty much automatically going to be in a heroic battle with a direct impact on the plot.

On the other hand, stupid players will usually have a chance to get their characters killed before the session-ending fight. Don't make a jump across the chasm? Be prepared to eat a handful of d6's. Provoke the city guard? I have pre-statted squads of mook NPCs who are easily capable of killing a mid-level character in a fair fight.

So, yes I will kill a PC if the dice come down that way. But I also make sure to keep potentially lethal situations meaningful, so that death is interesting rather than frustrating.

Well, you don't sound very New School....your more Middle School :)

Knaight
2012-08-14, 04:55 PM
1. I guess I see most games as starting out a character as 'just a gal' and then getting them more powerful the longer you play. Some games do have no advancement, but that's comparing games, not schools.

3. This is more of a play style then a type of school. Even if you 'just' explore a New Your sized city..that is a lot of exploration. Even Star Wars 'Only' takes place on like five planets in a whole galaxy.

4. So what your trying to say is New School games have lots more role playing help for players, mostly in the form of mechanics tied to role playing fluff. While Old School games just left you high and dry and you had too add your own fluff with no mechanics.



6.I don't think either school has more story, as that is more of a play style. There are just as many 'rule zombies' in both schools.

1. I'd say that there has been a very big trend away from drastic power growth, and would very much call it an old school trait. Plus, when I came up with this list, that particular one was listed as the distinguishing feature by someone who's been in the hobby from nearly the start, and I'd consider his opinion to have some weight. I'm fairly familiar with quite a few games, and I can't think of anything in the new school category that has power growth at the early D&D level. The closest is later D&D, but given that D&D seems to be completely disconnected from the rest of the hobby I generally just ignore it.

3. Again, it's more what gets explored. Old School is much, much more spatial. Exact distances abound, and what goes where is particularly critical. New School generally isn't spatial, it's more about the way groups of people connect, with spatial aspects being more vague. Take the early D&D character sheet - exact height and exact weight are both values that have designated spots. That's old school spatial focus, and would look incredibly out of place in a modern, non old school game.

4. It's not even roleplaying help per se, it's just a shift in what is defined about the characters, and what stories get told. Look at my example of Fiasco in my last post (I suspect that was edited in after you read it), it's a game where the mechanics are all centered around the creation of scenes and embodies point 4 fairly well, though not nearly as well as point 8 (shifting away from the concept of adventuring parties).

Kane0
2012-08-14, 05:20 PM
- Magic was rare, powerful and/or difficult. No longer the case.
- Expansive and detailed game-worlds that required a lot of time and resources

I had more but i forgot :smalleek:

Jay R
2012-08-14, 05:25 PM
Old School is one of the most ambiguous, vague, and conflicting definitions floating around the hobby. Moreover, unlike most of the other ambiguous, vague, and conflicting definitions floating around we don't have anything that has come to specificity on this forum.

We can't come to any agreement because we think it means very different times and games. For instance:


1e D&D is a fairly crunchy system, early GURPS is an incredibly crunchy system, Champions/HERO are pretty much poster systems for burying people under crunch, Rolemaster is incredibly high on rules. These are all oldschool games.

By contrast, I consider AD&D 1E to have introduced new school gaming (although it took to the third edition to fully develop). AD&D, Champions and GURPS are the start of the trend to the new school.

Speaking as somebody who played original D&D before the first supplement, I consider the most important aspect of Old School gaming to be:

1. The rules were just a framework. Original D&D was three booklets made from 9, 10, and 9 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, folded over, plus cover sheets. The first three supplements added 17, 14, and 14 sheets, plus covers.

Other important aspects include:

2. The game was a creation of the DM. Each DM made rulings about how spells worked and other things, which didn't necessarily agree with somebody else's. (Phantasmal Force could be the most powerful spell, or worthless, or anything in between, depending on how the DM ruled on illusions.)

3. It was a strategic game. We expected to play against tough opposition, and lose as often as we win. That's what "playing a game" meant to us. (Death was, in fact, quite rare, but we always knew it was quite possible.)

But the biggest difference was the players, not the games.

4. Old school players came to D&D from other strategic wargames - chess, Avalon Hill games, SPI games, etc. We studied strategy. Every group I played in had people who had studied Napoleonic wars, WW2, medieval war, or Roman battles.

5. The players were playing to solve puzzles and mysteries. Traps where you just rolled dice were considered a waste of time. We were there to think our way through the situation.

6. We were all readers of classic fantasy (Tolkien, Vance, Moorcock, etc.) and came to D&D hoping to simulate what we had been reading.

7. Most of us cared about weapons. My first D&D group included several fencers, several gun enthusiasts, and one guy who had lettered in archery.

8. Most players were college students or adults.

I suspect that what I see as the start of the new school is what some people consider the real old school.

As long as people want to define old school to be the transition period between the two, there will never be agreement.

eggs
2012-08-14, 05:31 PM
If "Old School" is defined as OD&D, the term is completely useless.

If it's a way of looking at differences between Villains & Vigilantes/Chill/AD&D-era games and Fate/Apocalypse World/Burning Wheel-era games, it might be useful for at least sparking some discussion.

Knaight
2012-08-14, 05:37 PM
If "Old School" is defined as OD&D, the term is completely useless.

If it's a way of looking at differences between Villains & Vigilantes/Chill/AD&D-era games and Fate/Apocalypse World/Burning Wheel-era games, it might be useful for at least sparking some discussion.

I'm inclined to agree, though I'd also note that there are a lot of modern games that are also old school, to the point of there being a distinct movement referred to as the Old School Revolution. Plus, I'd call GamerGirl very much old school, and she plays 2e, which pushes the era forward a bit. Still, focusing on time exclusively is less useful than looking at style, as there will always be deliberately nostalgic games, and there will always be games ahead of their time.

Added to this, I do think we are seeing some amount of convergence of definitions here.


- Magic was rare, powerful and/or difficult. No longer the case.
- Expansive and detailed game-worlds that required a lot of time and resources
I'm going to disagree with both of these. The first is for obvious reasons - it's restricted to fantasy, and we've had non-fantasy games for a very long time (Traveller is oldschool sci-fi). As for the second, there have been modules that are tiny and self contained pretty much from the beginning, and there have been large, expansive game worlds pretty much from the beginning. Both of these continue to be produced.



3. It was a strategic game. We expected to play against tough opposition, and lose as often as we win. That's what "playing a game" meant to us. (Death was, in fact, quite rare, but we always knew it was quite possible.).

I do see this as one of the aspects, and have been meaning to add it. The issue is currently in phrasing - I can go with the "it was more strategic", but that would be an unfair portrayal of newer games; I could go with "characters were tools with which to solve challenges", but that ignores the role playing that was present in old school games. It seems like a fairly solid 9th criterion.

I'd disagree with the others, simply because light games based on rulings are still around. Again, D&D went its own way and can basically be ignored as to what new school gaming is, and outside of it there are a lot of games in the 20-50 page range which assume GM adjudication.

navar100
2012-08-14, 05:56 PM
DM side: The DM is Il Duce. Player grievance dismissed as whining and munchkin. Players are not allowed to know anything, i.e. what a magic item does, what a monster can do, until the DM sees fit to tell them at his convenience. DM's favorite words: "You just don't know." Players are forbidden to have an 18 at 1st level because you're a munchkin otherwise. Alright, the Paladin can have an 18 in, tee hee, Charisma. Players must describe exactly everything they do. When searching a room you have to specify that you look in the bed, under the bed, under the mattress, under the blanket, in the pillow case, tear open the pillow, tear open the mattress. The DM laughs when you fail to mention the springs as that's where The Important Thing was which the player can now never, ever get. Traps will be sprung from ceilings because players don't mention they look up.

Player side: Clerics casting any spell other than Cure Light Wounds are wasting them, but an occasional Bless or Prayer in combat is ok. If a player is told information separately from the others, it his alone. It's a priceless artifact of tremendous clout not to be shared with others. If they don't know it's because they were unworthy of knowing. Anyone else who does find out proved his worth and you can share smug looks with him mocking everyone else who don't Know. Player's favorite words: "You're not there." There is no party. Other PCs are merely characters coincidentally fighting the same bad guys as you are and not attacking you, so far. Only your character's welfare is of any importance. Lawful Good is for chumps.

nedz
2012-08-14, 07:08 PM
I'm not sure that this is a meaningful discussion.
There are different play-styles, there always have been.

In the early days DMs had to do what is now called Homebrew, it was part of the job: there simply weren't the rules or monsters available.
For instance: AD&Ds original Fiend Folio was mainly homebrewed monsters readers had sent into White Dwarf (It was a different magazine in those days).

Have you looked at some other very early games: EPT, T&T, RuneQuest ?

The game developed very quickly, by the mid-80's most of what you consider new school had arrived. Call of Cthulhu was published in '81, Paranoia in '84.

Can you define what you mean by New School, perhaps we can trace the origin of those concepts ? I suspect that they emerged much earlier than you think ?

Knaight
2012-08-14, 07:20 PM
Can you define what you mean by New School, perhaps we can trace the origin of those concepts ? I suspect that they emerged much earlier than you think ?
New School basically means not old school. Given that roleplaying games have essentially been branching outward and not towards a different direction, with none of the old school elements being replaced so much as supplemented defining the modern RPG is an exercise in futility. Hence the aim at defining old school, as that is much more achievable.

kyoryu
2012-08-14, 07:28 PM
Glad to see that this conversation has been *mostly* positive.

A few things:

1) Old-school games definitely were more about starting out as being very weak, and gaining reasonable power. Newer games have a tendency (even within D&D) to start characters out as more powerful, and often but not always have a flatter power curve.

2) Truly old school (maybe, first generation games is better) were rules light, and were much more about player skill in overcoming challenges. The game style shifted with 1e to being more crunchy and being more about exploration of a world rather than "beating" a dungeon. You could say that this was a shift from being "Gamist" to "Simulationist" if you want to use that terminology.

3) After that story games started becoming more popular, starting with (IMHO) DragonLance. DragonLance was a huge departure in that it was a set, linear story that was already set for a series of what, ten modules or so? This kind of preset story didn't really exist before - earlier modules, even if they told an overall story, were more about the locations you visited. Stories told about them were more of the "remember that time when..." variety than the story the DM decided to tell you. A lot of the random elements in games prior to DL existed primarily to provide those "remember when..." types of stories.

4) Many modern games are much more story-based than old-school games were. I say that as someone who cut my teeth on those games, too. Looking at the priorities of say, Mouse Guard compared to D&D, and they're very, very different. A lot of "story games" take the DL route - story as something the DM leads players through. Others take the route suggested by Mouse Guard, where story (in terms of character conflict) is something that is intended to arise organically from the situation, and the rules are explicitly designed to encourage this to happen.

5) Older games were almost invariably more lethal. The idea of your character as being somehow special simply didn't exist until probably DragonLance (which was the first to introduce "plot armor" to my knowledge). It's core to a lot of newer games, often due to differing goals.

6) A lot of newer games came about from, IMHO, a lot of people misunderstanding earlier D&D (and I'd include myself in that group). The D&D that was played by adults in the early years could be very different from the D&D that was played by 10-year-olds that picked up the game in their bookstore.

nedz
2012-08-14, 07:37 PM
New School basically means not old school. Given that roleplaying games have essentially been branching outward and not towards a different direction, with none of the old school elements being replaced so much as supplemented defining the modern RPG is an exercise in futility. Hence the aim at defining old school, as that is much more achievable.

Well its possible to trace the origins
Table top Wargaming -> Table top skirmish systems (e.g. chainmail) -> D&D
but the branching happened so very early.
There was a tremendous amount of innovation in the early days, some of us thought the innovation was all over by about '84. In reality more ideas did come along later but most of these were just better mechanics.

How would you class Paranoia ?
Now it was a parody I suppose, but it also breaks most of your paradimes.

Tengu_temp
2012-08-14, 07:42 PM
This is just the type of thing New School gamers say to attack and put down Old School.


Ever heard about pot and kettle?

Knaight
2012-08-14, 07:42 PM
Well its possible to trace the origins
Table top Wargaming -> Table top skirmish systems (e.g. chainmail) -> D&D
but the branching happened so very early.
There was a tremendous amount of innovation in the early days, some of us thought the innovation was all over by about '84. In reality more ideas did come along later but most of these were just better mechanics.

How would you class Paranoia ?
Now it was a parody I suppose, but it also breaks most of your paradimes.
Paranoia is an interesting one. It follows 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, and only breaks 1, 3, and 6. However, it breaks 1, 3, and 6 very thoroughly. It also plays with mots of the ones it follows. So, with that said, I'd call it an early transition game with obvious old school elements that it is clearly moving away from.

tensai_oni
2012-08-14, 07:46 PM
{Scrubbed}

nedz
2012-08-14, 08:01 PM
Paranoia is an interesting one. It follows 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, and only breaks 1, 3, and 6. However, it breaks 1, 3, and 6 very thoroughly. It also plays with mots of the ones it follows. So, with that said, I'd call it an early transition game with obvious old school elements that it is clearly moving away from.

And CoC, from the Choasium (RQ) stable ?
Breaks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8
Very much a story telling game.

You should look at RQ (RuneQuest), this game went through 3 versions very quickly. First published in '78 and was a skill based system from the start (no classes or levels, everything based upon a d% system)
Breaks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6

I suspect by old school you actually mean Gygaxian or things like the classic Tunnels & Trolls Deathtrap Equaliser ?
I think we had finished with those by about 1980.

Grail
2012-08-14, 08:06 PM
There are plenty of old-school games that didn't use level. This can't be used as a defining trait between old school and new school.

Many of those old school games don't exist anymore, or are considered fairly obscure, but during the old-school period, they were fairly common.

Knaight
2012-08-14, 08:12 PM
And CoC, from the Choasium (RQ) stable ?
Breaks 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8
Very much a story telling game.

You should look at RQ (RuneQuest), this game went through 3 versions very quickly. First published in '78 and was a skill based system from the start (no classes or levels, everything based upon a d% system)
Breaks 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6

I suspect by old school you actually mean Gygaxian or things like the classic Tunnels & Trolls Deathtrap Equaliser ?
I think we had finished with those by about 1980.

I wouldn't say that CoC breaks 8, or that RuneQuest breaks 1 or 3. Neither of them break 4. Plus, these have always been descriptions of possible signs, so a few being broken frequently is fine, as long as it isn't the same few. Taking that into account, 6 is looking broken. I'm removing it. 2, however, appears to be extremely solid.

nedz
2012-08-14, 08:17 PM
Well just looking at RQ, we only have 2, 7 and 8 left.

I review what those are
2. Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles
7. Character Disposability
8. The Adventuring Party

How many new school games do away with 2 and 8 ?

7 is a play-style thing. I'm not sure when D&D introduced Raise Dead, certainly by AD&D. I have noticed lots of playgrounders complain about the sense of entitlement many players have, so maybe this is going to go out of fashion sometime soon ?

Knaight
2012-08-14, 08:20 PM
Well just looking at RQ, we only have 2, 7 and 8 left.

I review what those are
2. Highly Distinct GM and Player Roles
7. Character Disposability
8. The Adventuring Party

How many new school games do away with 2 and 8 ?

7 is a play-style thing. I'm not sure when D&D introduced Raise Dead, certainly by AD&D. I have noticed lots of playgrounders complain about the sense of entitlement many players have, so maybe this is going to go out of fashion sometime soon ?
I'd consider 2 largely gone in modern games. The roles are increasingly blurred, even in games that have a GM. As for 8, it's still around, but I'm not sure it is even the dominant style - it certainly isn't the only one the way it used to be. 7 is very much a trait of older and OSR games. Plus, I'd argue that 4 is still in play for Runequest, as is 3 to some extent.

nedz
2012-08-14, 08:33 PM
Sorry, our posts crossed.

I claim that CoC breaks 8 because the characters were never professional adventures.

Characters in RQ, and all Choasium games really, were defined by attributes and then a huge list of skills. I think this breaks 4, though perhaps I'm not understanding your point correctly ?

3 is playstyle not system question. RQ came with a setting with political entities and NPCs etc. Actually you can argue Blackmoor did this somewhat earlier.

2. is interesting. The Deathtrap equaliser broke that, and this is definitely Old School. It (http://uk.yhs4.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=death+trap+equaliser&fr=altavista&fr2=sfp&iscqry=) was the first solo game - so no DM. This thing also broke 8, in the sense that you had 1 character.

Knaight
2012-08-14, 08:48 PM
Sorry, our posts crossed.

I claim that CoC breaks 8 because the characters were never professional adventures.

Characters in RQ, and all Choasium games really, were defined by attributes and then a huge list of skills. I think this breaks 4, though perhaps I'm not understanding your point correctly ?

3 is playstyle not system question. RQ came with a setting with political entities and NPCs etc. Actually you can argue Blackmoor did this somewhat earlier.

2. is interesting. The Deathtrap equaliser broke that, and this is definitely Old School. It (http://uk.yhs4.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=death+trap+equaliser&fr=altavista&fr2=sfp&iscqry=) was the first solo game - so no DM. This thing also broke 8, in the sense that you had 1 character.

On 8 - The standards are really low here. Basically, 8 is reached if you answer two questions with a yes. Could these characters be interpreted as a party? Could what they are doing be interpreted as adventuring? I'd consider a bunch of guys in canoes traveling down the amazon river an adventuring party, because point 8 is that lax. Modern games still routinely don't meet it.

On 4. The attributes and skills are still a matter of what they can do. It is still a matter of what their capabilities are. Personalities and relationships don't have any real mechanics, so it fits within 4.

On 3. Systems encourage particular play styles. Early D&D had exactly defined movements, ranges, spell radii, etc, and as such was made for exactly defined room sizes, shapes, etc. GURPS is the same. By contrast, most modern games don't need this - exact dimensions are utterly irrelevant because exact movement, range, etc. has largely been dispensed with. Take a look at Zone systems for the best example of this. This is also why I consider 7 more a system thing than a play style.

I'm not sure I'd call solo games RPGs at all to be honest. I'm more familiar with Fabled Lands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabled_Lands), from back when it was called Quest, and it is basically the same concept as The Deathtrap equalizer (though it's less old school).

nedz
2012-08-14, 10:07 PM
On 8 - The standards are really low here. Basically, 8 is reached if you answer two questions with a yes. Could these characters be interpreted as a party? Could what they are doing be interpreted as adventuring? I'd consider a bunch of guys in canoes traveling down the amazon river an adventuring party, because point 8 is that lax. Modern games still routinely don't meet it.
Well I think this was broken with mass LARP, but you are talking '86 onwards here. CoC could break this, with the New England style stuff.


On 4. The attributes and skills are still a matter of what they can do. It is still a matter of what their capabilities are. Personalities and relationships don't have any real mechanics, so it fits within 4.
The Chaosium games did feature interpersonal skills like Fast-Talk - again CoC rather than RQ IIRC.


On 3. Systems encourage particular play styles. Early D&D had exactly defined movements, ranges, spell radii, etc, and as such was made for exactly defined room sizes, shapes, etc. GURPS is the same. By contrast, most modern games don't need this - exact dimensions are utterly irrelevant because exact movement, range, etc. has largely been dispensed with. Take a look at Zone systems for the best example of this. This is also why I consider 7 more a system thing than a play style.
Well some people consider D&D 3.5 new school, and that certainly has these features ?


I'm not sure I'd call solo games RPGs at all to be honest. I'm more familiar with Fabled Lands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fabled_Lands), from back when it was called Quest, and it is basically the same concept as The Deathtrap equalizer (though it's less old school).

Fair point.

Incidentally 1. is the difference between Heroic games and Non-Heroic ones. So old games like Traveller would challenge this point.

RPGs have been through many changes, and the period '78 through '84 was very dynamic. I think you might be more successful in trying to categorise games by their features, and plot a development tree, rather than looking to try and divide them neatly in two periods. But then this has been tried and the results were always controversial.

Knaight
2012-08-14, 10:22 PM
The Chaosium games did feature interpersonal skills like Fast-Talk - again CoC rather than RQ IIRC.
...
Well some people consider D&D 3.5 new school, and that certainly has these features ?
...
RPGs have been through many changes, and the period '78 through '84 was very dynamic. I think you might be more successful in trying to categorise games by their features, and plot a development tree, rather than looking to try and divide them neatly in two periods. But then this has been tried and the results were always controversial.
Interpersonal skills are still a matter of what a character can do.

I wouldn't call D&D 3.5 new school at all. D&D is a game stuck in the past, with a tendency to go off and do really weird stuff occasionally. D&D 3 and 4 are very much their own group, though 5e look like an old school game currently. D&D 3.x and 4e tend to get treated as if they are synonymous with the hobby, but honestly, most of the people who play independent games detest them in my experience.

I do think that feature categorization would likely be more accurate - however, Old School is a term that is already in use, which will continue to be in use. That's why I'm trying to pin it down a bit currently, with the association to specific criteria. I don't think that my criteria will be even remotely final, but I do think that having the idea of defined criteria out there and some idea of what some of them are will help pin that term down, and so far there do seem to be a few criterion that seem to be working very well (2, 3, 4, 8).

Gamer Girl
2012-08-14, 11:14 PM
I do think that feature categorization would likely be more accurate - however, Old School is a term that is already in use, which will continue to be in use. That's why I'm trying to pin it down a bit currently, with the association to specific criteria. I don't think that my criteria will be even remotely final, but I do think that having the idea of defined criteria out there and some idea of what some of them are will help pin that term down, and so far there do seem to be a few criterion that seem to be working very well (2, 3, 4, 8).


When your comparing dozens of games from the past 40 years, the whole Old and New becomes a bit pointless. Unless you just pick a date, say 1995, and everything before was Old and all after is New.

Otherwise you can't mention games at all, and have to just talk about play-stiles:The way people play the game.

nedz
2012-08-15, 07:53 AM
When your comparing dozens of games from the past 40 years, the whole Old and New becomes a bit pointless. Unless you just pick a date, say 1995, and everything before was Old and all after is New.

I was just trying to test the definitions with examples.


Otherwise you can't mention games at all, and have to just talk about play-stiles:The way people play the game.

Yes, a lot of this is playstyle.

Siegel
2012-08-15, 09:49 AM
In my opinion there is oldschool. Mainly Dnd 0 and 1 and games of this time

There are trad games. DnD 3/4 or Vampire or actually most games are in this category

and there is New School wich is mostly found in what we now call Indie RPG or Story Games.

just my gauge.

Jay R
2012-08-15, 10:29 AM
It seems clear based on the discussion so far that we cannot agree on the traits of "Old School" gaming, because we cannot agree on what games we're describing.

The problem isn't that we haven't yet identified the boundary between the two schools of gaming; it's that there aren't just two schools of gaming. There are lots of schools of gaming, and any attempt to define the single boundary between them will fail, because of the countless boundaries between them.

I can define the boundary that matters to me, but it won't be the same boundary that matters to you.

My wife suggested that "Old School" means the way you did it when you started, as opposed to what came later. I think it's a little more complex than that. When two gamers talk, Old School is how the older gamer likes to play, and New School is how the newer gamer likes to play. It depends on who's talking, just as which direction is to the right depends on which way the speaker is facing.

When D&D first came out, there were miniatures gamers who didn't like this new-fangled RPG stuff. Someday there will be Pokemon and players who don't like the New School stuff that came later.

Each New School will become Old School, just as each of us will grow old.

kyoryu
2012-08-15, 10:52 AM
I'm thinking about starting a post called "Games We Play" which gives short descriptions of the various games or motivations in play at tables at any given time. These would be things like "Look What I Made!" "See How Clever I Am!" "Let's Tell A Story" and "Tell Me A Story", among others.

Yes, the idea is heavily influenced by the psychology book "Games People Play". Deal with it :smallbiggrin:

Gamer Girl
2012-08-28, 02:25 AM
What is Old School Gaming. Well as an Old School Gamer, one of the few, I though I'd give my definitions.

Note we are not talking about any game in particular, we are talking about the gaming play style.

1. The Rules are just Suggestions--Anything printed in a game book is ok and the thoughts and ideas of a game designer are nice to know, but they don't mean much in an Old School game. No one really cares what it says on page fifty. While it's nice to have a suggestion on how you might do something in a game, no one thinks of it as a rule you must use in the game.

2.You don't use all of the Book Suggestions(Rules)--You might have a book with 300 pages, but only cheery pick a couple dozen things that you use from it.

3.The GM is God--No matter what, whatever the GM of the game says, that is the game reality. A player can not argue a 'rule' point or interpret something the way you want. A player can ask the GM to change or do something, but the GM has the final say.

4.Randomness--Let the dice fall where they may! An Old School game is all about the pure randomness of life. Anything can happen. The whole point of even having something like dice in the game is that it's all about chance. You could roll a one or a twenty.

5.Character Death--In an Old School game, character death is simply part of the game. It's expected. And while no one wants a character to die, it will be allowed to happen. The game is enhanced by the idea that a character can die anytime, anywhere and anyhow. Players can never feel safe as they know they are not at a 'climax' or 'important plot point'. And slightly lesser then death is injuries to the character.

6.Background Lite--A character in an Old School game is just fine having a lite background. To say ''Zora grew up on a farm and was a farmer until she met the wandering cleric Avorra and joined the sisterhood'' is just fine as a background for a character. The character does not need a huge, long and complex background that the Gm will 'build' off of in the game.

7.Motivation Lite--A character in an Old School game is going on the adventure/mission ''just because''. They don't need a complex and intricate web of motivation reasons to do anything. For example, they might oppose an evil cleric ''just because'' and not have to need the additional motivation of that cleric being the dad of one character and the killer of another character's parents and...

8.Unbalanced and Unfair--Somewhat obvious from some of the other numbers. But this is what makes Old School fun and exciting.

9.Game by Night--In an Old School game, should a question comes up about anything game related, the Gm will simply make a decision and the game will continue. no one will be reaching for game books and trying to look up anything.

10.Playing the Players--An Old School game is very much more about the GM making a challenge for the players and not the characters. When a challenge comes up in the game, the first thing an Old School player does is start to think....they do not simply look at their character sheet and try to figure out what their character might do with everything they have written on the sheet.


Now I did leave off an obvious one that many Old School Haters would have added: That Old School is all about Mindless Combat. Though I left that off for a very good reason. It's not true. And also, you could say the same thing for New School games, like 4E for example. And I wanted my list to be unique of just Old School descriptions. And in either an Old or New School game you can do the old ''walk through an Alphabet dungeon and encounter each monster in the manual in the right lettered room.''

TuggyNE
2012-08-28, 04:08 AM
What's wrong with the previous discussion on the topic?

Matthew
2012-08-28, 06:56 AM
Self definition was the obsession of the old school community a few years ago; unsurprisingly, it went nowhere, as what it amounts to is an attempt to draw a line around a very diverse collection of individuals.

supermonkeyjoe
2012-08-28, 07:42 AM
To me this reads more like someone's personal preferences for a game style rather than an actual demonstrable definition, I would hazard a guess that you consider yourself an old school gamer and prefer games to be played like this?

Jay R
2012-08-28, 08:04 AM
Self definition was the obsession of the old school community a few years ago; unsurprisingly, it went nowhere, as what it amounts to is an attempt to draw a line around a very diverse collection of individuals.

Well, you just drew such a line ("the obsession of the old school community"). Why can't we try?

Toofey
2012-08-28, 08:10 AM
a lot of the old school players I know are actually very into background and role play.

I would definitely agree that as you go back along the timeline to the people coming out of war gaming this gets to be less common but I feel like pretty much the minute it became D&D there were some very role playey groups out there.



To me this reads more like someone's personal preferences for a game style rather than an actual demonstrable definition, I would hazard a guess that you consider yourself an old school gamer and prefer games to be played like this?
I'm not sure about that IIRC she's pretty anti rule 0

Ashdate
2012-08-28, 08:24 AM
I similarly don't think labeling some arbitrary characteristics as "old school" is very helpful. Nostalgia is fine, but it's probably a more useful activity to consider why older characters tended to be "background lite" or that the rules were "just suggestions".

For example, D&D was considered to be a lot more lethal in the early days because there was a "players versus DM" mentality (note: certainly this mentality changed, but it's also true that a lot of Gary Gygax's work did not stress much cooperation between players and DMs). But there were other factors too; only the DM was expected to have access to certain books, the rules presented were often vague, and the Internet was still 20+ years away from allowing players to share their experiences (and optimize accordingly).

But just because it "used" to be like this doesn't make it worth doing (or defining) today. As an example, the idea that casters "are better" than non-casters in 3.5 D&D is very much a result of the Internet bringing together a bunch of smart people to analyze the game collectively. Any new class/system in D&Dnis going to be put under the microscope, dissected, and then published in one or more Optimization guides. In such an environment, a game designed has to be concerned about a relative "balance" to their game; "Unbalance and Unfair" is no longer acceptable.

If you must, take that list of 10 "characteristics" and examine them through a historical lens; was there something about an earlier age of RPGs that encouraged this sort of characteristic that is absent today, and if so, why did it change? That sounds to me to be a more useful exercise.

Matthew
2012-08-28, 08:28 AM
Well, you just drew such a line ("the obsession of the old school community"). Why can't we try?

Nope, they drew it themselves by self identifying as "old school". What is being done here is coming up with fixed criteria for inclusion and exclusion, which is quite different.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-28, 08:56 AM
{{Scrubbed}}

kyoryu
2012-08-28, 09:20 AM
For example, D&D was considered to be a lot more lethal in the early days because there was a "players versus DM" mentality (note: certainly this mentality changed, but it's also true that a lot of Gary Gygax's work did not stress much cooperation between players and DMs).

I'd argue that point. It was really more "DM as neutral arbiter" than "players vs. DM". Of course, with bad or younger DMs, it often *became* "players vs. DM", but I do not believe that was the intention.


But just because it "used" to be like this doesn't make it worth doing (or defining) today.

Agreed. It also doesn't mean just because it's "old" that we should throw it away. It's worth understanding what old-school gaming is, if for no other reason than to understand certain decisions that still exists in D&D in one form or another (such as party restrictions). Some of those really only make sense in a fully old-school game and campaign.


As an example, the idea that casters "are better" than non-casters in 3.5 D&D is very much a result of the Internet bringing together a bunch of smart people to analyze the game collectively.

Partially. It's also due (at least partially) to the fact that 3.x got rid of a lot of the balancing factors that kept casters "in line" in earlier editions.


was there something about an earlier age of RPGs that encouraged this sort of characteristic that is absent today, and if so, why did it change? That sounds to me to be a more useful exercise.

I'd argue yes, and furthermore it changed not necessarily because of the rules (primarily), but because the expectations of what an RPG fundamentally is have changed dramatically since the inception of the hobby. Most of the issues I see with D&D today are really an impedance mismatch between rules that made sense for how the game was played then clashing with how the game is typically played now.

BTW, when I talk old-school, my primary reference is a game that I played in in the '90s that was run by one of my friend's parents. This game had probably been going on for over 10 years at that point, and was based on a mashup of The Fantasy Trip (the precursor to GURPS) and 1e. It was the kind of game that you could look at, look at Forgotten Realms, and then really see how Forgotten Realms "came to be".

It's also a very different experience than I've seen elsewhere, and really illuminates a lot of rules from that era.

supermonkeyjoe
2012-08-28, 10:34 AM
Of course. But feel free to offer your definitions, that's kinda the whole point of an online forum.



In my experience "old school" is either defined by people who want to put-down or ridicule another way of doing things, or by people who want to infer that their way of playing is better, it's the old "my X is better than your X because it's mine mentality" which is present in pretty much every kind of media and culture. I've been fortunate enough to play in a wide variety of games run by a great variety of GM/DM/STs both young and old so defining anything as "old school" is pretty tricky for me.

I believe the best way of describing a campaign is with descriptors such as "Gygaxian" for a GM vs player, high-lethality style, or "Monty Haul" for a be cool and get heaps of rewards kind of campaign.

In conclusion I believe that the whole concept of an "Old School" paradigm is inherently flawed, I don't believe that there was an "Old School" style of gaming, just as today there isn't an overwhelming trend towards one style of play, there are different people in different groups with different preferences and playstyles.

Ashdate
2012-08-28, 11:09 AM
Oh, I'd love too. Sadly this boards are a very hostile place for such discussions. You can see from above that people can't even read what I wrote in the first post(that I said Old School was background lite, not you may not absolutely in Old School have a backstory. I type one thing, people read another.

In fairness, without any context it seems pretty arbitrary; certainly there are players who played D&D back in the late 70s that had "backstories", as well as players who play 4e today without them too. As a statement without any context to back up that claim, it is very easy to simply "dismiss" it.

Hence, looking at it historically would be a better use of time. What about an "old school" game might encourage players to not have a backstory, that doesn't exist today?


But for a tiny kernel: I blame both video games and movies for the change in games. An Old School gamer did not have video games and 'pictured' the game more like an old action movie made before 1990(so no computer special effects and a lot more real life special effects). A New School gamer has their eyes filled with video games, anime and modern computer generated action movies.

I would advise you to rethink this. At best, you're throwing some arbitrarily throwing some definitions at a wall and ignoring the many (and varied) exceptions. At worst, you're insulting people by trying to put them in boxes. Wasn't there another thread recently that chastised you for this kind of stereotyping? supermonkeyjoe has the right idea.


Partially. It's also due (at least partially) to the fact that 3.x got rid of a lot of the balancing factors that kept casters "in line" in earlier editions.

Absolutely, but I remember playing 3e for years under the myth that fighters and wizards are "balanced" (and monks were considered a fine class!). Many groups today still do! Indeed, if you play a wizard who thinks Magic Missiles and Fireballs are the bees knees, issues of balance aren't necessarily a concern. The tricky thing about any balance discussion is that balance is often relative; perception is often 9/10ths the "battle". D&D 3.5's "balance" problems are often perceived to be worse than they actually are (not saying they're not bad, just that perception works both ways).

That shouldn't preclude a new edition of D&D from assuming that this unbalance (whether it's perceived or not) is healthy for the game of course; it should be addressed. Whether they try and rigidly enforce it (like in early 4e design) or just try and eyeball it (such as in current 5e design) is a matter of preference I suppose. With the Internet around, optimization guides will follow any new addition to the game that are readily available. Hence, D&D designers have to be more careful with their design than they were in the past.

Yora
2012-08-28, 11:10 AM
- Randomly generated characters.
- Dungeon Crawl.
- Random encounters.
- Die a lot.
- Repeat.

Totally Guy
2012-08-28, 11:33 AM
Old school is definitely a phenomenon. Listening to James Edward Raggi the Fourth on the Jennisodes definitely helped me understand it. He's part of the OSR crowd. I started out thinking badly of him for espousing his opinions as facts but then I realised that he was really talking about how you can play games that reinforce the content you want to see at the table. That's something I agree with and I prefer non-traditional games.

I think it's very easy for gamers to misinterpret a version of D&D that they aren't used to. After the character generation chapters they reach the adventures/encounter content they say "Oh it's D&D, I pretty much already know this stuff. The difference is all in the characters that the players use."

From there the all encompassing word "playstyle" covers anything that makes it into the game ouside of the content of the book.

kyoryu
2012-08-28, 11:47 AM
I should sig this, but if you want a good idea of old-school gaming, you *really* need to read this post.

This is not a post by an old-school grognard. It is a post by the author of Burning Wheel, which (if you don't know) is pretty narrative and new-school.

https://plus.google.com/111266966448135449970/posts/Q8qRhCw7az5

He captures a ton of the spirit of the thing, though he perhaps misses a few of the overall campaign structures (multiple characters per player, choose what you're playing based on who shows and what they want to do, the overall game world, etc.).

Knaight
2012-08-28, 12:12 PM
What is Old School Gaming. Well as an Old School Gamer, one of the few, I though I'd give my definitions.

Note we are not talking about any game in particular, we are talking about the gaming play style.

1. The Rules are just Suggestions--Anything printed in a game book is ok and the thoughts and ideas of a game designer are nice to know, but they don't mean much in an Old School game. No one really cares what it says on page fifty. While it's nice to have a suggestion on how you might do something in a game, no one thinks of it as a rule you must use in the game.

2.You don't use all of the Book Suggestions(Rules)--You might have a book with 300 pages, but only cheery pick a couple dozen things that you use from it.

3.The GM is God--No matter what, whatever the GM of the game says, that is the game reality. A player can not argue a 'rule' point or interpret something the way you want. A player can ask the GM to change or do something, but the GM has the final say.

4.Randomness--Let the dice fall where they may! An Old School game is all about the pure randomness of life. Anything can happen. The whole point of even having something like dice in the game is that it's all about chance. You could roll a one or a twenty.

5.Character Death--In an Old School game, character death is simply part of the game. It's expected. And while no one wants a character to die, it will be allowed to happen. The game is enhanced by the idea that a character can die anytime, anywhere and anyhow. Players can never feel safe as they know they are not at a 'climax' or 'important plot point'. And slightly lesser then death is injuries to the character.

6.Background Lite--A character in an Old School game is just fine having a lite background. To say ''Zora grew up on a farm and was a farmer until she met the wandering cleric Avorra and joined the sisterhood'' is just fine as a background for a character. The character does not need a huge, long and complex background that the Gm will 'build' off of in the game.

7.Motivation Lite--A character in an Old School game is going on the adventure/mission ''just because''. They don't need a complex and intricate web of motivation reasons to do anything. For example, they might oppose an evil cleric ''just because'' and not have to need the additional motivation of that cleric being the dad of one character and the killer of another character's parents and...

8.Unbalanced and Unfair--Somewhat obvious from some of the other numbers. But this is what makes Old School fun and exciting.

9.Game by Night--In an Old School game, should a question comes up about anything game related, the Gm will simply make a decision and the game will continue. no one will be reaching for game books and trying to look up anything.

10.Playing the Players--An Old School game is very much more about the GM making a challenge for the players and not the characters. When a challenge comes up in the game, the first thing an Old School player does is start to think....they do not simply look at their character sheet and try to figure out what their character might do with everything they have written on the sheet.
2 is still a part of new games, provided they are at all large. Look at Fudge - you have about 10 pages of core rules in the 10th anniversary edition, with 310 pages of options.

4 is very much a part of new games. They tend to be made with open hostility to the idea of fudging, if it is even included. Fudging is part of the rules as guidelines model, and it's the piece of that model most likely dropped.

9 is interesting. There are some games where rules are looked up, yes. However, a huge proportion of modern games are very rules light, where looking something up involves glancing at a page or two, and you probably won't have to do that anyways due to having things memorized. Even in rules heavy games, organization is usually much better in newer games, so looking something up is easy.

10 is also a part of basically all new games, and the exceptions are largely those not built on a task centered game, where you might be deliberately having your character do all sorts of stupid things, because the idea of the game is that everything goes horribly wrong.

1, 3, 5, 6, 7 , and 8 all seem valid. That said, these also show up in quite a few newer games - particularly 6, given the various shorthands for background. A sentence is on the low end, but a small paragraph or equivalent seems to be standard.

Tengu_temp
2012-08-28, 12:37 PM
Drinking game: each time the OP says something that implies oldschool style is The Only Right And Fun Way To Play A Game, or that newschool players are babies who hate when something bad happens to their characters and only play boring games, take a shot. If she says it outright, take two shots.

Knaight
2012-08-28, 12:40 PM
Drinking game: each time the OP says something that implies oldschool style is The Only Right And Fun Way To Play A Game, or that newschool players are babies who hate when something bad happens to their characters and only play boring games, take a shot. If she says it outright, take two shots.

I like having functioning kidneys, thank you.

Totally Guy
2012-08-28, 12:48 PM
You can't call mainstream D&D newschool. It's older than pretty much all the games I'm into!

Calimehter
2012-08-28, 03:08 PM
I like having functioning kidneys, thank you.

Then you're not OLD SCHOOL!!

:smallbiggrin:

Zorg
2012-08-28, 04:08 PM
You can't call mainstream D&D newschool. It's older than pretty much all the games I'm into!

It must be difficult to schedule a game if you have to drop the title the moment someone else knows about it :smalltongue:

Gamer Girl
2012-08-28, 05:37 PM
In my experience "old school" is either defined by people who want to put-down or ridicule another way of doing things, or by people who want to infer that their way of playing is better, it's the old "my X is better than your X because it's mine mentality" .....

In conclusion I believe that the whole concept of an "Old School" paradigm is inherently flawed, I don't believe that there was an "Old School" style of gaming, just as today there isn't an overwhelming trend towards one style of play, there are different people in different groups with different preferences and playstyles.

Well, I did not put down or ridicule anyone....I offered my definitions of Old School gaming.

I sure see a huge difference between Old School and New School styles. I work at a game store, so I get to see lots of games in action.

And yes everyone has a different play style and everyone is always right and always good and ok, can we really just group hug over this and never mention it again? But it does not matter....



In fairness, without any context it seems pretty arbitrary; certainly there are players who played D&D back in the late 70s that had "backstories", as well as players who play 4e today without them too. As a statement without any context to back up that claim, it is very easy to simply "dismiss" it.

I love when people say this: "Everything you say is wrong unless you have proof!''(I wonder if you get sited for that?) So I can't say anything unless what, I have like some notarized sworn statements from a wide selection of gamers? But why do I think that even if I did that you'd still not accept that and would add on more and more requirements to get to the end point of no one can ever know anything.



Hence, looking at it historically would be a better use of time. What about an "old school" game might encourage players to not have a backstory, that doesn't exist today?

Well, I don't have 200,000 pages of text to back this up...but.....Old School did not need Backstories. Your Secret Agent Character would go and stop Dr. Evil just because it was Monday. New School needs the whole interconnected web of drama. The Secret Agent Character goes and stops Dr. Evil as that is his dad..dum, dum, dum!



2 is still a part of new games, provided they are at all large. Look at Fudge - you have about 10 pages of core rules in the 10th anniversary edition, with 310 pages of options.

4 is very much a part of new games. They tend to be made with open hostility to the idea of fudging, if it is even included. Fudging is part of the rules as guidelines model, and it's the piece of that model most likely dropped.

9 is interesting. There are some games where rules are looked up, yes. However, a huge proportion of modern games are very rules light, where looking something up involves glancing at a page or two, and you probably won't have to do that anyways due to having things memorized. Even in rules heavy games, organization is usually much better in newer games, so looking something up is easy.

10 is also a part of basically all new games, and the exceptions are largely those not built on a task centered game, where you might be deliberately having your character do all sorts of stupid things, because the idea of the game is that everything goes horribly wrong.

1, 3, 5, 6, 7 , and 8 all seem valid. That said, these also show up in quite a few newer games - particularly 6, given the various shorthands for background. A sentence is on the low end, but a small paragraph or equivalent seems to be standard.

2 again try to avoid individual games. With like 300+ games you can really find a game to fit anything.

4 I don't see randomness much in New School.....most New School games are more like movies: you know the main characters won't die(did anyone think a single Avenger was going to die in the movie..of course not!) Only the Red Shirts have to fear for their life(three main cast members and 'Guy Smith' enter a dangerous place...guess who will die...lol)

9 Trying to avoid individual games, but New School puts a huge focus on the rules to keep things Fair and Balanced.

10 It's rare to see a New School game challenge the players, as after all that is not fair. If you let the player attempt to solve something, you need to be ready if they don't do it, or fail. New School challenges the characters, as that is fair and balanced.

For example Old School would be ''You The Player, must talk your way past the guards.'' New School is ''Your Character must make a skill check''. And this goes right to the truth: not every player can talk good, so it's unfair to ask them to do so....but it's very fair and balanced to ask the player to 'take a game action'.

Knaight
2012-08-28, 05:43 PM
4 I don't see randomness much in New School.....most New School games are more like movies: you know the main characters won't die(did anyone think a single Avenger was going to die in the movie..of course not!) Only the Red Shirts have to fear for their life(three main cast members and 'Guy Smith' enter a dangerous place...guess who will die...lol)

Randomness and probability of death are two entirely different things. Your point concerns fudging, which can happen at literally any roll, all of which represent a point of diversion between at least two results. Modern systems are usually built with the assumption that if you are rolling dice, then you are willing to accept what comes up on the roll, and follow the result indicated.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-28, 06:10 PM
Randomness and probability of death are two entirely different things. Your point concerns fudging, which can happen at literally any roll, all of which represent a point of diversion between at least two results. Modern systems are usually built with the assumption that if you are rolling dice, then you are willing to accept what comes up on the roll, and follow the result indicated.

I would not say it's just about 'fudging' it, as lots of New School games would never roll for anything important.

But it's not just death, as it can be things like random encounters too.

And a lot of modern gamers play more on safe mode, so even if they roll bad they won't accept it.

And many GM's ''won't let the dice rule the game''.....

kyoryu
2012-08-28, 06:17 PM
As you read this, please don't try to infer a value judgement here. I'm not championing old-school or "new-school" games here.



Well, I don't have 200,000 pages of text to back this up...but.....Old School did not need Backstories. Your Secret Agent Character would go and stop Dr. Evil just because it was Monday. New School needs the whole interconnected web of drama. The Secret Agent Character goes and stops Dr. Evil as that is his dad..dum, dum, dum!

I think this is a bit of a misconception. I think it's more accurate to say that "new school" games are more *about* the web of characters and drama, and less about the challenge of "beating the dungeon".

Again, like I said, judging new school games by old-school criteria (judging a narrative game by the player challenge presented) is as useless as judging and old-school game by narrative criteria (how well does this help the players create a story?).

Seriously. It's probably more accurate to think of a heavily narrative game as not being about the players "beating" the scenario, but rather the players working together with the GM to create s tory. It's an incredibly different mindset.

It's kind of like judging a pickup truck on its handling, or a sportscar on its carrying capacity. They're both vehicles, but they have very, very different goals in mind, even if they can both be used for a significant overlapping set of functionality.


4 I don't see randomness much in New School.....most New School games are more like movies: you know the main characters won't die(did anyone think a single Avenger was going to die in the movie..of course not!) Only the Red Shirts have to fear for their life(three main cast members and 'Guy Smith' enter a dangerous place...guess who will die...lol)

I agree with this, actually. Real old-school games had a ton of randomness - exhibits #1 and #2 being "random treasure tables" and "random encounters." I just don't see things like that in narrative systems because they don't make sense. And that's without even getting into things like the Deck of Many Things or random teleport results.


9 Trying to avoid individual games, but New School puts a huge focus on the rules to keep things Fair and Balanced.

Which is really part of the overall lowered lethality and randomness. Being less powered is less of an issue when the random treasure table can decide to bless you, or the lethality is high enough that mechanical power is less relevant.

The issue of being Fair and Balanced is somewhat true though, but then you also get into ideas like "balance" in the sense of narrative control rather than ability to solve problems or impact the world.


10 It's rare to see a New School game challenge the players, as after all that is not fair. If you let the player attempt to solve something, you need to be ready if they don't do it, or fail. New School challenges the characters, as that is fair and balanced.

I think you're misunderstanding *the point*. The point of many of these new school games isn't to provide a challenge, it's to make a cool story. Again, judging new school games by their ability to provide a challenge is exactly the same error that "new school" folks make when they say that old-school games are bad because characters are "disposable" and it's "just a dungeon crawl". They don't *want* challenge. It's not why they're *there*. They're there to *collaboratively tell a story* in a way that old-school games really don't. (Which isn't to say that old-school games don't create stories, but they're more typically stories that are pieced together after the fact).

There's some local maxima going on in each of those, and decisions that build on each other. If there's no challenge in terms of "winning," the interest in the game has to come from somewhere, and so it comes from pushing the story in a particular direction, so detailed characters make sense. Similarly, if you have detailed characters, it doesn't make a lot of sense to kill them off "randomly".

Random encounters are the same way. They make sense in old-school games, where they either represent part of the cost of travel from point a to b - but in a more narrative/new-school game they don't make sense because they're not relevant to the plot.

Water_Bear
2012-08-28, 06:43 PM
Awesome, a thread where we can make definitions based on our uninformed preconceptions about games we don't play! My turn!

New School games never, ever, ever have death. Especially not from rolling dice. Ignore all HP systems and combat mechanics in games like FATE; they are dirty New School LIES!

Old School games were known for their incredibly well-thought-out puzzle design and the skill with which their dungeons were designed! Their published modules definitely didn't have arbitrary points at which the entire game grinds to a screeching halt while players probe rooms inch-by-inch for switch-plates or traps. Besides, what's more fun than hand-drawing maps of massive underground tunnel networks. Nothing, that's what.

New School gamers care too much about "logic" and "story continuity" and "drama" to really appreciate the allure of Old School gaming. Old School games are the true source of good roleplaying; after all, you'll play seven different characters every session, each one coincidentally the long-lost brother of the last. Nothing really engages you like having your character die before they are introduced to the rest of the party.

(I actually have a hearty respect for, and hope to play more of, more 'Old School' games like AD&D. But seriously, people, not everything is for you. Don't whine constantly about those damn kids, and you will be treated with the respect you deserve as hardcore tabletop gamers.)

crazyhedgewizrd
2012-08-28, 10:58 PM
Drinking game: each time the OP says something that implies oldschool style is The Only Right And Fun Way To Play A Game, or that newschool players are babies who hate when something bad happens to their characters and only play boring games, take a shot. If she says it outright, take two shots.

If i followed this game i would have a full bottle alcohol beside the computer covered in dust, but if i went with the opposite and went with people say how wrong gamer girl is, i would die from alcohol poisoning.

My own definition of old school is that the player doesn't get everything they want.

Drglenn
2012-08-28, 11:42 PM
My own definition of old school is that the player doesn't get everything they want.
So...every game ever then?

Ashdate
2012-08-28, 11:47 PM
I love when people say this: "Everything you say is wrong unless you have proof!''(I wonder if you get sited for that?) So I can't say anything unless what, I have like some notarized sworn statements from a wide selection of gamers? But why do I think that even if I did that you'd still not accept that and would add on more and more requirements to get to the end point of no one can ever know anything.

If you want to define what "old school" gaming is, then there is a certain burden of proof. Otherwise, you don't have a "definition". You have an "opinion". Which is fine! Opinions are great places to begin when trying to define something. But, opinions that are based off of study are better than opinions that are based off of personal experience.

Hence why I said earlier that if you want to create a definition, look at the history of the game(s) and try and tease out what about the original D&D might have encouraged "background light" characters, or more lethal games. 4e isn't less lethal than 2e because one is "old school" and the other is not; there are mathematical, as well as traditional reasons for the high lethality of D&D in the early days. People might still disagree with you, but at least you'll have something more solid to stand your argument/definition on (and I think people would reply more positively to you).

crazyhedgewizrd
2012-08-29, 12:14 AM
So...every game ever then?

I've notice a trend over the last decide or so, that DMs think that the way to have enjoyable game is to not allow player death, allow players to play a characters that doesn't fit into the game setting, access to the magi supermarket in every settlement and get rid of consequences on actions.

But players do need restrictions and that is when the DMs are suppose to say "NO".

Doorhandle
2012-08-29, 12:50 AM
...Right, dipping my toe into the can of worms here, buuuuut...

If I recall correctly, the old, 1st+2nd editions of D&D were based on a war-game that was adapted to the dungeon-crawls we now know today, and thus many of it's face sets (unnecessary back story, Killer DM, random generation, spells designed around dungeon crawling and not in a manner that would maintain the setting) were based around the assumptions of a competitive, tournament-like gameplay.

Also, another thing that I think defines a lot of old-school: baring any gaps where players look up or argue about the rules, combat is fairly quick and quite lethal, if not realistically so. Sure, you character will die in 3 rounds/ 18 seconds from being in melee-range with the tarrasque, but by our world's standards it's a miracle you survived the first swipe.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 01:08 AM
I've notice a trend over the last decide or so, that DMs think that the way to have enjoyable game is to not allow player death, allow players to play a characters that doesn't fit into the game setting, access to the magi supermarket in every settlement and get rid of consequences on actions.

But players do need restrictions and that is when the DMs are suppose to say "NO".

Cool. In literally every game I've been in or GMed for, players haven't got everything they wanted, which runs counter to your claim. I also haven't had the experience you're describing above occur in any of my games. I'm sorry that you've had negative experiences which cause you to make blanket claims, but I have not experienced what you're describing. So yeah, I'm with Drglenn on this one; Authoritatively stating that a a highly negative viewpoint (fueled solely by anecdote) is a truth probably isn't the best way to go about this.

When I'm running a modern system, I'll do what I think the group will find fun. Fun doesn't mean that the players always "get their way". Sometimes that means that the players gain access to loot, or that I'll set up a situation that lets them showcase their abilities. Sometimes that means that the party is eating level drains or Mage's Disjunctions. As has been said earlier in the thread, many modern systems are concerned more with narrative than with mechanics (all iterations of D&D are sort of the odd ones out here). Without having consequences, failure, or loss, one can't have drama in a narrative. Threats need to be legitimate, and if a player does something that's likely to get their character permanently killed, they're probably going to be rerolling. That doesn't mean that the death is completely random or unpredictable; death is modern games tends to be weightier, but it still occurs, as does every other kind of failure. Implying - or flat out stating - that modern games (or gamers) can't deal with failure is either misguided or insulting. In either case, it's incorrect; a more appropriate thing to say would be that modern games attach narrative weight to consequences, and most modern games won't cause massive consequences to a character without an in-game and in-story reason for it.

Doorhandle
2012-08-29, 01:23 AM
Cool. In literally every game I've been in or GMed for, players haven't got everything they wanted, which runs counter to your claim. I also haven't had the experience you're describing above occur in any of my games. I'm sorry that you've had negative experiences which cause you to make blanket claims, but I have not experienced what you're describing. So yeah, I'm with Drglenn on this one; Authoritatively stating that a a highly negative viewpoint fueled solely by anecdote as a truth probably isn't the best way to go about this.

I would disagree with 2 things you are opposing.
1. P.Cs will often play characters inappropriate for the setting. I would know, I AM that player.
2. Yes, players may not always get what they want but there I do agree that players and G.M alike should know that death and defeat is a part of the game.

Also, note that you particular experiences (or mine, or crazyhedgewizrd)'s will all be different, and not necessarily related to the general nature of the game as a whole.

Also, the magic-mart philosophy does not actually need a physical magic mart at as such: You would be alarmed at how many P.C have just tripped over or happened upon that magic item they always wanted. :smallbiggrin:

Menteith
2012-08-29, 01:32 AM
crazyhedgewizrd is making a claim that " (in) old school is that the player doesn't get everything they want." Logically following that claim, CHW is stating that in modern gaming, players do get everything that they want (otherwise, it would be illogical to apply a distinction between the two). While in the end, we are all going to rely on different anecdotes for evidence, I feel that CHW has a burden of proof, given that the claim made was all-encompassing. My statement stands;

"Authoritatively stating that a a highly negative viewpoint (fueled solely by anecdote) is a truth probably isn't the best way to go about this."

I think that a better way to state it would be....

Modern RPGs assign consequences generally for logical reasons, that make sense within the story being created. Older RPGs may also do this, but may additionally assign consequences to characters for entirely random reasons, that do not need to make sense within the story of the game.

TuggyNE
2012-08-29, 01:55 AM
One thing that is extremely important for this or any other even-handed definition topic to avoid is veiled moralizing: jabbing at some gaming practice you disagree with, by defining a "good" school of thought as lacking that practice, especially exaggerating the magnitude of what the "good" school avoids. For example, saying that "old school games don't let players run everything". Generally, this may be factually correct (because most old school games do not, in fact, let players run everything), but imply something both wrong and insulting (because new school games don't necessarily allow them to either, and because some posters may self-identify as new school). Finally, of course, the value judgement in question ("players should not run everything") needs to be examined in isolation, because there may not be consensus on that.

In short: don't define "old school" or "new school" as "what I play, unlike those idiots over there." OK?

Shoot Da Moon
2012-08-29, 06:35 AM
One silly thing I notice whenever someone brings up stuff to do with older versions of D&D is that it's some kind of "playstyle".

It isn't. Never was. Gygax and friends were never "shaping a genre", or trying to build a theme and mood around the mechanics, or anything.

It was, basically, Gygax and friends thought up mechanics for stuff, and put in stuff they liked. Appendix N (the actual one, not the one skimmed over by the nostaglic filter) was NOT supposed to be the least bit authoritative. It was a list of fiction that the authors read and used as inspiration for elements/plot points/references in the setting. The advice to go with it was not "read these stories, because they are the way to play this game". That advice was "read fiction that you like and incorporate elements you liked into your own games and settings".

Heck, look at some of the other RPGs in the "old school" era; Runequest, Traveller, Tunnels & Trolls, Top Secret...
Plenty of stuff from those games are "modern" by some arbitary definition, all before White Wolf came along.

Matthew
2012-08-29, 07:43 AM
One silly thing I notice whenever someone brings up stuff to do with older versions of D&D is that it's some kind of "playstyle".

It isn't. Never was. Gygax and friends were never "shaping a genre", or trying to build a theme and mood around the mechanics, or anything.

It was, basically, Gygax and friends thought up mechanics for stuff, and put in stuff they liked. Appendix N (the actual one, not the one skimmed over by the nostaglic filter) was NOT supposed to be the least bit authoritative. It was a list of fiction that the authors read and used as inspiration for elements/plot points/references in the setting. The advice to go with it was not "read these stories, because they are the way to play this game". That advice was "read fiction that you like and incorporate elements you liked into your own games and settings".

Heck, look at some of the other RPGs in the "old school" era; Runequest, Traveller, Tunnels & Trolls, Top Secret...
Plenty of stuff from those games are "modern" by some arbitrary definition, all before White Wolf came along.

I think that is an overgenerous view of Gygax and company. Certainly by 1979 and Appendix N Gygax had a very definite view of what influences should be paramount. He was pretty vocal about it in Dragon, it was largely his ammunition for fending off people who wanted to "fix" D&D.

Zombimode
2012-08-29, 07:50 AM
If I recall correctly, the old, 1st+2nd editions of D&D were based on a war-game that was adapted to the dungeon-crawls we now know today, and thus many of it's face sets (unnecessary back story, Killer DM, random generation, spells designed around dungeon crawling and not in a manner that would maintain the setting) were based around the assumptions of a competitive, tournament-like gameplay.

Seeing that AD&Ds spell list, at least for 2e, is largely equal to 3e spell list, and there were LOTS of spells rather useless for dungeon crawling; considering that many 2e modules were much more focused on storytelling than pretty much every 3e module; also considering that setting material was 95% fluff... I think your statement is gravely misinformed, at least regarding AD&D 2e.

Shoot Da Moon
2012-08-29, 12:29 PM
I think that is an overgenerous view of Gygax and company. Certainly by 1979 and Appendix N Gygax had a very definite view of what influences should be paramount. He was pretty vocal about it in Dragon, it was largely his ammunition for fending off people who wanted to "fix" D&D.

"Fix D&D"?

How was he against that? Isn't one of the general conceits of pretty much every tabletop RPG usually that an individual group can tweak it's mechanics or fluff to some extent? Since the first printing of 1e, in fact? Or do you mean something else by that?

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 12:50 PM
That doesn't mean that the death is completely random or unpredictable; death is modern games tends to be weightier, but it still occurs, as does every other kind of failure.

Heck, I'd argue that non-death failure is more common in modern games than old-school games. Most modern games have better rules around non-death failure than old-school games did.


and most modern games won't cause massive consequences to a character without an in-game and in-story reason for it.

Actually, I'd also think that there's a fundamental difference between "old-school" and "new-school" games that you've hit on without meaning to call out.

Having an "in-story" reason for doing something really doesn't happen in true old-school games. It's simply not a factor in decision-making. Things are done in old-school games for one of two reasons, typically: They make sense in the game world, or they make for good gameplay. Story is kind of what you cobble together from events after the fact.

There's kind of a drift (avoiding the word progression because I do not want to imply a value judgement here) in how story is treated over the course of RPG history. In the early days, it was kind of cobbling together the events after the fact. Then it became something the DM kind of dropped on the players, DragonLance probably being the most well-known example of that. I actually think that was part of the "dark period" of RPGs, as the idea of avoiding player death, and having a predefined story really led to a total death of player agency.

Modern games are kind of a reaction to that, in that they solve the agency problem not by reverting to the old-school gameplay, but by making "the story" more collaborative and giving more authorial power to the players, as well as increasing the fidelity of non-combat conflict and non-death consequences.

BTW, I think these three approaches to story are what Ron Edwards meant by "Story After," "Story First," and "Story Now". I prefer to call these Hey, we told a story!, Let me tell you a story/Tell me a story and Let's make a story!, respectively.


One silly thing I notice whenever someone brings up stuff to do with older versions of D&D is that it's some kind of "playstyle".


I find this statement rather silly. From experience, old-school games had very different agendas, reasons to play, and styles than "modern" games. Read the link I put on the first page, and compare that to a Let's Play of just about any modern-ish game, and tell me that they aren't pretty divergent. And I'm not claiming that this was intended or "designed" in any strong way, just that the type of game that Gygax and Co. wanted to play and the goals they had were different.

I mean, heck, look at the Dresden Files RPG for instance - its advice on setting up a game (creating the city) and plot (interacting characters, etc.) is pretty much unrecognizable from the way you'd set up an old-school D&D game (make a dungeon). This shows the incredibly divergent goals of each of those systems... and "playstyle" is something that's even bigger than system, as a given system can support multiple "playstyles", even if it's heavily optimized for one.

Grundy
2012-08-29, 02:06 PM
... I think these three approaches to story are what Ron Edwards meant by "Story After," "Story First," and "Story Now". I prefer to call these Hey, we told a story!, Let me tell you a story/Tell me a story and Let's make a story!, respectively...

This is the biggest difference I get between old school and modern. I'm glad you said it, because I couldn't say it better. It also leads to how characters are made. IME, old school characters don't need much backstory, because it's what happens in the game that's important. In what I've seen of the modern style, it seems like it's the character that's important- so backstory has almost as much weight as anything that happens afterwards.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 02:22 PM
I think this is a bit of a misconception. I think it's more accurate to say that "new school" games are more *about* the web of characters and drama, and less about the challenge of "beating the dungeon".


It's what I said: Old School you challenge the players, New School your creating a story with them.




I think you're misunderstanding *the point*. The point of many of these new school games isn't to provide a challenge, it's to make a cool story. Again, judging new school games by their ability to provide a challenge is exactly the same error that "new school" folks make when they say that old-school games are bad because characters are "disposable" and it's "just a dungeon crawl". They don't *want* challenge. It's not why they're *there*. They're there to *collaboratively tell a story* in a way that old-school games really don't. (Which isn't to say that old-school games don't create stories, but they're more typically stories that are pieced together after the fact).

I agree. In Old School the 'game' part was the challenges. In New School the 'game' part...well it not really part of a game and would be more accurate to call it a 'story' part and the shared story. I understand that New School games don't want a challenge, that is a big thing that separates the two types of games.

But guess I can't say too much more here:smalleek: as I'm walking the plank as it is (sure hope that guy with the blue post above is with me and that making your post a magic blue does not allow you to break the rules).

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 02:22 PM
In what I've seen of the modern style, it seems like it's the character that's important- so backstory has almost as much weight as anything that happens afterwards.

Yeah, look at something like The Dresden Files RPG or Burning Wheel for good examples of narrative-focused games.

One of the key turning points was discussing Burning Wheel with someone that gets it far more than I. We were talking about why character traits (which are pretty universally negative) are purchased with the same points as positive traits (that help you). My initial stance was "well, because you use them to generate Fate points." He disagreed, and his point was more along the lines of "power in a narrative game is judged by your ability to shape the narrative, not your ability to overcome obstacles. Both 'negative' and 'positive' traits can shape the narrative equally."

Since I come from a much more old-school thought process, that was a bit of a revelation. I'm trying to get into new-school games more to understand the process, and I think they're a good evolution from the DragonLance style "adventure paths" where the party is on railroads. I'm still cool with really old-school games, though. Using my terminology above, I can deal with (in terms of story) either Hey, we made a story! or Let's make a story!. On the other hand, Let me tell you a story/Tell me a story bores the heck out of me due to the lack of player agency. (Note: That's a personal preference. I'm sure lots of people like that style of game).

Menteith
2012-08-29, 02:51 PM
I understand that New School games don't want a challenge, that is a big thing that separates the two types of games.

I disagree with the notion that modern games aren't designed to challenge players; there are always obstacles to overcome, and threats that need to be dealt with. As I've said above, I have no problems with throwing challenging, complicated situations at players, and imposing serious consequences upon them based on how the situation turns out. I feel like there's a better way to phrase this.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 03:05 PM
I disagree with the notion that modern games aren't designed to challenge players; there are always obstacles to overcome, and threats that need to be dealt with. As I've said above, I have no problems with throwing challenging, complicated situations at players, and imposing serious consequences upon them based on how the situation turns out. I feel like there's a better way to phrase this.

I agree that we should try to discuss this using value-neutral tones whenever possible.

There's something of a reality, though, that while consequences can be imposed, some "modern" games basically won't let the players "lose". I've seen people on this board advocating that characters should never die without the player's express consent and collaboration, which is a more extreme stance, mechanically, than even many of the more narrative systems take.

EDIT: It's also understandable, given the different goals, and types of investment. It'd probably be fair to start by defining some level of "win conditions" or goals for the various types of games, as "losing" or "consequences" can really only be evaluated by comparing them to the expected/ideal result.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 03:17 PM
So lets define what "challenging" is, then. I don't see a dungeon crawl from AD&D as more "challenging" than successfully tracking down and confronting a White Court agent in a random city with DFRPG. Both can ask for different things from the player, but neither one of them is inherently "harder" to do than the other one. The post I quoted seems to be saying that it is intrinsically more difficult to play in an older system. Unless that's the claim being made, a different word should be used.

This isn't a issue of using value-neutral terms (though I'd also agree with you that we should stick to them); I honestly don't believe that "challenging" is the correct term to use in this situation.

Mystic Muse
2012-08-29, 03:21 PM
4 I don't see randomness much in New School.....most New School games are more like movies: you know the main characters won't die(did anyone think a single Avenger was going to die in the movie..of course not!) Only the Red Shirts have to fear for their life(three main cast members and 'Guy Smith' enter a dangerous place...guess who will die...lol)


I've been playing in a campaign with this one group of mine for about 3-ish years. We've switched off between Mutants and Masterminds, 4th edition, and Pathfinder several times in that time. In that time, I have died at least a dozen times, and everybody in the group (Except for one guy who always seemed to get lucky, and ran away at the right time all the time), has died at least once.

When I run games, I don't pull punches, and I've killed the entire party several times as a DM.

Roland St. Jude
2012-08-29, 03:29 PM
Sheriff: One thread per topic, please. Threads merged.

Also, I predict this thread involves or will involve insulting others based on playstyle. Please don't do that.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 03:57 PM
So lets define what "challenging" is, then.

Challenging to a player and challenging to a character are different things.

Challenging to a player is a matter of, given the available options, the difficulty of picking an effective one, combined with the margin of error (how close to optimal the choices need to be) and the severity of consequences (how bad messing up hurts). (this is kind of my overall theory of game design. There's a few other bits in there, but the actual physical difficulty of execution is usually irrelevant, and I'm rolling "outguessing your opponent" and "analyzing the available options" together for simplicity, since in most RPGs "outguessing your opponent" is also somewhat minimized - Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard being notable exceptions)

Challenging to a character is a matter of the difficulty of the skill rolls compared to the character's mechanical abilities.

(this is just from a mechanical standpoint, btw. I'd argue that you can have games that are "emotionally challenging" even though they have little or no mechanics behind them. Penny For My Thoughts springs to mind.)


I don't see a dungeon crawl from AD&D as more "challenging" than successfully tracking down and confronting a White Court agent in a random city with DFRPG. Both can ask for different things from the player, but neither one of them is inherently "harder" to do than the other one.

Well those are kind of meta-tasks, and can be "hard" or "easy". They're both kind of fictional constructs, not actual gameplay constructs - IOW, I don't know what kinds of decisions the player is being asked to make for each scenario based just on what you've said. I'd probably ask "how obvious is it what the player should do", "how badly can the player screw up before 'losing'" and "what are the consequences of 'losing'" to really say how challenging they are.

Let's use DFRPG as a basis then. I haven't played it, but have read it, so my understanding may be a bit off.

Yes, you can die in DFRPG. To do so requires (beyond the damage mechanics) two things to happen:

1) The player either doesn't offer a concession, or offers one and the GM declines (what a jerk!)
2) The GM decides that the result of taking the character out is death - which is completely unnecessary within the system mechanically.

In D&D, it requires a bad crit. It's even easier in older versions.

That's about severity of consequences on the personal level, though on the plot level it can vary. But in most narrative games, the presumption is that "failure" at a node creates complications, *not* out-and-out TPK. The fact that TPK isn't really, mechanically, an expected event drops the worst of the consequences, and removes some of the most extreme challenge.

I've often used Skyrim vs. Nethack as an example of "new school" vs. "old school", for much the same reason. An individual fight in Skyrim may be as hard or harder than anything in Nethack, but the severity of consequences (permadeath) makes Nethack, on the whole, harder.

And, of course, this is all as much about playstyle as anything else. You *can* play a harsh game with DFRPG. You can play a less harsh game with AD&D 1e. But in both cases, you have to fight the system a bit.

So let's take the "hunt down the White Court vamp" scenario in both a new school and old-school mentality. If I was running it in a new school fashion, and the players failed, the result would be an additional complication or twist. Using DFRPG, maybe something would happen to let me Compel one of their Aspects to get them to go somewhere they didn't want to go, something like that. Since the goal is "telling a story," it's going to twist the way the story goes, which may not be the way the players want it to go.

If I was running an old-school campaign, then whatever the WCV wanted to do would happen. If getting away happened to result in a combat (and let's face it, that's more likely since most old-school games were kind of weak on non-combat conflict resolution), then there'd be a good chance that if they failed, one or more characters may end up dead.

Of course, we're talking about the consequences of failure alone in this, I'm not even getting into what does the player do/what decisions does the player have to make?

One could also argue that the crunchier the system, the larger the decision space to be explored and thus the "harder" the game. I'm not making that argument because:

a) poor game design often means that even in crunchier systems, one strategy effectively dominates all others, making the game effectively very simple, while it's easier to avoid this with simpler games
b) old D&D versions weren't particularly complex, and yet were relatively "hard". Heck, I'd argue that Basic D&D is mechanically simpler than DFRPG.

Again, I'd like to point out that I'm not dissing new school games. I like 'em. What I don't like is using old-school rules for narrative games, because they're just not suited to consequences beyond "everyone dies".

EDIT: I also don't think it's bad to say that new school games can be less challenging than old-school games. I certain would agree that new-school games offer a richer storytelling experience than old-school games. I also don't go so far as to say "new-school players are uninterested in being challenged", because that's a bit crazy, unfounded, and frankly insulting.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 04:14 PM
The consequences for failure don't change the difficulty of a task. It is easier to play Chopsticks with a gun to my head than it is to play Gaspard Le Nuit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBgwk98ZPuI) with nothing on the line. Additionally, the consequences for death are different; dying in a modern game is very different than dying in older systems. When a player can reroll and have a new character within minutes, death carries a different weight. Generally speaking, death in modern games is a much more serious consequence than it is in older systems because of the emphasis on character. Death in older games is a lesser consequence than death in modern games, which is why alternate consequences (such as permanently changing a character's Aspects after a horrifying injury in DFRPG) exist.

There are also plenty of modern systems that are very lethal, even compared to older RPGs. Even powerful characters in systems like Vampire the Masquerade can be dropped by a .50 caliber round to the head, with a single bad dodge/soak roll. 3.5 Edition's high level play is called "Rocket Tag" for a reason.

I believe that older RPGs lacked the means to simulate consequences beyond death effectively, and relied on death as a primary consequence for failure. Given its frequency, death itself couldn't end the game - which is why multiple characters, easy rerolling, and a short/nonexistent back-story made sense in those systems. Later systems learned to treat death a more serious consequence, and developed other consequences to represent different degrees of failure. There is less death in modern systems, but I would say the challenge has not changed in anything but name.

EDIT


I also don't think it's bad to say that new school games can be less challenging than old-school games.

Emphasis mine. I'd follow up by saying that modern games can easily be more challenging than older systems, and that I don't believe a challenging/non-challenging distinction exists between modern gaming and older gaming. Otherwise, I'd agree with that.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 04:47 PM
The consequences for failure don't change the difficulty of a task.

I disagree entirely. For instance, would you say that Diablo 2 is no more difficult on Hardcore mode than Normal? I'd dispute that, and bet that a far smaller percentage of players manage to beat the game (even on normal difficulty) on Hardcore.


It is easier to play Chopsticks with a gun to my head than it is to play Gaspard Le Nuit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBgwk98ZPuI) with nothing on the line.

I think we're disagreeing on the definition of "hard" here. To complete your analogy, I think I'd frame it as such:

Given two people that have never played piano before, which person is more likely to eventually succeed at playing their piece proficiently?

a) A person whose piece is "Chopsticks", but who will be shot in the head if they fail even once.
b) A person whose piece is "Gaspard Le Nuit", but who has no consequence of failure?

(You're also changing two variables at once!)


Additionally, the consequences for death are different; dying in a modern game is very different than dying in older systems. When a player can reroll and have a new character within minutes, death carries a different weight.

Yes. Totally agreed. The cost of character creation in RPGs is at lesat partially a function of the lethality of the system. I'd totally agree with this.


Generally speaking, death in modern games is a much more serious consequence than it is in older systems because of the emphasis on character. Death in older games is a lesser consequence than death in modern games, which is why alternate consequences (such as permanently changing a character's Aspects after a horrifying injury in DFRPG) exist.

Er, not so sure I'd agree with this. In longer campaigns, when death could mean losing months or years of character development and advancement, death was a *big* deal. Though to be fair, it got somewhat easier to "cheat" death, at least a few times, after a while in older systems.

I do agree with the idea of non-death consequences, though pre-3e D&D did include those as wel (stat/level loss, imperfect resurrection (reincarnation)), etc.


There are also plenty of modern systems that are very lethal, even compared to older RPGs. Even powerful characters in systems like Vampire the Masquerade can be dropped by a .50 caliber round to the head, with a single bad dodge/soak roll. 3.5 Edition's high level play is called "Rocket Tag" for a reason.

True, but it's as much about intent as mechanics anyway. How often do V:tM characters have to contend with .50 cals anyway? Not often, I'd bet, because that level of lethality is not the intended playstyle.

And 3.x is a weird beast, as it sits with one foot in new and old school, IMHO.


I believe that older RPGs lacked the means to simulate consequences beyond death effectively, and relied on death as a primary consequence for failure. Given its frequency, death itself couldn't end the game - which is why multiple characters, easy rerolling, and a short/nonexistent back-story made sense in those systems.

Again, older D&D versions did have things like level and stat loss, which were harsh-but-not-death. I do believe that it's a design choice, primarily, and not a design failure. IOW, I'm pretty sure that if Gygax and co. had wanted more non-death type consequences, they could have written the game as such.


Later systems learned to treat death a more serious consequence, and developed other consequences to represent different degrees of failure. There is less death in modern systems, but I would say the challenge has not changed in anything but name.

Well, I think my piano example suggests a reasonable heuristic for "challenge" - specifically, what is the likelihood that a player will "not lose" at the overall scenario in the game?

Another question, and please take this as honest and not aggressive - what are the "hard decisions" that players make in DFRPG?

Howler Dagger
2012-08-29, 04:49 PM
I love when people say this: "Everything you say is wrong unless you have proof!''(I wonder if you get sited for that?) So I can't say anything unless what, I have like some notarized sworn statements from a wide selection of gamers? But why do I think that even if I did that you'd still not accept that and would add on more and more requirements to get to the end point of no one can ever know anything.


Even though I don't have proof, I KNOW that Gary Gygax was actually part of a secret clan of unicorn riders. Like you, I don't have sworn statements from the SURC, but proof is for people who don't believe in THE TRUTH!

Sarcasm aside, I believe that terms like 'Old School Gaming' only exist to ridicule other playstyles, because they aren't exactly the same. People have different playstyles, and you shouldn't try to classify some under terms that are very often used to insult other playstyles.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 05:13 PM
Well, I think my piano example suggests a reasonable heuristic for "challenge" - specifically, what is the likelihood that a player will "not lose" at the overall scenario in the game?

Another question, and please take this as honest and not aggressive - what are the "hard decisions" that players make in DFRPG?

In a situation with no consequence for failure, the individual who has an infinite amount of time is more likely to succeed at playing the piece. However, in a situation where the are lesser consequences than death for each failure to correctly perform the more difficult piece, the player most likely to succeed or fail may change. In some cases, it may be easier to complete an easy task with a single try than it would be to complete a very difficult task with many tries. Regardless, it was a bad example, as it lends itself to the idea that modern gaming is more complex than older gaming, which is not the point I wanted to make.

Hard decisions that occurred within the last DFRPG campaign we were in (which was based on the idea that a creature that can best be described as Slenderman with a Wendigo flavor was a Wyldfae associated with Winter stalking and killing minor talents aka "the group"). Off the top of my head, here's some stuff we had to deal with in a single session;

- Whether or not to break the First, Third, and Fourth Law (go team Warlock!) in order to protect oneself from insane cultists/gain the information needed to survive, knowing that it's pretty much a death sentence to do so (for anyone who needs context, in DF Universe, specific laws that are partially intrinsic to magic itself/partly enforced by the most powerful Wizards exist, and if you break them, either the Wardens will track you down and kill you, or your mind will break from the corruption inherent in Lawbreaking);

- Is entering a lopsided compact with Summer Fae safer than getting eviscerated (This would be pretty much the definition of a Faustian Bargain, temporary power and safety in exchange for one's soul/life);

- Should one should permanently break one's own mind in order to power a ritual to protect others (One can choose to take on Consequences in order to power-up magic, and the more severe the consequence, the more juice one gets in exchange);

- If it would put an entire hospital at risk, should one get those deep lacerations treated or just accept the dubious care of the group (no one had a decent medical skill....that character ended up losing a leg because of it).

EDIT
For the record, we ended up having only 2/5 characters survive that campaign with both their free will and sanity. One person died, one person is now a vassal of Summer, one person broke too many laws and is now a twisted, insane warlock seeking the destruction of all Wyldfae at any cost.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 05:32 PM
In a situation with no consequence for failure, the individual who has an infinite amount of time is more likely to succeed at playing the piece. However, in a situation where the are lesser consequences than death for each failure to correctly perform the more difficult piece, the player most likely to succeed or fail may change. In some cases, it may be easier to complete an easy task with a single try than it would be to complete a very difficult task with many tries. Regardless, it was a bad example, as it lends itself to the idea that modern gaming is more complex than older gaming, which is not the point I wanted to make.

Indeed, it's not an argument I was actually making either. You'll notice I actually suggested that older games may have even been simpler, mechanically, than many new games.



For the record, we ended up having only 2/5 characters survive that campaign with both their free will and sanity. One person died, one person is now a vassal of Summer, one person broke too many laws and is now a twisted, insane warlock seeking the destruction of all Wyldfae at any cost.

Sounds like an awesome game, and not just because 60% of your party got borked :) The kinds of hard decisions you mentioned are very cool to me, and what I see as being the strenght of the more narrative-styled games.

I'm also big on the idea, especially in more narrative games, of games being *emotionally* hard. Burning Wheel kind of pushes this, it seems like FATE does in general, and it's a pretty cool idea, and totally makes sense if making a story/narrative is a primary goal of the game.



Sarcasm aside, I believe that terms like 'Old School Gaming' only exist to ridicule other playstyles, because they aren't exactly the same. People have different playstyles, and you shouldn't try to classify some under terms that are very often used to insult other playstyles.

On the contrary, I think Menteith and I are having a very good, and useful discussion.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 05:51 PM
On the contrary, I think Menteith and I are having a very good, and useful discussion.

I'm certainly enjoying it.

Out of curiosity, what's your take on some of the modern board games that exist? I'm looking at systems like Arkham Horror or Talisman which successfully incorporate design elements similar to those of older RPGs. Both of these games randomly give players a single character they maintain control over who advances in power & is highly subject to the dice (but still allows for player input), are tightly focused on completing a specific objective (which can be a different objective in different sessions), and are tightly bounded by elements that exist only within the game mechanics. Do you feel that this style of board game is attempting to channel older RPGs, or am I imagining things?

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 06:01 PM
I'm certainly enjoying it.

Out of curiosity, what's your take on some of the modern board games that exist? I'm looking at systems like Arkham Horror or Talisman which successfully incorporate design elements similar to those of older RPGs. Both of these games randomly give players a single character they maintain control over who advances in power & is highly subject to the dice (but still allows for player input), are tightly focused on completing a specific objective (which can be a different objective in different sessions), and are tightly bounded by elements that exist only within the game mechanics. Do you feel that this style of board game is attempting to channel older RPGs, or am I imagining things?

Well, Talisman dates back to '83...

But I think they're somewhat similar, the primary difference being the far more structured resolution rules and the aspect of exploration.

Did you read the post I made earlier in the thread, out of curiosity?

Menteith
2012-08-29, 06:05 PM
Well, Talisman dates back to '83...

But I think they're somewhat similar, the primary difference being the far more structured resolution rules and the aspect of exploration.

Did you read the post I made earlier in the thread, out of curiosity?

The original post you made (#20), or the Luke Crane essay?

And that shows what I know about Talisman. My first experience with it was when our group picked up a version of it awhile ago while we were between campaigns, and had a blast with it. We generally will break it (or Arkham Horror, or Betrayal at House on the Hill, or a similar system) out whenever it's "game day" but we aren't running a campaign. The ability to just pick up a game and go is something really attractive to us when we're not in the mood to spend a hours getting characters and a full campaign together for a modern RPG. From what I understand, that's another positive trait about older modules.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 06:12 PM
Sarcasm aside, I believe that terms like 'Old School Gaming' only exist to ridicule other playstyles, because they aren't exactly the same. People have different playstyles, and you shouldn't try to classify some under terms that are very often used to insult other playstyles.

I think terms are very useful. I'm a DM and I run an Old School game. So just knowing that you should know that I don't care about what the rules say or what any official word is on the rules, that the game will be deadly to you character at all times(your character might stop at a water fountain and be killed), that the game will be unfair and unbalanced and that the game will be made to challenge you the player and not your character. So, if you sign up for a game with me, you know what your getting in to.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 06:24 PM
The original post you made (#20), or the Luke Crane essay?

The Luke Crane essay.


The ability to just pick up a game and go is something really attractive to us when we're not in the mood to spend a hours getting characters and a full campaign together for a modern RPG. From what I understand, that's another positive trait about older modules.

I think that was a lot of the appeal of certain old school campaigns, in that they were very resilient to player churn, and were easy to just pick up at a moment. That's almost certainly where you got things like Undermountain in Forgotten Realms - I'd bet quite a bit that Forgotten Realms started as nothing more than Waterdeep and Undermountain, and spread out from there.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 06:35 PM
The Luke Crane essay.

I have read the essay before (I feel like it was posted by you in a different thread), and after re-reading it, my viewpoint hasn't really changed. Are you looking for my personal opinion on older systems?

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 06:43 PM
I have read the essay before (I feel like it was posted by you in a different thread), and after re-reading it, my viewpoint hasn't really changed. Are you looking for my personal opinion on older systems?

Okay, cool, and I do tend to repost it in most "old-school" threads just because I think it's a pretty clear look at what a lot of "old-school" gaming is, and it doesn't come from someone with a bias in favor of old-school games... BW is pretty heavily in the narrative camp, after all.

It's just easier if there's at least some level of common ground and understanding. I think we've been able to communicate because we each have some knowledge of new/old school, and so aren't judging solely based on our own ignorance.

Howler Dagger
2012-08-29, 06:58 PM
I think terms are very useful. I'm a DM and I run an Old School game. So just knowing that you should know that I don't care about what the rules say or what any official word is on the rules, that the game will be deadly to you character at all times(your character might stop at a water fountain and be killed), that the game will be unfair and unbalanced and that the game will be made to challenge you the player and not your character. So, if you sign up for a game with me, you know what your getting in to.

Sure, but Old school gaming means many different things to many different people, and you can't expect people to know the exact same definition as you. Also, many newer players don't even know what it means. So they see it as an excuse when you kill off their characters.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 06:58 PM
I believe I have a reasonable understanding of what older RPGs (generally speaking, pre-3.0 Editions of D&D) were about. It's just not as attractive to me as modern games. Though I do enjoy 3.5, and recognize that it's an odd duck with regards to game design, with elements that are shared with older editions, and elements that are unique. It's not nearly as effective at delivering a narrative heavy game as most modern games, but from what I've experienced, it still invests a player into a single character. It is both highly technical and subject to DM fiat. I think the reason I find it so attractive is simply because there's so much of it that I can create almost anything and run almost any campaign using 3.5's rules.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 07:19 PM
I believe I have a reasonable understanding of what older RPGs (generally speaking, pre-3.0 Editions of D&D) were about. It's just not as attractive to me as modern games.

Sounds like it, and I can respect that opinion :)

Knaight
2012-08-29, 07:27 PM
I've notice a trend over the last decide or so, that DMs think that the way to have enjoyable game is to not allow player death, allow players to play a characters that doesn't fit into the game setting, access to the magi supermarket in every settlement and get rid of consequences on actions.

But players do need restrictions and that is when the DMs are suppose to say "NO".

This doesn't even make sense for a whole host of games, and appears to be a comment on modern D&D and absolutely nothing else. Modern D&D is not representative of newer games, and if anything can be considered a relic of the past (It has hit points and levels, which have been retro since the mid 1980's).


Sure, but Old school gaming means many different things to many different people, and you can't expect people to know the exact same definition as you.
That would be the entire point of the thread (as I understand it, it was also the entire point of both threads prior to the merge). As of now, it means too many things to too many people to be useful, so lets try to work out a few principles that genuinely are different, that don't collapse like a house of cards under criticism, and that can be used to evaluate games/playstyles/whatever. Basically, we don't have a coherent definition yet, and this thread is an attempt (or two attempts) to move in that direction. Actually making a truly coherent definition isn't happening, but we can at least narrow it down.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 08:22 PM
Sure, but Old school gaming means many different things to many different people, and you can't expect people to know the exact same definition as you. Also, many newer players don't even know what it means. So they see it as an excuse when you kill off their characters.

The whole point of the thread was to define Old School as a type of game philosophy without talking about individual games, the decade(s) or nostalgia.


That would be the entire point of the thread (as I understand it, it was also the entire point of both threads prior to the merge). As of now, it means too many things to too many people to be useful, so lets try to work out a few principles that genuinely are different, that don't collapse like a house of cards under criticism, and that can be used to evaluate games/playstyles/whatever. Basically, we don't have a coherent definition yet, and this thread is an attempt (or two attempts) to move in that direction. Actually making a truly coherent definition isn't happening, but we can at least narrow it down.

That was the point of my ten list. Ten things that are most common in an Old School type game, while being generic as possible. For example: Old School does not care about the published rules at all and the GM can say whatever they want and it's official. The GM says X and Y happens and that is final, is a good example of Old School gaming. Old School is Unfair and Unbalanced; you walk into a cave and see your worst nightmare and you can't use any kind of 'game rule' to say that should not happen.

My ten list were the things you would find almost exclusively in an Old School game, and rarely or never in a New School game. Sure there will always be a bit of cross over, but lets not worry about that 10% and focus on the 90%. Very, very few New School type games have random character death...but it's not unheard of, but it's common in Old School.

Random Old School Example(Character Death, Randomness): Once upon a time a group of evil folks were attempting to sneak into an evil overlords castle and take him out. They were crossing a mountain pass to get around a guard post and had to climb across a rope over a deep gorge. One by one, each of the seven characters failed their rolls horrible and each of them plunged to their deaths. And it was sudden and quick, in just two minutes the whole group was dead.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 08:49 PM
Instead of coming up with specific rules that will inevitably have exceptions given the wide range of modern RPGs, I feel that defining the reasons one plays an older RPG over a modern one is more telling. Gamer Girl, when you sit down to play/DM, why do you personally do it?

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 09:09 PM
Instead of coming up with specific rules that will inevitably have exceptions given the wide range of modern RPGs, I feel that defining the reasons one plays an older RPG over a modern one is more telling. Gamer Girl, when you sit down to play/DM, why do you personally do it?

To have fun. That was a very short discussion.:smallamused:

My Ultimate: What I love about role-playing and Old School Role playing in particular is that anything can happen. In a world ruled by the media rules of entertainment, role-playing is the only place you can find this. For Example:You will never watch a movie called Captain America where cap is shot in the head and dies (for hardcore real, not Hollywood fake real). Batman will never swing off a building, miss, and fall and splat on the pavement. And so on. But that type of stuff happens in an Old Scroll role playing game. And I love to watch that unfold.


Old School Example #2(Unfairness, Challenge to the players) Another direct game example. While at a watering hole, the characters unwisely left their mounts unguarded. They returned to find them gone. They were on a time sensitive mission, so they had to continue with all most no equipment. Several characters were quite handicapped as they did not have key, important equipment.

Knaight
2012-08-29, 09:29 PM
To have fun. That was a very short discussion.:smallamused:

My Ultimate: What I love about role-playing and Old School Role playing in particular is that anything can happen. In a world ruled by the media rules of entertainment, role-playing is the only place you can find this. For Example:You will never watch a movie called Captain America where cap is shot in the head and dies (for hardcore real, not Hollywood fake real). Batman will never swing off a building, miss, and fall and splat on the pavement. And so on. But that type of stuff happens in an Old Scroll role playing game. And I love to watch that unfold.


Old School Example #2(Unfairness, Challenge to the players) Another direct game example. While at a watering hole, the characters unwisely left their mounts unguarded. They returned to find them gone. They were on a time sensitive mission, so they had to continue with all most no equipment. Several characters were quite handicapped as they did not have key, important equipment.
Neither of these are restricted to old school games, and I don't see how the second is unfair or a challenge to the players at all. They left a gigantic opening, it got exploited completely fairly. "Your horses all happen to die at once to some disease, in an area which isn't disease heavy, while they are all well fed and getting plenty of rest" would be unfair, their horses being stolen/eaten/whatever isn't.

Your main point is practically universal. Why do you think railroading tends to be so harshly condemned in newer games? It's because of what it does to the game, where before it was something that could grow and expand and have new stuff emerge due to everyone involved, and after railroading it's a story that the players are participating in with stunted growth and expansion and minimal involvement.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 09:39 PM
Neither of these are restricted to old school games, and I don't see how the second is unfair or a challenge to the players at all. They left a gigantic opening, it got exploited completely fairly. "Your horses all happen to die at once to some disease, in an area which isn't disease heavy, while they are all well fed and getting plenty of rest" would be unfair, their horses being stolen/eaten/whatever isn't.

Your main point is practically universal. Why do you think railroading tends to be so harshly condemned in newer games? It's because of what it does to the game, where before it was something that could grow and expand and have new stuff emerge due to everyone involved, and after railroading it's a story that the players are participating in with stunted growth and expansion and minimal involvement.

Well, going by the couple hundred New School games I've seen and the the couple dozen New School DM's I know, they would never 'just have something bad' happen to the characters at random, and would never, ever remove vital equipment. That player that has spent weeks making the perfect sniper build character has to have his sniper rifle to have fun. So even if the whole groups equipment falls into a black hole, the snipers gun ''oh, will be caught on a nearby asteroid.''

And it's Unfair to effect the characters in bad ways. Such as having things stolen from them and not giving them a chance to do anything.

Railroading is not New or Old School, as both can do it, or not do it equally.


Old School Example #3(Death, Unfairness) Just seven minutes into the game, John's character is hit by a randomly encountered bandits arrow and dies. The end.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 09:41 PM
My Ultimate: What I love about role-playing and Old School Role playing in particular is that anything can happen. In a world ruled by the media rules of entertainment, role-playing is the only place you can find this. For Example:You will never watch a movie called Captain America where cap is shot in the head and dies (for hardcore real, not Hollywood fake real). Batman will never swing off a building, miss, and fall and splat on the pavement. And so on. But that type of stuff happens in an Old Scroll role playing game. And I love to watch that unfold.

I'll simply repost what I've already said (this is from a Dresden Files RPG story);

"For the record, we ended up having only 2/5 characters survive that campaign with both their free will and sanity. One person died, one person is now a vassal of Summer, one person broke too many laws and is now a twisted, insane warlock seeking the destruction of all Wyldfae at any cost."

Serious consequences and bad things in general can easily occur within a newer system. That's not the sole province of older systems. Though I'd agree that players generally have more say into their fate and I'd agree that a GM (if they're even used in the system) is less antagonistic than in older games.

Knaight
2012-08-29, 09:56 PM
Well, going by the couple hundred New School games I've seen and the the couple dozen New School DM's I know, they would never 'just have something bad' happen to the characters at random, and would never, ever remove vital equipment. That player that has spent weeks making the perfect sniper build character has to have his sniper rifle to have fun. So even if the whole groups equipment falls into a black hole, the snipers gun ''oh, will be caught on a nearby asteroid.''

And it's Unfair to effect the characters in bad ways. Such as having things stolen from them and not giving them a chance to do anything.

Railroading is not New or Old School, as both can do it, or not do it equally.
You seem to be mistaking modern D&D for the entirety of modern gaming. The whole "vital equipment" concept is a relic of it - I can't think of a single other system where there are items that cost more then a resurrection, or where items are so tied into the character capabilities. Fluid item tracking where the exact details aren't tracked, things come and go, and maybe one character has a significant item that they have sunk resources into (the sort of thing that actually would happen to get caught on a nearby asteroid in the literature) is a norm, in the sort of systems that really track items at all.

As for railroading - I'd posit that it is, to some extent old school. The tools exist to do it in an old school game in a much bigger way. You yourself have said the GM is god, and when that assumption breaks down the GM might not even be capable of railroading if they want to. That said, you're arguing against a point that didn't actually exist in that post - I never said old school games had railroading in it, merely that it is strenuously opposed, which indicates that the capacity for variety is very much a part of newer games. If variety wasn't valued, railroading wouldn't be opposed nearly as strenuously.

I'm also not sure where randomness really comes in with the horses. They were no more randomly stolen than my wallet would be in real life were I to leave it in a heavily traveled area after inscribing something on it to suppress any urges to try and find the original owner in the one who found it first.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:01 PM
I'll simply repost what I've already said (this is from a Dresden Files RPG story);

"For the record, we ended up having only 2/5 characters survive that campaign with both their free will and sanity. One person died, one person is now a vassal of Summer, one person broke too many laws and is now a twisted, insane warlock seeking the destruction of all Wyldfae at any cost."

Serious consequences and bad things in general can easily occur within a newer system. That's not the sole province of older systems. Though I'd agree that players generally have more say into their fate and I'd agree that a GM (if they're even used in the system) is less antagonistic than in older games.

And again, for the third or fourth time, I'll point out that the Old School descriptions only cover 90% of games, there will always be that 10% wild card games. And it's not that a New School game can't have death and loss. The point is death and great loss is common, much more common, in Old School and less common in New School.

And in any case, you can play a 'New' game that was made in the last ten years or so Old School Style. The same way you can play on old game, made 25 years ago, in the New School style. I'm not talking about individual games.

Water_Bear
2012-08-29, 10:02 PM
Well, going by the couple hundred New School games I've seen and the the couple dozen New School DM's I know...
{Scrubbed}

Menteith
2012-08-29, 10:13 PM
That game certainly wasn't played in an "old RPG" mindset. It was a highly narrative, heavily story based game that the players helped shape. Mechanics were pretty light as a whole, and everyone was reasonably well balanced with each other. I am objecting to the idea that older games are inherently more prone to serious consequence than modern games are. Here's something that I would agree with;

"The point is random death and great loss is common, much more common, in Old School and less common in New School."

In my experience, modern games generally have things occur for a reason. Older games are unfettered with regard to randomness, and typically don't concern themselves with a narrative (I'd like to specify that a narrative does not mean a railroad), detailed characters, or character investment - which is great for that style of gaming. Death and great loss tends to be meaningful in modern gaming, rather than random. Characters in a modern system may choose to make their own sacrifices or be faced with very difficult choices, but it's less likely that they'll be subjected to random gibs (though it certainly can happen). Both systems are capable of expressing death and great loss to the same degree, but modern systems tend to treat it with a greater gravity.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:14 PM
You seem to be mistaking modern D&D for the entirety of modern gaming. The whole "vital equipment" concept is a relic of it - I can't think of a single other system where there are items that cost more then a resurrection, or where items are so tied into the character capabilities.

Most characters in any game system need stuff. You can't be a sniper with no gun, you can't be a pilot if you have no ship and so on. Is there really a game out there where you can play say a sniper character that can just 'snap there fingers' and be just as effective as if they had a rifle?




As for railroading - I'd posit that it is, to some extent old school. The tools exist to do it in an old school game in a much bigger way. You yourself have said the GM is god, and when that assumption breaks down the GM might not even be capable of railroading if they want to. That said, you're arguing against a point that didn't actually exist in that post - I never said old school games had railroading in it, merely that it is strenuously opposed, which indicates that the capacity for variety is very much a part of newer games. If variety wasn't valued, railroading wouldn't be opposed nearly as strenuously.

To put it lightly, Railroading is used mostly by newbee DM's or ones that want an easy game from themselves. The whole point is to keep the game, narrow and focused.



I'm also not sure where randomness really comes in with the horses. They were no more randomly stolen than my wallet would be in real life were I to leave it in a heavily traveled area after inscribing something on it to suppress any urges to try and find the original owner in the one who found it first.

As a Gm you'd roll sat a 1d6 and if it was odd the horses would be stolen, that's random. And remember it's also Unfair, and so Unfun, to have a character/game ''bogged down by little things''. An Old School game might take several hours to find a lost wallet in Pairs, but New School wants to jump right to the BBEG(a New School term) at the Effie Tower.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 10:21 PM
Most characters in any game system need stuff. You can't be a sniper with no gun, you can't be a pilot if you have no ship and so on. Is there really a game out there where you can play say a sniper character that can just 'snap there fingers' and be just as effective as if they had a rifle?

Generally speaking, you can easily abstract a person's equipment. For example, I might not specify that I've got a cell phone in my pocket or that I have a tire iron in my trunk, but if it came up I could use those items. In most RPGs that take place during the current day, it's worth tracking hard to get items (typically guns or illegal items) but most items in someone's car, pockets, apartment, etc aren't individually recorded.

Most characters I play in current day RPGs aren't snipers. They're mostly normal people. The last person I played in an oWorld of Darkness game was a chemistry professor. Another character before that was a door-to-door salesman. Before that I played a zookeeper. Point is, most people don't have gear that needs to be specified unless something specific comes up.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:22 PM
That game certainly wasn't played in an "old RPG" mindset. It was a highly narrative, heavily story based game that the players helped shape. Mechanics were pretty light as a whole, and everyone was reasonably well balanced with each other. I am objecting to the idea that older games are inherently more prone to serious consequence than modern games are. Here's something that I would agree with;

"The point is random death and great loss is common, much more common, in Old School and less common in New School."

In my experience, modern games generally have things occur for a reason. Older games are unfettered with regard to randomness, and typically don't concern themselves with a narrative (I'd like to specify that a narrative does not mean a railroad), detailed characters, or character investment - which is great for that style of gaming. Death and great loss tends to be meaningful in modern gaming, rather than random. Both systems are capable of expressing death and great loss to the same degree, but modern systems tend to treat it with a greater gravity.

We are coming close to agreeing...

I love Old School as anything can happen, but New School is much more like a movie. You know that Prince Adam, who is vital to the plot can never, ever be killed off as that will end the story. So Adam is safe in his plot armor. You simply can not have an intricate, detailed story without plot armor for your important characters. If you want to tell the story of a farm boy that grows up to be a great warrior and save the world, then you simply can't randomly kill him off...that would end the story.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 10:28 PM
We are coming close to agreeing...

I love Old School as anything can happen, but New School is much more like a movie. You know that Prince Adam, who is vital to the plot can never, ever be killed off as that will end the story. So Adam is safe in his plot armor. You simply can not have an intricate, detailed story without plot armor for your important characters. If you want to tell the story of a farm boy that grows up to be a great warrior and save the world, then you simply can't randomly kill him off...that would end the story.

There isn't a plot that I refuse to change in any of the modern games that I play. There's a group of NPCs and they'll react to what the players do, but when I'm GMing/DMing, I certainly have a plan for what happens if the party decides to do anything. If the party decides that they want to kill Prince Adam, I will adapt and continue running the game. If that farm boy decides they want to be on the front lines of a war without training, they'll die. You're describing railroading (hardcore railroading at that), which certainly isn't an intrinsic part of modern RPGs.

Example of this (Spoilers for anyone on the Red Hand of Doom module);
For anyone who's unfamiliar with the RHoD module, a large part of it involves the invasion of a peaceful land by a horde of goblinoids, which the PCs are intended to help suppress the invasion and save the human country. My party is currently plotting with one of the minor Wyrmlords to kill both the Human and Hobgoblin leaders, seize power, and divide the land up between the invading force and the new tyrannical government they plan to set up. Did I have any idea they'd end up here? Nope! Will I let that get in the way of running the game for them when they're really enjoying it? Nope!

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:29 PM
Generally speaking, you can easily abstract a person's equipment. For example, I might not specify that I've got a cell phone in my pocket or that I have a tire iron in my trunk, but if it came up I could use those items. In most RPGs that take place during the current day, it's worth tracking hard to get items (typically guns or illegal items) but most items in someone's car, pockets, apartment, etc aren't individually recorded.

Most characters I play in current day RPGs aren't snipers. They're mostly normal people. The last person I played in an oWorld of Darkness game was a chemistry professor. Another character before that was a door-to-door salesman. Before that I played a zookeeper. Point is, most people don't have gear that needs to be specified unless something specific comes up.


Well, if you can just have 'anything' in your pocket, like the Doctor:smallbiggrin:, then equipment does not matter for that game. But plenty of games you need stuff, often special stuff. You can have tons of stuff in your pockets, but you have only one Old Diary of Von Hunssnar that has important plot clues.

Knaight
2012-08-29, 10:32 PM
Most characters in any game system need stuff. You can't be a sniper with no gun, you can't be a pilot if you have no ship and so on. Is there really a game out there where you can play say a sniper character that can just 'snap there fingers' and be just as effective as if they had a rifle?

Oh, you're going to need a rifle. However, generally speaking the one you grab from some random guard is probably going to do, and even if you do have a custom rifle it's priced like a rifle and not several armies (see: D&D). Or, in fantasy, yes, if you lose your sword, you're at a disadvantage. However, at that point what you need is some sort of weapon, and odds are you can get along with whatever. It might not be ideal, and you might want to try and get your sword back (or at least a sword of similar style), but it isn't like D&D where your sword represents some ridiculous amount of resources, and if you pick up a sword that's marginally shorter suddenly half of what you do is worthless to you.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:36 PM
There isn't a plot in any of the modern games that I play. There's a group of NPCs and they'll react to what the players do, but when I'm GMing/DMing, I certainly have a plan for what happens if the party decides to do anything. If the party decides that they want to kill Prince Adam, I will adapt and continue running the game. If that farm boy decides they want to be on the front lines of a war without training, they'll die. You're describing railroading (hardcore railroading at that), which certainly isn't an intrinsic part of modern RPGs.

Plot Armor is not railroading. If the GM has spent four weeks writing out a detailed, intricate plot for Prince Adam, then Adam is never going to die. Think more like a movie: You know Luke was never going to die from a random shot at any point in the movie as he had to destroy the Death Star(the farm boy saves the day plot. And if that is the story the GM wants to tell, that is what must happen).

Your talking more like your an Old School gamer. Trust me, should a group with a New School GM just up and kill Prince Adam, he will stand up and stop the game right there and I have seen this happen more then once (''Look, guys, OK, I put a lot of work and time ans effort into my Epic Prince Adam plot, so don't ruin it'')

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:40 PM
Oh, you're going to need a rifle. However, generally speaking the one you grab from some random guard is probably going to do, and even if you do have a custom rifle it's priced like a rifle and not several armies (see: D&D). Or, in fantasy, yes, if you lose your sword, you're at a disadvantage. However, at that point what you need is some sort of weapon, and odds are you can get along with whatever. It might not be ideal, and you might want to try and get your sword back (or at least a sword of similar style), but it isn't like D&D where your sword represents some ridiculous amount of resources, and if you pick up a sword that's marginally shorter suddenly half of what you do is worthless to you.

Ok, ok so every other game except D&D does not need or use equipment at all....I'll just have to take your word for it. But again your drifting to talking way to much about individual games.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 10:44 PM
Plot Armor is not railroading. If the GM has spent four weeks writing out a detailed, intricate plot for Prince Adam, then Adam is never going to die. Think more like a movie: You know Luke was never going to die from a random shot at any point in the movie as he had to destroy the Death Star(the farm boy saves the day plot. And if that is the story the GM wants to tell, that is what must happen).

Your talking more like your an Old School gamer. Trust me, should a group with a New School GM just up and kill Prince Adam, he will stand up and stop the game right there and I have seen this happen more then once (''Look, guys, OK, I put a lot of work and time ans effort into my Epic Prince Adam plot, so don't ruin it'')

I - nor anyone in my group - would spend four weeks writing up a detailed plot for an NPC. If the GM has a fixed story in mind that they refuse to change, that's railroading. Plain and simple. And I say that as someone who definitely identifies as a new school gamer. My only substantial experience with systems older than 3.5 was the Balder's Gate games (until recently), and I would usually play a modern game than any of the D&Ds. I didn't seriously start playing RPGs until I got to college, and my group tends to play new systems almost exclusively.

What typically happens is that the GM/DM/ST will flesh out a city/region, and have a single big event that kicks off a plot (Elysium is attacked by heavily armored troops who seem to know about the Masquerade, every dead body in the country has risen as a zombie, electricity no longer functions in the year 2012) and sees where the players take it. Sometimes they'll plan out multiple "big" events that can kick a plot into action that will happen regardless of player actions (take the electricity example one step further; in addition to all technology starting to fail, after a week every single living human manifests magical powers), but we let the players drive the plot, not a pre-written adventure.

I see plot armor and railroading as bad DMing pretty much unilaterally. I'll be the first to admit that I generally think I know what my players are going to do, and will usually plan around it, but at the same time, I'm willing to roll with whatever they throw at me, and we all treat the dice as the final arbiter. Bad DMing isn't unique to any system, and it's not a fundamental part of modern gaming.

1337 b4k4
2012-08-29, 10:54 PM
In my experience, modern games generally have things occur for a reason. Older games are unfettered with regard to randomness, and typically don't concern themselves with a narrative (I'd like to specify that a narrative does not mean a railroad), detailed characters, or character investment - which is great for that style of gaming. Death and great loss tends to be meaningful in modern gaming, rather than random.

I would like to comment on this as I think it highlights what I see as a difference between old and new school thinking about "randomness" in a game. It isn't that random things happen in old school games because they aren't concerned with a narrative, it's that the narrative isn't spelled out ahead of time, it is discovered as the game progresses. It was said best up thread, "we made" vs "tell me" vs "let's make" a story. In fact I might go so far as to say that really what old school gaming is about isn't so much randomness as it is exploration and discovery, both of weird locales and dungeons, and of the narrative that is formed around that explanation. New school might better be defined (in comparison to old school) as exploring the consequences of pre-defined events on a pre-defined world, where as old school is exploring an undefined and unknown world. Or to make a horribly stretched analogy, old school is "schrodinger's cat", new school is "schodinger's cat's autopsy"; both interesting in their own right, but for very different reasons.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 10:56 PM
I - nor anyone in my group - would spend four weeks writing up a detailed plot for an NPC. If the GM has a fixed story in mind that they refuse to change, that's railroading. Plain and simple. And I say that as someone who definitely identifies as a new school gamer.

That is my overall point: Detailed, intricate storytelling is definitely New School. And trust me, I know plenty of New School GM's that show me their 'game novellas' for each person/place/thing in their game. And that is on top of the novella from each player too. In New School, it's not railroading per say, as all the players agree to go along with the story and share the storytelling.

You might not be as New School as you think....this is why it's good we can talk about this and come up with some definitions. For example, New School sees the GM as 'just a player' or even has no GM. New School Gm's have no power as the game is a democracy where each player just gets one vote on things. Do you agree/do those things?

Knaight
2012-08-29, 10:57 PM
Ok, ok so every other game except D&D does not need or use equipment at all....I'll just have to take your word for it. But again your drifting to talking way to much about individual games.

Only because you're attempting to characterize modern gaming based on modern D&D, which is a whole four games with some very generous counting. Designs based on reduced dependency on hard to replace items are prevalent throughout just about every modern game that takes equipment into account significantly.

Also, your example with the invincible NPC with preplanned plot? That would be railroading. There's a possibility for an invincible or functionally invincible NPC which wouldn't be railroading, but four weeks of planned out specific plot doesn't have that excuse. Plus, the term "my plot" coming from a GM at all is a gigantic red flag for railroading. If it were "the plot" or "our plot", it would still be cause for concern, but not in the way "my plot" is.

For example, New School sees the GM as 'just a player' or even has no GM. New School Gm's have no power as the game is a democracy where each player just gets one vote on things. Do you agree/do those things?
There are games which fit this, and the idea that the GM is another player who has a specific role that varies from most instead of the lord and master of all things is prevalent. As for having no GM - there are a handful of specific games where that is true, but generally they operate so differently that trying to tar them for failing to represent adventuring or whatever well doesn't work.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 11:05 PM
That is my overall point: Detailed, intricate storytelling is definitely New School. And trust me, I know plenty of New School GM's that show me their 'game novellas' for each person/place/thing in their game. And that is on top of the novella from each player too. In New School, it's not railroading per say, as all the players agree to go along with the story and share the storytelling.

I strongly disagree with the bolded section above. A narrative that everyone creates together is what I see modern gaming as being about, not a prewritten plot that everyone executes. I think we understand each other's positions, and simply disagree on the definitions at this point. I'd say that detailed, pre-planned "novellas" is (typically) the sign of railroading, which is very much a bad thing. Referring back to the different viewpoints that kyoryu concisely expressed, there are a few different ways of looking at a story;

"We told a story" vs. "Let me tell you a story" vs "Lets make a story"

I would say the "Lets make a story" viewpoint is much more common in modern gaming, rather than the "Let me tell you a story" viewpoint you're describing.


You might not be as New School as you think....this is why it's good we can talk about this and come up with some definitions. For example, New School sees the GM as 'just a player' or even has no GM. New School Gm's have no power as the game is a democracy where each player just gets one vote on things. Do you agree/do those things?

It honestly depends on the system. There are systems where that's appropriate, and there are systems where that's no appropriate. Systems like Dresden Files RPG generally require a human running the show, but that's hardly true across every system. On top of that, I would agree with the idea that players should have a voice with regard to rulings. Maybe I've simply been blessed with a mature group who wants to play a fun game more than anything else, but I have no issue with players being able to voice their concerns over rulings.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-29, 11:12 PM
Also, your example with the invincible NPC with preplanned plot? That would be railroading. There's a possibility for an invincible or functionally invincible NPC which wouldn't be railroading, but four weeks of planned out specific plot doesn't have that excuse. Plus, the term "my plot" coming from a GM at all is a gigantic red flag for railroading. If it were "the plot" or "our plot", it would still be cause for concern, but not in the way "my plot" is.


Seems like we need definitions for everything. Either we are not talking about the same thing or something else is wrong. It's like when people say Wal Mart is Censoring when they won't sell some music(hint:a private company can't censor anything) or people say optimizing is cheating(hint:er, well lets not talk about that one...lol).

Railroading: When the GM of a role playing game absolutely forces all of the players to unwilling follow a predetermined path and plot(aka 'the Rail'). For example, the GM might say ''for this game you must kill Monster X'' and that is all the players can do as nothing else in the game world exists except the path to monster X. A lot like a video game, a 'ditch' or a 'row of bushes' will stop the characters from going the wrong way. Having a single NPC that the characters cant effect is not Railroading, that is giving that character plot armor(or protection) as the characters are free to do anything esle.

Menteith
2012-08-29, 11:14 PM
Seems like we need definitions for everything. Either we are not talking about the same thing or something else is wrong. It's like when people say Wal Mart is Censoring when they won't sell some music(hint:a private company can't censor anything) or people say optimizing is cheating(hint:er, well lets not talk about that one...lol).

Railroading: When the GM of a role playing game absolutely forces all of the players to unwilling follow a predetermined path and plot(aka 'the Rail'). For example, the GM might say ''for this game you must kill Monster X'' and that is all the players can do as nothing else in the game world exists except the path to monster X. A lot like a video game, a 'ditch' or a 'row of bushes' will stop the characters from going the wrong way. Having a single NPC that the characters cant effect is not Railroading, that is giving that character plot armor(or protection) as the characters are free to do anything esle.

I typically use the TvTropes Definition (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Railroading);

"In short, the GM takes any measure necessary to ensure that there is only one direction the campaign may proceed his planned direction. This can manifest in any number of imaginable ways; some of them subtle, others ... not so much: "

In any case, refusing to let players do what they should logically be able to do if pretty much the definition of railroading. If the players have the capacity and motivation to kill an NPC, then the NPC will die.

kyoryu
2012-08-29, 11:32 PM
That is my overall point: Detailed, intricate storytelling is definitely New School. And trust me, I know plenty of New School GM's that show me their 'game novellas' for each person/place/thing in their game. And that is on top of the novella from each player too. In New School, it's not railroading per say, as all the players agree to go along with the story and share the storytelling.

Let me tell you a story isn't really New School, considering that one of the strongest examples I can give of it is the original DragonLance module series.

I'd actually suggest picking up the Dresden Files RPG, and take a gander at how they recommend setting up scenarios. It's very different from an Old-School approach in many ways, but in some ways it's similar - instead of setting up a dungeon and letting what happens happen, you set up NPCs and let what happens happen. The game gives very explicit warning to *not* railroad or be attached to a particular outcome.

Matthew
2012-08-30, 03:53 AM
"Fix D&D"?

How was he against that? Isn't one of the general conceits of pretty much every tabletop RPG usually that an individual group can tweak it's mechanics or fluff to some extent? Since the first printing of 1e, in fact? Or do you mean something else by that?

Probably the first thing you have to recognise is that the Dungeons & Dragons game was first published in 1974, and that the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game (known as 1E or first edition) was subsequently published in the period 1977-9. The original game was a free wheeling sort of affair, the vagueness of the rules in many places practically requiring game masters to invent or modify the rules. Still, nonetheless, Gygax criticised groups that departed significantly from the rule structure, referring to them derisively as playing "Dungeons & Beavers", in other words a quite different game.

When Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was published (the edition with Appendix N) it was with a view towards standardisation and formalisation of the game system, as well as being a legal run around credit sharing with Dave Arnseon. Gygax became increasingly vocal about the "official" game, who could say what that was (only himself), and the degree to which deviation from the standard was acceptable. Partly this was an attempt to protect the game system and company from competitors, no doubt, but whatever the case AD&D was a genre in the shaping and in many ways exclusive of competing ideas. Very clear examples can be found is his utter rejection of magicians ever being able to wield swords, or the use of magic points in place of the "Vancian" system.

supermonkeyjoe
2012-08-30, 05:39 AM
Seems like we need definitions for everything. Either we are not talking about the same thing or something else is wrong. It's like when people say Wal Mart is Censoring when they won't sell some music(hint:a private company can't censor anything) or people say optimizing is cheating(hint:er, well lets not talk about that one...lol).

Railroading: When the GM of a role playing game absolutely forces all of the players to unwilling follow a predetermined path and plot(aka 'the Rail'). For example, the GM might say ''for this game you must kill Monster X'' and that is all the players can do as nothing else in the game world exists except the path to monster X. A lot like a video game, a 'ditch' or a 'row of bushes' will stop the characters from going the wrong way. Having a single NPC that the characters cant effect is not Railroading, that is giving that character plot armor(or protection) as the characters are free to do anything esle.

I partly agree with your definition of railroading, although indestructible plot-armoured NPCs are more often than not a telltale sign of railroading. I tend to view railroading as whenever a DM/GM overrules or invalidates a players choice in a matter for the sake of the plot, most usually in a way that's inconsistent with the game world.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-30, 05:31 PM
Let me tell you a story isn't really New School, considering that one of the strongest examples I can give of it is the original DragonLance module series.

New and Old School do not, repeat not, give any indication of a time frame. Just as a game is 20 years old does not automatically make it Old School, and just as a game is fresh off of a press/pdf does not make it New School. I have always talked about the philosophy of game play, not an individual game. Dragonlance is a good example of a New School type game, even though it's decades old. For example in a Dragonlance module:smallcool: you could not kill a main character.


I partly agree with your definition of railroading, although indestructible plot-armoured NPCs are more often than not a telltale sign of railroading. I tend to view railroading as whenever a DM/GM overrules or invalidates a players choice in a matter for the sake of the plot, most usually in a way that's inconsistent with the game world.

I'll make a New Definition! Lets call it: engineering! (Get it, get it, the engine runs on the tracks of a railroad). Engineering: This is a single construct in the game, almost always a person, but some times a place or a thing that is protected by the plot. The game construct has a destiny that must be done, and nothing can alter that. In effect, the construct must ''ride the rail''.

A great example of Engineering is found in Star Wars games(and the system does not matter). Many Star Wars games take place 'between' the movie events. It's common to say play in the time period ''five years before Epsiode IV''. But when you do, you can't change the ''official'' history, you can't go kill boy Luke or blow up the still under construction Death Star.

Menteith
2012-08-30, 06:03 PM
You are choosing to define Railroading as a fundamental part of modern gaming. Regardless of how many times you say it, this is not correct. While I freely admit this discussion is an inherently subjective one, and you are entitled to your own viewpoint, I strongly reject the notion that a fixed plot is somehow intrinsic to modern gaming. Systems like (new or old) World of Darkness, The Burning Wheel, or FATE don't strongly cling to an overplot, and all actively speak out against using one.

Railroading can occur across all systems. There is nothing in a newer system that makes it more likely to occur. These systems are mechanically constructed specifically to avoid such things. If you start defining modern gaming as "Bad Things", then I understand why you find it distasteful. But as someone who identifies as a modern gamer, I'll reject your negative judgements (Like the silly idea that modern gaming is fundamentally about being tightly on fixed rails, which I believe most modern gamers would find ridiculous), especially when they are so dissociated with my own experiences.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-30, 06:11 PM
You are choosing to define Railroading as a fundamental part of modern gaming.

Are you sure your reading my posts? Where did I say Railroading is a fundamental part of modern gaming. I don't see that anywhere? So where did you see it?

Any game can have a Gm on a train with the players in the caboose. It is not Old or New. The same way any game can be ''heavy combat''(no matter what game you can ignore all the rules and focus only on the combat).

Menteith
2012-08-30, 06:19 PM
Are you sure your reading my posts? Where did I say Railroading is a fundamental part of modern gaming. I don't see that anywhere? So where did you see it?

Any game can have a Gm on a train with the players in the caboose. It is not Old or New. The same way any game can be ''heavy combat''(no matter what game you can ignore all the rules and focus only on the combat).

I believe that you and I are defining Railroading differently. I've posted my definition above, but I'll state it a bit more fully here.

Railroading is a GMing style in which, no matter what the PCs do, they will experience certain events according to the GMs plan. In general, this is considered a flaw, displaying a lack of flexibility, naturalness of the scenario, and lack of respect for meaningful choices by the players. Railroading is whenever players are prevented from doing something that they should be capable of doing within the game. This can be preventing the players from killing a plot-important NPC, refusing to let the players explore a new continent, or using DM-fiat to remove an ability like Teleportation from a character because it would ruin the plot. Railroading is a matter of degrees, and it can range from innocuous to insane.

(Link (http://rpgtheoryreview.blogspot.com/2007/02/lesson-railroading.html) worth a look for a more full explanation)

I would claim that the idea of a fixed plot is way more common in older games that rely heavily on a DM=God mentality. In systems where players are on a more even standing with regard to the person running the game, it's much harder to force players onto rails or refuse to let them try out something. Older systems are far more open to DM-Fiat, and in my experience, systems that have an unquestionable DM are way more likely to have rails or a fixed plot in mind. When the fundamental rule of the universe comes down to a person in power flatly saying "Because I said so", as opposed to a consistent body of rules, that person is able to force their will on the party toward a specific plot or goal to a much greater degree.

I feel that older games are more likely to have the sort of "fixed plot" you're describing (which I see as a pretty clear example of railroading) that refuses to bend for the players by their mechanical nature.

Knaight
2012-08-30, 06:23 PM
Any game can have a Gm on a train with the players in the caboose. It is not Old or New. The same way any game can be ''heavy combat''(no matter what game you can ignore all the rules and focus only on the combat).

Nope. GMless games can't do this. Games where the GM and player roles get switched around periodically can't do this. Games where the GM position is of limited power can't do this as well. So on and so forth.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-30, 06:30 PM
I believe that you and I are defining Railroading differently. I've posted my definition above, but I'll state it a bit more fully here.

Railroading is a GMing style in which, no matter what the PCs do, they will experience certain events according to the GMs plan. In general, this is considered a flaw.....

I don't approve of Railroading and never do it...but it's not a flaw. Railroading is a simple way to get people to play a game. The truth is that a good 50% of people need motivation, or a bit more simply, need to be told what to do(or what motivation and want to be told what to do).

I have seen this thousands and thousands of times: A group starts a game...and then they characters just lounge around. The Gm can do tons to attempt to ''get them to play', but in the end only one thing works: Railroading. (And no you can't just talk to people and explain this). And this is why a lot of games have railroading:so that people play the game.

Now it's also where like you describe:The GM telling a set story. And yes, Storyteller GM's are much, much more more New School. But that does not automatically make them conductors on the train(though many are).

Menteith
2012-08-30, 06:34 PM
Now it's also where like you describe:The GM telling a set story. And yes, Storyteller GM's are much, much more more New School. But that does not automatically make them conductors on the train(though many are).

Define "Storyteller GM" for me. From what you've posted earlier, I believe that I disagree with this statement, but I'd like to be sure of what your viewpoint is.

And I do believe that Railroading is a serious flaw regardless of system. I enjoy narrative heavy, story heavy games, and there are never been a single one of them that would have been improved by having tracks running under it. Maybe I've been blessed with the best-est group every, but Railroading is not certainly not common in our games (which are generally in what I would call modern systems).

Grundy
2012-08-30, 07:20 PM
I'll throw in my .02. The game system isn't really important. I'll admit that the rules of the game reward game style- I have strong memories of playing basketball against hockey players ;)- but excepting outlying games which are vastly mechanically different, the system isn't what's important. It's the mind-set.
Also, just because it's "new v old" time isn't the issue. It's just a historical categorization that works as well as anything.

Knaight
2012-08-30, 08:42 PM
I don't approve of Railroading and never do it...but it's not a flaw. Railroading is a simple way to get people to play a game. The truth is that a good 50% of people need motivation, or a bit more simply, need to be told what to do(or what motivation and want to be told what to do).

You need all of one motivated player, with the rest following them around. Assuming a 3 player group, you're looking at a 12.5% chance nobody is motivated given your 50% figure, even if you assume that motivated people are equally likely to show up as unmotivated people (where they are probably more likely to, particularly as being in more games means you should effectively be counted more). It's not a serious concern, and if you end up in a group of all unmotivated players it's probably best to just not bother with RPGs at that point.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-30, 10:10 PM
Define "Storyteller GM" for me. From what you've posted earlier, I believe that I disagree with this statement, but I'd like to be sure of what your viewpoint is.

The Storyteller DM is the Novelist. He wants to create and tell the perfect story to 'show or teach the world something, bring awareness to something and change the world'. Most are willing to share the story with others, as long as they stick to the basic outline. They want the detailed backstory and write up about each character and plot out an intricate web that fully puts the character as part of the world. They often over dramatize the world, so everything is related or part of everything else the way most fiction does. And more then anything they place the story first.



And I do believe that Railroading is a serious flaw regardless of system. I enjoy narrative heavy, story heavy games, and there are never been a single one of them that would have been improved by having tracks running under it. Maybe I've been blessed with the best-est group every, but Railroading is not certainly not common in our games (which are generally in what I would call modern systems).

Trust me, lots of people need the tracks....not that they would admit it. And that is why a lot of games have or use the idea.

A great many players come programmed with the idea that ''they must do quests'', and a ''Quest'' is just a sugarcoating for ''Railroading''.


You need all of one motivated player, with the rest following them around.

This is almost worse. You have a group of five players. One is motivated, and four are just hanging out. So your basically just running a solo game with some extra baggage.

Menteith
2012-08-30, 10:55 PM
The Storyteller DM is the Novelist. He wants to create and tell the perfect story to 'show or teach the world something, bring awareness to something and change the world'. Most are willing to share the story with others, as long as they stick to the basic outline. They want the detailed backstory and write up about each character and plot out an intricate web that fully puts the character as part of the world. They often over dramatize the world, so everything is related or part of everything else the way most fiction does. And more then anything they place the story first.

That's reasonable and I'd agree with that. I think we differ a bit in our interpretation of the details (for example, exactly what a "basic outline" means), but I agree with what you're saying here.


A great many players come programmed with the idea that ''they must do quests'', and a ''Quest'' is just a sugarcoating for ''Railroading''.

Quests are pretty much unique to D&D, and I'd argue that there isn't a single edition of D&D that's representative of modern gaming. You could maybe make the case for some of the more heavy handed old World of Darkness games (especially when the players were neonates forced into a group together), but the very idea of a "quest" in any modern society is pretty weird. In my experience, it's more common for events to jump start a campaign; an assassination or murder, an army crackdown or police raid, an overt supernatural event occurring in the year 2012, or whatever. Once this trigger event occurs, the game becomes about how the players react, and then how NPCs react to the players, and back and forth. I can't think of a single time I've been able to accurately plan more than two sessions in advance, let alone write a novel and stick to it. My group likes to explore, and I often have trouble predicting exactly where they're going to take a story.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-31, 05:54 AM
That's reasonable and I'd agree with that. I think we differ a bit in our interpretation of the details (for example, exactly what a "basic outline" means), but I agree with what you're saying here.

I'm not talking 'Basic Outline' like when you write down a couple notes and draw two maps. I'm talking the Hardcore type Outline that will say things like ''section 1, part A, the reason for this section is to explain the basic road plans of the Empire, part A-1 The Long Road. Often the Storyteller DM will make good use of desktop publishing, photoshop and so forth to make very nice professional looking things.




Quests are pretty much unique to D&D, and I'd argue that there isn't a single edition of D&D that's representative of modern gaming. You could maybe make the case for some of the more heavy handed old World of Darkness games (especially when the players were neonates forced into a group together), but the very idea of a "quest" in any modern society is pretty weird. In my experience, it's more common for events to jump start a campaign; an assassination or murder, an army crackdown or police raid, an overt supernatural event occurring in the year 2012, or whatever. Once this trigger event occurs, the game becomes about how the players react, and then how NPCs react to the players, and back and forth. I can't think of a single time I've been able to accurately plan more than two sessions in advance, let alone write a novel and stick to it. My group likes to explore, and I often have trouble predicting exactly where they're going to take a story.

You can substitute ''Mission'' or ''plan'' for ''quest'' if that is too much D&D. And note your basically talking about a ''Quest'' anyway. President Adar gets assassinated: player quest find the assassin and why they did it. It's even light railroading when 'something' happens and the characters 'must' react to it. It's basic Role-play. And some times you need to push players to interact, and get them on the railroad.

Amphetryon
2012-08-31, 06:36 AM
A great many players come programmed with the idea that ''they must do quests'', and a ''Quest'' is just a sugarcoating for ''Railroading''.What about self-directed Quests/Missions? How do you run an adventure that's not a "Quest?" By this definition and the one that precedes it on "Railroading," I fail to see how the players can move toward any character or plot development without it being "Railroading."

huttj509
2012-08-31, 06:40 AM
You can substitute ''Mission'' or ''plan'' for ''quest'' if that is too much D&D. And note your basically talking about a ''Quest'' anyway. President Adar gets assassinated: player quest find the assassin and why they did it. It's even light railroading when 'something' happens and the characters 'must' react to it. It's basic Role-play. And some times you need to push players to interact, and get them on the railroad.


I feel there needs to be a difference between "general boundaries" or "light direction" and railroading. The scenario I envision is:

"So you're in the world, you can do anything."
"Like what?"
"Anything!"
"Does the town guard have anything they need help with?"
"No, that would be railroading!"

Of course, this assumes that railroading is a word intended to have a negative meaning to some degree, which may not be a valid assumption.

GenghisDon
2012-08-31, 08:07 AM
Probably the first thing you have to recognise is that the Dungeons & Dragons game was first published in 1974, and that the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game (known as 1E or first edition) was subsequently published in the period 1977-9. The original game was a free wheeling sort of affair, the vagueness of the rules in many places practically requiring game masters to invent or modify the rules. Still, nonetheless, Gygax criticised groups that departed significantly from the rule structure, referring to them derisively as playing "Dungeons & Beavers", in other words a quite different game.

When Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was published (the edition with Appendix N) it was with a view towards standardisation and formalisation of the game system, as well as being a legal run around credit sharing with Dave Arnseon. Gygax became increasingly vocal about the "official" game, who could say what that was (only himself), and the degree to which deviation from the standard was acceptable. Partly this was an attempt to protect the game system and company from competitors, no doubt, but whatever the case AD&D was a genre in the shaping and in many ways exclusive of competing ideas. Very clear examples can be found is his utter rejection of magicians ever being able to wield swords, or the use of magic points in place of the "Vancian" system.

I've already lost 2 posts on this topic, but Matthew brings an old school trait worth mentioning to the fore: the willingness to toss, alter or create materials for the game, to take control & responsibility for it, for one's own group. Gygax's attempts at uniformity in AD&D were mostly in vain.

"Modern" gamers seem to take an approach to rule books closer to that of a religous fundamentalist to their "holy" book du jour.

Exceptions abound, I am sure, in both cases, but it seems to be an ongoing trend.

I think this is partly due to increased complexity in some areas, and a consumer shift towards "the product I purchased should work best when used as directed"

huttj509
2012-08-31, 08:30 AM
I've already lost 2 posts on this topic, but Matthew brings an old school trait worth mentioning to the fore: the willingness to toss, alter or create materials for the game, to take control & responsibility for it, for one's own group. Gygax's attempts at uniformity in AD&D were mostly in vain.

"Modern" gamers seem to take an approach to rule books closer to that of a religous fundamentalist to their "holy" book du jour.

Exceptions abound, I am sure, in both cases, but it seems to be an ongoing trend.

I think this is partly due to increased complexity in some areas, and a consumer shift towards "the product I purchased should work best when used as directed"

Another factor would be the internet and increased ease of communication. If someone's looking for tips that involve the mechanics at all, what's written in the rule book is the only common ground, unless someone lists out everything that works differently (if they even know. How many houserules are "oh, we thought that WAS how it worked"?)

In addition, for people looking for groups online, it's a broader audience than "flyer at local game store," leading to a similar drive to ensure common ground in play.

supermonkeyjoe
2012-08-31, 08:48 AM
Another factor would be the internet and increased ease of communication. If someone's looking for tips that involve the mechanics at all, what's written in the rule book is the only common ground, unless someone lists out everything that works differently (if they even know. How many houserules are "oh, we thought that WAS how it worked"?)

In addition, for people looking for groups online, it's a broader audience than "flyer at local game store," leading to a similar drive to ensure common ground in play.

I think the internet is a major factor in how people view games, It has increased the need for people to stick unerringly to the rules when discussing games systems and bring up various balance and mechanics issues that wouldn't otherwise be noticed (how often do you see people complaining that their non-forum reading DM thinks ToB is overpowered and Monks are fine on this forum?)

GenghisDon
2012-08-31, 09:23 AM
internet as the difference makes sense to me. Old vs new. There's more to it, but that's probably the biggest gulf now.

"common ground" is so over rated it hurts me. It's a BAD THING, not a good thing. It's like saying everyone gets to wear size 32 levi bootcut jeans & nothing else for pants. Drive a mini cooper S or nothing else. Drink mountain dew only. UGH

The only people that benefit from common ground are the game producers, who convieniantly tell you it's desirable, going all the way back to Gary, and his shystering at the time. Gary, at least, made it clear that one's campaign was one's own, however. I don't think he really believed how many drones are out there, at first anyway.

It's hilarious, the hypocracy of the game designers, really. "common experience" babble, then "let's put out 20 splat books" to ensure no such thing actually ever occurs.

Sure, it's good to know what ACTUALLY is in the rules, for playing at cons (MAYBE online even), but that's relatively unimportant to most.

Totally Guy
2012-08-31, 09:38 AM
Common ground is like a language. If two players can read the books and interpret them so differently that they cannot play the game with each other then something is wrong.

Menteith
2012-08-31, 10:18 AM
I'm not talking 'Basic Outline' like when you write down a couple notes and draw two maps. I'm talking the Hardcore type Outline that will say things like ''section 1, part A, the reason for this section is to explain the basic road plans of the Empire, part A-1 The Long Road. Often the Storyteller DM will make good use of desktop publishing, photoshop and so forth to make very nice professional looking things.

You can substitute ''Mission'' or ''plan'' for ''quest'' if that is too much D&D. And note your basically talking about a ''Quest'' anyway. President Adar gets assassinated: player quest find the assassin and why they did it. It's even light railroading when 'something' happens and the characters 'must' react to it. It's basic Role-play. And some times you need to push players to interact, and get them on the railroad.

Then we're back to disagreeing :smalltongue:. What you're describing doesn't match my experiences in any real way. I believe that we understand each others' positions, but have simply had very different experiences, and are unlikely to agree on the issue.

I'd call it an "event". Unless one is in a total sandbox (which can certainly work, but takes a lot of effort), most RPGs (old and new) will have something which starts off the story. The reason I don't see it as railroading is because players are free to react to it in any way they'd like. To continue your example, players could try and investigate who killed President Adar or they could try and create a secessionist movement in the chaos. The players are unfettered with where they could take the story, so long as it's within the rules of the game. I might have expected that they attempt to investigate the assassination, but I wouldn't force the players to do so. The game would evolve based on what they did, rather than sticking to a fixed plot.

GenghisDon
2012-08-31, 10:19 AM
maybe

I am not so concerned about "interpretation", although that had a huge impact among the old schoolers. Acceptance concerns me more.

common ground as a language is a problem when everyone is speaking with the same accent, inflections & saying the same things, telling the same stories in the same way, ect.

Any public speaker knows one tailors the speech to the audience.

kyoryu
2012-08-31, 10:47 AM
I'd call it an "event". Unless one is in a total sandbox (which can certainly work, but takes a lot of effort), most RPGs (old and new) will have something which starts off the story. The reason I don't see it as railroading is because players are free to react to it in any way they'd like.

Yeah, sandbox does not mean "static world". A world with events is not "railroading", so long as the goal is not to keep players down a narrowly defined path.

Another good way to avoid even the appearance of railroading is to ask the players what kind of game they want to play in the first place, and then create a starting event to push them in that direction. They can hardly complain about you giving them what they ask for.

1337 b4k4
2012-08-31, 12:16 PM
Common ground is like a language. If two players can read the books and interpret them so differently that they cannot play the game with each other then something is wrong.

There's only something wrong if: A) The players want to play together and B) can not reach a common ground to use for their game, or one will not accede authority for interpretations for the game in question to the other.

Note that acceding authority does not mean that player Y accepts player X's interpretation for now and for eternity, just for the duration of the time that they are sitting around the same table playing the same campaign. Heck, X and Y can both play in two campaigns together where in one they use X's interpretation and in the other they use Y's, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

huttj509
2012-08-31, 03:22 PM
There's only something wrong if: A) The players want to play together and B) can not reach a common ground to use for their game, or one will not accede authority for interpretations for the game in question to the other.

Note that acceding authority does not mean that player Y accepts player X's interpretation for now and for eternity, just for the duration of the time that they are sitting around the same table playing the same campaign. Heck, X and Y can both play in two campaigns together where in one they use X's interpretation and in the other they use Y's, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As an example, I recently played my first L5R game. When the GM called for Investigation/Awareness I was thrown, the book listed Investigation as using Perception (I had missed the word "usually" in the skill description). In addition, that group had a tendency to reverse things when calling them out "Roll Awareness Investigation, construction or siege engineering" made it really difficult for me, as someone who had just read the book, to parse what was being asked for (Investigation/Awareness, or Engineering (Seige or Construction) / Intelligence). Once I got used to it, it was fine, and by the end of the session I could follow easily, but before then the different language got in the way of my comprehension. I can easily see an online discussion getting completely confused and bogged down in the lingo for something like that.

Knaight
2012-08-31, 04:30 PM
internet as the difference makes sense to me. Old vs new. There's more to it, but that's probably the biggest gulf now.

"common ground" is so over rated it hurts me. It's a BAD THING, not a good thing. It's like saying everyone gets to wear size 32 levi bootcut jeans & nothing else for pants. Drive a mini cooper S or nothing else. Drink mountain dew only.

Given the whole "existence of multiple RPGs things" its more like being able to refer to size X and actually have it be a consistent size, instead of having every single designer have their own definition of sizes which has a tendency to change. Similarly, it's like having the term "Mini Cooper S" refer to a specific car, and "mountain dew" refer to a specific recipe. It's really quite convenient.

GenghisDon
2012-08-31, 07:06 PM
hmm...maybe it is, for some things. the later 2 examples DO conform, but the jeans(or shoes et all) certainly don't.

It's not useful to me/my games of P&P RPGs, that much I am certain. I really think every group or even game would be better served with customisation, but that's just my opinion

Gamer Girl
2012-08-31, 07:27 PM
I'd call it an "event". Unless one is in a total sandbox (which can certainly work, but takes a lot of effort), most RPGs (old and new) will have something which starts off the story. The reason I don't see it as railroading is because players are free to react to it in any way they'd like. To continue your example, players could try and investigate who killed President Adar or they could try and create a secessionist movement in the chaos. The players are unfettered with where they could take the story, so long as it's within the rules of the game. I might have expected that they attempt to investigate the assassination, but I wouldn't force the players to do so. The game would evolve based on what they did, rather than sticking to a fixed plot.

Most GMs don't do it that way, though. In the classic mold, a GM will sit down and make a single adventure. It will have a beginning, middle and end and complete with things such as midway twists and a climax. But in order to use that adventure, you have to Railroad the players to do so. Even ignoring the rules, most GMs will look up some real stuff to add into the game. And if the GM has spent some time making a 'haunted house', you can understand how they would want to use it.

Some GM might have two or three branches where the plot can go different directions.

Your talking more Sandbox, where you present a couple of events and lay out the world and the players can do anything. Lots of GMs won't do that, don't want to do that, or can't do that. Some GMs could spontaneously do a Gambling Riverboat Murder Mystery, but not all that many could. It's fair to say most would want to work out the basic murder and mystery well before the game.

GenghisDon
2012-08-31, 07:32 PM
eh, I used to make up adventures only to have a PC (or all) go the other way. It should be their call much of the time. Off the cuff time!

Sandbox style definitely suffers from player drift/lack of motive sometimes.

I prefer to run a mix of sandbox & event/story adventures. Try for the best of both worlds, as it were.

As we aged, my players have more or less decided to just play whatever I made up...I'm not sure that's wholy a good thing, but it's certainly easier on the DM when the players aren't too obstinate or lazy.

The older, or less complex systems, were much easier to run on the fly, that's worth noting for old school defining.

Menteith
2012-08-31, 07:50 PM
Most GMs don't do it that way, though. In the classic mold, a GM will sit down and make a single adventure. It will have a beginning, middle and end and complete with things such as midway twists and a climax. But in order to use that adventure, you have to Railroad the players to do so. Even ignoring the rules, most GMs will look up some real stuff to add into the game. And if the GM has spent some time making a 'haunted house', you can understand how they would want to use it.

Some GM might have two or three branches where the plot can go different directions.

Your talking more Sandbox, where you present a couple of events and lay out the world and the players can do anything. Lots of GMs won't do that, don't want to do that, or can't do that. Some GMs could spontaneously do a Gambling Riverboat Murder Mystery, but not all that many could. It's fair to say most would want to work out the basic murder and mystery well before the game.

In my experience, the statement you're making is not true. Most GMs that I consider modern do not do the things you're claiming. In my experience, it is incorrect to say "Most GMs don't do it that way" when that's actually how most GMs I know do it. As I've said, you and I have clearly had different experiences.

Grundy
2012-08-31, 08:41 PM
Especially after this thread, I'm becoming more convinced that the major difference between old and new school is that in old school, the focus is on the players- "What will the players do through their characters?"
In new school, the focus is on the characters- "What will the characters do?"

Combine that with Kyoryu's "Hey, we made a story!" vs. "Let's make a story" and I think that gets most of it.

Railroading is found in both forms, to varying degrees, with varying amounts of satisfaction all round.

Gamer Girl
2012-08-31, 11:31 PM
In my experience, the statement you're making is not true. Most GMs that I consider modern do not do the things you're claiming. In my experience, it is incorrect to say "Most GMs don't do it that way" when that's actually how most GMs I know do it. As I've said, you and I have clearly had different experiences.

Well, you might just know a group of New School type GM's. And it makes sense as you'd all know each other and like the same things.

Having a railroad planned adventure is the Easy Way to do it, even more so for new or causal gamers. If you have a group of hard core gamers, then it's not needed at all. But for the other 75% of gamers, they get great help from a railroad.

Again, I've seen this too many times: A group of characters will be in a city, dozens of events can happen around them and they will stand there...unless the event happens right on top of them. And even then they will often turn and ask the GM ''are we gonna follow that White Rabbit? Is that part of the plot?"

And yes it's great when you have good and amazing players where a GM can just say ''blue'' and suddenly, spontaneously a beautiful shared role-playing experience is created. But I hope you know not everyone is like that....



Especially after this thread, I'm becoming more convinced that the major difference between old and new school is that in old school, the focus is on the players- "What will the players do through their characters?"
In new school, the focus is on the characters- "What will the characters do?"


Agreed

Menteith
2012-09-01, 12:24 AM
Having a railroad planned adventure is the Easy Way to do it, even more so for new or causal gamers. If you have a group of hard core gamers, then it's not needed at all. But for the other 75% of gamers, they get great help from a railroad.

And yes it's great when you have good and amazing players where a GM can just say ''blue'' and suddenly, spontaneously a beautiful shared role-playing experience is created. But I hope you know not everyone is like that...

I feel as though we've gone far afield of the initial point. Regardless of whether or not you see railroading as a positive or negative feature in a game, I object to your claim that railroading is an attribute of modern gaming. The people I game with aren't hardcore (I'm probably the most hardcore among our group), and of the twenty or so different people I've gamed with over the last year, perhaps half of them had never played an RPG before. I do not believe that my group (which would probably agree that they're modern gamers) is atypical. My experiences in RPGs, the discussions I've had with other groups both in real life and online, and the mechanical nature of the games (many of which specifically call out Railroading as something to be avoided) cause me to disagree with your claim.

TuggyNE
2012-09-01, 12:24 AM
Especially after this thread, I'm becoming more convinced that the major difference between old and new school is that in old school, the focus is on the players- "What will the players do through their characters?"
In new school, the focus is on the characters- "What will the characters do?"

Combine that with Kyoryu's "Hey, we made a story!" vs. "Let's make a story" and I think that gets most of it.

You know, I think you're right. There might be a few other differences, but that's a pretty substantial chunk right there.

Knaight
2012-09-01, 01:26 AM
You know, I think you're right. There might be a few other differences, but that's a pretty substantial chunk right there.

I'd call the idea of the character as a tool for player exploration (usually of space, see the first OP) a classically old school notion, and the idea of character immersion to the point of making downright bad decisions in character a more modern one. However, that was arguably a very early transition, that emerged as RPGs were becoming more distinct from wargaming as a genre.

wumpus
2012-09-01, 08:57 AM
I'd call the idea of the character as a tool for player exploration (usually of space, see the first OP) a classically old school notion, and the idea of character immersion to the point of making downright bad decisions in character a more modern one. However, that was arguably a very early transition, that emerged as RPGs were becoming more distinct from wargaming as a genre.

There was a vocal group that insisted that roll playing was the only correct way to play, going all they way back to the 70s. I suspect that any idea that mechanical optimizations would lead to poor roleplaying were largely due to different rulesets (such as D&D>=3.0) that allowed enough mechanical options that you could no longer fit a description of your character's mechanics in a single tweet.

wumpus
2012-09-01, 10:05 AM
Is this just about AD&D vs. 3/4e D&D?

My guess is that that there were plenty of "old-school" games that broke all the rules. The ones that broke the important ones were forgotten. Some old games:

AD&D: pretty much as described, thus this post.
Traveler (1e, I think there were more): Characters generated with certain skills with no means of leveling or upgrading those skills. Advancement was presumed due to wealth and rare items, or possibly connections. Old-school "sudden death" hits high mark for the number of characters who would die during character generation. The boxed rules pretty much implied a universe wide sandbox (the included "adventure" was pretty much "here's a list of known stars, go visit as many as you can an report back"). Obviously GMs less confident on their ability will tend to railroad, but the lack of a dungeon crawl will make it obvious.
Villains and Vigilantes (1e?) (only played, never knew the "rules"): Exploration was essentially never part of the game (how important is exploration to Batman, let alone Superman?). Railroading consisted of "you're fighting X", anything else goes (mostly due to a great GM, but probably built into the game).
Bushido (maybe obscure, but one of my favorites. review (http://grognardia.blogspot.com/2009/09/retrospective-bushido.html)). Completely eliminates "What and How, not Who:" rule in ways that are unlikely to be done again (the linked review claims a single game, Pendragon, did this as well as Bushido did). Otherwise somewhat a hybrid of a D&D clone (you can find a 1:1 match of all AD&D classes to a similar class/social caste) and FGU rules: old school by definition.
Rolemaster and Chivalry and Sorcery (two games by reputation, never played): These games certainly showed that players wanted more rules (as if the inclusion of extra AD&D rules in the Dragon magazine wasn't proof enough). My guess is that "game by night" games survived by preference, and these rules heavy games stayed on the shelf.

Anecdote-not-datum: My "switch DMs and bring a pre-generated character" AD&D group had a mortality rate between 25%-50% per adventure. Raise dead was the exception, not the rule (generally the party/characters were abandoned after the adventure, but I doubt they could find/afford a cleric in time for multiple bodies). In cases where the character was expected to be used longer, we could tone it down a bit, but still play was bloody.

Knaight
2012-09-01, 11:02 AM
Is this just about AD&D vs. 3/4e D&D?

Absolutely not. If anything 3/4e D&D is a largely irrelevant offshoot with the important discussion on modern gaming coming from basically anything else.

Talakeal
2012-09-01, 02:00 PM
I must say I don't really see the appeal to old school gaming as gamer girl described. Virtually every one of her criteria would be a big turn off for me, and I don't know any player who would prefer more than one or two off that list. It seems that the only people who it would appeal to are the type of power tripping DM's who find themselves without any players in short order.

That said, I don't consider myself a "new school" DM. I let the dice fall where they may and I hate games where the players have any form of narrative control.
My players are so whiny that they pout or throw a fit and leave the table the first time they fail at anything or something bad happens to their character, and they consider me a killer DM because a character is disabled(not killed) roughly every other encounter and the party has to run from about 1 in 50 encounters.

On the other hand, I do like a firm rule set. I like the concepts of challenging the players as well as the characters and letting dice fall where they may, but if the DM can simply alter the rules on a whim and doesn't need to have any logic behind the challenges than it is just so much fluff. This seems to be a pretty big conflict in the core of old school gaming as described.

Amphetryon
2012-09-01, 02:50 PM
Yeah, sandbox does not mean "static world". A world with events is not "railroading", so long as the goal is not to keep players down a narrowly defined path.

Another good way to avoid even the appearance of railroading is to ask the players what kind of game they want to play in the first place, and then create a starting event to push them in that direction. They can hardly complain about you giving them what they ask for.

Emphasis mine. I'm disagreeing with the bold portion of the quote, because I've seen players complain vociferously that "push[ing] them in that direction" is railroading, and they weren't willing to put up with it.

kyoryu
2012-09-01, 03:31 PM
Emphasis mine. I'm disagreeing with the bold portion of the quote, because I've seen players complain vociferously that "push[ing] them in that direction" is railroading, and they weren't willing to put up with it.

I mean more events that push the world in that direction, not necessarily pushing the players from one predetermined encounter to another.

Basically, what I'm talking about is starting a game by asking people "hey, what do you want the game to be about?"

If they say "an undead uprising!" then fine, have them start in a town that's being attacked by undead. It's a situation that makes the type of game that they asked for, but how they respond to it is up to them.

If that's what you did, and they responded by claiming "railroading!", get a new batch of players.

If you were instead pushing them to predesigned encounters, then yeah, you were railroading, even if they got to choose the ultimate destination.

Amphetryon
2012-09-01, 04:09 PM
I mean more events that push the world in that direction, not necessarily pushing the players from one predetermined encounter to another.

Basically, what I'm talking about is starting a game by asking people "hey, what do you want the game to be about?"

If they say "an undead uprising!" then fine, have them start in a town that's being attacked by undead. It's a situation that makes the type of game that they asked for, but how they respond to it is up to them.

If that's what you did, and they responded by claiming "railroading!", get a new batch of players.

If you were instead pushing them to predesigned encounters, then yeah, you were railroading, even if they got to choose the ultimate destination.
If I (or the DM, when it was not my game (I've seen this at more than one table)) had notes to handle a given contingency or Player response, their reaction was "railroading!"

kyoryu
2012-09-01, 06:13 PM
If I (or the DM, when it was not my game; I've seen this at more than one table) had notes to handle a given contingency or Player response, their reaction was "railroading!"

If the contingency notes are about how to get the players back "on track", then there's a legitimacy to it.

It's railroading if the players can't really take the path they want for seeming artificial reasons.

Amphetryon
2012-09-01, 06:29 PM
If the contingency notes are about how to get the players back "on track", then there's a legitimacy to it.

It's railroading if the players can't really take the path they want for seeming artificial reasons.They weren't; I didn't think I indicated they were. They were for what happens if the players make a particular choice. For instance:

"So, it appears the warlord is fairly dug in here in Estcovia. What would you like to do?"
"We leave the village of Estcovia and head to the coast, to find a ship to Wescovon."
*DM consults notes for what may be found on the road to the coast, and which ships may be available if they get there in a timely fashion."
Player: "Notes? Chugga-chugga-CHOO-CHOO! All aboard the Plot Express!"

Grundy
2012-09-01, 09:36 PM
I must say I don't really see the appeal to old school gaming as gamer girl described. Virtually every one of her criteria would be a big turn off for me, and I don't know any player who would prefer more than one or two off that list. It seems that the only people who it would appeal to are the type of power tripping DM's who find themselves without any players in short order...
...On the other hand, I do like a firm rule set. I like the concepts of challenging the players as well as the characters and letting dice fall where they may, but if the DM can simply alter the rules on a whim and doesn't need to have any logic behind the challenges than it is just so much fluff. This seems to be a pretty big conflict in the core of old school gaming as described.

I can't find her list at the moment, although I did read it. I remember thinking of it as overstated to make a point- I didn't agree with all of it.
I consider myself and our group old school, but if my DM ever handwaived rules, and then claimed "it's my way or the highway, DM is God" I'd be pretty irked.
We like clear rules that cover most situations; if there's an unclear rule, or one we can't be bothered to look up, we'll follow his interpretation, since the DM is the guy who has final say on rules.
It's also definitely not a DM vs. player mentality. He sets the stage and challenges us- but TPKs, or even player death, are not the goal.
On the other hand, characters die all the time. I've lost two in the current campaign, mostly because I played them like the fools they were...

Agrippa
2012-09-08, 01:53 PM
I'd say that this (http://www.goblinoidgames.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1843) is a pretty good depiction of the old school perspective on the difference between old and new school gaming.