Old School Gaming ?


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Locking this thread for a moment.
Edit: Reopening thread. Please refrain from personal attacks and insults--it does not help the discussion at all. In addition, please remember that one person's preferred game style may not suit somebody else.


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tony gent wrote:

Hi all just wondering what you think the name old school gaming means to you ?

Is it just a reference to how long someone's been gaming or do you think it describes a style of play.
Your thoughts please

I feel "Old School" is all in how you approach a game, adhering to specific tenants and ideals instead of a particular system. For a more in-depth analysis...

• Char-gen:
- Stats rolled in order
- Limited number of options, usually fitting a Tolkien-esque style campaign.
- Tight reign on options like spells, feats, and other character-based choices.

• Resource Management:
- Making resource replenishment more difficult, costly to the group/campaign to take.
- Using existing resources in uncommon/out of the box ways.

• Obtaining Features:
- Getting new spells, maneuvers, options, etc. takes in-game time, research, and planning. Ex. A Fighter doesn't automatically gain/learn a new combat feat just because....game. He needs to learn from a warrior. A wizard doesn't automatically get new spells willy nilly, they need to research for them.
- Higher HP, saves, attack bonus, AC upgrades need to be applies during downtime in a safe area, not in the middle of a monster a infested dungeon.

• Healing/Hit Points
- Restrict healing on a daily basis
- Make afflictions more difficult to remove. 
- Slower hit point recovery

• Adventuring/Exploration:
- No "standardization" on encounters
- No guarantee that encounters will be level appropriate or can be overcome through combat.
- Bigger emphasis on hex-crawling than planned or plotted games.

• Scope/Goals
- Rulings not rules, adjudication is far more important than a rules-lawyer.
- Game isn't designed to be "beaten" but rather experienced. You don't play to level up, leveling up is a by-product of your play. 

These are some of the things that always jump out at me when I discussions on old school. Luckily every version of D&D can do this so its not tied to a specific version. At least, the way I see it

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Having said that, I intended that post to be conceding the point - I didn't really understand what you meant initially, but agree that consistency across sessions of the same campaign is desirable, even if it wouldn't bother me if it lapsed.

Okay, that makes sense, even if it isn't my cup of tea. Being 100% consistent isn't really feasible, naturally, as we're all human.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Having said that, I intended that post to be conceding the point - I didn't really understand what you meant initially, but agree that consistency across sessions of the same campaign is desirable, even if it wouldn't bother me if it lapsed.
Okay, that makes sense, even if it isn't my cup of tea. Being 100% consistent isn't really feasible, naturally, as we're all human.

I have never been entirely convinced that consistency across sessions is always even desirable.

For instance, lets looks at falling and falling damage:

-On week one, the characters are fighting a tense skirmish, on a narrow path on a cliff face. Here you may want the emphasis to be on making sensible decisions about how to behave, based on the dangers of falling during the fighting.

-On week two, the characters are presented with a pulpy cinematic scene, with an enemy on an airship. It may well be desirable for the threat of falling to be reduced under these cicumstances, so they are willing to make a running jump onto the deck, or to jump onto the netting hanging from it.

Consistency means that they'll treat the risk of falling from the cliff as trivial, or might not risk the jump.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I wouldn't want those two scenes in the same campaign, at least not with those kinds of separate attitudes.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
I wouldn't want those two scenes in the same campaign, at least not with those kinds of attitudes.

What? That's like saying you don't like diehard!!!!1!!!1!!!111! You monster.

Joking aside, that is fine, but you can understand that if say a group playing an episodic campaign, where the feel of individual adventures might be fairly different, such a situation might be desirable.

Hell, for some groups it will be very happy if the rules work differently while the action is rising and during the climax of a single adventure's dramatic arc.


Zombieneighbours wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
Having said that, I intended that post to be conceding the point - I didn't really understand what you meant initially, but agree that consistency across sessions of the same campaign is desirable, even if it wouldn't bother me if it lapsed.
Okay, that makes sense, even if it isn't my cup of tea. Being 100% consistent isn't really feasible, naturally, as we're all human.

I have never been entirely convinced that consistency across sessions is always even desirable.

For instance, lets looks at falling and falling damage:

-On week one, the characters are fighting a tense skirmish, on a narrow path on a cliff face. Here you may want the emphasis to be on making sensible decisions about how to behave, based on the dangers of falling during the fighting.

-On week two, the characters are presented with a pulpy cinematic scene, with an enemy on an airship. It may well be desirable for the threat of falling to be reduced under these cicumstances, so they are willing to make a running jump onto the deck, or to jump onto the netting hanging from it.

Consistency means that they'll treat the risk of falling from the cliff as trivial, or might not risk the jump.

Can't you handle this by making tweaks to the encounters to get what you want.

The airship shouldn't be too bad as written, given that Climb DCs aren't that bad for anyone who didn't dump Str and has a point+class skill bonus. Even one of them makes it risky, but worth considering. The characters who don't have either probably can play "lets bypass the encounter gimmick entirely" with Spiderclimb or Fly anyway. Acrobatics is a little trickier, but 14 dex + a couple of points in acrobatics + class skill bonus should be enough to make 10ft jumps from rigging to rigging. This encounter only becomes a problem if you tried to make a pulpy cinematic scene with PCs that are not orientated in the slightest towards being able to perform pulpy cinematic scenes (and thus have characters that are completely unsuited to the encounter's gimmick and can't use it effectively). Then the issue isn't consistent rulings but the fact that you are trying to stick Reagar the bookish Tower Elf wizard in a swashbuckling adventure. Hand waving it and letting Reagar and his puny 7 Str untrained ass bounce from rigging to rigging is ignoring what Reagar is - a Bookish wizard who isn't able to swing around like a Roguish type who maxed all the movement related skills.

Since there aren't super detailed mechanics for how to handle narrow paths along cliff faces, here is where you get to make up some mechanics. And apply them consistently if this sort of thing comes up again. Make the path up against the cliff face, and the area towards the edge sloped and extremely crumbly. Clearly state this, so the PCs understand that this is where the danger is coming from. Do something like assign an acrobatics check to move across at half speed, with a substantial penalty for moving at full speed. Failure means falling prone and having to save or move a few squares towards the edge (falling off if close enough). Moving prone lets you travel without a check, but then you are moving prone, which sucks. There, we have a new home brewed mechanic that handles what you want to handle, and it doesn't clash with the existing rules since they are silent on this specific circumstance. Plus if you ever use it again, you can compare the second encounter's appearance to the first one and communicate the relative difficulties - if the second encounter is in the rain and the ground looks even *more* crumbly, then it is a fair bet that the DCs are going to be a lot higher. The players know what to expect and are in no way surprised, and you get your desired encounter.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Zombieneighbours wrote:

Joking aside, that is fine, but you can understand that if say a group playing an episodic campaign, where the feel of individual adventures might be fairly different, such a situation might be desirable.

Hell, for some groups it will be very happy if the rules work differently while the action is rising and during the climax of a single adventure's dramatic arc.

Yeah, I can understand other groups might want that. I personally would prefer something more like what Snowblind outlined.


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To me, Old School Gaming means

The players make their own map – they are not “given” one.

Players learn about what their character’s see, hear, touch, smell, and taste – by engaging in a dialog with the DM, asking questions, not by rolling a die and demanding they be told “everything they need to know.”

Player’s characters are more interested in each other’s motives, and fears, than they are in their own “build,” and percent chance to succeed on any given die roll.

When something seems unusual, it is decided what seems like should be the best way to handle it at the time, and not by finding out what the “consensus” of the forums is on the matter, or what the RAW versus RAI lawyers have to say.

Your character is important to the world she is playing in, not just the encounter she is playing in.


The below listed things make me think "old school".

Home made character sheets, no computers or printouts.

* No figurines, just x's and o's on scratch paper. And if figs are used they must look gnarly, made of pewter, and are poorly painted if painted at all.

* Hand made maps on graph paper.

* Beholders

* type A poison

* Type A-I large lair treasure and type J-Z small lair treasure

* Mountain Dew

* David A. Trampier

* Any argument between a Dungeon Master and Player over option rules from Dragon Magazine

Oddly enough Roleplaying does not seem to be a factor for my determination of "Old School". I've played in all editions of D&D and had groups that Roleplayed and many that did not.


I think a lot of people here live in a strange world.
Old School mean nothing to our group. I think most of most of my group has played D&D since 2nd ED (though I have played since OD&D). Two of the players in our current game (rune lords) have made references to Skyrym a game they play often unless they are playing Boarderlands. Though My favorite was NWN. We use Tables and PCs at the table along with Paper. Or GM emails the XP out to us. We don't use Point Buy and never have.

The only thing we don't use is smartphone dice. For all the dice on the table, we could really use the room.

For all the explanations of Old school, they just don't mean anything to us. And because the thread almost got closed, I am glad of it.


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In fairness, NGC, the old school movement is a really interesting area of modern games design. It is very closely linked with the DIY RPG movement. There is all sorts of stuff happening in that space:

- New games like white star, which hack early editions to allow planetary romance, space opera, and science fiction gaming.

- a huge number of cartography hobbyists (myself included). Perhaps most notably Dyson Logos.

- Oh so many zines and blogs, many of which contain really cool and useful stuff.


Snowblind wrote:


Can't you handle this by making tweaks to the encounters to get what you want.

To a fairly high degree, yes you can.

But you have to remember that such tweaks are often

Snowblind wrote:


The airship shouldn't be too bad as written, given that Climb DCs aren't that bad for anyone who didn't dump Str and has a point+class skill bonus. Even one of them makes it risky, but worth considering. The characters who don't have either probably can play "lets bypass the encounter gimmick entirely" with Spiderclimb or Fly anyway. Acrobatics is a little trickier, but 14 dex + a couple of points in acrobatics + class skill bonus should be enough to make 10ft jumps from rigging to rigging. This encounter only becomes a problem if you tried to make a pulpy cinematic scene with PCs that are not orientated in the slightest towards being able to perform pulpy cinematic scenes (and thus have characters that are completely unsuited to the encounter's gimmick and can't use it effectively).

I do not disagree with anything you have said here.

And consistency here is generally a good thing.

But the fact is, that failing that check is within the realms of possibility, and PCs falling to their death ten stories below is of limited utility to the game. As is the airship getting away without the PCs onboard, fighting the crew. This presents a problem.

Snowblind wrote:


Then the issue isn't consistent rulings but the fact that you are trying to stick Reagar the bookish Tower Elf wizard in a swashbuckling adventure. Hand waving it and letting Reagar and his puny 7 Str untrained ass bounce from rigging to rigging is ignoring what Reagar is - a Bookish wizard who isn't able to swing around like a Roguish type who maxed all the movement related skills.

Pulp stories do have characters who are less physically able. Their lack of physicality, doesn't stop them from attempting these things when the narrative puts them in that position.

What happens in such situations, is that the environment or another character saves them.

So if Reagar fails, their is good reason to, rather than calculate how far he would have made it, say "you leap out into the void, for a moment you are convince you will make it, and then the reality kicks in. You fall just short, impacting with and becoming entangled with the cargo netting hanging from the side of the airship. You do not fall to your death, but you do loose a 3rd of your hit points, and will need to free yourself and then climb on board."

That way you allow a fail forward, not punishing the player with character death for doing something awesome, and allowing progression.


Zombieneighbours wrote:

I do not disagree with anything you have said here.

And consistency here is generally a good thing.

But the fact is, that failing that check is within the realms of possibility, and PCs falling to their death ten stories below is of limited utility to the game. As is the airship getting away without the PCs onboard, fighting the crew. This presents a problem.

You are quite right. Things that NEED TO HAPPEN in order to advance the plot should not be resolved by dice rolling. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a good DM should never throw the dice (or ask for the dice to be thrown) unless he is prepared to deal with the consequences of what the dice have to say, for better or worse.

The only ways I know of to avoid artificial dice rolling are:

1) Make things that must happen automatic (ie. the airship is docked when the PCs arrive or somesuch, and getting onboard is a snap)

or

2) Don't GM in a way in which any particular thing must happen in order for the game (but not necessarily the "plot", as this in some ways precludes plot-based GMing) to go on.

#1 of the above is obviously by far the easier solution of the two, but I would submit that #2 is more noble, and the sign of a better GM. I do not always live up to this standard, myself, but I try.


the secret fire wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:

I do not disagree with anything you have said here.

And consistency here is generally a good thing.

But the fact is, that failing that check is within the realms of possibility, and PCs falling to their death ten stories below is of limited utility to the game. As is the airship getting away without the PCs onboard, fighting the crew. This presents a problem.

You are quite right. Things that NEED TO HAPPEN in order to advance the plot should not be resolved by dice rolling. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a good DM should never throw the dice (or ask for the dice to be thrown) unless he is prepared to deal with the consequences of what the dice have to say, for better or worse.

The only ways I know of to avoid artificial dice rolling are:

1) Make things that must happen automatic (ie. the airship is docked when the PCs arrive or somesuch, and getting onboard is a snap)

or

2) Don't GM in a way in which any particular thing must happen in order for the game (but not necessarily the "plot", as this in some ways precludes plot-based GMing) to go on.

#1 of the above is obviously by far the easier solution of the two, but I would submit that #2 is more noble, and the sign of a better GM. I do not always live up to this standard, myself, but I try.

Or approaches like ZombieNeighbors above where the dice don't determine between success and failure, but between full success and partial success, or success with complications.


the secret fire wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:

I do not disagree with anything you have said here.

And consistency here is generally a good thing.

But the fact is, that failing that check is within the realms of possibility, and PCs falling to their death ten stories below is of limited utility to the game. As is the airship getting away without the PCs onboard, fighting the crew. This presents a problem.

You are quite right. Things that NEED TO HAPPEN in order to advance the plot should not be resolved by dice rolling. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a good DM should never throw the dice (or ask for the dice to be thrown) unless he is prepared to deal with the consequences of what the dice have to say, for better or worse.

The only ways I know of to avoid artificial dice rolling are:

1) Make things that must happen automatic (ie. the airship is docked when the PCs arrive or somesuch, and getting onboard is a snap)

or

2) Don't GM in a way in which any particular thing must happen in order for the game (but not necessarily the "plot", as this in some ways precludes plot-based GMing) to go on.

#1 of the above is obviously by far the easier solution of the two, but I would submit that #2 is more noble, and the sign of a better GM. I do not always live up to this standard, myself, but I try.

As thejeff points out, within the post you are commenting on, I offer another approach, which is a variant of fail forwards.

You can also go with techniques like Three Clue Rule. It their are multiple paths to success, then failure and success, does not have to determine IF a PC is successful, but how they are successful.


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Even beyond that, it's not really relevant whether the cool scene is required for the plot or not (In the airship case, there may well be another way to forward the plot - to track the airship down or otherwise intercept the bad guys later).

It's still a cool pulpy scene and having someone fall to their death with one missed roll isn't a cool pulpy way to resolve it. Nor is everyone deciding not to bother because you guy probably won't make the jump and they don't want him to die or be left out of the next session.

That's why you apply the fail forward approach. Consequences for failure, but consequences that lead to another exciting scene rather than instant death.


Yes, i should have mention that. Even if it couldn't act as a plot block for the scenario, having the players risk the jump, is still desirable, because awesome is something we want at out table.


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Snowblind wrote:

[

I thought that old school was the meat grinder sort of play, where PCs dropped every session from unspeakably horrific deaths, Wizards died from a stiff breeze and had to track their bat poop on stone tablets, traps had none of this silly "take X damage" frivolity but just "save or die, b****". The sort of game where you didn't bother naming your PC for their first three levels, because it is a bad idea to form attachments to dead characters walking. The sort of play where looking into a statue's mouth puts your head into a sphere of annihilation, no save, and where getting off the cart at the tavern results in several broken bones because you need to stop the cart first, dumb***. You know, the way Gyngax intended*. None of this nonsense about "choice" or "point buys" or "Role-Playing". That gets in the way of the players learning the meaning of suffering and loss and getting crushed in hilariously unfair ways.

I guess that just goes to show that "Old School" means whatever the hell the person saying it wants it to mean, either as a pejorative or as a badge of supposed superiority.

*Yes, I know exactly how factually valid this statement is. The question is though, how many of this particular flavor of "old school" think that competitive tomb of horrors play is the way Gyngax wanted DMs to run their games in general.

Yep, there were a few of those. Thankfully rare, unless it was for a one shot competition, where the idea was to survive. Those can be fun too- saying you "beat" Tomb of Horrors was real cred.

Roleplaying over tactics. Not necessarily roleplaying over powergaming or optimizers, plenty of those in the Old School days, but tactics were rare. Battlemats were uncommon, and the main use for figures was to show party order in a dungeon crawl. More dungeon crawls, too.

Traps werent always that deadly but they were far more imaginative than today. The idea of just "walking ahead and taking the damage- who needs a Rogue?" was unthinkable. Traps didnt just do damage. And there were lots of them , so the idea of "just summoning something would make you run out real soon. Not to mention it wouldnt work at all on half the types of traps.

A Thief was necessary. I should know!

Oh and yes- you mapped. Always.

Buying magics items was pretty much impossible, other than potions, scrolls and magic arrows. Thinking your character would have a flaming scimitar by level 7 was the definition of "hubris". Heck, you might have a small pile of +1 and even +2 weapons. But you used what you found.

Rolled, and often rolled in order. "Ooh, this would make a good wizard! " Not- "I will do up a wizard, he'll start with a 18 Int". Ha!

Liberty's Edge

True, but there wasn't much difference between a +1 sword and a +1 dagger in the earliest days, unless my memory is going in my dotage, and even up until 3.0 there was little beyond style and preference to recommend one weapon over another.

Once we started having systems for really specializing in one weapon over another that's when "This is a really cool magic sword, but I have a whole bunch of character options tied to hammers. Oh well."

Now, I detest the "I'll get the magic item I want because I'm entitled to it" set, but in a game where item bonuses are important for balance it sort of is the GM's responsibility to see that the players get those item bonuses around the right points in a form that can use.* Whether this means "coincidentally, there's a +3 Bohemian Ear Spoon in this hoard", using weapon groups (which is really just trading a huge coincidence for a smaller one), inherent bonuses so magic items matter less, adjusting encounters to account for the lower bonuses, or whatever.


Krensky wrote:


Once we started having systems for really specializing in one weapon over another that's when "This is a really cool magic sword, but I have a whole bunch of character options tied to hammers. Oh well."

2nd Ed, and especially Skills and Powers. You could hyper-specialize.


DrDeth wrote:
Krensky wrote:


Once we started having systems for really specializing in one weapon over another that's when "This is a really cool magic sword, but I have a whole bunch of character options tied to hammers. Oh well."
2nd Ed, and especially Skills and Powers. You could hyper-specialize.

1st edition Unearthed Arcana, introduced Weapon Specialization.

In 1985.

Liberty's Edge

Which wasn't, quite, as limiting as some of the modern variants. Well, maybe Skills and Powers, I was playing other stuff when those came out. I do remember that in AD&D I don't recall much specialization other than Long/Bastard/Two-handed Sword or Long Bow. I think these were also the most common entries on the tables.

I also seem to remember the item pluses not being quite as mathematically important.


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DrDeth wrote:
Snowblind wrote:

[

I thought that old school was the meat grinder sort of play, where PCs dropped every session from unspeakably horrific deaths, Wizards died from a stiff breeze and had to track their bat poop on stone tablets, traps had none of this silly "take X damage" frivolity but just "save or die, b****". The sort of game where you didn't bother naming your PC for their first three levels, because it is a bad idea to form attachments to dead characters walking. The sort of play where looking into a statue's mouth puts your head into a sphere of annihilation, no save, and where getting off the cart at the tavern results in several broken bones because you need to stop the cart first, dumb***. You know, the way Gyngax intended*. None of this nonsense about "choice" or "point buys" or "Role-Playing". That gets in the way of the players learning the meaning of suffering and loss and getting crushed in hilariously unfair ways.

I guess that just goes to show that "Old School" means whatever the hell the person saying it wants it to mean, either as a pejorative or as a badge of supposed superiority.

*Yes, I know exactly how factually valid this statement is. The question is though, how many of this particular flavor of "old school" think that competitive tomb of horrors play is the way Gyngax wanted DMs to run their games in general.

Yep, there were a few of those. Thankfully rare, unless it was for a one shot competition, where the idea was to survive. Those can be fun too- saying you "beat" Tomb of Horrors was real cred.

Roleplaying over tactics. Not necessarily roleplaying over powergaming or optimizers, plenty of those in the Old School days, but tactics were rare. Battlemats were uncommon, and the main use for figures was to show party order in a dungeon crawl. More dungeon crawls, too.

Traps werent always that deadly but they were far more imaginative than today. The idea of just "walking ahead and taking the damage- who needs a Rogue?" was unthinkable. Traps didnt just do damage. And there were lots of them , so the idea of "just summoning something would make you run out real soon. Not to mention it wouldnt work at all on half the types of traps.

A Thief was necessary. I should know!

Oh and yes- you mapped. Always.

Buying magics items was pretty much impossible, other than potions, scrolls and magic arrows. Thinking your character would have a flaming scimitar by level 7 was the definition of "hubris". Heck, you might have a small pile of +1 and even +2 weapons. But you used what you found.

Rolled, and often rolled in order. "Ooh, this would make a good wizard! " Not- "I will do up a wizard, he'll start with a 18 Int". Ha!

A good deal of this is indeed what I experienced in old school gaming. But, to elaborate, I think it goes beyond this. You can still get this sort of mechanical approach today with the old D&D/AD&D versions or retro clones, but there is a bit more to it than that, something I think was touched on earlier.

In the Old School Gaming, you didn't have a message board that you could appeal to in the middle of the game or afterwards/before to ask if the DM was being mean or how to best beat a trap. There were precious few resources for getting information from the game company or other gamers outside of the rare conventions.

The idea of some sort of mutiny against the DM was something akin to the Bigfoot -- you'd heard someone had done it, but always in some far away place and the information was never very clear on why.

You learned to play the character that you were dealt. Sometimes you died, but a lot of the time you managed to persevere. The fifteen minute adventuring day was not even a twinkle in its grandfather's eye yet; you grimly plowed on if the magic user ran low on spells.

Was it better? No more or less so than the TV shows and movies we watched then. My son asked me why I was watching an old episode of Star Trek the other day when the newer ones are so much more vibrant with colors and special effects. I could have just told him about nostalgia, but that wouldn't have been true. I liked the show because not only was it an interesting show, but it evoked memories of that time of watching it and it being new, different, and exciting.

Old School gaming was like that, at least for me. At the time it didn't have all the fancy options and bells and whistles we have now. There weren't the myriad of choices in game system, let alone options for all sorts of different genres of gaming experiences. There weren't video games about it, it wasn't accepted widely yet. But it was what I had, and it was mine, and it was fun.

Old School games and today's games share a lot, and a lot is lost as well. Neither is worse or better than the other, any more than my wife is better or worse than my first love. They both represent a time in my life and the things I liked then and now. And I wouldn't give either of them up.

Shadow Lodge

Magic weapons were important because you could harm some creatures with them, look at the 1e Mummy. The Mummy was high end scary monster. Now adays he's a medium difficulty monster.

Liberty's Edge

Jacob Saltband wrote:
Magic weapons were important because you could harm some creatures with them, look at the 1e Mummy. The Mummy was high end scary monster. Now adays he's a medium difficulty monster.

Yes, and that was a reason to keep the +2 Earspoon when you were a Longsword double specialist, but you'd prefer an enchanted Longsword otherwise.

I'm obviously not explaining my point clearly though, so I'll bow out.


Krensky wrote:

Which wasn't, quite, as limiting as some of the modern variants. Well, maybe Skills and Powers, I was playing other stuff when those came out. I do remember that in AD&D I don't recall much specialization other than Long/Bastard/Two-handed Sword or Long Bow. I think these were also the most common entries on the tables.

I also seem to remember the item pluses not being quite as mathematically important.

Yeah, cause everyone specialized in the weapons you were most likely to find, because it would be dumb not to.

Shadow Lodge

Krensky wrote:
Jacob Saltband wrote:
Magic weapons were important because you could harm some creatures with them, look at the 1e Mummy. The Mummy was high end scary monster. Now adays he's a medium difficulty monster.
Yes, and that was a reason to keep the +2 Earspoon when you were a Longsword double specialist, but you'd prefer an enchanted Longsword otherwise.

Yes, this is what I remember as well. The plus to hit and damage was less important.


The plus to bypass damage immunity was important.


I'm a cynic. I hear "old school gamer" and I think of someone who thinks 3.0 is ancient.

I hear "grognard" and I think grumpy edition defender (not necessarily an aggressive sort but will defend his favorite to the pain)

As a style.. There wasn't a defined one. Everyone took the rules and went with it. I didn't know many who ran direct published adventures. They all had their own worlds, ideas, kingdoms, and as things came out, different books were allowed, rules were used/abandoned, you name it. I guess it was the utter lack of a defined style in the game for me. All the style of the game was altered so signofocantly by the people who chose to run it.

Now everything rules wise is very standardized, granted, Paizo is putting out more and more optionals, but nothing compared to how it used to be. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but I don't know if it's entirely a good thing either.

Thinking back however, I do not miss carting thirty pounds of books a couple miles up a hill in the summer to meet in the open commons of the university to play (some were students or children of staff so we could use the room as long as we didn`t bother anyone). That alone made gym class for wimps.


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I feel those who say that basically, OSG is Rulings over rules have it correct.

There's NOTHING to prevent one playing Pathfinder in an Old School Gaming way (which I think our group does).

BUT certain rulesets seem to push certain gamestyles.

AD&D, you certainly could play it hardcore by the rules...and have massive rule arguments if you wanted.

However, if you played it rulings over rules, than the DM's say is final and you keep on playing without argument (unless one is a douche...in which case...you'd be out of a group right quick).

On the otherhand, you have many today with PF and other modern rules, where if the rules say one thing, the DM rules another...there are many a youngster who will argue till the sun goes down and rises again that the DM is mistaken (despite RULE 0) and that they are correct.

The playstyle does not preclude any rulesystem, but you tend to find certain gaming styles more inclusive in some game systems than others.

That said, I feel that me and my group tend to play Pathfinder in an OLD SCHOOL gaming way.

It makes the game flow quickly, rapidly, and since it's all between friends, we tend to go easy if the DM get's a rule wrong (or two...or three) which can be kept...or rectified at a later date if we so desire.

I see on the forums, that apparently many play PF with rules over rulings though, meaning that they can argue about the rules with the DM and see themselves as being correct. More rules over rulings means that you have a better ability to plan out your characters, and figure out what and how you want to do a "build."

You saw it in D&D and AD&D...but I feel it's more prominent these days in modern systems, with the rulings over rules being a lesser played gamestyle in many instances (at least in PF).


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dkonen wrote:


I hear "grognard" and I think grumpy edition defender (not necessarily an aggressive sort but will defend his favorite to the pain)

Not grumpy and not really an edition defender. ;-) Actually, I enjoyed all editions of D&D, from OD&D thru PF and even 5th. Even 4th. (We had a great DM).

Yes, I like PF, and defend it, but a nice old school AD&D game is a lot of classic RP fun too.

Heck, with the right group and DM, Tunnels & Trolls is a blast.


thejeff wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
Krensky wrote:


Once we started having systems for really specializing in one weapon over another that's when "This is a really cool magic sword, but I have a whole bunch of character options tied to hammers. Oh well."
2nd Ed, and especially Skills and Powers. You could hyper-specialize.

1st edition Unearthed Arcana, introduced Weapon Specialization.

In 1985.

1985 was also the year the Master Set came out for Basic D&D, and the Weapon Mastery rules were in that. Probably the high point of Fighter capability in D&D.


T&T!

I ran Catacombs of the Bear Cult for my group as a break from our regular D&D game in 1984.

When the party went up against the 200d6 crossbow, hilarity ensued

Then, in 2012 I ran a T&T game for my 24 year old son and a couple of his friends - they still talk about how much fun that game was today. They particularly like the time when the wizard passed out after knocking down a troll with TTYF


There are a few absolutes I can definitely point out in Old School vs New School. I almost imagine George Carlin doing this like his football versus baseball comparison.
New School = character death extremely rare Old school = common to frequent depending on DM
New School = All magic items are available, don't mess with my build progression Old school = magic items rare and typically not for sale
New School = Traps are never lethal Old school = traps were dangerous and could kill
New school = Encounters are always balanced Old school = running was sometimes the best option
New school = Characters figure things out with the appropriate skill or knowledge roll Old school = Players had to figure things out--characters could not make a skill roll to solve a riddle

The styles are different. My great grandma said she like black and white TV because it looked more realistic. I realize the 3.x D&D shell is better than the old AD&D shell.

As for fourth and fifth edition, color me unconvinced.


Chainmail wrote:
New school = Encounters are always balanced Old school = running was sometimes the best option

The problem with this is that running is seldom something you can do successfully.

Unless the enemy has no interest in chasing you down, running is usually paramount to dying.


New School = darn newfangled things kids get up to these days. Gerroffmalawn!

Old School = Everything was better in the Good Old Days!


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

Maybe I'm misinterpreting what it means, but I find attacks on "special snowflakism" far more worrisome than the "snowflakism" itself, which I'm not sure I've ever even seen, at least not in a way I see anything terribly wrong with. It's okay to be special - more than okay. This "snowflake"-bashing I see from time to time just sounds to me like a way of picking on made-up people instead of real ones at best, and overt fascism at worst.

Maybe I should ask: What does it mean?

It means, "a character that wasn't seamlessly tailored for my special snowscape."


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My sister's characters would always carry iron spikes, to drop whenever she ran away from Rust Monsters.

Grand Lodge

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Zombieneighbours wrote:
This pretty much sums up my feelings on old school
I feel the need to offer this counterpoint every time I see this linked.

Both those articles are stuck in the mindset that gaming is defined by D+D and it's successors. The Alexandrian in particular seems overly focused on some ideal of "consistency".

For me "new school" has two different definitions, one, we've already talked to death about and will continue to resurrect and beat the dead horse.

For me, however new school starts during the time when players fed up with the stifling limitations of AD+D's wargaming nature and strict race/class roles, abandoned it altogether for other pastures. You have the rise of divergent schools, one being the story predominant rulesets of games such as Ars Magica, or the even more loosely bound rulesets of the Storyteller game family.

Some like GURPS and Hero kept to more traditional settings but abolished the notion of classes and levels altogether with the first point buy systems for character building. (WOTC would come to adopt a limited approach to point buy in resposne when 3rd edition came out. Homebrewers would bring it to D+D much earlier)

One thing that's worth noting. Unlike the Storyteller and similar loose rule systems, I've not heard of anyone ever launched a D+D larp that's lasted for any significant period of time. And I think the reason is inherent to the culture of D20 gaming. D20 players have defined a tight legislated rules set as their comfort zone, and LARPS don't work well with that.

In comparison with that, I believe the differences between "Pathfinder" and "old school gaming" which when you come down to it means "old school D+D" are more exaggerated than substantive, where the only real arguable differences are the expansion of player choices and the evolution of 3rd edition and later as a character builder game.


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LazarX wrote:
In comparison with that, I believe the differences between "Pathfinder" and "old school gaming" which when you come down to it means "old school D+D" are more exaggerated than substantive, where the only real arguable differences are the expansion of player choices and the evolution of 3rd edition and later as a character builder game.

Maybe it's captured by evolution into a "character builder game", but I think another substantive difference is the abandonment of DM-fiat as a desirable/expected part of the game.

To me, that's the really striking difference (and often the point of contention) between the two approaches to playing. When something out of the ordinary comes up, who do you go to first - the rulebook or the DM?


I remember starting in a setting called Dragonlance. The story begins where clerics do not get to have any spells at start until the Disks are found in the adventure. I do not think this would fly today.

Another example, Queen of the Demonweb Pits was the end of a massively difficult campaign. On Lolth's home plane, many spells acted peculiarly. When a character cast a spell, the DM looked at a chart and told you what nasty things happened instead of what you thought. This would not work today.

I would say players today want to see the sausage being made. In earlier times, it was not as important. The expectations and norms have changed, and many are good.


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Chainmail wrote:
I remember starting in a setting called Dragonlance. The story begins where clerics do not get to have any spells at start until the Disks are found in the adventure. I do not think this would fly today.

I can tell you now it totally would fly today.

The key thing is that the GM would be expected to announce before people made characters that clerics would start without spellcasting and it would have to be earned mid-game.

This might mean that none of your players choose to take clerics and that's ok.

Quote:
Another example, Queen of the Demonweb Pits was the end of a massively difficult campaign. On Lolth's home plane, many spells acted peculiarly. When a character cast a spell, the DM looked at a chart and told you what nasty things happened instead of what you thought. This would not work today.

Assuming that spellcasting getting screwed was taken into account in the challenge ratings involved in the adventure, and the characters were able to ascertain in advance that spellcasting would be unreliable on their quest to the Demonweb Pits, I suspect most players would be fine with it.

Quote:

I would say players today want to see the sausage being made.

This is true.


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Old school had more cause and effect, more common sense and logic.

New school is I use detect evil all the time and no one ever takes it as an insult.......

Old school try to steal via charm person you expect to be treated as a thief, new school thinks it will work and they will get away with it.

Old school you couldn't buy a potion and if you found one "eventually" you had to go through a whole process just to make sure you didn't poison or curse yourself.....new school point me to magic mart...

Grand Lodge

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So I'm old school. Who knew?


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A lot said about "old school" that I remember, some, not so much. Games differed. A couple of things I recall though and haven't seen too much on in this thread...

It wasn't about the PCs progression, it was about exploring a world. It could be a dungeon / nearby village or a massive city and huge setting but what was around the bend was important and unknown. And exciting. Exploration. And mapping it yourself :)

And character "story / backstory" really was written in game not pre game. What was important was what happened with your friends. That's where the stories were.

Campaigns weren't meant to go "1-20", they just went. Until they didn't.

Our games were sandbox, very little overarching save the world type stories. Possibly because getting to high level took forever without a "Monty Haul" DM :) Players set their goals in the world and the DM expanded his game to accommodate the players direction.

I run the same homebrew campaign today that I started with in original D&D. It's changed edition by edition (except 4th - I stuck with 3.5 and then PF). I'm not sure if it's really "old school" or "new". I'm immersed in it, it's built a history and mythology for itself. The adventures practically write themselves (and I have recycled material on occasion). And it saves me from spending a small fortune on adventure paths :D


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Definition as given by an "Old School" gamer. Old School is stuff I like written between 1974 and 2015; New School is stuff I don't like written between 1974 and 2015.

Definition as given by a "New School" gamer. New School is stuff I like written between 1974 and 2015; Old School is stuff I don't like written between 1974 and 2015.

Usually also in terms of what D&D was doing in those periods, because God knows there aren't any other RPGs.


Nigrescence wrote:

A style of play, or a method of play.

Kids these days want their numbers as big as possible and don't care what they have to sacrifice to get it, and seem to get bored of anything other than combat.

I see the numbers as secondary to pretty much everything else about the character, but still recognize the importance of those numbers, and enjoy all aspects of the game, not just combat.

*shrug*

That...and someone who likes rules that can be adjusted...like taking the saving throw table in d&d rules cyclopedia and replacing them with something simple like +2 points per hit dice allocated to save slots as desired by player. Wham! Three less pages of look-up tables.


Why, in my day, we had to roll to hit with a Magic Missile, and we liked it. Our fathers would wake us up, then kill us, then wake us up again...

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