Old School Gaming ?


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Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:

]Have you actually figured out RAW 2E initiative?

I remember looking at it awhile back and it neither made sense nor was what I remembered.
1E was far worse. I really couldn't figure out how that worked.

Initiative in 2nd edition is really just a set of different options you can pick and choose from...

For example, there is the option to roll once per combat (much like 3e/PF), or you can choose to roll each and every round during combat, you can have group initiative where you have a player make a single initiative roll that is the initiative roll for the entire group, or you can have everyone roll their own initiative, you can use or not use weapon speed factors and casting times for spells, etc.

I chose to let each player roll their own initiative, and add in their weapon speed factors and casting times for their spells. While as DM (for the most part, as there are exceptions), I roll once for an entire group of monsters, thus including all monsters of a given type under a single initiative roll (e.g. regardless if there are 2 orcs or 12, I only roll a single initiative die for the orcs as a group).

Liberty's Edge

I think Jeff more meant the sequencing, declaration, and action.


Nah, looking back at it again 2E initiative isn't so bad. The only odd part is that so much is optional. It really was only 1E that never made sense and that we never used.

Sovereign Court

Dunno. Too much rolling for me to roll initiative every round.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

We did the rolling every round in one game. After I took two full attacks in a row, I started delaying to the end of the round. Just to be sure to have an action between the enemies.


The 1st edition init rule had a neat option... Each character had an initiative, rolled ONCE. Talk about a roll you don't want to roll badly.

Liberty's Edge

Rolling every round sounds better then it plays. I did like Spycraft 2's fluid initiative (roll at the beginning, then certain actions cause your initiative count to rise or fall).


Sissyl wrote:
The 1st edition init rule had a neat option... Each character had an initiative, rolled ONCE. Talk about a roll you don't want to roll badly.

That I don't remember. But I don't think I ever understood 1E initiative and I'm damn sure we never played using it correctly.


the problem with rolling once and determining order is it just turns into an IgYg battle

With rolling every round, and applying damage when it occurs, the players have an opportunity to get in two rounds of attacks before the monsters can attack back


Terquem wrote:

the problem with rolling once and determining order is it just turns into an IgYg battle

With rolling every round, and applying damage when it occurs, the players have an opportunity to get in two rounds of attacks before the monsters can attack back

Or vice versa.

You can plan less. Provides a bit of the chaos of war factor.

It is kind of a pain and slows things down. There's a trade off.

Liberty's Edge

Terquem wrote:

the problem with rolling once and determining order is it just turns into an IgYg battle

With rolling every round, and applying damage when it occurs, the players have an opportunity to get in two rounds of attacks before the monsters can attack back

There are other ways to make initiative matter without rolling every round. Also, your example isn't that compelling since it also means the a adversaries also have that opportunity.

For other methods, Spycraft 2.0's Fluid Initiative worked, as does the optional Ebb and Flow initiative system for Fantasy Craft. Then there are a whole pile of systems that don't easily convert to a d20 frame of refrence.

Sovereign Court

Well you can always roll like 20 times, write those rolls down, add the initiative bonus, and when a fight begins roll a d20 to determine which roll starts first, and then just go around using the next roll every round.
Still much more work.


Krensky wrote:
Terquem wrote:

the problem with rolling once and determining order is it just turns into an IgYg battle

With rolling every round, and applying damage when it occurs, the players have an opportunity to get in two rounds of attacks before the monsters can attack back

There are other ways to make initiative matter without rolling every round. Also, your example isn't that compelling since it also means the a adversaries also have that opportunity.

For other methods, Spycraft 2.0's Fluid Initiative worked, as does the optional Ebb and Flow initiative system for Fantasy Craft. Then there are a whole pile of systems that don't easily convert to a d20 frame of refrence.

I'm not familiar with those, but I was always fond of Feng Shui's Shot system. You basically rolled initiative and counted down as normal, but when you did something it had a Shot Cost and you deducted that from your initiative to see when you'd act again. Movement only cost 1, most attacks were 3, etc. So it handled both initiative, different action types and multiple attacks all in one.

Faster characters not only went first, but got more actions.

A lot of cleverness in that system, broken though it was.

Liberty's Edge

Fluid Initiative had each character roll at the start of combat and then their actions can cause their initiative to rise or fall. Take Aim or Brace yourself and the initiative rises. Fire off a heavy machine gun or rocket launcher and it falls. There were a few things to explicitly raise or lower your count, and a few cool things you could do with really high counts, like extra actions and such.

Ebb and Flow keeps some of the same ideas, but simplifies and shortens the list of what changes your count, but makes them more meaningful and really gives having a high count matter through both a bonus to hit when attacking down initiative and penalty when attacking up, and a number of actions, feats, and tricks to exploit your or your opponents initiative rank. The Burglar in one game I'm running actually purposefully goes hunting for the low initiative opponents in a fight to maximize his damage due to his feat selections.

Of note also, both Spycraft 2 and Fantasy Craft have Initiative Bonus as part of the class line, and the high initiative classes aren't always the ones you think of. Sure, the Assassin and Burglar are, but so is the Courtier.


I will get back into this one. My us versus them initiative for play by post is modified by me adding a +1 for each mook present to the dice roll, rather than rolling for each goblin.....


@thejeff:

If I may juke away from the topic for a moment, I'd like to ask you a question.

To me, "broken" used in a gaming context usually implies gaming a system to produce unintended results which subvert the spirit of the game. So, for example, summoners in Pathfinder tend to trivialize encounters intended to be difficult in a way that's not very fun for anyone, the summoner's player included. The intent of the game is to be fun for all the players. Ergo, Pathfinder summoners are broken.

By contrast, every Level 70 character in Diablo III has unfettered access to the entire vast suite of abilities granted by their class, which might seem broken from the perspective of a Diablo II player. But, while you can certainly argue it's a poor design choice for a sequel to Diablo II, you can't argue that it's a broken system, because the system works as intended.

Now, admittedly, I've never managed to play a game of Feng Shui, but I do own the rulebook for the second edition, and it seems to me that Feng Shui is quite explicitly a game where the PCs are supposed to win most fights and do impossible stuff and show off like crazy, just as in the HK action cinema which inspired the game. The intro to the second edition uses a character dashing across the tops of oncoming bullets as an example of something you are supposed to be able to do in the course of play. From a Pathfinder player's perspective, that is crazy, but I wouldn't say it's broken, because it's wholly within the spirit of the game.

All of which is to ask: What about Feng Shui is "broken" within the context I just described? I've never played it, remember, so this really is meant as an honest question.


Ffordesoon wrote:

@thejeff:

If I may juke away from the topic for a moment, I'd like to ask you a question.

To me, "broken" used in a gaming context usually implies gaming a system to produce unintended results which subvert the spirit of the game. So, for example, summoners in Pathfinder tend to trivialize encounters intended to be difficult in a way that's not very fun for anyone, the summoner's player included. The intent of the game is to be fun for all the players. Ergo, Pathfinder summoners are broken.

By contrast, every Level 70 character in Diablo III has unfettered access to the entire vast suite of abilities granted by their class, which might seem broken from the perspective of a Diablo II player. But, while you can certainly argue it's a poor design choice for a sequel to Diablo II, you can't argue that it's a broken system, because the system works as intended.

Now, admittedly, I've never managed to play a game of Feng Shui, but I do own the rulebook for the second edition, and it seems to me that Feng Shui is quite explicitly a game where the PCs are supposed to win most fights and do impossible stuff and show off like crazy, just as in the HK action cinema which inspired the game. The intro to the second edition uses a character dashing across the tops of oncoming bullets as an example of something you are supposed to be able to do in the course of play. From a Pathfinder player's perspective, that is crazy, but I wouldn't say it's broken, because it's wholly within the spirit of the game.

All of which is to ask: What about Feng Shui is "broken" within the context I just described? I've never played it, remember, so this really is meant as an honest question

Not really in that sense. It's not really a matter of gaming the system. It's more fundamental than that.

The problem really lies in the basic mechanic. Skill+d6-d6* <> Skill. The range of the roll is tight enough that your chances drop off drastically as the difference in skill goes up. A 2 point difference in skill is workable if you've got other advantages, though you've got less than a 1 in 3 chance of success. A 3 point difference is 1 in 6 - which is fine if it's mooks attacking heroes.
The combat skill range for starting characters is 12-16. Most are within 13-15 and that mostly works. If the PCs don't keep themselves within that narrow range it gets really hard to balance fights - Anything that's a threat to the top end hits the weaker ones at will and can't be hurt by them.
Some of the archetypes also get secondary abilities a couple points down from their main skill. They may be cool, but that's essentially useless.

Mind you, I love the idea of the basic combat mechanic. One roll for hit & damage. No need for criticals or other hacks, rolling well to hit means you do more damage. Brilliantly elegant in theory. Works well within that limited range.
I had some great campaigns with it and it's still one of my favorites. It's just very fragile.

This is all with First Edition. I haven't seen the second one and don't know what they've changed.

*Open ended rolls- reroll 6s, but that doesn't really affect the basic probablity much


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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

It's a term over40's use when we want to impress you with our age. It includes mythical beliefs such as the idea that gaming and gamers were better when THEY were younger. That more primitive ways of creating games and characters were better.


I'm sorry, Drahliana, did you just say our age? ;)


Wait, it wasn't better?


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
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
It's a term over40's use when we want to impress you with our age. It includes mythical beliefs such as the idea that gaming and gamers were better when THEY were younger. That more primitive ways of creating games and characters were better.

It's also a term the young kids these days use when they want to bash the old grognards and the dumb ways they played those primitive games, which couldn't possibly be as good as today's shiny new ones.

Which is of course an odd argument to find on a Pathfinder site, since that's running on a 15 year old chassis and even D&D has had two major new evolutions since then which means it must be much better now.

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:
It is kind of a pain and slows things down.

I haven't seen it slow things down all that much, especially since combat in 2nd edition is pretty fast-paced to begin with.

But then, that's just my experience, YMMV... :-)


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knightnday wrote:
Wait, it wasn't better?

Nah back then we could drink more and hurt less!!


@thejeff:

Ah, thanks, that makes sense. Hopefully the second edition is less fragile. I'm really interested in playing it.


Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
It's a term over40's use when we want to impress you with our age. It includes mythical beliefs such as the idea that gaming and gamers were better when THEY were younger. That more primitive ways of creating games and characters were better.

I use "old school gamer" to describe my GM style, and I still have more than a few years before I hit the 40's hill. To me it is more of a mindset.

There are good things and bad things about earlier games. I like to think that the core concept of those early games can be brought forward into the modern gaming era, even with different rules.

I think it is a pretty good label to use that instantly turns off a certain segment of the gaming population. I find that saves time for both sides.


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To me "Old School" gaming is defined by a few points...

1) Mechanically simpler.
Basically, a less cluttered game system like the Basic/Expert/Advanced D&D of yore. Pen, paper, dice, and an imagination were all that was required.
Nothing much to bog you down like having to stop and map every room for miniature placement, tactical feats that depended on the physical placement and/or facing on these squares, etc.

2) Improvising on the fly.
If you ran into something not covered in the rules, you "winged it" for the most part based on existing rules from the books for similar situations.

3) Flavor.
This is a fairly large grey area to just about everyone.

For me it starts with a more "Savage" over "Magical" backdrop. This has nothing to do with martial over magical though i hate the term "Low Magic" setting, it's more a world where not every tavern keeper is a 6th level retired Warrior, or every sage is a former 9th level Wizard. There's a reason we have heroes, and they should be rare. That's how legends are made. For example, back in the FR days, my players would joke that if they failed Elminster or another godlike NPC wouldn't let things end badly for the Dales or wherever else we were at the time. Hell, why was a 6th level Warrior barkeep even bothering to hire us to begin with when he could easily solo the problem or call an old bandmate to help him?
We knew as players what the goals were and what we were there for, but there was a slight disconnect nonetheless.

Next is the feel of the backdrop. Classic tropes of old (semi-sacred cows). Evil power hungry Wizards, Evil cults with grand plans to restore an old god, Remote exploration/survival, be it in the icy northern mountains, underground or even a more exotic extraplanar locale.
Even in the usual uber "Dungeon Crawls", my group managed to turn the original Temple of Elemental Evil into an unbelievably role play heavy experience with great character personalities, moral dilemmas, etc.

Additionally... there's Art style. This is purely a personal preference but it helps for me.
It's a little hard to explain but artists like Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, and DeTerlizzi (not sure of the spelling) really brought things to life in their projects with original kind of art styles. Goodman Games bottled that same kind of lightning as well with artists like Chuck Whelon, Jason Edwards, Michael Erickson, and William McAusland for the feel of their specific line.

Artist like Wayne Reynolds (while great for the newer stuff) drawing warriors with Final Fantasy-esque swords just don't do it for me like the "old schoolers" do. I absolutely love the art in RotR, Carrion, Shackles, and Kingmaker for example, but they can never be considered "old school" in flavor for me, though they do bring their own particular "pathfindery" art style. Hope my choice of wording makes sense to some of you reading this :).

Lastly... The much talked about lethality of the old adventures like Tomb of Horrors, Castle Ravenloft, etc. Early Pathfinder AP volumes are no less lethal (read those AP obituaries, lol). Overall, I don't mind running them as long as players are warned in the beginning of the difficulty and agree play in it.
DMs as usual are the ones ultimately responsible for making or breaking of any game here (it's not just player lapses in judgement or bad decisions like the classic greedy Rogue "scouting" too far ahead on his own to palm valuables before the rest of the party gets there to liberate and divvy up loot).
People tend to forget we (us DMs) have SCREENS to roll behind. I use to keep a secret log of where and when characters actually would have died if not for my mercifully secret "fudged" die rolls behind the screen (like barely missing the PC or falsely lessening trap damage, etc) to keep them alive. But to keep on target, Lethality of said adventures is "kinda" (but far from limited to) old school.

Just my 2 coppers.


Did you guys see the Roll-play versus roleplay in PFS threads??

Shadow Lodge

You mean the necromancy'd thread?

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