I might not be as Old School as I thought


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So my gaming friends and I were chatting the other night about old school versus new school. It was the same old; we all ranted about kids these days... video games... get off my lawn, that kind of thing.

Somewhere in the middle of it all I went quiet. My one buddy mentioned that the GREAT thing about all these old school systems is that there were a LOT of rules, but not for players. The DM handled everything. Players just rolled some dice and got their little package of class stuff and went along with the plot.

Right there it hit me: I HATED that.

I don't want to get my old school card revoked but I gotta admit that there were tons of games of D&D when I was a kid where I tried different things to make MY fighter different from other ones. I'm not talking "this one carries axes" different but like asking the DM if I could have a mutant power, or a combat tail, or be super-acrobatic or something.

The other thing I always hated about back in the day was that EVERYTHING was on me when DMing. If a player wanted his character to throw a grappling hook and swing out dramatically, there weren't a lot of rules for it and no skills. So... I'd just make up an arbitrary number. It was a ton of "mother may I" situations and I ended up being the biggest "mother" of them all if you catch my drift.

So I have to admit that I LOVE Pathfinder. I loved Marvel Super Heroes back in the day for the same reason: player agency. Sure the villains are left up to the GM but the rules and customizing the PC is ALL you!

Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time. Do any of you guys play the same way? Help me out here.


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Mark Hoover wrote:
The other thing I always hated about back in the day was that EVERYTHING was on me when DMing. If a player wanted his character to throw a grappling hook and swing out dramatically, there weren't a lot of rules for it and no skills. So... I'd just make up an arbitrary number.

Is the situation really much better now? As a GM, if a player asked me what was needed for him to be able to throw a grappling hook at some protrusion on the ceiling, and then swing across a chasm, I'd basically be making up numbers.


I agree that player agency is important. For me, that is a major element of fun in an RPG.
I disagree that a lot of rules are needed to give players agency.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Mark Hoover wrote:
I don't want to get my old school card revoked

I'd be happy to burn mine in public. Back in the old days, I loved AD+D so much, I took a ten year leave of absence from it, and played RPGs that had nothing to do with TSR.


One of the real step forwards as far as pathfinder over 2nd edition is that all the rules in the books are available to everyone and, more importantly, the information is in some form of order. You know where the combat rules are, you know where the skills rules are, you know where the spells are. In 2nd edition it took you 10 minutes to find a spell.


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Nobody is old school. They found a d20 that's at least 1,700 years old.


It seems to me there are two issues here, that often get conflated: The character building game and the actual playing the game game.

The kind of thing you always asked for back in the old days: "a mutant power, or a combat tail, or be super-acrobatic or something", that's the character building game. Pathfinder gives you a ton more of that that AD&D did. MSH, as you mention, also gave you lot of it.

The grappling hook example would be the playing the game part and as Matthew said, a lot of that is still on the GM. As far as I know, there really aren't any PF rules for swinging on a grappling hook. (If there are, they probably involve a feat that's so situational no one would ever take it. :)
Similarly, if I remember MSH correctly, there was an awful lot of GM fiat going into what you could do in game. (It's been a long time since I even looked at the rules though and I only played it a couple of times.)

As for how we played back in the old days: Pretty much like we play now. The GM does the world building and sets up some kind of overarching plot, which we then take our characters (Whether they're simple AD&D templates or convoluted PF builds) and proceed to completely confound his expectations and drive everything off in weird directions, forcing him to constantly rework what he thought was going to happen. :)


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coldvictim wrote:
One of the real step forwards as far as pathfinder over 2nd edition is that all the rules in the books are available to everyone and, more importantly, the information is in some form of order. You know where the combat rules are, you know where the skills rules are, you know where the spells are. In 2nd edition it took you 10 minutes to find a spell.

Organization is definitely much improved.

OTOH, without the online versions, spells and feats and things are scattered over more books. At least than 1st edition.

And we always pretty much ignored the "Only the GM should read the rules" part. At least partly since most of us tried our hands at GMing.


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coldvictim wrote:
One of the real step forwards as far as pathfinder over 2nd edition is that all the rules in the books are available to everyone and, more importantly, the information is in some form of order. You know where the combat rules are, you know where the skills rules are, you know where the spells are. In 2nd edition it took you 10 minutes to find a spell.

???

They were organized by class and level. If you weren't jumbling up your own character sheet, you probably had all you needed to quickly find the spell. There was also a decent index in the PH for the spells that put them all in alpha order with the page number.


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Mark Hoover wrote:
Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time. Do any of you guys play the same way? Help me out here.

I'm afraid we're a lot alike on this one, my friend. Even back in the day I used to lament how every fighter was basically alike, though the equipment might differ. But there wasn't anything besides that and the stat numbers to differentiate them. I like things a lot better with PF.


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Me too!

Or three I guess. :-)


QuidEst wrote:
Nobody is old school. They found a d20 that's at least 1,700 years old.

If I'm not mistaken, that's a Scattegories (tm) dice!?

Sweet!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ahhhhhh. AD&D combat charts, how I (don't) miss thee.


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MendedWall12 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Nobody is old school. They found a d20 that's at least 1,700 years old.

If I'm not mistaken, that's a Scattegories (tm) dice!?

Sweet!

Damn, that's where I lost it!


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Mark Hoover wrote:
Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time.

Whilst I prefer the high DM-fiat approach (and also prefer minimal mechanical difference between PCs), I think you're fine.

Another defining feature of "old school gaming" was that every group did their own thing and the world didn't end. You can add in character customisation, you can run the whole gamut from rules-as-guidelines to rules-as-law and you can de-emphasise the role of DM fiat (my group in the 80s effectively did that - we had a consensual approach so whatever was ruled in one DM's game applied to all). I think 'old school' is a broad church.


Mulgar wrote:
MendedWall12 wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Nobody is old school. They found a d20 that's at least 1,700 years old.

If I'm not mistaken, that's a Scattegories (tm) dice!?

Sweet!

Damn, that's where I lost it!

LOLS


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thejeff wrote:
As far as I know, there really aren't any PF rules for swinging on a grappling hook. (If there are, they probably involve a feat that's so situational no one would ever take it. :)

"Kids these days... They don't even do a <CTRL><f> to search the rules..." [/curmudgeon]

Core Rulebook wrote:
Throwing a grappling hook requires a ranged attack roll, treating the hook as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet. Objects with ample places to catch the hook have an AC of 5.

Swinging on a rope is most similar to using Acrobatics to jump (probably with a +10 bonus on the check).


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Eh.... For me, I like (most of) the mechanics from 3.PF... When it comes to missing the Old School, it's the feel I miss. There wasn't any of the rampant player entitlement I witness youngsters these days having, there wasn't any skewing of the rules towards letting the players "win" the game. Back in my groups at least, if you died, you either wound up with an epic quest to get yourself revived, or you wound up bringin' in someone connected to the previous and had a blast with the story.

Now-a-days, you get people claiming it's "too hard" if your character dies, or my personal favorite, "You just killed my PC! you're a horrible DM! Why do you even run this game!?" <~~ True fraking occurrence I had happen to me. There's no awesome anecdotes about the PCs getting overwhelmed and either narrowly pulling a victory out of their arse with some quick thinking and ingenuity, nor are there anymore stories of epic sacrifices from a noble PC that enabled the party to escape/win.... I miss that....

Now you have the True Rez Hedge Fund, starting at level 1. "Oh, well, I got this jar full of Bob's hair. If he dies we'll just find someone to rez him."....

I suppose that goes hand in hand with the whole "there's no real element of suspense or danger" these days. At least from the games I've played in. Hell, I haven't even really seen it in any of the APs, at least from most of the ones I've read/ran/played in. Only once did I ever fear for my character, which was only because there were only two PCs running through RotRL and that damn vargoulle (sp?) had the luckiest dice I've ever seen, and made us somehow roll 1s on our saves -_-.

I mean, most GMs I've played with recently have a policy of "kid gloves till' level 5", meaning enemies don't crit, they don't coup de tat, they don't dogpile, and you're allowed to rest no matter where you are in the dungeon when you use up all your spells (though, most I've played with let you rest when you run out of spells even after 5th, thus perpetuating the 15 minute work day and getting players pissed at me when I don't let them have that).... And then players turn around and start getting pissy with me when I'm running a campaign I told them would be "dangerous with a good chance of getting you killed if you're not careful"... No, I don't care that you guys are the PCs, you aint the only Big Damn Heroes in this world, you decided to fight the Great Wyrm Red at level 3, there will be consequences!

.... I want to blame video games and MMOs, I really do. But I know it's more than just my other favorite pastime that causes it. The industry's changed to perpetuate such a thing (4th edition I'm lookin' at you!). Makes me sad.

Meh... When it comes to mechanics the only things I really miss are the multiclassing system (or was it dual class?), separate XP tables for class tracks (keep those damn mages in check), and the Resurrection and Polymorph system shock.... Oh, and the lack of requiring a feat to do something that should be doable, such as swinging from a grappling hook attached to a chandelier to get to the other side!....

[/rant]


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My perception of rules knowledge expectation was quite the opposite.

When I switched fromv running 2nd to 3.0, I felt like more of the burden of the rules had been shifted to me as the DM.

In an AD&D game, players were expected to know their class abilities, their percentile saves, their weapon and armour stats, their racial abilities, which rolls used which dice, which rolls were better high or low, what experience rate they had, what extra things v earned them experience (if the DM used that), training requirements (if the DM used them), their items and what they did, the extra benefits of their class (like free followers if they had a stronghold), and any of the fiddly optional rules their DM might use (like critical hits/fumbles). The DM mostly needed to know which tables to roll on, how to read monster entries, and how to describe dungeon rooms.

In 3.0, the player needed to know how to add up numbers to total with a d20 roll. The DM was the one who had to know DC, what each feat, spell, racial, class, and monster ability did, how they interact, and all the extra rules for DR, SR, attacking objects, sundering, disarming, tripping, grappling (ugh), bullrush, charge, and two weapon fighting in the era of ambidexterity. Every book that came out was more DMs had to know, while players would only pick out one or two things to know.

That was my experience at least.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
thejeff wrote:
As far as I know, there really aren't any PF rules for swinging on a grappling hook. (If there are, they probably involve a feat that's so situational no one would ever take it. :)

"Kids these days... They don't even do a <CTRL><f> to search the rules..." [/curmudgeon]

Core Rulebook wrote:
Throwing a grappling hook requires a ranged attack roll, treating the hook as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet. Objects with ample places to catch the hook have an AC of 5.
Swinging on a rope is most similar to using Acrobatics to jump (probably with a +10 bonus on the check).

In other words, you make up an arbitrary (GM fiat!) bonus to the Acrobatics roll.

More generally, PF certainly covers more situations than AD&D did, but there are still plenty where the GM has to improvise.


Mark Hoover wrote:


Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time. Do any of you guys play the same way? Help me out here.

Personally, I've grown to love some of the new games where the GM has very little to do. I don't pick up dice, I don't have any bookkeeping to do (other than notes for the game).

The less fiddly stuff I have to do as GM, the more I like it. The more I can focus on just being creative and reacting to players, the more I like it.

I'd try a one-shot of Dungeon World. Even if you don't switch (I personally like DW for short stories, 1 to 8 sessions at most) it's a fun game to try. I think it does a good job of capturing the mood of the old-school session, but with completely new-school rules.


Mark Hoover wrote:

So my gaming friends and I were chatting the other night about old school versus new school. It was the same old; we all ranted about kids these days... video games... get off my lawn, that kind of thing.

Somewhere in the middle of it all I went quiet. My one buddy mentioned that the GREAT thing about all these old school systems is that there were a LOT of rules, but not for players. The DM handled everything. Players just rolled some dice and got their little package of class stuff and went along with the plot.

Right there it hit me: I HATED that.

I don't want to get my old school card revoked but I gotta admit that there were tons of games of D&D when I was a kid where I tried different things to make MY fighter different from other ones. I'm not talking "this one carries axes" different but like asking the DM if I could have a mutant power, or a combat tail, or be super-acrobatic or something.

The other thing I always hated about back in the day was that EVERYTHING was on me when DMing. If a player wanted his character to throw a grappling hook and swing out dramatically, there weren't a lot of rules for it and no skills. So... I'd just make up an arbitrary number. It was a ton of "mother may I" situations and I ended up being the biggest "mother" of them all if you catch my drift.

So I have to admit that I LOVE Pathfinder. I loved Marvel Super Heroes back in the day for the same reason: player agency. Sure the villains are left up to the GM but the rules and customizing the PC is ALL you!

Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time. Do any of you guys play the same way? Help me out here.

Play the same way, or feel the same as you do?

I don't feel the same as you do. As someone mentioned, you are talking about character building, not character rules per se.

You could have greater flexibility in your character back then depending on your DM.

You can have LESS flexibility in PF...once again, depending on your GM and what they allow.

So...not, I don't feel the same way about the rules...but each to their own.


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QuidEst wrote:
Nobody is old school. They found a d20 that's at least 1,700 years old.

I've been looking for that darn thing for 1,606 years.

Shadow Lodge

Artemis Moonstar wrote:
There's no awesome anecdotes about the PCs getting overwhelmed and either narrowly pulling a victory out of their arse with some quick thinking and ingenuity, nor are there anymore stories of epic sacrifices from a noble PC that enabled the party to escape/win.... I miss that....

You're playing with the wrong groups, then. My group's got all kinds of stories like that.


Orthos wrote:
Artemis Moonstar wrote:
There's no awesome anecdotes about the PCs getting overwhelmed and either narrowly pulling a victory out of their arse with some quick thinking and ingenuity, nor are there anymore stories of epic sacrifices from a noble PC that enabled the party to escape/win.... I miss that....
You're playing with the wrong groups, then. My group's got all kinds of stories like that.

Eh, most likely. I keep hearing tell of these mythical groups where interesting plot and turnabout occurs, yet despite all my Indiana Jones-ing, I never happen to come across 'em.

Then again, most players I know/meet offline started with 3.0, some with 2e. Most are video gamers first and table toppers second. Might have something to do with it.

Shadow Lodge

I dunno, my introduction to RPGs of any sort was Chrono Trigger and Pokemon. I didn't get into D&D/tabletop gaming until college, and even then it was by way of Neverwinter Nights. Though, that said, my NWN gaming has all been via roleplay-focused persistent world communities, rather than the more hack-and-slash or arena type servers.

The rest of my group is similar. The only one of us who played PnP of any sort before getting into video gaming was my sister-in-law, who was a 2e DM for her brother and his friends when she was younger. The rest of us? SNES-era video gamers who jumped to PnP in college.


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At Artie Farty: yes, those game groups sounded like a myth to me too. I found one though, Wednesday nights here in MN in the USA. We only play 3 hours a session but the players are all willing to try anything. We've had some epic fights, a swinging vine charge, a seriously tactical crawl through a kobold enclave and lots of really fun moments.

These gamers are out there, but they're in short supply.

At everyone else: you're all correct, there's 2 games going on. The "build" game is fun for me, both as a player and a GM. I can build interesting characters or, in the case of one game, I made a real twist of an NPC that was completely in the rules but was not like any kobold they'd ever met before.

The GM fiat stuff is still annoying though. I agree; making up arbitrary numbers for DCs is sucky but at least with the multitudes of rules in PF that everyone laments I've got less moments when it really is arbitrary.

Take Knowledge checks in the PF system. In D&D 1e/2e I'd have tons of metagaming; people knowing that skeletons required bludgeoning damage or that demons had telepathy, etc. No matter how I punished the players they still used that info, even subconsciously.

In PF the players make a roll to justify such knowledge. Such a roll is clearly laid out in the rules. If I want to make it tougher that's built into the rules too.

And while I'm at it, everyone rants about the minutiae of "da rulz" being a downfall of new-school type games. There were TONS of rules for small stuff back in 1e; we just never used 'em! Yes, there's more rules now than in 1e, but we can just do the same thing and ignore 'em. You have to make a contract with the table is all. That's not really "new school" though but maybe that's one way to bridge the gap.

And finally: let's stop blaming video games or the "player entitlement" of younger generations. I've had players going all the way back to AD&D who whined about not getting cool stuff, getting their characters killed, and having the attention spans of gnats. It's not a generational thing; it's a people thing.

The EXPECTATION that by virtue of sitting at the table a player automatically gets stuff they want is as old as gaming. We might see an uptick of it from youngsters but it may only be because they don't have a lot of experience.

Shadow Lodge

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Quote:
We might see an uptick of it from youngsters but it may only be because they don't have a lot of experience.

And also because of the internet - which didn't exist (in its current form OR in large enough access to the majority of people) during the era of prior editions. It's only really around the time 3e came out that the internet was starting to be A Thing in truly large scale for anyone who wasn't federal, military, or at a small handful of colleges.

I imagine if we had this omnipresence of online access in the 80s and early 90s instead of really getting its start in the late 90s/early 2000s, 2e gaming would have had exactly the same kinds of debates and discussions that 3e/3.5/Pathfinder/4e/5e have been getting for years/are getting now, and likely with a lot of the same exact arguments from all sides.


Mark Hoover wrote:

At Artie Farty: yes, those game groups sounded like a myth to me too. I found one though, Wednesday nights here in MN in the USA. We only play 3 hours a session but the players are all willing to try anything. We've had some epic fights, a swinging vine charge, a seriously tactical crawl through a kobold enclave and lots of really fun moments.

These gamers are out there, but they're in short supply.

As they always were. Finding a good group that matches your preferences is hard. Always has been.

Mark Hoover wrote:

At everyone else: you're all correct, there's 2 games going on. The "build" game is fun for me, both as a player and a GM. I can build interesting characters or, in the case of one game, I made a real twist of an NPC that was completely in the rules but was not like any kobold they'd ever met before.

The GM fiat stuff is still annoying though. I agree; making up arbitrary numbers for DCs is sucky but at least with the multitudes of rules in PF that everyone laments I've got less moments when it really is arbitrary.

Take Knowledge checks in the PF system. In D&D 1e/2e I'd have tons of metagaming; people knowing that skeletons required bludgeoning damage or that demons had telepathy, etc. No matter how I punished the players they still used that info, even subconsciously.

In PF the players make a roll to justify such knowledge. Such a roll is clearly laid out in the rules. If I want to make it tougher that's built into the rules too.

And while I'm at it, everyone rants about the minutiae of "da rulz" being a downfall of new-school type games. There were TONS of rules for small stuff back in 1e; we just never used 'em! Yes, there's more rules now than in 1e, but we can just do the same thing and ignore 'em. You have to make a contract with the table is all. That's not really "new school" though but maybe that's one way to bridge the gap.

The problem here is that AD&D was old school, but not in any way rules-light. It was a rules-heavy game, heavier than PF in some ways, but with huge gaps in what was covered by the rules - probably because it was so early in the rpg design process. The rules-heavy nature of the game implied that where there were gaps you needed to fill them in with equally detailed house rules.

Actual rules-light games have less rules, but also less gaps. The rules are broader and more general and tend to include meta-rules for handling rulings on the fly as needed. Still GM-fiat, but with more guidance.


Old school had simpler rules for doing any activity.

Old schools first rule for DMs was +2/-2....adjusting difficulty "on the fly".....for the same rule we now have a plethora of options...(that are still basically a +2)....

Aid another
flanking
charging
power attack....we allowed someone a plus 2 to damage...with a resultant adjustment to breaking your weapon when rolling a 1.

The second old school rule was don't say no, assign a difficulty...
In other words a penalty or bonus bigger than 2....

I am pretty sure "new school" is still using these in actual game play!!!


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thejeff wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:
thejeff wrote:
As far as I know, there really aren't any PF rules for swinging on a grappling hook. (If there are, they probably involve a feat that's so situational no one would ever take it. :)

"Kids these days... They don't even do a <CTRL><f> to search the rules..." [/curmudgeon]

Core Rulebook wrote:
Throwing a grappling hook requires a ranged attack roll, treating the hook as a thrown weapon with a range increment of 10 feet. Objects with ample places to catch the hook have an AC of 5.
Swinging on a rope is most similar to using Acrobatics to jump (probably with a +10 bonus on the check).

In other words, you make up an arbitrary (GM fiat!) bonus to the Acrobatics roll.

More generally, PF certainly covers more situations than AD&D did, but there are still plenty where the GM has to improvise.

I was assuming a 20 ft length of rope (if the distance is much less than 20 ft, you probably don't need to use a rope). A more detailed bonus would be +1 for each 2 feet of rope length used to swing (that's why you use a rope in the first place). Using 20 ft of rope, an unencumbered person with no Dex bonus/penalties or ranks in Acrobatics can swing across a 20 ft distance, swinging through a 60 degree arc, by taking 10 (10 + 10 from the 20 ft rope = 20, which is the DC for a 20 ft long jump). A 10 ft length of rope will let the same person take 10 to swing 15 ft; to swing 25 ft, you need 30 ft of rope; to swing 30 ft, you need 40 ft of rope. Because of momentum, you swing in a wider arc on a shorter rope; similarly, your arc is smaller on a longer rope (even if the linear distance is greater).

Having training (ranks) in Acrobatics and/or a Dex bonus will allow more distance by jumping before grabbing the rope, imparting more momentum in the swing (by swinging your legs, etc.) for a wider arc, releasing the rope at just the right moment on the other end to carry more momentum forward (adding distance), etc.

Shadow Lodge

Don't worry Markster, you're plenty old school to me. :D


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Is that because he told you to get off his lawn?


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*gets out his cane and waggles it at all the young-uns*

"You kids don' know what it was like before you had Feats and Gestalt Hybrid whoziamiggy classes! Bet halfaya never even pulled an 'all-nighter'! Get offa mah lawn!"

*coughs* Honestly, I don't miss it as much as I thought I might.


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Let me first say that when someone loaned me the Core Rulebook for Pathfinder, and I read it, I was truly amazed that how 'tight' the core ruleset was. One book had taken 3.5 and removed 'the jank'.

Combat maneuvres vs the grappling, pummeling and overbearing tables-- H&^% YES.

But I am surprised that today most players expect no character death and all encounters must be strictly CR balanced. Traps can no longer kill and a player can demand a certain magic item be available because his build depends on it. What, no sabretooth sabres here in Lothlorien? what kind of crappy city is this?

I am concerned the search for consistency such as that promoted by PFS has stifled creativity.


GM Tribute wrote:

Let me first say that when someone loaned me the Core Rulebook for Pathfinder, and I read it, I was truly amazed that how 'tight' the core ruleset was. One book had taken 3.5 and removed 'the jank'.

Combat maneuvres vs the grappling, pummeling and overbearing tables-- H&^% YES.

But I am surprised that today most players expect no character death and all encounters must be strictly CR balanced. Traps can no longer kill and a player can demand a certain magic item be available because his build depends on it. What, no sabretooth sabres here in Lothlorien? what kind of crappy city is this?

I am concerned the search for consistency such as that promoted by PFS has stifled creativity.

Plenty of players expect at least some character death.

CR appropriate encounters have always been necessary for at least the main path of any adventure - overpowered ones need to be avoidable. Some modules & APs still have random encounter tables that don't stick so close to CR. There is also a strong sandbox minority on the forums at least.
Traps are less deadly, that I'll agree.
The prominence of the build game in 3.x really demands that gear be widely available. That's mechanics driven, not player driven.


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I think the first sign of my old age was the seismic shift in my "tedious" to "fun" ratio acceptability


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I've never played a game and thought "man, I wish there were more traps in these adventures".

Traps always felt like a series of trick questions that basically slowed the game to a crawl because if you aren't suspicious of everything and carefully inspect every square inch, something killed you. I particularly disliked it when a DM required you to be better than him at mechanical engineering to survive, regardless of rolls.

I'd rather get to the action or interact with an NPC than encounter a trap.


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GM Tribute wrote:

But I am surprised that today most players expect no character death and all encounters must be strictly CR balanced. Traps can no longer kill and a player can demand a certain magic item be available because his build depends on it. What, no sabretooth sabres here in Lothlorien? what kind of crappy city is this?

I am concerned the search for consistency such as that promoted by PFS has stifled creativity.

I have to politely, but VEHEMENTLY disagree. I don't buy this "players today" line. Players when I was kid whined, complained and one time even kicked over a TV tray when they got killed. They HATED rolling up new characters and fully wanted if not expected that their wussy level 1 magic user would grow up big and strong, get a tower and 1d4 apprentices and be flying around casting Death spells.

People want their characters to survive and they b***h about it when they die. This has always been my reality. Not ALL the people but enough that I remember them. This isn't a generational thing, doesn't have anything to do with video games and isn't because of a new game system.

The whole wanting magic items for a build thing is more new, more 3x and PF specific, but I can remember back to a lot of games where PCs were sort of gear-centric. Super Heroes, Rifts and Cyberpunk leap to mind.

Now the easy CR thing is frustrating, I agree. I still like though that with Pathfinder I can BUILD encounters the way I BUILD characters. There's nice, easy guidelines to ramping up my encounters to make them a challenge. I can tack on a template, add on PC classes or just add HD with all that brings.

Yes, pre-written adventures are pretty low-challenge, but you can ALWAYS add something to them. Hell, if you're really "old school" you should be used to taking a pre-gen adventure, keeping the maps, and then completely re-tooling it to fit YOUR game.

I don't know Trouble with Tribute, maybe you're right and kids these days don't do it right. But then, maybe they do and WE were doing it wrong the whole time.

The thing I appreciate about PF though is the ease with which I can make it MINE or more importantly ours at the table.


Artemis Moonstar wrote:

Eh.... For me, I like (most of) the mechanics from 3.PF... When it comes to missing the Old School, it's the feel I miss. There wasn't any of the rampant player entitlement I witness youngsters these days having, there wasn't any skewing of the rules towards letting the players "win" the game. Back in my groups at least, if you died, you either wound up with an epic quest to get yourself revived, or you wound up bringin' in someone connected to the previous and had a blast with the story.

Now-a-days, you get people claiming it's "too hard" if your character dies, or my personal favorite, "You just killed my PC! you're a horrible DM! Why do you even run this game!?" <~~ True fraking occurrence I had happen to me. There's no awesome anecdotes about the PCs getting overwhelmed and either narrowly pulling a victory out of their arse with some quick thinking and ingenuity, nor are there anymore stories of epic sacrifices from a noble PC that enabled the party to escape/win.... I miss that....

Now you have the True Rez Hedge Fund, starting at level 1. "Oh, well, I got this jar full of Bob's hair. If he dies we'll just find someone to rez him."....

I suppose that goes hand in hand with the whole "there's no real element of suspense or danger" these days. At least from the games I've played in. Hell, I haven't even really seen it in any of the APs, at least from most of the ones I've read/ran/played in. Only once did I ever fear for my character, which was only because there were only two PCs running through RotRL and that damn vargoulle (sp?) had the luckiest dice I've ever seen, and made us somehow roll 1s on our saves -_-.

I mean, most GMs I've played with recently have a policy of "kid gloves till' level 5", meaning enemies don't crit, they don't coup de tat, they don't dogpile, and you're allowed to rest no matter where you are in the dungeon when you use up all your spells (though, most I've played with let you rest when you run out of spells even after 5th, thus perpetuating the 15 minute...

Just me that had the group that was c3 decades ahead of their time then...

ye gods they were a whiny bunch (I should probably say 'we', but who wants to admit that...)
"Why can't my paladin have a holy avenger at 5th level dammit!" was not something said in 1983 /outright lie

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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GM Tribute wrote:
But I am surprised that today most players expect no character death

You and I have different experiences then, because I don't think I've met a single player who "expects no character death". In fact, when the subject has come up in table-chatter, there's almost always talk about how the possibility of death needs to always be there, so that they can feel a sense of accomplishment upon success. (And for reference, that includes players of all experience levels, and ages from teens to near-grandfathers.)

Quote:
and all encounters must be strictly CR balanced.

That's not a "today" thing, that's a "narrative" versus "non-narrative" thing.

In a narrative-focused game, the goal is to tell a story about how these characters accomplished XYZ and saved the day (or whatever). And although there are ways around it, this typically requires fights to be winnable the vast majority of the time, because otherwise the story can get weird.

In a non-narrative game, things are different. For instance, part of the fun of a sandbox campaign is threat assessment and determining what you should and shouldn't try to take on. Unlike the single-narrative-thread type of game, this requires out-of-your-league challenges.

You're welcome to enjoy your sandboxes, but don't hate on others for liking stories.

Quote:
Traps can no longer kill

Traps are in a tricky position. They're often seen as a "save or X" effect. Lots of folks (myself included) dislike "save or die"/"save or suck" effects in general, which leaves traps as nothing but "save or damage", which feels a bit limp.

I don't like where traps ended up, but I also don't want them to be save-or-die. Not sure what the solution is.

Quote:
and a player can demand a certain magic item be available because his build depends on it. What, no sabretooth sabres here in Lothlorien? what kind of crappy city is this?

You can thank the 3.X/PF model for that. It's hard-coded into the system that "the gear build" is part of your character identity and progression, every bit as much as XP and level/feat selection. In 3.PF, "you can't buy X in this town" is sort of like "you can't gain feat X if you level in this town".

If that bothers you as much as it bothers me, I highly recommend a switch to 5E. 5E's progression is all about the character, and magic items actually feel special. :)

Quote:
I am concerned the search for consistency such as that promoted by PFS has stifled creativity.

Because there's nothing creative about finding all the different classes, archetypes, feats, spells and magic items that you can assemble together to craft a unique representation of your concept, right? "Creativity" is when you make yet another stock character who is so undefined that you can passively accept whatever happens to come up in the game without any friction or narrative tension or character interaction, right?


Frankly, I don't mind death. I love making new characters. I love playing them, too, but when a rezz means a hit to WBL, a few negative levels, or playing the mount while they go on an epic quest to bring me back, I would rather write a new story and try out a class or race I've never played.

And I've been like this for over 25 years, before I knew what tabletop was, when I was playing videogame RPGs. What's that? Start over at what save point? Screw this, I'm trying a party of four white mages now.

It's not a generation thing. Its not an edition thing.


Mark Hoover wrote:

(...) Sure the villains are left up to the GM but the rules and customizing the PC is ALL you!

Please tell me that there's a way for me to be a little old school, a little new at the same time. Do any of you guys play the same way? Help me out here.

My definition of old school is vastly different. When we started back in the eighties, we all took turns as DM. Everybody knew the rules, everybody had copies of all the rulebooks (I mean real copies; you couldn't get your hands on the actual books); in bed in the evenings, I fell asleep with a heavy ringbinder on my chest.

Some of the guys I still play with, and although I love PF, there are so many rules and options, the players will come with a new archetype or option they want to play, and if I haven't read about it, I have to check their characters (one player in particular is very... creative when it comes to rule interpretation).

On the other hand, I introduced PF at my company, and now we have nice little gaming round. But they don't know the rules, and some of them can't be bothered to read them up.
Apart from one of them, they are all beginners, and now I do everything you described as being old school: explaining rules, showing options, giving hints, etc.

So, yeah, old school is we-know-all-the-rules, and new school is we-like-to-be-pampered.
But I don't mind. Both gamings tables are great fun. The new one even more than the old one...


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With polite respect to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in this thread and others who think new school or new gamers = entitled, I politely disagree. Again.

Y'see I'm raising two girls. They both act "entitled" despite my best efforts as a parent. Before I get condemnations of being a terrible dad remember: when we were kids we were transitioning out of our parent's tech into our own and tech moved with the generations.

My girls have never HAD to use an encyclopedia or the card catalog for example; there's Google.

Now that's not a couple years... that's their WHOLE life. Imagine if your entire life you'd never even had to research anything in the traditional, library sense. Your entire life you could just click some buttons and ANY info you've ever needed is at your fingertips. If Google didn't have it, a dozen other searches might reveal it. If you're still not finding it you can network instantly in real time with folks who may know.

Now when I was a kid we were TRANSITIONING to that tech so I could at least identify with my parents, then rebel and reject them for my own peers, and thus be called "entitled" because my own sloth propelled me to using easier methods than what my parents used.

My kids have NEVER known any harder way so they're not "entitled" because there's nothing to compare against.

Now how does that translate to games?

My girls and other teen or twenty-something gamers I've met simply don't know other styles of gaming. They're not actively snubbing older methods in favor of their own, they are ignorant that other methods exist.

I'll also re-iterate: there've always been gamers who were sneaky with their numbers, whined about character death and like concessions to go their way. When we were kids we called them whiners; nowadays we call them "new school."

With all due respect to my colleagues in the gaming community, I don't hold with this opinion.

New school gaming to me is more about player options and player-centric gaming. Since the advent of 3x D&D I've seen more games than not focus on players and their needs versus the needs of the GM. Classic D&D, Runequest, Call of Cthulu and Cyberpunk and anything by Palladium all strike me as games where it was strongly expressed that the person running the game had most if not ALL the power and your only role as a player was to do your best not to get killed TOO quickly.

Then 3.0 and further editions came out. Suddenly players had tons of splat books; they had access to most if not all the rules; they could engineer and optimize their characters specifically to BEAT the crux of the campaign. They weren't generic templates that got incrementally better at what they'd been doing since level 1 and begged their GM for items; THEY had the power to craft their own items, feats, skills and powers at nearly every level to combat the threats unique to their experience and some hard rules on HOW to accomplish these tasks.

So in the end, here's MY opinion:

Old school = the GM (or equivalent) has the majority of the decision making power on how the game goes

New school = the players have at least an even say in what happens to their PCs in most situations

Do you agree or disagree?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I can agree, although I don't feel too strongly either way.


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I have to say I don't really agree. A GM who wanted to allow players agency has always been able to do so. I played plenty of games in the old days where the players drove the action and often threw the GM for a loop. A GM who wants to railroad or control the players still can easily enough, even in new school games - he's got the whole world at his disposal.

3.0 certainly brought a ton of character optimization and the "build game" to D&D, though that was started in the later 2E days. OTOH, games like Hero/Champions & GURPS had even more player options & freedom of design dating back to the 80s. I don't think either qualify as "new school".

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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thejeff wrote:
A GM who wanted to allow players agency has always been able to do so.

I wonder if Mark Hoover's point might be that the "old school" paradigm is like your statement here, where the built-in paradigm is the assumption that the GM gets to decide how much player agency will be in their game. Meanwhile, "new school" is perhaps the paradigm that high player agency is part of the built-in, default assumption all on its own.

Thus, when a GM with the "old school" mentality of "the GM decides how much player agency there will be in the game" encounters players with the "new school" mentality of "this game is obviously written with player agency in mind", the latter's actions are getting interpreted by the former as "entitled".

I think that's what he's saying. But hey, I'm not him. :)


Jiggy wrote:
thejeff wrote:
A GM who wanted to allow players agency has always been able to do so.

I wonder if Mark Hoover's point might be that the "old school" paradigm is like your statement here, where the built-in paradigm is the assumption that the GM gets to decide how much player agency will be in their game. Meanwhile, "new school" is perhaps the paradigm that high player agency is part of the built-in, default assumption all on its own.

Thus, when a GM with the "old school" mentality of "the GM decides how much player agency there will be in the game" encounters players with the "new school" mentality of "this game is obviously written with player agency in mind", the latter's actions are getting interpreted by the former as "entitled".

I think that's what he's saying. But hey, I'm not him. :)

I don't think that's the case. I don't think that is the paradigm shift. There does seem to be a common assumption that the changes in optimization and the build game somehow also change the level of player agency or the essential balance of power between GM and player, but they really don't. The GM still runs the world. The GM can still run a railroad, if he chooses.


I have said this before: Having played DnD in every iteration (Moldvay/BECMi/ADnD1e/2e/3e/3.5/4e/5e), since 1981, I have never seen the playstyle differences (Player-centric/DM-centric) ascribed to different editions as detailed on this or other messageboards.

I just don't see that the rulesets directly affect who has the power or control or limelight. Of course that may just be the various groups I have played with...


thejeff wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
thejeff wrote:
A GM who wanted to allow players agency has always been able to do so.

I wonder if Mark Hoover's point might be that the "old school" paradigm is like your statement here, where the built-in paradigm is the assumption that the GM gets to decide how much player agency will be in their game. Meanwhile, "new school" is perhaps the paradigm that high player agency is part of the built-in, default assumption all on its own.

Thus, when a GM with the "old school" mentality of "the GM decides how much player agency there will be in the game" encounters players with the "new school" mentality of "this game is obviously written with player agency in mind", the latter's actions are getting interpreted by the former as "entitled".

I think that's what he's saying. But hey, I'm not him. :)

I don't think that's the case. I don't think that is the paradigm shift. There does seem to be a common assumption that the changes in optimization and the build game somehow also change the level of player agency or the essential balance of power between GM and player, but they really don't. The GM still runs the world. The GM can still run a railroad, if he chooses.

Depends on the game. By game, I don't mean "campaign". I mean, like Dungeon World vs AD&D. Games like Dungeon World, Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies, Burning Wheel, and many others, do put control of aspects of the game beyond just their character into player hands. You get to say things about the world itself and when tied to a something on your character sheet, become true. In Mythender (my personal favorite game to run) the players have more control over the world than the Mythmaster (the GM/DM term for that game).

In that sense, a game like Pathfinder is still old school. In a few places, it is explicitly stated who has authority over the game (the GM), it's also implied in many others. It talks about the collaborative effort in a few places, but it's not in the mechanics. The mechanics of the game are that players make/control their characters, GM's get everything else.

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