FAQ: Part the Second

Posted in Uncategorized by akesher on January 14, 2010

Here’s part two:

What is this so-called “old school” gaming of which you speak so ardently?

Do you have a few hours? “Old School Gaming” means a lot of things to a lot of different people, but there are some commonalities many of us seem to share:

  • Old school gaming relies on the rules being guidelines more than the be-all, end-all, final word. The person running the game (GM, DM, Referee, Judge) has the “final say” on how any rules question is resolved, but a good GM is focused on the players and the campaign—meaning committed to making the game enjoyable for all involved.
  • It’s more about you playing your character than playing your character sheet.  The fewer rules you have, the less you have (to be distracted by) on your character sheet. You always have the final say on what your character does—no GM can railroad you into a specific action.
  • The feel of the game is more “average person” than “superheroic powerful being”. The world around your character isn’t fair, balanced, or particularly impressed by your heroic inclinations! Your character earns his name and gains his power through overcoming obstacles and opponents with whatever resources are available.
  • Character creation often takes a minimal amount of time. A back-story is fine, but it’s not the main point—in old school play, the character’s history is often built of what happens in play (player choices!), not what supposedly happened before play.
  • GMs run games based  less on a strict plot of “encounters” or “acts”, and more based on reactions to your decisions and what you do with your character, often including a healthy dose of randomness to spice things up. That’s not to say you won’t participate in harrowing adventures and grand epics, but an old school game is less concerned about a cinematic “plot” and more about people having fun exploring worlds (and possibly getting rich in the bargain!)

You mentioned “do-it-yourself”—so you like to play broken games?

Um, no. We like rules that have lots of wide-open space for customization. The early games usually had minimal rules, often with different systems for different parts of the game, which makes it easy to add or subtract whatever you please. Arneson had alien artifacts; Hargrave had crazy critical hit charts; St. Andre let anyone play anything (actually, Arneson did that, too…) We want the freedom to add all that and more, or strip it down to nothing but a 20-sider and Referee rulings. The point is simply for the whole group to have as much fun as possible, whatever form that might take.

(Dave Arneson was the co-author of Dungeons & Dragons and Blackmoor, Dave Hargrave wrote a fantasy game called Arduin, Ken St. Andre wrote the Tunnels & Trolls fantasy game).

Are you just about D&D?

Well, we DO love D&D, but we also love original games in general, regardless of genre—science fiction, espionage, fantasy, westerns, horror, you name it.

*Edited to fix my idiotic misnaming of Ken St. Andre—-Ken, if you’re reading this, I apologize!

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5 Responses

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  1. Andreas Davour said, on January 14, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Last time I tried to comment I made a fool of myself for not reading closely enough. Now I’ve been awake for many hours so I think it’s safe to post feedback…

    Kevin St. Andre wrote the Tunnels & Trolls fantasy game

    That’s wrong. KSA’s full name is Ken (or Kenneth, but that’s not on any game as far as I know).

  2. akesher said, on January 15, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Eergh, that’s an egregious typo—thanks for catching it!

  3. OctoSquish said, on January 15, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I think you should add in there the number of OOCombat skills,powers, and utilities there were.
    I dont know this from experience, no no no….. I know this from the amount of First Edition to Three point Five Edition nuts are out there.
    Most so-called “Purists” complain about the game not having a non-homebrew skill out there for Shoe Cobbling,Bug Catching, or Spititng chewed up paper through a straw at an enemy. The point being that you spend a lot of time RolePlaying and waaaaaay less time in combat.
    ( I think the purists are silly that way, why not just ask a DM if you can switch out an encounter power for Shoe Cobbling??)

  4. akesher said, on January 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Octo, thanks for commenting, but I have to admit—I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying… would you mind clarifying?

  5. Robert Fisher said, on January 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    The whole FAQ is good stuff. I may well point anyone who asks about old school gaming, retro-clones, or simulacra to it. I’m particularly fond of the description of “old school gaming”.

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