Friday, March 19, 2010

Why Old School AD&D Gaming?

I have recently had the opportunity to return to Dungeons and Dragons for the first time in a LONG time. My last gaming was late elementary school and junior high, and it as all first edition stuff. I still had all my books and modules in a crate, which I had dutifully carted along with me through all these moves across the country...

Anyway, one of my good buddies is an active gamer, and he has been gaming forever, and has all the books from all the editions since. So I got a chance to look them all over, as we tried to decide what edition we wanted to game out of. All I can say is, yikes, things have gotten weird. And not in the good way!

The things that jumped out at me:
--Massive complexity. Good grief, specializations and loopholes for everything.
--The aesthetic has gone all comic-bookish. I mean good lord, does every orc now look like the Incredible Hulk?
--Use of "she" as the neutral pronoun? Blech!
--Multi-culti madness: illustrations full of minorities, lots of chicks, and White samurais... WTF???
-- Seriously dumbed down writing. Seeming target audience, what, a stupid 10 1/2 year old?
-- Halflings now an outgoing, warlike, nomadic race? WTF?

Anyway, I could go on... Needless to say, the latest editions are abominations.

The more I read up on what happened, the more it became obvious that it all began in the 2nd edition. Not really bad until 3rd edition, but it clearly began in 2nd. Just perusing the ability tables, with scores up to 25... the superhumanization of PCs had been sanctioned. So many specializations and proficiencies, yup, the drive for maximal complexity blooming...

Screw all that. Return to the source, insert floppy in drive A, time to reboot.

When I found OSRIC, I was like, sweet! Its like somebody edited and rearranged AD&D, so its all like, logically organized and stuff... I know, crazy idea, huh! The only potential organization they missed, that I could tell, was not having a specific section in the monster list for Insects. Otherwise, brilliant all around.

To me, old school gaming is all about freedom, imagination, and fun. The rules were fairly simple because the focus was on fantasy, and any necessary rules or modifications could be made up on the fly. Keep it simple, use your imagination, no need for battlemats and five thousand rule exceptions.

Especially now as an adult, most of the fun is in the role playing, the acting, the puzzles and paradox, the spectacle, the mystery, the on the fly negotiations with the DM... Keep it loose man! Get'r done! Incidentally, these are also the aspects that my 13 year old daughter finds most appealing too.

And let me just add for the record: the game is a product of European cultural and history. There is an entire body of our people's imaginative heritage wrapped up there, that has connections to countless novels, fairy tales, and ancient myths, culminating even in such contemporary movies as Harry Potter. Don't screw with it! Our fighters are based on Vikings, our wizards on Merlin, our clerics and paladins on King Arthur's court, our mileau on Medieval Europe, with castles and guilds and dragons and vampires. There's a reason the monk class seems so stupid and out of place! In short, don't get all multi-culti with this great cultural heritage. Its our People, its our myths, its our game, keep it that way. 'Nuff said.

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