Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everyone's Idea of Fun

I just thought of something, and rather than post it on someone else's blog and start a hate-war, I opted instead to post here and get my idea out in the open this way.

The thought that occurred to me as I posted a reply on Back in '81 was that yes, there's room for all of us to have a choice when it comes to our chosen game systems. Some of us like 4E while others like the LBB version of OD&D...and then there's everything in between. Now I'm not trying to be a doormat here, and you'll see the reason that I sort of lament the fact that there are so many "versions" out there.

IF TSR would have stayed on track and continued the tradition of both a "hobbyist" game as well as a "tourney" game then there would only ever be two flavors of the game. Those of us who adore the "hobbyist" type game could play our OD&D (or whatever) and those who like the crunchier rules-laden edition of AD&D could have fun with that version. No one's hurt. Everyone's clear on the division.

Now the problem, as I see it, comes when you take a game and make so many updates and iterations (improvements?) to it that it's no longer even remotely backwards compatible, you've inherently split the player base. This is a seriously unfortunate side effect. And it's one that I'm feeling right now.

I'm looking for a few people who might have the same "sensibilities" that I do when it comes to the "type" of game that I like to play in / run. Something that's not quite so structured w/ By-The-Book rules, that's a little more open to house ruling. But since there are so many different types of Dungeons and Dragons out there today, and they DO play quite differently, it's pretty darned tough to find a like-minded group of individuals willing to sit down at a table to play some of the "older" games.

The school of thought that I'm an adherent of goes something like this: I'd rather build something I prefer from a clean, bare bones foundation, than to grab something off the shelves that includes hundreds of pages of rules I know I won't need or want, try and strip it down, end up w/ a foundation that's shaped all wrong, and try to hack together something I'm looking for.

And this isn't saying that I sit around all night tinkering with rules. Far from it, these "house rules" that I'm referring to happen on the fly, right there in-game. And I'm pretty sure that because the original rules are fairly brief and easy to conceive, I'm not going to be worried about contradicting something on down the road that will be pointed out to me from a player who's had the inclination and time to read through the 400+ pages of rules.

Plus, you know what? I've got crap on my shelf from 30+ years ago that's screaming for the new generation to experience. Great stuff that hasn't lost its magic. And I'll guarantee you that it would take me ages to convert it to 4E should I have that energy, AND it'd likely break that "balance" tenet that seems to be so popular in the rules these days.

So yeah, I've always been a fan of "Play what you like"...but it makes me a little sad when I ask a bunch of people if they'd like to play Dungeons and Dragons and they all clamor for 4E. No interest whatsoever in the more basic game. Maybe I'm just not "selling" it right. I'll try for a different tact and keep you up to date.

Either way, keep playing. Gary would have liked it that way.


Restless said...

Suppose you never find that group? (That's where I am, I guess. The one old-schooler who found me on nearby gamers didn't write me back because apparently my idea of an old-school game is too... old school.)

Gamer Dude said...


Well, I've currently got two buddies that actually do have some interest in the older school game style, which is better than nothing.

I feel for you though, I've been testing the waters and talking to people via Meetup, it seems that old school to most means anything pre-4E. And that generally only stretches as far back as 3.X.

You know though, I ran a one-shot for some guys at what we call a "fest" (A couple of days put aside strictly for gaming, generally at a "remote" location.) on Microlite20 rules...and they loved it. But that's just when 4E came out and everyone got distracted by the pretty shiny. Blah!

Good luck finding gamers man. If you ever come up to the Denver area ping me, we've always got a seat open for an "old schooler". ;-)

Timeshadows said...

I have been fortunate in that the group I have now is composed of two AD&D players, and two 3.5/4e players.
They understand what it means to play a character, although the youngsters were more versed in rolling a die to see what happens, and having a list of abilities that told them what they could do.
Once I broke them of the 'reaching for the d20' habit, and asked them to tell me how they were searching the room, etc., it worked well.

Hang in there. You'll find folks who at least can be de-programmed, if they aren't Old School originally.


Gamer Dude said...

Thanks for the note. I'm sure they're out there...the trick is in finding them. I wont give up the search though.

Sounds like you've got a pretty good game going, a mix of new and old school sensibilities that "works" w/in a unified group is a tough thing to do / find. I'm jealous. ;-)