That Old Time Religion

Posted: 21 July 2010 in Reflections

“It’s our goal to rebuild an old approach to fantasy gaming; where imagination tends to replace rules, where rules are easily customized, and where there’s less “procedure” intruding on the fantasy. We’re supplying a toolkit for fantasy gaming, and what you do with it is up to you – there are no “official” answers, and no “official” procedures, and not even any “official” rules if you’re in the mood to tinker.” – Matthew Finch, Mythmere Games

This summer, I have been thinking a lot about the Old School Renaissance, as exemplified by the resurgence of interest in retroclones  – games which use the WotC Open Gaming Licence to recreate classic games such as Original D&D. This compensates me somewhat for not being able to play much at the moment.

There are, as ever, several views about what old school roleplaying actually means. Some say it’s nostalgia for the games of our childhood, pure and simple; some say it’s a step back from over-complex modern RPG rules; some say it’s a shift in focus from challenging the character to challenging the player. Zak S at Playing D&D With Porn Stars has a good explanation here.

For me, old school is about simplicity of rules and player creativity, and old school games have a mark by which they may be known: Can you fit a viable player character on a 3” x 5” index card?

Games where you can do this include Original D&D, Classic Traveller, Savage Worlds, and anything from Two Hour Wargames. All old school in my book, regardless of when they were published.

Once you step up to needing an A4 character sheet, it’s not old school any more. Just my $0.02.


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