Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's Old-School Roleplaying?


What's Old-School Roleplaying?

The answer is, "It depends." Let me start by acknowledging that there is a difference between OSR (Old-School Renaissance) and Old-school Roleplaying. What I'm going to talk about is the style of role-playing, not specifically the resurgence of old-school games. 

This is about what I consider old-school roleplaying. Basically the GM has more authority. Player knowledge is limited and they can only do what the GM says they can do. The only authority a player has is what they think their character can do based on their character. They can try and do things, and the GM says whether they succeed or fail. Sometimes the GM will ask them to roll some dice. And maybe add or subtract a modifier. Knowing thy character helps. Knowing the rules, not so much. What makes this work is that the unspoken pact between Player and GM. A pact based on trust that says the that GM will adjucate the rules fairly, responsibly and objectively.

"Modern" gaming is different. The games are so complicated that you're expected to know the rules. If you don't, other players get impatient, and it slows the game down considerably. Over the past few years, playing all kinds of games as GM and player, I noticed this trend. Players were "expected" to know the rules, therefore they "know" the rules. When they "know" the rules, they're more inclined to question the GM's authority over the rules. The number one cause of conflict at a gaming table are arguing over the rules. Oh the irony.

I'm familiar with this because I was a shitty player. I was a shitty player not only because I am poor at strategy and tactics, but because I considered myself a good GM. A good GM has to know the rules. So I could tell a GM wasn't playing "right". I was that guy. See where I'm going with this? Mr. Know-It-All, the rules lawyer. I learned, after having enough shitty players telling me how to GM, how NOT to be a shitty player. I didn't want to be that guy. So from then on what the GM says are the rules! Period.

That's what Old-school means to me. It doesn't matter when the rules were written. It's matters on how it's played. Plain and simple. It just happens that some games lend to this better than others. Those are the games I prefer.

So what makes a game Old-school? Basically the game should be simple enough that players don't really have to know every rule. That's what I think, anyway. I'm sure Old-school means something entirely different to others. 

Posted via email from Dak, D.M.

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