Monday, January 30, 2012

On the rich variety of Old School play

The important thing to take from this section isn’t the four styles [Power-Gaming, Wargaming, Story-Telling, Role-Playing] or their labels (as there are other systems for describing this with their own labels), but the idea that there were many different styles of “old school” play back in the “old school” days – not just the single style stressed in some “old school” blogs, forums, and web sites. Don’t let those sites make you believe that you aren’t playing old school right if your campaign isn’t strongly in the wargaming camp. Most successful campaigns back in “old school” days were a mixture of all four major styles – and a heaping helping of minor styles.
The above quote was taken from an excellent post on the Retro Roleplaying blog. Taking Matt Finch's justifiably well-known "Old School Primer" as its starting point, the post rightly points out that a variety of play styles appeared in the hobby as soon as it grew beyond its wargaming roots.

If there's one sin the OSR community has been largely guilty of, it's in its emphasis on player skill, high character mortality, and hex-and-dungeon-crawl-driven play - what the Retro Roleplaying article calls the Wargaming approach. I understand that this emphasis rightly grew from (a) an attempt to go back to the earliest roots of the hobby (when the Wargaming style was all there was) and (b) a reaction against the excesses of railroady "adventure paths" that have come to dominate the hobby, but it's still nice to see someone acknowledge that the roots of "story games" and character-driven roleplaying are nearly as old (and just as "legit") as save or die poison traps and character funnels.

Pic unrelated.
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