Why OD&D Is Still Relevant - Page 4
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  1. #31
    ExTSR
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    You vs the World

    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpy View Post
    What do we mean by balance? I guess we mean making sure that each option or choice is useful and not outshined by a similar option.
    The typical answer from OldSchoolers is obvious:
    Life isn't like that.
    If you don't stop to appraise potential Danger, it can destroy you.

    But if that's the way you want Life to be, then this is the perfect vehicle to fantasize.

    It is said that in Old School, the world is what it is. The character looks at it and says, 'I need to find my place in it, my role within this realm." If you wish to pursue the Heroic path, your role may indeed be to Change the World... fortune and glory, kid*. ;> But that is determined by both your choices and some random rolls.

    Some like to play the darker game. Instead of Heroes, they're Survivors, the 'Stainless Steel Rats'** of society. That can be a great approach, very challenging, very Metal.

    Whatever rules system we embrace, we all have the freedom to choose what we want from this remarkable pastime called role-playing tabletop games.

    F

    * from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    ** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stainless_Steel_Rat
    Last edited by ExTSR; Friday, 29th January, 2016 at 06:30 PM. Reason: Wiki reference inserted
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Helton View Post
    Games aren't technology, they don't become obsolete. Just being newer doesn't make something automatically better.
    I agree, but I think we have to acknowledge a net improvement to the hobby over the decades.

    Why? Refinement! I think there all many places where the label of "better" can be safely applied with old vs new. Many of the design choices made in the infancy of the hobby simply weren't fully explored yet. They gave way to better implementation over time, particularly as designers began to dip deeper into the math of tabletop gaming.

    I recently spent some time with Star Frontiers and was scratching my head at some of the mechanics that were clunky but added little to the simulation, even as a wargame. Refinement is also very noticeable in Swords and Wizardry's putting of a pile of THAC0 charts next to a far more elegant Ascending AC "SECRET METHOD".
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Target View Post
    Bless it for starting things off.

    I could cobble together a far better game with the same design goals on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    We all could.
    Of course you could.
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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpy View Post
    What do we mean by balance? I guess we mean making sure that each option or choice is useful and not outshined by a similar option. Also things like trying to ensure that monsters of a certain rated difficulty are actually approximately the same hardness in practice.
    Yes. And while options don't care if they are useful, players certainly do care. It's so frustrating to be a player that feels that you are not a meaningful contributor to a party. Balance doesn't have to be perfect, but it does matter.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by neobolts View Post
    Yes. And while options don't care if they are useful, players certainly do care. It's so frustrating to be a player that feels that you are not a meaningful contributor to a party. Balance doesn't have to be perfect, but it does matter.
    Or perhaps what character the player wants to play is not as important as he thinks it is for that setting or genre.

    I had a player play a lunatic, in the comedic sense, barbarian character. He was put off by how the players and NPCs of my campaign treated him as ... a lunatic. It wasn't a surprise, when he joined I already been running a campaign for this group for a couple of years so everybody knew it was more Game of Thrones than Saturday Morning Action Hour. And playing that type of character can be very fun ... in a different setting or campaign.
    Last edited by estar; Friday, 29th January, 2016 at 05:19 PM.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by estar View Post
    The assumption that is not really clear in OD&D is that the referee will tailor his rulings to suit the campaign.
    Quote Originally Posted by OD&D
    These rules are as complete as possible within the limitations imposed by the space of three booklets. That is, they cover the major aspects of fantasy campaigns but still remain flexible. As with any other set of miniatures rules they are guidelines to follow in designing your own fantastic-medieval campaign. They provide the framework around which you will build a game of simplicity or tremendous complexity...
    The text seems clear enough to me. "OD&D is a framework; build the game you want from there."

    Edit: Underlining added by myself for emphasis.
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  7. #37
    Thanks for the article and the link, @Christopher Helton!

    I'm unlikely to ever play OD&D, but game history is a point of personal curiosity. Having cut my teeth on 2e, I do indeed tend to lose focus in discussions about earlier editions due to having no access to them. I can't even describe how pre-WotC editions differ from one another, despite reading many second-hand descriptions like yours, due to having only read and played one of them.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by neobolts View Post
    Why? Refinement! I think there all many places where the label of "better" can be safely applied with old vs new. Many of the design choices made in the infancy of the hobby simply weren't fully explored yet. They gave way to better implementation over time, particularly as designers began to dip deeper into the math of tabletop gaming.
    This is one of the big reasons why I think OD&D is still relevant today. Modern designers can look at this and go back to the very beginning of the art form, and through this they can understand why certain decisions were made as future editions and other games were later developed. While I'm not a designer, myself, I personally find OD&D fascinating as a historical artifact. (As an actual game, it seems barely functional and I require Swords & Wizardry White Box to make any sense of it.)

    I recently spent some time with Star Frontiers and was scratching my head at some of the mechanics that were clunky but added little to the simulation, even as a wargame. Refinement is also very noticeable in Swords and Wizardry's putting of a pile of THAC0 charts next to a far more elegant Ascending AC "SECRET METHOD".
    I really, really wish I could go back in time to when Gary and Dave were putting together the combat system for OD&D and act as the little voice in the back of their heads that says, "Look, I know you want to use the armor class system from such-and-such war game, but don't do it. Just don't do it, man. Save the world a lot of heartache, and don't do it."
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  9. #39
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    Barrel Rider Games does a lot of material for Whitebox that can easily be slotted into OD&D as well.
    You're damn right they do! Anyone who hasn't picked up White Star yet is doing themselves a great disservice!

  10. #40
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    OD&D is king. It's still more relevant to the design of almost every computer game today, and in the last 30 years, than to any present day tabletop RPG. New RPGs aren't about beating a game system anymore. OD&D and most every 80s and 90s tabletop RPG were about mastering the system - like any chess player, sports athlete, or all around gamer. That's what's forgotten. OD&D was the first game players had to beat. The killer core design found in millions of variations from Super Mario Bros. to Zelda to most everything after.

    It's solve the game. Solve the game. Solve the game.

    Those ideas used to exist in the old wargaming days. Mountains of lost cultural material shoveled over and given rewritten histories.

    It's inconceivable how many self-avowed "gamers" think that games should exclusively be conceived of as so-called "group story making" and shame other ideas out of conversations. How much self-righteous absolutism does it take to claim "in the many centuries of humanity no culture of ideas ever formed about games or game design until 10 years ago". This is the wholesale purposed eradication of gaming as a free culture and supplanted by narrative culture.

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