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D&D General In defence of Grognardism

GuyBoy

Adventurer
In the light of the (rather funny) Grognardia thread, I thought I’d post some random thoughts in defence of Grognardism.
Firstly, a health warning; I’m aware that there is probably no clear definition of Grognardism, so how can I defend it? Fair point, but I’m going to try to defend it anyhow.
Secondly, why me? Well, I started playing White Box in 1976, aged 13. Moved to AD&D 1st ed till mid-1980s, then took a bit of a sabbatical for a decade to focus on professional career and sports, returned to find out that 2E had happened, played that for a bit, then 3e. Skipped 4e for Pathfinder and returned for 5e, which I love.

So, why is Grognardism good?
1 I could apply aspects of classical conservatism in the sense of Edmund Burke’s “conserve what is best and dispense of proven abuses.” I don’t go much for this on a personal level, but I get where it comes from. Old slippers are comfortable and a style of gaming that one enjoyed will tend to be defended until a totally convincing case for its removal is made.

2 Nostalgia. To me, this is a key argument. Assuming that we enjoy D&D ( if we don’t, why play?), then the older editions will hold positive memories of place, time and friends, and those memories will be treasured in our heads. Returning to the Keep, wounded but treasure-laden, or the great battle in Nosnra’s Hall or whatever; precious memories to be enjoyed and defended. They rank alongside pulling on the school’s rugby shirt, birthdays, holidays and first romances.

3 Love of History. As a Historian, I would always tell students to “love it, learn it” because the two go hand-in-hand. History is awesome, and not only does our game have its roots in a love of (especially, but not exclusively) medieval history, but it also has its own history dating back to Gygax, Arneson and a particular time in US culture.

4 Talking of US culture; soft power. It may not be as obvious to actual US citizens, but to Grognards from the UK it matters. Those of us who played 1E are, by definition, children f the Cold War and the soft power of the US was pervasive at the time; buying in to D&D was like buying in to Levi’s, skateboards and McDonalds; it mattered. For any doubters, I’d refer to a Russian friend of my own age who told me “the day McDonalds opened in Moscow, we knew we had lost the Cold War.”

5 “Children, they have bad manners, they show no respect for authority or decent speech.” The fact that the quote is from Socrates, shows that cultural grognardism is pretty much inevitable anyway, so we may as well roll with it.

Wishing you all 10’ poles and owlbears.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
In the light of the (rather funny) Grognardia thread, I thought I’d post some random thoughts in defence of Grognardism.
Firstly, a health warning; I’m aware that there is probably no clear definition of Grognardism,

Grognard: The person who is older than me who just doesn't get it.

Whippernsnapper: The person who is younger than me who just doesn't get it.

The Person Who Gets It: Me.
 

Mallus

Legend
As long as you realize "familiar and comfortable" does not mean "more challenging and intellectual and whatever other positive value judgments I'm going to assign to my personal preferences", I'm good with this.

Speaking as a late Cold War -- "The Day After" era -- kid myself.
 

I'm sorry, but this seems like laying out the five points with which you plan to defend Grognardism, but then you ran out of time or forgot to actually include the actual arguments. Could you perhaps go into each point and show how each of these five categories is a defense of Grognardism?
 

One thing I found interesting when reading Peterson's The Elusive Shift was that the opposite of a grognard was originally a munchkin. According to his research, munchkin referred to all the new, younger kids coming to D&D, specifically those that started with D&D and not wargames. Which of course, a lot of the people bemoaning "all these kids" weren't much older than college age themselves.

Grognard: The person who is older than me who just doesn't get it.

Whippernsnapper: The person who is younger than me who just doesn't get it.

The Person Who Gets It: Me.

I think appreciation for the hobby's history is a good thing. I love reading through my old books and discovering older books that predate my entrance into the hobby.

But appreciating the history while acting like present D&D doesn't exist or is bad just because it's not the same as OD&D or AD&D, mechanically or culturally, that's not a good thing.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Comparing Grognardism to Conservatism seems a bit like saying the quiet part out loud, no?
They defined the context of "conservatism" in their post, and it's very much not the political definition of conservativism, so I'm not sure what this comment is alluding to. I mean, I can infer, but then it wouldn't make sense because it would mean you're thinking they are talking about the political definition, and not the one they actually provided.


In regards to the OP, I think the biggest reason, for me at least, isn't really any of those. Most of them could have an impact, but the biggest reason is because it's just a style of play like any other edition. it's a style that rewards out of the box thinking, player skill, speed of play, and rulings over rules. That's just as a legitimate preference of play as narrative play, or power gamers, or any other style that various editions support. And thus, there's room for them all and doesn't really need defense.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The defined the context of "conservatism" in their post, and it's very much not the political definition of conservativism, so I'm not sure what this comment is alluding to. I mean, I can infer, but then it wouldn't make sense because it would mean you're thinking they are talking about the political definition, and not the one they actually provided.
I was just trying to be funny. Guess my humor didn’t land with you, that’s alright.
 





Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
4 Talking of US culture; soft power. It may not be as obvious to actual US citizens, but to Grognards from the UK it matters. Those of us who played 1E are, by definition, children f the Cold War and the soft power of the US was pervasive at the time; buying in to D&D was like buying in to Levi’s, skateboards and McDonalds; it mattered. For any doubters, I’d refer to a Russian friend of my own age who told me “the day McDonalds opened in Moscow, we knew we had lost the Cold War.”
I call Shenanigans! I heard it from a reputable source (Jeremy Clarkson) that Brits only bought like, 9000 US made cars in the 70s, but bought 247,000 Russian made cars. James May blamed "the People's Republic of South Yorkshire" :ROFLMAO:

so this reason can't be 100% true ;)
 


Yora

Legend
Grognards imply to me complaining about everyone else getting it wrong and being too dumb and spoiled to see good old quality when it bites them in the butt.

Simply appreciating the good parts of things that are old because they are good is just that. That's what the whole oldschool revival thing was about a decade ago.
 

TheSword

Legend
I call Shenanigans! I heard it from a reputable source (Jeremy Clarkson) that Brits only bought like, 9000 US made cars in the 70s, but bought 247,000 Russian made cars. James May blamed "the People's Republic of South Yorkshire" :ROFLMAO:

so this reason can't be 100% true ;)
Hmm. It’s a lot easier to get a car from Russia to England than America to England.
 

GuyBoy

Adventurer
Grognards imply to me complaining about everyone else getting it wrong and being too dumb and spoiled to see good old quality when it bites them in the butt.

Simply appreciating the good parts of things that are old because they are good is just that. That's what the whole oldschool revival thing was about a decade ago.
Good point. I’m a non-complaining grognard! Admittedly, I didn’t go a bundle on 4e but I’ve loved every other edition.
 

In the light of the (rather funny) Grognardia thread, I thought I’d post some random thoughts in defence of Grognardism.
Firstly, a health warning; I’m aware that there is probably no clear definition of Grognardism, so how can I defend it? Fair point, but I’m going to try to defend it anyhow.
Secondly, why me? Well, I started playing White Box in 1976, aged 13. Moved to AD&D 1st ed till mid-1980s, then took a bit of a sabbatical for a decade to focus on professional career and sports, returned to find out that 2E had happened, played that for a bit, then 3e. Skipped 4e for Pathfinder and returned for 5e, which I love.

So, why is Grognardism good?
1 I could apply aspects of classical conservatism in the sense of Edmund Burke’s “conserve what is best and dispense of proven abuses.” I don’t go much for this on a personal level, but I get where it comes from. Old slippers are comfortable and a style of gaming that one enjoyed will tend to be defended until a totally convincing case for its removal is made.

2 Nostalgia. To me, this is a key argument. Assuming that we enjoy D&D ( if we don’t, why play?), then the older editions will hold positive memories of place, time and friends, and those memories will be treasured in our heads. Returning to the Keep, wounded but treasure-laden, or the great battle in Nosnra’s Hall or whatever; precious memories to be enjoyed and defended. They rank alongside pulling on the school’s rugby shirt, birthdays, holidays and first romances.

3 Love of History. As a Historian, I would always tell students to “love it, learn it” because the two go hand-in-hand. History is awesome, and not only does our game have its roots in a love of (especially, but not exclusively) medieval history, but it also has its own history dating back to Gygax, Arneson and a particular time in US culture.

4 Talking of US culture; soft power. It may not be as obvious to actual US citizens, but to Grognards from the UK it matters. Those of us who played 1E are, by definition, children f the Cold War and the soft power of the US was pervasive at the time; buying in to D&D was like buying in to Levi’s, skateboards and McDonalds; it mattered. For any doubters, I’d refer to a Russian friend of my own age who told me “the day McDonalds opened in Moscow, we knew we had lost the Cold War.”

5 “Children, they have bad manners, they show no respect for authority or decent speech.” The fact that the quote is from Socrates, shows that cultural grognardism is pretty much inevitable anyway, so we may as well roll with it.

Wishing you all 10’ poles and owlbears.
Point 5 is very interesting to me. I grew up during the Cold War here in the US. I never thought about how D&D was part of our soft power. Games I played at the time certainly were: Recon, Twilight: 2000, but... yeah. That is a take I've never heard as an American.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
1 I could apply aspects of classical conservatism in the sense of Edmund Burke’s “conserve what is best and dispense of proven abuses.” I don’t go much for this on a personal level, but I get where it comes from. Old slippers are comfortable and a style of gaming that one enjoyed will tend to be defended until a totally convincing case for its removal is made.
I'm not sure that this defends grognardism at all, or that maintaining the things that work is an aspect of grognardism. In my experience, the opposite is more common. Plenty of new players want to keep the parts of traditional/"classic" D&D that work, but want to get rid of the parts that they think are harmful (whether that be alignment, racial ASIs, or similar examples).

So, yeah, I don't think that this is a part of grognardism, and thus not defending it.
2 Nostalgia. To me, this is a key argument. Assuming that we enjoy D&D ( if we don’t, why play?), then the older editions will hold positive memories of place, time and friends, and those memories will be treasured in our heads. Returning to the Keep, wounded but treasure-laden, or the great battle in Nosnra’s Hall or whatever; precious memories to be enjoyed and defended. They rank alongside pulling on the school’s rugby shirt, birthdays, holidays and first romances.
Nostalgia is a reason (probably the main one) for grognardism, but it's not a defense for it. Explanations and excuses are two very different things. You can explain why something exists without supporting the existence of that thing (like how people can explain how certain awful historical events happened without supporting those events). Reason =/= excuse, and thus this is not a defense of grognardism (at least, not a valid one).
3 Love of History. As a Historian, I would always tell students to “love it, learn it” because the two go hand-in-hand. History is awesome, and not only does our game have its roots in a love of (especially, but not exclusively) medieval history, but it also has its own history dating back to Gygax, Arneson and a particular time in US culture.
Plenty of newer players care about and learn the history of D&D. They just don't idolize it as much as grognards tend to (in my experience, at least). You can be a history geek without loving/fantasizing about the part of history that happened. This is very much tied to nostalgia and "the grass is always greener on the other side".

Again, not a defense of grognardism.
4 Talking of US culture; soft power. It may not be as obvious to actual US citizens, but to Grognards from the UK it matters. Those of us who played 1E are, by definition, children f the Cold War and the soft power of the US was pervasive at the time; buying in to D&D was like buying in to Levi’s, skateboards and McDonalds; it mattered. For any doubters, I’d refer to a Russian friend of my own age who told me “the day McDonalds opened in Moscow, we knew we had lost the Cold War.”
I'm also not sure how this is a defense of grognardism. I'm not sure that what you're describing is a good thing, and thus not a reason to support/defend grognardism.
5 “Children, they have bad manners, they show no respect for authority or decent speech.” The fact that the quote is from Socrates, shows that cultural grognardism is pretty much inevitable anyway, so we may as well roll with it.
Inevitability is not a valid excuse/reason to support/defend something. We're all going to die, it's inevitable, but that's no excuse for going around murdering everyone you can, because "they just were gonna die anyway!"

Again, not a defense for grognardism.
 

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