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OSR Is there room in modern gaming for the OSR to bring in new gamers?

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Arg. You're right. :)

It's "Tomb of the Serpent Kings".
Ah, that makes sense. Yeah, I've enjoyed that one. I have it in hardcopy, and did notice a minor discrepancy or two between the map notes and the room entries, but overall it's quite good and gave us a number of sessions of fun.
 

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Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
To quite a large extent. We see this happen with a great many cultural scenes. People are new to a music genre or school of fiction. They love it. But eventually they exhaust or get bored of the popular mainstream stuff. This inspires them to delve deeper into alternative and less-known sub-genres. One of those alternatives is always the roots of the genre.
I'd say it also comes in waves and is cyclical. I might enjoy 80s rock for a few months, then prefer classical, then modern alternative, etc. I frequently go through cycles like this for pretty much all my preferences and hobbies.

It strikes me as a bit odd that we seem to be approaching this as an all or nothing thing. You're either a fan, or you won't ever want to play it. Back in the 80s (and 90s), we played lots of different RPGs. We might play D&D for a while then get bored and play RIFTS, but then later come back to D&D.

I think the same can apply here. Play 5e, then go play an OSR game for a while, then come bake to 5e, etc. I don't think that's unusual.
 

Also, not to belabor the point about the importance of anti-racism, but to explain the actual problem: passive acceptance of racism doesn't qualify for demandingness objection because most of the people who employ it (and obviously most who don't too) in this context, are to one degree or another, beneficiaries of it-- therefore they would hold direct moral responsibility in the matter. Since the dominant group (on an intersectional basis) benefits from the oppression of the subordinate group, its members bear responsibility for resisting the injustice, as 'passivity' is active maintenance of oppression reframed as passivity. Being part of a system that oppresses people, supplying it, and not demanding its reformation or dissolution, is just sandbagging progress that would threaten the social benefits you receive from injustice, it has an implicit insistence that you don't accept that racism is occurring or is wrong. Its a lot more direct than say, someone who's starvation has nothing to do with you, since you aren't a beneficiary of their starvation in the way you would be for racism.

Explanation of that aside, I don't think that its disqualifying for the movement itself by any means, there's no meaningful relationship between the principles of old school play and some predilection toward racism. Its presumably a facet of the overall shift in the hobby being slower to hit OSR circles due to the fact that the gamers themselves average older, and might be more insulated from social spaces likely to effect affective change. The OSR community has a responsibility to fight that, but much like in the rest of the hobby and world, its going to take generational shifts-- even the most ruthless public shaming only gets you so far, putting aside any argument about the morality or effectiveness of that option.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Back to the game side, I think that there's a lot in the OSR that modern gamers would enjoy, but I honestly think that while many people do enjoy the high lethality and such, there's definitely room to address some of the design without touching others. I've noticed a predilection to declare every aspect of the current OSR or the old school mentality essential to making the game work-- we can't have combat-as-sport elements, we must have wanderings monsters, we must have low HP / saves against death. In theory that all might be necessary to do some of what the OSR can provide (the "roguelike" feeling of it) but there's other stuff that could be distilled from that, and replacement mechanics that finesse their way around the need for some of it.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Back to the game side, I think that there's a lot in the OSR that modern gamers would enjoy, but I honestly think that while many people do enjoy the high lethality and such, there's definitely room to address some of the design without touching others. I've noticed a predilection to declare every aspect of the current OSR or the old school mentality essential to making the game work-- we can't have combat-as-sport elements, we must have wanderings monsters, we must have low HP / saves against death. In theory that all might be necessary to do some of what the OSR can provide (the "roguelike" feeling of it) but there's other stuff that could be distilled from that, and replacement mechanics that finesse their way around the need for some of it.
A lot of the mechanical stuff is pretty negotiable. You don’t have to use an attack matrix or different resolution mechanics. Race-as-class isn’t necessary for the experience. You can have ascending armor class and saving throw categories that make sense. If you change too much, it might be most fair to refer to a system as OSR adjacent, but it’s all still basically “OSR”.

I don’t think the principles are quite as negotiable. There are certain styles of play that have been identified and are regarded typifying OSR play. If you change those, then you don’t have OSR anymore. I’d argue that if one tried to evolve OSR with stuff like combat as sport, then all you’ve done is reinvent trad. That’s basically how things went historically (from old-school to modern D&D).
 

A lot of the mechanical stuff is pretty negotiable. You don’t have to use an attack matrix or different resolution mechanics. Race-as-class isn’t necessary for the experience. You can have ascending armor class and saving throw categories that make sense. If you change too much, it might be most fair to refer to a system as OSR adjacent, but it’s all still basically “OSR”.

I don’t think the principles are quite as negotiable. There are certain styles of play that have been identified and are regarded typifying OSR play. If you change those, then you don’t have OSR anymore. I’d argue that if one tried to evolve OSR with stuff like combat as sport, then all you’ve done is reinvent trad. That’s basically how things went historically (from old-school to modern D&D).
Unless you're deliberately designing in a different way than the solutions that produce trad.

Since we have trad, and can see trad systems through the lens of the problems they were trying to solve, we can see how the solutions produced its problems and limitations, and redesign or modify accordingly.

Its a back to basics approach where I try to look at the problem trad engaged with, without necessarily accepting trad's solutions. Ideally preserving the elements trad tends to lose by deft new solutions, basically a renegotiation of the principles to get some of them back while retaining some of the nice parts of trad and neo trad.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Since we have trad, and can see trad systems through the lens of the problems they were trying to solve, we can see how the solutions produced its problems and limitations, and redesign or modify accordingly.
To be fair, trad wasn’t designed. It’s a name given well after the fact to a style of play that emerged and gained popularity in the ’80s and ’90s. That is unlike OSR and Story Now, which were intentioned developments. I think it would be interesting if someone tried to likewise describe trad and neo-trad (e.g., with PbtA-style principles), but I don’t think most trad groups would really care. It’s the default style, and people understand that already (more or less).

Its a back to basics approach where I try to look at the problem trad engaged with, without necessarily accepting trad's solutions. Ideally preserving the elements trad tends to lose by deft new solutions, basically a renegotiation of the principles to get some of them back while retaining some of the nice parts of trad and neo trad.
That could be interesting, but I think it would end up being its own thing. However, my expectation is that it’ll end up looking an awful lot like trad.
 

Yeah, I was considering trad rules design to be what grew out of that playstyle once the published rules started reflecting what was already a playstyle. E.g Dragonlance shows us a trad trajectory, but 3e was probably when the rules were really designed around it.

Characters become more durable so you're less likely to lose a character (which lends itself to stories that now have consistent casts), players can take all sorts of rules options that both make it easier to just kill team monster (power fantasy, combat as sport) and customize your character (self expression, built to last).

In classic, characters were rolled and had few build choices (less self expression, no one cares what you 'want' to play, streamlined character generation because death is a regular part of play) they dont have much combat capability and are expected to encounter things they can't handle (fair fight as failure state, 'oh crap run' as an alternative OSR acronym) and so forth...

So its easy to see what adaptations came out of the trad playstyle as a result of classic, so its a matter of identifying the maladaptions that locked off certain elements, and approach the problem with an eye for solving it for the specific principles.

It probably is something new (or at least a self conscious variety of neo trad) but to me its fairly definitively rooted in frustrations with the borders between OSR/Neotrad.

Im probably not alone in seeking out that new space either, id actually go so far as to say its a neo trad impulse toward character stories and self expression (my origin story, hilariously, is the canon neo trad one from six cultures of play) that aren't submissive to a main plot, realizing the possibility space of how OSR adventure structure can provide that.

Specifically, OSR modules often provide scenarios for players to engage with and explore, without demanding they step into a main plot-- in Barrowmaze, for instance, we're literally just given a space with many mini dungeons, and one large complex.

There's no plot, it just gets more dangerous and more lucrative as you travel from east to west. There are climactic bosses for the campaign, but encountering them is a consequence of choosing to explore the Barrowmaze enough that you run into its lore, origins, and big names.

To me whats cool about that, is that it puts the players in the drivers seat. The module doesn't walk you through a sequence of specific events for plot, so it feels more authentic. It also centers the relationships of the player cast for the roleplaying that does take place, and doesnt impose on your sense of driving possible drama and roleplay in the same way that Story Now 'play to find out what happens' might.

From a neotrad perspective, thats really cool, and the centering of the fictional world 'lore' rather than plot provides a comfortable escape from the tension between trad and neo trad (THE storY vs. OUR storIES) you have more room to express yourself in the naturally emerging story of the OSR.

But obviously, losing characters so easily undercuts that, sublimating your character self expression to focus on hard-core survival tactics (to the exclusion of all else) undermines that, rolled characters who you don't customize much and are likely to die to one wrong move undermine that. So the question becomes how to get what I like from the OSR, without trading away these other things we enjoy playing the game for.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, I was considering trad rules design to be what grew out of that playstyle once the published rules started reflecting what was already a playstyle. E.g Dragonlance shows us a trad trajectory, but 3e was probably when the rules were really designed around it.

Characters become more durable so you're less likely to lose a character (which lends itself to stories that now have consistent casts), players can take all sorts of rules options that both make it easier to just kill team monster (power fantasy, combat as sport) and customize your character (self expression, built to last).

In classic, characters were rolled and had few build choices (less self expression, no one cares what you 'want' to play, streamlined character generation because death is a regular part of play) they dont have much combat capability and are expected to encounter things they can't handle (fair fight as failure state, 'oh crap run' as an alternative OSR acronym) and so forth...

So its easy to see what adaptations came out of the trad playstyle as a result of classic, so its a matter of identifying the maladaptions that locked off certain elements, and approach the problem with an eye for solving it for the specific principles.

It probably is something new (or at least a self conscious variety of neo trad) but to me its fairly definitively rooted in frustrations with the borders between OSR/Neotrad.

Im probably not alone in seeking out that new space either, id actually go so far as to say its a neo trad impulse toward character stories and self expression (my origin story, hilariously, is the canon neo trad one from six cultures of play) that aren't submissive to a main plot, realizing the possibility space of how OSR adventure structure can provide that.

Specifically, OSR modules often provide scenarios for players to engage with and explore, without demanding they step into a main plot-- in Barrowmaze, for instance, we're literally just given a space with many mini dungeons, and one large complex.

There's no plot, it just gets more dangerous and more lucrative as you travel from east to west. There are climactic bosses for the campaign, but encountering them is a consequence of choosing to explore the Barrowmaze enough that you run into its lore, origins, and big names.

To me whats cool about that, is that it puts the players in the drivers seat. The module doesn't walk you through a sequence of specific events for plot, so it feels more authentic. It also centers the relationships of the player cast for the roleplaying that does take place, and doesnt impose on your sense of driving possible drama and roleplay in the same way that Story Now 'play to find out what happens' might.

From a neotrad perspective, thats really cool, and the centering of the fictional world 'lore' rather than plot provides a comfortable escape from the tension between trad and neo trad (THE storY vs. OUR storIES) you have more room to express yourself in the naturally emerging story of the OSR.

But obviously, losing characters so easily undercuts that, sublimating your character self expression to focus on hard-core survival tactics (to the exclusion of all else) undermines that, rolled characters who you don't customize much and are likely to die to one wrong move undermine that. So the question becomes how to get what I like from the OSR, without trading away these other things we enjoy playing the game for.
What you describe seems very similar to Story Now to me. Playing to discover the characters’ stories and focusing on their needs is pretty much what that’s all about. Is your issue with Story Now games that follow a particular structure (e.g., job-focused play in FitD) or are focused on a particular theme (e.g., PbtA)? I don’t think you necessarily have to be that structured. I know (from prior discussions) there are some people here doing Story Now in other systems (even OSR ones). Have you seen the Dungeon World / Blades in the Dark thread over in the the general RPG forum here? There’s some interesting stuff in there too.
 

What you describe seems very similar to Story Now to me. Playing to discover the characters’ stories and focusing on their needs is pretty much what that’s all about. Is your issue with Story Now games that follow a particular structure (e.g., job-focused play in FitD) or are focused on a particular theme (e.g., PbtA)? I don’t think you necessarily have to be that structured. I know (from prior discussions) there are some people here doing Story Now in other systems (even OSR ones). Have you seen the Dungeon World / Blades in the Dark thread over in the the general RPG forum here? There’s some interesting stuff in there too.
The main difference that comes to mind as important to me, especially based off what I've learned from other people on this board about Story Now: In neo trad (and I'm drawing heavily on my experience of forum roleplaying in the early 2000s) you have a lot of control and curation of your character's story arc, you think about the type of person they are and where you want their story to go and then you make it happen-- in a TTRPG context that can mean a discussion where a scene is somewhat planned out between two players so they can both get what they want out of it, relatively speaking. In Story Now... well I'll let Brendan Conway explain:

1623286006365.png


That thing they say not to do? In Neo-Trad, you probably won't just say it, you'll be more artful about it but you'd violate this principle up and down. You'd decide that you want to see two characters get into an argument over something because it would be fun. You'd look for chances to grow in the story, but probably in a specific way "oh hey, this is the perfect chance for Emrys to start having more respect for non-wizards." Rather than starting with a simple idea of who Emrys is, and letting the events and game mechanics completely mold where his character goes.

That might mean arranging for conversations within the party, yes and-ing each others direction by expressing interest and playing along (you see this A LOT on Critical Role) it might mean tying characters to backstories that govern the ways you expect them to grow as people, it can be as simple as asking the GM for certain opportunities so you can convey a certain aspect of your character around the table, or simply sticking to your concept and showing everyone else their character moments and how they change. So rather than seeing where the mechanics take you, you're flexibly charting the course ahead, playing to character arcs and events as they come up and seem cool. Its being in the driver's seat in a navigational sense.

It works well when the dynamic is that everyone is a fan of what the other players are trying to accomplish as both the audience who is totally here for the character's story arc, and the rest of the cast who have to help bring it to life. In terms of OSR, it would work well because the story is decentralized, so charting characters arcs is less about grand plots and more about the character's inner lives, occasional episodes where their backstory does show up, and relationships, which the players could chart together. With the dungeon, world lore and other emergent play elements acting as spice and letting players consider their character from new perspectives-- its the backdrop for their own artistry as roleplaying storytellers, essentially, a prompt to express themselves against.
 

Malmuria

Explorer
Explanation of that aside, I don't think that its disqualifying for the movement itself by any means, there's no meaningful relationship between the principles of old school play and some predilection toward racism. Its presumably a facet of the overall shift in the hobby being slower to hit OSR circles due to the fact that the gamers themselves average older, and might be more insulated from social spaces likely to effect affective change. The OSR community has a responsibility to fight that, but much like in the rest of the hobby and world, its going to take generational shifts-- even the most ruthless public shaming only gets you so far, putting aside any argument about the morality or effectiveness of that option.\
My sense is that shift has already happened, and is manifest partly in the move towards rules-lite games vs retroclones. But it is frustrating to be interested in a product, then get interested in the author, and find out he (inevitably, a he) is a terrible person (most recently I purchased and then returned Castle Xyntillan). But I think there are plenty of 5e gamers who are similarly distasteful.
 

Malmuria

Explorer
The main difference that comes to mind as important to me, especially based off what I've learned from other people on this board about Story Now: In neo trad (and I'm drawing heavily on my experience of forum roleplaying in the early 2000s) you have a lot of control and curation of your character's story arc, you think about the type of person they are and where you want their story to go and then you make it happen-- in a TTRPG context that can mean a discussion where a scene is somewhat planned out between two players so they can both get what they want out of it, relatively speaking. In Story Now... well I'll let Brendan Conway explain:

View attachment 138061

That thing they say not to do? In Neo-Trad, you probably won't just say it, you'll be more artful about it but you'd violate this principle up and down. You'd decide that you want to see two characters get into an argument over something because it would be fun. You'd look for chances to grow in the story, but probably in a specific way "oh hey, this is the perfect chance for Emrys to start having more respect for non-wizards." Rather than starting with a simple idea of who Emrys is, and letting the events and game mechanics completely mold where his character goes.

That might mean arranging for conversations within the party, yes and-ing each others direction by expressing interest and playing along (you see this A LOT on Critical Role) it might mean tying characters to backstories that govern the ways you expect them to grow as people, it can be as simple as asking the GM for certain opportunities so you can convey a certain aspect of your character around the table, or simply sticking to your concept and showing everyone else their character moments and how they change. So rather than seeing where the mechanics take you, you're flexibly charting the course ahead, playing to character arcs and events as they come up and seem cool. Its being in the driver's seat in a navigational sense.

It works well when the dynamic is that everyone is a fan of what the other players are trying to accomplish as both the audience who is totally here for the character's story arc, and the rest of the cast who have to help bring it to life. In terms of OSR, it would work well because the story is decentralized, so charting characters arcs is less about grand plots and more about the character's inner lives, occasional episodes where their backstory does show up, and relationships, which the players could chart together. With the dungeon, world lore and other emergent play elements acting as spice and letting players consider their character from new perspectives-- its the backdrop for their own artistry as roleplaying storytellers, essentially, a prompt to express themselves against.

This could be a place where story games and osr converge, in the sense that it takes the gm-as-player part seriously. I love products like the stygian library because running it, I make it very clear that I don't know what's going to happen. The only 'reveal' that's coming is dependent on dice rolls, and that's something none of us know in advance
 

Retreater

Legend
(most recently I purchased and then returned Castle Xyntillan)
I just recently purchased this as well. Wasn't aware of any issues with the author, and my searches aren't showing up anything. Don't want to open up a can of worms on here, but do you have any links you can share? (Drop a DM if you prefer.)
 

Malmuria

Explorer
I just recently purchased this as well. Wasn't aware of any issues with the author, and my searches aren't showing up anything. Don't want to open up a can of worms on here, but do you have any links you can share? (Drop a DM if you prefer.)

I started to get concerned when I saw some of his blog posts:
[REVIEW] Woodfall
[BLOG] Third Year’s the Charm: The End of the OSR

there are his transphobic posts at tenfootpole

and if you are courageous enough to visit therpg_ite, you'll find that he is a frequent participant in the most reactionary of topics, often recommending people get out of his hobby. With regards to supporting him financially, that's done and done for me.
 


kenada

Legend
Supporter
The main difference that comes to mind as important to me, especially based off what I've learned from other people on this board about Story Now: In neo trad (and I'm drawing heavily on my experience of forum roleplaying in the early 2000s) you have a lot of control and curation of your character's story arc, you think about the type of person they are and where you want their story to go and then you make it happen-- in a TTRPG context that can mean a discussion where a scene is somewhat planned out between two players so they can both get what they want out of it, relatively speaking. In Story Now... well I'll let Brendan Conway explain:

View attachment 138061

That thing they say not to do? In Neo-Trad, you probably won't just say it, you'll be more artful about it but you'd violate this principle up and down. You'd decide that you want to see two characters get into an argument over something because it would be fun. You'd look for chances to grow in the story, but probably in a specific way "oh hey, this is the perfect chance for Emrys to start having more respect for non-wizards." Rather than starting with a simple idea of who Emrys is, and letting the events and game mechanics completely mold where his character goes.

That might mean arranging for conversations within the party, yes and-ing each others direction by expressing interest and playing along (you see this A LOT on Critical Role) it might mean tying characters to backstories that govern the ways you expect them to grow as people, it can be as simple as asking the GM for certain opportunities so you can convey a certain aspect of your character around the table, or simply sticking to your concept and showing everyone else their character moments and how they change. So rather than seeing where the mechanics take you, you're flexibly charting the course ahead, playing to character arcs and events as they come up and seem cool. Its being in the driver's seat in a navigational sense.

It works well when the dynamic is that everyone is a fan of what the other players are trying to accomplish as both the audience who is totally here for the character's story arc, and the rest of the cast who have to help bring it to life. In terms of OSR, it would work well because the story is decentralized, so charting characters arcs is less about grand plots and more about the character's inner lives, occasional episodes where their backstory does show up, and relationships, which the players could chart together. With the dungeon, world lore and other emergent play elements acting as spice and letting players consider their character from new perspectives-- its the backdrop for their own artistry as roleplaying storytellers, essentially, a prompt to express themselves against.
Thanks for the explanation. If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re looking for is still a curated story, but it’s an emergent one. You don’t want to play through a predetermined plot, but you might have ideas for important beats you want to hit along the way (whatever way that happens to be).

I think I understand now. You’re interested in building off of OSR games not because of their principles, but because of their principles. Specifically, the the principles eschew trad play, so that should provide you space to explore your style of play without the system’s getting in the way like one might if it were designed assuming trad play.
 

Thanks for the explanation. If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re looking for is still a curated story, but it’s an emergent one. You don’t want to play through a predetermined plot, but you might have ideas for important beats you want to hit along the way (whatever way that happens to be).

I think I understand now. You’re interested in building off of OSR games not because of their principles, but because of their principles. Specifically, the the principles eschew trad play, so that should provide you space to explore your style of play without the system’s getting in the way like one might if it were designed assuming trad play.
Pretty much, with the caveat that it isn't just the GM (which, you might not be meaning the GM, but I'm usually the GM) rather than a story, the game world and experience of play become a dramatic space where the players themselves can explore dramatic beats according to their own developing vision of character.

I certainly don't mind some OSR principles coming in to make parts of the game work (I dislike Combat as Performance, for instance, so real impartial failure states are necessary) and playing a subordinate role to enhance the gaming experience, but the player's vision for the character's story is the driving force-- rather than emergence from the mechanics, intention to tell a centralized story (in the way of a paizo ap), or a need for gygaxian skilled play, I'd even go so far as to say the world lore is the GM's character to build and play.
 

In my opinion, OSR game play is just as valid as any other approach to RPG. The rules are different but not worse or better. There is absolutely no reason not to introduce new players to D&D through OSR or older editions.

If older edition D&D is what excites you, then that is the edition you should be using to introduce new people into the hobby. Those new players will catch on to your enthusiasm and have a better first experience at the game.

I've had great success with running a old school (OSR) clone in a public meetup environment. I used Basic Fantasy, by the book, and at least half of the players who joined in never played D&D before (and yes there were plenty of character deaths... but the secret is that character death isn't a big deal to new players).

There were zero issues with generating interest and excitement and several are still playing the game and it probably would have been still going on if it weren't for COVID.

I don't care anymore what the popular game is. If I want to run an old school game for new players I'm doing it because it serves the approach and goal that I want to achieve. In other situations and other goals, I may want to start people with 5E. But, I'll never shy away from opening with B/X or OSE for a new player. They are excellent games.

You can always just tell new players something to the effect of "This is the classic D&D experience as played in the beginnings of the hobby. It is my personal favorite, but there have been many other editions of D&D that have been released since. You should check them out to see if you like them as well".
 

Is there room for modern gaming to learn from, iterate upon, and pick the best parts of old-school gaming? Absolutely yes.

Is there room for modern gaming to adhere really strictly to the Old Ways without meaningful deviation? Probably not.

That's really the fundamental problem with the OP: it presents this as something of a binary, "take it or leave it" situation WRT "traditional"/"classic"/"old-school" stuff.

I don't really think it's arguable that old-school play contained elements that were, intentionally or accidentally, hostile to new players. Consider, for example, that there really WERE some people who thought that getting rid of THAC0 was bad because it would let anyone learn to play. You can't really have that be a genuine current within the gaming culture unless there is some interest in actively gatekeeping to exclude "lesser" players who don't "deserve" to participate. Obviously, I have an extremely dim opinion of any such gatekeeping.

Some aspects of old-school play, particularly the more adversarial behaviors from DMs (e.g. cursed items, cloakers, ear seekers, rust monsters, etc.) are going to be really really hard to sell as a positive part of a modern gaming experience. Contrariwise, some other elements may be relatively easy to sell even if they aren't particularly "friendly" or "approachable," e.g. some players really do like the "Dark Souls"-type experience of having to "read the tells" and figure out how to fight a creature (consider the MANY "puzzle monster" entries in early MMs.) Those two facts combined make it inevitable that SOME new blood CAN be brought in by offering experiences of this type. This then leads us to two critically-important questions:
  1. What is the relative trade-off between acquiring new blood via old-school experiences, vs. acquiring new blood via "modern" experiences?
  2. Which elements of old-school experiences are central to making that experiences enjoyable, but which won't make non-old-school experiences less enjoyable in the process?
This is why, for example, I was vehemently opposed to the rather extreme, swingy lethality of the first 2-3 levels of play in 5e, back during the playtest. Vitally, I do not oppose the existence of high-lethality, ultra-swingy experiences where literally one bad die roll can kill a character. What I oppose is that the designers tried to serve conflicting goals with their design.

On the one hand, early levels are explicitly and specifically meant to be a somewhat slower, smoothed "onramp" into the process of play, so that new players can acclimate. Such a thing is especially important for getting new blood into the hobby, because making the get-into-D&D process too difficult or too stressful will turn people away, guaranteed, simply because of how saturated modern entertainment is and how little free time most people have. On the other, the swingy, high-lethality experience was, just as explicitly, meant to remind classic-game fans of the experiences they knew and loved, where one wrong move can spell disaster, where characters were often a dime a dozen, and where you had to "earn your fun," so to speak. 5e made motions of being a big tent (even if I have deep criticisms of their success on that front), and that meant offering fans of the old-school styles some olive branches; this was one of them.

But...as I said, those two goals are in conflict. "A smooth and easy introduction" is the antithesis of "one wrong move is disaster and you'll fail a lot before you succeed." You can't make (or, at least, these designers did not make) a game that simultaneously has Dark Souls levels of utterly uncompromising skill expectation AND a gently-sloping progression to ease people into the experience. Trying to accomplish these two goals at the same time, in the same rules, leads to a situation that...doesn't really accomplish either thing. The most common advice I've seen for helping a new player get into the game is either to directly kid-gloves them, which is patronizing and not conducive to getting on board with the game, or to literally start at higher level, completely defeating the point of having those "ease them in" early levels.

The frustrating thing is that there IS a way to have this cake and eat it too. Novice levels, or whatever one wishes to call them: levels "before level 1," that are an opt-IN system instead of an opt-OUT system. By making them opt-in, you avoid forcing new players to endure them (or, as stated, skip over them and thus waste the "levels 1-3 are a tutorial" benefit), but you still fully support fans who love that feeling of danger, limited resources, and desperate struggle. By making these goals non-simultaneous, we can easily mix both of them into the game without compromising what makes either one good.

And that's, ultimately, how old-school gaming is going to influence modern gaming going forward....just as all "the styles of the past" things influence "the styles of the present and future" things. That is, we've had the "reaction" period, where faults of prior methods are laid bare and tackled, and now we're starting into an "integration" period, where the successes of prior methods are drawn on to either address the faults of current methods, or to complement them by covering what they don't.
 

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