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D&D General On Grognardism...

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm a neo grognard. I like the old D&D but not to fanatic about it.

Would hybrid 1E and 2E plus houserule.

Quite like B/X.
 
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Eubani

Adventurer
My problem was that they are a shrinking loud minority that is only getting smaller as they get put in the ground, yet in play testing the developers paid an undue amount of attention to them. My second issue is that they have halted too much change in the game whether be from a fear of change or rose coloured view of the past. Thirdly all too often their arguments are often dishonest or poorly chosen eg Fighter abilities are magic or a Fighter doesn't need abilities because they can just describe any action.

We are at the point where they make such a small percentage of players that we can afford the occasional Ok Boomer and not pay them undue attention.
 

Hatmatter

Laws of Mordenkainen, Elminster, & Fistandantilus
I’ve been around D&D ever since the opening of the 80’s (and I forgot about keeping my 3-hole punched B/X books in my Trapper Keeper), but I haven’t stagnated on game design. To be truthful, my favorite system is probably Savage Worlds, with D&D a close second (though I own way more D&D stuff of various ages).

I’m constantly digging through my old books for ideas and stuff I want to bring forward, not the other way around. I wouldn’t mind going back and running a 2E game, but I’m actually happy with 5E.

If anything, there are times that I feel 5E stopped short, for the sake of player simplicity and I’d like to add some quasi-simulationist aspects back, or at least broaden opens or fill in gaps I perceive - for example, decoupling sorcerous heritages/sources and subclasses.

When I do look back at that old material, it’s with an eye of the memories of those days in the entirety. Not just what was going on in the game itself, but the movies, music and life experiences I underwent back in that time. For myself, I’m trying to capture some of that feeling that made me happy and excited to be playing D&D - something I know I’ll never be able to capture, but want it there like a cozy ol‘ teddy bear that’s proof against the storm of the world around me.
I realize I am not answering Sabathius's original post question, but I can only echo Sormonu here. I came into the game in 1980, although I was quite young then still. I find 5th edition the version I play and preferable for me in every area...including in book design and art. That sometimes goes unremarked, but the books themselves are really beautiful. I would simply like to see some continued expansion of the game and the settings, which appears to be what is happening.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My problem was that they are a shrinking loud minority that is only getting smaller as they get put in the ground, yet in play testing the developers paid an undue amount of attention to them.
Could that possibly be because the developers recognized good and useful input when they heard it?
My second issue is that they have halted too much change in the game whether be from a fear of change or rose coloured view of the past.
OK, I suppose someone has to bite: what changes did you want to see that didn't happen due to the in-theory influence of grognards?
Thirdly all too often their arguments are often dishonest or poorly chosen eg Fighter abilities are magic or a Fighter doesn't need abilities because they can just describe any action.
What are you on about here - that is, other than accusing an entire segment of the gaming community of general dishonesty?
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
What are you on about here - that is, other than accusing an entire segment of the gaming community of general dishonesty?

Sounds like someone is bitter that the newest and most popular elfgame doesn't cater specifically to their preferred niche.

I'd tell @Eubani they can join the club, but forget that noise, I don't want somebody eager to see grognards "get put in the ground" anywhere near me.
 

Eubani

Adventurer
Sounds like someone is bitter that the newest and most popular elfgame doesn't cater specifically to their preferred niche.

I'd tell @Eubani they can join the club, but forget that noise, I don't want somebody eager to see grognards "get put in the ground" anywhere near me.
I am not eager to see grognards put in the ground, it's just a simple fact they are an aging population which is shrinking due to nature taking it's course.
 

TerraDave

5ever
My problem was that they are a shrinking loud minority that is only getting smaller as they get put in the ground, yet in play testing the developers paid an undue amount of attention to them. My second issue is that they have halted too much change in the game whether be from a fear of change or rose coloured view of the past. Thirdly all too often their arguments are often dishonest or poorly chosen eg Fighter abilities are magic or a Fighter doesn't need abilities because they can just describe any action.

We are at the point where they make such a small percentage of players that we can afford the occasional Ok Boomer and not pay them undue attention.
D&D is more like a GenX thing than a boomer thing.

There has been plenty of experimentation and change in D&D over the years. There have also been plenty of competing games with quite distinct mechanics.

Its been sales, or lack thereof, that have repeatedly driven the game back to its roots. 5e is certainly consistent with this.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
I never played the original Torg, but I played Torg Eternity for the first time in November 2020 and I love it! It is the finest attempt I've seen at a cross-genre RPG. I always wanted to play a superhero/anti-hero character but never got the chance because none of the groups I played with were interested in that sort of game. Now I finally have a chance. Our party consists of my (relatively low power) superhero, a gun and bible toting cowboy with faith magic, a fighter pilot and a psionic samurai. And it works thematically because of the lore of the setting.
The fact that, as you say, a cowboy preacher is fighting back to back with an electric psionic samurai and it WORKS in the fiction is one of the reasons it's my favorite system. I'm not sure it's possible to run out of new mechanical ideas for a character.

One of my favorites was the Inch High Private Eye, a fairy who transformed to pulp noir detective, complete with trenchcoat and dual .45s (but also wings).

But really my favorite thing in the game is you play a hero from the start. Not a regular joe who hopes to live long enough and find enough loot to become a hero at some future point, but a hero from day 1. There are still mooks to fight (like the pulp shock troopers you throw at the hero's by the hundreds) but there are also tough encounters that require more than just "I attack" to take down throughout your characters journey.

Circling back to grognardian design....this is why the 3hp 1 spell a day wizard is what I consider bad game design. It's just not fun to spend a good portion of a story ineffective.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
My problem was that they are a shrinking loud minority that is only getting smaller as they get put in the ground, yet in play testing the developers paid an undue amount of attention to them. My second issue is that they have halted too much change in the game whether be from a fear of change or rose coloured view of the past. Thirdly all too often their arguments are often dishonest or poorly chosen eg Fighter abilities are magic or a Fighter doesn't need abilities because they can just describe any action.

We are at the point where they make such a small percentage of players that we can afford the occasional Ok Boomer and not pay them undue attention.
I find your use of us vs. them language to perhaps show how you are conflicting your preferences with good and bad design.

There are a lot of aspects of modern gaming I'm very grognardish about. I won't play games over the internet (including console games) because I hate the disconnect with other people. I similarly have ZERO interest in watching someone else play a game (Critical Role). It's just not my thing, but I don't begrudge others for liking it.

Grognardism isn't bad, it's just a different style of engaging in the hobby.

I challenge you to put yourself in the grognards shoes and try to understand their motivations better. It's literally the topic of this thread.
 

S'mon

Legend
Well said.

I think 5th edition is the second-best version of D&D made, after B/X (we currently use Old School Essentials, which is a simple re-formatting of B/X).

I've played every version since the white box and have managed to have fun with every one. But as far as rules goes, 5e is the cleanest rule set since B/X. And that's a good thing in my book.

In design & presentation, I think 5e and BX both have their strengths and weaknesses. I generally use 5e as the base game these days and add in most of the GM-side procedural stuff from Moldvay Basic. I refer to Cook/Marsh Expert a fair bit too (eg for building costs, for wilderness & sea travel, and the generic modular design of the encounter tables is something I'm looking to use). Relative weaknesses in BX for me are legacy OD&D stuff like the clunky saving throws and the extreme vulnerability & weakness of level 1 PCs; for saves I love the Swords & Wizardry unified save (ascending AC too); max hp at level 1 and death at -10 hp deals with the vulnerability issue. BTW OD&D also has some great GM-side procedural stuff in Book 3 that wasn't carried forward, oddly.

Overall I like 5e best for player-side and BX best on DM's side, but there's no clear progression or ranking IMO.
 

Ogre Mage

Adventurer
The fact that, as you say, a cowboy preacher is fighting back to back with an electric psionic samurai and it WORKS in the fiction is one of the reasons it's my favorite system. I'm not sure it's possible to run out of new mechanical ideas for a character.

One of my favorites was the Inch High Private Eye, a fairy who transformed to pulp noir detective, complete with trenchcoat and dual .45s (but also wings).

But really my favorite thing in the game is you play a hero from the start. Not a regular joe who hopes to live long enough and find enough loot to become a hero at some future point, but a hero from day 1. There are still mooks to fight (like the pulp shock troopers you throw at the hero's by the hundreds) but there are also tough encounters that require more than just "I attack" to take down throughout your characters journey.

Circling back to grognardian design....this is why the 3hp 1 spell a day wizard is what I consider bad game design. It's just not fun to spend a good portion of a story ineffective.

As someone who first played 1E D&D in 1986, that is why I don't have any desire to return to earlier editions of D&D. I was obsessed with wizards when I first started and I remember casting my 1-2 spells and then being reduced to using a sling. :(:mad:

I was not a fan of 4E but the innovation of at-will powers was my favorite thing about that edition. And 5E kept the idea with at-will cantrips. That has helped low-level casters remain useful across multiple encounters. But the concentration mechanic has kept upper-level casters from achieving the broken overpower they were capable of in 3.X. I remember the days of CoDzilla. But if anyone asks me if I played CoDzilla, I take The Fifth.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
As a described grognard myself (played AD&D as my go-to game from 1981 to 2012, skipping 3e and 4e), the things that appealed to me the most about early D&D were rulings over rules, easy to modify to your own preferences, speed of play, lethality (sense of danger) and the emphasis on creating your own gameworlds and adventures.

I don't think it "Peaked" in the late 70s, but that style of play has an appeal to me, and it's not just nostalgia. As I mention in the preface of the OSR project I'm working on:

"I firmly believe that just because an edition may be newer (even if it does a lot of great things), that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a better experience for everyone, and thus I honestly feel like there is room in the modern gaming world to enjoy an old school style of game play and to give gamers that option."
This is what I liked about ad&d too. And I loved the way PHB 2E was written. The book is mostly optional rules. There is no official method of initiative, just 3 optional rules for it. I loved how they encouraged you to customize the rules and game for your own setting or world. Today I feel players stick their nose up in the air at that type of creativity. It’s like many have a fear of not being orthodox or not playing like everyone else. I half expect 6E to be the edition of where we have to get a license and a certification to be a DM (I am just joking). Maybe a requirement of 1000 hours as a PC. One characters had to have made it to 15th level. And then 40 hours of instruction. 😉
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
There's nothing wrong with grognardism per se. For me, it's the people who use it as a qualification or in a gatekeeping manner that I squint sideways at. You prefer 1970s RPGs? Fine. You think your opinion is more important than somebody else's because you've been gaming since 1974? Not fine.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Way to young to be a grognard. No problem with them really.

The older editions were great at doing what fantasy was back. And it was open enough to hit it at an excellent rating.

But man did the older editions and OSR. stink at modern fantasy tropes and playstyes. That's why D&D expanded over time.
 


jgsugden

Legend
... My second issue is that they have halted too much change in the game whether be from a fear of change or rose coloured view of the past...
Did you see 4E? When WotC ignored the core of what D&D is and tried to be purely innovative, we got 4E. 4E is a fine game, but it is not D&D for a few reasons. One is that it ignored the egacy of the game by changing too much. Another is that the mechanics do not support high fantasy as well as they support other genres. However, it is evidence that the older players are not halting change ... change happens, but the pushback that experienced players often offer against changing the core of the game is generally good advice.
We are at the point where they make such a small percentage of players that we can afford the occasional Ok Boomer and not pay them undue attention.
A couple years ago, WotC released numbers to retailers in Europe about the age of their players. 40% were 25 or younger, 11% were 40 or older, and 49% were between 25 and 40. However, as spending capacity tends to increase with age, all three demographics remain important to WotC. They want to grow the game, but they also wan to sell the game to the people that tend to have the most buying power... and they also realize that many players of the older generation are the ones introducing the game to their kids, running games at game shops (when they are open), selling the game as game store owners, etc...

As a general rule, when you reduce a large group of people to a nameless, faceless "them" and then dismiss them, speak down to them, disparage them and otherwise dehumanize them ... well, it is a time to reflect on what you're doing to them.
 


Azzy

KMF DM
I've been playing since 86 or 87, first with BECMI and quickly moving to 1e. I look back at fondness at those years, but I can't lionize the older editions of the game. While I have various complaints with 5e, I think it is a superior game than those earlier editions in toto. When I grognard out, it's usually about lore changes in post-1e editions. That's the primary reason that I shunned 4e—it deepsixed too much of the old lore that I loved. Not to say that I haven't enjoyed some of the changes (I love the Feywild, for instance), but things like turning rock gnomes into tinkers or Lolth being a former elven goddess just makes me twitch.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
You are talking design, but you quoted me talking about mechanics. There is literally no room to say that mechanics have not improved over time.

Entirely depends on the mechanics being discussed.

D&D had better wilderness exploration rules than 5e (which are almost nonexistent).

For each Day
  1. Party decides direction of travel
  2. Check for losing direction
  3. Wandering Monsters
  4. DM description
  5. End of day
And the flow for exploring dungeons was much more explicit and streamlined than 5e:

For each Turn (10m)
  1. Wandering monsters (1d6, every 2 turns)
  2. Party decides course of action
  3. DM describes result of action
  4. End of turn (expend torches, spell durations, rests)
It had excellent systems for how NPCs/monsters would react to the party (Monster Reaction Roll) - more explicitly allowing for non-combat solutions to encounters. Most intelligent creatures don't really want to fight.

And when a fight did break out, the morale rules helped demonstrate how few creatures were willing to just fight to the death. The same applied to the party itself. There were rules for fleeing a combat and cool things like how to distract a pursuer (food, loot, etc.) to try and get away.

These are all mechanical systems that were either lost or abstracted in later editions, including 5e.

I do believe that the d20 attack system that replaced THAC0 was an improvement. I like short rests (and the Healing Surge that inspired them). Cantrips were a cool idea when first introduced and they have been made even more available in 5e. The Advantage/Disadvantage system is absolutely brilliant. I love it.

I don't think D&D was the end-all-be-all of systems. But I do believe that it got some things right that have gotten worse or entirely gone away in later editions.
 

My problem was that they are a shrinking loud minority that is only getting smaller as they get put in the ground, yet in play testing the developers paid an undue amount of attention to them. My second issue is that they have halted too much change in the game whether be from a fear of change or rose coloured view of the past. Thirdly all too often their arguments are often dishonest or poorly chosen eg Fighter abilities are magic or a Fighter doesn't need abilities because they can just describe any action.

We are at the point where they make such a small percentage of players that we can afford the occasional Ok Boomer and not pay them undue attention.
the fighter doesn't need abilities because they can just describe any action thing drives me nuts as technically most people do not have the foggiest idea of what a fighter should be capable of at each level, plus the lack of general knowledge on fighting things makes it hard to do that in the first place.

I am fairly certain one good basis of game design is to assume all players are new and are completely ignorant of everything your game is about other than basic words like sword or dragon.
 

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