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OSR OSR ... Feel the Love! Why People Like The Old School

lowkey13

Exterminate all rational thought
I'm rather nostalgic for 2E - never played the older editions, in that I started in 89. I find the systems similar enough, if you remove the splat books and options, that I've never been bothered to try anything older. Would it be recommended to give it a try despite this? All your bullet points resonate with me the same way 2E did, so I'm curious -
If you liked 2e, you should try it again first.

That said, I am probably not the person to ask; while you are correct in stating that 2e is "similar enough" to OSR and B/X and 1e, I am one of the few people that would say that UA (in 1e) and everything 2e is just too ... modern. ;)

If you're looking for stripped down, I'd give B/X a look.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
The question was why do you like the Old School.

I've been gaming since '80. I'm Old School, I wasn't expelled that I'm aware of.

I gave my reasons why I liked going back and playing an old game.

I'm being called out for it. .
No one is calling you out for the reasons you gave. They are calling you out because you're saying everyone else's reasons are just nostalgia, when they aren't. Not by the definition of what nostalgia is.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
Tangential to a couple of points, but I really like how definitive the older games were. Things work the way that they work, and you don't have to pore over minutiae to figure out how to make them work differently, because those options don't exist.

I like that melee attacks are based on your Strength. There's no feat that changes it. You can't just limit yourself to a specific sub-class of weapons in order to get away with using Dexterity instead. If you want to be the best in melee, then that means focusing on Strength. End of story.
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
If you liked 2e, you should try it again first.

That said, I am probably not the person to ask; while you are correct in stating that 2e is "similar enough" to OSR and B/X and 1e, I am one of the few people that would say that UA (in 1e) and everything 2e is just too ... modern. ;)

If you're looking for stripped down, I'd give B/X a look.
Somewhat recently, I ran a game of 2E at the FLGS when a few of the new-to-D&D players heard myself and another grognard talking about it. I find it still quite enjoyable, for both the nostalgia of a time when I wasn't the DM and my highschool buddy's father was, and for the (contrary to your post) incredibly robust character creation (I admit the blasphemy, I loved the Character Class Point Buy options that came later in the edition).

As for finding anything post UA (1e) and 2e too 'modern', that's cool - we all love what we love. Upon your suggestion, I'll give them a fresh shot - we've been looking for something 'interesting and unusual' for a special gaming event we're doing next month, and that sounds right up our alley. Thank you kindly =)
 

Xaelvaen

Explorer
And, sorry @lowkey13, but one thing I dearly love about the old days is that all paladins had to be Lawful Good.
Man, I cannot like this comment enough. I truly missed the Paladin being strong, and paying for it with both mechanics and role-play hindrances. Still enforce those to this day, regardless of the system. My players are basically the same mindset - last time I had a Paladin in game that -didn't- tithe his treasure was a one-shot in an FLGS.
 

Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
In my opinion, 5E itself is a retroclone .
I wouldn't call 5e a retroclone because it has too many elements from recent editions, but it certainly brought back some of the reasons given upthread that can emulate OSR games pretty well if you want. For example, two things were fast chargen and statblocks in modules.

here is a 5e PC of mine, and a screen shot of a 5e adventure I had written. These are two aspects of OSR that I really prefer over modern editions (easy and brief character sheets and stat blocks inside the encounter description as opposed to looking up the monster in the MM every time).

5e fighter.jpg
Ssrall Mak_Page_07.jpg
 
Same. All my paladins have been LG, and try to live up to that code. They have never been the execute-the-party-thief, stick-up-the-butt kinds that give paladins a bad name. No, I figure a proper LG paladin is more like the MCU Captain America or Christopher Reeve-era Superman.

Man, I cannot like this comment enough. I truly missed the Paladin being strong, and paying for it with both mechanics and role-play hindrances. Still enforce those to this day, regardless of the system. My players are basically the same mindset - last time I had a Paladin in game that -didn't- tithe his treasure was a one-shot in an FLGS.
 

reelo

Registered User
So ...

based on another thread, I had to ask myself, "Self, why do people go back and play OSR, retroclones, B/X, and 1e? I mean, given the sheer number of posts stating that these rules are objectively trash, people would have to be crazy AND stupid to play them, right?"

Well, unfortunately, I am both crazy and stupid, loving both 1e and B/X, and having recently started a 1e campaign for teens and beginning to dabble in a B/X campaign. So I thought I'd start a new thread and explore some of the reasons why I love the old school rules and movement, and perhaps get some feedback from others hopefully without ... well, extraneous clutter. :)

So let's start with my non-exhaustive, non-ordered list of why I went back to playing these rules (I still play 5e as well):

1. Chargen. I understand that there are many people who enjoy chargen as its own mini-game. That love to plot out their characters and their choices from level 1 to 20. That enjoy the session 0 / day of creating the characters as much, if not more, than the adventuring. That can't wait for every new ability you get with each level.

I am not that person. I mean, sure, it was fun for a little while. But you know what's even more fun? Creating a character in under 3 minutes. Not worrying about leveling a character. That's fun- more time playing, less time working on the character.

2. Magic Items.
So I'm using this as a synecdoche for the idea that the character changes through play more than design (which touches into (1), above). The character isn't defined by creation, or by abilities, really, but by what happens to them through play. Another way of putting this is that I enjoy the serendipity; of discovering the character through play, of changing course as I get what might be a character-defining magic item (as magic items are very much defining in the early editions).

I also really, really like the magic items, and the sheer variety and use of them.

3. Rules, lack thereof. 1e might not be the best example of this in terms of RAW, but B/X and 1e in terms of RAI (very much a DIY ethos) are. The way I look at 1e, in fact, is that the hodgepodge of rules presented outside of the most basic rules is Gygax basically saying, "Hey, I encountered this, and this is how I houseruled it. See if it works for you." Of course, I'm basically running 1e classes in an almost B/X framework, so there's that ...

4. Class Niche Protection. This seems like a small thing, but it isn't to me. 5e tries to straddle the line between having classes (like traditional D&D) and having the classes not really matter (by having archetypes that bleed into each other, easy MC'ing, and feats), so you can end up with multiple ways to "build" the same concept. Now, I admit that the class concept in the old days could get pretty ridiculous (you want a new concept? well, you better hope Dragon Magazine has a class for that!), but I appreciate having strict lines of demarcation between my classes, not a bunch of adventurers that kinda sorta fight and kinda sorta cast spells, which leads me to ...

5. Spells. Ugh. This is my single ... biggest ... pet peeve with 5e. TOO. MUCH. MAGIC. It's takes a lot of work to design a character that DOESN'T somehow stumble into spellcasting ability. Not to mention, with at-will cantrips for attacks, I can't remember the last time there was a combat round without spellcasting.

No thank you. I like spells to be less common, and more spectacular. Don't give me pew pew pew. Give me the occasional BOOM.

6. Big Bad / Combats / Whack-a-mole. As a general rule, I like combats to be quick and dangerous. I hate (HATE) big bags of hit points; this is supposed to be fun, not slowly working an actuarial table. I want adventurers to worry about their fates (and thus avoid combats), not keep getting knocked down to zero and pop back up. I want a single monster to be a concern for the party- not just a quick casualty to the Avengers.

7. Leveling, Man.
This might be an idiosyncratic one, but I really like how when you level up, you just generally get better (attacks, saving throws). I do not like needing to be proficient, or increasing your stats. A great fighter doesn't need to be either Hercules or have the Dexterity of a Cirque du Soleil performer to get much better with experience.

8. Stats. Hey- you know what? I don't much like ASIs, either. I don't want to do the whole tired realism/game debate, because who cares? But I prefer having stats be relatively fixed, as they tend to be in real life, with possible increases due to magic. It also allows for less importance to be placed on stats, which means ...
9. Roll for stats, not point buy. Yeah, I know you can roll for stats in 5e. But with ASIs and the much stronger importance of stats to the character's advancement (saves, to hit, etc.) I use point buy.

10. Monsters and modules. A little esoteric, here, but I love to be able to see a monster with, like, one line. No need to know what the monster's abilities are- just their HD, AC, HP, attacks.


That's a quick run down. I was thinking about this, but basically, I appreciate having a quick, stripped-down style of play. I still really like 5e- I mostly run it in an OSR fashion, using 1e modules, but there are a few things I just can't replicate.

So, what do y'all think?
Damn, those are *exactly* the same reasons as mine. Especially concerning the plotting out of characters (I despise the concept of "builds") and the serendipity of discovering the fate of the character through gameplay.
I also don't like the stretching of class abilities over the course of levels. Front-load the classes, and have them "just" get better at levelup. It removes the grind somewhat.

I find myself mostly gravitating to OSE for BX, and AS&SH for 1E (and, of course, for its fantastic humanocentric setting)
 

Monayuris

Explorer
The question was why do you like the Old School.

I've been gaming since '80. I'm Old School, I wasn't expelled that I'm aware of.

I gave my reasons why I liked going back and playing an old game.

I'm being called out for it. I don't begrudge anyone their reasons, and haven't said a word in that regard (I /could/ a lot of nonsense gets tossed around when people get defensive, but that doesn't strike me as the point of the thread, which sounded, to me, like it would be positive).
I've just been defending my hard-won (by not dying - and that wasn't always easy) right to some nostalgia.

In particular, if we want some subtle distinctions, that brand of nostalgia you get when you have the chance to go back and re-capture something you didn't get to do nearly /enough/ of back in the day. Which is why my favorite things to paleo-game aren't 1e, even though I still love it, warts & all, or Champions!, which I played & ran a /lot/ in the 80s, but the games I was interested in but didn't get to play as much as I'd like, like RQII and Gamma World. Also probably why I'd rather dust off the actual game, than go auditioning retro-clones.
I was playing D&D back in the '80s. I started with the Red Box (Mentzer version) then moved on to AD&D with my friends. The thing was, I was 10 when I started (and yes, we did play in my best friend's basement and yes, I did bicycle home afterwards... no demogorgons though... lol).

The interesting thing is that I have come to revisit the old games from that era and now, as an adult I am running these games. It has been kind of a revelation as I realized that as a kid I probably wasn't playing the same game as I'm playing now. We glossed over a lot of things back then that on reading now I understand a whole lot better.

One example is that, as a kid, I didn't understand the whole weapon bonus vs AC thing (mainly because then I didn't understand that AC was an actual fixed value that represents a specific combination of armor and shield). We probably didn't use a whole lot of other stuff from AD&D as well (we probably more played Basic with AD&D classes).


It was a retro-clone that actually pointed me back to the OSR games. I then started digging back into the older editions and started finding that after reading the rules as they were written, I found that I actually liked what I read.

My rediscovery of old school gaming has revitalized my D&D gaming, as an adult.

Although I mainly stick to the retro-clones for the actual rules, I use my copy of B/X for dungeon design and reference... for all intents and purposes I play B/X but with ascending AC and to hit bonuses.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
I wouldn't call 5e a retroclone because it has too many elements from recent editions, but it certainly brought back some of the reasons given upthread that can emulate OSR games pretty well if you want. For example, two things were fast chargen and statblocks in modules.

here is a 5e PC of mine, and a screen shot of a 5e adventure I had written. These are two aspects of OSR that I really prefer over modern editions (easy and brief character sheets and stat blocks inside the encounter description as opposed to looking up the monster in the MM every time).

View attachment 107506
View attachment 107507
Cool formatting... is that adventure published?

I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I could fit my 1st level 5e wizard on an index card - but I think the problem is can I do the same with a 7th level wizard?

I think 5E does indeed carry over some of the elements of OSR games. Of course, it also has to provide for elements for other editions as well, so it can't be 100% OSR. I'm happy that I can take 5e and strip out what I need to make it fit closer to my needs. I run it quite frequently.

My approach has been to run 5e for people in the old school style and then suggest an actual old school game to see if they'll like it.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
Main reason is no Gnome Paladin's dual wielding rapiers.

I've run 2E for modern gamers and they've enjoyed it. There's a 16 yo at the FLGS running 5E Planescape.

Mechanics not the best, playstyle is still fun.
 
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Monayuris

Explorer
I said no such thing, and don't see how what I said could be easily misinterpreted.

Here are the relevant bits:





I think I'm pretty clear.

But you lot are jumping all over me, saying that what I'm experiencing /can't/ be nostalgia for some reason. That's nuts.

What's so terrible about being nostalgic that you can't allow anyone with similar past experiences to admit to it? What's the agenda here that I'm not seeing?
Nostalgia is fine as a reason to get into the old school games. Nostalgia led me back to OSR after a lot of experience with every edition of D&D.

I think the issue is that there are a lot of arguments made that nostalgia is the only reason to play older edition games. It is clear you are not making that claim at all. But a lot of discussion about older editions get mired in the whole nostalgia element. It is often used as a means to deride those who enjoy the older edition rules.

There are a lot of people who make posts that call older edition rules broken or obsolete and that the only reason to play these games is nostalgia. These opinions are of course subjective and have no value.

I think when nostalgia is proposed as a reason for enjoying older games, it sets alarm bells off. It tends to be considered an argument in bad faith.

It is akin to the OSR as the “It’s just World of Warcraft “ is to 4E. A very loaded statement.
 
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Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I said no such thing, and don't see how what I said could be easily misinterpreted.

Here are the relevant bits:





I think I'm pretty clear.

But you lot are jumping all over me, saying that what I'm experiencing /can't/ be nostalgia for some reason. That's nuts.

What's so terrible about being nostalgic that you can't allow anyone with similar past experiences to admit to it? What's the agenda here that I'm not seeing?
Post #10 is you responding to lowkey13 saying he likes OSR due to other reasons beyond nostalgia with “yeah you do, just by a different name if you don’t like the word nostalgia”. This despite the fact that the reasons he gave have nothing to do with trying to reclaim a historical good feeling (which is what nostalgia is defined as), but instead how the rules and game design support his current preferences (which nostalgia very much isn’t defined as)

So if what you just said was true, why are you disagreeing and arguing with him when he made that statement?
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
I don't care if people don't like OSR games. I play 5E as that's what everyone plays. Happy the play OSR and would sign up.

Not going to stand on a soapbox and claim it's the greatest thing ever. Don't like it that's fine don't play. My D&D KGB aren't going to turn put a gun to your head and drag you off to the OSR gulag and make you play.

It's not for everyone and that's fine.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
So just to keep the topic going... If you are running an old school game, has anything cool happened in your game? Has there been any element in the old school rules that helped develop interesting game play?

In my games, cool stuff always happened as a result of favorable Reaction Rolls vs. monsters. Like the time the party encountered a bunch of ogres working out in the dungeon. A favorable reaction on top of them being dim-witted allowed the party to trick the BRO-gres into helping them get past a couple dungeon rooms.

What would have probably have been just another fight, became a very entertaining session.
 

Zardnaar

Explorer
My cool story.

We were playing X8 Drums on Fire Mountain. There was a puzzle involving carvings of dancing figures.
To open the door you have to reenact the dance sequence and fill in the missing blanks.

Missing blank type puzzles were also in 80s game books I played when I was 10 or so.

Anyway I printed out the dance sections and gave it to my players. One of them was a bit more into and I said something like "this adventure was for 10 and 12 year olds in the 80s see if you can figure it out".

He did after a few minutes. "I got it you have to do the dance".

My response was "well off you go, you want the door open or not".

It's not really something you see in modern D&D.
 

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