OSR OSR Gripes

GameOgre

Explorer
Let me clarify exactly why I find the OSR/OSRIC etc. movement so confusing.

1) It's a movement to recreate a specific set of rules yet the fans of the movement when discussing why they are fond of the game almost never reference actual rules, but instead reference ideas about play, encounter design, campaign design, and so forth that are not aspects of the rules - for example challenge, skillful play, randomness, using propositions highly specific to and interactive with the fiction, etc. And I'm on board with most of that but don't understand why you'd need those rules to do it. My 3e campaign, the players unwisely interacted with some radioactive ooze, and now one player has a talon for a hand and other player's hippogriff steeds has a mutated foot with an alien mouth on it. I didn't and don't need 1e rules to have 1e feel. It feels like the same effect could be achieved by producing supplements for modern editions on old school play style, encounter design, campaign design and so forth.

2) Some of the most successful and prominent OSR games don't actually have that 1e feel either. Instead, they are more like what TSR games might have felt like if instead of Tracy Hickman advocating for the comic book code in future TSR products, Anton LaVey had been an employee and recommended doubling down on the occult scare for the publicity. Now I get there are people who hear something like that and go 'cewwwl', but I don't see why you need a 1e rule set for that either. Why is grimdark such a thing in the OSR community?

3) To the extent that OSR champions will talk about rules at all and advocate for rules, typically what you'll hear from them is that what they like about the rules is that they don't use them. That is to say they'll say that the great thing about the old rules is that there are no rules and they can just make things up. And ok, that may be a preference thing, but at the same time it's not a rules thing either. No rules set is comprehensive and regardless of which edition you are playing, if you are doing your job as a DM and if the players are doing theirs, then you'll find yourself outside the rules needing to make rulings. In my 3e game I found myself running a combat where the players were racing mounts down a city street next to a runaway carriage that was being attacked by wights, where like an old western movie I had heroes jumping off horses to get on the carriage and try to stop it. This is not a situation which is explicitly covered by the rules as written in 3e or 1e, and so regardless of which system I was using there would have been a lot of rulings involved. However, I certainly know which system has more support for this sort of free form play, and it's not 1e AD&D, and that is so obviously true that I really wonder whether the old school fans of free form play do really in fact have as game as free form as my 3e based game, or whether it's more like the play I remember of 30 years ago where we pretty much stayed in our lanes and delved in dungeons. I mean staying in the lanes and delving the dungeons seems to be what the OSR games are selling as a selling point...

As far as actual rules go, there are a few things I miss from the 1e era:

a) XP for g.p.: This is the biggest surprise to me of all because back as a DM in the AD&D era I hated XP for g.p. because of the constraints it put on campaign design. The rules strongly encouraged leveling by getting rich, which meant that the PC's coffers tended to be overflowing or the PC's tended to die from the grind. To me it was like the training rules. I got why they worked that way, but that didn't stop me from tossing them out the window at the first opportunity because they got in the way of a fun story. But, now that they are gone and after some years of reflection I do miss them at times. Or rather, what I really miss is players being excited about finding loot. By and large, players in my game don't care about gold. They care about magic items, but gold because it isn't readily fungible to magic items (unlike some 3e games I presume) isn't something that they care much about. And that feels like a bit of a loss both in realism, game play, and fun.

b) Weapon vs. AC modifiers: The rule that I missed almost immediately in 3e play is one which I doubt any OSR games actually implement and which few tables at the time used. But if it wouldn't make the game more complex than it is, I'd bring it back in a heart beat.

c) Exponential XP progression: Of the things I miss this is the one which I'm most likely to actually incorporate in my rules set in the future. I'm convinced that it is superior to linear XP progression to level having played with both. However, changing the rules so that exponential will work well (especially in absence of the fudge factor of treasure for XP) will be a huge undertaking and so far I haven't attempted it. I miss the way exponential XP supported henchmen, supported starting new characters from 1st level if you wanted to go that route, and the way it created natural demographics if you made assumptions about NPC's gaining XP over time.

But that is literally it. Everything else that I've got now is the same 1e underlying 6 attribute class based chargen with the strong D20 fortune engine, only the chasis that has been built around that classic engine is so much better in every respect to what was built around it back in the day. It's clearer. It's fairer. It's more balanced. It handles difficulty cleanly. It supports more open play better. It's more complete. It supports more diverse character concepts. And perhaps most of all, it's got 10 years of house rules built around it to make it play the way I want it to play.

One of the few AD&D DM's I encountered that I thought I understood was one like me that I had built up a body of house rules and porting away from that and what he was comfortable with he said was too much work. But then, at the time he wasn't part of OSR. He was just a DM that had been running games the same way for decades. Only since then, he's taken up LotFP, and I'm like, "What?!?!? Why? I thought you were completely comfortable with your house rules and couldn't change."

At some level I think I do get it: "How you think about a game and how you prepare to play is at least as important as the rules." And I think for most people they have to have a rules change in order to change how they think about the game and the habits that they bring to the table. And that sort of makes sense that your habits would get attached to a particular context. But then I get in a discussion with OSR people about the rules, and they are all like, "If you don't like the rules, it's because you aren't a capable enough DM/player. Using the old rules requires skill and imagination, you see." and it's all so totally not self-aware.
Every rpg has crap rules. OSR-New Modern...it's all crap. You have to overlook that crap to get at the fun.

Rules do not bring fun to the table. I love OSR games just as much as I love 5E. More some days,less others. Mostly I run a crapload of 5E but my B/X D&D game is awesome as well.

So if you have issues with B/X rules ....so what? I'm sure your right...they suck. So does 5E.

I have two pages of house rules designed to make my 5E game sing just the way I like it and to fix the hot mess that is it's many many issues.

My B/X D&D House rules are only a single small page...does that mean its less broken? Heck no, just there were less rules to fix!

Reading all these posts Celebrim, mostly you come off as a Troll. You bash other people's ideas and game in a almost mocking manner and are very dismissive of others opinions. I'm not sure why you are here after so many pages of aggressive pounding on the OSR. Do you think your opinions or posts are going to change anyone's mind?

People play what they want to play. Frankly I have no idea why anyone would EVER want to play 3.5 D&D. I find it baffling and illogical myself. That doesn't mean I would go into a thread about 3.5 and aggressively demand justifications for the fans of it. I'm sure they love it and would have answers that make sense to them on why it's the best game ever. That's cool! More power to em!
 

Ralif Redhammer

Adventurer
You are absolutely right. Totally forgot about that!

3e, not 5e, codified stat increases as part of progression, both through giving stat increases with level, and by setting out expected wealth/level which, along with make/buy of magic items, gave predictable access to all those stat-boosting items (all of which added to stats rather than replacing them as in the olden days).
 

Celebrim

Legend
The more information the game gives to the players - via rules, skills, etc. - the more it ties his hands and the less he likes it. (This is also part of why we don't game with each other - we have diametrically opposing views on player collaboration at the table and neither of us enjoys the others' preferred style of play. He also likes everyone to start out as a level-0 dirtfarmer and earn their fun through dozens of character deaths before you finally get the right kind of luck to get someone to survive to a level where you have enough hit points to get through a fight, which is a style of play I literally no longer have time for.)
You aren't overturning my stereotype of OSR GM's here. I mean I've already got people up in arms so I'm not going to really delve into this, but there is a school of GMing out there - lets call it the John Wick school - where an RPG is only fun if the players have no agency and as soon as the players start to have some control then its time to ditch the game. I don't really get it, because if you want control no matter how much finite agency the players have, as the GM you always have an infinite well to draw on but I guess it's some sort of mutual high illusionism going on.

I also don't get it because back in the day I had a far worse problem with rules lawyers and table arguments than I do now, and while that might be in large part maturity rather than underlying system, the idea that you are somehow avoiding players challenging your ruling just by playing an old school rules set seems bogus on its face. Take the secret door example. OSR rules explicitly allow characters to find secret doors on a certain roll of the D6, and OSR rules have no inherent concept of the idea of difficulty. My expectation based on having run both is that a player at my 3e table who rolled a search check in the open to find something would have no expectation that they should have found something because they rolled well because they also know that the DC could be quite high. But a player at my 1e table with an elf who rolled a 1 on a d6 would expect to always find the secret door because that's what the rules said should happen, and if they didn't, there would certainly be a table argument. Point is, a rules set however vague will still attract rules lawyers, and indeed in my experience rules lawyers thrive on vague rule sets. A rules lawyer prefers in fact rules open to interpretation because then they have something to argue about.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Every rpg has crap rules. OSR-New Modern...it's all crap. You have to overlook that crap to get at the fun.
I don't agree, and to extent that I do agree it's relative. Some games have more crap rules than others.

Rules do not bring fun to the table.
Ok, I do agree with that, but that seems to in fact support my argument rather than overturn it. If rules don't bring fun to the table, why do we need to faithfully recreate BECMI in not only its good parts (theater of the mind combat rules) or AD&D, but in its warts and problems as well?

I love OSR games just as much as I love 5E. More some days,less others. Mostly I run a crapload of 5E but my B/X D&D game is awesome as well.

So if you have issues with B/X rules ....so what? I'm sure your right...they suck. So does 5E.

I have two pages of house rules designed to make my 5E game sing just the way I like it and to fix the hot mess that is it's many many issues.

My B/X D&D House rules are only a single small page...does that mean its less broken? Heck no, just there were less rules to fix!
All of that makes some sense, but doesn't really answer my question. Also, I never end up with less than about 30 pages of house rules for anything. I have like 600 for 3e D&D and I'd love to have thousands if I really had time to rewrite everything to make it the way I wanted it. That I confess is a quirk and perhaps weakness of mine, but - and yes this is arrogant - I really do believe that in many cases I can write better rules than the original authors (especially since unlike them, I'm not under a deadline to publish). It would be a condemnable attitude except, my players tend to agree with me.

Reading all these posts Celebrim, mostly you come off as a Troll. You bash other people's ideas and game in a almost mocking manner and are very dismissive of others opinions. I'm not sure why you are here after so many pages of aggressive pounding on the OSR. Do you think your opinions or posts are going to change anyone's mind?
Only one person possibly - mine. And I do hear you that I come off as a troll, but I find what comes off as a troll is much like that ice cream example. Many people that think I come off as a troll, are themselves people I think come off as a troll.

People play what they want to play. Frankly I have no idea why anyone would EVER want to play 3.5 D&D. I find it baffling and illogical myself. That doesn't mean I would go into a thread about 3.5 and aggressively demand justifications for the fans of it.
Why not? I'd be perfectly fine with that. I might even commiserate with your frustration. Heck, I've even written rants about how bad 3.5 D&D is (you should know, my rules set is based on the far superior 3.0e *grin*). You talk about how I seem like a troll because in your mind I'm challenging your preferences. But even if that is what I was doing, since they are preferences why should you care? Why is that offensive? And if all rules are crap in your opinion, when I say that a rules set is crap, why does that strike you as trolling?

In my opinion, if your response isn't some form of "Yes, but..." and instead is "You come off as a troll...". Well, you do the math.

For example, I would be perfectly happy (in another thread) to explain why I run 3.X based games despite the fact that it would appear balance between casters and non-casters is so poor, that you really only ought to play casters if you want to have any agency and spotlight. It's a perfectly valid criticism, and I'd be happy to address it without claiming that the person was trolling. Heck, if you even started with the idea that if I ran 3.X it must be because as a player I was biased toward casters and hated non-casters, I'd be even willing to address that charge and I'd only feel you were being rude about it if, after having been given a reasonable explanation you still insisted I was biased in favor of casters. Fair warning, the last time I was in such a discussion, the guy started with the angry charge that I hated non-casters because I ran 3.X, and midway into the discussion began making charges that the way I ran the game was unfair because it made casters pointless. So some people are just going to hate unreasonably. I try not to be that person.
 
I guess it's some sort of mutual high illusionism going on.
I like to think of Illisionism as being analogous to a magician's "illusions" (tricks) - they're fun to be 'fooled' by and to try to figure out, but once you see the strings, less fun.

And, yes, there is a whole school (not sure if it's /the/ old school, but it's not a young one) or style of D&D that relies on that.
 

Celebrim

Legend
I like to think of Illisionism as being analogous to a magician's "illusions" (tricks) - they're fun to be 'fooled' by and to try to figure out, but once you see the strings, less fun.

And, yes, there is a whole school (not sure if it's /the/ old school, but it's not a young one) or style of D&D that relies on that.
After 35 years of playing, I can sit down at a table and within an hour or two tell if a player is cheating without ever once observing his dice. I just know what normal dice rolls are like and can tell immediately if the players run of luck isn't normal. That player and the other players at the table, even though they are sitting at the table and using the same rules are playing vastly different games.

Likewise, after 35 years of running a game, when I sit down and play as a player, I can tell almost immediately what is happening on the other side of the DM's screen and what thought processes went into the design and play of the game. Again, same rules, yet often vastly different games.

I admit being able to 'see the strings' being pulled and otherwise always being cognizant of the part of play that is a game harms my emersion and hence harms my ability to enjoy the game somewhat, but after this much experience it's sort of inevitable. I have the same problem with plot holes and dungeons that ignore economic sense. Often it's really annoying, and I wish I could go back to being that player that doesn't see everything or that DM that could just make a dungeon that was utter nonsense - right up until I see other players responding to plot holes and nonsensical scenes because they learned from me an expectation that things are coherent and not superficial.

As you said, GM illusionism only works if the players can't see the strings attached to them. It's like playing a game where you throw the game to let that person win. Most people are only going to enjoy that if they don't realize that you threw the game. Or it's like Mass Effect where the game is letting you make choices, and as long as you can imagine that those choices really matter that it's really immersive and compelling, but the more you replay the game and the closer you get to the end the more you realize none of it actually makes a difference. At that point, you really better have some other aesthetic of play you can enjoy, because the carpet has been pulled out from under a big part of why you were playing.

Often times I will ask for advice from other GMs, particularly if it is a system I haven't run much before, and the most frequent advice I get when I question something boils down to "just use a lot of illusionism to make it work anyway". Maybe that works for some groups, but for me that's all card tricks that I can see through and less is much better than more. I might be impressed by your skill at pulling the trick, but I'm going to be impressed even more if you don't need to do so or I can't see the trick.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
You aren't overturning my stereotype of OSR GM's here. I mean I've already got people up in arms so I'm not going to really delve into this, but there is a school of GMing out there - lets call it the John Wick school - where an RPG is only fun if the players have no agency and as soon as the players start to have some control then its time to ditch the game. I don't really get it, because if you want control no matter how much finite agency the players have, as the GM you always have an infinite well to draw on...
“You lot {humans} would rather watch someone suffer untold horrors than watch them enjoy so much as a cool drink if you don’t have two of your own, and yours have cherries in them as well as more ice and little paper umbrellas, and even then most of you would still prefer to take theirs and have three. This is not the behavior of a sentient race.”

-Space Opera, Catherynne Valente
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
“You lot {humans} would rather watch someone suffer untold horrors than watch them enjoy so much as a cool drink if you don’t have two of your own, and yours have cherries in them as well as more ice and little paper umbrellas, and even then most of you would still prefer to take theirs and have three. This is not the behavior of a sentient race.”

-Space Opera, Catherynne Valente
You know how Americans are, Umbran. They all love to travel, and then they only want to meet other Americans and talk about how hard it is to get a decent hamburger.
 

Kersus

Visitor
I've played more 1st level adventures than any other kind and I love them.

It may be one of my gripes toward 2e and forward. Everyone is a magical 4 colour superhero.

All the best stories froth gaming table are about your character dying.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
You aren't overturning my stereotype of OSR GM's here. I mean I've already got people up in arms so I'm not going to really delve into this, but there is a school of GMing out there - lets call it the John Wick school - where an RPG is only fun if the players have no agency and as soon as the players start to have some control then its time to ditch the game.
In any era players pretty much always had agency over their own characters - or should have (more on this below) - which is fine. As time has gone on, however, players have slowly been given more agency over and access to things and rules beyond their characters - which is not fine.

That said, a part of player agency over their characters is being allowed to play what you-as-player want within the established bounds of the setting. Thus, if a particular setting has no Elves then sorry, you can't play an Elf. But if a particular setting has evil people in it then playing an evil PC should be a valid option - banning them goes against true player agency over both what they play and how they play it. Ditto for banning PvP.

I also don't get it because back in the day I had a far worse problem with rules lawyers and table arguments than I do now, and while that might be in large part maturity rather than underlying system, the idea that you are somehow avoiding players challenging your ruling just by playing an old school rules set seems bogus on its face.
Part of that was players soon came to realize that oftentimes the DM was the source of many rules/rulings, and influencing the person sitting at the end of the table is - at least by appearance - likely to be far easier than influencing the writers of a book in Lake Geneva or, more recently, Seattle.

Take the secret door example. OSR rules explicitly allow characters to find secret doors on a certain roll of the D6, and OSR rules have no inherent concept of the idea of difficulty. My expectation based on having run both is that a player at my 3e table who rolled a search check in the open to find something would have no expectation that they should have found something because they rolled well because they also know that the DC could be quite high. But a player at my 1e table with an elf who rolled a 1 on a d6 would expect to always find the secret door because that's what the rules said should happen, and if they didn't, there would certainly be a table argument.
Er...if there's no door there to be found, how can anyone possibly argue or complain on not finding it?

Never mind that to conceal this very thing, those sort of rolls would logically be made by the DM.

Point is, a rules set however vague will still attract rules lawyers, and indeed in my experience rules lawyers thrive on vague rule sets. A rules lawyer prefers in fact rules open to interpretation because then they have something to argue about.
Nothing says you have to invite these rules lawyers back to the next session... :)
 

Celebrim

Legend
In any era players pretty much always had agency over their own characters - or should have (more on this below) - which is fine. As time has gone on, however, players have slowly been given more agency over and access to things and rules beyond their characters - which is not fine.
Much of your post I feel I agree with yet at the same time, much of your post I don't feel like I quite understand and will need clarification on. Like I really don't understand quite what you mean by "things and rules".

In any era, players had as much agency as the DM extended to them. Railroads are not a new concept, nor is a new thing to have DMs that are control freaks. If anything, some of the things I think you are talking about I think became fads because they were perceived as cures to having GMs being control freaks and/or running railroads.

That said, a part of player agency over their characters is being allowed to play what you-as-player want within the established bounds of the setting. Thus, if a particular setting has no Elves then sorry, you can't play an Elf. But if a particular setting has evil people in it then playing an evil PC should be a valid option - banning them goes against true player agency over both what they play and how they play it. Ditto for banning PvP.
That's a very interesting take on things and on reading it, it was such a novel take that I had to mull it and chew it for about five minutes to know what I thought about it. And to begin with, I don't really think of agency as truly being something that happens outside of the game, such as in chargen - but that's not a strong objection because evil actions and PvP are in game events. And with respect to "being evil" or initiating PvP I think on the whole I agree with you, that it would be heavy handed interference in player agency to put your foot down and say no if that happened.

But, on the completely other hand, I think it is entirely reasonable to have a table agreement that since this is a social game and its meant to be cooperative and for the enjoyment of everyone, that you have to at least intend to try to get along with the other players and that includes making a character that you intend to play in such a away that they can cooperate with the other PC's. Further, I think it is entirely reasonable that if a player insists on not playing the game in a cooperative manner and not playing in such a way that maximizes everyone's enjoyment of the game collectively, that the group simply eject that player from the group. And as a GM, I reserve the right to do that preemptively if your chargen process seems to indicate you are intending to enjoy yourself at everyone elses expense or are otherwise a problematic player.

And, since explusion from a group is a very drastic and often problematic thing to do in itself, I think it is reasonable for a GM to impose guidelines on chargen like, "No evil characters." Or, "This time we are all crooks. No Paladins." Or any other variation of, "As a table rule, everyone has a reason to adventure with everyone else."

Part of that was players soon came to realize that oftentimes the DM was the source of many rules/rulings, and influencing the person sitting at the end of the table is - at least by appearance - likely to be far easier than influencing the writers of a book in Lake Geneva or, more recently, Seattle.
Yes, this exactly. I do feel that it is sign of dysfunction if the player's first recourse is to play the GM rather than play the rules. If there is something about the game that suggests to the players that they need to metagame in some way, then there is probably something either bad wrong with the game or bad wrong with the players. Unfair, arbitrary, capricious, unknowable, vague and illogical rules lead to situations where everyone at the table is trying to play around them in some way. And if the rulings are bad, then the players really only recourse is to not play the game but play the GM, whether that means "I roll diplomancy on the DM and butter them up" or "I roll intimidate on the DM and browbeat them" or "I roll deception on the DM to trick them", you end up with the real game being all about the dysfunctional low trust relationship between the GM and the players.

Er...if there's no door there to be found, how can anyone possibly argue or complain on not finding it?

Never mind that to conceal this very thing, those sort of rolls would logically be made by the DM.
The example assumes the door is there and the player later learns that they didn't find it, and they now object against the earlier ruling that they didn't detect the door. And yes, I do typically conceal such checks from the player, but not so much for this purpose, but generally for the sake of emersion.

Nothing says you have to invite these rules lawyers back to the next session... :)
In practice expulsion is a very drastic step which has consequences that extend far beyond the game. Often the person is some other players coworker, or a players spouse, or another long time associate of a player. And expelling the person could have considerable consequences for your player's real life, and/or break friendships that long preexisted the game
 
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Likewise, after 35 years of running a game, when I sit down and play as a player, I can tell almost immediately what is happening on the other side of the DM's screen and what thought processes went into the design and play of the game. ...I admit being able to 'see the strings' being pulled and otherwise always being cognizant of the part of play that is a game harms my emersion and hence harms my ability to enjoy the game somewhat, but after this much experience it's sort of inevitable. I have the same problem with plot holes and dungeons that ignore economic sense.
Nod. You /might/ still be able to enjoy that game on a different level. Like a one magician can appreciate the technique or artistry of another, precisely because he does know how the trick is done.

As you said, GM illusionism only works if the players can't see the strings attached to them. It's like playing a game where you throw the game to let that person win. Most people are only going to enjoy that if they don't realize that you threw the game.
With the asymmetrical roles of player & GM in most systems, running a TTRPG is arguably similar to throwing a competitive game.


Often times I will ask for advice from other GMs, particularly if it is a system I haven't run much before, and the most frequent advice I get when I question something boils down to "just use a lot of illusionism to make it work anyway".
It's often the best advice available for a given system. Easier than rebuilding the system into something that'll work smoothly without any illusionism greasing it's gears.

Of course, some systems end up all grease and no gears, that way.
 

Monayuris

Explorer
Every rpg has crap rules. OSR-New Modern...it's all crap. You have to overlook that crap to get at the fun.

Rules do not bring fun to the table. I love OSR games just as much as I love 5E. More some days,less others. Mostly I run a crapload of 5E but my B/X D&D game is awesome as well.

So if you have issues with B/X rules ....so what? I'm sure your right...they suck. So does 5E.

I have two pages of house rules designed to make my 5E game sing just the way I like it and to fix the hot mess that is it's many many issues.

My B/X D&D House rules are only a single small page...does that mean its less broken? Heck no, just there were less rules to fix!

Reading all these posts Celebrim, mostly you come off as a Troll. You bash other people's ideas and game in a almost mocking manner and are very dismissive of others opinions. I'm not sure why you are here after so many pages of aggressive pounding on the OSR. Do you think your opinions or posts are going to change anyone's mind?

People play what they want to play. Frankly I have no idea why anyone would EVER want to play 3.5 D&D. I find it baffling and illogical myself. That doesn't mean I would go into a thread about 3.5 and aggressively demand justifications for the fans of it. I'm sure they love it and would have answers that make sense to them on why it's the best game ever. That's cool! More power to em!
Agree 100%

I'll just have to say that this is a thread called "OSR Gripes" so it's not like his posts are off-topic.

Personally, I would never play or run 3.5. It is just not a game that works for me... but I don't go around making claims that it is broken or needs to be abandoned. Everyone has the game that works for them.

I have some small house rules for B/X (actually Basic Fantasy already has a lot of them built in) and I have a larger document of house rules for 5E (to bring it more in line with old school games).

I ultimately decided to run the games that work best for me. It's not about the perfect flawless game. There is no such thing. It's about picking the game that works most closely to what you want and making it work for you.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Personally, I would never play or run 3.5. It is just not a game that works for me... but I don't go around making claims that it is broken
If you claim 3.5 isn't broken, then you are clearly not fit to run it. 3.5 is definitely broken, the more so because of its endless ill thought out rules extensions but in some cases right out of the box (CoDZilla, for example).

Broken. Broken. Broken. And I wouldn't trust the opinion of anyone that claimed otherwise, and any play in 3.5 that is sort of a wide open any rulebook goes sort of thing depends very heavily on informal table agreements to even be functional.

But here's the thing. I have a hard time imagining anyone who plays 3.5e D&D bristling at that description or finding fault with it. Or with the claim that there is no class balance. Or with the claim that it starts to break down at high level. Or any other claim about the flaws of the system that is pretty much just objective fact.

I'm not even offended by the claim that you can't imagine why anyone hasn't abandoned 3.X D&D at this point if that's how you feel.
 

Eric V

Adventurer
It's clear why some might want to go back to a previous version, based on preferences, nostalgia (not a bad thing!), or really, a bunch of reasons.

What's not clear to me is how people think games designed in the 70s are designed better than modern ones. I can understand preferring them, but, as [MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION] points out above, one would have to acknowledge the issues.

Like anything else involving design, things get better as time passes, whether it's tech, social issues, education techniques, sports, whatever...and that makes sense, because designers today have access to everything that's come before. They have seen what works, what gets in the way, what is worth keeping, what isn't...

There are social and other forces that get in the way, sure (weird that we can't get off fossil fuels by now), but the design is still superior.

None of that means anything for preferences of course: some miss their NES and find modern games too complex to be worth the effort; some prefer desks in rows and rote learning, etc. We should be able to acknowledge that we sometimes prefer the not-best-designed-thing, though.

Example: The NBA today has extremely efficient teams that have employed a lot of analytics to arrive at the conclusion that the shots worth taking are 3s and layups, and that's it. Like any innovation, lots of other teams followed suit, and it has resulted in a very different-looking game than the one I grew up watching. Do I prefer the new game or the old one? Not sure...there's aspects of the old way that I miss, for sure, but...I could never argue that the old game was more efficient in terms of basketball. Offensive schemes are designed better today, and a lot of it is access to greater information and data from the past.

So, if someone says "As a wizard player, I loved 3.5" I can understand. They might dislike 5e for addressing that imbalance (sorta like how hitting someone used to be considered "good defense" back in 1992 and in the current league you can't do that, and they miss all the hard fouls, even though it takes more skill to defend someone without hitting them), but they'd have to acknowledge that the game is better balanced. The design is better, but it no longer fits the preference.

To say that the design is better from games back in the 70s, though...I don't see how that's possible, not with how design works in almost literally everything else.
 
To say that the design is better from games back in the 70s, though...I don't see how that's possible, not with how design works in almost literally everything else.
It's because the purpose of rpgs isn't as clear as the purpose of basketball.
 
It
What's not clear to me is how people think games designed in the 70s are designed better than modern ones.
They're archetypal, they created a legacy, defined the hobby.
They were brilliant and innovative in their day.

You could design a technically mechanically better system, today, but it'd be derivative rather than innovative, polished rather than brilliant. And, indeed, LOTS of such systems have been designed.

I can understand preferring them, but, as [MENTION=4937]Celebrim[/MENTION] points out above, one would have to acknowledge the issues.
Sure, and that those issues only matter as such as something to learn from. As far as the experience of replaying an ancient RPG goes, those issues were part of the experience, so correcting for then (unless you were already doing so back then) defeats the purpose, and lampshading them can enhance the experience.

So, if someone says "As a wizard player, I loved 3.5" I can understand. They might dislike 5e for addressing that imbalance.
Or they might appreciate it for restoring as much of it as it did.

To say that the design is better from games back in the 70s, though...I don't see how that's possible, not with how design works in almost literally everything else.
Another way to look at it was the accomplishment was greater.

Your basketball analogy was lost on me, so I'm going with one if my own.

Like a lotta nerds I'm a fan of SFX films. I really appreciate the masters is stop-motion animation, Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen.

I have to acknowledge that CGI is a much more powerful technique. But, I don't think it often approaches the artistry of the FX in the original King Kong or Jason & the Argonauts.

And, I can also point to silver linings in the obsolete technology. For instance, CGI can move very fast, with motion blur, looking perfectly smooth and very realistic. Which means you see a blur. You get more action and realism, but what did that creature even look like. It's a huge technical improvement over the 'strobing' inevitable in even the best stop motion, but, I at least knew what I was looking at.
 

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