D&D General "Player Skill" versus DM Ingenuity as a playstyle.

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Fair enough. I find my stance to be as much a reaction to the often times infallible pedestal he is placed on, or that his is the correct way to play OSR games.
Yeah, although I don't see much of that. Of course I don't pay a lot of attention to OSR spaces, but the ones I do are the millennials like Kelsey Dione and Questing Beast, who have made it their own. Being a BECMI 80s kid, I never really got on with the grognard cohort. I mean, they are fine people but I don't want to play with them.
 

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TiQuinn

Registered User
Yeah, although I don't see much of that. Of course I don't pay a lot of attention to OSR spaces, but the ones I do are the millennials like Kelsey Dione and Questing Beast, who have made it their own. Being a BECMI 80s kid, I never really got on with the grognard cohort. I mean, they are fine people but I don't want to play with them.
Love what Kelsey Dionne has done with Shadowdark!
 

I think the problem is that Gygax was the equivalent of an editorial blurter. Yes, one day he writes a well balanced article about being fair and impartial in Dragon Magazine (circulation: whatever it was) but then he is also the guy who writes the 1e DMG which sets a very adversarial tone (and has a much wider circulation than his Dragon article.) His is not a consistent tone, and the adversarial DM is very much his creation.

As may be obvious, I am not a fan of Gary Gygax’s views on the game.

As for player knowledge vs character knowledge, my own two cents is that unless the players want a very in depth game with lots of role playing, there’s no problem with challenging the player versus the character. I think one does have to be careful - I’ve found through painful experience that what I think is a fun easy puzzle is not fun or easy for many players - it’s a royal pain in the butt. So some restraint there is necessary. It’s also very much a session zero kind of consideration (I wonder what Gary Gygax would’ve had to say about Session Zeroes and being open about what’s to come in a campaign).
You sorta have to remember that all this was being developed in real time back then. Gary had his own campaign, which had seriously veteran players who he was working hard to challenge, and at the same time writing general advice to the public that often had not caught up to where he was in his game. I am sure those two streams went back and forth a LOT, especially in the early days. Not apologizing for Gary, he had lots of things to criticize, but having the context helps a lot. Of all the things he did, I do believe challenge was an admirable goal, but finding that sweet spot that matched for a particular group (novice, experienced, grand master lol) was/is tricky.

Tomb of Horrors was introduced way too early imo as a "grand master" challenge to people who were just being introduced to the game!
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Tomb of Horrors was introduced way too early imo as a "grand master" challenge to people who were just being introduced to the game!
The big problem with ToH is that it became the "face" of what D&D adventures are like, and yet was nothing like the typical D&D adventures. As you say, it was a special tournament module meant to mess with highly experienced players who thought they could beat any dungeon.
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
You sorta have to remember that all this was being developed in real time back then. Gary had his own campaign, which had seriously veteran players who he was working hard to challenge, and at the same time writing general advice to the public that often had not caught up to where he was in his game. I am sure those two streams went back and forth a LOT, especially in the early days. Not apologizing for Gary, he had lots of things to criticize, but having the context helps a lot. Of all the things he did, I do believe challenge was an admirable goal, but finding that sweet spot that matched for a particular group (novice, experienced, grand master lol) was/is tricky.

Tomb of Horrors was introduced way too early imo as a "grand master" challenge to people who were just being introduced to the game!
I totally get the context, and if we kept it in that context, that would be fantastic. But to this day, I still see grognards grognarding as hard as a grognard can grog about how OSR games "should be run" and how hero PCs are bad, and you should always be prepared to kill PCs, and so on and so forth. To me, there are games like DCC which have their funnels, and they are gonzo games where death and game changing spells are ever present. The difference is that DCC is very upfront about what it is. It's a highly specific style of play, not for everyone, and you meet the game on its terms. But that's not every OSR game, either.
 

The big problem with ToH is that it became the "face" of what D&D adventures are like, and yet was nothing like the typical D&D adventures. As you say, it was a special tournament module meant to mess with highly experienced players who thought they could beat any dungeon.
Yep, it's actually a real outlier of a dungeon, and even uncharacteristic of Gygax's other adventures. I actually think of Keep on the Borderlands and Village of Hommlet as much better examples of early D&D. And Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan and Against the Slavelords as the best examples of tournament play.
 

Belen

Hero
The 'arms race' aspect of all this was really in the early days of the hobby. When it was assumed only way to challenge a party was to devise new monsters the party hadn't encountered yet, or the players had bought and read all the books. As the hobby grew, there came more creative ways of challenge than simply introducing a new monster.

The tournament module was a bit of a 'win' scenario in that folks at a con would be competing to see how far they got in the tourney, and which table worked together the best. It's not always toxic - people like challenge.
I disagree. It was really bad in 3.5 and PF1. The sheer crunch complexity led to it. I saw it worse in those systems than any other.
 

I totally get the context, and if we kept it in that context, that would be fantastic. But to this day, I still see grognards grognarding as hard as a grognard can grog about how OSR games "should be run" and how hero PCs are bad, and you should always be prepared to kill PCs, and so on and so forth. To me, there are games like DCC which have their funnels, and they are gonzo games where death and game changing spells are ever present. The difference is that DCC is very upfront about what it is. It's a highly specific style of play, not for everyone, and you meet the game on its terms. But that's not every OSR game, either.
I think we all get into trouble (even since the hobby began) when the words "how games should be run" are spoken. That was one of the many things Gary got raked over the coals for! :ROFLMAO: I know he was trying to set down some guidelines for folks -- this was all very new to everyone, and he and others were trying to explain things, sometimes badly. In RQ, there was a whole thing about "Your Glorantha Will Vary" (YGWV) after being "Gregged" (Greg Stafford) with "canon."

There's lots of different playstyles out there, and everyone needs to find their own spot. I'm wondering if the OSR people are wanting to bring "deadly" back with some of the complaints that 5e is too easy on PCs. That's certainly a playstyle, and I get it -- feeling like things are actually dangerous adds a lot of intensity (various opinions on "fun") to the game, but it's not for everyone.

In any case, I love getting lots of different takes from various quarters (even crazy ones), but at the end of the day, take what's useful and leave the rest behind.
 
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