The Eastern taxonomy

dragoner

solisrpg.com
Its pretty D&D specific, but I think I've pretty much posted essentially the same taxonomy in some 'history of D&D' thread somewhere at some point. Essentially you have D&D itself, and other early TSR variations (Holmes, B/X, 1e), then you have 2e which is somewhat transitional but definitely blends into 3.x, and finally 4e. Outside of D&D the groupings kind of fall apart though. I mean, its not super clear what games that emphasize a lot of dramatic elements, AND mechanics, like OWoD, fall under, really. There are really relatively few other games that fall under this definition of Old School besides D&D and a few other early games. I mean, even Traveller defies this taxonomy, as it involves a fairly elaborate character generation system that can produce a wide variety of outcomes, followed by a mostly pretty trad game, but with a few aspects that, at least in the '77 version, hint at Narrativist play to a degree (like when you use Streetwise).
Yes, the examples of play for Traveller early on are all free form narrative, without even rolling the dice. A lot of Traveller happens in the time before chargen, and during, as Traveller, and a lot of sci-fi rpg's have already developed characters to deal with a scientific universe that usually is also well developed. So even if GDW started with D&D, they were rolling through open countryside pretty quick.
 

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I think it describes the goals of play more than it describes the system used, and while different systems enable certain goals better or worse, what you're trying to achieve I think is more important than what tool you're using.

I refer to systems because a) I dropped the ball a bit here and b) it's a bit easier to talk about.
Yeah, and I think that the breakdown roughly mirrors identified agenda breakdowns. In any case, its a workable categorization. Obviously actual games don't necessarily fall cleanly into one. I'm sure we both agree there's been plenty of debate on that lately! lol.

It is interesting to hear about what people in a gaming community we don't talk to a whole lot think :)
 

Yes, the examples of play for Traveller early on are all free form narrative, without even rolling the dice. A lot of Traveller happens in the time before chargen, and during, as Traveller, and a lot of sci-fi rpg's have already developed characters to deal with a scientific universe that usually is also well developed. So even if GDW started with D&D, they were rolling through open countryside pretty quick.
At that early time in the development of RPGs there was little understanding of what could in principle constitute different types of play. I mean, people were just starting to explore possible rules structures that produced fairly D&D-like game processes. Sometimes something like the Streetwise skill in Traveller would appear (where the player gets to say "Tell me where to find the illegal guns." and the GM is supposed to say something like "go talk to Igor over there in the back alley." not "no such thing exists."). I don't think Mark Miller had some great revelation about Narrativist play there, or at best he just imagined it as a 'neat trick' that solved one specific problem in an otherwise pretty Trad game.

Traveller's chargen is also an interesting case, with its myriad of choices, but notice that few of them amount to "build exactly this sort of character." Its more like the player suggests things. Still, it produces a strong indication of interest in how they want to play. So the players could make a bunch of Soldier characters and push the game in the direction of mercenary missions and such, or Merchants and Scouts, and go for a game focused on travel and exploration. The Patron system, TAS, and trading subsystems give them further leverage, since they are all designed to be invoked by the players (at least by implication, if not explicitly).

Those are reasons I note it as being a bit harder to pigeonhole as an 'Old School' game, BUT that being said, IME (I think my Traveller books are first printings, lol) the game was mostly played in a fairly trad mode. Either the GM ran one of the modules, or constructed some sort of adventure. OTOH you really could play in a pretty Low Myth kind of way, which we did in some of our later campaigns, where the players were just dropped at a starport or something in Scene 1, and everything beyond that resulted from interacting with those subsystems. Even then it was likely the GM would drop leads to some pregen adventures sometimes.

Its also telling, as @pemerton has noted, that later editions of the books tended to tweak the language back in the direction of more GM-centered play with fictional authority concentrated more in their lap. Even if you were playing the mid '80s text though, the option to go Low Myth is still there, and the various supplements seem to actually increase the players ability to get the characters they really want (although the luck of rolling up your ability scores is still pretty substantial).
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff (She/Her)
It is interesting to hear about what people in a gaming community we don't talk to a whole lot think :)
Just to be clear, I'm not and don't want to be some kind of ambassador of this side of the Berlin wall, regardless of how much I love to attention whore by underscoring that I'm not american nor european.

Just like EnWorld is but a subset of larger English-speaking community, my circles aren't truly representative of the whole picture. And even my circles bicker about definitions all the freaking time.
 

Just to be clear, I'm not and don't want to be some kind of ambassador of this side of the Berlin wall, regardless of how much I love to attention whore by underscoring that I'm not american nor european.

Just like EnWorld is but a subset of larger English-speaking community, my circles aren't truly representative of the whole picture. And even my circles bicker about definitions all the freaking time.
Sure. I could also just say that its often interesting to talk to all sorts of gaming community people.
 

dragoner

solisrpg.com
At that early time in the development of RPGs there was little understanding of what could in principle constitute different types of play. I mean, people were just starting to explore possible rules structures that produced fairly D&D-like game processes. Sometimes something like the Streetwise skill in Traveller would appear (where the player gets to say "Tell me where to find the illegal guns." and the GM is supposed to say something like "go talk to Igor over there in the back alley." not "no such thing exists."). I don't think Mark Miller had some great revelation about Narrativist play there, or at best he just imagined it as a 'neat trick' that solved one specific problem in an otherwise pretty Trad game.

Traveller's chargen is also an interesting case, with its myriad of choices, but notice that few of them amount to "build exactly this sort of character." Its more like the player suggests things. Still, it produces a strong indication of interest in how they want to play. So the players could make a bunch of Soldier characters and push the game in the direction of mercenary missions and such, or Merchants and Scouts, and go for a game focused on travel and exploration. The Patron system, TAS, and trading subsystems give them further leverage, since they are all designed to be invoked by the players (at least by implication, if not explicitly).

Those are reasons I note it as being a bit harder to pigeonhole as an 'Old School' game, BUT that being said, IME (I think my Traveller books are first printings, lol) the game was mostly played in a fairly trad mode. Either the GM ran one of the modules, or constructed some sort of adventure. OTOH you really could play in a pretty Low Myth kind of way, which we did in some of our later campaigns, where the players were just dropped at a starport or something in Scene 1, and everything beyond that resulted from interacting with those subsystems. Even then it was likely the GM would drop leads to some pregen adventures sometimes.

Its also telling, as @pemerton has noted, that later editions of the books tended to tweak the language back in the direction of more GM-centered play with fictional authority concentrated more in their lap. Even if you were playing the mid '80s text though, the option to go Low Myth is still there, and the various supplements seem to actually increase the players ability to get the characters they really want (although the luck of rolling up your ability scores is still pretty substantial).
I don't think he had an epiphany about narrativist play either, he just sort of wandered into the room through the rulings not rules style play, which was very much the old school way.

Though I do find it funny, when people question certain things about Traveller, such as chargen, or computers, etc.; the answer has always been change it, and the game is modular enough with all its iterations to find a solution one likes. Like today someone asking on the discord about why a marine doesn't have vacc suit 2 for battle dress, and almost all the answers are change it, never mind a more realistic explanation that one doesn't need battle dress to push a button on an automatic loader. Same as computers, and someone else mentioned they build data centers, and it takes up space.
 

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