D&D General What Constitutes "Old School" D&D

What is "Old School" D&D

  • Mid 1970s: OD&D

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • Late 1970s-Early 1980s: AD&D and Basic

    Votes: 52 41.3%
  • Mid-Late 1980s: AD&D, B/X, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms

    Votes: 14 11.1%
  • Late 1980s-Early 1990s: @nd Edition AD&D, BECMI

    Votes: 12 9.5%
  • Mid-Late 1990s: Late 2E, Dark Sun, Plane Scape, Spelljammer

    Votes: 24 19.0%
  • Early-Mid 2000s: 3.x Era, Eberron

    Votes: 2 1.6%
  • Late 2000s-Early 2010s: 4E Era

    Votes: 5 4.0%
  • Mid 2010s: Early 5E

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • You've got it all wrong, Old School is...

    Votes: 15 11.9%

Reynard

Legend
This has come up a couple times recently, so I am just curious what the EN World community at large consider "old school" in context of D&D. In the poll, answer when the LATEST part of the Old School is (so if you pick Mid1980s, it assumes everything before that is also Old School.)
 

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payn

Legend
In my mind I always consider 2E and before as old school and 3E and everything after nu skool. Though, I know thats a simplistic answer and much nuance is to be considered in a more detailed answer. I know some folks just consider a decade or two to make something old school vs nu skool but I think it requires more consideration than just time. YMMV.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
There are multiple ways to define "old school."

One can be calendar dates. If that's the metric, then everything pre-Hickman Revolution is old school.


Another is a particular style of play, as laid out here:


Though, of course, they're both related.
 


I think old-school is a rolling timeframe, because it's based on a person's individual perspective. There are people that consider my vote incorrect and that only original D&D counts as old school. One day someone is going to call 4e old school and my heart is going to break a little. And that's all okay (well, maybe not calling 4e old school... ;) ).
 



Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
1e and earlier. Part of old school to me is the unrefinement aspect of it, where loose or ambiguous rules let to everyone using homebrew, and every table was different. Every table was part of that discovery process into what TTRPGs are. By the time 2e came out, the rules were cleaner, people knew what RPGs were and what to expect. The initial discovery process into a new hobby had passed.
 

I think old-school is a rolling timeframe, because it's based on a person's individual perspective. There are people that consider my vote incorrect and that only original D&D counts as old school. One day someone is going to call 4e old school and my heart is going to break a little. And that's all okay (well, maybe not calling 4e old school... ;) ).
Like when my students say " back in the day" and they mean 2018!!
 

I don't think it's a meaningful question. It depends on where you came in.

And what values you assign to the term? Is "old school" a positive or negative term? I think D&D now is a lot better than D&D in the 80s, when I started playing.
 


How are we supposed to put a date on it unless you define it? If we're talking about "stuff TSR publishes," I agree with the OSR that there's a shift with Dragonlance. If we're talking about "how D&D was most often played," I think there was a shift sometime in the 1970s from "knaves and scoundrels rob tombs" to "we can be heroes," and this was showing up in published products, in nascent form, by the late 70s. It was the dominant mode of play by the time I came on the scene in 1980, including at conventions. I mean, we were watching the Star Wars trilogy in theaters, and reading Lord of the Rings, Shannara, and The Belgariad -- what do people think we wanted to do with D&D?

For me, the Player's Handbook illustrates this shift with two iconic images: the cover art and "A Paladin in Hell." Both are "Old School." :)
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I do not think that "old school" as a general term can be nailed down to specifics. It generally means before my time or if I am old and in D&D terms I am "when I was young".

Movements in the game like OSR are more of a stylistic thing with a layer of marketing thrown because even back in the day there where tables where the game was played differently.

The Hickman Revolution was a big deal because it game official support to something that people were attempting to do once the first pamphlets were published.
I suspect that even from the beginning there were oddballs attempting to do some High Fantasy story telling. I would be extremely supried it it was not. Just look at the popularity of self insertion and Mary Sue's in fanfiction.
 


grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
As grognards begin to cross into the hereafter (not for a while I hope), Old School will become later and later. Old School is whenever you first learned the game. Particularly when rules were so dense, esoteric, and conflicting to new players. Old school D&D felt like an accomplishment to master and that is a very endearing quality that is really up to the individual.
 



payn

Legend
I stopped listening to radio when the classic rock stations started playing the bands I was listening to classic rock stations in order to not hear, so yeah.
I used to listen to the oldies station for change of pace about 20 years ago. Dont listen often at all now. Was up north at the cabin and tuned in to hear that "We Built This City" by Jeffersen Starship is now considered an oldie...
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Just look at the popularity of self insertion and Mary Sue's in fanfiction.
This is the main reason I cringe away from storygames and story-focused play. Literally every single time I've engaged with that style it's nothing but a group of people trying to convince each other just how utterly spectacularly awesome and perfect their character is. First level characters with zero XP and epic backstories try to out do Lord of the Rings. It's Mary Sues all the way down. Make a character. Here's a random assortment of stats and hit points. If that one dies, roll a new one. It's not special. It's a fictional construct to play a game. Get on with it already.
 

Cordwainer Fish

Imp. Int. Scout Svc. (Dishon. Ret.)
I used to listen to the oldies station for change of pace about 20 years ago. Dont listen often at all now. Was up north at the cabin and tuned in to hear that "We Built This City" by Jeffersen Starship is now considered an oldie...
The occasional Starship I can overlook, but flannel bands is where I had to draw the line.
 

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