D&D General Why is "OSR style" D&D Fun For You?

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Why is old-school fun?

DM-side:
--- kitbash-ability. 0-1-2e D&D are far more amenable to kitbashing than are the WotC editions, meaning it's far easier for someone to tweak the system into something that does what they want.
--- the adventure modules are (often) written with far less extra verbiage, making them way easier to run (e.g. monster stats are presented in two lines of text rather than a 1/4-page block)
--- as DM I can focus on the story of the party (or parties) and let the players worry about their own characters' arcs within that story if they want to (not all do)
--- rewards (usually in form of xp) are more individual, thus incentivizing player-side risk-taking
--- with minimal tweaking those systems can easily handle anything from a 2-month quickie campaign to a ten-year banger
--- I can throw all kinds and degrees of challenges at them without nearly as much expectation of said challenges being "fair" (to either the PCs or the opponents); and it's on the players (in-character) to decide when to hold 'em, fold 'em, or run away.
--- morale rules and guidelines suggest and encourage more outcomes than merely fight-to-the-death

Player-side:
--- there's a lot of luck involved. I've always held that if D&D wasn't at its heart a game of luck it wouldn't use dice.
--- further to this, that luck element can extend deep into char-gen - you never know what the dice will give you to work with, leading to an attitude of letting the dice shape what the character will be rather than going in to the process with a locked-in concept
--- at low levels it plays like a rogue-like (DCC went all-in on this with the funnel), again often based on luck as well as skill. I love rogue-likes.
--- character generation is usually fast and straightforward, I can bang something out from blank sheet to playable in 15 minutes and fill in the fine-tuning later
--- there's a real sense of risk and, commensurately, a real sense of reward
--- it's open-ended. There's no hard cap on level, and thus no pre-defined end point. Yes there's "name level" but achieving that doesn't stop further play and-or advancement.
--- if done right and advancement is slowed down (a la 2e), levelling up becomes a side effect of play rather than the focus of it
--- the characters feel more like real people and less like Marvel superheroes, particularly at low-mid levels
--- the world is out to kill me dead, my job is to survive. Odds are I won't; but if I do it's glorious. :)
 

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The big thing for me is simplicity. It's worth noting that I was almost chased away from D&D as a kid because the groups I gamed with switched from OD&D to AD&D1e when the DMG was released and I found the new rules set to be overly arcane and complex.

B/X D&D showed up two years later and was a HUGE breath of fresh air for me. And it is the edition I still play more than any other. It is the same appeal I find with still playing Classic Traveller, and the 9 year-long weekly Empire of the Petal Throne campaign I'm playing in.

While others promote the supposed interoperability of OSR games, they end up ignoring that the huge swathes of "OSR games" are completely disconnected from the classic D&D rules sets and instead have purposefully limited their version of the OSR to only mean D&D retrogames, thus effectively kicking to the curb a lot of the original OSR gamers.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I really miss old-school combat. I remember it running a lot smoother in the old B/X and BECM rules, and with a lot more creativity. We didn't fuss over how many squares we could move, or how many of what kinds of actions were allowed (and when). We just explained what we all wanted to accomplish in the turn, and then the DM told us what rolls to make. It was super fast and easy.
 



Sacrosanct

Legend
Started in 1981 with B/X. Played AD&D as my preferred system until 2012 (when 5e took over).

I've never cared that much about resource management. What I do love about OSR is;

  • magic casters mean something. Spells seem more wonderful when you're not spamming the same magic over and over again
  • Streamlined play. It really lends to anything that isn't an attack roll or saving throw is a roll under ability check. So every ability point matters (provided you didn't just roleplay out the scenario instead of an ability check in the first place).
  • Zero to hero. Accomplishments always feel more satisfying when you start from nothing and work your way up
  • Fragility. One thing I don't like in 5e is how RAW, it's almost impossible to die, especially at high level. In AD&D, even at name level, you had to be careful.
  • Living worlds. This is more of a balancing thing, but it seems like in modern D&D, the expectation is that every encounter should be balanced and winnable. I much prefer a living world, where that clan of ogres lives up there whether you're 10th level or 1st level. The onus is on the players doing research.
  • The gameplay builds your story, not the pre-level 1 book of your backstory.
  • Team play. Everyone has a role, unlike other systems where every PC class can solve any problem
 

Arilyn

Hero
The big thing for me is simplicity. It's worth noting that I was almost chased away from D&D as a kid because the groups I gamed with switched from OD&D to AD&D1e when the DMG was released and I found the new rules set to be overly arcane and complex.

B/X D&D showed up two years later and was a HUGE breath of fresh air for me. And it is the edition I still play more than any other. It is the same appeal I find with still playing Classic Traveller, and the 9 year-long weekly Empire of the Petal Throne campaign I'm playing in.

While others promote the supposed interoperability of OSR games, they end up ignoring that the huge swathes of "OSR games" are completely disconnected from the classic D&D rules sets and instead have purposefully limited their version of the OSR to only mean D&D retrogames, thus effectively kicking to the curb a lot of the original OSR gamers.
Thanks for all the maps. I don't enjoy drawing maps, so you've been a treasure trove. 😊
 

I really miss old-school combat. I remember it running a lot smoother in the old B/X and BECM rules, and with a lot more creativity. We didn't fuss over how many squares we could move, or how many of what kinds of actions were allowed (and when). We just explained what we all wanted to accomplish in the turn, and then the DM told us what rolls to make. It was super fast and easy.
This right here!
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
  • Rules are generally simple and chargen is quick.
  • Character background is typically pretty minimal, and develops in unexpected ways during the campaign.
  • Encounters come with little/no assumption of any sort of balance.
  • Character (and monster) "customization" derives more more from imagination than lists of mechanical options.
  • Consequences of resource limits and threat of equipment loss are meaningful.
  • Characters typically start as hapless nobodies, yet their stories often unfold in zany, absurdist, nonsensical directions.

(None of that is to say that these preferences can only be played with "official" OSR; this is just how I think of "OSR".)

I played BEC (of BECMI) from age 10 through high school; then joined a 20 year-old 1e campaign in college in the mid 90s. Since then, I haven't played much "official" OSR, but when I was grinding under Pathfinder by 2010 or so, we switched to fan created mods like Microlite20 and Searchers of the Unknown. We very quickly fell into that 'old-school' mode of play, which I think was largely driven by those games' simplicity and the need to just "wing it" most of the time.
 

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