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D&D General Younger Players Telling Us how Old School Gamers Played

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, rather than just lambasting this guy for being wrong about “how it was really played,” anyone want to like… Point out what specifically he got wrong, and set the record straight? I understand y’all are pretty well-informed on the matter, I’d be more interested in hearing your perspectives than… whatever this thread has been so far.

I'm going to point out that prior to this comment, there was the following in this thread-

1. Multiple people said that they were there at the time, and that this isn't true. Everyone with personal experience said he was wrong, and viewed it either with bemusement (isn't that cute) or annoyance, but there wasn't some sort of "Hey, this guy is on to something!"

2. Sacrosanct posted a minute-by-minute brief analysis of the claims, and why they were wrong.

3. Multiple people referred you (and others) to a book that has detailed analysis of how people played in the 1970s.

4. There were also links to multiple threads. In addition to the book and the multiple references, there was an extended essay with a long section discussing why it is a categorical error to just look at RAW when discussing OD&D.

5. Finally, the claim was that this was an "obscure" rule (see, e.g., video at 2:15). As if this person discovered it. Not only is this not true from experience (see my 1, supra), but I specifically noted that this rule* was not just in the LBBs, but it was also in the 1e DMG!** Which meant that it wasn't some obscure 1974 artifact, but part of the rules until 1989.

People did explain it. People did set the record straight. And people provided personal experiences as well as resources.

So why care? Why do I care that someone on youtube is getting something wrong and telling people the wrong thing?

A. To start with, it's more that people are arguing with me (and others) that our experience is wrong. Just think about that- that's what is annoying. It's doubling down and telling people that their lived and actual experience, backed up by research, is wrong. Not great, Bob.

B. More importantly, it's annoying. Imagine it's something you know about- say, a children's US history explainer that says, "Abraham Lincoln signed the Declaration of Independence." Would you care? We should want people to be accurate- a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth puts its pants on.

C. Finally, this isn't hidden information. If you don't demand that people do a better job, they won't. There's a lot of good stuff out there- people can either choose to watch the material that is accurate and accountable, or not. And I'm not just talking about D&D. If you start defending the bad stuff, then eventually that's on you.

*Again, this wasn't a rule. There were "rule rules" and "suggestion rules." This was the latter.

** @James Gasik "No One Reads the DMG" is a running joke about the 5e DMG. It's obviously not true about the 5e DMG (someone has read it!), it is more certainly not true about the 1e DMG; I, you, and many others probably know the 1e DMG better than the correct definition of Bree-Yark.
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Mod Squad
Staff member
Do they need to hire sensitivity readers?

A hit! A quite palpable hit!

Far bigger, I think, was Gygax telling DMs to "make the game their own" and DMs running with that idea; and thus was born the Kitbashers' Guild. (that Gygax went back on this almost as soon as he wrote it is irrelevant)

I think you vastly overstate Gygax's power over the game as played at home. This was the 80s. No internet. Broadly speaking, groups were pretty isolated from Gygax and other groups. Folks were mostly on their own, so they did their own things.

I don't think that is true, and I almost universally reject what @Yora is saying.

It's not that old gamers refuse to share campaign stories; rather, that for most of us, old campaigns are like dreams. It might mean a lot, but telling the story of it almost never means a lot to the person you're telling it too.

Seriously- go up to someone and watch their expression when you say, "Hey, let me tell you about this dream I had ..." Most people don't want to hear about your past dreams, how your fantasy football team "pulled one out" over the weekend, or this really cool campaign you were part of in the '70s.

If asked, we share. Sometimes .... we OVERSHARE. It's profoundly easy to get people to talk about themselves- but most of us don't ask. Because, in fairness, most of us don't care. The reason I reject what @Yora is saying (and the general approach in the thread, but that's my next post) is because there is plenty of information out there. There are people to ask. There are people talking about it. There are histories in written form. There are documentary movies. If you don't know, it's because you don't want to know ... which is fine! You don't have to care about the history of the game to play. But don't blame others for your lack of curiosity. "Gatekeeping" isn't stopping you from buying a book, or watching a documentary, or asking people.

I'll happily share stories from days of gaming 35 years ago, but my issue is often memory. And I think you are right about the oversharing. People don't want to be the "Did I tell you about my character" guy.

I think you vastly overstate Gygax's power over the game as played at home. This was the 80s. No internet. Broadly speaking, groups were pretty isolated from Gygax and other groups. Folks were mostly on their own, so they did their own things.

Not so Umbran. I was there. Gary used to come to our homes and make sure we were playing in the approved manner.


Dude, we played hiding in basements specifically so he wouldn't do that!

Wait... Gary Gygax was your father???

In my personal experience, aside from reading an occasional issue of Dragon Magazine in my teen years I had almost no reference for how anyone else was playing the game outside of the games I was personally involved in from the time I started playing at ten years old back in the very early '80's up until maybe the time I hit college and started seriously hanging out at my local FLGS and talking to the other folks there, some of whom had actually been to GenCon and/or knew folks who knew Gary and the others involved in the early days of the game.
My first real exposure to the larger gaming world outside my own geographical area was when I got online and started hanging out on the Wotc forums during 3rd Edition.
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Thomas Shey

Gygax has in mind that different PCs can easily end up at different places on the imaginary calendar, resulting in restrictions on who can adventure with whom. Whereas TB simply stipulates that all PCs must all be in the same phase together.

Gygax's idea made more sense when it was extremely common for people to play more than one character in rotation.

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