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

Sacrosanct

Legend
No!
If people under 50 make mistaken assumptions about what people did in the 70s, it's because there is very little interest among the grognards to engage with them and share their stories of the olden days.
People are eager to hear them, but there seems to be no desire to reveal their secret lore.
It's the opposite, actually. Most younger people have little interest to hear them. I mean, Tim Kask...THE Tim Kask, has a weekly youtube Q&A where he is literally begging people to ask him questions about the old days. And then of course you've got all the other social media groups.

The information is there, and it's super easy to find. This person just didn't even try. It was like he was talking about a time so long ago that we're all dead now or something. It was the 70s/80s, not the Industrial Revolution.
 

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Thomas Shey

Legend
The problem (aside from the impracticality, of course) is that there really isn’t one universal old-school D&D experience. Certainly I think there’s value in being exposed to different ways of playing - be that different editions, different game systems, or even just different DMs with very different approaches than they’re used to. But I don’t think an “old-school D&D boot camp” would really teach new players much about “how people really played back then” because again people have always played and will always play in all sorts of ways.

Yeah, as I've noted before there were (at the least) some pretty severe regional variations in how OD&D tended to be run (this was extremely obvious when you read, say, Alarums and Excursions at the time); the Lake Geneva playstyle differed significantly from how it was played in group in orbit around MIT and the common West Coast styles differed even more than those two did.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
While we don't know the exact years he's talking about, he says OD&D and 1e, so I think we can safely assume we can talk about those years. A few more points that I'd hope he'd be aware of, especially since he's talking about a rule found that apparently no one else knew about:

by 1979, the DMG has a very robust section on creating the game world. Not just the dungeon, but the world itself. Then you've got Dragon magazine article after article about building and fleshing out worlds in extreme detail. Every DM I knew created our own worlds, not just dungeons. I probably would have done better in class if I wasn't spending my time completing my atlas... The claim he made just doesn't jive with any players I knew back then nor with the book he is using as a reference.

In 1980, the gaming community wasn't as robust as it is now, it was much harder to find players (there was no internet), and that seems to be forgotten. While some players may have went from group to group, I think it was much more common for players to play 90% of the time with the same core players. Finding another player was hard, especially in towns or smaller areas.

I've already talked ad nauseum about the mistakes in how time was measured. And my post directly above repeats how easy it is to find that information today. In fact, for a person so inclined to actually ask, they will find out that Gary's group didn't play like most players because he didn't play with most of the rules he wrote that the rest of us went by. Nor did Tim. For example, Tim doesn't play with XP for treasure, a huge part of 1e. So not only is it inaccurate to say most players played this way based on a rule found in the book, but it's also wrong to say Gary played that way.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Wrong. In the DMG Gygax points out how cool it can be if DMs connect their worlds such that characters can jump from one to another; and this was fairly common among groups where some players overlapped. But all D&D games taking place in one shared world? Hell no!

This was heavily regional-variant apparently. A very large number of West Coast D&D games at the time at least had ways to connect their worlds together to allow character cross-play (though they were technically still separate worlds).

Players came and went, sure, but IME there would usually be a core of two or three who stuck with a given DM.

This tended to have to do with where you played; game club players tended to rotate around more than ones that primarily played at someone's house or the like.

Completely wrong; and doesn't agree with the point at 3:15. Weekend-warrior games existed, no question there, but they were far from universal. Most games already worked as they do today, where you pick up next session right where you left off this one - same in-game time, place, etc. - even if the players were a bit of a rotating cast (the PCs of no-shows became party NPCs for that session)

This also tended to depend on how well developed the gameworld was. When all you really had worked out was the dungeon(s), there wasn't much meaning to when exactly you picked up.

This is almost a repeat of the point at 2:58, just phrased differently. It's still wrong.

They're overgeneralizing, but there were areas where this was, effectively, true.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
he makes a whole cooking analogy I am not retyping but everything in this post you just made shows he had at least the right idea if not all the right details
I’m not sure the cooking analogy really helps clarify his point. I understand the intent, that over time technical knowledge gets lost as people rely on experiential knowledge. But the specific example is weird because in the analogy the knowledge of what to do survived and only the reason for doing it was lost, which isn’t at all what happened with timekeeping in D&D.
 

I’m not sure the cooking analogy really helps clarify his point. I understand the intent, that over time technical knowledge gets lost as people rely on experiential knowledge. But the specific example is weird because in the analogy the knowledge of what to do survived and only the reason for doing it was lost, which isn’t at all what happened with timekeeping in D&D.
the way I took it was that some of the things that younger players call 'sacred cows' of the game came about were influenced by things that made perfect sense at the time but as the times changed (and so too did many rules) some stayed and become enshrined even as the context for them was lost.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
I think it is considerably different, given that I played LBB white box D&D, Holmes, and 1e, etc. That is, by 1989 when 2e came out, the whole sense of what D&D is and how it is played felt fairly different. In the REALLY early days, it was different. People treated the LBBs pretty much like a bunch of notes for doing an FRPG. The IDEA of an FRPG, along with some of the basic mechanics (classes, hit points, etc.) were fairly established as 'this is part of D&D', but the REST of it? Not really. However, I knew all the rules, I read those books through 10x over. I just didn't use a lot of it, or tweaked it.

It could also be really easy to gloss over rules if you were, in practice, taught by someone else who ignored them. Heck, some were glossed over by almost everyone. I didn't realize until literally about a year ago when I went back to look over something for a discussion about OD&D that it actually said that the GM rolled up the characters. I don't think I ever saw signs anyone did that. Then you had things like the morale rules (which were all over the map in terms of who used them and to what degree) and a lot of keep maintenance stuff (which was just irrelevant to how people played in some, maybe most places).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
the way I took it was that some of the things that younger players call 'sacred cows' of the game came about were influenced by things that made perfect sense at the time but as the times changed (and so too did many rules) some stayed and become enshrined even as the context for them was lost.
Yeah, I’m just saying that argument kinda muddies the discussion of timekeeping because that’s not one of those orphaned traditions.
 


Yeah, I’m just saying that argument kinda muddies the discussion of timekeeping because that’s not one of those orphaned traditions.
it kind of is... and is the point of the video.

If you had asked me in 1995 I didn't know who Gary was, and I def didn't know this was based on him and his friends playing (mostly) wizards with hirelings going into the dungeon... in 1998 I DID know pieces of that, but even today I learn more and more.

The oldest player I knew started in late 70's with a photo copy he got at college, not even a book. (He is not with us anymore because of cancer) He had told us stories in the early 2000's of his first games being more like the type adventures in old school computers... they would be in the woods and go a direction and find things or be attacked or what ever... he said the first year he played he didn't think he played inside a dungeon OR a town for more then half an hour or so.
He AND the next oldest talking about 1e had very different stories. to the point where (like now with 5e on here) it almost feels like they were not playing the same game.
1 of them was 'training' with multi other party members and picking up class features while trying to juggle dungeons and politicking.
the other was acting more like a war game building armies of hirelings and followers

not 1 of those stories from either of those two ever had even a hint of 1 day=1day... BUT my buddy who learned from his uncle in the 80's told us second hand stories that were a mix between the other two.


1997-98 was a big change for us as a group... new people came into the college game and as such our home games and we started going to cons... the entire style of game we played and an changed then and again in 2000 with 3e...
 

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