Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trent Foster Makes It Plain

Yet another awe-inspiring example of why anyone who cares about the old school renaissance should be listening carefully to Trent Foster.

81 comments:

  1. Well, it's apparent from that article why many OSR gamers would balk from saying those things for fear of being rude or insular... that post was very much both of those things! That post would have been much better served by simply stating that "we play this kind of game because we like it" rather than descending into calling subsequent playstyles "crap"---especially after arguing so much that he didn't want the OSR movement dismissed in that very manner.

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  2. Trent only used the term "crap" once, and it was in reference to the real change in spirit of the Gygax editions and those left at the helm that perpetuated it, not "subsequent playstyles." He was actually very clear that this post was not aimed at those who enjoy later rulesets.

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  3. Indeed; I thought it was a fairly moderate summing up; "crap" is a fairly subjective statement, but it is nonetheless true that such is the view of many neo-traditionalists towards play styles that they do not favour. To say so on a website devoted to such games would be impolite, but to say it at the Knights & Knaves Alehouse is perfectly natural.

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  4. Yes, I realize that. The point is, after spending the better part of several paragraphs "complaining" that enjoyers of subsequent playstyles dismiss the OSR, he then turned around and completely dismissed anything other than the OSR. He also made the completely unsupported and unsupportable assertion that non-OSR style gaming nearly killed the hobby.

    I hardly found the post "awe-inspiring"; rather it was a very good example of how over-defensiveness and one-true-wayism have made the OSR a bitter pill to swallow to folks who might otherwise have been interested. He tried for a while to adopt a more pluralistic, "this is what we like and this is what you (may) like and that's fine" approach, but it really broke down before the entire essay ended.

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  5. I agree with Joshua. There wasn't anything awe-inspiring about that post. I see most of the core contributors over at KnK Alehouse as angry Luddites, a bunch of disaffected fatbeards who spend more time complaining about what they hate than talking about what they like.

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  6. I think you are probably reading more into it than what is there to be honest. Of course, being on the other side of the fence perhaps I just do not see the offence, but I do not read it as defensive or an overreaction, nor even as a statement of "true wayism", it just reads clearly.

    I cannot really see the bit where he says that non OSR (I really dislike that acronym) nearly "killed the hobby". It seems to me he is saying that non OSR approaches nearly killed off the "OSR type" of game, which seems a quite supportable stance.

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  7. What if non-D&D rpgs had continued to be more like Boot Hill and Classic Traveller and Stormbringer and hadn't turned into the bloated style-over-substance splatbook and metaplot-ridden wankfests?

    The rest of the OSR self-definition / refutation of error stuff I can take or leave, but this part is very, very relevant to my interests.

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  8. I also agree with Joshua- hardly "awe-inspiring" Sounded like a loaded Q&A version of Edition Wars :yawn:

    Being negative of those who think differently to promote your own preferences/products is a piss-poor way to do things.

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  9. It seems to me he is saying that non OSR approaches nearly killed off the "OSR type" of game, which seems a quite supportable stance.

    I think even more exactly he's saying that he's not that big a fan of the non-OSR approaches that came along and took over, which is why he's exploring the OSR in the first place. It's a little cranky, but compared to the 4th edition wars that broke out, or even Mishler-gate it's barely a rant, and light-years away from a screed. :)

    Simply, Trent is measuring The One True Way as how the folks who like the OSR want to engage and enjoy the hobby. There isn't anything wrong with that. As a matter of fact it's a very good point, and the one that bears the most repeating.

    Everyone in gaming should do what they do because they get enjoyment or satisfaction from doing it. In that regard, the OSR is just one more path to fun for RPG fans to explore.

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  10. Interesting read. I had hoped it might be less argumentative and more persuasive, but that's just me thinking about a recent conversation I had.

    My group just finished their first Labyrinth Lord adventure a couple of days ago (it took 2-3 sessions total). I was running a play-test of a module for 2nd-3rd level PCs. It was a fairly straightforward crawl with a few twists here and there. I had pre-gens ready and it was 3d6 in order for scores, 0hp = dead. I rolled dice in the open and played them as they lay.

    Everyone seemed to have a good time, so in that sense it was a success. The players sometimes had trouble letting go of their "Crunchier" playstyles, where they want things like individual skills and detailed modifiers, etc. But mostly they played well with kept things light.

    Afterward, one of my players asked me why I like "These old games." When we played as kids, it was mostly 1e, not "Classic" and we've since moved on to many other more "modern" games (not just D&D). He assumed it was simply nostalgia, or some similar motive.

    The best I could say to him was "I have read and played MANY game systems, and if I find this sort of system fits my gaming philosophy best. I enjoy a little quirkiness in my rules, and if there's something I don't like, it's easily changed. I don't like the emphasis on the rules that other games bring to the table. The rules should get out of the way and let the players (including the GM) drive. I like a game where you can understand the basics in about 15 minutes and be playing in less than 30. The fact that a game like LL includes as much as it does and is still so simple to learn and play is a marvel to me."

    I'm not sure I really convinced anyone, but I'm not out to win a debate. I just want to game.

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  11. And, really, it shouldn't be about convincing anyone. I think it's relevent and even interesting and possibly important (in a relative sense) to explore why you like doing things a certain way. But at the end of the day, that's what you like doing. You don't need to justify your game to anyone (except, I guess, maybe potential players.)

    No, the problem I had with the article was that it purported to "take on" a lot of the common non-OSR rhetoric, but then it really failed to do so without thinly veiled (or often not even veiled at all) attacks on other playstyles.

    Oh, it's clear alright. I'll grant it that. Unfortunately, it's clear that the stereotype of the OSR gamer as a bitter, cranky, disaffected fatbeard who's finally, due to the Internet, the OGL, and a few enterprising fans who've "reverse engineered" the old games via the OGL, who finally has a soapbox on which to stand, is a sadly relevent stereotype after all.

    The link here infers that this is an intelligent "rebuttal" or "state of the nation" type response for the OSR movement, and I really don't think it is at all.

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  12. fatbeards
    lovely. I'm stealing this.

    I was once told that all kinds of fundamentalism - the desire to get "back to basics" - were attempts to change the way things work at that basic level; to make fundamental attacks on the status quo, at least for some group of people. This piece seems to avowedly be about that: taking a branch point early in the hobby and trying to diverge there, without dragging all the history and paraphernalia of the other branch(es) along with you. That seems quite relevant among Old Schoolers as a group.

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  13. Of course it is fundamentalism. The OD&D revival pretty closely parallels other types of fundamentalism. There are founding texts, which the fundamentalists spend all their time reading to discern the real meaning of, and what the majority of the community imagines as doctrine or settled is dismissed as innovation that was harmful to the original ideas.

    James Maliszewski is a fundamentalist, so is James Raggi, etc.

    This post is unable to contain its disdain for later styles of play, using the word "crap" repeatedly, along with things like malarkey, wankfests, etc. Nothing in it is really new or inspiring, and I'm surprised JM bothered to post the link.

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  14. It was mostly a good piece, but was undercut when the author followed up on "that doesn't mean this style of play is invalid for everyone else" by calling newer styles of play "crap".

    Assuming you really believe that people should try out the playstyle you like or at least avoid antagonizing you for liking it, why then immediately antagonize those who are enjoying something else by calling it crap?

    I could understand it happening later if someone had come into the thread with a firebomb or something (it's the internet, people get worked up about things, nobody's perfect), but right in the same post, just a couple paragraphs later? That just undercuts both points.

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  15. I think his attitude is a bit harsh and dour. I don't know that I agree that people don't take that approach out of fear of offending someone.

    At least for me, I don't take that approach because it's pointlessly angry, absolutist, and confrontational where it's just not necessary. The OSR isn't a "with us or against us" thing--or at least doesn't have to be. I dig OD&D. I mean I really dig OD&D. And first edition. And Second edtion, and yes, even third edition. I don't dig 4th, but that's a whole 'nother issue. Just because you like old school playing doesn't mean you have to abhor what came later, too. Nor is a "good for you; piss off, then" attitude helpful to the spreading of the movement.

    The problems with a lot of these types of movements is the obsession of the founders with trying to keep them "underground" to try and maintain some sort of imaginary "integrity." Personally, I'd rather see the OSR hit the mainstream, so some publishers with budgets and resources would contact those of us already involved and offer to work with us on things (aside from the limited distribution deals that have been offered a few of us).

    In short: raging and drawing lines in the sand don't help us, they only hurt. Just my two cents.

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  16. Yeah, I've had a bit of a revelation regarding this issue and others.

    If the book says something, then many who like literal interpretations (Read as Written) then see things in that black and white way. They don't want real-world complications clouding the clear definition of how the game-coding-language operates the gaming engine. That's cool, and it makes a sort of sense to me. Not how I run, but that doesn't diminish its worth.

    I think, especially after the Trent Foster ‘awe’ post, that it has been crystallised that 197x is purely a philosophy and mindset, and not really a way of understanding things outside the box/text -until- the GM/Ref decides that they are going to -House Rule- it. Once HR'd, it becomes the new box/text by which to measure things. So, if the text of the '7x book being used says: 'xyz' then it is 'xyz' unless the Ref says that after some consideration it is 'zbd'. Good and well, and no need for those of us who do not take the game as 'BtB' as gospel to dogpile those who do. It's just the way those folks (perhaps the majority of the Old Guard, possibly not) want to understand and run their games.
    Now that I know that, I mean, really KNOW that to be the case, I'll have much less to comment on. Like Fundamentalism as regards Politics and Religion, dogmatic adherence is just the way some folks like to be, and as long as no one get hurt, its all cool.
    As regards the term ‘Luddites’, it seems as though they are only Luddites if the 'way forward' really is better. In this case, ‘the way forward’ may as well be seen as simply another branch on a tree limb. Those not following that progression (the '7x' progression) are still on the same tree, if not on the same branch, and that's great, as multiple branches hold more life-sustaining leaves than a tree with only one branch.
    So, I'm signing the Peace Treaty with the Literalists/BtB'ers while remaining as near and as parallel to that branch as I feel comfortable (T&T 5 over Ken's now-preferred 7.5, for instance), and not questioning anyone's sanity/tastes/understanding.

    It's all good.
    ---
    And just because it is so funnily co-incidental:

    Word Verification-
    * Joykill

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  17. This post is unable to contain its disdain for later styles of play, using the word "crap" repeatedly, along with things like malarkey, wankfests, etc. Nothing in it is really new or inspiring, and I'm surprised JM bothered to post the link.

    C'mon, it's like you guys have never been on the internet. These aren't blogs or web forums for Vulcans, it's for red-blooded gamers on both sides of the fence. It only natural for people to wave their biases high from time to time.

    The trick is going past the drum-beating to see the real point. And Trent's point is that the style of play typified by the OSR, while superceded by other styles of play, is no less valid. The proof being that there people who are not just enjoying it quietly, but now discuss and share it openly. On the internet this is further proven through the back and forth of criticsms.

    I agree it can be too easy for people to read these posts and decry them as another 'fatbeards' vs 'modern gaming hipsters' row that tires the soul and tars the participants, but when it comes to these kinds of debates, I guess I'm just used to it. I look to see if someone is actually making a point or not

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  19. bighara's post reminds me a lot of my group right now. I played with these guys in high school and we used a couple dozen systems over the years, but stuck mainly with BRP/Runequest/Stormbringer/CoC. I just recently moved back here and they wanted to get a game going again.
    When I first made the suggestion we play 1e with some simplifications I made to the system I was met with a chorus of expletives, and a handful of reasons why DnD "didn't do it for (them)" anymore.
    Six months down the road and they love it. I've twice tried to run one shot BRP games and was shut down quickly both times.
    I think a lot of what the (gag) OSR people are missing is what I see as the fundamental difference between "Old School" and "New School" rpg fandom is: "Old School" to me is more about playstyle instead of mechanics. For example: I could run a game in BRP, Boot Hill, Pathfinder, Metamorphosis Alpha, 1e, d6, or FATE and resolution mechanics aside everyone would most likely have a good time. I see mechanics as a peripheral concern for the most part. Of course, you won't catch me playing an ICE game, but that's beside the point :)
    For me the main difference between Old School and New School is the importance a group attaches to the mechanics end of things. I don't think a lot of the OSR people (in the DnD or BRP circles) really get it. They spend so much time focused on the mechanics of the system instead of play style that they miss out on a lot of what I see to be the beauty of Old School philosophy.

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  20. "Of course it is fundamentalism. The OD&D revival pretty closely parallels other types of fundamentalism. There are founding texts, which the fundamentalists spend all their time reading to discern the real meaning of, and what the majority of the community imagines as doctrine or settled is dismissed as innovation that was harmful to the original ideas."

    I will grant that there are founding texts and that going back and re-reading them is a useful exercise, but the idea that any of us spend most of our time trying to find the Hidden Gospel of St. Gary is ludicrous. Discerning the original authorial intent can be a useful exercise, especially when that intent has been obscured by later hands in later editions. But OD&D and many of the early RPGs have so much inherent ambiguity as to demand a personal interpretation of the text. That's what interests me. I don't care whether Jamie Mal or Raggi or anyone else gets OD&D "right". What I want is to see their individual, idiosyncratic takes on the rules.

    Also, I think you will find many people in the OSR who have bits and pieces of later versions that they like. And some of them continue to play 3.x or 4e. While 4e isn't my cuppa, I don't reject it as a game. What I reject is the notion of an apostolic succession in the commercially published versions of D&D. I reserve the right to pick an earlier version and do something cool with that.

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  21. Those five common objections to the old school basically break down to this familiar cant:

    1. "The new stuff is objectively better."
    2. "The new stuff is objectively better."
    3. "The game remains the same as ever."
    4. "The game remains the same as ever."
    5. "The new stuff is objectively better."

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  22. The Old School Renaissance is radicalism, (of the root), not fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is unswerving adhearance to a single interpretation of a founding text,or texts. Radicalism is taking the same foundation and following the unexplored paths and roads not taken that are implied in the writing. This is why the OSR is a renaissance, a new begining, and not a restoration. It means to slough off the miss steps of the past and blaze a new trail. I'm Old Guard and of course, I think most of the "progess" in game design in the last twenty years has been futile wandering in the wilderness. I just don't often say such things to those of opposing view points since there's no gain in it for me.

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  23. Sometimes I wonder if being told things like we're "part of the problem" is part of the reason some new school gamers get tetchy with old school gamers. When it seems like the old-school people we're talking to would travel back and erase our way of gaming from the time-line if only they could remember where they parked their Delorean, it's hard not to get a little defensive. It doesn't pardon us from when we're snobbish jerks ourselves (believe me, I know we do the same thing just as often,) but I generally think tensions would be lower if we (both sides) didn't tell each other to "sod off" so often.

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  24. The problems with a lot of these types of movements is the obsession of the founders with trying to keep them "underground" to try and maintain some sort of imaginary "integrity."

    That "problem" seems important, though: one of the common points that binds the OSR together is dissatisfaction with the direction into which the mass market press has pulled the game.

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  25. When it seems like the old-school people we're talking to would travel back and erase our way of gaming from the time-line if only they could remember where they parked their Delorean, it's hard not to get a little defensive. It doesn't pardon us from when we're snobbish jerks ourselves (believe me, I know we do the same thing just as often,) but I generally think tensions would be lower if we (both sides) didn't tell each other to "sod off" so often.

    I think the tensions would still be there, they would just be hidden away under a degree of false politeness. :D

    Seriously, though, the reason this sort of post is made at Knights & Knaves Alehouse is because that is its appropriate forum and it is pretty unlikely there will be a fire storm since nobody who disagrees really goes there. Of course, when comments get picked up and make it onto the blog circuit we can count on such ridiculous rhetoric as "fatbeards" and a healthy exchange of internet insults.

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  26. Excellent point, MJS. I don't read DF or KKA very often anymore precisely because those sites get a little too venomous. Grumpy old man is grumpy.

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  27. radicalism, (of the root), not fundamentalism.

    Sorry, I should have been plainer: I use fundamentalism to mean "adherence to a set of "fundamental" principles," and take it as read that whenever anyone claims to be doing this, they're asserting some set of ideas and emphases that, however old-fashioned or novel they may be, are taken to be foundational by the fundamentalist. Unfortunately both the F word and the R word have popular meanings that rather get in the way. Maybe there's wisdom in the AH explanation Foster uses.

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  28. Okay, it has to be said.

    Using time travel to the past to alter the future of RPGs is right out!

    Take the keys out of the Delorean.
    Power down the TARDIS.
    Stop orbiting that wormhole in your neutronium shielded rocket-ship

    Everything else is pretty much fair game.

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  29. MJS... false politeness? Why should it be false? This discussion would be greatly improved by an injection of actual politeness. This article isn't it.

    I'm not sure it was meant to be either, but it was presented here as if it was, so... eh.

    And it's not a question of "old skool fatbeards vs. new school hipsters"---I know plenty of new school fatbeards, sadly. Fatbeard as a term's been tossed around for years and it doesn't have anything to do with the age of the game you play. It's unfortunate that there has to be this degree of diviseness. I'm not one of those "let's all hold hands and sing kumbaya" kinda gamers; some folks tastes are so divergent that it's unlikely that any game could possibly satisfy the two of them at the same time, but at the same time a little respect for the pluralistic landscape we game in, instead of casually tossing off insults and a hunkering down us vs. them mentality.

    The problem that the post's author seem to miss is that he's setting out to "set the record straight" about these so-called misconceptions about the OSR movement and OSR fans... and then he goes on to validate several of them. Sometimes, a spade is a spade, and being called a spade means it's time to accept that you've been acting like a spade.

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  30. Well, I cannot speak for Trent, but I do not think he is seeking "set the record straight", but simply stating his actual responses to several infuriating criticisms that have turned up from time to time and been politely refuted.

    Not all politeness is feigned, but a great deal of it is, especially when you are being polite to people you do not like, such as those who use such descriptors as "fatbeards" to characterise groups of largely imagined people with which they have no truck.

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  31. I consider it par for the course for passionate people to get bothered from time to time when it comes to subjects they hold dear. I think being polite is great, and I do my best when I'm making my comments, but some people just lose their cool. For me it's just a tip that I'll have to read carefully to see if there's a pearl amid the muck.

    I should take this moment to disclose that I am the kind of personality who can read even the most frothing screed and not mind it as long as a good point is made. I get how those kind of posts can damage the discourse, but maybe I'm jaded after years of hobby discussion online, because it doesn't get to me too often.

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  32. The K&K post struck me as like saying "No offense, but you're a moron." The author makes some polite noises, but overall his post is obnoxious and dismissive of anyone who isn't part of the OSR.

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  33. I like OD&D, AD&D, D&D3, D&D4 and OSR games all. I play each one for different reasons and many of them are not what he described. ( I DO play out of nostalgia, I do like the advancements of later editions).

    I think if the OSR movement is going to thrive outside of our own backyards here then the the people in the movement need to remember that people will play a game (any game) for one reason really:

    It's Fun.

    Tim

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  34. bighara wrote:
    [i]I don't like the emphasis on the rules that other games bring to the table. The rules should get out of the way and let the players (including the GM) drive. I like a game where you can understand the basics in about 15 minutes and be playing in less than 30.[/i]

    I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. I just don't know if LL (or any other old school game) does that for me. There are some games--like Fudge/Fate--that are even simpler, but more comprehensive to me.

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  35. Christ, people, maybe we could just stop with the dick-waving and agree that we'll treat games we don't play the same way we treat books we don't read or movies we don't watch-- with and shrug and apathy, instead of declaring holy wars to illuminate the heathens?

    Do "Risk" players and "Stratego" players have these near-gang wars over which is better? Can we just stop worrying about justifying our hobbies and just enjoy them?

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  36. MJS wrote:
    such as those who use such descriptors as "fatbeards"

    HA! I started using fatbeard after I ran into a few guys who frequented my local game shop who the term fit perfectly. I have no shame using it since I can think of a handful of people who are just that: FATBEARDS. Call them what you will, but I think it's a fine descriptor.
    In the future, OSR compatriots, please parse relevant and/or discussion worthy material from those you identify as "the opposition" when engaging in debate. Choosing to zero in on a derogatory invective that conjures the very same image you have described in an earlier post with a few dozen words _using eight letters_ (this entire series of responses are insipid) is rhetorical and argumentative.
    I think if you went back and read my posts here or anywhere else, disregarding any filler jargon, you would find yourself with little to argue about.
    Don't use my choice of language to falsely elevate your own position and redirect the discussion, there is no point system here to reward creative debate restructuring.

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  37. Use such an insult as much as you please, I just do not see the validity of complaining about other people's lack of politeness in the same breath.

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  38. I think the key problem is this post helps define the OSR as too narrow. I got onboard the OSR and have tried to run two games in the stock old school style. The biggest thing they did is remind me why I (and many like me) wandered away from that style. So I must be under #1.

    However, I have not gone back to more modern styles. I have instead taken the 30ish years of gaming, learning, and generally changing and applied those to that point of departure. I'm running a RM2 campaign and planning a retro-clone game again. The difference is instead of letting a game company provide it and then tinkering I'm putting my tinkering first and viewing products as true supplements to my work, not replacements for it. Some of the best products of the OSR are exactly aimed at that idea.

    By this article I'm no longer in the OSR because I've given up on a narrow play style. I'd argue I'm one of the logical conclusions of it: a chance to go back to the beginning and apply what we've learned. If all we do is go back to the beginning the OSR is doomed to fail.

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  40. The "OSR" gets defined from an all inclusive movement to a very narrow subset, but I doubt we will ever see a universally agreeable definition any time soon. I do not think it is really problematic that this definition excludes you, Herb, it is just one amongst many. I would similarly be excluded from certain subset definitions of the "OSR", but as TheRedPriest happily put it in years gone by, "being Old School is about going your own way" (that is the polite version), not kowtowing to external definitions.

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  41. @MJS: I agree that there are a lot of definitions and I'm probably using one divergent and influenced by my other interests. I see the OSR a lot like the tension you see in the goth community between older people who came up in a heavily DIY era compared to the emergence of things like Gothic Beauty magazine and Hot Topic *shudder* (you think 4th edition is from Hell, ask underground people about HT).

    That said, my point was that celebrating articles like this only helps those not in the OSR that it's about partying like it's 1979 and not going back to first principles and trying a new path.

    To use terms from above, this post casts the OSR as fundamentalism as opposed to the radicalism I think it is (should be, could be).

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  42. I think it is probably fair to say that the Knights & Knaves Alehouse is about a fairly narrow definition of "Old School"; it is like your local metal club, you know what to expect when you walk in the doors, and you might find comments made there occasionally at odds with your sensibilities.

    I do not really see the "celebration" of this sort of short article as particularly troubling. Sure, it may turn some folks on the peripheries off or reinforce the views of already hostile pundits that the OSR is just a "jerk circle of fat beards", but to me its just a healthy outburst that runs against the grain of usual politeness.

    Sometimes you just want to say "fuck you!" and sometimes you probably should. ;)

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  43. "These aren't blogs or web forums for Vulcans"

    Damn straight! No matter how you play, BE PROUD OF IT!

    It's not just a way to place, it's THE WAY TO PLAY.

    It's THE BEST.

    Somebody else disagrees and thinks their lame, watered-down crap is better, fine. Let them. Since you know they're wrong, just keep on promoting your style.

    Be PROUD. Don't apologize. Don't equivocate. Don't worrry about offending touchy strangers.

    Be a man and represent your style straight up, no BS and no fashionable weasel words and mandatory humility.

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  44. I see the nerd wars continue, no matter the location. Way too many people have their panties in a wad, and I seriously don't know why. This is SUCH a small hobby; do you people not get that? It's an unpopular, dying, niche hobby that attracts the kind of people who inherently aren't the most outgoing or social. Edition wars are stupid, arguing over how to handle armor class is stupid, trying to define hit points in "realistic" terms is stupid. It's all stupid, and the messageboards have done nothing but breed this stupidity even more. It's far too easy to call someone out and say they're a dick on the internet. All that does is instantly alienate anyone who might have listened to you before.

    I say this with sincerity: good luck attracting new players.

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  45. Oh, I see. I can't use the term "fatbeard" rhetorically about a post that referred to me and people of my tastes a "wankfest"?

    Yeah, I'll just ignore that absurd double standard, thanks.

    "TheRedPriest happily put it in years gone by, "being Old School is about going your own way" (that is the polite version), not kowtowing to external definitions."

    That's not useful in the least. Not only does it include lots of folks who are patently not Old School, but it's way too optimistic about what many Old Schoolers themselves are like.

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  46. Joshua, I have to ask, because in between laughing my butt off at the amount of mudslinging going on, I saw this on your profile: ""It so happens that I'm not a huge fan of D&D per se, but that type of game is what we're talking about here.""

    So why do you care? I'm curious. It seems to me you're spending an awful lot of time talking about something that you aren't "a huge fan of"?

    I'm going to just enjoy the advice that most of the "fatbeards" that I respect have said: "Go play and HAVE FUN!"

    (The word verify "spingstr" just cracks me up even more! Very close to sounding like the word for what seems to be very tight in this thread...)

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  47. Oh, I see. I can't use the term "fatbeard" rhetorically about a post that referred to me and people of my tastes a "wankfest"?

    Mate, you can say whatever you like, it just helps me know who to tune out.

    That's not useful in the least. Not only does it include lots of folks who are patently not Old School, but it's way too optimistic about what many Old Schoolers themselves are like.

    Thanks for the useful input.

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  48. >>It's an unpopular, dying, niche hobby that attracts the kind of people who inherently aren't the most outgoing or social.

    Hmmm, I see this section of the hobby as expanding and becoming more popular.

    And the hobby is inherently social.

    So you're just talking rubbish.

    And why are you bothering to be on a role-playing blog if you have such a good attitude about role-playing, anyway?

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  49. Be a man and represent your style straight up, no BS and no fashionable weasel words and mandatory humility.

    Hey, I'm proud of my humility!

    And I'm man enough to admit it. ;)

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  50. Paging E.G. Palmer!

    Please visit the Swords & Wizardry message boards and introduce yourself - your comment about radicalism of the root is excellent, and your further ideas about things like designing adventures and outwitting DMs are desired.

    http://swordsandwizardry.com/forum/index.php

    Email me at mythmere at yahoo dot com for a password; we had to turn off new registrations because of spamming.

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  51. >>And why are you bothering to be on a role-playing blog if you have such a good attitude about role-playing, anyway?

    I love playing rpgs. Operative word: playing. I find it a complete waste of time to sit around complaining about how other people play their games. Anyway, the hobby hasn't grown since the early 80s, and if you factor in population growth, it is getting smaller. Rpgs themselves are social, but they are insulated; small groups who don't interact with a larger group. So really you have small groups of people all involved in the same activity, calling each other out on minutiae that is insignificant.

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  52. Crikes!
    I just shaved yesterday!

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  53. "I find it a complete waste of time to sit around complaining about how other people play their games."

    If that's all you took from the original linked post, well, your failing at reading comprehension are you own problem.

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  54. OK, important question first. Who is the hot blonde chick in Trents KnK profile pic? That...that ain't Trent, is it?

    In my fairly short time back in the gaming world (took several years off before starting up my 1st ed. world again late last year), I'm still not sure who talks the most shit - old school or new school.

    I have always stuck with my lightened up version of 1st ed. AD&D, and recently got three new players who are all 3.5 die hards. Can you imagine? During character creation they layed out tons of things that you can do in 3.5, and I really could see how the game was taken away from the DM and put in the players hands.

    But in a couple of games I got these guys sold on my 1st ed. They didn't much care anymore that the didn't have all these cool talents and feats and powers - my DM'ing style meshed with their role-playing style, and that is the most important thing. Will they go run their own 1st ed. games? Doubtful. But maybe if they can like my 1st ed, I can at some point at least sit down as a player and get a taste of 3rd ed or 4th ed even. It could happen.

    But what I'm trying to say here is...cain't...cain't we all git along...

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  55. But what I'm trying to say here is...cain't...cain't we all git along...

    Brunomac, that is so unlike you, and MJS is being so excitable, I'm beginning to think this is bizarrothread. What I've learned so far about cussin on grognardia:
    motherfucker
    wankfest
    = just fine
    troll
    fatbeard
    = fightin' talk.
    Any other vocabulary anyone can help me with?

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  56. The arguments that any version of D&D can somehow hurt another version (whether by playing it, marketing it, or referencing the one version while criticizing the other) to be wholly unconvincing. These arguments make people think about the games and the games they want to play. James has described how his attempts to fix 4e finally drove him to OD&D. This blog, in turn, is my main source of information about the latest versions (because I can't browse them at Waldenbooks) and this makes it a little more likely that I'd be willing to play them.

    So new versions (or old ones, depnding on your point of view) might be silly but are still valuable. And I guess since it's the arguments that are the source of information and curiousity about other versions, I should admit that while silly, the arguments are valuable, too.

    And therefore this comment, despite its logic, is worthless.

    yours,
    Captain Obvious

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  57. >Any other vocabulary anyone can help me with<

    One of my faves these days I learned on Aintitcoolnew.com chat threads.

    "Geektard."

    That was my first choice for my blog title, but just wasn't D&D specific enough.

    The only reason I don't like "fatbeard" is that I never had a beard. Kinda fat though.

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  58. @chgowiz: Well, who said that I "care", exactly? I find the topic very interesting. RPG gaming is my main hobby, and as such I can't exactly escape the legacy of D&D. I still play it more than any other game, despite the rather uneasy peace I've had to come to about many of the D&Disms that I don't like. But mostly I just think it's very interesting. I like talking about gaming. I like discussion about gaming. I like discussion about games.

    This post that this blog linked to, unfortunately, was not a good conversation starter. Not only did it not really answer any of the accusations that it purportedly set out to do with any more sophistication than "Nuh-uh!" but then it descended into ridiculous insults. It, in fact, validated many of the claims that it was supposedly trying to "set straight."

    Sadly a few of the comments here have done the same. Calling someone a fatbeart means I'm a "person to ignore" while saying that something else is a wankfest is perfectly good, clear logic?

    This was the whole point I wanted to make with my comment, which by pure coincidence happened to be the first one because I just happened to browse by right after the initial post was made. If the online OSR fanbase is tired of being portrayed as bitter, angry fatbeards, crying over the fact that their favorite version of the game went into decline in the late 80s and 90s, then quit acting like that's exactly what you are. Trent Foster's post was simultaneously a complaint about being stereotyped that way and a validation of the very stereotype he's complaining about.

    The over-defensiveness of some of the posters here "OH NOEZ, he said something vaguely unkind about a guy who plays OD&D; we must unite against him and smite him with our Internet Fury!" syndrome is... sadly... also indicative of that same stereotype.

    I'd love to talk about D&D. Of any edition (except 4e, because I don't really know much about that one) but this ain't discussion. In order to have that, you can't get super prickly whenever you hear a comment from someone who's not part of the choir already.

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  59. OK, important question first. Who is the hot blonde chick in Trents KnK profile pic? That...that ain't Trent, is it?

    That's Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's "Superstar of 1965"

    I, unsurprisingly, look pretty much like a typical gamer fatbeard (only without the beard). If you're really curious, the "SoCal Mini-Con 2" thread in the Looking For Games/Gamers board at dragonsfoot has a couple of current (2 weeks ago) pics of me "in action" with my fellow fatbeards.

    As for the rest of the comments here, thanks for the nice ones, and even for the not-to-nice ones. I'm not going to apologize for making my strongly-held opinions plain (and would note that I did say right up-front that it was likely to come off as rude and insular, and that I was posting it on "safe ground" rather than in public for a reason) but I do think it's kind of a shame if a couple of terminology choices cause you to dismiss otherwise-valid points.

    The fact that the current "rpg mainstream" is by-and-large made up of the very same people who first rejected and then helped kill the style of game and approach to play that I prefer and replaced them with "something else" is an uncomfortable topic that many people would rather avoid, at least in mixed company, and this isn't the first time I've gotten in trouble for expressing this opinion a little too indelicately.

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  61. @TFoster - the punk attitude is exactly what breathes life into the hobby whether some people like it or not. Please keep the Fight going On!

    @Joshua - To quote the 6 young (under 30) "fatbeard"s who are currently playing 30 year old games with me: "LOLz"

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  62. Calling someone a fatbeart means I'm a "person to ignore"...

    To be honest, I conflated you with Tedopon in your last comment, but I do find your discourse here somewhat bemusing. Still, this is probably no place for an extensive examination of the whys and wherefores of what troubles me about some of the things that have been said here.

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  63. Didn't seem to say anything... unusual. I believe much of the 'edition wars' comes from both sides who not only enjoy their game, but insult the other editions (and I've seen it on multiple sides of the arguement.)

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  64. Am I the only one who feels that the best way to settle the current dispute is via PvP?

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  65. Joshua said "He also made the completely unsupported and unsupportable assertion that non-OSR style gaming nearly killed the hobby."

    I'm not so sure about that. The peak of D&D was 1981 and it was a long downhill slide from there for ALL the RPG industry. (with a couple minor blips like Vampire). It wasn't until 3.0 that RPG's experienced a real resurgence and at first 3.0 kind of read as a polished updated version of "old school" D&D - but it quickly devolved, and the industry with it.

    The state of RPG business now is really quite sorry compared to what it was. Of course, we can only imagine what it would have been like had it taken a different course - the course the OSR represents.

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  66. @chgowiz: "@Joshua - To quote the 6 young (under 30) "fatbeard"s who are currently playing 30 year old games with me: "LOLz""

    ?? I'm missing something. That comes across as a non sequiter to me. I can't figure out where it has anything to do with what I said.

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  67. There's a basic rhetorical difference between me saying, "The way you play D&D is a crappy wankfest," and me saying, "You're a piece of shit," that some posters just don't seem to grasp. The first one is colorful statement of opinion. The second one, you should really just fuck off if you're going to be like that.

    Perhaps it ties in to T. Foster's article, in that some of these anti-OSR type people have inherent problems with their reasoning on the issue.

    And Herb, did you read the article? It's saying that the OSR is exactly about what you did...

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  69. I think it best to stay out of this nonsense myself, even though I play Labryinth Lord every week, one of my players also plays 4E and for him, there is no conflict, so why should there be for anyone else.

    Lets not fan the flames people. Were all gamers and there is a table that each of us can sit at and play. Lets all shut up and do just that.

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  70. >>Will Mistretta said...

    If that's all you took from the original linked post, well, your failing at reading comprehension are you own problem.
    >>

    Wow, way to completely take my comments out of context. Though I do appreciate you proving that gaming nerds are humorless chodes.

    I'm seriously sick of all this crap, and I'll reiterate: a lot of people have WAY too much time on their hands to bitch about stuff and should be devoting that time to actually playing.

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  71. Of course, we can only imagine what it would have been like had it taken a different course - the course the OSR represents.
    ...and also if video games and CCG's hadn't been invented.

    I mean, come on! I've tried to stay out of this whole nonsense debate, but to claim that OSR might have "saved the hobby" is completely outrageous.

    Anyway, Joshua's already made all the points I wanted to make, so I'm stepping back out of this one.

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  72. And I'm not making any more. Although I'm at best a "fringe OSR" guy, I value a lot of the discussion here, and I don't want to sully it up with more pointless wrangling.

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  73. There were points among all that butthurt? :)

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  74. Sorry, couldn't resist. Carry on, my noble fellow travelers, carry on.

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  75. And the hobby is inherently social.

    Jim and Other Gents, please listen to your master Robin Laws:

    I don't think I'm exactly going out on a limb when I say that we are a glorious geek tribe, and that, as a whole, we tend more to certain personality quirks than others. Further, I submit that we contain more than our fair share of people for whom the split between thought and feeling is particularly fraught. Many of us are to one degree or another uncomfortable in standard social situations. The entire roleplaying form can be seen as an alternate mode of socialization in which the boundaries of interaction are mathematically codified - and plus, you get super-powers.

    It is therefore the ultimate form of entertainment for smart people who distrust emotion and have boundary issues.

    Except when the games come with persuasion mechanics. They smash the boundaries, dredging up feelings you'd rather not deal with. To lose control over your PC is like losing control over yourself. Worse, the things your PC does while persuaded or controlled are highly likely to be, if not unsettling, embarrassing. They get you worked up, and steal the power you've come to the gaming table to experience.

    No wonder players who feel this way avoid games with persuasion and other behavior-altering mechanics.


    Short version: 'Inherently social,' among American (wargames-derived) RPG types in particular, falls far short of correct.

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  76. And the hobby is inherently social.

    Jim and Other Gents, please listen to your master Robin Laws:

    I don't think I'm exactly going out on a limb when I say that we are a glorious geek tribe, and that, as a whole, we tend more to certain personality quirks than others. Further, I submit that we contain more than our fair share of people for whom the split between thought and feeling is particularly fraught. Many of us are to one degree or another uncomfortable in standard social situations. The entire roleplaying form can be seen as an alternate mode of socialization in which the boundaries of interaction are mathematically codified - and plus, you get super-powers.

    It is therefore the ultimate form of entertainment for smart people who distrust emotion and have boundary issues.

    Except when the games come with persuasion mechanics. They smash the boundaries, dredging up feelings you'd rather not deal with. To lose control over your PC is like losing control over yourself. Worse, the things your PC does while persuaded or controlled are highly likely to be, if not unsettling, embarrassing. They get you worked up, and steal the power you've come to the gaming table to experience.

    No wonder players who feel this way avoid games with persuasion and other behavior-altering mechanics.


    Short version: 'Inherently social,' among American (wargames-derived) RPG types in particular, falls far short of correct.

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  77. The state of RPG business now is really quite sorry compared to what it was. Of course, we can only imagine what it would have been like had it taken a different course - the course the OSR represents.

    I think you've had a moment of deep, deep stupidity. Anyone whose understanding of roleplaying history doesn't include the words 'videogames killed tabletop roleplaying' isn't playing with a full deck.

    As long as D&D is the major outward-facing text of the RPG industry, said industry will always be identified with escapist juvenilia, power fantasies, and the worst sort of generic-fantasy codswallop. Videogames are that plus awesome moving pictures, so they win.

    (I see that asmodean has pointed this out already.)

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  78. I agree that staying the course would probably not have saved the business, and that computer games were a big part of its decline. A lot of people played tabletop games because they were the next best thing to what they really wanted, what computers deliver today.

    I'm less sure that it's playing with a full deck to imagine that (using the Rients threefold model) "pretentious" has a better chance than "retro-stupid". Further, it would certainly not "save" the RPG to replace it with "story-telling".

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  79. I chime in with Wally's "videogames killed RPGs" point here. I'm not sure I buy Robin Laws' psychological profiling of the RPG crowd - all such efforts seem problematic to me - but of course I recognise some gamers of my own experience in the description.

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  80. Saying "videogames done kilt RPGs" is a bit glib. TSR trashed itself thoroughly without much help from videogames at all.

    I don't think RPGs could be a dominant long-term industry in any case, mostly because playing these games IS an inherently social activity that is strongly reliant on the creative powers of the decentralized GMs, who aren't naturally dependent on your product.

    Of course a company that wants to really earn a buck would like to get around that, for example by selling lots of splatbooks and churning out a bunch of settings and selling miniatures and asking you to re-buy the whole thing in an edition change every few years and all other kinds of novelty hype.

    But the one thing they can't really sell you is a good RPG experience. Board games have a similar problem, but they have much more control over the play experience. There's too much art and skill asked of a good GM.

    But while RPGs are doomed by that, it's also true that you don't help yourself out by not giving two shits about what's actually fun to play at the table.

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  81. The new URL is http://www.knights-n-knaves.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=5969

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