Friday, March 11, 2011

Open Friday: What's the Appeal?

Consider today's Open Friday question to be a bit of self-indulgent "market research," as well as one sparked by genuine curiosity. I've noticed that I get a surprising number of visitors and commenters to the blog who aren't playing old school Dungeons & Dragons at present and have no interest in doing so in the future. I'm curious as to why. What's the appeal of a blog like this one when a very significant percentage of its posts are devoted to game you're not playing? Don't misunderstand me: I'm glad that gamers beyond the little echo chamber I inhabit find something of value in my daily scribblings, but I hope I can be forgiven for wanting to know what might be appealing here to players of newer RPGs.

Thanks!

79 comments:

  1. I got hooked on this blog due to the Pulp Fantasy Library posts, which have been gold mines for discovering (and rediscovering) some excellent works. However, even though I'm running a 4E game, I still find a lot of inspiration in the posts on the history and background of the hobby, not to mention the Dwimmermount write-ups. Even us "new-school" guys can learn a thing or two from the Old Ways, even if we don't fully embrace them.

    Plus, I was introduced to Traveller (and Stars Without Number) right here, so for that I cannot thank you enough. An old-school SF campaign looks to be in the future of my group.

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  2. The history. I'm interested in the past of the hobby, both out of simple curiosity about the past and out of nostalgia, because I'm old enough that it's partly *my* past.

    (Right now I happen to be playing in a game with some old school connections, but I read this blog for a long time when I wasn't gaming much at all, and that's why.)

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  3. The sense of history; the more-than-once-a-day posts that are nonetheless thoughtful and well-written; erudite discussion of the shared history and politics of our hobby.

    I'm not gonna lie to ya - sometimes your tone drives me mad, but that's all part of being part of a niche hobby filled with idiosyncratic people.

    By and large, even if I sometimes disagree with your conclusions or analysis, having someone think, work through and catalogue elements of the hobby's history that I was (and couldn't be) a part of is a valuable resource.

    I skim the "Pulp Fantasy Library" posts and hang out for the "Retrospective" ones. Love the interviews as well.

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  4. *ahem* "**wasn't (and couldn't be)..."

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  5. I have been playing since AD&D (81/82 or so?) and I think all versions of the game have something to offer. Even though I'm playing 4th edition these days (when I play D&D--we're on hiatus and playing a friend's Exalted game instead), I'm interested in ideas from across the hobby. I might consider an old school game at some point if I can get takers among my group--I've got a couple of the clone PDFs and might even have a copy of Basic D&D somewhere. It would be a nice change of pace from overly long, excessively combat/tactical games. But even if I don't, I like to hear the old school perspective and I often get ideas that can translate to what I am doing.

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  6. For me its a combination of the historical knowledge and articles you post, your occaisional but always interesting views on various old school Science Fiction games and my ever burning sense of curiousity over what 'the other guys play.'

    Since I am, by my own admission, atypical of most gamers by age in the hobby, I find reading about other peoples' experiences and opinions to be fascinating.

    I would much rather explore that interest on a blog that is well written, well informed and also periodically comments on or questions the nature of its creator's views as well.

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  8. I think I fall into the portion of the audience you describing. I played 1st Edition AD&D when I was a kid in the 80's, and 2nd Edition as a teenager in the 90's. After a 15-or-so year lapse, I'm playing in a 4e campaign on the other end of the country run by the very same DM I played 2e with in high school.

    I guess your criticism and commentary on these games and the cultural stuff that surrounds and informs them just resonates with me. It's a difficult quality to put my finger on, but I see elements of it in other OSR blogs I like--a species of erudition that's a little bit prickly mixed with an appreciation for and examination of ideas that contemporary games would sooner flush down the toilet.

    I also really dig the Dwimmermount write-ups. It's tremendously interesting to listen in as someone breaks down that kind of campaign in such fine detail. It's a bummer that it's slowing down!

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  9. For me, the old school appeal extends beyond Dungeons and Dragons, even though I used to play (and Traveller too). We are of similar ages and I enjoy your retrospectives, insights into the history and origins of the hobby, interviews with personages associated with the hobby and your pulp library reviews. I remember seeing the same games and ads in the games stores and Dragon Magazine. A few I bought at the time, some I wondered about, some I never cared for. I find it interesting when you bring them up. You have explored some rpg paths I haven't and vice versa. Having said all of that I have no intention of ever running another D&D or D&D clone game. I have found a better system for me and my players.

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  10. Quality writing.

    I wouldn't have considered myself part of the "OSR" if it hadn't been for your blog and S&W.

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  11. For me its not surprising to see players of newer rpgs as fans of Grognardia. I can't imagine anyone is unaware of D&D especially table top gamers, irrespective of age or game of choice. What you bring to the blogosphere is no longer limited to the OSR community nor has it been for quite sometime.
    Why people read this blog I believe is due to yer authorial voice. That is yer ease of writing, confidence in subject and ability and the seriousness which you take yer audience.
    This hobby of ours is a leisure activity in an age when we are losing our leisure time.
    Mark Twain said write what you know. Stephen King said write the truth. Thank you for doing both.

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  12. I have an interest in playing an OD&D based game, but in practice given my gaming group it seems unlikely for the near future. I stick around because I'm interested in all forms of tabletop RPGs, and I want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of them. I believe it will make me a better player and GM, and it will help me identify exactly what I do want out of a game. I also enjoy studying RPGs and forms of play for their own sake.

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  13. Miguel Lopez: "a species of erudition that's a little bit prickly"

    That's a quality observation. I might even say: There's nothing more genuinely old-school that that.

    And it's an interesting POV because compared to the real old-timers, James is, like, a shining beacon of gentility and grace (which is part of what hooked me).

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  14. Shane Cubis: You wrote "sometimes your tone drives me mad"

    This is the only thing so far in this thread that I don't understand. Could you explain what aspect or aspects of Grognardia's tone drives you mad?

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  15. I don't remember how I got linked here, but it was only within the past week or two. I follow (via RSS) because it seems interesting. [shrug]

    Also, I program small computer games as a hobby, including one that is vaguely D&D-ish.

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  16. I do not admire, or much respect, the current embodiment of the "old school movement" of which this blog is an epicenter.

    This is because of its propensity for one-true-wayism and fawning adulation for the least mature incarnation of the least-developed game in our hobby, and for its tendency to actively exclude items and games that don't fit the mode of purity that has been established as the de facto holy writ. And, perhaps more importantly, for its very nature as a movement that looks backward when seeking out the best days of our hobby, while failing to recognize that the very evolution of the hobby which it abhors is what's made it possible for such a movement to even exist.

    However, just because I reject these tendencies doesn't mean I reject old-school gaming in the broader sense or fail to admire some of the great ideas and products that have fallen out of the "OSR" - quite the contrary! In terms of design and systems analysis there's some really top-flight work coming out of this community, and this blog in particular is a regular source of great ideas as well as pointers to stuff we may have forgotten about, but shouldn't have.

    The nuts-and-bolts stuff about White Box D&D I simply don't bother to read - it's a game that was rejected by the vast majority of gamers long ago with good reason, and those enjoying it now are doing so by the light of 40+ years of additional experience with RPGs, along with the maturation of the hobby that's happened since, and by and large in forms that distill away the useless elements and opaque presentation, and hammer unusable mechanics into viable systems.

    But there's a lot here to like that isn't just that, and James in particular has shown a great willingness to try to broaden the definition of "old school".

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  17. Reason #1: Nostalgia!

    I'd be old-schooling AD&D if I could, but haven't known anyone interested in that in many many years now. Last RPG group of any kind I was involved with was over a decade ago now.

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  18. I'm interested in the history of RPGs, so that's one of the reasons I'm reading your blog.

    I also think the cultures of roleplaying are interesting, and this is one of the sites that have good commentary, both in the blog posts and the comments.

    I have the Finnish boxed D&D, D&D Cyclopedia and lots of AD&D stuff from 1980 until 1992 or thereabouts. I could see myself running a Cyclopedia game at some point, but somehow AD&D feels just too cluttered with useless stuff. The Finnish translation of D&D is horrible, so running that would be just for the nostalgia groan value.

    So, while I'm probably not going to run D&D because there are lots of other games I've never tried and which seem like they're fun, I like to read about gaming. Also, you write well.

    (And a lot! When I started reading your blog, I realized that during the previous week I had read three books with your name on them...)

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  19. I'm not lucky enough to have a circle of friends big enough or dedicated enough to make a game like D&D work. I like to enjoy the game through osmosis by reading about it and hoping one day the stars will align and I'll get to play with a good group and have a good campaign, raid dungeons, slay monsters, and Imagine myself some where else for a few hours.

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  20. I almost always disagree with your opinions, but I find them interesting. I just love debate and discussion about gaming.

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  21. I'm interested in the history of the hobby and follow your blog for your posts about that and about pulp fantasy library, which I consider to be part of the history of the hobby due to the influence it had on the early days of the hobby.



    I also have to agree with Ardwulf in that I, too, see more "one-true-wayism" than I'm Despite my interest in the history of the hobby, I don't see myself as part of the OSR. I also think there is too much "one-true-wayism" in the OSR. Ironically, I also don't consider myself "new school"

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  22. Simply put, interest in a point of view from someone who has radically different rpg experience to me. I probably disagree with around 5/6 of your posts but they present me with perspectives that I wouldn't otherwise get.

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  23. Like many who read your blog I am an older fellow who recently returned to gaming after a long hiatus that is in the double digits. I am a little behind you in age just marking my 38th birthday. I missed OD&D as my entry point and landed squarely in TSR's rich years of box sets that could be found in department stores and modules on the magazine rack of the local bookstore that mostly carried romance novels. I was always into fantasy and sci-fi stuff. Reading pulp paperbacks and also digesting mass amounts of old movies on UHF channels growing up. So I was deeply infused with Hammer films, killer androids, mutants, and flashing swords against demons.

    I love how you capture those days in your histories of the gaming culture and also how you remind me of the many games that existed back then. It wasn't until High School that I had a real gaming group and we played many games at least once. Most of which we inherited from older brothers and sisters of our group members.

    I went back recently and dug through eBay and used bookstores to find many games of my past. But, I also got hooked on newer games such as 4e while playing with my teenage son. First Edition and Fourth Edition are my favorite versions in terms of playing and expanding upon at the table. One because it is open ended and the other because it so structured. Both those styles of rule set have their unique challenges and rewards.

    Sadly OD&D is a little too abstract for my taste and never even crossed my path until recently reading about it online. I read about how it did things and love seeing how the game evolved between editions from those original books. There are many things I am glad that changed over the decades but I also feel a lost for other items that didn't get carried over.

    Your blog brings me back again and again for the introspective on the game from your own personal experiences and the history of the game itself. You often bring up good points on what makes a game great and also set forth some great examples from your own campaign and the works of others. Your dialogue is often mature and well spoken. And while I would never run a mega dungeon I find great value in your love of the game and the time you take to collect your thoughts on our hobby. And find it all inspiring and interesting.

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  24. While I do play & run OSR games as well as 4e D&D, I primarily read this blog because it reminds me of being 12 years old again. Nostalgia FTW.

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  25. As per your introductory sentence, I don't play old school Dungeons & Dragons at present, and I have no interest in doing so in the future.

    However, I do play [Chaosium's version of] RuneQuest, various Basic Role-Playing incarnations, and Tunnels & Trolls, which can also probably be characterised as 'old school' games, so your blog is definitely of interest to me.

    I also enjoy your forays into fantasy literature.

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  26. As a sporadic player since the late '70s, I'm fascinated by the history and evolution of the hobby.

    These days our group only gets together monthly for a few hours so we tend to stick to one system for at least six months (at the moment it's V&V) but my desert island RPG system will always be old school D&D which is why I enjoy your more general discussions(as well as the write-ups of your own campaign, which stir great nostalgia and inspiration).

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  27. I run and play Classic D&D, AD&D1/2 and 3.0, though I am not that much into the OSR, especially when many of its representatives are rude and crass which is IMO totally inappropriate given the subject matter.
    However, James is scholar and a gentleman, and his posts are always entertaining and thought-provoking. This is the only blog I follow every day.

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  28. I have been playing D&D since 1st edition (I'm 42 now). After having refereed a 3.5 campaign for almost six years (from 2001 to 2007, weekly sessions), I began to feel kind of burned out with the whole D&D thing. So I spent the next three years refereing Masks of Nyarlathotep and completely disconnected from all things D&D. Some months ago, after finishing the CoC campaign, I heard for the first time about this “old school renaissance” movement and it renewed my interest in D&D. I discovered your blog by chance while looking for info about the subject.

    As a game designer myself (I have published a few RPGs here in Spain), what I love about your blog is the historical approach you take on RPGs, trying to find connections and trends, looking at it as a whole cultural phenomenon. It's refreshing.

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  29. Old school is old school - no matter what system you use. It is good to see that there are other people out there who share an interest and a common gaming heritage - if not a common cultural one!

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  30. Reason number one: Open Fridays.

    Okay no, seriously, for a number of reasons (in no particular order):

    1. James writes well;
    2. There are tons of intriguing gaming ideas here both in the blog itself and in the comments, many of which inspire me in my non-rpg gaming;
    3. While I'm currently not playing any rpgs (career commitments + no group), I *will* get back to them. When I do it will almost certainly be something old-school;
    4. My own gaming roots are in Moldvay/Cook and AD&D, so the continuing evolution of that spirit appeals to me;
    5. Nostalgia -- I love when James dusts off some decades-old product or image that I'd forgotten, and all the memories flood back.

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  31. I like your stories about old and new game sessions, your "RPG philosophy" and your posts about old games. But the more important reason is that I enjoy reading it.

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  32. I refereed GURPS since 1988 and will do so again in the future after I finish my current Swords & Wizardry/MW campaigns. Much of the Majestic Wilderlands originated in my GURPS Campaigns. But because I played GURPS much like I did my AD&D campaign, and Fantasy Hero 1st as well, I had no trouble using Swords & Wizardry to make rules for my setting.

    Old School is not dependent on Old School Rules. So your blog posts were of interest to me before I got into developing for Swords & Wizardry.

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  33. Just off the top of my head...

    A well-written blog about the games that I used to play (and love), and other games that I should have tried but didn't. A journal of the history of the hobby, and how we got from there to here. A reminder when times and things were simpler and more carefree, for lack of a better term. Memories.

    Thank you, James!

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  34. Er. Mainly its the reviews of old stuff. I missed a lot of it, borrowed some of it, etc. I actually enjoy someone who is not in my game groups thoughts on that stuff.

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  35. Personally? I enjoy your writing style, and your insights. I first stumbled across this blog when I was looking for something about Tolkien. As I've said, I'm not a fantasy/sci-fi fan, but I love LoTR (for other reasons). It was a tribute post to him on his birthday. It also talked about his influence on D&D. Knowing little to nothing about the history of D&D, but remembering it just the same, and being a student and teacher of history, I found it interesting.

    Oddly enough, since then my sons became interested in D&D and have since started playing it, with my wife and I joining in. This has been my goto source for figuring things out. So perhaps I didn't come here out of any love or knowledge of D&D, but it has since helped me figure the darn thing out. It also got me to move them from their 3ed, to the old timer's versions.

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  36. I like the stuff you create.

    I like it when your affection for your players comes through in the blog.

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  37. Well, first of all, if you can come up with a definition of Old School D&D we can all agree with, then indeed, I shall agree with your premise that I am probably not playing Old School D&D. [Oops, did I just negate the premise there.* Hmmmm. <grin>]

    On the more serious reason I read your blog I like the reports of the Dwimmermount campaign, the Retrosepectives, the Pulp reviews, and you do raise interesting questions and reading the rules. For example I had forgotten that original D&D was not a role-playing game but rather "Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures." Plus you have an erudite and interesting (and perhaps more importantly in these matters, a polite and courteous) group of commentators, and it is always interesting to see how other people play their games.

    Besides I'm dragon-like enough that actually having most** of the rules (and books) from the time period you generally consider often gives me that self-satisfied toothy grin... [And it's a good forum for discussing most of these games that would otherwise have been totally forgotten ... and chasing new stuff.]

    [* In the beginning everybody went off their own way and created their own games/campaigns. This was kind of necessary as the campaign world industry didn't exist back then. This included modifying the rules to suit the game they wanted to play (usually because the original rules for most games had massive holes that had to be filled). This is Old School to me, regardless as to when the actual rules were published, and it's something I've never stopped doing. I think the only rules and campaign I haven't done this to is The Great Pendragon Campaign. Even if I like the rules, I tend to use them for different campaigns. Such as playing Runequest with Ironclaw, or D&D with Over The Edge, for example.]

    [** Currently hunting down some of the British small press games and fanzines from the period. In particular there was an excellent A5 SF game with a black & white cover that I want to reacquire (mine went walkabouts).]

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  38. The history and curiosities surrounding the earliest steps of the hobby are great. Your analyzes of the origin and evolution (and misconceptions) behind many of the game’s rules and traditions are an admirable and enjoyable read.

    I skip most reviews and polemic discussions about blogs and what is and what is not Old School; and, although I don’t read most of your campaign posts, I do enjoy the worldbuilding and setting elements that make Dwimmermount unique.

    I like the Pulp Fantasy post to find new reading material.

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  39. Well I've been playing D&D so long that old school D&D is just part of who I am even though I don't play that specific rule set any longer. Plus, I have to admit, since 4E was released I've come to really appreciate the strong connections between all the previous versions of the game. When 4E broke many of those connections, and became to me a different game, it was a bit of a wake up call about how important the history of the game is. Grognardia shines a spotlight on that history and examines it.

    In addition, since you (James) have spent many hours playing all the versions of D&D (0,1,2,3) you often have an interesting perspective on all things D&D, not just old school, and can make informed analogies and analysis of the various incarnations. One of my favorite articles of yours and the one that made me a regular reader is the one where you broke down the various "ages" of D&D. That, to me, is the kind of insight you can only get from playing in those ages.

    At first it was interesting to read the Dwimmermount updates but that quickly (and perhaps ironically) just ended up reminding of all the things I didn't like about old school D&D.

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  40. I'm a new school spy, sent to keep tabs on the other side. ;)

    'Kay, seriously, most things you write about aren't terribly interesting to me. But once in a while I get a real kick out of some gaming tidbit that you post, like the random alignments of C&S.

    Other than that, I subscribe here because of my ego. I like to think that if I occasionally read and post here, than others will notice my blog and return the favor.

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  41. I fit into the 'demographic' you mention. My game is Star Wars and my system is D6. But even so, I find a lot of value on this and a lot of other gamer sites. First of all, because I find it amusing to have so many similarities with the 'gaming backgrounds' of others. Secondly, because a lot of the 'truths' of roleplaying games apply no matter what setting or system you run. Thirdly, because sites like this remind me of (or introduce me to) the literary 'roots' of the game that introduced me to this hobby- which I find very interesting. And finally, it is fun to hear other people's gaming experiences- and again, it doesn't matter if its from another setting or system. It is both entertaining and helps me see what other people are doing (and what I might add to my own campaigns).

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  42. I read it just to find stuff to argue with you about--like how terrible a writer H.P. Lovecraft was ;)

    Seriously, your energy for, and devotion to, this blog is remarkable. Your number of posts and the interesting information therein is worth stopping-by a few times a day.

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  43. For me, I love the history of the hobby and its different twists and turns. Game Designers sometimes release their notes about their reflections on what led them to think a certain way or why they made the decisions they did. I just love that. Your blog provides insight into that process.

    And, while OD&D is not the same as AD&D 1e (my game of preference, if I were to play fantasy) it is close enough.

    Plus, occasionally, you do features on the right games...:) :P

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  44. Like so many others, in addition to learning about the history of the hobby, I enjoy all of the many ideas and points of inspiration you provide, whether that's a story idea or even an idea for a mechanic that I could take and drop into another game or that might be adjusted and used elsewhere are very interesting, and great.

    But really the biggest draw is that you're a damn good writer, and you have interesting ideas. That's always going to be fun to read!

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  45. I was first introduced to D&D with the Holmes rules at about the same time as you. I played for a few years and migrated to AD&D. I didn't however have an older peer-group to show me what's possible and left RPGs altogether in 1981 in favour of Car Wars and other boardgames.

    27 years later, I picked up the 3.5 books, joined a group of strangers and had a blast. After 6 months of DM'ing 4e and being unsatisfied with the pacing, I discovered your blog and realized that the D&D I really wanted to play was what I played (or just read in the DMG) when I was 10 years old. We have since converted our two campaigns to Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry, and find the game much more satisfying for all involved. Less work for DM's, more activity for the Players. I often find myself looking at my watch after we've done a whole lot in the game and am amazed that only 1 hour has gone by!

    Anyway - I've drunk the cool-aid, so I'm not who you're targeting with this post but for what it's worth, I read your blog for your historical retrospective on the old rules and why they can continue to have merit today.

    Fight On!

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  46. Because I will happily steal ideas from ANYONE, be they Olde School, New School, Other School, or have no class at all.

    I have absolutely no interest in running or playing any pre-3.5 versions of D&D (I tried, and found that, indeed, you can't go home...or back to 6th grade...again), but I can't imagine that there will ever be an iteration of the game that doesn't have something that appeals to me.

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  47. I play C&C and like to keep the feel oldschool. I have a fondness for older editions of D&D. Just not a lot of interest in running them personally. And started following your blog after you were on attomic array doing an interview about cursed chateau.

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  48. I've been playing since the red box. I currently run a 4E game. I like "old school" blogs because their ideas remind me of past experiences with D&D. Good ideas are not edition-specific.

    I like the historical retrospectives, and the Pulp Fantasy Library, too.

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  49. I'm an older gamer who returned to the fold recently. But I don't have any D&D nostalgia as I never played it back in the day. I started with Dragon Warriors (I'm still waiting for you to have a read of it James; old school and written by classic White Dwarf authors). I then played some MERP, CoC, a little RQ and some WEG Star Wars. When I finally picked up a copy of D&D i wasn't impressed. I was very into simulation back then and AC and all the silly beasties put me off.

    Fast forward and now I mainly play PbP Barbarians of Lemuria and Dragon Warriors.

    I read your blog because of your passion for the hobby, your opinionated but not bigoted articles and your excellent writing style. In fact your blog was responsible for me actually playing a few sessions of table top OD&D which I loved.

    The things I hated about D&D back in the day (fast abstract combat, the zaniness, relatively light rules) I now enjoy.

    So thank you for reinvigorating my gaming life.

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  50. I was introduced to D&D with the same Holmes rules you talk about all the time on Christmas Day, 1980. Started playing AD&D a month later and have been playing D&D in some form ever since. I like 1st/2nd edition and still play a monthly game but I also like 4th edition game and play in a game every other Friday. They're very different games and I appreciate each for what it is. 3rd/3.5 never really clicked for me though I did play it for a number of years.

    I really appreciate your observations and reviews on the OD&D/AD&D topics and materials. It was a google search for Keep on the Borderlands that led me to your site for the 1st time. Now I've been going through the web site from the beginning and reading each article. I'm particulary fond of the retrospective articles.

    Thanks for the posts and please keep it up.

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  51. I'm late to the hobby (I was alive during its early years). I remember D&D being everywhere in the Early 80's, but I never had an opportunity to play until 3.5 edition.

    I'm interested in the history of the Hobby, after I started reading this blog I purchased a large number of old D&D books, and the only edition My collection is missing is the White Box.

    I would definitely take the opportunity to play in an old school game given the opportunity. I would not want to try running one however, I already run a Savage Worlds game every two weeks, and that is about all I can handle at the moment.

    I'm also very interested in the Pulp Fantasy Library posts. I read every one of those.

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  52. I suppose I'm one of those this post is targeted at. :)

    It's true, class-and-level isn't my style of choice, and I'm probably not going to be running* or playing in any RPG soon, but I enjoy coming here and participating in the discussions because, well, the posts are interesting, and there is some nostalgia value. Games of that era and style (not just D&D types, but others, too) were my core hobby experience, and I still have an interest in them.

    *(Though If I do run a game, LL is a serious candidate, because it wouldn't require all that much prep work.)

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  53. I apologize for not reading any of the responses on this thread, but speaking for myself, I visit this blog because I like reading about our collective D&D heritage. I recently discovered both 4e and this blog site, and both have contributed toward my getting back into the game (I stopped playing after 2nd Edition). Part of my allure to 4e is that I can easily translate that 1st Edition feeling and make the content even better with 4e. I find that the old school material is in some ways much better than what WotC offers today… so mining this site is perfect for my needs.

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  54. What i love about the blog is that the discussion fostered here reminds me a lot of Dragon magazine back in the day, where it wasn't so much about "Give me a specific set of rules and information for the game i'm playing", but "Let's talk about the ideas behind the games we're playing." The first D&D i ever owned read was Holmes, but the first game i played was AD&D. However, i always loved reading about other games, other campaigns, and other people's take on how the game was and could be played.

    For me, one of the main paradigms of OSG is that without a comprehensive set of rules designed to cover every contingency, most of those contingencies became a springboard to discussion about the possibilities inherent in the game and in RPGs in the most general sense. Though i'm not playing any OSR games, i always try to make sure that that philosophy stays a big part of the games i do play.

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  55. I'm primarily a "new school" player (Pathfinder right now) even though I grew up with the Moldvay Basic D&D set back in the early 80's.

    For me, what brings me back to your blog several times a day are:

    1) The quality writing. I think you've done a great job of learning how to clearly and concisely state your points, but still keep the writing from being dry.
    2) Your love and passion for things that I'd long ago given up as being "childish" or just too "primitive" for my gaming needs. I first stumbled across your site when someone on the Paizo boards mentioned one of your posts about Gygaxian Naturalism, and I was intrigued immediately. That post sucked me in and I saw a bunch of links to other posts you wrote about Gamma World and other old games. It's like I found a "home" here, reading someone else's memories of the same games I grew up with, and it helps that we're roughly the same age.
    3) Your ideas. This is mainly coming from your Dwimmermount posts, but I love reading how you come up with stuff kind of on-the-fly to respond to what your players are doing. The entire milieu of Dwimmermount including the talking animals, the lost Earth scientist, the alien elves, the Cthulhu influences... it's all so fascinating to read.
    4) Your Ideas, Part 2. Even though I wouldn't consider myself an old-school gamer, at the end of the day - an RPG is an RPG. I can take an idea you come up with and use it in my game. My players don't need to know that the stats don't exactly fit the format of the system I'm using. I'm experienced enough to adjudicate on-the-fly if things aren't working out. I'm not going to stifle my creative "stealing" by only reading what other Pathfinder players are doing.
    5) Nostalgia. I love your retrospectives because I remember seeing ads in Dragon magazine for pretty much every one of the things you write about, even if I didn't end up buying them. It's fun to see what you say about the ones that I never ended up buying.
    6) Education. Your Fantasy Pulp Library posts are ones that I keep tabs on because I kind of started my foray into fantasy literature with people like Burroughs and with Howard's Conan stories. It's really great to read about all of these other stories that I can add to my list to check out soon.
    7) Inspiration. Based on your blog, I ended up starting an old-school 1st Edition AD&D game through the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, primarily using OSRIC, which I never would have even heard of had I not stumbled across your blog one day. It's been one of my most favorite gaming experiences ever.

    So... pretty much what everybody else is saying. :)

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  56. I love reading this blog because, which I am not actively involved in much gaming activity at all these days, I have a strong sense of nostalgia for the good old days playing many of the games discussed in this blog. I grew up during the so-called golden age of RPGs (I played mainly 1979-1987)and I love how this blog takes me back and reminds me of things I haven't thought about in 20+ years. Right now I have a 7 year old son who is showing a strong interest in all things fantasy (LotR, fantasy themed computer-games, etc.); in the next couple of years I would love to introduce him to all of the gaming experience I had when I was a kid. (In fact, I recently purchased a copy of 3rd Ed. based on a blog post here a few months back which discussed how it brought you back into D & D. Even so, I also picked up a 1st ed. copy of WFRP - my personal favorite from - so a prolonged D & D campaign is not a given). If my son decides, later on, that he'd rather play 4th ed., or 4.5, or whatever, at least I'll have given him a little taste of what gaming was like back in the day, and maybe he can return the favor and introduce me to a "new school" RPG I've never head of.

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  57. Theres a huge nostalgia factor for me. I forget how I came to find your blog but I was immediately enthralled by the articles and (especially) the images from all the old games I remember from my younger days. I was in my mid-teens in the early 80's and was right there for all the first gen rpg products. I owned lots of them (Top Secret, Gamma World, Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Chill, Call of Cthulhu and of course D&D) but oddly I've hardly ever actually played any of them. Other than a few underwhelming sessions of AD&D in the early 80's I haven't ever played an RPG. The only one I still own is CoC (I've got the 2nd ed box set and the 5th ed book as well as some supplements). Over the years, I've pulled the CoC stuff out and paged through it and thought "man I'd like to get a game of this going somehow" but the dream has never materialised.

    However, reading this blog and a few other sites over the past couple of months has really re-ignited my rpg mojo - so much so that I've ordered the Dragon Warriors core book and I actually went out and bought some dice the other day! lol...so who knows. :)

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  58. To make a long story short: I don't play oldschool D&D currently, though I will begin doing so in roughly a week's time. And, frankly, that's *because* of your blog, sir-- the quality of your writing and the depth of your passion.

    Of course, there are no doubt other bloggers who write about, say, fishing, with the same passion, verve, and clarity, and you won't see me breaking out the tackle-box. So, I have had an interest in OD&D, even when I wasn't planning on playing it, because there's something romantic and mysterious, and even a little hilarious, about the Old Ways, about rolling to open doors, consulting matrixes to see if you hit descending AC, and a level-one wizard dying on his first adventure because the goblin rolled a six for damage.

    So I had an interest in OD&D-- one that began largely as a bemused "Wow, things were crazy back in the day" and that was transformed into something more respectful, something approaching less a lark and more of a genuine interest in playing the game. And that transformation, again, is due to your work on this blog.

    I might not always agree with what you have to say about the game's current incarnation-- even as I run this LBB campaign of mine, I'm still going to run and enjoy, with many of the same players, my 4E game-- but I'll keep reading your blog for your insights into OD&D, and the history of the hobby in general.

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  60. Actually what brought me here was that I was feeling nostalgic about D&D one day and wanted to hear people talk about one of my favorite modules, B4. I put B4 in google, and lo and behold! I got Grognardia.

    Cheers,
    Blaise

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  61. I'm still here because I like reading the history, the opinions, and the Retrospectives. I am an Old Gamer (ca.1980, I think), but not so much of an Old School Gamer. My main D&D group plays 3.5e and may switch to Pathfinder in a year or so. My other RPG group is in Savage Worlds, and moves around various games. My favorite wargames, which I still get to play, are generally 1980s ones.

    I would like to take another shot at 1e or 2e AD&D someday, and I still have the books for that. I bought the Classic Traveller reprints some time ago, and would like to give that a whirl someday. I am a sometime participant in the Star Frontiers revival, Twilight:2000 and Dead Games Society Forums. In short, I am an OSR wannabe, just waiting for the opportunity to spring it on a group (my oldest son will play anything, for instance...)

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  62. I'm interested in gaming blogs that have interesting and/or intelligent commentary, and is active and timely. That pretty much describes Grognardia.

    As for the old school movement, these blogs either create useful items that I'm interested in for other games (say, usings Dyson's maps from A Character For Every Game for my fantasy games) or they wallow in pre-d20 D&D nostalgia. While today I'm far more interested in playing Thousand Suns than any edition of Dungeons & Dragons, I still have fond memories of my D&D gaming back in the 80s. As such, I enjoy the nostalgia, despite having moved on to (IMO) more relevant and interesting roleplaying games.

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  63. Two main reasons:

    1) When it comes to mechanics, I prefer 3.x/4E, but for "spirit", I'm partial to the older editions (1E, B/X, etc.). As others have said, I believe feel and style isn't restricted to a particular edition, so I like to read some of the "old school" blogs such as this one.

    2) Many of the "old school" blogs I've encountered spend too much time bashing new editions (and their players), or wallowing in "One True Way"-ism or ridiculous drama, etc. You generally write about things you like rather than berating things you don't like, and when you discuss something you dislike it's done in a respectful and thorough manner (something which is lacking on the Internet in general).

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  64. Like someone else mentioned, I'm an old gamer but not an Old School Gamer. I haven't played D&D since around 1983 and don't ever envision myself doing so again. The only 'old school' systems I play are ones that I never felt went out of style such as T&T and BRP and modern systems I find to be an appropriate evolution for narrative play. And more than fantasy, I prefer modern occult/horror gaming.

    That being said, I really appreciate your blog. It did restore a nostalgic love of the old days and made me remember what I loved of that time to try and bring it into my modern practice.

    As others have mentioned, your writing is excellent and your arguments presented in such a way as to be worthwhile to myself, even when I disagree (i.e., it provokes thought and clarity).

    Your retrospectives are wonderful and maybe most suprisingly, seeing what is going on in the D&D OSR has made increased my appreciation of that game (in all its additions) and players of that game.

    If you keep blogging, I'll keep reading!

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  65. Been playing RPGs since 1980 as well; 4E is pretty much the D&D I've liked best of all the various incarnations. But I continue to read Grognardia because . . .

    1. I know you from back before Grognardia (the days when you were a Ph. D. candidate in medieval philosophy and hung out on Eyrie). So a personal connection.

    2. As several have said, much of the content the OSR produces is perfectly adoptable for use in 3E and 4E D&D. For example, I will be stealing Father Wicked for use in my own 4E campaign--he's just that cool.

    3. Your love of the pulps. I know you don't care for a lot of recent fantasy fiction, but our interests in the genre perfectly intersect in the Old Weird moment of REH, HPL, and CAS (with Leiber as Paul to their original disciples).

    There are other reasons, but my seven month old son is screaming his head off right now, and I have to help my wife. :)

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  66. I can't add much.
    When you talk of old products, I find it nostalgic.
    When you talk of old rules or art, I find it quaint and sometimes amusing.
    When you groan about the WotC, I usually just move on to the next post, as I don't believe in the edition wars.

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  67. I know you from back before Grognardia (the days when you were a Ph. D. candidate in medieval philosophy and hung out on Eyrie).

    Wait a sec... so it's Doctor Maliszewski???

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  68. I enjoy reading about both old games and pulp fiction. I actually don't pay much attention to Dwimmermount.

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  69. I was reading this blog for a couple of months before I even considered running an OS game; in fact when I first heard of the OSR a year or so back, my first reaction was something along the lines of, "now there's a daft notion if I ever heard one - why would I go back to using a system I thought was woefully inadequate 30 years ago?"

    I read the blog for its interesting articles and ideas (usable with any system), and for the nostalgic sense of shared experience.

    As a D&D player I'd probably want to play 4E - the options and abilities seem great; as a DM I'm thinking about using Pathfinder as a "perfected" 3E game (and there was a lot about 3E I liked - 3E as written very much took the way our group "played" 2E and smoothed out the wrinkles).

    However, reading this and a few other OS blogs (Dreams in the Lich House is great too), made me realize that OS D&D might be exactly what I needed for the school games club I run. The idea of teaching and running 4E for a large pack of 12-15 year olds was definitely a frightening prospect.

    I picked up LotFP, and recently got a set of the Moldvay Basic & Expert rules (Moldvay's sets being ones I'd skipped over "back in the day"). I started my Junior High crew on rolling up LotFP characters, and it only took them an hour and a half or so to design their first characters, and try out a quick mini-encounter.

    I'll probably end up mutating Raggi's LotFP into something closer to 1E AD&D over time, but for now it looks like a great introductory level game.

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  70. The writing quality.
    You are not a bomb thrower.
    You don't gratuitously swear.
    Your posts are well thought out.
    Your creative ideas.
    I care about the subject matter (note this is last on the list, it may be what drew me here, but the above keeps me here)

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  71. You don't gratuitously swear.

    I'll second that. For some reason, unexplained to me, a lot of bloggers must really think it's wicked cool to swear.

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  72. There is enough similarity between OD&D and AD&D 1st Ed, that I find ideas and discussions presented on this site useful to my game.

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  73. I played some Basic/Expert D&D after I was introduced into the hobby with Traveller, before a lifetime of playing RuneQuest, Stormbringer, Savage Worlds, Wordplay, and a myriad of indie games. But I like your literary style, your consistent views on D&D, your delight in discovering games like RunQuest that you missed the first time over, and basically, you write a good blog. I have run some D&D in the last decade, and I am going to play some Pathfinder, but whilst I like the concept of old skool, I am not really ever going to really gel with the class/level gestalt.

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  74. *The intellectual urge to probe the bedrock of the hobby

    *Intelligent observations

    *The genuine need to reach the refined essence of D&D, weeding out the unnecessary and diluting side factors that have stuck to the genre.

    *The great insights: 'Bad fantasy fiction as a genre has become a snake that feeds on itself, influencing and being influenced by D&D'

    These are what make this blog priceless.

    ...and finally a little criticism:

    *I enjoy this blog, despite its harsh attitude towards White Wolf games. Everyone seems to forget that WW games and W.o.D. were very much the products of 90s. Thus, they naturally reflect their zeitgeist. That was the age of Vertigo comics and Se7en and The Crow, Dark City, Matrix... in short that was the age of Millenial Angst. Of course they were pretentious.

    And who can tell that Retro-clone movement is not a byproduct of this zeitgeist. Perhaps in 2020s people are gonna look back and say 'well, those games had an excess of rules. They forgot about the story.'

    or maybe not.

    Anyway in short, for me, this is the sharpest and most intelligent blog around.

    Long live Grognardia.

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  75. *The intellectual urge to probe the bedrock of the hobby

    *Intelligent observations

    *The genuine need to reach the refined essence of D&D, weeding out the unnecessary and diluting side factors that have stuck to the genre.

    *The great insights: 'Bad fantasy fiction as a genre has become a snake that feeds on itself, influencing and being influenced by D&D'

    ...and finally a little criticism:

    *I enjoy this blog, despite its harsh attitude towards White Wolf games. Everyone seems to forget that WW games and W.o.D. were very much the products of 90s. Thus, they naturally reflect their zeitgeist. That was the age of Vertigo comics and Se7en and The Crow, Dark City, Matrix... in short that was the age of Millenial Angst. Of course they were pretentious.

    And who can tell that Retro-clone movement is not a byproduct of this zeitgeist. Perhaps in 2020s people are gonna look back and say 'well, those games had an excess of rules. They forgot about the story.'

    or maybe not.

    Anyway in short, for me, this is the sharpest and most intelligent blog around.

    Long live Grognardia.

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  76. What I am doing here, indeed? There's a thing I share wiht Mr. Maliszewski: the disliking for "modern school" ways. I quit the hobby because I could no longer whithstand lineal plots and railroading. I bought a laptop and start playing roguelikes instead, from 'Moria' to 'Angband' to 'ToME' to 'Falconseye' to 'Dungeon Crawl'. Last year, articles by John Harris, who writes a column about roguelikes at www.gamesetwatch.com, made me aware of the "old school" movement. Retro-clones have brought back to live my interest in RPG.

    Now, Mr. Maliszewski style is both instructive and amusing. I think that roguelikes, Pokémon and the first Resident Evil beat tabletop RPGs. But Grognardia is casting a shadow of doubt on my otherwise skeptical mind: maybe I am mistaken?

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  77. "Because I will happily steal ideas from ANYONE, be they Olde School, New School, Other School, or have no class at all."
    That works for me too...

    I don't much care for the class/level/alignment element of D&D but I like the general aesthetics of the OSR... fewer rules, more DIY, more emphasis on what RPGs do best vs. trying to compete with video games.

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  78. What I am doing here, indeed? There's a thing I share wiht Mr. Maliszewski: the disliking for "modern school" ways. I quit the hobby because I could no longer whithstand lineal plots and railroading. I bought a laptop and start playing roguelikes instead, from 'Moria' to 'Angband' to 'ToME' to 'Falconseye' to 'Dungeon Crawl'. Last year, articles from John Harris at www.gamesetwatch.com made me aware of the "old school" movement. Retro-clones have brought back to live my interest in RPG.

    Now, Mr. Maliszewski style is both instructive and amusing. I think that roguelikes, Pokémon and the first Resident Evil beat tabletop RPGs. But Grognardia is casting a shadow of doubt on my otherwise skeptical mind: maybe I am mistaken?

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  79. I'm here because it's my history too. Most reviews of games you've done are familiar to me. As an example, I actually ran a couple of Space Opera game sessions way back then. The problem I had was that a sandbox type gamme without the players having a handle on the universe background and little GM experience back then made the game directionless.

    My first purchase was the AD&D 1e MM, since it was the only AD&D book printed at the time. I would guess the "edition wars" then biased me against the LBB's and OD&D and clones seem to simplified in comparison. So I find it interesting reading your ongoing exploration of the OD&D style rules-sets.

    My rules path went through AD&D 1e, Space Opera, CoC, GURPS, plus a background of SPI wargames. After a break from RPG's, I looked at AD&D 2e, but decided against it when I saw I needed a 40 page houserules set to define which rules/supplements were in or out, and which rules needed fixing. I looked at 3e and realised that it fixed nearly all the issues I had with 2e but still had the same gameplay. Unfortunately 4e came out shortly afterwards, which I tried, but it was a different game, missing the fighting/spellcasting differences and too focussed on tactical combat. Pathfinder is now my choice for a fantasy ruleset using levels and classes. I have no problem with skills and feats (advantages) given my GURPS background.
    Having looked for a more story driven game with less rules crunch than GURPS (which has really good background/campaign supplements), I've found FATE (Spririt of the Century, Starblazer, Legend of Anglerre).
    In the meantime, my Pathfinder players are having fun exploring some classics in my ongoing campaign based in the Judges Guild Wilderlands and have been through Caverns of Thracia and S2 (both in 3e revised format with on the fly PF translation). The differing styles - naturalistic vs trap dungeon provide variety.

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