Sunday, October 16, 2011

Worth Remembering

In working on the second volume of the Dwimmermount Codex, I often found myself poking around in the D&D III SRD, since there are some monsters and magic items in it that don't appear in other retro-clone products (at least so far as I am aware). What I discovered -- or, rather, was reminded of -- was just how much of the DNA of OD&D and AD&D made it into 3e. I'm not just talking about the ideas of those earlier editions; I'm also talking about the actual words used to present those ideas. For example, fireball is described as "detonat[ing] with a low roar," which is exactly how Gygax described it in the Players Handbook. I could cite dozens of other examples just like that.

Stuff like this is why, for all my many problems with 3e, I'm still grateful for the role it -- and the SRD/OGL combo -- played in preserving and transmitting the ideas and words of previous editions, for which every one of us involved in the old school community should be grateful. Were there not a strong family resemblance between D&D III and the TSR editions we all love, the creation of the retro-clones would have been that much harder to accomplish, perhaps even impossible. We've been given an amazing gift, one that only seems more amazing as the years wear on.

9 comments:

  1. It still tickles me that the SRD/OGL and faithfulness to earlier wording meant that you really could go around retro-cloning.

    Had the wording and rules changed enough, it seems to me like retro-cloning would have been that much harder.

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  2. Yep, the SRD/OGL is about the best thing to ever happen to RPGs. Another three cheers for Ryan Dyancy!

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  3. Just a small correction: I think that the name is Ryan Dancey, and it's really a shame that Wotc/Hasbro hasn't followed his visions with their draconic and steel fisted GSL.
    By the away, awesome blog ;).

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  4. I think it's great that so many gamers are enjoying the fruits of the OSR.

    But personally, in the last 3 years since I started a new group for AD&D after several years off, and the close to 3 years since I discovered Grognardia and the OSR, I have hardly used any retroclone material. I used SW White Box as a reference for my nostalgiac OD&D sessions here and there but not extensivly or enough to make a big difference, and the only other thing I can think of that I have used is the Old School Encounter Reference. I dipped pretty heavily into that for my recent Night Below campaign.

    Not only did I not get any of my players due to the OSR, they were active players that didn't really know what OSR or a Retroclone was. So across the board none of this has really had a lot of affect on me, outside of my blog of course. But there I can't speak on the OSR too much, because I don't have much interest in the new material.

    The only thing that almost drew me in to actually try at the game table was Carcosa, but with me wanting to do Call of Cthulhu, Champions, and classic Runequest campaigns in the near future (not to mention fitting some AD&D 1st ed in there) I'm pretty covered for gaming with old school material for the upcoming couple of years I think.

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  5. I'm immensely grateful that so much of the 'flavor text' of AD&D made it into the SRD, because it's so important to me. If the game doesn't bother explaining in an evocative fashion just how the spells are supposed to look, sound and feel, then how can we expect GMs to run games with these details in them?

    On the other hand, I think that the lack of these details are just fine for Chris Perkins, one of the most eminent GMs of the "Modern Style":

    "As far as pacing goes, I “cut” my game sessions the way a film editor cuts scenes. If I feel like a scene is getting bogged down, I quickly jump ahead to the next scene, propelling the game and the action forward. Players new to my game might be jarred by these sudden transitions, but they catch on."

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  6. I too find the SRD a useful thing for my own personal messing around.

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  7. If I feel like a scene is getting bogged down, I quickly jump ahead to the next scene, propelling the game and the action forward. Players new to my game might be jarred by these sudden transitions, but they catch on..."
    <<<

    Wow. That reminds me of the other year when I ran some KOTOR sessions for a group of middle-aged Star Wars nuts who were far more familiar with the system and Star Wars than I. I tend to push past slow moments that don't seem to have any real role play value. The host and one other guy were aghast that I did this, and the little fat dorky guy was angry and parctically shaking about it, as the haggy host lectured me on moving the game along at my own pace. That particular game was my last ( I emailed the group that night to say I didn't GM where players thought they were in charge), and I famously blogged the experience with those people.

    If players don't want the GM to jump scene, then they need to be doing something of some interest to the GM and the other players.

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