Clones · D&D/AD&D · GMing

Few rules required

I spoke last year about my dislike for the direction Wizard of the Coast took with the D&D franchise (and Star Wars as well). While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a crusty old school gamer, the real reason behind my preference is because I came of age with a group that didn’t need all that much in an RPG. The groups of people I tend to play with, and most particularly the group I played with for years, simply didn’t need a lot of rules to:

a. create interesting and unique characters, or
b. have fun playing a game

I’ve not spoken much about the characters (pun intended) I spent most of high school, college, my late twenties, and early thirties gaming with; but to call them imaginative is probably a slight, as they seldom took the obvious path. When they designed characters, you knew they were going to come up with a concept no one ever envisioned. It was particularly evident because the group was never motivated by a need to Min/Max their abilities, meaning you always wound up with an inspired/goofy/twisted/entertaining mix.

At times, you’d wonder if they were even serious — a depraved priest of an angry deity (Greyhawk), a kobold barber (Al-Qadim), or a moody, ostracized mage/thief (Greyhawk) — yet without fail, whatever they cooked up not only worked, but provided an internal push in terms of shaping the campaign. This in turn inspired the way I GM and how I go about evaluating games.

It’s the primary reason I’ve returned to an old school gaming philosophy. I do enjoy other games, but invariably the ones that resonant with me (the Cortex and Savage World lines, for instance) are equally stripped down and easy to use.

As I commented in One long orgy of role-playing, I’ve gotten interested in Castles & Crusades over the last eight months, largely for this very reason. It’s essentially 1e AD&D with a few refinements to create a clean, update to a fantasy classic. So, while I’m going to stay out of the debate over the old school vs new school, I have to admit that even when I’m playing a newer game, I’m still designing like an old school game master.

6 thoughts on “Few rules required

  1. Yay! I think I qualify as the “depraved priest,”!

    Don’t know if that is something to be proud about, but you take what you get…

  2. I remember getting a great deal of entertainment out of that depraved priest. Actually, come to think of it, that priest created a fair number of subplots for the campaign.

  3. Moody? Who are you calling moody. Just because the depraved priest poisoned the town water supply as we were leaving, and failed to inform the party that their mage with a high back stabbing roll was drunk out of his mind while on watch does not give you leave to sum me up as moody.

    And I will never forgive the party for leaving me behind after I was abducted by the thieves guild.

    I simply think the DM and the DP were jealous because I was sleeping with the broad with the 23 comeliness and a the two handed sword from hell.

    Rules who needs rules?


  4. “Broad”? See if you keep sleeping with her, talking like that…

    And by the way Tim, just so your readers don’t labor under the misconception that you were the only relatively sane member of our group, let us not forget your sociopathic space medic.

  5. Oh yeah, I forgot about the well. I have to admit that was a really nice touch. And as for the “sociopathic” medic, I challenge anyone to come up with a better way to calm a character who’s succumbing to trauma than shooting them with a tranq dart. Quick. Simple. Effective.

  6. There is a very dark chuckle in the air. I don’t think my comment will result in more sleep and less sleeping with. No, hardly.


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