RPGs (general)

Devoid of old school

I’ve been a member of a local meet-up group for the last six or seven months. For the most part, I’ve taken part in a few conversations and joining the associated Facebook page, but I’ve yet to jump into a game. The biggest reason being a lack of interest in what’s being offered. For example, I’ve yet to see a call for any campaign using a retro-game.

I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t you start your own game then? I likely will.

But at the moment, I’ve got a lot on my plate. Not only do I have a number of huge work projects that are eating into my person life, but I’m also running an on-line C&C game that just recently kicked into gear and is still in its infancy. On top of that, I’m (very slowly) working on developing a Savage Worlds setting that I hope to have polished off come winter.

But back to my point, the reason I bring this up is because I wonder if the same is true in other locales. I don’t exactly live in the sticks. In fact, RVA has three game stores (not counting the Games Workshop store) assuming I’m not forgetting any, nor is it due to a lack of games. I see at least one announcement coming off the list about every week, but it’s predominately 3.x or 4 ed. AD&D.

It kind of makes me wonder if the landscape of gaming, like so many other things, gets distorted in on-line communities. If I had to guess based on the blogging community, I would say the number of old school gamers was split rather equally with those who prefer newer editions/systems.

While I’m not above concluding that this is a statistical anomaly, I thought I’d ask, what’s the landscape in your area? Does it tend towards one school over the other or is it an even mix?

6 thoughts on “Devoid of old school

  1. It’s really hard to say. People who aren’t posting looking for people or posting on blogs/forums are difficult to count. 🙂

  2. I go to a monthly meetup in NYC, all 4e with occasional pathfinder/3.5 mixed in. Usually around 40-50 people.

  3. I run my own Labyrinth Lord game here in NE Kansas with a group of friends who were not previously gamers (to my benefit, I admit, as to the non-gamer, “editions” mean squat). There is one meetup group here that plays 1e, but the tables surrounding the 1e table are all 4e.

  4. Honestly, until I started following the RPG bloggers the idea of playing first or 2nd edition D&D for fun was absurd, and something you would only do to see how your grandparents gamed back in the day. Amongst those that have them in my circles those books are treasured collectors items that get put in glass cases, not smeared with doritos and coke at a game table.

    Not that we didn’t pay hommage to what we considered “old school” but what we considered was not even what is remotely considered old school by the RPG Bloggers here… we considered Role Master by Iron Crown Enterprises, or Old GURPS old school. Amongst my peers D&D was a considered a “gateway game” like pot was considered (erroneously) a “gateway drug” in that it was the game 12 year-olds played for a few years until they got tired of it and graduated to a real game. (I know I sound condescending and for that I apologize but that honestly was the gaming environment I grew up in.)

    Honestly, until I started following this network I really believed that Level Based advancement systems would be phased out and that D&D 4e would likely not include them in favor of the obviously superior tried-and-true point based xp systems just about every game other than D&D uses. That sounds absurd here, but outside this community I’ve never found anyone who actually likes Level systems in RPG’s, in fact most of the gamers I know will not even consider purchasing a game that uses them.

    Joining this network has been an eye opener to me as a gamer, because I come from a community that leaves D&D to teenagers where we believe it rightfully belongs, and to come here where 50% of the community covers nothing but D&D and everyone else knows that to ignore it will seriously impact your traffic stats actually shocked me.

    I’ve since come to terms with the fact that this network is a micro community that’s more D&D’centric and focused on Old School than the gaming community as a whole, but I do ponder why this is the case. I think it has something to-do with the fact that WoTC has the Open Game License but otherwise keeps it’s fan-base at more of an arms length. While companies like White Wolf don’t have OGL for writing junkies (that are by extension bloggers) to work with, and they keep their communities mostly self contained.

    That’s one speculation anyways.

  5. You are correct in your assumption, the old school “renaissance” is mostly an online affair.

    There aren’t hordes of grogs hounding the gaming stores for retro-clones.

    It’s all 3E/OGL and 4E, except deep beneath the keep, where the tormented moans of old gamers can be heard on clear nights.

    Of the 6 groups I am involved in, one if PFRPG, and all the rest are 4E or non-D&D. I don’t profess to speak for my whole area, but even the meetups, RPGbomb, RPGgame finder, and other online solutions are very quiet on the old school front.

  6. …deep beneath the keep, where the tormented moans of old gamers can be heard on clear nights.


    Cheap plagiarism, I know but it gets the point across and neatly illustrates my level of humour. A friend of mine went to great lengths ironing out AD&D 1st edition because he, like me staring down the barrel of 40 years, could never get past the feeling that later editions had, for want of a better term ‘dumbed down’. OK this first edition had more holes than your average teabag, but it was our teabag full of charm and interest and different colours that had developed over time. So off he went to Gygax (RIP) himself and came up with OSRIC. This is the camp were I proudly plant my flag.

    I’m currently playing: http://playbycomment.wordpress.com/

    Its basic D&D (the only one I could find that wasn’t 3.5 or 4E at the time), but to be honest its all about the characterization and the last thing you need is the game system interfering, and OD&D is really no more than a vehicle.

    Online roleplaying is slow, but once you get past that the great thing for me is the idea that you can inform everyone of the thinking behind your actions. Whereas group gaming involves more beer and travel. Its rather like the difference between watching a film and reading a book; one is an ‘all action’ experience, and the other fleshes things out with meaning and subtle atmosphere. With that in mind I can’t help thinking that ‘Cthulu would make a great online game in the right hands?

    Still the main reason that a stumbled across this blog was my search for an Old School Traveller online game. But so far this has been a fasinating read. Thank you.

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