Maybe those old games really weren’t that bad…?

A regular on, Longcoat000, posted a comment that triggered a flood of memories and nostalgia. In a long and tangential discussion (my favorite kind, and one of the best aspects of, I half-jokingly mentioned how nearly all gamers go through a phase of overcomplicating their games by tacking on all kinds of additional rules, which is usually followed by a phase of falling in love with indie games, and then analyzing the fun right out of the mechanics.

To which Longcoat replied, “And after that, you come full circle back to “old skool” gaming and realize that all of those old systems were actually pretty fun and robust, but you didn’t have the experience to truly appreciate them until now…”

And my jaw dropped. We poke a lot of fun at the earlier RPGs, but honestly, AD&D 1E wasn’t that bad. How could it have been, if we played it for hours on end? Neither was Traveller, so long as you didn’t die during character generation. I joke about “getting shot in the Dexterity”, but if you’ve ever pulled a muscle in your back or had a cut on the web of your thumb, you know exactly what that means.

Okay, there were admittedly some shortcomings in the game. Races and classes were extremely unbalanced at different times during their careers, and there were exploits and ‘broken’ rules a-plenty, but can you name a game which doesn’t suffer from some imbalance or potential exploit? Are RPGs really improving with each generation? Or are our tastes changing (as we mature, and new generations enter the picture), and the games are merely changing to reflect them?

Just to show that I’m not the only Grognard pining away for Ye Olde Schoole, it appears that there is a bit of a revival. Both OSRIC and Castles & Crusades attempt to recreate the feel of early gaming. “A Quick Primer For Old School Gaming,” a free PDF by Matthew Finch has been making the rounds and stirring up quite a buzz.

As an old school gamer, who rolled his first 20-sided die back in 1979 or so, and remembers the Basic Rules set to have a blue cover, I’m getting a little verklempt.

Talk amongst yourselves; here’s a topic: “Old School is neither old, nor a school. Discuss.”