"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Old School Today or Today Old School

There are a number of blog posts going around about catalysts for the Old School Renaissance and Neoclassical Gaming. I mentioned here long ago that I started with B/X in 1982 as a 10 year old. My favorite rpg is still B/X. Is the B/X I play today the same as the B/X I played when I was 10? No - not even close. The mechanics are the same but the game is very different. The first module I ran was Keep on the Borderlands. if I were to run it today (and I would love, love, love to run it) it would be a very different adventure than all those years ago.

Why is B/X different for me today than in yesteryears?

1. I have a far better understanding of the underpinning principles of B/X. Robert Fisher on his old website said, "When you read a rule & it seems weird, unfair, or broken; ask yourself: “How can I interpret this rule in way that it doesn’t seem weird, unfair, or broken” Remember: The people who wrote, developed, & playtested this rule didn’t find it weird, unfair, or broken."

2. I have a better understanding of wargames.

3. I can think faster on my feet. This had dramatically changed how I play B/X. I focus much more on coming up with 3 or 4 aspects and or components of a scenario and figuring out on the fly how to combine them.

4. Exposure to modern games and design theory. Honestly being exposed to narrative style games has improved my DMing and I think it has helped with #3 as well.

I am an unabashed supporter of B/X specifically and old-school rpgs in general but I think that one thing the Old School Renaissance is risking is myopically looking only at the past and not trying to incorporate modern lessons.


  1. I think if the "retorclones" have taught us one lesson its that the pre-2E editions have incredidably strong legs to stand on. No nostalgia required. Something like Swords & Wizardry, that optionally includes modern conventions like ascending AC and Base to hit bonuses, is a good example of how easy it is to incorporate new ideas and still hold true to the "less is more" ethic of old-school gaming. :)

  2. "Apoplogies" for the poor spelling above...its been a bloody long week...;)

    Great blog, btw!