Monday, October 13, 2014

Coming Back to Old-School Gaming

I'm traditionally a very Story Games kind of guy. I love getting deep into plot and character motivation, and Band of Bastards is very much in that vibe. Hardcore cinematic, character-driven narratives, "role playing can be an art" kind of thing. I'm really proud of the way that's going, but sometimes I find that I just want something simple. As much fun as it is to push Story Now and create a really intense and dramatic story around a table, sometimes you just want to let off some steam and roll dice.

I don't mean that in a derogatory fashion, mind you. I'm not talking about the "Roll play" vs "role play" debate, but from the perspective of an adult playing with other adults, the time/effort cost/reward ratio speaks wonders for the simplicity of rolling up some dudes to go on adventures and plunder ruins.

I actually had this point hammered home not long ago, when a buddy and I wound up joining a Pathfinder group on a whim. Neither of us had actually gotten to play a game in a year or more, so it sounded like fun. Well. It was... until we got a hold of the player's guide, and then the advanced player's guide. One Thousand pages between the two. One thousand. Now, one could argue that it's all optional material, and that if you're familiar with 3.x/PF you can make a character fairly quickly. From the perspective of someone who has only the most passing familiarity with the system, it was daunting. Just handing someone those two massive tomes is asking for someone to turn tail and run.

We muscled through it though, and it only took us 3 hours to make our first characters. Most of this time was spent looking at possible feats, what those feats did, what the mechanics they referenced meant, what feats we need to ultimately get the feats we want, and then what statistics we need to meet the prerequisites for the feats that we needed to get the feats that we actually wanted. Perhaps I was reading too much into it, but the overwhelming sensation was that one needed to, at first level, have a pretty decent idea of where they wanted to be 10 or 20 levels later in order to make early decisions that will feel "competent."

After we finished, I pulled my friend aside and did a quick google for an AD&D character generator. I found this one at Dragons Foot. In the space of about five minutes, we'd made a pair of characters and got them equipped and ready to roll. At this point, he turns to me and responds "..Why aren't we just doing this?"

Why indeed.

We played all of one session with that Pathfinder group before interpersonal drama made it more trouble than it was worth, however the itch to play remained. Since then, I've been digging back through my old AD&D books, looking through retroclones, plotting and salivating. I've actually begun hosting a campaign, as of last saturday, but that's an entry in and of itself.

The older I get, the more of a high bias I have towards simplicity and flexibility. There is something in the older style of gaming that has a purity to it, utterly lacking pretense. It's a thing I look forward to exploring in the next coming days as I get my thoughts in order on the subject.

Meanwhile, we have finally got to playing again and I'm having a blast. We're currently meeting on Saturday evenings, and I will hopefully have some play reports to go along with my other nonsense.

Until then,

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