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On Being Old School
Last night I discovered an excellent free PDF entitled A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming. It's a bit lengthier than I expected (13 pages), but easy reading through out, with a fair bit of scripted GM/player interaction examples. It's broken down into three parts, first some general points, then a quick list of player tips, and finally a lengthy section of GM tips.

I think it's completely awesome, and if I could I'd have any player of any old school game I'm running at least read the first two parts. Here's one of my favorite quotes:

The players can describe any action, without needing to look at a character sheet to see if they 'can' do it. The referee, in turn, uses common sense to decide what happens or rolls a die if he thinks there's some random element involved, and then the game moves on.


The subsequent pit trap example of this is OK, but I think the ninja jump example gets it more spot on. This happened at a recent lunch time game, where the party stood atop a huge tor, beset by zombies on the only traversable part. The fighters formed a combat line, and the MU held back to throw daggers. After running out of daggers the player said 'I look around for rocks to throw at the zombies'. Fair enough, I decided being a tor there should be ample throwing-sized rocks, but throwing them is a bit less powerful than using a sling, so they'd only do d2 damage. Everyone was satisfied, and we moved on with the combat. There was no delay of asking 'do you have the throw skill' or arguing over how much damage thrown rocks might do.

However, I think this underlines a very important factor that must be present for old school gaming to succeed: complete trust by the players in their DM. Old school writers love to use the term 'referee' instead of DM, which I think implies his role as an impartial arbiter. However the fact that he's controlling the opponents could easily lead to the perception that in other areas he might consider other motives when making rulings. I think it's important that the GM remain impartial, and that the players be able to trust him enough to do so.

OK, gotta go grab some lunch before our next lunch session starts.
July 8th, 2009 - 11:22 am | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

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