Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Old school you say?

This is nostalgia.

Trying to capture something lost.

Old school.
When remembering how it was playing rpgs in the early 80s I recall the fun and the feeling of endless possibilities. The anticipation you had when you entered a room with a magic sword hanging on the wall. Yeah. The only problem was that the sword was guarded by two lions and a reptile man.

No, our adventures back then did not make any sense. But we had fun.

If I flip through the rule books of the early games what strikes me is how sparse they where compared to today's game books. And I do not use sparse in a derogatory manner here. The rules and background material was a scaffolding that we could use to build our imaginary stories with.

Today many games have hundreds upon hundreds of pages of rules. This paralyzes me (save versus will or be frozen in place). This may be a fault of mine, but I think that many other gamemasters and players feel the same.

The RQ2 rules is just over 100 pages. If we compare it with the text density of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, published 2001, it would be like 50 pages. The Forgotten Realm book is 320 pages, more than six times as long as a complete game with background materials from the early 80s.

And do I really as a gamemaster need to know that Featherdale in the Realms have 14 020 inhabitants and that 82% of them are humans. This is too much detail. This can be fun to read for the really nerdy, maybe, but it would not in any way contribute to a gaming session.

For me old school gaming is about simple fast rules that still gives a feeling of a reality (how fantastic it may be) and a background that gives room for the imagination of the gamemaster and players while it nevertheless inspires to stories.

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