Friday, March 04, 2011

three years gone

Previously on March 4th I would re-post a list of thing you can do to keep Gary's name alive.  You can go check it out here if you'd like.  This morning it seems that perhaps yesterday's post was motivated at least as much by maudlin sentimentality as anything else.  However, I'd like to clarify a few points based upon the comments here and elsewhere in the blogosphere:
  • I'm not proposing anybody write, publish, sell or run a game called "Ampersand", "OSR", "The Joyous Game" or anything else.  If you're already happy with the rules you're using, please stick with 'em.  If not, there are already a multitude of options available.
  • Nor am I proposing we start using any of these terms in casual conversation in the game store or anywhere else.  That would just be arch.
  • What I would like is a handy term that means "OD&D, its direct descendants, clones of those games and new games based upon them mechanically or thematically", which I would gladly call simply "D&D" except that the folks who own the term D&D clear think about the term differently than I do.  I woud like such a handy term so that when I'm on the internet everybody will know what the crap I am talking about without having to do a little dance every time and probably annoying fans of WotC editions in the process.
I'm not paying the Joesky tax on this post because on this day of the year you should be making up your damn stuff rather than using anybody else's.  In fact, I'm going to assign homework to everyone reading this instead: Start with a core set of rules, the older and crappier the better.  You can use an RPG but some half-baked wargame works even better.  Produce a two or three page document with suggestions for improving the rules/adapting them for RPG play and an outline for a campaign.  Expand this to a 50-100 page book.  Use the latter document as the basis for all your campaigns for the next decade or three.  Run one to six  games a week, refining your work as necessary.  Publishing any of it is entirely optional.


  1. Geez - I've been thinking about a good name for what you describe, but while the taxonomy is easy, the naming is not.

    You could lump OD&D, Basic, and Advanced 1e together and call it Classic, as the designation fits, but all the other stuff, well, it seems to need another name.

    I keep on going back to software development analogies. A change in code away from the standard is called a fork.

    So, we have:

    1) Classical D&D
    2) Party-Line D&D
    3) Forked D&D: The Other Tine

    Hmm. Okay, that doesn't really work either.

    Forked RPGs.

    TSR Forks.

    Forked Geneva.

    There we have it. Forked Geneva.



    - Ark

  2. I'm beginning to like the alternate OSR meanings "Old School Rules" or "Old School Roleplaying."

    Also, that homework is a tall order.

  3. That homework is killer! I'm looking around my room thinking of what crappy wargame I might adapt. I'll get back to you in 30 years.

  4. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Someone is going to approach Jeff Reints at a convention in 30 years with a wild, haggard look and six binders of handwritten notes.

  5. @Ark:

    Forked Geneva sounds like an entree you might eat somewhere exceedlingly pretentious.

  6. Just call what you play D&D. Let the other folks call their game "4th edition" (which is what they tend to do anyway, in my experience). Hasbro is irrelevant in this discussion.

    Your generation of gamers is much larger than the 4e community. B/X and AD&D sold way more copies than 4e ever will, by a long shot. Your experience and awesomeness has earned you the right to define what the hobby is!

  7. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I'd just use "old school gaming" unless you are talking only about actual D&D rules. We play Moldvay every weekend, and I can't imagine calling it anything but simply "D&D." Then again, I am not trying to represent it to the world or talk about it in mixed company.

  8. We can always just call it "Real D&D..." :-J

  9. Sorry about the Ampersand thing. I just think it illustrates something that needs to be thought about.

    People don't think that WotC is paying any attention to us and that is far from the truth. From releasing the Red Box to the recent cease and desist dropped on Crystal Keep to the slow deletion of older material at the Wizards site to the cancellation of the pdf program (effectively disassociating themselves from the older editions), they are definitely paying attention.

    And now they are losing out to a D&D clone in sales.

    They are about to take off the gloves. We've got folks claiming now that THEY are D&D. Well, one email to Blogger and they will close you down in about 15 seconds. I have seen this happening around the web with trade marked items a lot lately.

    And soon I will be playing a system I have worked on for over a decade and I will play or mention D&D no more forever, although in my heart I will know that the spirit will live on. I believe the many ways of using OSR are great...rules, roleplaying or rocks it's all good to me.:)

    D&D is dead...long live Forsaken Souls...and you are all invited to play :)

    (See, there's this hole in the ground and a big lizard breathing fire...and I'm going to need some help!) :)

  10. "Start with a core set of rules, the older and crappier the better. You can use an RPG but some half-baked wargame works even better."

    Good idea. I think that I'll start with WRG6 Ancients/Medieval. It has a fantasy supplement and rules for champions fighting, which is more or less just as much as Chainmail started with (though the WRG magic system in the fantasy supplement is less useful than Chainmail's was for RPG purposes).

  11. The old wargame I'm going to use is SPI's "Freedom in the Galaxy". It's a direct rip-off of Star Wars, of cours, but I haven't really liked any of the Star Wars games I've encountered.

    Oh, and as for D&D, I just (sort of) pronounce the ampersand and call mine Dandy. Because the original rules are just dandy by me.

  12. although i have been using
    'classic role playing games'
    for over a year on my blog
    the term


    has a nice ring

  13. Anonymous2:05 AM

    TD&D = TSR style D&D
    WD&D = Wotc style D&D

    How's _that_ for a handy term?

    -It keeps WotC craziness (and anything else they might get up to) well away
    -It's not very different from typing "AD&D" which people are used to anyway

    It does include 2nd edition...and some might not approve but the bottom line is: Second Edition is the same game, it just has inferior books, not totally off the rails like 3rd and 4th. The core system is 95% identical to 1st! This is a clear cut issue (TSR vs Wotc D&D) if you're not a bending over backwards to exclude Second Edition.

  14. Will: Oh! FitG is a great choice. Have you seen "Down with the Empire"?

    I designed a game a few years ago based on Tales of the Arabian Nights. The person who wrote up the game (as the "Bridge System") was pretty heavily influenced by the Forge, so it ended up somewhat different than I had envisioned. I intend to write that game up myself (under my original choice of names, the "Trait System"), with some influences from Magic Realm and a few other games to round some things out.

    But right now I'm pretty excited by the WRG Ancients idea.

  15. Anonymous5:06 AM

    What, you mean I have to cut my Space Adventures version of Swords & Wizardry down from 140+ pages to 50-100? But the playtest draft isn't ready yet!! :p

  16. Start with a core set of rules, the older and crappier the better. You can use an RPG but some half-baked wargame works even better. Produce a two or three page document with suggestions for improving the rules/adapting them for RPG play and an outline for a campaign. Expand this to a 50-100 page book.

    I'm working on a T&T heartbreaker. Does this count?

  17. Aegrod4:35 AM

    A few years ago I munched up Necromunda (Games Workshop's future skirmish game) to get a little more RPG - was aiming for a more collaborative experience than GW usually gives. 50-100 pages though.... Eep!

  18. Thank you for that homework assignment.

    As if I really needed another project...

    Word verification: dedeh

  19. The solution: Stop being controversial!


  20. You aren't going to find a perfect name for The Game, b/c there already is one, and it's D&D. They can co-opt it, they can split in our faces (what else would you call taking the pdfs off the market), but they will never win. They own the trademark, we own the game.

    I feel ya on your reasons why you are looking for such a catch-all term, but you will spend more time explaining what "The Joyous Game" means, than if you just said, "D&D, old school, '74 style, dawg." in the first place.

    My experience, and this was recently bore out when I posted about D&D on a local general interest msg board, everyone that responded knew exactly what I meant, 3d6 (or 4d6 drop the lowest), the Keep, kobolds, and Bags of Holding. I didn't ask, but I'm guessing none of them know about healing surges or tieflings.

  21. I'm all for OSR (Old School Rules/Renaissance/Revival). I've even adopted Chad Thorson's OSR logo for my own game blog. It works for me as a handy, shorthand reference, and quickly encapsulates what's already (as far as I can see) become self-identifying as Old School.

    Like the old "Go Play" symbol, I don't think it necessarily has to be some kind of divider of the roleplaying community or contain an inherent bias against those who play and enjoy the current edition of D&D.

    @WillDouglas: Best of luck with that! My friend recently unearthed his old copy of "Freedom In The Galaxy", and while we pored over it for nostalgic purposes (I always thought it looked awesome when I was a kid coming over to his house), its triple set of rules seemed as mystifying to us now as it did then.

    But then, we've never been wargamers, so perhaps you'll have more insight!

  22. 'Start with a core set of rules, the older and crappier the better. You can use an RPG but some half-baked wargame works even better. Produce a two or three page document with suggestions for improving the rules/adapting them for RPG play and an outline for a campaign. Expand this to a 50-100 page book. Use the latter document as the basis for all your campaigns for the next decade or three. Run one to six games a week, refining your work as necessary. Publishing any of it is entirely optional.':
    Hey! I'm ahead of the game! :-D I did this already, well kinda... I started a homebrew based off Computer/Console RPGs like Wizardry: PGOTMA (note this is based off[A]D&D, but I had no clue at the time about D&D proper) for their rules and Ultima(influenced by Richard Garriot's D&D days) III(NES), and these: Zelda I, Faxanadu, CastleVania 2: Simon's Quest, Final Fantasy(NES I, Famicom 3), Dragon Warrior I, for setting. It's now totally different, and running for going on 26 years this May. I'm glad publishing is optional! ;-) For the first time ever, my homework has been done early!

  23. Velaran: I'm glad publishing is optional! ;-) For the first time ever, my homework has been done early!

    Well, I'd like to see that...