Sunday, April 10, 2011

Toolboxing Dungeons And Dragons

For some time now, I've been attempting to put my finger on why I find the Old School Community so compelling.

Yes, with over 375 active old-school bloggers (at least that's how many blogs I'm currently following) producing consistently thought-provoking and useful content, we are in the midst of an, at times, frustrating embarrassment of riches. But its not just that incredible wealth of output that makes the OSC so compelling. Its the capacity of those of us participating in this community to see value in every product produced by one of our fellow bloggers.

One of the criticisms leveled against the OSC is that we are endlessly rehashing versions of ye aulde game. Too many retro-clones, not enough original content, the critics say. Not true, though there are a plethora of alternate rules systems for us to choose from. There are also supplements, maps, adventures, megadungeons, artwork, random-table encyclopedias, and world settings, to name just a fraction of the content being produced in our tiny corner of the interwebs.

But what critics of the old-school community fail to understand is that it is the OSC, not AEC, that has created the Ultimate Toolbox.

Every post, every table, every game-session report, every free download, every one-page dungeon, every print product, from 375 incredibly creative people (and growing), becomes another tool in our toolbox; another arrow in our quiver.

For we old-school gamers don't need canon to be our guide. Despite protestations to the contrary, it is not the old-schoolers that are one-true-wayers. We march to the beats of our own drums.

What we are looking for are tools to keep our games moving. Why? Because old-school gamers are craftspeople and artisans, not bureaucrats. The bureaucrats write their rulebooks telling us how things should be done, but as craftspeople we know that every job is unique, one size does not fit all, you can't use the same tool for every job. Not every situation can be resolved by a d20 roll. And not every question needs to be addressed in the rulebook.

Old-schoolers don't need a policy-manual, nor a tax code sitting next to us during our gaming sessions; just our Judges Guild Ready Ref Sheets, the Miscellaneum of Cinder, a few random tables from one of several excellent old-school rule sets and supplements, and the imagination of a half-dozen friends.

The original D&D rules, and those restated in a multitude of retro-clones and OGL rules implementations, give us the necessary minimum to run our games. What enhances our game play are the unique perspectives, alternate approaches, and speciality tools to be derived from the output of our fellow OS bloggers.

That's why i'm enthusiastic when I hear of another blog, rule set, adventure or setting being produced for old-school gaming. Because my toolbox, and my perspective, is enriched.

16 comments:

Trey said...

Well said.

Johnathan Bingham said...

Wow, yes, very well said and I concur with you whole heartedly.

Sean Robson said...

Hear! Hear!

Stuart said...

I'll buy that for a dollar!

Risus Monkey said...

Do I have an AMEN!

The Happy Whisk said...

Well-written, great post. Good read.

I think we're done with snow but then someone said it's getting cold again on Wednesday. But for today ... we had the windows open.

Still snow by you?

Brutorz Bill said...

Indeed!

ckutalik said...

I've been feeling this week that the recent articulations of what we are all about (that last one on the Mule Abides and this one) have been so much clearer and evocative than some of the previous attempts.

I don't want to be too pretentious about this all, but it does do me some good to think that are our reaction is against the same creeping corporate deadness we find in the rest of our lives. I want to create things myself and have fun doing it, I don't need yet another market to be a passive consumer in.

Matthew W. Schmeer said...

Amen! Preach it, Brother Paladin!

retrorpg said...

I think you have stated the sentiments of many Old Schoolers perfectly!

It is about the craft and enjoying it... and yes there is an abundance of riches, which makes it hard to pick and choose among them, like a Dwarf in the world's largest dragon hoard ;) but that still makes it fun!

I am so thankful for the OSR and the community of people that I have a post about that very thing scheduled for 15 minutes from now. I find it encouraging that you appreciate similar things about it!

Akrasia said...

*applause*

steelcaress said...

Skål!

Reading these many blogs and finding encouragement and little interesting nuggets is one of the highlights of my day.

And if I can give something back, contribute, enrich someone else's day or even their game, then that's a great feeling too.

I suppose this is an appropriate time to raise a toast to you all, readers and bloggers. The OSR is alive and well!

Zombiecowboy said...

Great points. In fact I cant help but feel like Im missing out on a ton of other great material.As you point out there are so many OSR blogs out there!

DRANCE said...

Wow...this was a true pleasure to read! It's a manifesto for the OSR! I heard patriotic music in the background ;-) seriously, thanks for this well-written and inspirational post.

Ronin78 said...
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Ronin78 said...
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