That Old School State of Mind

Well, I opened my mouth and the gang answered. So looks like it’s time head back into the DM chair. Sure I’m an old-school guy and that’s what I prefer but about half the players are brand new and their only exposure is to 5 E. So I figured I break them in gently and run 5 E. I know. Like many others, I’m still a bit miffed about a bunch of the crap that WOTC has pulled but I’ve already got the core books so what the heck.

When 5E came out there was a rush to make it more old school. I even was thinking that way. Thinking more and more about it. There’s more than just game mechanics when it that old school style of play. There’s rulings not rules. Flying by the seat of your pants and making up thing as you go along.

Many of us old timers complain about the reliance on skills. It’s OK to hit those skill uses with the rulings not rules. In general, I go towards the “Tell me what you’re doing and then I’ll tell what to roll”. If the description is good enough then there might not even be a need for a roll. And how difficult is that check? Well, it depends. Just think about: “I search the room for traps.” “I search the desk for traps.” “I search the desk drawer for traps.” And “I search the strange box that we found in the desk drawer for traps.” So make it up.

The other complaint is about the social skills. That really falls into the “Tell me first” category. Do something cool enough and there might not even need to a roll. Then there’s also the complaint that there’s no need for them. Well, I do like them but I don’t few them as “hard” skills. It’s not just roll. It’s always a description. If there needs to be a roll then I view it as a measure of those things that the player may not be able to articulate like subtle intonations, body language, and timing.

But what about healing? It’s so fast in 5E. OK. Just google it. There’s plenty of options out there. Personally, this I’m leaning for the idea of characters gaining a level of exhaustion every time they do to 0 HP. Characters end up with penalties without screwing around with a lot of underlying mechanics.

All those crazy class abilities and feats and stuff? What about that? Well, that’s a tough one. In the hey day of 2nd Edition, there were all those crazy Kits. So I’m kind of bring up those memories and how to deal with it. It’s either learn all of it. Be like most players and just know the rough abilities of each character. Or just make it up as you go along. Yeah. I’m saying that one a lot.

And sure there’s thing about “balanced” encounters and long and usually tragic back stories. Get all that crap out of the way at beginning even before you start.

Yes, I know things are different when you run at a con, FLGS, or some other public venue. However, private games. Just talk and explain to the players. Some may like it. Some won’t. Some might whine or stamp their feet and walk out. It’s always been opinion that it’s not the public and organized play that really makes the “game”. It’s all those private games that you never hear about.

No matter the edition. Remember. Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Taker their stuff. And have fun.

One thought on “That Old School State of Mind”

  1. I envision a version of the game where you get no XP for killing monsters and taking their stuff. XP would be given out solely for roleplaying and the innovative use of their skills to solve problems. Of course, now and then they would run across some baddies that must be defeated or their home town must be defended from attacks by monsters, quests may take them to places where monsters must be killed, but the characters as a rule would not intentionally risk their lives to hunt down monsters to kill them and take their stuff.

    Moe, Editor of FG&G, thinking of a game that hasn’t been written yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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