View Full Version : Dungeons and/or Dragons?

2010-06-01, 04:12 AM
There seems to be an obvious divergence of style in the consideration of the Free-range vs. Dungeon Crawl paradigm. Correct me if I'm not PC, but the shift between the two poles has perhaps created a rift in philosophy.

It seems from assorted articles of experts and legends in the feild that the "old guard" of gaming used to be that of hardcore wargaming veterans. But whenever I see criticism of new millenia games from "old timers", it seems to come not from a sense of loyalty to the mechanics, but from nostalgic senses of comraderie and fun. Indeed, criticism is directed at the game getting in the way of gaming rather than any kind of conflict with the mechanical flow of said game. In other words, the focus of these old wargamers is not one of internal balance, but one of rules getting in the way of the game.

On the other hand, the new age generation of gamerati seem to seek a sleek, balanced, agile set of rules that conform to whatever style of play they're in the mood to play.

I, personally, am of two minds concerning this conflict. I am too young to be a member of the old guard ( I began my gaming career in 1999), but I don't exactly fit into the latter group either. This might be a false dichotomy, but I'd rather hear the opinions of the playground than my own doubt.

If you subscribe to this view of things, what has been your experience with this conflict? IF, as the experts say, the older generation has shown an affinity for wargaming over roleplaying (and by consequence has tried to subvert the game into such a preferential subset of play) then how is such a disdain for uniform and customizeable rules so prevalent in their rhetoric? Likewise, if "younger" gamers are so obsessed with neo-larping roleplay, then why is there such a struggle for game balance from that side of the table? Is there more to it than a simple dichotomy?

Edited for clarity.

2010-06-01, 10:15 AM
I think there are too many shades of gray to this to make generalizations.

More to the point, the paradigm shift isn't so much with the gamers, it's with the game systems. Game systems used to be tied to a specific genre or mood. You ran Ghostbusters with the Ghostbusters RPG, Paranoia with the Paranoia RPG, Star Wars with the Star Wars RPG, Men IN Black with... well you get the idea. Nowadays, most of these game concepts are free form, the ultimate expression of which are game systems like QAGS.

The people that played all those things back in the day had to use rigidly defined systems, not because they themselves preferred rigid definition, but because that's what there was. The nostalgia in most cases is not for the rigidity of the rules, but the fun times they had playing.

2010-06-01, 06:15 PM
Well, unfortunately, I am old enough to be considered the "old guard" as I played my first game of D&D back in 1980 and have been an avid gamer ever since. Like Gbprime, I think there is sometimes a tendency to make over generalizations or to classify this group here or that group there, etc.

I also do not think it is so much a difference in the gamers as it is the game. I would actually say that the 1st edition AD&D of my youth is more liberating and free form and lends itself to role-play even more than 3.5 does (I have only played 4e a few times). Sure there were pages of rules in the old DM Guide and there were limitations on what the rules allowed you to do, but the DM job was more of an art form to me back then and I felt like I could do whatever was needed for the game to go smooth and for everyone to have fun. If a rule did not cover something, we just made it up to fit our needs. There was no RAW, it was all what the DM said and what he allowed or did not allow.

I will admit that I was excited when 3rd edition came around in 2000 as I saw a way to quantify all the rules that we had just made as house rules and a system that would reward ingenuity even more so than 1st edition (2nd edition was just a minor road bump in my opinion so I sort of skipped over it). I saw skills that were listed and had ranks and these new feats seemed interesting. There were rules for accurate tactical battles that seemed to me a lot more specific than the old style of play I was used to doing. In short I got caught up in the glitz and glamour.

Now, I sometimes long for the good old days when everything did not have to be so structured and ordered. Where a DM could free hand things and players would not feel slighted because they don't get to use this feat or that build or that is not what the rules say. So while I think 3rd edition is more streamlined and slick, I think that 1st edition allowed for more role playing and individual interpretation. I find my 3.5 games getting too tactical and too much about battle rather than letting character personalities develop. You will remember that in 1st edition, the difference between this ranger and that ranger was just their gear, everything else was almost identical and that was true for every class for the most part. In that situation developing the individual traits and personality through role-play was even more important than today.

So, to say that the "old timers" did not like role-play or that it is some phenomenon discovered in the last ten years is off base. Sometimes all we had was role-play as there were no rules for some situations. Rules lawyers have always been around, but I believe they have profligated more since 3.0 came around. Of course, in the end the game is what you make of it not what the game makes of you.

2010-06-01, 08:44 PM
The original post was a bit misleading. If you saw it you know the reason behind that.

I agree that it is silly to paint people into rigid groups. If the boot doesn't fit, you should certainly pay it no mind. This discussion was meant to be one about philosophy rather than group classification.

Some "mainstream" game designers in the industry have been noted for referencing a revolution in gaming that supposedly took place around the same time WoTC took over for TSR. RPGs changed as new minds entered the industry. These changes supposedly took place on both ends of the discourse. Designers were making changes to games, and consumers were changing tastes. The op classifications are an example given in this theory. What I tried to point out, is that the emphasis of this theory has been misplaced (and the above posts seem to agree with that).