Do You Currently Play an “Old School” RPG?

In the upper-right corner of the blog, you’ll see a new poll. The question is simple:

Do you currently play an “Old School” RPG?

I don’t want to get into pained discussions about what does or does not constitute an “old school” RPG. For purposes of this completely unscientific poll, if you think it is one, it is.

I’m trying to get a feel for the accuracy of the intermittent criticisms of members of the OSR that many of us simply talk about games without actually playing them. How many of us are really “armchair paladins”? I like to think my own “current-gamer cred” is established, but I’d like to hear what you’re playing, how often you’re playing, and anything else you think might be relevant. Please feel free to expand extensively here on what you voted and why. Bonus points if you’re also playing wargames!

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

45 thoughts on “Do You Currently Play an “Old School” RPG?

  1. Currently running a Chill campaign (Mayfair version which counts as old school to me)that we've played on and off, between other games, for over ten years now.
    Also running a Mongoose Runequest 2 game, which also counts as old school to me. In fact it is my favorite version of the game to date.
    We play every week but switch off between the two games, with a slightly different group of people.
    The Chill games run every other Sunday. The Runequest game runs every other Friday.

  2. Yes I play Old School. I play Lab Lord with the AEC twice a month, typically. It's face-to-face in the sense that I host 3-4 folks at my place and the DM and another player video conference in on Skype. Maybe some folks consider that online?

  3. Nope.

    I GM, off and on recently due to an erratic work schedule on weekends, DC Adventures/M&M 3E and my homebrew D&D-that-isn't. Periodically getting in Faery's Tale Deluxe, InSpectres and other crazy, indie, oddball RPGs.

    So the nope was actually aimed at the "Old School" part of the question. ^ ^ ;

  4. I play my old homebrew rules which I created basically in 1978 when I started GMing. They are based loosely on OD&D, with certain modifications that made my life as GM easier (such as a modular conflict resolution system based on one table that compares difficulty vs skill level – simple but effective). I've been playing this system since then, and have been playing (up until recently) twice a month. I'm currently playtesting the latest revision (and simplification) of my system. Definitely Old School.

  5. I had to vote "other." I occasionally play solo, using Labyrinth Lord rules + random dungeon generation tables + Mythic. Which I'd say is not *really* playing in a true sense (lacking vital social interaction, for example), but which I'd also say is not really "just reading or talking about it," since I do spend leisure hours actually doing something with the game.

  6. GM: AD&D campaign tabletop (into our 3rd year)
    GM: AD&D campaign online (same world as above, other side of continent, into our 2nd year)
    GM: OD&D campaign (solo game w/my wife, also into 3rd year)
    Play: Gangbusters online (2 months old)
    Play: Sporadically at conventions
    Play: Wargames! Chainmail and DBA/HOTT.

  7. Yes, Castle Keeping a Castles & Crusades game. It has been on hiatus since the fall and Rogue Trader took front and center where I was the Game Master. But this past weekend, the opportunity presented itself for C&C and we had a blast, so RT is on hold and C&C is back!

  8. We're so far running a 3:1 ratio of GMs to players.

    I wonder if that's a statement on who tends to frequent the RPG blogosphere (at least on Tuesday nights). Are the people who GM perhaps more dedicated to the hobby, and thus more likely to go to RPG websites?

  9. I played my first old school session in over a year with ze bulette (Swords & Wizardry White Box). While that continues, I hope to be participate in The Drune's Humanspace play-by-post game as well.

    Alas, not much old school gaming in person. Strictly more recent games on that front.

  10. I GM Dragonquest which has had a lot of material added to it over the years. The game is Old School in origin and framework, but I have added a lot of D20 stuff to it. So it's a hybrid?

  11. Until last month I had been a player in a weekly (then monthly) Castles & Crusades game via Fantasy Grounds. The DM is currently taking an extended break.

    I am, however, a DM at heart and I'm toying with the idea of running some Tunnels & Trolls.

    I think both games count as Old School 😉

  12. I DM an in-person Labyrinth Lord (no AEC) game about every 3 weeks. I play in two monthly Labyrinth Lord Campaigns (both with limited AEC usage). I just wrapped up playing in a Call of Cthulhu campaign a few weeks ago with the hopes another will start up soon.

  13. I don't currently play in any games at all, since I left my last gaming group about 8 months ago. I'm working on putting an "old school" game together, though (using S&W Whitebox with modifications, or else with the WRG Ancients-based game I've been working on), and I keep meaning to play a solitaire version of GURPS (a fantasy game using alchemy and the path/book magic system instead of any traditional magic system) using Mythic Game Master Emulator.

  14. @Mr. Joseph: "We're so far running a 3:1 ratio of GMs to players.

    I wonder if that's a statement on who tends to frequent the RPG blogosphere."

    My sense is yes, that's probably the case. I get to contribute to Carter's Lands of Ara blog whenever I want, which is bad-ass. But simply ask the question "How many bloggers consider themselves DMs primarily?" or however you have to parse it, and I think you'll find the OSR bloggers are mostly DMs right now. And they're talking about DMish things all the time. Does that mean there should be player blogs … ? Do we know what they would look like and do we want to read them? Hmm ….

  15. I do do a lot of theorizing that never sees its way into actual play, but the play's the thing. I've gone for quite long periods in the past without playing, but I get twitchy if a hiatus goes on too long… more than a couple of months and I start seeing the baby crawling along the ceiling.

  16. Been running a weekly Spellcraft & Swordplay campaign with seven players for two years now. No shortage of old school action in this group!

    We use iTabletop to run the game, which is as close to FTF as you get without actually being in the same room,

  17. Playing (non-OS games) and GMing (LL).

    Although we have just re-scheduled tonight's game in favour of going to a real ale festival.

    We are teh easily distractable part-timers. 🙁

  18. At the risk of sticking my nose over the parapet, we're playing Fourth Edition D&D in an old school way. Things happen on the fly, there's no battlemat silliness involved and rules get made up and tossed out as we need them. It feels like Classic D&D, but with more options and a consistent rules set. Blasphemy, I know. but there you go.

    It still won't knock the Classic D&D Rules Cyclopedia as being the best version of D&D, ever (imho), but it's what we're playing, and it feels old school how we're playing it, and that's good enough for me.

  19. I GM a Savage Worlds game (Face-to-face), if that counts. I am also a player in a D6 game (MiniSix) which I hope wil become a regular thing. The forum based game I play in uses the 3.5 rules.

  20. We play 3.5 at least twice a month. Oh yes, 3.5 is old school now! Plus I think we count as old school because we are all chronologically "old" and we have been playing D&D with the same group since we first bought our copy of the Moldvay Basic set. In fact, we had a Holmes Basic set but we didn't play it much because it had chits instead of dice!

    Old school is in the heart, not in the rules (except for 4E players).

  21. I'm not up on the terminology, but if AD&D is old school, then yeah, we play it. My boys actually, and they got me, and even my wife, involved. It all came from their interest in miniatures via the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter phenoms of earlier last decade. We started with D&D 3.5, but that reminded me of the scene in the remake of The Fly, when Geena Davis spits out the steak and says it tastes wrong. I found myself turning more and more to old D&D books I dusted off from the days of yore, mostly for atmosphere and flavor. Finally, I decided let's take the plunge. The boys seem to enjoy it more since then. FWIW, if Flames of War counts as wargaming, then yeah, we wargame, too. Also moving to Napoleonic.

  22. On "We Need A Filler Game" night, I currently am running TORG, participating in a AD&D (1E) game, and look at Dreampark, Champions New Millennium, and Deadlands (1st Edition) longingly.

    Also, I am running 3E Oriental Adventures as the standard game currently, which probably qualifies as Old School, but I'm not sure I would claim it as such.

  23. I currently using LL with the after-school club I run. I've used it on several occasions in the past couple years (we rotate through a variety of RPGs including Fiasco, Mouse Guard, and the Dresden Files), and am planning on using LL next school year to run At least the first couple installments of Paizo's "Rise of the Runelords" AP.

  24. I suppose I am an armchair paladin, but it's mainly because of my group. I have been DMing for the same players since the 80's. We have played every edition as they have come out (and I still have all of my ODD and AD&D books and Dragon magazines). Last year, I tried to beat my players into submission with a return to AD&D which lasted all of four or five sessions. I had a blast, but sadly the players just weren't into it. Oh, they would play what ever I want to run, but part of the goal is making sure everyone is having fun and I value the weekly sessions more than my love of the old rules.

    I run things as old school as I can. The monsters are 1/4 published hp and XP value, and I give XP for treasure at the old rate. We do play with a battlemat or Dwarven Forge kits, but we have always done that, even in the 80's. My background was as a wargamer and miniatures were always an integral part of the hobby for me. I limit the classes and races normally to the ones we used in AD&D with some exceptions (but again, I made exceptions in the old days as well).

    My main beef with 4E are the PC's – too many abilities, especially at higher levels. However, my players like 'em and despite the crazy ability to soak damage, I had a TPK last winter which was very old school…

    Anyway, I still have hope to bring them back… I got them all to play Napoleonics a few weeks ago so there's still hope.

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