I’m just an old fashioned kind of guy

I don’t think “new” is necessarily the same as “improved”. 

I don’t want “creepy” or “edgy” elves. I want Tolkienesque elves. I don’t want comic relief dwarves or gnomes; I want them to be master craftsmen and effective warriors. And one “sexy shoeless god of war” takes up the entire quota for such things in regards to halflings.

I’m not interested in “shared narrative frameworks”. I’m the GM, you’re the players. You’re in my world now. Deal.

I don’t want to play a half-dragon mage-sworddancer. And you can’t play one in my game, either. If I play a half-elf fighter/mage, that’s as far as my envelope goes, and I’m happy that way.

I don’t need special class abilities, or skills, or feats, or whatever to play the character I want to play. I just need to take one of the core archetypical classes and role-play. I can play a human fighter five different times in a row, and each time he’ll be a unique and fun character to play.

I don’t want a bunch of rules, tables, and graphs to determine the inner emotional turmoil and levels of angst and to chart the emotional journey of my character as he contemplates the existential futility of existence from a neo-Jungian perspective in Emspace. If that’s something I want to explore, I’ll do it the old fashioned way. By role-playing. But don’t count on it.

The only time I want pdfs is when I absolutely cannot get a hard copy for love or money. And then I’m going to print it out and put it in a binder.

I do not want to play any game that requires or even “strongly recommends” I have a laptop or an iPad at the gaming table. I like books. Real books. And dice. Real dice. My Dragonbone is an exception to this rule, but it doesn’t replace my dice, it only supplements them.

I don’t need anything crazier than platonic solid dice. A d30 is pushing it.

I don’t like huge bulky armor in fantasy illustrations that looks like someone walking around in a mobile iron lung. I like illustrations that are more realistic, with historically accurate armor and weapons.

I don’t mind a little cheesecake in fantasy illustrations. Does that make me a sexist pig? I really don’t care. I also use “he” as a gender-neutral pronoun. So there.

I don’t like excessive gore in fantasy illustrations. I don’t need to see someone’s eye being impaled with a dagger (complete with vitreous humor squirting out), or bloated demons giving birth, or children being sacrificed to an evil god.

But that’s just me. You might feel the opposite about some of those things, or all of those things, and that’s just fine. 

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.

16 thoughts on “I’m just an old fashioned kind of guy

  1. As someone just getting back into (table-top) RPGs after 20+ years off — plus discovering the "old school" resurgence and my new status as a "grognard" — I would mostly agree with everything. Accepting that time moves on and things change, I find PDFs a handy way to preview new material and save myself paper/storage space. Also, there's something to be said for replacing 50# of books with an iPad…then again, the DM should be the only one with a book at the table anyway.

    Having seen some of the 3e+ books, and hearing people talk about the intricacies of building a 4e character, I am happy to have things like Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lords, et. al. that restore the sanity back into the game. Soon enough the kids will get tired of paying "tribute to the Wizards" to simply access their characters, and so, rediscover their history.

    The the Torch will be passed to the next generation.

  2. Sort of with you here, +1 Internets anyways.

    No one loves books more than I, but I still find my IPad2 to be an incredibly handy tool for running a game at a crowded game table. I hate that I have in the past had to leave the table to hit my library to look something up. No more with the IPad2 and the PDFs are searchable. Diceonomicon allows me to generate monster hit points without players having any clue as to how many dice I rolled. That creates more uncertainty for players which is a good thing I think.

    As for the questionable OTT artwork, I'm OK with that in some products, but hey, I'm an artist. I like variety in illustrations. I just keep those away from the kids.

  3. This should be carved into stainless steel and placed in a time capsule for future RPG players.

    If there's such a thing as 'core beliefs' in this tiny village of hobbyists, I think you've nailed them.

  4. Hate Tolkieneqsue anything, and I've gotten as far away from that as I can. Love pdfs with a passion (I have a hard copy of everything TSR has ever published, along with a pdf also so I can lovingly read them on my laptop when I'm not at home). And, I love using my laptop for DMing. I'll put my Old School bonafides up against anyone, anytime, and I'll whip your ass 9 times out of 10. But other than that, carry on sir 🙂

  5. I'm with you on most of these, the vast majority of them. I differ on artwork subject matter and maybe on funny dice, and I see more nuance in the concept of "shared narrative frameworks" and gender-neutral pronouns, but the rest is exactly right on.

  6. @Badmike – It seems to me that you entirely missed the point.

    With that said and for what it's worth though, I agree with Joe's feelings on tabletop gaming. There's something solid and personal and enjoyable about flipping through a book. I like a slightly creaking hardcover, the feel of weight and simply having it in my hand. There won't be any revisions, updates, patches, errata, terms of use or anything else. It's a piece of history and it's -mine-, and nothing short of fire, flood or disaster can change that.

  7. @Northy;

    No, you missed my point. I understand Joe perfectly. We like different things and we are both old school. That's what makes it great. No biggie.

  8. I think you are absolutely right… real books & real dice make me happy. As much as I enjoy (and use) tech, my rpg concepts are tied to physical tools, and always will be. Having pdfs is great, an iPad is great, but I don't want to be forced to use them to actually conduct a game.

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