Friday, February 27, 2009

Where has all the real D&D gone? Beware! *Rant*


Sigh. I'm getting nostalgic.

I miss Gary Gygax.

I miss the old modules: Tomb of Horrors, Keep on the Borderlands, Expedition To Barrier Peaks, and all those oldies but goodies.

I miss the black and white artwork, all the tables, and 3d6 for abilities.

I miss casting percentile dice and actually using a d12!

I miss feeling like the characters were real enough people in a real enough world that I could step into their shoes. Now I game in some sort of mutant-supers-fantasy-video-game-world wherein, not only am I not even sure I would even want to live there, but I would be squashed like a bug by the village drunk if I even visited.

I miss the special thrill I got when I used to pick up a new book or supplement. I recall sitting mesmerized by the Monster Manual after I got my first copy for Christmas when I was 12. Now I see a plastic-looking, slick-covered WoTC book and I just want to vomit.

I don’t know about you guys, but I never thought D&D was missing anything. What's with all this new crap anyway? I'm so sick of prepackaged, freeze dried, pre-processed, preservative laden gaming that I'm ready to puke. You poke games these days and they are so fluffy and cottony that they squish in like mush, slowly melt into a pile of quivering goo and dribble off the table and down into a puddle of useless muck around your boots--yuck.

Advanced D&D was solid, firm, robust and able to withstand about anything players could throw at it. It could not only handle a firm poke, you could swing a two handed sword at it and it came back spit polishing its armor and smiling. It lasted for 3 decades with very little revision. Now we've had 3 editions in 8 years from WoTC. I think they are making me puke 'cause they'll think I'll start hurling money instead of last night's dinner.

What's the deal? Am I just getting old? Are we condemned as we gray to glorify the halcyon periods of our youth when all seemed dreams and golden?

I suppose this is in part due to the fact that the RPG club is back up and going. I'm playing a Wizard in the "new" 4e Forgotten Realms campaign--though why they even call it that is beyond me. I was gonna play a Halfling thief, but old habits and all that. And I'm DMing the sequel to Shadowfell Keep: Thunderspire Labyrinth--4e all the way. Don’t get me wrong the storyline isn’t too bad, but the game sucks.

Like I said I am playing a wizard. I was so ready to die or run for my life for most of my first 3 or 4 levels. But no, I'm like a walking artillery battalion. It was too easy. It was in fact not much fun at all.

So, you say, if realism is what you're after try GURPS. I've tried GURPS, but can't get any takers and I still keep coming back to what I love, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe I'll just say to all these 4e groupies--"You know what, I'm DMing AD&D, and if you don’t like it go puke on the glossy books."

Nostalgic and screaming about it,



Randal Glyph said...

Never tried any version of D&D except AD&D. Left active playing before 2e and wasn't aware of any of the changes at TSR, or the rise of WotC.

In recent years I finally decided I had to get the hungry ghost of making my own game system off my back, and just design the damn thing. So, slowly, the mechanics get worked out into something rules lite and still with enough options to be manageably fun.

Looking at the OSR blogs, there were enough people recommending B/X, that it looked worth a read. There's some good ideas in there, if you don't limit yourself to just B/X.

AD&D was always too rules intensive and arbitrary for my tastes, but everyone house ruled it the way they thought best, which was the way Gygax promised he would always expect referees to do, and he'd never deviate from that attitude. That promise wasn't kept for too long.

What AD&D did have going for it, that it was mostly fast to play at the table and if you chose to, you could rule things as seemed appropriate. If someone's PC died, a new one could be created and ready for the table quickly. Not in 2 hours, with a requirement that the player had to spend 2 hours waiting for the 'story' to have an opening for their PC to enter into play.

Randal Glyph said...

Reading about the newer so-called versions of "D&D", I'm amazed they ever got adults and kids to buy into this money-intensive extraction scheme of massive rules overload. HOW did they get people to accept this as a viable way to play games for fun?

From what I've heard, when people aren't too fixated on the version they were first introduced to, and given the chance to try a rules lighter game with enough choices in play, most people find lighter games to be more engrossing-immersive. I know I sure find them that way. Even Runequest 2nd edition back in 1978 seemed to be too fiddly to me. I liked much of it's elegant mechanics... on paper. But there were just too many things to keep track of and roll for.

In some of your later postings, you recommend Hackmaster highly. It looks to be a bit crunchy, but there also seem to be some very neat ideas on handling combat. The combat rose looks very elegant. How do you like Hackmaster compared to by-the-book AD&D, or to your own old stream-lined version of AD&D? Was your old version of AD&D just so Monty Haul that you can't play it for that reason, or that all the old buddies aren't there, and your adult perspective has changed the experience forever?

Since you've tried a few martial arts forms, how realistic is a 30 second Hackmaster collapse in pain and then get up, again kind of mechanic? Everything I've read about recorded duels, people seem to have enough adrenaline going that they may be mortally wounded and still fight on long enough to mortally wound the opponent, with one or both combatants dying hours to days later. Collapsing in pain doesn't sound right, and getting up from it to fight 30 seconds later, sounds even more wrong. Anything else in Hackmaster that stands out as realistic, or particularly unrealistic? How often are you replacing shields in the wilderness I have to wonder.

Randal Glyph said...

The postings of the group you've been in has lots of run ins with blue jellies (?) and gelatinous cubes. How lethal do you make your games for players? Tournament Module Style AD&D as I remember it would not have had survivors from being engulfed by those creatures, without a restoration or a wish spell. Gygax apparently had lots of wish rings in his milieu to allow character deaths to be temporary-ish. At least for more favored PCs, I'm guessing.

Not sure how everyone else handled AD&D, but I found the rules as written to be too lethal, and everyone I knew that wasn't a Killer DM, probably on some unconscious level, soft peddled the encounters, because they didn't think they were survivable for any length of time, without doing so. That even if you exercised perfect player skill and caution, that it was just dumb-stupid luck if your character survived to 2nd or 3rd level. I found that ridiculously tedious. Danger and death, yeah, you need to wager your pc's life if you want to immerse yourself. Modern games have lost that, and its a bad change. But, there should be manageable levels of risk to reward, I think. Any thoughts? I'm always interested in how referees balance out risk to reward, and if they give any kinds of plausible warnings to risks of ambush or potent adversaries down the hall or around the path's curve in the bog.


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