Time for a moment of grognard sobriety.
There’s no question that OSR fans can sometimes tend toward a certain kind of fanaticism; and yet it's a very specific kind of fanaticism. It seems that the movement has settled on certain sacred cows that bring out the sense of nostalgia, be they good or bad.
Let me explain what I’m talking about when I mean that its very specific: If you go on an old-school sort of forum, and say that you think 1e’s wrestling rules suck ass, or that the psionics system is crap, you’re not going to get any kind of serious objections, some may even agree with you.
Now, on the other hand, if you think its bad that there are creatures that do level-drain attacks, you’re asking for a fight.
But let’s think about this: is there anyone who actually LIKES level-draining no-save monsters? Really? I think no one really likes these. It's stupid. It's not a clever mechanic, the kind of risk it creates is not an exciting in-game risk (like poison, or attribute drain, etc), but rather something that steals away your accomplishments. Its a hassle for GMs too, to put these monsters in the right amounts, knowing that if things go badly one of them can seriously disrupt your campaign… or end up doing fuck all.
It's why I made sure that in my Arrows of Indra old-school RPG, I had monsters that could screw you up in all kinds of ways: poison, attribute drains, penalties, permanent insanity, etc; but no level-drain.
The point is, people hold on to this out of nothing more than the fact that it's one of the big things that they feel differentiate Old-school from later versions of D&D; but it's not, except in the most shallow and superficial sense. Take away level-draining Wraiths from an old-school game and it's still an Old-school game.
The summing up of this rant?
First: that not everything about old-school D&D is worth defending, as much as I love the package as a whole.
Second: that there’s no value in nostalgia for its own sake.
(Originally posted November 22, 2012)