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Tuesday 23 August 2016

Classic Rant: Who Really Supports RPGs Being Fun?

One of the frequent claims some critics of old-school RPGs try to make about old-school is that it doesn’t believe in fun; that old-schoolers want gamers to spend most of the time not having fun, because the OSR doesn’t want people to just make 20th level Warlords with Vorpal Swords.

Now, the notion of having to earn your fun is indeed retarded. Its certainly something I would never do; if there was a game where you had to put in 20 or more sessions of utterly boring drudgery in order to get one session of kick-ass awesomeness, I wouldn’t want to play it or run it.

Fortunately, that’s not what old school is about. Its about recognizing that fun is the process of Making Yourself, not the actual destination.
If someone were to make a computer game where you were already in god-mode, had all the power-weapons, completed all the quests already, and could easily slay anything in the game, it would be derided as the worst shit ever produced. Much moreso a game where you created a character who had already defeated all the great evils, got to strut around for 40mins with a sign that says “look at what a badass I am” and then skip to the end-credits.
So why is it that a certain group of tabletop RPG gamers seem to think that this would be the best way to run your RPG campaign?

Of the two (the old-schoolers and the power-gamers) the old-schoolers are by far the ones who are more in support of games being fun; unfortunately some people (including some old-schoolers!) have framed the debate wrong to make it look otherwise. But its old-school play that recognizes that being a level 20 world-killer is not actually very fun for very long; that the part that’s worth playing is the long, sometimes hard, but hopefully always fun (for the player) effort of GETTING to that point.


Currently Smoking: Stanwell Deluxe + Image Latakia

(Originally posted December 16, 2012)


  1. I was never all that into the 'zero to hero' thing... I preferred Traveller's approach that the character pretty much keeps the stats and skills it starts with... that advancement is in reputation/connections/resources. But that being said, I see a lot of folks on certain forums talk about wanting 'competent' characters and it always comes off like that means the characters woudn't fail at anything... which, as you say, would just be dull as dirt.

  2. As I have said elsewhere and years ago:

    Always remember, as a first principle of all D&D: playing BtB is not now, never was and never will be old school.

    Rules lawyers have missed the heart and soul of old school D&D.

    Munchkins are not there to have fun, munchkins are there to make sure no one else does.

    Nothing is more dishonorable, than being a min-maxer munchkin rules lawyer.

    To expand on this a min-maxer munchkin rules lawyer is what all new school players and DMs who do not get old school are. Old school play is fun. Creating a character in 15 min and then playing is fun. Spending hours creating a character and hours to complete a combat sequence, and endless debate and angst with nothing happening while whiny idiots attempt to make a decision is not fun. Fun is found in true old school style gaming, the rest of it is poseurs lying about having fun because they have never experienced fun and don't know what it is or how to have it show up at their game table. The most pathetic of the lot are the pure railroad story gaming losers.