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Saturday 29 October 2016

An Anecdote about New School Gamers Playing Their First Old-School Game

I have for some time now been a regular guest-GM at a local fortnightly gaming event.  Since Uruguay did not have a gaming scene in the old-school era (the earliest edition to really arrive when there was a meaningful community of gamers for it was 2e, and only very late in its history) and since most of the attendees at the gaming event are young (too young to have even been around for late 2e), for a large number of those attending who are not novice players, the D&D they know is 3rd edition (and now 5e, of course).

Now, I've been running an ongoing floating campaign of Dark Albion. Every time I attend, my table is open and I don't reserve seats, so it's the first six or seven people to sit down that get to play (my table is always swamped pretty quickly); this means there are returning players and there's also always new players that got to the table fast enough to join in, and the makeup of the party is different each night.

 Almost everyone who is playing for the first time in a given session are either total newbies to RPGs or they've only played 3e/5e.  These new players are usually totally freaked out at the notion of playing a D&D character with an average of 2-4hp (or maybe as little a 1, or in theory a max of 9 if they have a +3 Con bonus). Realizing that a single hit might kill them, and learning that healing magic is super-scarce (compared to 3e) and there's no resurrection totally shocks them, and I can see the gears turning in their head when they start as to whether they're really going to have a good time with such a 'weak' character.

But by the end of the session, everyone is hooked.

On the previous Friday session, I had a couple of women newbies (both former 3e players) who were totally surprised by how 'exciting' it was. They joined my table because they're part of Uruguay's fairly huge "Lords of Olympus" fan club, and wanted the chance to play a game (even if it wasn't LoO) with the guy who wrote it, but neither were really D&D fans.  They loved that Dark Albion is a 'more interesting' world to play in than the generic-fantasy worlds they'd seen before, they liked the medieval authenticity, they liked the "inquisitor campaign" focus on rooting out chaos and the roleplay opportunities that an investigative-style game provided.  But in terms of action one of the things they were most nervous about, but ended up most liking was the 'thrill' of knowing how dangerous everything was for their characters.   They both came away agreeing that 'regular D&D' (as they knew it) was "too easy" and that this (old-school) style was way more fun.

This week, one of the two was there again and she was quick to come play. In one session, she'd already dramatically upper her strategic thinking, resource management, and leadership qualities in the party. She was an absolute boss (it helped that her character was a cleric, with all the social influence and benefits that class gets in the Albion setting).  And as it happened, the whole rest of the party this time were newbies, and she was instrumental in assuring them that having 1-4 hit points was going to be freaking awesome.


Currently Smoking: Missouri Meerschaum + Gawith's Virginia Flake


  1. Coolness. Added excitement stemming from single digit hit points is a good selling point.

  2. yeah that is excellent to hear. 5e is "too easy" and less exciting, imo. Moar converts!