What is “Old School” Play?
by, 07-13-2010 at 05:25 PM (1688 Views)
There are two major styles of roleplaying games. The first (and older) style says “Here is the situation. Pretend you are there as your character, what do you want to do?” This style has been superseded over the years with a style that says “Here is the situation. Based on your character's stats, abilities, skills, etc. as listed on his character sheet and your knowledge of the many detailed rules of the game, what is the best course of action to solve the situation?” Old school play strongly favors the first style and frowns on too much of the second.
Here are some major points where old school play is different:
1.No Skills: Players are intended to have their characters act like adventurers. You just tell the GM what your character is trying to do. If you need to keep a door open or shut, you might tell the GM your character is using a spike to keep the door open or closed. A ten foot pole is your friend for checking for traps. Searching a room means looking in and under objects, not rolling a skill check
2.No Assumption of “Game Balance”: Old style game sessions aren’t about carefully balanced characters (who are all able to shine equally at all times) who only run into situations carefully designed by the GM to be beatable by the characters presently in the party and to provide treasure that fits their current level. Instead, part of player skill is learning to evaluate situations so situations well over the party’s current abilities or which will waste the party’s resources for little gain can be avoided. Don’t assume that you can beat every monster that you encounter, running away from monsters too tough to handle can mean the difference between character survival and character death.
3.It’s Not All About Combat: Many modern fantasy RPGs have made combat the star of the system, combats in these systems are time-consuming and very crunchy with rules for everything.
4.Forget “Rules Mastery”: Player skill in “old school” style games isn’t about mastering the game rules so you can solve any problem by knowing the right combination of rules from 20 different rule books. The object is to have fun, not be a slave to rules or to players who think being a rules-lawyer is the way to get ahead. In many roleplaying games, the Rules As Written (RAW) are often considered sacrosanct