rpG, not RPg

I’ve been reading through a lot of retro-clone games, and some old 1e books I borrowed from someone, and trying to figure out exactly what it is that attracts me to the older systems so much. Especially with 1e, there doesn’t seem to be much reason. I kind of like the art in the books, but that’s no reason to like the game itself. I like the look of Uncle Pennybags too. I could just incorporate the AD&D classes into my Microlite game, though of course they wouldn’t be EXACTLY the same. If I could only figure out what it is that attracts me to certain games, then I could just emulate it in my own game, and I wouldn’t have to put up with anything I don’t want to put up with, like attack matrices. Many things that I would normally attribute to role-playing are in AD&D completely predetermined- a ranger always attracts followers at level 10, and a fighter always becomes a lord at level 9. For a while I thought (on the surface of my mind) that that kind of ‘predestination’ would be one of the things I’d want to get away from, But now I think that that’s exactly what attracts me to the systems.

Rather than being entirely about role-playing, they’re about the game. A game where you make choices and carve out your own path in the world, but still a game, with simplistic, unrealistic rules. The way you have fun with a game is to take it on it’s own terms. Rather than trying to balance chess, you just play it. My players are okay gamers, but they aren’t very good role-players. Most gamers that I’ve known aren’t especially good at it either (I DM, but if I were a player I think I’d prefer not to bother too much). They are usually perfectly willing to go with the quest that they’re given, and work towards personal aspirations when the DM gives them a cue- because that keeps the game stable by giving all the players a common interest at most times, and ensuring that nobody oversteps their boundaries. For that type of player, it can be a godsend to specific times when things happen, because then they know what to expect.

On the other hand, if you have a group of seasoned LARPers who actually know how to speak and understand ye pseudo-oldspeeche and like to roleplay conversations instead of just saying ‘I don’t think that’s something my character would do’, then having specific levels for things like that shouldn’t deter them. You can still roleplay gathering your band of Merry Men even if you as a player already knew it was coming, or you can negotiate with the DM to get some other benefit.

Dungeons & Dragons requires a careful balance between freedom and stability that is extremely hard to come by, and while I don’t endorse planning out with your DM your character’s complete rise from wandering northerner to exalted king, if I were playing in someone’s campaign it would be extremely comforting to know when to expect some little things.


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