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Saturday, April 11, 2015

OD&D - Dave Arneson passed away on April 7th of 2009 and I missed it!

Dave Arneson passed away on April 7th of 2009 and I missed the date. Fortunately there are others out there who are better at keeping track of things than I am. More on that in a moment. Has it really been 6 years since Dave Arneson passed away? I never played in one of his games, but by all accounts it would have been an incredible experience as he was a highly gifted referee. He was brilliant and creating Blackmoor which lead directly to OD&D was the leap of inspiration that no one else made. Would someone else have eventually made that leap, likely yes, but he did it first. 

Fortunately Bruno Galan over at Eye Ray of the Beholder is better at remembering things than I am. So go to his blog and read Thank You For Everything, Dave Arneson and thank him for remembering what many of us did not.

I also missed that Gary Gygax the co-creator of OD&D passed away on March 4th of 2008 and that M.A.R Barker the creator of Tékumel: The World of the Petal Throne passed away on March 16th of 2012. Both of these were brilliant men and great referees. I also regularly miss the fact that Dave Hargrave the creator of Arduin passed away on August 29th of 1988 (a man that was ahead of his time as he walked directly in the gonzo footsteps of Dave Arneson). To all reports he was also a highly gifted referee. These men not only created games, but they knew how to play them in legendary fashion. They should all be remembered and honored. I again thank Bruno Galan for reminding me of that.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

OD&D - The Original Intended Audience & Basic Assumptions - 04 - Even More Follow Up

 I wanted to do a follow-up from some of the comments I received on this topic for those who may have missed it.
 
 hedgehobbit wrote:
Role-playing is about the experience and not "the character".
Role-playing is a tool that is used to allow the player to experience, as much as possible while sitting at a table in a basement, what it would be like to actually be a character in a dark dungeon surrounded by monsters. Today, there's the assumption that the player creates a character that has goals, likes/dislikes, and behaviors that are entirely separate and distinct from the player. That wasn't always the case. As a result OD&D doesn't have rules like personality mechanics, social skill, social "combat", etc as those things would distract from the player's ability to experience the world first hand. 
 
 +Gordon Cooper made this reply:
 
One of the things hedgehobbit has observed from reading about OD&D is that "Role-playing is about the experience and not 'the character,'" and that "As a result OD&D doesn't have personality mechanics, social skill, social 'combat...'"

I'd argue that role-playing has been about both from the beginning, and how much any individual player or referee is concerned about the virtual experience vs. faithfully portraying a character has always been a balance (or lack thereof) based on his or her preferences. Not everyone needs social interaction rules or role-playing compliance rules (I sure don't), but even OD&D had alignment rules, and you can bet the original players enjoyed hamming it up as their characters. Heck, they were inspired to do it in the first place from the proto-role-playing they did when they were playing miniature war games. As a war gamer, you might not even sympathize with your side, but it's often more fun to pretend you do and try to think and make decisions like the military leader you are representing. It's a purely voluntary form of playing "in character," with no codification necessary.
 
 I find that I am in agreement with +Gordon Cooper on this particular point. I would be interested in more comments.
 
 
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Google + and People who post NSFW stuff

I really hate to have to remove people from my circles, especially when I like the majority of what they post. But when they insist on posting NSFW stuff they leave me no choice. It is not about being a prude or censorship, its about common decency and common sense.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

OD&D - The Original Intended Audience & Basic Assumptions - 03 - More Follow Up

Another thing that occurred to me while we are on this subject is that so many people object to Descending Armor Class. As many know the founders were familiar with other games that used Descending Armor Class IIRC in regard to ships.  So again it comes down to background.

In my case I grew up on a farm and here are two quick examples: Shotguns come in .410, 32 Gauge, 28 Gauge, 24 Gauge, 20 Gauge, 18 Gauge, 16 Gauge, 15 Gauge, 12 Gauge, 11 Gauge, 10 Gauge, 8 Gauge, 4 Gauge, 3 Gauge and 2 Gauge. Some of these are rare, uncommon, or collector only and the .410 is roughly 67 Gauge. In shotguns the smaller the number the larger the diameter of the bore.

A similar situation exists with wire gauge. Wire gauge runs from 0000, 000, 00, 0, 1, 2, ...  ... 37, 38, 39, 40. With 40 being the smallest and 0000 the largest.

These are two real world examples that I dealt with from early childhood, which made Descending Armor Class simple to both understand and to learn.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

OD&D - The Original Intended Audience & Basic Assumptions - 02 - Follow Up

As a follow up to my previous post I present the following quoted from my forum: These guys are way more articulate that I am:


Mr Darke over on my forum started a new thread:

This is coming off a mention that The Perilous Dreamer and I had in this thread. For those that do not want to read it, we hit on something that had been missed in the standard set of assumptions by OD&D and, by extension, the OD&D clones. This could serve to explain why there can be such a disconnect between players of later editions and the game or the belief that the rules are somehow incomplete or hard to follow. Rather than give a lengthy discussion on this I will start with what I have noticed.

Point 1: Chainmail

It is assumed in the LBBs that the Player/DM will have a copy of Chainmail as well as D&D. While many of us know this it is overlooked to the point that the clones mostly use the alternative combat system. However, Chainmail was a part of the game from the beginning and was later removed. Most of the clones out there did not port this over to their game and I do feel something was lost.

Point 2: Experienced Gamers


D&D was not written for novice gamers. Besides Chainmail, there seems to be an assumption that the players would be gamers of some stripe. For the most part, I feel this would be miniature games but games like those of Avalon Hill could be included. The game was not written for , nor geared to, novice players. While a DM could teach from it, this would take patience on his part especially with non-gamers.

Point 3: Well Read


I thought of splitting this up into two points but one will serve. The assumption here is that those playing would be versed in fantasy and S&S literature as well as history. Notice there are no descriptions of equipment, armor or weapons? I believe that this was an issue of space but also an issue of believing that players would know what the equipment was or would look them up. This would also serve in creating the campaign and adventure.

Point 4: Older Players


With the above we can guess that the target D&D player was much older than what we see now. High School and College age would be the low end of the scale here with the higher end going well into adulthood. This would maximize the above points and their potential. It was not until later that the game was geared to a younger audience and this leads me to believe D&D's target audience was at least 18 to 20 years old.

Point 5: Everything Else was to be Added by the Group


 Older players would have the time, resources, and knowledge to make their own additions to the game. With systems under their belts, a miniature collection and knowing how rules work the idea would be that any additions would be made in group. Yes, the supplements were planned as were articles from Strategic Review and The Dragon. However, this would not trump the assumption that many things would come from in group and would be shared by others.


 Point 6: Times and Culture


  The original game was a product of its time and culture. If you look at what was used for the game and the amount of time a player would have to create there is a disconnect between 1974 and 2015. We have less time to work on leisure, game aids like miniatures are a lot more rare and many of the toys and figures used in those days do not exist anymore.

  There was also little to no gaming consoles, VCRs or DVDs were not around and television only had a few channels. The amount of media we consumed was a lot less and time was more available to work on the hobby. Now we are in a place where every minute of your time is demanded for something and entertainment screams at you from all sides. Its far easier to fire up Final Fantasy than it is to create a campaign and find players.


 The above are just what I have seen and observed as well as things that the clone makers need to take into account. While some of these can be worked on, the final point is one we have to make ourselves.

 I would love to hear how you guys see this.


Another poster jmccann rightly noted the following in regard to Point 6 above:

Point 6: Times and Culture

We have less time to work on leisure, game aids like miniatures are a lot more rare and many of the toys and figures used in those days do not exist anymore.
    jmccann wrote:
I agree with a lot of your points, but I don't think this is correct at all.  By the late 70s, there were many lines of fantasy miniatures as well as historical, but there are many, many more fantasy miniatures available today than during the mid-70s.  A lot of early D&D groups did a lot of conversions. And miniatures are a lot easier to get due to the internet today.

As for toys and figures, yes, a lot from back then are out of production, but I am pretty sure there is way more choice now, and w/ ebay, you can often get older stuff.  So I really dispute this part of post.

And then another poster wrote:


hedgehobbit wrote:

Here are a list of assumptions I've discovered since first looking at early D&D:

Game club-style open table sessions
Whomever shows up (or is invited) that session plays. There isn't a "party" except for whomever is currently at the table. As a result, XP is earned individually and class-v-class balance is much less important. The character's are not assumed to all be the same level.

Role-playing is about the experience and not "the character".
Role-playing is a tool that is used to allow the player to experience, as much as possible while sitting at a table in a basement, what it would be like to actually be a character in a dark dungeon surrounded by monsters. Today, there's the assumption that the player creates a character that has goals, likes/dislikes, and behaviors that are entirely separate and distinct from the player. That wasn't always the case. As a result OD&D doesn't have rules like personality mechanics, social skill, social "combat", etc as those things would distract from the player's ability to experience the world first hand.

The setting takes precedence over everything
The setting is persistent and of supreme importance. Everything else, the rules, the party, the character classes, equipment lists are subservient. The game world isn't generated during a special pre-game session and isn't beholden to character traits like "one unique thing" or "Icons" etc. [None of that would make sense considering the above.]

Encounter balance is about choice, not fair fights
The deeper you go, the harder it gets. Players choose the difficulty level of the campaign by the actions their characters make. The DM isn't responsible to make sure the players always win.

Zero to Hero (if you're lucky)
Because there is no party per se, it's up to each individual to make his or her way up to the top. Achieving name level is a goal and a difficult task. It isn't something that all characters will eventually get to just by showing up. XP is NOT a pacing mechanic.

These three posters I believe have covered the subject thoroughly and completely and much better than I could since I am so close to the subject that I just assume so much of the above is just the way it is and don't generally realize how remarkable it really is.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

OD&D - The Original Intended Audience & Basic Assumptions - 01

When OD&D was first published back in January of 1974 there were some basic things that are usually overlooked. The common view point these days is that OD&D is essentially the same as the later versions, just not as well organized and full of unpolished stuff. I have always viewed OD&D as radically different from all of the versions that followed. I did have never viewed the later versions as being better organized not as having filled in holes in the rules or as having resolved ambiguities. I have always viewed those later versions as fixing things that were not broken. However, I believe  that the difference in viewpoint is due to a number of things that are not being considered. This post has developed out of a discussion over on my forum.

The title of the game is: 


Dungeons & Dragons - Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures

So the game in the very beginning had an intended target audience of adults and not just any adults. The target audience were adults who played wargames set in the medieval period who also had an interest in fantasy. Adults who were well read in fantasy, history and played wargame(s).  This is very much a niche audience. History shows us that the game sold and because of that was distributed and came to the attention of many who did not belong to the niche described by those four things: not all were adults, not all were wargamers, not all were students of history, although the majority were into fantasy. This resulted in a flood of questions being sent into TSR that initially baffled Gary Gygax and his staff, since they were used to people like themselves that played wargame(s) and were used to house-ruling things during the course of play. They did not understand why so many people needed help imagining things and creating things.

Because of this additional audience AD&D was written that defined way more things and tried to answer most of the common questions with rules.  For this and a number of other reasons the Holmes, B/X and BECMI D&D versions were created and these were for market reasons aimed at a much younger audience that were not wargamers, were not well-read in fantasy or history and that resulted in what I consider a completely different game from OD&D.

To quote Mr Darke on my forum:


This also may be why OD&D and the clones can be hard to grasp for newer players, especially those coming from newer D&D editions. While you can clone the rules you cannot clone the assumption that a player or DM would have a working knowledge of the Hundred Years War, Howard's Conan tales or know how medieval weaponry worked. This is something to think on and something I think those that make the clones need to consider.
 I agree with this and I believe that he hit the proverbial nail on the head.