Opportunity Attacks, OSR Hypocrisy, and Playtests

[Edit-- this post was written at 0743 after an entire 36 hour period of no sleep and copious  caffeine. It rambles and isn't entirely coherent. You have been warned. --Jason]

It’s interesting to me when folks talking about Legacy D&D (anything from Chainmail all the way to Skills & Powers, for clarity) talk about the rules as if they had ONE way to play and ONE way to read them. The default is usually assumed to be some variation on exploration/sandbox, free-form, rules-lite, “theater of the mind” — and that’s simply not the case with my experience of D&D. I used miniatures/token/gummibears on a pretty tactical kind of wargame setup– ACCORDING TO THE RULES AS WRITTEN– and had a great time with running and playing in very scripted kinds of adventures.

The OSR stuff has basically been telling me and people who had similar experiences to me (and there ARE many of us– we just aren’t as vocal because we tend to get shouted down by the “purists”) that we were playing the game wrong by their refusal to acknowledge other styles of play as valid. I feel pretty solid saying this because I have not seen any support whatsoever for anything other than the aforementioned playstyle in any of the OSR/OSRIC/C&C/L&L stuff that I have looked at– and I own most of it. And it’s remarkably hypocritical to complain about how “new” D&D doesn’t let them play the way they want to when their own fixes for the problem do nothing to accommodate the way others played the game when those versions of the rules were current.

Christian Lindke did an AMAZING job on his blog Cinerati breaking down the Opportunity Attack rules from each edition up until 4E, and I’ll let his work stand on its own merits. It’s good stuff, and it’s his breakdown of the rules edition by edition that really prompted this post. Back in the day, I was playing the way the designers intended– it’s in there in black and white. So were the folks playing in the “theatre of the mind, gridless sandbox” style.

We were both doing it right, you and I. We were ALL doing it right, because we were sitting down with our friends, chucking some polyhedrals, and having a good time. THAT is the core of our chosen hobby, THAT is what makes our hobby so much fun– the interaction with other human beings, face-to-face, sharing in the highs and lows and critical hits and natural 1s that come along with it. No matter what game you’re playing–regardless of what the rules say– if you and your group are having a good time, you’re doing it right.

So when the playtests start, regardless of your favorite edition, don’t come to it with the attitude of “If it doesn’t have X (with X being your particular niche rule or style or whatever from your favorite edition), then I’m not even going to try it!” Instead, give it a play for what it just might be– the way to get folks from all editions, and all gaming backgrounds together in the same place to share their love of the game we all say we love. Let the 4E folks mingle with the 1E/Moldvay folks, and come to the table with a “wait and see” attitude… and then send good, solid feedback. Don’t try to clone your favorite edition– try to make THIS edition the one that we can all rally around and play together.

Don’t expect the new version of our game to be EXACTLY what your favorite version was… if it was exactly the same, they would just reprint the old editions and let the community stay fractured and bleeding and dying. Expect it to be something new that we can all learn together, and that if the previews are correct, a great many of us from all gaming spectrums might just learn to love.

This could be what saved D&D and Tabletop RPG in general. But if we all come to the table with our arms folded and our noses in the air, it’ll never happen. We have to give it a chance and we have to try–together– to make this game the best edition yet.

 

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12 Responses to Opportunity Attacks, OSR Hypocrisy, and Playtests

  1. Matthew says:

    I see a lot of 4e players getting defensive about their game now that the scuttlebutt around 5e is starting to lean towards OSR territory. Play how you want to play and learn to ignore the people that tell you you’re doing it wrong. Don’t ignore the people thataren’t doing that but are telling you about different ways to play – you might find you like some of their stuff, or at least find that you can steal some of it and adapt it for your own game.

    • Not getting defensive about 4E. I *AM* defensive about playing different games in different ways. Nobody should be telling anybody they’re playing wrong, and that’s the general feeling I get from the OSR folks– telling me that I was playing 2E/AD&D wrong back in the day.

  2. panzerleader says:

    Agreed. In 1983 I was using graph paper with 5 squares to the inch. In 1985 I got a battlemat and my first set of vis-a-vis markers and it has just continued to evolve from there. We also had tons of miniatures and a need to use them!

  3. ADD Grognard says:

    You are 100% correct.

    We should all be throwing our weight and our resources behind Paizo.

    • As far as adventures and campaign material goes, I totally agree. Their rules set is just a derivative of previously-produced material, though. I’d be really interested to see what happens if they were to come up with a NEW ruleset.

  4. Hawke says:

    Wish you would switch (back?) to full text in the RSS feed. I read from a feed reader, so I’m sure I miss a lot of articles cause I’m some place where I can’t get to read the site.

    Cheers and keep up the writing.

  5. jeff6016 says:

    Well, I’ve got to admit that I’ve been playing that game “wrong” since 1976 and I’ve had almost a lifetime of enjoyment doing so. All in all, I’m satisfied.

  6. “The OSR stuff has basically been telling me and people who had similar experiences to me (and there ARE many of us– we just aren’t as vocal because we tend to get shouted down by the “purists”) that we were playing the game wrong by their refusal to acknowledge other styles of play as valid. I feel pretty solid saying this because I have not seen any support whatsoever for anything other than the aforementioned playstyle in any of the OSR/OSRIC/C&C/L&L stuff that I have looked at– and I own most of it. ”

    You’re complaining because the OSR-generated-crap doesn’t support your way of playing? Why do you buy it, then?

    The OSR-idiots are up front about their preferred way of playing. Why would you expect their materials to be of something they are not about? Why do you both, or care?

  7. Hawke says:

    I think in wordpress in your options go to Administration > Settings > Reading then you should see Summary v Full Text options. Full Text is what makes it easier to read in feed readers (Google Reader, etc)

    Happy to help further – if you can see my email from here, feel free to email.

    And again – I always enjoy the posts.

  8. Alric says:

    Well said, for no sleep, especially the part about the most vocal elements of the OSR. While not all of the OSR guys are that intense, the purists are very heard to deal with.

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