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Author Topic: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?  (Read 3391 times)

ChristopherKubasik

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #75 on: January 05, 2021, 09:11:22 AM »
FWIW, I have never seen a single OSR game attempt to mimic OD&D as it was printed.

I’m running my OD&D game (set in Dolmenwood) using the Delving Deeper rules, which are the OD&D rules with cleaned up text. Delving Deeper was inspired by the White Box rules, which also cleaves closely to the OD&D rules.

There are a few variations in each rules set from the 1974 edition, but both (especially Delving Deeper) are pretty much the original rules.

Playing it now. Have been for months. As noted in my previous post my players (none of whom played earlier editions of D&D) seem to be loving it.

Your assessment of the game as a framework are spot on. We are building out the logic of the world through the rules as we play. We’re having a a good time with that part of it.

HappyDaze

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #76 on: January 05, 2021, 09:19:56 AM »
Early D&D didn’t worship design for design’s sake.  I consider this a plus. 

It’s very clear from the material they were putting out guidance/rules, but the emphasis is on the activity instead of the rules.  “We’ll figure it out while on the field, If we need to” is the overriding principle.

“Get there the firstest with the mostest” - the rules put out cover whatever came up in play to that point, instead of trying to imagine all the things that could be played and having a rule ready.  I also find that a strength.  The emphasis is on action rather than contemplation.  If you understand the rule that works in common situations, you can extrapolate for corner cases.  This is a key point of mastery in any activity - the ability to work off-road.  Much more efficient than building all the roads that could maybe be needed, for the satisfaction of a complete map.

Early D&D also wasn’t all that left-brained.  It dips into left-brained thinking when it needs to but not as a foundation or first-order.  Those who are first-order left-brained go to the bolts and get confused as to why the material isn’t their style of turtle all the way down.  It’s almost inconceivable to someone using logic as a first principle

We also don’t want rule sets we won’t play to drain our pool of possible players.  RPGs are a time-intensive group activity; they are zero-sum games.  You can read a lot of them but only play very few.  While dabbling can increase the number of systems used, if someone wants to play a lot of their favorite game, persuasive promotion of another game is going to get an emotional response (left-thinkers will justify this with arguments reframed-to-logic).  An example of this sometimes bubbles out as “I want to play game X but everyone wants to play D&D and I’m sick of it”

I personally like OD&D and AD&D 1E because, while the character was the innovation, it’s still almost an afterthought.  It was necessary to play, so it was created.  But it was still very much there a concession to necessity in order to play rather than as a mini game unto itself; there’s not really enough there to be satisfying if unused at the table.  Which is how I want my game - incomplete/poorly suited for solo character-centric daydreaming.  Little magic outside of groups discovering a world not on their sheet around a dining table while sharing a pizza.
That kind of rule set is fine for an early approach. It's shameful to still be using that approach 30+ years later. A lot has been learned and not utilizing the accumulated experience to make better games out of a sense of nostalgia makes for crap that repeats the flaws of what came before. For this reason, I see no value in the OSR approach or its products.

ChristopherKubasik

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #77 on: January 05, 2021, 09:34:41 AM »
For this reason, I see no value in the OSR approach or its products.
Noted!

Razor 007

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #78 on: January 05, 2021, 10:13:55 AM »
This is something I'm having trouble understanding about people with a deific fondness for games that had rules but then you ignored them or made up your own. I won't lie and say that I haven't just fudged rules, or just rolled with whatever was happening to move the game along. But that was made on a foundation of rules I generally liked and could use as written most of the time. Because that was a product I paid for. Functional rules.

When I hear some people reminisce about old school games, the fact that the rules were such vague and contradicting, unfinished, unrefined, clusterfuck is talked about with deep fondness. That somehow having bad rules, or non-existent rules made it better because if it was bad, then you can ignore them and make your own. Or just improv all the time.

So wouldn't the logical endpoint just be an improv night without any rules at all? If consistent rules and character-building gets in the way of the DM telling the story he wants, why have any rules at all? Why not just write up a short story with some people occasionally assisting with minor suggestions for individual characters?

Fundamentally I believe everybody can have the fun they want. Really this is more conceptual confusion for me. Personally, I believe it's just nostalgia.


It's like ordering something in an Asian restaurant, and then picking out the broccoli.  You really like the dish, but you hate broccoli. 

OD&D has 90% of what I want, and I spend my time chasing the other 10%. 

AD&D has more than I want, and I spend my time ignoring what I don't want.

Neither has exactly what I want, but both are very cool games.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2021, 10:15:50 AM by Razor 007 »
I need you to roll a perception check.....

SHARK

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #79 on: January 05, 2021, 10:29:57 AM »
Early D&D didn’t worship design for design’s sake.  I consider this a plus. 

It’s very clear from the material they were putting out guidance/rules, but the emphasis is on the activity instead of the rules.  “We’ll figure it out while on the field, If we need to” is the overriding principle.

“Get there the firstest with the mostest” - the rules put out cover whatever came up in play to that point, instead of trying to imagine all the things that could be played and having a rule ready.  I also find that a strength.  The emphasis is on action rather than contemplation.  If you understand the rule that works in common situations, you can extrapolate for corner cases.  This is a key point of mastery in any activity - the ability to work off-road.  Much more efficient than building all the roads that could maybe be needed, for the satisfaction of a complete map.

Early D&D also wasn’t all that left-brained.  It dips into left-brained thinking when it needs to but not as a foundation or first-order.  Those who are first-order left-brained go to the bolts and get confused as to why the material isn’t their style of turtle all the way down.  It’s almost inconceivable to someone using logic as a first principle

We also don’t want rule sets we won’t play to drain our pool of possible players.  RPGs are a time-intensive group activity; they are zero-sum games.  You can read a lot of them but only play very few.  While dabbling can increase the number of systems used, if someone wants to play a lot of their favorite game, persuasive promotion of another game is going to get an emotional response (left-thinkers will justify this with arguments reframed-to-logic).  An example of this sometimes bubbles out as “I want to play game X but everyone wants to play D&D and I’m sick of it”

I personally like OD&D and AD&D 1E because, while the character was the innovation, it’s still almost an afterthought.  It was necessary to play, so it was created.  But it was still very much there a concession to necessity in order to play rather than as a mini game unto itself; there’s not really enough there to be satisfying if unused at the table.  Which is how I want my game - incomplete/poorly suited for solo character-centric daydreaming.  Little magic outside of groups discovering a world not on their sheet around a dining table while sharing a pizza.

Greetings!

Excellent points, my friend! I greatly enjoy all of these aspects of OD&D and AD&D. I also embrace them as much as practical in 5E. The rough, free-form approach of OD&D and AD&D is brilliant, very flexible and open, and promotes a kind of focus on core attributes that ensure a fun and robust campaign which can be very successful as well as inspiring--and does so while avoiding indulging the emotionally damaged and neurotic troglodytes of the hobby which seek to drag everyone else into their weird fetishes and narcissistic jello.

It is precisely for this reason that I see great value in the OSR approach and its products. ;D

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
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HappyDaze

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #80 on: January 05, 2021, 10:46:10 AM »
Early D&D didn’t worship design for design’s sake.  I consider this a plus. 

It’s very clear from the material they were putting out guidance/rules, but the emphasis is on the activity instead of the rules.  “We’ll figure it out while on the field, If we need to” is the overriding principle.

“Get there the firstest with the mostest” - the rules put out cover whatever came up in play to that point, instead of trying to imagine all the things that could be played and having a rule ready.  I also find that a strength.  The emphasis is on action rather than contemplation.  If you understand the rule that works in common situations, you can extrapolate for corner cases.  This is a key point of mastery in any activity - the ability to work off-road.  Much more efficient than building all the roads that could maybe be needed, for the satisfaction of a complete map.

Early D&D also wasn’t all that left-brained.  It dips into left-brained thinking when it needs to but not as a foundation or first-order.  Those who are first-order left-brained go to the bolts and get confused as to why the material isn’t their style of turtle all the way down.  It’s almost inconceivable to someone using logic as a first principle

We also don’t want rule sets we won’t play to drain our pool of possible players.  RPGs are a time-intensive group activity; they are zero-sum games.  You can read a lot of them but only play very few.  While dabbling can increase the number of systems used, if someone wants to play a lot of their favorite game, persuasive promotion of another game is going to get an emotional response (left-thinkers will justify this with arguments reframed-to-logic).  An example of this sometimes bubbles out as “I want to play game X but everyone wants to play D&D and I’m sick of it”

I personally like OD&D and AD&D 1E because, while the character was the innovation, it’s still almost an afterthought.  It was necessary to play, so it was created.  But it was still very much there a concession to necessity in order to play rather than as a mini game unto itself; there’s not really enough there to be satisfying if unused at the table.  Which is how I want my game - incomplete/poorly suited for solo character-centric daydreaming.  Little magic outside of groups discovering a world not on their sheet around a dining table while sharing a pizza.

Greetings!

Excellent points, my friend! I greatly enjoy all of these aspects of OD&D and AD&D. I also embrace them as much as practical in 5E. The rough, free-form approach of OD&D and AD&D is brilliant, very flexible and open, and promotes a kind of focus on core attributes that ensure a fun and robust campaign which can be very successful as well as inspiring--and does so while avoiding indulging the emotionally damaged and neurotic troglodytes of the hobby which seek to drag everyone else into their weird fetishes and narcissistic jello.

It is precisely for this reason that I see great value in the OSR approach and its products. ;D

Semper Fidelis,

SHARK
Next time make sure to lube your ears before you shove your head so far up his ass.

Eirikrautha

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #81 on: January 05, 2021, 11:19:15 AM »
That kind of rule set is fine for an early approach. It's shameful to still be using that approach 30+ years later. A lot has been learned and not utilizing the accumulated experience to make better games out of a sense of nostalgia makes for crap that repeats the flaws of what came before. For this reason, I see no value in the OSR approach or its products.

There's that word again, "better."  I've played later editions of D&D, and non-D&D RPGs, that were in no way "better games" than the ones I played with the cluster**** that is the AD&D ruleset.  I play and run 5e now, mostly, but there are still parts of 5e that I handle more like I would in 1e (I don't need a d20 to resolve every test... sometimes a bell curve makes more sense, like when you are figuring jumping distance, than a linear probability.  But the Holy Book of Modern Design states, "Thou shalt have a unified mechanic," and no one modifies the mechanics when they should).  "Newer" does not mean "better" (any more than "older" does).  I'm all for accumulated experience, which is why I think it's hysterical that even WotC is hearkening back to an "OSR" feel for 5e (and its "rulings, not rules" motto).  Maybe their accumulated experiences have suggested that some things were done "better" in the older editions.

Rejecting out of hand what has been done in the past is just as stupid as refusing to consider what might be improved in the future...

estar

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #82 on: January 05, 2021, 11:28:25 AM »
So wouldn't the logical endpoint just be an improv night without any rules at all? If consistent rules and character-building gets in the way of the DM telling the story he wants, why have any rules at all? Why not just write up a short story with some people occasionally assisting with minor suggestions for individual characters?

Fundamentally I believe everybody can have the fun they want. Really this is more conceptual confusion for me. Personally, I believe it's just nostalgia.
The fundamental rule that in my opinion all RPGs share is that The players interact with a setting as their character with a human referee adjudicating their actions.

You do that then you are playing tabletop roleplaying.

The key elements here are

That the players are playing as a individual character.
That the character exist in a setting that they interact with (role-play, combat, etc)
That the human referee adjudicates the result of what they do.

The rules, like OD&D, are the details of how to make that happen. But they are not the game itself so to speak. The referee describing a setting, the players describing their characters, the process of describing that they do as their character within the setting and the referee describing the results of what happens. That is the game being played. Coupled with an interesting setting, like a maze with rooms filled with monsters and treasure, it makes for a compelling hobby.

The details of how this accomplished is up to you and is purely a matter of taste not requirement. If the referee is that good at communication, and know the setting, and details of what characters could do cold, then there may be no rulebooks or even dice in sight.

But that is rare, because most of us are folks who just want to enjoy an afternoon or evening hobby with friends. So rely on other people to describe how to deal with these thing or in many cases describing the setting and what can be done there (adventures).

But people tastes vary. There is a sweet spot that D&D and Pathfinder over the years manages to hit squarely. But more than a few like use material that more detailed. Settings like Harn, Tekumel, or Glorantha. Rules to adjudicate actions in more detail like GURPS, Rolemaster, etc. Other get by with less detail and stick with OD&D, or use Microlite, Fudge, etc. Some like one system approach better even though they are the same relative complexity Runequest 3rd edition versus AD&D 2nd Edition for example.

If you want to get people preference for minimal system or no system at all. Then try running a one-shot with no rules. Outline a setting or scenario. Set some character guideline (i.e. are character Conan-like, novices, veterans, or what?), have the players describe their characters naturally. Then commence play using the dice in the way that your experience and knowledge think best suits the circumstance. Just try to be consistent.




HappyDaze

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #83 on: January 05, 2021, 11:41:40 AM »

That the players are playing as a individual character.

I don't know if you meant to exclude the idea of a player controlling multiple characters from your criteria. I believe that this was actually more common 30 years ago than it is today. Few games address this, whether to directly mention it as an option or to disallow it.

VisionStorm

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #84 on: January 05, 2021, 12:20:38 PM »
That kind of rule set is fine for an early approach. It's shameful to still be using that approach 30+ years later. A lot has been learned and not utilizing the accumulated experience to make better games out of a sense of nostalgia makes for crap that repeats the flaws of what came before. For this reason, I see no value in the OSR approach or its products.

There's that word again, "better."  I've played later editions of D&D, and non-D&D RPGs, that were in no way "better games" than the ones I played with the cluster**** that is the AD&D ruleset.  I play and run 5e now, mostly, but there are still parts of 5e that I handle more like I would in 1e (I don't need a d20 to resolve every test... sometimes a bell curve makes more sense, like when you are figuring jumping distance, than a linear probability.  But the Holy Book of Modern Design states, "Thou shalt have a unified mechanic," and no one modifies the mechanics when they should).  "Newer" does not mean "better" (any more than "older" does).  I'm all for accumulated experience, which is why I think it's hysterical that even WotC is hearkening back to an "OSR" feel for 5e (and its "rulings, not rules" motto).  Maybe their accumulated experiences have suggested that some things were done "better" in the older editions.

Rejecting out of hand what has been done in the past is just as stupid as refusing to consider what might be improved in the future...

I pretty much agree with this point, but sometimes, certain rules or approaches can really be "better", depending on what you're trying to do or want out of the game. It all depends on what you're trying to accomplish and what your standards are, but some methods can also be more effective at achieving certain goals than others.

Saying "roll a Strength check (either the newer d20 + STR mod vs DC, or the old roll d20 under your Score)" is generally more intuitive and easier and faster to implement on the fly than "roll an arbitrary fixed number derived from your Strength you have to look up in the PHB on a d6 to Open Doors", or "roll a completely different % to Bend Bars/Lift Gates" or "d20 under your Strength score anything else not specifically covered in the rules". Why not just make everything d20/roll under if you're going for old school mechanics, when d20/roll under already covers everything you can do with your ability scores anyway?

I'm also not sure what part of jump distance specifically necessitates a bell curve, or why you can't simply use multiple dice as your unified mechanic if you prefer a bell curve, or even treat jump distance as a separate type of roll (much like damage) if you prefer a bell curve just for that, but are OK with swingy dice for ability/skill checks. What part of unified mechanics prohibit you from saying "on a successful Jump check, roll 2d6 (or whatever) to determine jump distance"?

estar

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #85 on: January 05, 2021, 12:23:24 PM »

That the players are playing as a individual character.

I don't know if you meant to exclude the idea of a player controlling multiple characters from your criteria. I believe that this was actually more common 30 years ago than it is today. Few games address this, whether to directly mention it as an option or to disallow it.
Players with multiple characters are not excluded. They are playing as individual characters just shifting over from one to the other.

EOTB

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #86 on: January 05, 2021, 02:19:27 PM »

That kind of rule set is fine for an early approach. It's shameful to still be using that approach 30+ years later. A lot has been learned and not utilizing the accumulated experience to make better games out of a sense of nostalgia makes for crap that repeats the flaws of what came before. For this reason, I see no value in the OSR approach or its products.

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Shasarak

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #87 on: January 05, 2021, 03:05:29 PM »
Point #1
I had a very long thread on ENworld once about "why THAC0 rocks." I really do like it. While I can agree that ascending AC is more intuitive, there are some fundamental things that it does that ascending doesn't:
Bounded design -- AC 0 is around the natural maximum, while -10 is the magically enhanced maximum.
You can do the math once against a single foe (it's more intuitive to do so).
Designed so that GM can decide how "player facing" the mechanic is. (in 1e the attack tables were in the DMG!)

Frankly I find it easier with large groups of players and monsters, perhaps that is just because it encourages me to have all the info I need at hand, so I am not waiting for a player to tell me if the monster hit them, I already know.

My real point here is, assumptions that something is "obviously better" may just be overlooking somethings positive qualities.

Going up or going down does not change bounded design.

Thats not how maths works.
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Eirikrautha

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #88 on: January 05, 2021, 03:14:08 PM »
...or even treat jump distance as a separate type of roll (much like damage) if you prefer a bell curve just for that...

Well, that was my point.  Occasionally I find that using a particular mechanic leads to unrealistic or immersion-breaking results.  So, rather than use the mechanics present in the rules, I'll use a different die roll that better matches my player's expectations (distances that are relatively consistent, with only occasional outliers, as opposed to a linear probability that leads to short distances equally as often as heroic distances).  Hence my original statement that you seem to be repeating in your response...

VisionStorm

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Re: OD&D: Why have rules at all if you want to ignore them?
« Reply #89 on: January 05, 2021, 04:08:48 PM »
...or even treat jump distance as a separate type of roll (much like damage) if you prefer a bell curve just for that...

Well, that was my point.  Occasionally I find that using a particular mechanic leads to unrealistic or immersion-breaking results.  So, rather than use the mechanics present in the rules, I'll use a different die roll that better matches my player's expectations (distances that are relatively consistent, with only occasional outliers, as opposed to a linear probability that leads to short distances equally as often as heroic distances). Hence my original statement that you seem to be repeating in your response...

Yeah, but the end of my response in that same paragraph also asks:

Quote
What part of unified mechanics prohibit you from saying "on a successful Jump check, roll 2d6 (or whatever) to determine jump distance"?

The point of unified mechanics is to provide consistent mechanics to handle ability checks, whether action resolution or resistance checks, or any other type of roll where a character's or creature's (or even an object sometimes) ability is being tested. That doesn't mean that other types of rolls can't ever exist for things that aren't directly related to ability checks, such as damage rolls, handling odds for random events happening (such as checking if more enemies show up or if random enemies left treasure), or maybe even determining the outcome of a successful ability check (such as jump distances, or perhaps the value of works of art). So saying that you'd rather use some other type of roll for things that aren't necessarily directly related to ability checks isn't really an argument against unified mechanics.

And your specific argument is against using linear probability for determining jump distances, which fails to account for unified mechanics that use non-linear probabilities, such as rolling 2d6 or 3d6 for ability checks instead of 1d20. So it isn't even an argument regarding unified mechanics in general, but an edge case that applies only when you use linear probabilities as part of you mechanic, and only if we accept your premise that we can't have relatively consistent jump distances with only occasional outliers when using mechanics that have linear probabilities, when I could come up with a few ways we can.

For example, we could have a fixed jump distance (perhaps modified by a related ability, like Strength) as a base that always applies by default on a successful check, and then grant a bonus  (perhaps +50% or +1d6 feet to keep it simple) to it on a "Critical Success" result in the ability check (perhaps on a natural 20, or a result 10+ above needed), or a penalty (perhaps half base distance to keep it simple) on a failed roll. BOOM! Consistent distances with outliers on a linear probability unified mechanic action roll!

And there could be other ways to handle it within a unified mechanic framework using linear probabilities. Point being that just because you can't think of another way or prefer 2d6 (or whatever) regardless that doesn't mean that other options aren't there, and it doesn't make it an argument against unified mechanics, but rather a statement of stylistic preference.