Sunday, August 22, 2010
Greeting, salutations, and huzzah, role-players! Welcome No School Like The Old School (or, if you are one of those who insist on catchy acronyms, NSLTOS). Here we talk about classic role-playing games, retro-clone games, and the people who play them.
With all the new RPGs on the market with their varied rules, numerous supplements, and high production values, what would possess us to play older, out-of-print games, along with games designed to emulate them? For some of us, it's nostalgia for the glory days of gaming before MMORPGs ruled the gaming scene and the desire to preserve and expand on previous editions. For other's it's a rebellion against the "corporatized" nature of the gaming industry where unsympathetic MBA's who have never picked up a d20 get to write and market the games. (Yes! I'm looking at you Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro and the abomination that is 4th Edition and the pulling of purchased .PDF versions of your older games!) Then there are those of us who like the simplicity of older games, especially in this day and age of rule books that are larger than New York city phone books.
Speaking for myself, my own odyssey into role-playing began when I was 12-years-old in December of 1986 when I got a $25 Toys R' Us gift certificate from an uncle for Christmas. After my father turned me loose at the Brookfield, Wisconsin store I prowled the aisles looking for something to spend my store credit on. After picking up a gyroscope and a box of pre-made microscope slides, I was passing by the bargain bin when I saw it: a copy of TSR's Star Frontiers science fiction RPG. Hypnotized by Larry Elmore's cover art, and having just enough left, I snatched it up in an instant! Thus, much to my parents chagrin, did I start down the dark path of gaming and, yes, it did forever dominate my destiny.
My parents, who bought into my fundamentalist Christian relatives' hysteria about fantasy RPGs, forbade me from playing D&D. However, there were plenty of science fiction games to enjoy. Each year I would wait for TSR's Mail Order Hobby Shop catalog and plot out what games I would get next with birthday and holiday cash. My folks were too right-wing to give me something as "socialist" as an allowance, so by the time I started earning my own money many of the classic games that I wanted to get and play were sadly out of print.
EBay helped me to fill in the gaps, but the advent of snipers who'd snatch victory from my grasp 10 seconds before an auction ended soured me to that service. Some of the legitimate .PDF vendors were helpful, but their catalogs where far from complete and fickle. (Again, damn you WotC/Hasbro!) I soon discovered the phenomenon of "retro-clone" games where, using the OGL and the fact that while you can copyright specific works you can't do the same for mechanical or mathematical concepts, out-of-print games are resurrected and even improved upon. It was at the time I found out about Gobllinoid Games' Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future, that I discovered a whole community of "old school" gamers who were keeping the Golden Age of Gaming alive and well. This blog is dedicated to them and their efforts.
So pop open a can of Mountain Dew, throw a couple of pizzas into the oven, crank up the Rush, and grab your dice, adventurers! This is going to be one hell of a crawl!