A table-top roleplaying system that's a hack of a hack of the original Red Box version of a certain popular hack-and-slash fantasy game. That's a lot of hacking.

Some thoughts on Old School and a shout-out to Wolfgang

Mon 28
Posted by at 4:50 pm. Filed under: Design Notes

While on vacation I listened to a really awesome episode of Canon Puncture with The Mule Abides‘ Tavis Allison, where he really walks you through the history of Original Dungeons and Dragons, from a “where did this whole roleplaying thing come from?” perspective; exploring the roles of player/DM, the nature of rulesets and planned ambiguity, and other interesting “old school” topics. Even if you’re not terribly invested in any of this OSR stuff, I wholeheartedly recommend taking half an hour and listening to it, it’s a wonderful education for any tabletop gamer.

If there’s been a primary criticism leveled at Old School Hack, it’s been people trying to understand its claims of “old school”ness given its new-school sensibilities. I haven’t really felt it necessary to defend this pedigree with any level of ferocity, mostly because I’m not a ferocious person but also because I feel like the game’s connotation stands for itself (and in all honesty doesn’t necessarily mean that much in the long run). Just as I feel the “old school”ness is very much there if you look for it, I concede that it may well not be there if you aren’t. So be it.

Wolfgang Baur threw a shout-out my way in his most recent Kobold Courier newsletter, and I wanted to publicly express my appreciation. I was fortunate to get to spend some enthusiastic time with him at the 2010 GenCon (concurrent to Old School Hack’s coming out party) thanks to some generosity from my old-school-gamer-friend David (aka diaglo) and not only is Wolfgang’s Open Gaming project a really wonderful shared-ownership take on game creation and design, but his Kobold’s Guide to Game Design books (two of which he signed and gifted to me) were certainly influential in the subsequent refining of the game, and I heartily recommend them to any would-be game designers out there. Thanks for the thumbs-up, Wolfgang!