Playing Like it's 1973

We wrapped up the Second Season of Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death, and we can now get started on a project that I have been really looking forward to; our own world! If Gothic Earth has taught me anything, it is that it is incredibly easy to create your own spaces. not to mention that it is more interesting to DM because I'm not even sure what is out there.

The biggest change to this game will be the ruleset. It is no secret that there are things in AD&D that I just don't like anymore, and through talking to some of the original players I have found the basic source materials that AD&D was based upon and use that instead. So, we'll be using mostely original Dungeons & Dragons and homebrew it on a need to basis. I want a game that is more Dave Arneson than Gary Gygax, but less tongue in cheek.

I am shooting for a classic game where the players don't know the rules. The more I examine systems, the more I notice the players basing decisions on game facts rather than their own imaginations. I've done my best to weed this kind of metagaming out of their thinking; you know, not limiting them to the character sheet. Is it too late to bring back that sense of wonder and amazement after 30 years of AD&D? I think so.

The TSR Code of Ethics

An interesting article has popped up over at Shane Plays about how TSR had a "Code of Ethics" that might be of interest to you. Go ahead and pop on over there and give it a read, I'll wait here.

Oh! You're back!

The whole time that I was reading that, I kept getting images of all of the times that they broke those rules. Ultimately, the documents are worthless, or were they? Sure, they broke a rule here or there, but I can only think of specific examples. For the most part, they DID keep to this Code, and they did so at their own peril.

This goes back to the Satanic Panic, so they say, but what really happened was that TSR wanted to bring their product to the mainstream market. What they did had nothing to do with "Keeping Children's Minds Safe", the very idea of a normal someone suddenly losing their mind and identity to a game is insulting. This wasn't done to make the Pope happy, this was done to make INVESTORS happy. Investors who had no idea what in the world that this product was, but they weren't going to let a little thing like that get in the way of wanting to control it.

The Golden Age of Dungeons & Dragons, back when D&D was Pop Culture. Back when it was a set of tools and rough ideas which you the user used to create your own adventures and told your own stories. Those days were gone. Now TSR was into telling you what the stories were, and they were safe, sanitary, and bland . . . unless of course, that got in the way of TSR's profits.

TSR controlled the monologue, and they have always done this well. Heck, they convinced us that 2e was a new system that was even better than the OLD crummy AD&D, when it was just the same system but clamped down tighter so that they had better control of the product. I'm not even convinced that 2e could really even stand on its own; during my games, I've always got to go back to 1e because it was just more fun! How many 2e books do you need to do the work of the 1e DMG?

Yes, yes. I know that this is a 2e Blog. I enjoy the rules, but that doesn't mean that I'm drinking the Kool-ade and liking it. Whenever you spend time with these products as we do, critical thinking is crucial, and I don't always like what I see.

Like many users at the time, I was addicted to modules. TSR had me believing that it was just too hard to do this myself, and that I didn't have time, or that my work just couldn't compete with the fine Professionals at TSR. I was a sucker. TSR didn't want you to see how easy it was to do it yourself, so instead of spending hours writing my own material, I'd spend days fixing their modules and tailoring them to fit my group. Some of the things on this list I changed, but looking back, it wasn't much. Somehow they managed to get me following this code as well.

That said, if one thinks about it, this code defies the very nature of Role Playing Games. It defies what it is that we do. We are talking about a medium where anything can happen, and the possiblities are endless. What if we just don't care that the hamlet has problems with trolls, they don't have to live there, and if trolls are making things dangerous, why risk my character on protecting these fools who want to live out in the middle of troll country? Why would I want to kill all of those goblins when I can enslave them all and have my own army? This NPC who invited me into his house and is described in detail is no doubt the villain, why not just kill him now while he isn't expecting it? Then you've got the DM that says, That isn't the way that the story goes! But isn't that the whole point behind the game?

Further Reading:

Trollsmyth: Abandoned Territory

Can World Building turn into a huge Red Herring?

Hey there Party People! Just popping in to say that I'm not dead, though we did have to cancel the last session because of the Flu, which was a bummer.

So what have I been up to while not updating my blog? Well, I've been prepping. Been second guessing myself a lot as well. I've got my major notes but I've noticed that I spend a lot of time crafting things that ultimately serve no purpose other than to expand a culture or project color. Things should function on multiple levels, aesthetics are good, but not when they distract away from ideas. I think that I kind of overwhelm my players with unintentional red herrings.

That said, I am working on tightening my focus, at least when it comes to preparing my notes. I know as a player I always hated blank worlds. I can't tell you how many times I played and the world was just too bland. I may had gone to the opposite spectrum. Designing an entire session based on just getting to know a foreign environment. Is that boring? We only get to play every forth Saturday, I really need to keep things moving.


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