October 8, 2013

I Missed Old School Because I Was Doing D&D the Right Way

Last month I took part in the 30 Day D&D Challenge (and had fun doing so). During the process two things struck me as odd. When it came to answering Favorite Gameworld and Favorite Adventure You Have Ran
I realized I have never run any of the old worlds or modules. Sure I was playing D&D back then and I actually have all the worlds and modules. I have the Greyhawk setting material; I have the Judges Guild Wilderlands. I have the Tomb of Horrors, the complete Giant Series, all the B series (and A and C and etc) - all the modules from the days of "old-school". I read them all and enjoyed reading them. But I have never run any of them...ever.

There are a couple of reasons for this...
1) When we started playing D&D, sessions consisted of throwaway bits of dungeon exploration. There were no campaigns, no worlds. None of that mattered to us.
2) Because we were kids we didn't have a lot of money. We shared whatever gaming books we got. One of us would buy a book, we'd photocopy it and give everyone else a copy. Thus it is was understood that everyone had read all the books.

Thus it was that when I started running games I would create everything. I would write the dungeon adventure myself from scratch. When we eventually "grew up" and wanted more "realism" I created my own game worlds.

I did what D&D was meant to be; I created everything myself.

For me, at least in the early years from which "old-school" is based, published material was used as a way to show us examples on how it could be done and as inspiration. Therefore I missed the days of gaming in Greyhawk nor did I ever hear the battle-cry of the kobolds in the Caves of Chaos (I was running the 5E Caves of Chaos Playtest and one of my players did it and then had to explain what it was to me). All too often I see "old-school" grognards mention playing in module X or why they love world Y, but I missed all that. Maybe that's why I am less nostalgic of the old days. Maybe that's why I don't feel tied to the OSR beyond having some fundamental play styles in common and playing in the same time period most of the OSR came from.

All that being said, I did eventually start running published material, mostly as a way to cut down on prep time. But it came later, after the early days of old-school. Do I feel like I played D&D better than people who used published material? No, just that I may have missed out on some common ground. But really, all that matters is that the players had fun and I had fun making my worlds of adventure.
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