Sigh. I'm bad at this whole "blogging" thing. I don't update near enough, despite my preoccupation with gaming and gaming related sites. I hope to change that in the future.
Something made me think of this blog again today, though. Unfortunately not directly related to Swords & Wizardry, but in a round about way it's connected. I was having an email discussion with my wife - also an avid gamer, and our conversation revolved around the differences between old school and newer gaming engines.
My opinion runs towards liking a game that makes you work for the answers. I feel that there is much more reward in a difficult game, where results aren't based on a check made by a 'character', but a game that challenges the 'player'. Therefore, I find it perfectly acceptable to [i]lose[/i] when playing an old school game. And I don't just mean a good old-fashioned TPK. Those can and will happen in any system. What I mean by lose goes back to the inherent design philosophy from the 70's.
If the mighty thief Michael Sandar doesn't find the secret door necessary to move forward in the adventure, and neither do his companions, well... he doesn't proceed. There's no "well, you didn't make your spot check, so give me a knowledge: dungeoneering check to see if it looks like there may be a secret door here." And you can fail. I like that. It's realistic.
My wife... well, she doesn't like to lose. I see her point, but if we keep pandering to the players so that they always win, have all the powers and get all the lootz in the dungeon, clear every level... why even bother rolling that knowledge check. Just tell the player.
To me, that's not satisfying.
Anyway, to wrap this up, I wrote an email response to her that was only half serious, but was very much a "blowing off steam rant". I found it funny to write, and hope all two of my followers find it as amusing to read. I promise to make the effort to get back to this blog, and not have it sit here stagnant.
"And to continue on this thought… to me, being given the answers is a slap in the face. Roll a check – here’s everything you needed to know. Well… why did I even bother rolling? Why not just tell me to begin with. If the DM is just giving everything away, where does it stop? Pathfinder? 4e? Let’s plan our characters and have the DM make sure they don’t die. Nothing can happen to them because they’re the hero’s of the story. It’s not fair and not fun if all that work I did making a character is gone to waste because the DM put me up against an encounter that was 3.75 CR’s to high. We’d already had our allotment of encounters that day. The DM shouldn’t have rolled a random encounter, it wasn’t fair! I QUIT! Or how about ability scores? We should just stop rolling them, because Timmy might not roll the four 18’s he wanted. Now, let’s give everyone the same array of scores. Yeah, that way everyone is balanced. Of course, the classes aren’t balanced, so let’s make sure that they all do the same thing, get the same powers, get the same number of feats an skills… forget it. Let’s just make one character class and call it “adventurer”. Now everyone is the same, and no one feels left out and no one can complain about how Timmy’s character sucks but Bobby’s has five ability scores above 20. And let’s make them all half dragon, half angel, half demon, part tiefling, warforged, star pact, quarter hobgoblins who can dual race into humans for the extra feat if they need to.
My game, 3d6 down the line, suck it up and play a fighter with a 13 strength, roll your hit points at first level, and we call ‘em hobbits, not Halflings.