Sunday, June 3, 2018

OSR Commentary - Player Expectation Verse Choice In OSR & Old School Games

So over the years I've learned a bit of balance when it comes to using Arduin or any old school material. The dungeon master is part set designer, part referee, guide when it comes to the worlds of our imagination. Dave Hargrave used these ideals in his home campaign with gusto but not abandoned. Over the years of reading about & talking to the various players in Mr. Hargrave's home campaigns.

The published material didn't mirror the writer/designer. In other words the dungeon master Dave Hargrave was very careful what & who he put into his games. The needs of the campaign are dictated by the players & where they're taking the campaign setting. This is even true for my home campaign using an OSR system or two.
Campaign & game balance are very different things, Arduin's material seem like its not balanced & beyond a certain extent its not. But the world of Arduin itself? Well there's an internal world setting consistency to it. Too much of it & you get the dull hum drum efforts of 'Wizbros' efforts over the last 10 or 15 years.
Get too much game balance in your systems & the spark of the material is gone in a puff of game design.

Just a stack of books without players!

The players are the deciders of the direction of the campaign world not the author & often times they come to the table with expectations that the dungeon master may not be aware of. This comes with the ideas & exceptions that the DM has to bring by communications with the players. While this may seem like common sense its often seems in my experience that the players & dungeon masters can be at odds. In the Arduin fan group on G+ I'll get Dave Hargrave's home games weren't as wild & crazy as Arduin reputation is among some of his fans. Yes this is true but players coming to the table crave excitement, adventure, & just more then a wee bit of the crazy.

Knowing where & when to apply 'the crazy' is a bit of a fine art unto itself. The fact is that keeping it in the game is fine as long as it applies to the adventure. Gamma World often did this in spades & when correctly done in an original Dungeons & Dragons game it works light years into making the game a lean & mean science fantasy machine.

I love plane & dimension jumping, playing with the fires of Sword & Sorcery, & generally having a solid adventure either in an unexpected dungeon or an adventure location. My current game uses events of real world history mixed in with a plethora of science fantasy elements. The players weren't expecting it but have been rolling with it much to my happiness but it was their choice.
Choice & communication among players seems to be the best of both worlds in both old school & OSR play.

This may often be the result but the players will thank you for it. The poor, dead, dumb bastard!

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