Monday, May 25, 2009

Old School Question Finally Answered

It seems that the topic of how to define "old school" gaming has arisen once again, much like the mighty Cthulhu rising from ancient R'lyeh to plague mankind with misfortune. I'm certainly surprised as to how much time and effort is wasted upon this debate when the answer to what is old school was settled once and for all back in 1979.

It probably slipped under most people's radars, but that year saw the publication of the Dragon Dudes Handguide for Advanced Dragons & Deep Pits (TPR Games). Within that tome, on p. 113, the subject of old school gaming and how to determine if your current campaign and/or ruleset qualifies as worthy of the old school label was addressed. Frankly, I'm shocked that James Maliszewski has overlooked this, as he's displayed much scholarly knowledge about the history of this game of ours. Perhaps the unknown, hideous, black oil of Dwimmermount hath mazed his mind. The fact that Jeff Rients hasn't beaten me to mentioning this book is also quite perplexing, since Jeff is usually the go-to guy for rpg miscellanea and weirdness. One too many folding chairs to the head in a steel cage match, Jeff?

Luckily, this humble author is here to take up the slack. I spent the morning going through my old books that had been packed away in storage. Due to my extensive training as an archivist, it only took me four and a half hours to find my copy of Dragon Dudes Handguide and to scan the relevant page. Seeing how TPR Games went out of business some years ago, I feel comfortable posting this scan here without the fear of legal ramifications.

Now that the method of determining whether or not your game is old school with 100% accuracy has been established, please go out and enjoy your summer. I know that I certainly intend to enjoy mine.


Matt Finch said...

This is a screamingly good laugh!

Joethelawyer said...

That's just awesome man. :)

Keith Sloan said...

Very funny.
I agree that unless you are drawing chits from Dixie cups then it isn't old school!

Unknown said...

Oh my. *snerk*

Sadly, I fear your chart must be in error. According to these guidelines, my summer Bliss Stage game is 93% likely to be Old School, while my circa 1981 AD&D game is only 82%.

Clearly, you've neglected to reprint the Anti-Munchkin Correction Factor table published in The Otyugh #41, Spring 1982 issue. Unfortunately, the original printing of these rules did not envision the debasement of the Dragons & Deep Pits game by the legions of new players drawn in by the brief mass-market popularity of the game in the early 80s.

Joseph said...

Heh... I lol'd.

Knightsky said...

Game is played while listening to Rush: +2112%It's a good thing I had already finished breakfast when I read this, otherwise I would have to be cleaning off my monitor just now.

E.G.Palmer said...

That's brilliant! Jolly Blackburn and Dave Kenzer are now gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair at the fact that they didn't include this in Hackmaster.

Timeshadows said...

Whew! I'm safe then.
Rush and aromatic smoke as a monster design aid pulled me well above 2000%.

"Stealthily attacking, Prince By-Tor slays his foe! The men are free to run now from labyrinths below. The wraith of the Necromancer shadows through the sky; another land to darken with evil prism eye."

AndreasDavour said...

Why do I suddenly feel the urge to design a game?

taichara said...

Slain. Absolutely slain.

Brilliant ;3

Anonymous said...

So, so awesome. I want to buy you a beer.

Dr Rotwang said...

I tried this with Encounter Critical.

I, uh...math, I...

...I had to stop adding.

Michael Curtis said...

Aw shucks, folks. Glad you liked it. A kernel of a joke popped into my head this morning and wouldn't die until I did something with it.

I just felt that we gamers, like all humans, sometimes get a little too serious about our recreations and my intent was to poke fun at all of us. It also stands to reason that it there's was any way to settle the old school debate once and for all, it'd involve dice and a big table to roll them on.

I hope James and Jeff took my joke in the spirit it was intended. I single out James because it was his stone in the old school pond that started the ripples through the blogosphere this weekend and Jeff, poor Jeff, warranted a mention because, halfway through the graphic, it struck me that if anyone had a copy of the Dragon Dudes Handguide, he'd probably be the guy with one on his shelf somewhere.

Thanks for indulging my sometimes askew funny bone everyone.

Gothridge Manor said...

The absolute best response to all the old school nonsense and the only one I could read all the way through. Loved it.

Robert Saint John said...

"Game is played while listening to Rush +2112%"

Congratulations, sir. You win the Internets! Please forward your mailing address.

Age of Fable said...

You think this chart is funny..but then you start thinking of corrections to it: +40%.

Reese Laundry said...

Fantastic! You made my morning, Sir.
Where can I get my copy?

R. Lawrence Blake said...

"have a full page description and aren't Sahuagin"

haha! Man, this is pure gold. Thanks for making this.

Christopher B said...

Brilliant! I agree that a light-hearted poke in the ribs is just what this "OSR" needs every now and then. And yours was perfectly executed!

jdebetolaza said...

Great post! My actual game is -183.1% old-school (only got points for 1/month death and and the two-page character sheet).

grodog said...

Excellent work, Mike! :D :D

Now you just need to add some scoring for:

- All Authors' First/Last Names begin with G or earlier letters: +75%
- Authors' First/Last Names begin with same letter (cumulative with previous bonus): +85%
- Any Authors' names include *: -265%
- Thank You lists include over 10 names: +14%
- Thank You lists include actual playtesters: +46%
- Thank You lists include internet usernames: -39%
- Thank You lists include PC names: +3%
- Thank You lists include in-jokes no one outside of the publishing company gets: -73%



Jeff Rients said...


Mark said...

*slow clap*
Well done, sir, well done.

I have to take issue with the measly +4% modifier for Mt. Dew, but otherwise, well done...

The chart just leads to more questions, though -
what would the respective modifiers be for:

-the game being mentioned in a positive or negative light by the GNS crowd?

-number of charts > 1 (not counting equipment lists)?

-one mechanic for versus multiple mechanics (combat, skill check, saves, etc.)?


Knightsky said...

I have to take issue with the measly +4% modifier for Mt. Dew, but otherwise, well done... In the errata for AD&DP, they reveal that Jolt Cola gets you a +20% modifier.

a. dude said...

I'm 21 and I make up all my player races when I'm high. I guess I appreciate the classics more than most.