Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

More Observations about #BrOSR Play

The discussion on #BrOSR ideas over on Twitter is really solid. The reason is that people have tried these things and then observed tremendous differences in how rpgs play afterwards. It does not take a lot of time before unusual things start to emerge from this approach to playing D&D! And indeed, it is the emphasis on PLAYING successful campaigns that sets #BrOSR discourse head and shoulders above the competition.

Abrahams Terror has stolen the show with perhaps the most insightful thread:

Each of the ideas, taken alone, is going pay dividends to any campaign that implements them. For me, it is something like, “There is a fundamentally different way of playing the game, that conventional rpgs practices won’t produce.” Accepting this possibility helped me to reconsider the presuppositions I had about playing.

The #BrOSR ideas are especially helpful for DMs. Players can discover the intensity & immersion through experience. The DM requires the vision to use them before its been demonstrated. Yes, Jeffograxian time, patrons, emergent story > contrived story, rules > campaign > pcs, appendix N, full player autonomy, mass scalable warfare, taking the spotlight off one pc group, rule-zero aversion, and more all contribute to an immersive and living world. To someone stuck in conventional rpg practices, any one of these becomes unimaginable because of how it ends up affecting every layer of activity in the world.

Example, tracking encumbrance: If we hand wave the encumbrance for a pc, to remain consistent we’d have to hand wave it for groups; merchants, armies, nomads, etc. Instantly there’s no meaningful difference between a pouch filled with diamonds and a warehouse full of iron tools.

Grounding time (Jeffrogaxian time), seems to be the glue that holds everything else together. If time isn’t grounded then a game could spend six months playing out two weeks & this would keep additional parties, patrons & high level players out of the game indefinitely.

Adding patron play to my game meant the players spent months unsure if they were interacting with the DM or another player. It’s a whole additional layer of fog of war. The pcs would get pissed when a patron cleansed a widow’s basement of giant rats before they had got around to it, because they wanted the glory, loot & favor of the fit widow.

The #BrOSR ideas were so compelling that all my players tried talking their wives into joining. Some of them started campaigns of their own & I got to play in them. They key seems to be a shift in fundamentals, and, naturally, that affects every single other thing.

By conventional rpg practices, I’m referring to spotlighting the pcs, putting emphasis on contrived plot, handwaving rules for what seems cool, thinking the dm is above the rules, assuming the pcs are heros instead of letting them earn it, being lax with time, fudging dice, etc

This contrast with conventional rpg practices is especially helpful. But also, the observation that each plank of the #BrOSR platform seems to fit together in an almost magical way and produce a fundamentally different type of game– one that repeatedly ends up pulling more and more players into the game with deeper levels of engagement.

Tikviking makes another good point:

The understanding that DnD is a campaign system for chainmail is the lynchpin of the whole thing. Patron play is about seeding an active campaign. 1:1 time is about keeping campaign time moving forward. Adventurers delve to equip armies for Mass battles.

Pretty well everyone bred on conventional approaches to roleplay takes for granted that the domain game is an “end game” for the campaign. The #BrOSR turns that on its head and shows people how to make domain play both relevant and playable from the start, creating an exciting can dynamic play-environment in the process. The #BrOSR ends up experiencing things that NEVER happen in conventional rpgs. Meanwhile, people in conventional games look forward to a domain experience that will never end up happening.

1:1 time combined with the usual D&D wilderness maps produces a very large canvas for the players to operate on. Because the game is “always on” and because there is no single spotlight and no conceivable action is off the table, everything that is placed in the campaign is active and in play effectively forever. With time ticking forward at a steady and consistent rate, all of these elements develop and move and engage with each other constantly. Rather than players interacting with a story, they end up acting within a model fantasy world.

Jon Mollison observes:

Scaling out from sword swings to armies marching against each other turns a group solitaire campaign into a truly cooperative experience.

With everything in play at once, and everything that is ever placed into the campaign taking on a life of its own, the old model of how rpgs even work is shattered.

The DM is no longer this grand sage that has somehow created a brilliant fantasy world with adventures that are designed to appeal and entertain the players. No! He is reduced to being merely a referee. And though he might know some secrets that the players are not aware of, he will be just as surprised and entertained by how events develop in the game as everyone else at the table.

The legendarily overworked DM disappears. And instead, the players gain many ways that they contribute to the vitality of the campaign.

It’s awesome!

One response to “More Observations about #BrOSR Play

  1. Blain April 12, 2022 at 10:17 pm

    First time I have actually seen or read anything that is about the #BrOSR that was third hand.
    Was interesting for the first half or 2/3rd when there was some discussion on what the ideas were about until it degenerated into the cult calling which did get very boring very quick.

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