Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Matt Colville Gobsmacked by Time Rules

Matt Coleville is gobsmacked by the fact that the old editions of D&D “reference the notion that the game was intended to be played in real time.” I don’t blame him! It’s absolutely foreign to how people have played D&D for, oh… THE LAST FORTY YEARS!!

The really cool thing about this is that he can be sure that this crazy idea really is true because he has a famous module that expressly goes out of its way to arbitrarily protect the players between sessions. It’s almost as if it was commonly understood that game time would continue to move forward between sessions and that things could happen to your characters even if you weren’t actively playing them.

Pretty wild stuff!

Note to everyone that has said I was wrong about 1970s D&D over the past three years here: I look forward to seeing you go into the comments on this video in order to tell him that Gygax didn’t play that way, that nobody used the rule, that he is reading the rules wrong if he thinks that this was seriously the intent of the designers, and nothing that matters about D&D can possibly work if somebody tried to run a campaign in this manner. Good luck!

It won’t do you any good, though. My concept of what real D&D actually is is proliferating. Why is that? Well, one reason is that my view of D&D is derived from the game’s actual rules. Sane people like Matt Coleville are persuaded of the basic idea as soon as it is pointed to them. But there is another reason why timekeeping is back in style. And that is because it really is a fundamental idea that will allow you to experience the kind of successful long-running campaigns you have always dreamed of.

But you won’t hear anything about that in this video. Alas, Matt Colville is still only in the “gobsmacked” phase of rediscovering what classic D&D was really about. But fear not! There are in fact people that have spent countless hours exploring how these strange rules function within an actual campaign. Even better, one of them has written up the definitive introduction to this style of play.

You can get it here.


3 responses to “Matt Colville Gobsmacked by Time Rules

  1. simontmn March 24, 2023 at 5:36 am

    It certainly seems to have been at least generally assumed through the BX era 81-83, with adventures like Castle Amber & Isle of Dread. But I don’t recall it having been made explicit much other than in the 1e DMG. I would guess that Tracy & Hickman never used it (though it would work fine in their Rahasia module) and that it was only really discarded with Dragonlance, the first time there was an Epic Quest published campaign.

  2. rannos22 March 24, 2023 at 6:46 am

    Matt won’t get anywhere close to the same level of hate because he doesn’t have the moral fortitude to stand up and say “we’ve been playing the game wrong for 40 years”

    At most, even if he accept all of the BROSR ideas and accepts that they make a far superior game, he’ll say “hey gang, here’s some rules you could use to improve your game, but you play however you want haha. The only real rule is to have fun right?”

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