Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

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Category Archives: Old School D&D

Fake Virtues are a Cover for Real Vices

Wizards of the Coast’s transphobic drow continue to be the gift that keeps on giving:


Thanks to Carl here for helpfully summarizing everything wrong with second edition D&D in one image.

(And come to think of it, this reminds me that Gygaxian Naturalism is probably more correctly termed Greenwoodian Naturalism.)

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it already, don’t miss E. Reagan Wright’s “So old and young, and so gay”. If you think he’s exaggerating about the Left there, then you’re more than likely out of the loop and misinformed.

Here’s a primer if you’re so inclined:


“The person responsible for making the things you really want to see is you.”

Here’s one of the luminaries of the OSR throwing down the gauntlet to a very familiar complaint:

Things that I believe that will make everybody hate me, part XVII:

1. The very purpose of identifying a “community” is to recognize some specific difference from the general population. The very definition of a “community” must exclude most people from it for it to even be a community.

2. If you think the OSR is too straight/white/male making too much straight/white/male stuff, well, even if that was 100% correct… where’s your supplement? Adventure? Version of The Rules?

Every one of us in the OSR had to decide that something that we wanted wasn’t being given to us, so we made it ourselves. And each of us continues to do our own thing. If you think that’s lacking in some way or another, that’s not our responsibility, it’s your opportunity.

The person responsible for making the things you really want to see is you. Embarrass us with your riches. We can’t stop you. In fact, we’re waiting for it. And you. Really. Step on up.

You know… if “step on up” is the answer when you’re sort of a niche of a niche in a scene that’s already a niche group… then how much more would it apply to a supposedly massive silent majority that’s perpetually put off by the social justice bias of Hollywood, publishing, and television?

D&D Cruft is Mostly Ignored in Practice

Back in the depths of time, people took their inscrutable AD&D hardbacks… and mostly ran them like the less imposing “Basic” sets, ignoring anything that they didn’t understand and passing over anything that got in the way of what they wanted.

In this era of unending splatbooks and the arms race of new character classes and abilities… pretty much the same thing is happening. Not only do most players prefer to play humans as opposed to the modern day descendant of the gnomish illusionist/thief, half-orc cleric/thief, and elvish fighter/magic-user/thief… but they also opt out of contemporary D&D’s tedious and migraine-inducing feat rules.

EN World has the whole story here.

Hard Truths on The Nature of D&D’s Evolution

This is one of the coolest things on the internet right now:

Ron Edwards delves into the topic of how D&D was actually experienced by most people most of the time from the seventies on through to today’s mainline derivatives. And note: this is not about what went on in at Dave Arneson’s sand table. And it’s not about people who played in the original Greyhawk campaign with the gang up in Wisconsin. This is about everybody else.  The people who did not have the luxury of being initiated into the tabletop role-playing hobby by somebody who knew somebody that sat at the feat of Gygax himself.

Though that did happen. The rest of us were unlikely to even have a coherent rule set. Ron talks about being confronted with Holmes Basic D&D, a couple of incompatible supplements for the “original” game, the all new AD&D Monster Manual, and the special re-release of “White Box” D&D that was out at right about the same time. How exactly is a twelve year old supposed to sort that out?!

I came along late in the game and my experience was very similar: Moldvay Basic D&D, Mentzer Expert Set, AD&D Oriental Adventures, Gamma World Third Edition, the first solitaire adventure for Tunnels & Trolls, and a handful of Traveller “Little Black Books” made up my “D&D” collection. The Gamma World game rules were half baked and the box included a map from 2nd edition but not the material that would allow you to use it in actual play. Moldvay Basic was not the set that all the other kids were buying by the mid-eighties… and the Mentzer sets were generally perceived as being not the “real” thing. The actual AD&D rules were incomprehensible. Finding the game that would support what you were supposed to be able to do with this stuff was pretty much impossible, for all intents and purposes.

Where does that leave us? The pioneering game that everybody recollects fondly doesn’t really exist. In practice, most of us ended up interpolating a game ourselves and convincing ourselves (or our players at least) that it was the real deal. This was so normal, and so fundamental to table top role-playing that the idea that you could pick up an rpg and play it exactly as it instructs you to and that you might get a better or worse experience as a direct result of how it was designed would have been absolutely incomprehensible to most people most of the time.

And to this day people still sagely explain to the supposedly naive edition warriors around them: it’s the Dungeon Master that counts. A good DM can make even the lousiest rule set awesome. Therefore… system doesn’t matter. It’s bunk, of course. It sounds really smart, but it’s complete bunk. And that sort of quasi-mystical non-thought is a direct result of the most influential game in the hobby being never really designed, developed, and published in the first place.

So Say We All

First off, don’t teach your kids to play D&D.

But if you do… at least teach them to play correctly. And I mean every jot and tittle: d4 thieves, 3d6 in order, clerics with no spells at first level, player characters with a single hit point, magic-users with a single spell, elves that never make it to second level, morale checks, monster reactions, henchmen and hirelings. ALL OF IT! As Moldvay intended.

Demented genius E. Reagan Wright follows up his bombshell post with a tour de force of correct gamethink:

There are plenty of reasons to teach your kid D&D.  The table is a place where you can teach them about risk and reward.  You can let them roam freely in the game world in a way you can’t at a D&D convention (without fear of some creeper making passes at them).  You can even sprinkle a little cultural roots into their life by using folklore tales like Baba Yaga or Little People or Firbolgs or Odin into the game.  Logistical planning, knowing when to fight and when to run, learning how to save your GP for plate mail, all of these are skills that will serve them in good stead later in life.

But you can’t impart these valuable life lessons if you play D&D the way Kevin Makice suggests.  Play an OSR game, and play it straight, and you won’t have to fear your kids growing up to waste their life writing free D&D articles or joining some death cult like Antifa.  Metaphorically speaking, that vapid teen girl Mike Mearls will always be out there checking texts on quiet suburban roads, but at least your kids will have some thin veneer of protection between their mushy little heads and the hot, steamy blacktop.

That’s the way I roll, and my wives’ boyfriends’ kids are turning out pretty good.


I am reliably informed that 2018 is going to be just plain lit.

But this is only the beginning!