Monday, December 17, 2018

Old school gaming with new school rules

Over on Back to the Dungeon, Eldrad wrote about old-school gaming style with the newest of the D&D rules, 5th edition.

Old School 5E Without Changing the Rules

I would sum that up as, it's not as much the the rules, as it is how you play them.

My own GURPS game is an example of this.

It's hard to die in GURPS, even though combat is potentially lethal.

It's easy to spam out magic and rest and recover from injury - so much so that the rules have their own special cases to limit that.

It's a skill-based system with non-random character generation, something that dates back to prior to much of the old school games but yet is mostly associated with newer school games.

Given all that, you should really need to house rule the hell out of GURPS to make it play lethally, right?

Not really. The campaign graveyard is full to bursting.

The PCs risk death every delve.

They can't rely on rests any more than Eldrad's PCs can rely on a short rest when it's convenient.

Rules have a heavy influence on how the game runs, but you can run a game in a style that changes that.


  1. As someone who runs a D&D 4e game, I couldn't agree more. I'm currently running Hommlet. None of my houserules make combat any harder, and yet halfway through the adventure we are at 5 dead.

    I'm finding the difference is in the relative power level of monsters. A 1e hobgoblin is about equal to an unexceptional first level fighter, for a 1:1 ratio of hobgoblins to fighters. Zombies are slightly tougher than that, and bugbears are very tough. Whereas in 4e, the same number of monsters present much less of a risk; published 4e modules are pretty much all set on easy level.

    When I started building 4e monsters of equivalent power to their 1e counterparts(which is not a houserule, it's part of the 4e design), I started getting results identical to what I would have expected running a 1e game.

    To present the same level of risk for a first level 4e fighter, you need a ratio of roughly 1.3 monsters to

    On the other hand, two 4e hobgoblins (generally level 3 standard monsters) are required to present the same challenge for a second level fighter

    1. That's very cool, because I mostly see D&D4 held up as an example of something very, very far from old-school play.


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