... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, April 9, 2010

No More Freedom

"...all the twists and turns of old school gaming but minus the freedom and danger."
Penny Arcade - OD&D
You all should know me by now: I prefer to focus on the practical rather than the political. I don't care about whether this blog post was insulting or uplifting or useful or whatever, nor do I care about how people should react to it (beyond "show common courtesy."

I'm more concerned about how one could practically remove "freedom and danger". I know what it means to remove danger; I can imagine the DM here promising resurrection for all at the end of this experiment. But what does removing freedom mean? Why would one do that? It can't be because he thinks that's what old school is about, because in the edition wars, that's always been the complaint of old schoolers about modern editions.

So, what does it mean?


  1. Hrm, yeah I'm not sure how taking the freedom and danger out makes for a fun game, but to each his own. Still, it's nice to see S&W get some love at Penny Arcade!

  2. It seems to be part of the roller-coaster metaphor. You have no freedom to direct your own course as a player, and as scary as it may feel it is totally safe. That is, the players are being railroaded into following the DM's storyline within a quasi-OD&D format.

  3. @ftpnw: but isn't railroading and GM-created storylines part of the 3e/4e way? Is he basically saying he's making old school play more like 4e?

    And if so, how is he doing this? The implication from the blog post was that he achieved this with a rules modification, rather than merely forcing scripted events. What did he change to take away freedom?

  4. Some players do genuinely hate not knowing what they "should" being doing. I've got one in my group. He gets really restless when the party isn't progressing towards an established goal, and always feels like he's choosing wrong anytime he's deciding what to do. He's requested to me several times now that I start railroading the party *more*, and actually cheered when they ended up going into a tunnel because "at least we won't be able to go around any more of your encounters".

    I'm still not really sure how to deal with it, truthfully, because its so alien to my own mindset, and that of the rest of the group. The guy also likes to spend hours collecting achievements in computer and Xbox games, and I think that sort of completionist urge may be part of the cause. But yeah. They do exist.

  5. OK. So let's assume Gabe at Penny Arcade has a group of players who are all like that. So Gabe makes sure there's no freedom when they play 4e, it's all a railroad.

    Then he gets them to play a session or two of S&W with the rules modified to take away the freedom. What did he change?