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Episode 061: Old School Gaming with Matthew Finch

We were joined by Matthew Finch of Mythmere Games, publisher of the ENnie Award-Winning Swords & Wizardry. We discussed old school gaming (we're talking 70s to early 80s, vintage D&D): the recent surge in the popularity of the old school style and the OGL-driven retro-clone movement.

Game Links:
Basic Fantasy
Castles & Crusades
Dungeons & Dragons
Labyrinth Lord
A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming

Other Link:
12 to Midnight Buried Tales Treasure Hunt

Direct download: tgtt061.mp3
Category:TGTT Classic -- posted at: 1:08am MDT

  • Good interview, and I downloaded the mentioned Primer. However, I cut my role-playing teeth (1979-\\\'83) on Traveller, Champions 3rd edition, and Toon, all of which DO have skills, which (in the latter two cases) DO feature characters with \\\"powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men,\\\" and whose play style DOESN\\\'T necessarily include instant death by random Godzilla-level critters or GM fiat. Basic Roleplaying, which was also around during that era, has skills (its characters are admittedly more fragile than those of Toon). Despite the existence of 4C, it has always occurred to me that so-called \\\"old school roleplaying\\\" is very much a D&D phenomenon. Those of us who never played D&D or fantasy games directly inspired by it may have a very different take on what \\\"old school\\\" play means. ;)

    posted by: Seneschal on 2009-11-02 16:32:00

  • The fact that game rules per se are not subject to copyright protection in the U.S. isn\\\'t a \\\'loophole.\\\' It is a purposefully-adopted policy position. A loophole is an unintended technicality around a law. U.S. law very purposefully does not protect game rules.

    posted by: Steerpike on 2009-09-01 22:23:00

  • Clearly you guys have touched on another controversial topic here! I always believed that Judges Guild had licenses to produce their material. The products did, after all, read: \\\"Approved for use with...\\\" on their covers. Was this a load of bull, then? I guess I\\\'m a purist and if I want to play something akin to first edition AD&D, I\\\'ll just play first edition AD&D (books are pretty easy to find), not some repackaged variant. Obviously YMMV...

    posted by: Ogma on 2009-09-02 03:17:00

  • Ogma - everyone should play what they\\\'re comfortable with. I have the 3 core books to AD&D and I go back to them often when I want to read High-Gygaxian or reference a table that wasn\\\'t ported over. It should be noted that the primary purpose of creating OSRIC was to give publishers the ability to write legally against AD&D rules, but have the ability to claim compatibility. It\\\'s different from saying \\\"Compatible to the game released in 1979 that starts with A and ends with S\\\", and to say \\\"Compatible with OSRIC\\\" which is a known AD&D retroclone. The same is true for OD&D (Swords & Wizardry) and Moldvay Basic (Labyrinth Lord). The other thing is that the \\\"repackaged variant\\\" has also made the rules more accessible and cleaned up, as well as reorganized them for easier access. Everyone\\\'s got their thing, and the cool thing is that in the end, we\\\'re all playing the same thing. If nothing else, the retroclones have injected a lot of life and excitement back into the old way of playing the game.

    posted by: Chgowiz on 2009-09-03 00:45:00

  • What a change up! You guys almost sound depressed about the format switch. There was a moment where Veronica says \\\"awesome\\\" in the most reserve way. The interview went great, and the content was excellent.

    posted by: Micah on 2009-08-31 17:47:00

  • Hey Micah! What you heard was my \\\"learning\\\" tone. I knew almost nothing about old school gaming going in. Only started in \\\'97 after I met Ron. It was all very fascinating. As far as the format switch goes, I think the reason I sounded so reserved is that I\\\'m so excited about our new show it\\\'s like TGTT is becoming our really serious show. Like it needed a more serious \\\"awesome.\\\" :P

    posted by: Veronica on 2009-08-31 21:08:00

  • I\\\'d like to reply to a comment above in order to dispel a misunderstanding some people might have about these \\\"clones\\\": \\\"First of all, I have to confess that I\\\'m a little uncomfortable with the way these companies are essentially \\\"exploiting\\\" the work of the original designers by offering up various loopholes in the copyright.\\\" These games (I\\\'m only talking about the \\\"clones\\\" proper, so not including Castles & Crusades) are free. BFRPG, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Sword & Sorcery; while some of them do have print copies for sale (AFFAIK at cost) on lulu, all of them can be downloaded from their websites for free. Their creators don\\\'t make any money off of them, so there really isn\\\'t any sort of \\\"exploitation\\\". Now, there ARE various materials for these game systems out there, such as adventure modules, which ARE sold commercially. These, however, are original works, and creating and selling your original work surely doesn\\\'t count as exploitation, either - after all, Judges Guild did the same thing back in the day, and nobody leveraged that accusation against them.

    posted by: Premier on 2009-09-01 17:32:00

  • Ha! I finally joined the 21st century and listened to an RPG podcast. Great interview. I\\\'d like to add that if you\\\'re looking for resources for GMs/players new to old school gaming, there are a couple of Quick Starts for S&W and OSRIC available (I wrote the S&W QS.) OSRIC Fast Play: S&W Quick Start:

    posted by: Chgowiz on 2009-08-29 16:28:00

  • First of all, I have to confess that I\\\'m a little uncomfortable with the way these companies are essentially \\\"exploiting\\\" the work of the original designers by offering up various loopholes in the copyright. Second, I was amused by your comments about the reaction of older gamers to 4E... I\\\'ve played D&D since 1978... I\\\'ve played ALL editions since. I think 4E is a delight and a terrific and very accessible edition of the game that is drawing in new players and keeping old farts like me entertained, especially when we just don\\\'t have the time to devote to a juggernaut like 3.x.

    posted by: Ogma on 2009-08-29 20:33:00

  • Hey folks! Thanks for the comments. Ogma, my comments were based on feedback from the bulk of my roleplaying customers at the store who have been gaming at least as long as me (25 years). That said, there\\\'s a reason I didn\\\'t say ALL older gamers. ;)

    posted by: Ron on 2009-08-29 20:54:00

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