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Not just an old school game.

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:06 am
by Dragonhelm
There are a significant number of C&C fans who approach C&C as part of the "old school revolution." I can see that. It really hearkens back to AD&D. In a sense, it's like it's the missing link between 2e and 3e.

At the same time, I don't think that C&C needs to be solely an old-school game. It's flexible enough to allow for some new school ideas too. Whether it's rules items like skills and feats, or races, or whatever...I think you could create any number of dynamics.

I'm not expressing myself the best tonight. But what do you all think? Can C&C be both old and new school?

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:49 am
by rabindranath72
What do you mean by "old-school"? It's definitely not being "rules light," as many games show (though many old games are.)
All of the "old-school revolution" games out there more or less reproduce the rules of some specific old game systems. More often than not, these games are a jumble of rules subsystems, each designed to handle a specific aspect, with little or not thought about the interaction with the rest.
To me, "old-school" means mostly "challenging the player more than the character." This has many implications, both from the point of view of the rules themselves, which lack metagaming aspects (e.g. the 4e skill challenges), and in terms of the player attitude they reinforce, which don't feel "entitled" to anything, e.g. by having a very strong character at start. Another aspect is the fact that "stories" are mostly emergent attributes of a campaign due to player action, i.e. there is nothing which enables the "telling" of stories which are imposed as an a priori structure on the game.

I would say that in terms of game play, C&C is definitely old-school, due to the lack of metagaming aspects and player entitlement. Though the game is "new school" in the sense that it has a mostly-unified system for handling actions in the game (though some of the solutions adopted are far from elegant, if not outright broken, e.g. the rules for handling surprise.) The fact that it's also bare-bones seems to invite to customisation and creation, which is always a plus.

Personally, I find that C&C lacks many elements which I strongly desire from any old-school D&D-like game, namely options for campaign level play (castle construction, siege warfare, wilderness adventuring etc.) and some other aspects, like morale and retainers. C&C has been sold as "complete" with only two books, but that IMO is not really true; at least not in the old-school D&D sense. Hopefully the CKG will handle all these aspects.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:39 pm
by Havard
I think Rabindranath has a good point about this boiling down to definitions of old school and new school.

As I see it, C&C takes some good things from the older games and merges that with a quite modern system. In a few places, I feel that the older "feel" elements hamper the system, while in other points, C&C avoids some of the pit falls, which led to the long prep time and long winded combats of 3E.

I refuse to define myself as either new or old school. I have criticized older games since I started playing BECMI and am also able to find flaws in the newer games. I actually see "challenging the player" elements in both old and new games, and this is something I don't like. Both 4E and Dragonlance 1E are accused for imposing story onto the game, yet I insist that this is a case of poor application. Similarly Old school and many 4E modules are very sand-boxish, which IMO is also a bad thing as a true sand box is also pointless.

Making changes to the system is possible, but it is important to ask yourself what you want from the game. If you add more options to C&C, will you be able to keep the simplicity which makes it fast to run or will you hamper its strengths? New races are unproblematic, but feats might be.



-Havard

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:40 pm
by rabindranath72
Havard wrote:Both 4E and Dragonlance 1E are accused for imposing story onto the game, yet I insist that this is a case of poor application. Similarly Old school and many 4E modules are very sand-boxish, which IMO is also a bad thing as a true sand box is also pointless.
-Havard
I don't think the dichotomy is between sand-box and story driven. More to the point, the latter is frequently confused with railroad, but it need not be so.
For example, if you setup an adventure in which there is an ongoing story in which the PCs can get involved, and which they can meaningfully affect, you should be careful to NOT condition the events (in time and space) to the presence of the PCs; this is the actual railroad.
The original Dragonlance modules were mostly story-based, but in more than one spot, the DM is "forced" to railroad the players (e.g. they MUST go to Xak-Tsaroth; they MUST go to see the Unicorn etc.)
As I have experimented many times, by simply placing some temporal and spatial events, the players can get involved into the story in unexpected ways (and thus exciting also for the DM.) Last time I GMed DL1, the players completely avoided more than half of the module, and by pure chance they went straight to Xak-Tsaroth. It was wonderful, because they didn't have a clue what was going on, and I didn't know how things would go next, besides the fact that the Dragonarmies would continue their conquest of Abanasinia.
Hence you can have a sand-box setting, in which sweeping stories can be told if the players get involved in them.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:19 pm
by Havard
rabindranath72 wrote:I don't think the dichotomy is between sand-box and story driven. More to the point, the latter is frequently confused with railroad, but it need not be so.
For example, if you setup an adventure in which there is an ongoing story in which the PCs can get involved, and which they can meaningfully affect, you should be careful to NOT condition the events (in time and space) to the presence of the PCs; this is the actual railroad.
The original Dragonlance modules were mostly story-based, but in more than one spot, the DM is "forced" to railroad the players (e.g. they MUST go to Xak-Tsaroth; they MUST go to see the Unicorn etc.)
As I have experimented many times, by simply placing some temporal and spatial events, the players can get involved into the story in unexpected ways (and thus exciting also for the DM.) Last time I GMed DL1, the players completely avoided more than half of the module, and by pure chance they went straight to Xak-Tsaroth. It was wonderful, because they didn't have a clue what was going on, and I didn't know how things would go next, besides the fact that the Dragonarmies would continue their conquest of Abanasinia.
Hence you can have a sand-box setting, in which sweeping stories can be told if the players get involved in them.
Interesting perspective. I agree with you that many of those modules accused of being railroady are easily fixed. What would you say the dichotomy is then? Between Sandbox and Railroad?

-Havard

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:08 am
by rabindranath72
I would say Railroad vs. all the rest. RPGs are supposed to be games in which players can do whatever they want, by definition. A Railroad destroys this basic premise.

Story-based vs. Sandbox is not much of dichotomy IMO, since one can become the other quite easily. Usually, it's just a matter of scale, both in space and time. Story-based campaigns usually cover the whole arc of a character's careers (e.g. Adventure Paths) whereas Sandboxes tend to be more local, both in time and space (think the classic D&D modules, which one can intertwine to create a campaign.) Usually Sandboxes develop into Story-based games only locally (i.e. each adventure is a small story in itself.)

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:40 am
by Havard
Among the OSR there is alot of praise for the Sandbox style campaigns. IMO, the pitfall of the Sandbox model is that it can end up in a directionless and meaningless game where adventurers travel around on the game map killing monsters and taking their stuff. IMO this can be just as bad as a game where the DM forcibly steers the party according to his (or the module's) structure. Forced meaning is no worse than lack of meaning.

Keep on the Borderlands is praised as a great adventure, but IMO it is only great as long as the DM and players are able to fill the great framework it provides with something meaningful. Equally, a railroady adventure requires the DM to take charge and break with the structure if it doesn't fit with the pre-concieved ideas.

What do you think. Am I making sense? :)

-Havard

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:37 pm
by ghendar
rabindranath72 wrote:I would say Railroad vs. all the rest. RPGs are supposed to be games in which players can do whatever they want, by definition. A Railroad destroys this basic premise.
I agree. However in the case of the Dragonlance modules, the whole point of them is to essentially RPG your way through the books and in the books, the characters go here and then go there. It's all very scripted. I don't understand the complaint about those modules being railroady. What else would someone expect from a series of modules that are supposed to follow a book? (just my rambling, none of that was directed at you rab :mrgreen: )

What might have been more interesting would have been to let the PCs make different choices and see if those choices led to events and results very different from what actually happened in the books. I hardly think TSR would have even thought of such a thing back then.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:45 pm
by ghendar
Havard wrote:
What do you think. Am I making sense? :)

-Havard
I, for one, get your point and I think a sandbox adventure is only as good as the DM and his/her players. For example, I once ran a 3.5 campaign and one time I was utterly stumped for a adventure idea. A concept popped into my head but I didn't have time to felsh it out. So, I created a brief timeline of events, whipped up an NPC or two and just DM'ed the game with that. The idea was to let my players direct the game without really knowing they were doing it. It turned out to be one of the most successful, rewarding, and fun games I ever ran.

The reason it was all those things was because my group ran with it. I fully understand that if the players are unable or unwilling to do things like that, the game will likely suck.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:18 pm
by rabindranath72
ghendar wrote:
rabindranath72 wrote:I would say Railroad vs. all the rest. RPGs are supposed to be games in which players can do whatever they want, by definition. A Railroad destroys this basic premise.
I agree. However in the case of the Dragonlance modules, the whole point of them is to essentially RPG your way through the books and in the books, the characters go here and then go there. It's all very scripted. I don't understand the complaint about those modules being railroady. What else would someone expect from a series of modules that are supposed to follow a book? (just my rambling, none of that was directed at you rab :mrgreen: )

What might have been more interesting would have been to let the PCs make different choices and see if those choices led to events and results very different from what actually happened in the books. I hardly think TSR would have even thought of such a thing back then.
I have run the original modules many, many times, and it's quite interesting that, even without forcing your hand, most of the time the PCs end up doing almost the same things as the characters in the books. In many ways, the actions in the novels are very "reasonable," and have an internal consistency. Note I am speaking about people who never read the novels.
Some notable events:
1) One group almost completely jumped the whole DL1; they went straight to Xak-Tsaroth. Actually, if you allow a spellcasting priest from the start, DL1 can be easily avoided.
2) Another group completely jumped module DL12.
3) Another group completely jumped DL12 AND DL13.
4) Yet another group did not split at all, and followed only 1 path.
5) Another group sided with the Dragonarmies! :shock: they hunted Berem all along Ansalon. This must have been one of the best campaigns I ever ran.

It's very refreshing seeing the players "react" to the events in the modules without pushing them around.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:22 pm
by rabindranath72
Havard wrote:Among the OSR there is alot of praise for the Sandbox style campaigns. IMO, the pitfall of the Sandbox model is that it can end up in a directionless and meaningless game where adventurers travel around on the game map killing monsters and taking their stuff. IMO this can be just as bad as a game where the DM forcibly steers the party according to his (or the module's) structure. Forced meaning is no worse than lack of meaning.

Keep on the Borderlands is praised as a great adventure, but IMO it is only great as long as the DM and players are able to fill the great framework it provides with something meaningful. Equally, a railroady adventure requires the DM to take charge and break with the structure if it doesn't fit with the pre-concieved ideas.

What do you think. Am I making sense? :)

-Havard
Oh yes, I understand, and I agree. A Sandbox without rime nor sound is pretty boring, but I think this is not the type of Sandbox which is praised. You need at least a good premise and motivation for the PCs. Even as simple as "greed." Obviously to have a meaningful campaign, things must expand. You may start with B2, but then, is there something after the Caves of Chaos? The implication in the old D&D rulebooks is that the DM MUST answer this question at one point or another.

I see we have seriously derailed the thread. Perhaps we can open another one and move this discussion there?

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:50 pm
by Dragonhelm
rabindranath72 wrote: I see we have seriously derailed the thread. Perhaps we can open another one and move this discussion there?
*wags finger* ;)

I just find it odd that so many C&C fans tend to be old school (being players of pre-3e games, which is a rough definition). C&C lends itself well to adaptation to subsystems from all editions. I just wonder why it is that more new schoolers don't gravitate towards C&C as a system that could be used, for example, as a rules-lite d20 game.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:19 pm
by dulsi
Dragonhelm wrote:I just find it odd that so many C&C fans tend to be old school (being players of pre-3e games, which is a rough definition). C&C lends itself well to adaptation to subsystems from all editions. I just wonder why it is that more new schoolers don't gravitate towards C&C as a system that could be used, for example, as a rules-lite d20 game.
To some degree I think it comes down to Troll Lord Games. Like this quote from another thread:
rabindranath72 wrote:
Peter wrote:I posted, pointing them out and got a response about C&C being fast and loose :P
Ah yes, this answer tops them all. You point out a wrong rule, or missing stuff, and you are told that it's a feature, not a bug. How professional.
I think the "new school gamers" are used to better response from companies and see no reason to stick with C&C due to that. It is the reason I've never bought their game.

Re: Not just an old school game.

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:26 pm
by rabindranath72
I am as old-school as anyone you can find, but this behaviour REALLY, REALLY pisses-me off.