Where I introduce the Town Cryer and through it expose some of my own opinions about various topics relevant to the Citadel of Eight.
I've never been fond of the term "old-school" and couldn't really put my finger on the reason. I knew it had to do with a strict adherence to the rules and what some consider to be the "one true game", be it Original Dungeons & Dragons, Holmes D&D, AD&D or any combination/other edition thereof.
Something was out of place. I would often find myself writing down thoughts about it but could never quite put my finger on it, so to speak. I believe this is ultimately what pushes me to use the original rules of 1974 for my own campaign.
Today, EN Shook over at Lord of the Green Dragons posted a fascinating piece of insight about how an "old school movement" would ultimately fall on its face due to the unavoidable fundamentalism it promotes. It's entitled "Old School vs. New School" and well worth a read.
This fundamentalism, this relative, subconscious zealotry Eric is talking about was present at the very foundation of what people call the "old school renaissance". Indeed, the very existence of the first retro-clone, OSRIC, owes quite a bit to the reservations fundamentalist gamers had against the Castles & Crusades game system when it was conceptualized. The "old-school movement" sustained itself via many gamers going through editions changes who, disenchanted and disheartened, finally decided to reach back to their roots. I guess I'm one of them. This is all fact: there's no denying it.
I think this kind of reactionary movement does have some good points to bring to the table, in the sense that it brings to our attention divergences from a spirit we would gradually forget in favor of more instantly gratifying, if erroneous, ways. But, in the same way revolutions and bloodshed led to the renaissance of the idea of democracy in the Western World some centuries ago, we should not succumb to extreme interpretations of our desires that would only lead us to stagnation and hypocritical ideals.
One of the fundamental idea at the core of this "old guard spirit" we are trying to seize, as I perceive it, is that the game itself is no more and no less than a gateway to fantasy and enchantment. Surely, in that spirit, getting back to the roots of the game helps us understand the ins and outs of what spawned our hobby, what its original aims were, and through them, how our own gaming can be more relevant to our lives.
As I wrote some time ago, D&D is just a game. If we dedicate years of our lives playing a game, if we really like it, we gradually invest ourselves in this game. In the end, the game itself ends up being the epicenter of a whole lot of things in our lives: we learned many things through it, met countless friends, maybe even a future loved one, accumulated miriads of fond memories, joined some groups or associations we wouldn't have otherwise known, contributed to its legacy, met opportunities through it we wouldn't have had any other way.
Whatever the case may be, the sum of all these things might explain why we feel invested with this game and the way it evolves. It quite literally becomes a part of ourselves.
This is partly why we feel so strongly about Dungeons & Dragons. We want to keep that part of ourselves alive. I think we can all agree to some degree. But here comes the hard part: what do we do with this part of ourselves? Which feelings within our souls do we want it to fuel? Is it nostalgia, self-pity, anger and despair, or is it vision, pride, hope and vitality leading to more constructive endeavors?
The choice ultimately is for each and every one of us to make. Personally, I hope we take all these wonderful tools given to us by other gamers, like Castles & Crusades, OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry, Fight On! and Knockspell, and use them, not to recreate what's already been done, not to play tourists returning to shores which would have already been explored by others, but rather to create enchantment anew and reach new, unexplored regions like our forefathers did through this hobby.
This is ultimately what I feel my journey is about. I can only hope this somehow resonates with some of you so that together we might reach for the stars.