Friday, August 13, 2010

Two and Half Major Things Old School Games Don't Need

Just my cranky opinion.

#1 The cleric class.Cleric spells are fine but Van Helsing and turn undead belong in Hammer horror films and activist deities belong in Greek Myth. My D&D can do without them.

#2 Alignment. Just say no to objective morality and know alignment and maybe even detect evil, especially if it works on people. However if you must have alignment factions the old school Law/Neutral/Chaos axis is about as much as you need. Law for Cities and Order, Neutral for just getting along and Chaos for Caprice and Disorder.

and # 1/2 The Thief. Old School Games do need some means of adjudicating common adventuring tasks like opening locks and climbing walls. Whether its wall climbing Cimmerians or Burrahobbits they are very much part of the cannon. And while I don't mind a class that focuses on that sort of thing these abilities do not need to be exclusive class powers. After all anyone can sneak, hide, backstab or climb even a stodgy old wizard.


  1. When I run D&D, I have a variant cleric class called "healer" that focuses on spells only. (They are basically a wizard with a different spell set and a few other healing related abilities.) I'm thinking about rolling out some kind of witch hunter/templar/Van Helsing type that focuses on the kicking of unholy butt.

    As for thief, my interpretation runs this-a-way: Anyone can sneak around, but a thief can move silently. Anyone can climb walls, but a thief can climb sheer surfaces that others couldn't even attempt. Etc, etc.
    The two places where I give the thief exclusivity are opening locks (you either know how to do that or you don't) and disarming mechanical traps.

    I am 100% with you on alignment, though. The only time I think I'll be using it anymore is B/X D&D, where it's just Law, Neutrality, Chaos. It has less to do with morality than it does with where your character fits in the cosmos, a la the Amber series or some of Moorcock's stuff.

  2. I don't disagree with you on these issue but I am not as fond of the thief interpretation. Its common to old school ( Phitholomy Juras mentions it) and its fair but its not my cuppa.

    I'd rather have everyone on the same abilities roster with thieves having extra advantages