Biting my Thumb: Declaring the Nontrad Gamer status

Does anyone else feel watching all of the Old School debates and debacles is like watching a bunch of seasoned 4Chan trolls debate who started what internet meme before they were popular? Just curious.

Before I joined the RPG Blogger’s network, I had a definition of Old School that meant a person had been gaming for a lengthy period of time; roughly 10 years or so. Realize I’m part of the Bastard Middle Children of Gaming; I was introduced to the hobby as a child and relied on my older sibling’s copies of AD&D 1E and basic collections (The Red, Blue and Light Blue books).  To be honest, yes it was video games that got me into RPG’s. Except the titles were Legend of Zelda, Gold Cart NES that I still own, along with Dragon Warrior which introduced Levels and HP to me. Playing that, and having my older brother of 10 years explain “Hey, that’s just like D&D” got me interested.

A bit of reminiscing

My Saturday Mornings weren’t about the cartoons; it was about hearing my older brother recap the events of his gaming sessions from the night before. It got really interesting for me, though, when his group picked up a different game, called Shadowrun. In the end, when I was roughly 10 years of age, my first purchase of my own RPG book was that: Shadowrun, 2nd edition, freshly released and hot off the presses. Drove 2 hours to pick it up at a mall. Damn book went with me wherever I went.

I’d do odd jobs for my folks here and there (kinda), saved up my cash and mail ordered more books. Thanks to sourcebooks like Shadowtech, my young pre-pubescent mind got to learn basic crash courses of anatomy, chemistry and other things simply because I wanted to understand wtf I was reading. In time I’d pick up other games, like Battletech and Mechwarrior, Marvel Super Heroes (percentile based TSR version), and then when I was 12 I got my very own D&D Box Set.

So what’s the point I’m driving at?

Well, two points actually:

1) I can relate to the love of the “favorite edition.” As I type this, I’m pricing hard copies of Shadowrun, 2nd edition core books. I’ve played every edition (yes, I went back and gave 1st a try!) and Second has to be my favorite. 3rd wasn’t that far of a departure; but the added rules I felt were excessive and unneccesary. Others felt they were needed and fleshed things out better…cool, whatever. I just enjoyed 2E because, hey, it’s what I know.

In that regards, I myself am also suffering a “4th Edition” bias. I own a single core book of SR4. I’m absolutely miserable with it. I have this massive library of books across 3 editions, including a lot of adventures I want to run, and none of them are compatible with the only core rule book I have on hand. I understand why the changed so much in the new rules…and I’m happy a lot of people have renewed interest in the setting and the system. Just, this wasn’t the rules I grew up with, this wasn’t the setting I knew.

2) In that regard, I’m not going out of my way to argue with people who love the new system that my way is any better. I’m even at the point where if someone uses SR setting for flavor and plays it under d20 Modern rules, I’m not going to blame them. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of what feels right for the group. And after reading how a lot of people choose to play their games, including the old D&D systems, I must say some of those games sound like fun and I’d love to show up at your house with a stack of character sheets, ready for the slaughter.

But, the second you tell me the way I run my group, based on what edition we choose to play, or how I choose to run it, that I’m wrong, you can go touch a dick. I’ve played everything from the “hardcore” by the book 1E where we had to shell out money just pay for training that allowed us to level up AFTER we earned the EXP, to really campy Big Eyes/Small Mouth simpleton anime gun fights.  Quite possibly the only time in my life that I was able to run AD&D 1st Edition for a group of my friends was about 10 years ago. The catch? They were all Shadowrun players at the time and they didn’t like D&D. So, I spiced it up for them. I house ruled the shit out of that game; mostly ripping off rules and mechanics from Palladium and RIFTS.  Purists would’ve cried, but by god that campaign was played 4-6 hours a day for a month straight before I moved out of that house (longer story.) Players were killed, parts went missing, the kitchen table was moved out of the way so we could use the floor for mass combat during the last session.

Fast forward a decade. Just finished a huge ass Dragon fight in D&D 4E. Outside with my buddies, while they smoke their cigarettes and I get my 2nd hand fix, and my buddy who was a vet of “that game” looked up at me and smiled and said “Man, that takes me back. Good game.”

But you didn’t run it the correct way!
No shit! I had tried and even took a few of them to another buddy’s house to play 2E, and they were bored to tears to where they couldn’t give 2 shits whether they lived or not because it sucked for them. I borrowed some other mechanics from other “old school” games at the time and we had a blast. What? RIFTS not old school enough for ya? Why not? A lot of arguments I read suggested it was all about the “vague descriptions and house rules”, does Palladium offer plenty of that?

Anyways, since the “Oldschoolers” love to debate, debackle and hooplah over definitions of their new internet Meme so much, I’m going to coin a term for others to consistently debate and define over their blogs, their PDF’s and their print-on-demand fanzines (because those are so oldschool!)

Nontrad Gamer. We’re the guys who are too young for the Old School, pioneered the New School, but still remember our roots enough to slap the WoW kiddies and the Entitlement Generation around and aren’t affraid to say “The Dragon crits. Hand me your character sheet, no way in hell you survived this.”

And now I leave you with Lordi, just because it rocks.

2 thoughts on “Biting my Thumb: Declaring the Nontrad Gamer status”

  1. If more bloggers had as much common sense as you do the blogosphere would be a much happier place. But there is no happy, or fun for that matter in the world of tabletop role playing game blogging.

    I should know, I’ve been doing it completely wrong since I picked up the dungeon master screen and ran my first campaign when 4e came out. At least according to a very vocal group of bloggers…

  2. The first I heard of the debate was when I joined RPG Bloggers. What it reminds me of is the simulationist/narrativist debate that was always going on at RPG.Net.

    Either way, I think it’s silly. I’m older than you are, having played “old school” back in the 80s, then having my mind opened to different approaches and games in the early 90s and going “new school”. But I’d be willing to call my GMing style “Nontrad”. I use a lot of old school games, but with new school sensibilities.

    GURPS 3e, AD&D 2e, DCHeroes 2e, that kind of stuff, but with large focus on role-playing, character story arcs, immersive play aids (music, props, mood, internet bonus content), and relatively Lite versions of the rules.

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