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Monday, December 28, 2009

Why I prefer Ascending AC in my "clone" games

It seems to me that many old-school gamers feel that the retro-clones should be put in some kind of straitjacket, where as little deviation as possible is allowed. While I support the games being 95% the same, I really prefer the ascending Armor Class as introduced by DnD 3e.

Ascending AC is much easier to use in game, and very easy to explain to new players. It also is very friendly to math-averse players, as they can see the number they need without having to look at a table. It also takes up a lot less space in the rulebook, as you just need to add the Base-to-hit number in each class chart, and don't need another half to full page chart for players. In addition, just having monster BtH equal their HD will save an additional chart in the game, and makes it even easier for the DM.

I understand that many DMs want the old style, as then they won't have to do any conversions of older modules. But at least a few of them are fairly strident in saying that Ascending AC should not even be included in the retro games. It's the "Stay off my lawn!" syndrome. And it seems to be fairly prevalent in older gamers. I believe that having Ascending AC as the default, or at least as an option, will help bring in newer ex-3e players, as it's something they are already familiar with.

And like it or not, I think the Old School Revival needs at least a small influx of new players as time goes on, or it will sputter out and die in a few years, which would be very unfortunate. The current grognards aren't getting any younger, and to maintain at least some type of player base, new people, preferably younger, will be needed. Of course, this is looking at it from a publisher viewpoint, and not a gamer viewpoint, so many grognards will happily say they need no new blood, as long as they get their 4 or 5 new modules every year.

6 comments:

David Macauley said...

I think you need to differentiate between retro-clone and variant games. The whole purpose of a retro-clone is to be a "clone" - a copy - of an original game. Variants are often based on a clone, but not necessarily attempting to copy any one game, and indeed sometimes striving to be something completely different. Sometimes the only commonality between a clone and a variant is the fact that they're both OGL-based games.

There is nothing wrong with old school gamers wanting purity in a clone, that's what a clone is supposed to be. But I think you'll find most old school gamers are more than happy to play around with the rules, which is why the number of variants based on games such as S&W and LL is huge - and growing. Also the popularity of S&W amongst the old school crowd should demonstrate that most have no problem at all with ascending AC.

On the AC subject, I must admit I've never understood the aversion some people have to descending AC. No maths is involved, nor chart need to be found, if the information is recorded on the character sheet. Quick glance at the sheet and the number is known. I like descending AC, but have no problem with ascending.

I think too that you'll find the number of old schoolers who "will happily say they need no new blood" is few and far between, and I think it is a very unfair generalisation. Most people in the old school movement both want to see the growth of our little niche of this hobby, and are excited and encouraged because it is indeed happening. Old school forums have, in the last year or two, had a great influx of younger players who began with 3e, but have now developed a love of the TSR versions of D&D.

From where I'm standing, the OSR is a positive and growing movement. Some of the issues you have raised here are, I believe, limited to a very small group of people who are generally not taken seriously by their peers, and have little or no influence in the OSR.

finarvyn said...

Personally, I find that the best thing I can do is teach the older games to my kids. My son is a high school student and he loves to play rpgs, and once he got introduced to OD&D and C&C he found they were so much better than some of the newer games that he's hooked.

Nice start on a blog, by the way. :-)

Dan said...

I've actually seen people post or say they don't care about getting new blood into the game. It really annoyed me. I know most old-school gamers are probably pretty laid back, but there are enough anti-change people, especially on message boards, that it colors my view, and probably many casual gamers.

Dan said...

Fin, I love hearing about gamers who get their kids involved. Even if your kids grow out of rpg's altogether, it will give you lots of memories to talk about when you are older.

David Macauley said...

there are enough anti-change people, especially on message boards, that it colors my view

Once again from my experience you are talking about a small minority of people. I am a member of most old school forums and your experiences are not reflective of the vast majority of them.

There are a couple of forums that have those sorts of people, but even in them those types are in the minority, besides which, the best thing to do is simply avoid those places. I know I do. Who wants to hang out on a forum that's being marred by the negative and small minded?

It's great to see another old school blog Dan, I just hope you don't get dragged down or side-tracked by the tiny bad element that every community has.

Dan said...

I won't get dragged down by grognards. Unless they are zombie grognards, and surprise me. :)