Saturday, May 19, 2012

What Are We Talking About, Really?

The Ultimate Duality?
My Gamer ADD has been in a fairly tight orbit lately. It has moved between titles, but stayed relatively close to the old school standard. Go Me!

So, I saw a couple of posts at Howling Tower concerning Chainmail combat, which is a favorite windmill for me to tilt at. The posts are excellent, if Chainmail combat is your thing. They definitely rekindled my desire to make it work.

Something new struck me about the whole thing, though. Chainmail is a set of wargaming rules, as we all know. Yet, the "rules" in them for roleplaying are incredibly sparse. In other words, roleplaying was a wide open frontier in those days. In fact, the only real rules were for combat and spell casting. Granted, some more guidelines for character advancement/development are desirable, but that's not the point.

The point is quite simple: D&D grew from wargaming roots and took a lot of heat from second-generation games for being too combat focused. Later editions, specifically 3.x and 4E, went to great lengths to sever the wargame ties and include rules for roleplaying. I find it ironic that the wargame that D&D came from imposes the least restrictions on roleplaying, and offers no rules governing the activity. The later editions that claimed to bring more support for roleplaying to the table actually added metric shitloads of tactical combat rules, and very strictly laid out the rules by which role playing could occur and be DMed.

I'm not trying to start an edition war or piss anybody off, and I sincerely apologize if I have. I'm not here to judge anyone's edition preference. I'm just saying that I find it amusing that the wargame that started it all offered some of the fastest combat and least adjudicated roleplaying of any edition. The wargame version of protoD&D was the least focused on combat of any edition. I find this duality fascinating, and made doubly so by the fact that it has been staring us in the face for 40 years. Amazing.

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