Friday, June 12, 2009

Neoclassical Roleplaying Games

So there's a new term running around, originally coined by Robertson Games, that attempts to describe the retro-clones: Neoclassical roleplaying games. The idea being that since OD&D and Basic are commonly called "Classic" D&D, and games released around that era have also picked up the term, a new, reimagined version would then logically be called "Neoclassical." And, as Trollsmyth points out, it accurately conveys the fact that, though they do draw upon older styles, these are new games, in a new era:
Yes! That is perfect, since most of us aren't exactly playing these games the same way they were back when. It's a reinvention, a new style, based on studying those games, tweaking them, exploring what those structures and styles mean.
Thus, it's a term that I can use without feeling faintly ridiculous. I like "old school," but I tend to avoid using it to describe things I'm doing. (You'll note that I have an "old school" tag, but that's mainly to make sure all my Swords & Wizardry stuff gets binned in "Legacy D&D" on RPGBN.) Neoclassical fits the kinds of games I've been getting into lately much better: I'm drawing on an earlier era for inspiration, without having been part of it myself.


  1. I was playing games back in the "old school" days... but I play those games differently today. And I should hope so - if I played games in my 30s the same way as I did when I was 9 years old that might be a bit strange. :)

  2. Yep. Which is one thing that worries me about the OSR. As valuable as it's been to me, there's definitely a strain of "the old ways are best, so we should stick to the old ways" floating around. Figuring out why people played the way they did in the early days is good, but I'd rather see an OSR that uses those lesson to *inform* modern play, rather than using them as the sole holy writ. At the very least, there's room for the lessons of your own experience.