Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Sound They Make

I frequently go back to the OSR well of wisdom that is Grognardia.  Sure, there are posts about stuff that means nothing to me and a few posts where I very much disagree with +James Maliszewski (to be expected as individuals and individualists vary), but more often than not I'm rewarded with a look back at vintage OSR.

In this blog post, I wanted to highlight a Grognardia blog post from October 30th, 2012 that I just discovered.  About halfway down, James describes an account from someone who attended Games Fair '83...

It's also reported that Gygax "horrified a few of the purists with one remark," namely that "a good referee only rolls the dice for the sound they make. He just decides what happens!" While that comment might have been surprising in 1983, it's pretty well known nowadays that Gary had a lot more of the "storytelling" style as a referee than many old schoolers would themselves countenance in their own games.

If you'll remember my fairly recent post about rule zero, Gygax's statement is about as zero-ish as it gets.  His advice does not hail from the halls of traditional play-styles nor story-gaming, in my view.  It is old school itself - that indefinable quality of roleplaying that's as primordial as it is inspirational, where the game runs on pure imagination and flows of its own accord, influenced by the player-characters and directed by the Game Master.

Dice are awesome and they have many uses - no one is disputing that.  However, it is the GM who ultimately makes the call, navigating the current, and slyly exercising his will.  As with dice rolled, players should have their input, too - just not at the expense of the singular presence in charge of the game.

While many still disagree, I believe the evidence suggests what master Game Masters have known all along - trust your instincts; don't be badgered into making an "authorized" ruling.  You are the rule of law!  To put it another way, use the force...

After all, 40 years ago today the original Star Wars debuted in theaters across the country.  Happy Birthday Episode IV: A New Hope, and many happy returns!


p.s.  I ran a quick one-shot of Alpha Blue today and will try to get a play report up in a day or two.

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