Home » Ancient Posts » TSR Era D&D vs WOTC Era D&D: Differences in Acceptable Play Style    
4 1 vote
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Some ideas about the Rollplaying aspect: the majority of current games have skills which can explain the laziness in describing what the character is actually doing. If you have a Find Traps skill, it's usually easier to say: "I want to roll to find traps in this room" than "my character kneels on the ground and feels the flagstones to see if any moves." This phenomenon is more prevalent if the skill list spells everything out.

Ironically, I've noticed this behavior in combat in D&D (Moldvay edition) because players tend to just roll to kill. I encourage them to try and describe their actions. In non-combat situations, where there are no skills, they tend to describe what their characters are doing, even in social interactions.

landlord dombrowski

I'm not very knowledgable about new school stylings, so take that into account.

It does seem that video games have had an effect, and that may be ironic, because I think D&D had a huge effect on THEM. And I'm a fan of computer & video games, starting with Scott Adams text Adventures bitd to now (Fallout 3 currently). I think, though, if a player has started with video games such as Zelda/FF, etc. in semi-recent years, then expectations/modes of thought in pnp rpging are gonna different now from what they were then.

Now, an observation, and a question. Since I am fairly ignorant of the the new ways, I do not know if this is a difference or not, what do you think, if you'd care to comment?

PC killed by poison needle trap.

(1) oh, bs, my char. killed by a damn poison trap of no signifigance to the plot
(2) oh, s**t, roll up another char., that was a very consequential trap, and that chars. death due to it an big event in the story

Do (1) and (2) reflect a difference between TSR-era and WOTC-era? They may well not; they do reflect different styles, but they may not reflect different eras. I'm not sure.

landlord dombrowski

This comment has been removed by the author.


Third and fourth both attempted to create complete rule systems, partially because of frustration at "incomplete" rules systems, and also to offset abuse by DMs. It comes down to where the power lies, with a good GM the house rules and GM fiat of older systems leads to an outstanding game; but the reverse is also true. Having played for almost thirty five years, both my best and worst experiences came from 1st ed D&D.
I hope that along with better player behaviour the OS movement encourages better GM behaviour 🙂


I left the RPGA, and after looking at the core rules of D&D 4th ed, I refused to buy anything further with the '4th Ed' label on it because of these reasons.

The experiences of the RPGA led to 3.5, and later 4.0 because of these trends. Experience for modules being run by the organization rewarded nothing for roleplay or puzzle solving, being entirely based on fighting or making a specific skill roll. So, the players adapted to what we now see today.

The talents of being a good gamemaster have devolved as well, as the RPGA penalized people who went off the script, even if players could fail a skill roll and die in what's known as 'boxed text'.


This comment has been removed by the author.


I find teenagers today more socially inept than when I was one 30 years ago. The years of solitary pursuits like internet browsing, texting and computer gaming having its affect on face to face play and face to face game design, I guess.

Gene Sollows

Spot-on. The system influences how people play as well as what type of people prosper the most under that system.


I whole-heartedly agree on the munchkinism and rules lawyering. For the former I have no patience (I like to annoy my munchkin friends by creating 'suboptimal' characters or I play against type). For the latter, I think it is partly driven by the demands of recent RPGs — there tend to be a lot of rules, and in 3.5 I came to depend on one of my friends as a walking rulebook. In another sense, though, I agree that it is the players changing the game — the market drives the product.

As for the 'rollplaying'… you know, I don't even mind games with detailed rules and gobs of dice. Some can be great but in those cases the system is the star, not the story. I prefer simpler games so my friends and I can create stories that are not railroaded by mechanics or hobbled by fretting over game balance. Real life is neither mechanical nor balanced. If you want those, try a board game.