There are a lot of discussions and some arguments on what exactly is and isn’t “old school” but most of these discussions and arguments at least have people in the same chapter even if they aren’t on the same page. However, a post I saw on Observations of the Fox uses the terms in ways that probably aren’t even in the same series of books. “Old School”, to the author of this post apparently means something like “all those games not designed according to modern GNS/Forge design standards”.
From the post Old School vs New:
There are a lot of people getting on fine without new-fangled design principles. They are still playing the hit-and-miss game of offering the public things that they think are cool…still using the traditional GM-Player model, because that’s what they’ve been doing for years and that’s what they think roleplaying is all about.
Some are still going the old route of the kitchen sink (How do you tell someone who’s never flicked through a RIFTS book that they are basically just creating a RIFTS heartbreaker?), some are tagging along with the old Fighter/Thief/Mage/Cleric party split (even if they are calling things by different names and trying to show a bit of originality in their flavour text and basic mechanisms).
But it seems that the old school is still firmly entrenched in the majority of the roleplaying field. People simply expect there to be a GM who will guide them through a story, it’s almost like they expect their character concepts to be ignored in the face of the GMs plot. They think this is all a part of the game, and since they don’t know about the developments in RPG theory, they neither know of better ways tp play, nor do they want to…it’s worked relatively well for a over a generation (40 years), why change now?
If this doesn’t make it clear that his definition of “old school” really is something like “not designed according to modern GNS/Forge design standards”, this paragraph from later in the post should make it crystal clear.
The old school games like Pathfinder, D&D 4th Edition, and the numerous other products with a supplement treadmill are getting exposure in retail stores because the retailers see the opportunity for add on sales…it’s good business sense. They look at a short indie game and wonder if it’s worth the effort of filling up shelf space with a product that might move one or two units per financial quarter (if it’s lucky), when the big guns might sell one or two core-books per week (and at least as many supplements).
I’m not knocking the author, I’ve just never seen “old school” in tabletop RPGspeak used this way before. I will admit that I don’t follow The Forge as I think the GNS theory has major problems (especially the part that well-designed games will only be one of the three) and find most of the games produced under this design theory not at all to my tastes, so could someone tell me if this use of the term “old school” is common in Forge/Indie game circles?