Playing Without Maps Is Old School?

Psyga315

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This is something that has been bugging me for a while. For the most part, whenever I play an RPG, the game is always played mind's eye theatre style... Okay, very poor choice of words, but basically we used our imaginations. I'm a guy who just got into tabletop RPGs three years ago, and apparently this style of play is 'old school'. The word had been tossed around a few times when describing playing the game without minis or maps. Wil Wheaton said it when they were playing Dragon Age, a DM who demoed Basic D&D (the very old one with the Keep on the Borderlands, not the free 5e one Wizards has) said this is old school, and I think it was said at one point at my Adventurer's League.

To me, the miniatures and maps are old school, given the RPGs roots with wargaming. It's occasional that someone breaks out the minis and maps, so I never really see it in action. Might be because most RPGs don't need maps or minis... I dunno.

Does anyone else find it weird that playing without maps is called old school or is it just me?
 

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
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"Old school": something the speaker perceives as traditional and either likes or dislikes as a result, regardless of thing's actual history.

So I wouldn't worry about it. :) I'd generally bracket using miniatures and maps as traditional myself, but there are games from the 70s that didn't use them.
 
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TheophilusCarter

Milliner and Haberdasher
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"Old school": something the speaker perceives as traditional and either likes or dislikes as a result, regardless of thing's actual history.
That.

Also, though early RPGs evolved from wargames, not all early RPGers evolved from wargammers. My friends and I hadn't played wargames, and never once used minis. Some other folks did, though, I'm sure.
 

DavetheLost

Registered User
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I will just say this, back in the day, before there even was a school, D&D involved at least a map for the DM. Playing totally mapless and in the minds eye of the players is a newer way to play. While we didn't always use miniatures in the games I played in the late 1970s and early 1980s we frequently used dice, bottle caps etc to mark out our positions.
Tunnels&Trolls never used miniatures because Ken St Andre who wrote it is not a miniatures kind of guy. It was the second RPG ever printed, so maybe playing with out minis is old school too.

I think people who weren't around at the beginning think map&minis is "new school" because 4e D&D plays that way. Also Mage Knight, HeroClix, etc. And those are all relatively new games.

But I wouldn't worry about it. To me if you weren't playing before 1985 you aren't old enough to be "old school" anyway. ;)

In my day we didn't have dice. We used rocks that we ground into shape with our teeth... You darn kids get off my lawn!
 

zedturtle

Maker
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For a bit more seriousness... the last two editions of D&D had a lot of "you have miniatures and 1-inch square grid to move them on" built into the system. So for people who started playing this century, playing "theatre of the mind" is old-school.
 

Psyga315

Registered User
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Hey, that's not funny, man. I started with the Holmes basic D&D boxed set - the year that it included chits instead of dice. I'm still bitter about that ... ;)
Oh man, I heard about those... Those are so old school that if someone made a return to them, people might mistake it as new age.
 

TheophilusCarter

Milliner and Haberdasher
Validated User
Oh man, I heard about those... Those are so old school that if someone made a return to them, people might mistake it as new age.
"Tired of your dice rolling off the table? We've solved that problem! Using our patented New Age (TM) techniques, we've separated the dice into individual sides, each a flat square with a single number, designed specifically not to roll in the least ... "

:D
 

Old Geezer

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Banned
Dave Arneson always played Blackmoor using miniatures on a map.

Gary Gygax never played Greyhawk using miniatures on a map.
 
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