Ratman_tf

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2. I think "Galactic Dragons & Godwars" may be a poor title, because I can't wrap my head around it. Maybe it's the 'Galactic' part, which brings to mind science fiction and Marvel comics. Can you cite an example besides Dark Sun?
I think D&D knocking on high-powered RIFTS might describe it. Having a wizard with a soul stealing sword, a magic cloak that acts as an infinite bag of holding, a pet dragon, and maybe even taking a starship into the hells and firing photon torpedoes at high level demons might be some examples. (I may have even had a character like that. :eek:)
 

Armchair Gamer

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Thanks for the positive feedback, everyone! A few quick notes

I don't think that Dark Sun was in any way "Galactic Dragons & Godwars," people just made that assumption about it because the characters were more powerful (to cope with a very dangerous world and no access to useful equipment such as "a longsword").
OTOH, it was the first source for progression up to 30th level. And I was using G&G to encompass not only high-powered gaming, but pulp/'sword & planet' styles and over-the-top weird fantasy that doesn't seem to fit into the mainstream of K&K. But there are issues with the G&G section, which I'll discuss below.
It bears mentioning that whenever someone raises the hue and cry to go back to Old School D&D and Old School Fantasy, they're ignoring that the two don't have much in common. If you really examine the works listed in Appendix N, you'll find they're largely full of "Galactic Dragons & Godwars" protagonists and struggles, and not at all the kind of "bandit chiefs going on a tomb-robbing expedition" playstyle that OD&D implies.
It varies. A lot of Leiber's stories of the Twain (some of the Appendix N material I actually have read) has a strong K&K flavor. Moorcock is definitely G&G, at least in the Elric works. Howard . . . I don't know the Conan stuff, but Solomon Kane carries elements of DC&Dm and P&P.

This seems interesting. Can you further expand on what makes up the Warlords & Warlocks Flavor?
Well, it's the youngest flavor, it's had the least dedicated setting material, and so much online discussion about 4E (which is its chief vehicle) has been overshadowed by the Endless Edition Wars that it's tough to gather information on it. The short summary is "4th Edition;" the longer version would probably be the setting philosophy laid out in Wizards Presents: Worlds & Monsters and the DMGs, and an emphasis on heroic action (with touches of self-interest) in a battered world that heroes can start to improve and make themselves into legends.

Interesting. I like it, and I like the flippant titles.

I like "clean fantasy" myself... that's one reason I like playing "Knaves and Kobolds" style. I want be like Arthur and help change things for the better. Of course, this assumes a referee who allows it. It doesn't have to be world wide, either; if MY Barony is a nicer place for my presence, I'm happy.
If OG likes it, that's a sign I'm not completely on the wrong track. :) I might suggest that your style tends towards the edges of P&P, but that's just because I tend to associate K&K with a more adversarial DMing stance and a bit more griminess. Those are not essential to the definition, though.

A few comments:

. I think "Galactic Dragons & Godwars" may be a poor title, because I can't wrap my head around it. Maybe it's the 'Galactic' part, which brings to mind science fiction and Marvel comics. Can you cite an example besides Dark Sun?
"Galactic Dragons" are apparently an Arduin monster that Lizard mentioned once in describing some of the 'Old School' stuff he liked but that isn't generally acknowledged by the OSR. It's a style I have very little knowledge of, so I'm happy to accept corrections, expansion and renaming.

3. Is Simulation & Spellcasters not largely confined to 3.x? 4e did inherit a couple 'rules as physics' things from 3.5, like falling damage, but with 4e adopting a more "Say yes often, and use the Rule of Cool" attitude I'd think that S&S lives on primarily via 3.PF.
Largely, yes, although I think you can find its roots in "Gygaxian naturalism" and some other trends. But yes, this is largely what happened to 3E when it got out into the wild--I think the designers were shooting for DC&Dm, but the game mutated and grew in new directions.

Oh, and my guess about your least favorite style...S&S! Do I get the no-prize? (I've really got to start paying closer attention to what individual posters say.)
Close--it's probably the second least favorite/least interesting style to me. Least appealing would probably be K&K, although Geezer's version of it sounds more interesting than most of what I've heard out of the OSR.

I think D&D knocking on high-powered RIFTS might describe it. Having a wizard with a soul stealing sword, a magic cloak that acts as an infinite bag of holding, a pet dragon, and maybe even taking a starship into the hells and firing photon torpedoes at high level demons might be some examples. (I may have even had a character like that. :eek:)
That sounds like it fits handily into the G&G framework. :)
 

Ratman_tf

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The Dragon of Tyr is a great example of a Godwar type enemy. 30th level Psionicist/Magic-User metamorphosized into an immortal dragon with all the acroutrouments that such a creature would have acquired reaching that state...

 

zend0g

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Knaves & Kobolds (1972-1977, 2005+): This encompasses the kind of game discussed by Old Geezer, run by Gygax and Arneson, and celebrated by much of the Old School Renaissance crowd. It’s also referred to as “Fantasy F#&@*!ing Vietnam.” The protagonists tend to be scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells (hence the “Knaves” portion of the title), treasure is the main goal, life is cheap and the game seems to be at a lower, somewhat grimier scale than later iterations (“Kobolds”). Campaigns tend to involve rivalry and fragile alliances as much as cooperation, with a stronger emphasis on high-level soloing and the political endgame than is typically seen elsewhere.
A lot of this sounds like a wordier version of just saying Gygax's circle of gaming friends. Push this out to the late 80s to early 90s and beyond. There really isn't any poltical end game as there were never any rules released to support it. So, it was pure, houserule territory. Plus, the information we have now on medieval society, economics and warfare was hard to get back then. Does anyone remember the non-electronic, interlibrary loan system? The Internet has had such a transformational effect on doing research. As for mass combat, With AD&D, TSR tries with the Battlesystem rules, but medieval style warfare with PCs, giants, dragons and other weird creatures has huge issues. I kind of just remember breaking the system in a relatively short amount of time.

Galactic Dragons & Godwars (1974-1982?): This one was brought to my attention by Lizard; apparently it’s represented by the Arduin Grimoire and similar publications. It’s sort of the mirror image of K&K, with lots of wild, wahoo, over-the-top fantasy, informed by the pulpier and more hallucinogenic sides of sword & sorcery and 70s fantasy. It informs even some material in the official line—Erol Otus’ art fits in here as well as with K&K, I believe, and Deities & Demigods wound up being used as a Monster Manual for this sort of game. It’s not necessarily Monty Haul or crude powergaming, although it can degenerate into that—just as all other flavors of D&D have their dark sides. (Nasty player vs. player rivalries, mindless hack-and-slash, railroading, CoDzilla, and tedious combat encounters, for examples.) Dark Sun is arguably an outcropping of this, crossed with some elements of K&K, emerging at the height of the P&P era.
This pretty much overlaps with K&K. All the downsides of this are seen in K&K as well. In the early editions of Dragon (>60), you see complaints mostly about Monty Haul characters, i.e. 45th plus level characters, ridiculous amount of magical items (some things never change), etc. There tends to be more criticism that AD&D isn't as flexible or open to weird things as D&D, so you could have this period ending some time after AD&D is published. This flexibility is interestingly Gygax's complaint about D&D. Oh, irony.

Dungeoncrawling & Demons (1997-1986, 1998+): The ‘default’ flavor of the second generation of the game, after it grew beyond the wargaming crowd. It’s the flavor suggested by the original AD&D manuals, as they were received by the community: adventuring parties become smaller and more cohesive, combat begins to be more emphasized, and the political endgame starts to fade into the background. This style isn’t solely about dungeoncrawling, but that’s one of the ‘distinctives’ of the game; likewise, while demons aren’t the only opponents, they tend to be very popular ones and held up as one of the key elements that makes this style different from several others (P&P). It’s also the ‘back to D&D’ flavor that 3rd Edition tried to recapture, and that was strongly supported for most of that line’s official run. Pathfinder, I believe, still carries strong elements of this, especially the ‘demons’ side.
This pretty much overlaps with K&K as well and continues on. The large groups that existed didn't last long past the very early 80s. There may have been other factors influencing group size as well besides the popularity of D&D. For example, how many families have kitchen tables that can seat eight to twelve or more people with enough room for books, dice and stuff? I have three siblings and my family was large compared to my friends who usually only had one or two. Single child families weren't too common yet. You can seat that many at school, but for those of us not in college, we wanted more than just an hour to play. And then there were conventions which also focused on smaller groups. I was looking over the winners for Nancon II and it's your usual four to six people range. Combat becomes emphasized? You might want to pick up one of the goldenrod 1ed character sheets. Everything on that sheet aside from the name of your character, their hair and eye color and their portrait has some relevancy to combat. Political endgame never fades; it just never took off as there were never any real rules to support it aside from say Birthright campaign setting in the mid 90s. The focus on demons actually gets started with the ever famous module Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits which was released in 1980. So, the start date might be off just based on that.

Paladins & Princesses (1983-1998): Ah, this one is going to be tricky. This is my style and era, the kind that I’ve always wanted to get back to—so it’s why I have to be careful to ensure it’s a real thing and not just my own preferences and nostalgia projected backwards. To that end, I’m going to quote another fan, Piestrio:
I would say this pretty much overlaps with K&K as well and continues on as some people's games are influenced from certain sources literature. Heck, there was a whole section in the Deities and Demigods devoted to King Arthur. So, I wouldn't be surprised at the least to see groups in the early days emulating King Arthur and his knights.

2e is a game about "Romantic" fantasy (not the sub genre "Romantic Fantasy" but fantasy through a romantic lens). It s about being a hero and doing the right thing by people who depend on you. It's about striving to overcome challenges of the spirt. It a "clean" fantasy, with shining castles and good kings, friendly innkeepers and helpful travelers.
I think you mean 2ed and Forgotten Realms/Ravenloft is a game about "Romantic" fantasy... 2ed by itself is no Blue Rose. If you weren't using those settings or playing in the Living City RPGA campaign, then you might not have playing that much differently than the earlier generations. "Romantic" style D&D just screams Living City to me.

That's what I like about 2e.
However, it’s not strictly limited to 2nd Edition—I’d start it with Tracy Hickman’s adventures, such as Ravenloft and especially the Dragonlance saga, and it also informs later BECMI work as well. It was part of TSR policy for a while; see Jim Ward’s article “Angry Mothers from Heck” in DRAGON #154, where he talks about a focus on ‘saving the princess’ adventures where heroes accomplish some sort of positive goals. (In considering this, I looked back over my formative influences and realized that between Leia, Lucy the Valiant, Adora, Eilonwy, Laurana and even some versions of Princess Zelda, a lot of the ‘princesses’ that inform this generation and their take on the game are pretty darn good at saving and helping out as well as being saved.)
Dragonlance was released for 1ed and technically the module for Ravenloft was 1ed too, but not the campaign setting. You can also call this the Choo-Choo period. Dragonlance would have a gotten a lost less of bad rep for railroading if they didn't release novels about all the modules and if the modules didn't force you to slavishly follow the novels. But then again Dragonlance would have been probably nowhere as popular without the novels. But then again railroads aren't just a 2ed thing as even some of the famous 1ed modules had some railroady elements. The Giant series starts out with "kill the giants or we will kill you" that few people remember.

As for the lack of positive goals, that was a looooong complaint from the 1ed days onwards. "Help, my players turned evil!" There was nothing stopping the ne’er-do-wells from robbing and raping the princess rather than rescuing her and then going back to the king and killing him and looting his castle. I was expecting to find more complaints about this in the very early issues of Dragon but it might not show up until after other RPGs get a foot in the market where killing things and taking their loot isn't the main source of EXP.

Simulation & Spellcasters (2002+): What 3rd Edition became ‘in the wild’, although one can find roots of it in some earlier approaches to the game. The comprehensive, cohesive and well-defined nature of the rules led to a rise in ‘rules as physics’ and further development of earlier attempts to work out how a D&D world would naturally function. Given the high power of magic, spellcasters become a dominant element in both the world and in gameplay. Eberron has strong roots in this school, and I believe Pathfinder deals with it some as well, if only by virtue of its 3E roots. Here on the rpg.net forum, it’s often disparaged, but we have some strong and eloquent voices in support of it.
Okay, let's be clear here. Were certain rules in earlier editions vague, inconsistent, incomprehensible or just absent? Yes, which required the DM to improvise. However, once you did make a decision or build a system for something (like unarmed combat), players generally expected you to be consistent and stick with your houserules. The net effect is the same as approach used with 3ed. In fact, Gygax even points out in Dragon #28 that providing a coherent framework of rules was one of AD&D's strengths over other systems. So the whole 'rule as physics' started with Gygax back in the late 70s. (And remember D&D gamers complaints about AD&D?) So 1ed and 2ed players complaining about 3ed is yeah, pot, kettle, black. As for spellcaster superiority, a prepared spellcaster creatively using spells that allow no saves has been nasty since 1ed was released. I would also say that 3ed brings a lot of complexity to the game that falls upon players rather than just the DM. But that was also a complaint too about the earlier editions, especially 1ed. One fighter or magic-user was pretty much identical to the next. You're damned if do and you're damned if you don't.

Warlords & Warlocks (2008+): This is the one flavor so far that’s largely identified with an edition—namely, 4th Edition. This is largely due to the strong mechanical definition and the shakeups in flavor text that edition brought; no other edition seems to be so successful at carrying and maintaining its decided style. It’s a mixture and evolution of DC&Dm and P&P, albeit more high-action than the former and grittier than the latter, and focused on set-piece encounters, tactical combat, and often a sense of growing scope and power, with an endgame strongly informed by G&G.
I will say this about 4ed which I really tried to like. It borrowed some elements from MMOs that it didn't need to. Some things like tanking exist in MMOs because there is no human DM. So, there is no reason to bring them back to the pen and paper version of the game where we do have real human DMs. Monster magnet abilities. Ugh. 4ed achieves balance, but some would say it sacrificed the soul of D&D to do it. Calling this period the Great Equalizer would be apt.
 

komradebob

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A lot of this sounds like a wordier version of just saying Gygax's circle of gaming friends. Push this out to the late 80s to early 90s and beyond. There really isn't any poltical end game as there were never any rules released to support it. So, it was pure, houserule territory. Plus, the information we have now on medieval society, economics and warfare was hard to get back then. Does anyone remember the non-electronic, interlibrary loan system? The Internet has had such a transformational effect on doing research. As for mass combat, With AD&D, TSR tries with the Battlesystem rules, but medieval style warfare with PCs, giants, dragons and other weird creatures has huge issues. I kind of just remember breaking the system in a relatively short amount of time.
The Companion rules for D&D covered some of this when it came to running kingdoms and had alternative non-minis rules for mass combat, which could be used in addition to or instead of Battlesystem.
 

Pedantic

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I like this system immensely. I imagine it's not a perfect description of those assorted playstyles within their own eras, but as a general tool to describe the zeitgeist of different ways to play D&D, it seems very useful.

Simulation & Spellcasters (2002+): What 3rd Edition became ‘in the wild’, although one can find roots of it in some earlier approaches to the game. The comprehensive, cohesive and well-defined nature of the rules led to a rise in ‘rules as physics’ and further development of earlier attempts to work out how a D&D world would naturally function. Given the high power of magic, spellcasters become a dominant element in both the world and in gameplay. Eberron has strong roots in this school, and I believe Pathfinder deals with it some as well, if only by virtue of its 3E roots. Here on the rpg.net forum, it’s often disparaged, but we have some strong and eloquent voices in support of it.
This is definitely the game I play and generally care about.
 

Tequila Sunrise

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Having a wizard with a soul stealing sword, a magic cloak that acts as an infinite bag of holding, a pet dragon, and maybe even taking a starship into the hells and firing photon torpedoes at high level demons might be some examples. (I may have even had a character like that. :eek:)
Thanks for the example, and the DS dragon pic. I get G&G now. :)

(I may have played a mystic theurge with an intelligent artifact cloak during one campaign, who met Boccob himself. Too bad that last bit happened at the end of the campaign's last session!)
 

Kaloo

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zend0g you seem to have immediately expanded K&K then complained that everything else was just part of K&K
 

junglefowl26

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Yeah, this sounds pretty good. Like OG, I like the titles especially, though I feel the last one doesn't really have as much flavor as the others.
 
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