Thursday, May 18, 2017

Board Game Off the Rails


Animal-Land, a South Korean Board Game
It is good to compare the OSR experience to a board game experience. I like to think of it as a board game-plus rather than the predecessor of a modern RPG or story game.  (Of course, it is both!)

The rules are in some ways a little more formal in the old games.  I think it is because those original games were the children of wargames, where the rules and turns are very rigid.

Maybe things have loosened up over time because that makes it more fun for some modern players, but for me, I like to make turn order - especially in skirmish and volley - feel more regular.  That is one of the reasons I dote on the older style games so.

Every so often, I think I have an original idea but it turns out that I heard it somewhere but forgot the source and just internalized it, or it's a copy of an idea someone else had long ago.  I think you might have the same thing happen to you some times!

Kenner's Escape From the Death Star (1977),
which predates their dolls and playsets
It turns out the idea of comparing tabletop adventure games to board games is very old. Ken St. Andre, the librarian who invented Tunnels & Trolls (and arguably expanded D&D from a game to a genre) had made the same kind of comparison way back in 1975.  The incomparable Oakes Spaulding blogs about it here, but I'll bring the pull quote from St. Andre for you just the same:

The game is played something like Battleship. The individual player cannot see the board. Only the D.M. knows what is in the dungeon.

Wow!  Cool! I bet there are other people who have thought along those same lines too, but it's hard to imagine someone had the idea before Ken St. Andre, since he was one of the first few hundred people in the world to even know what a RPG is!

Now when I wrote Mythical Journeys (available for free here), I contrast tabletop adventure gaming with playing video games, but that's because it's written for an audience that is more familiar with video games (and fantasy movies) than analog entertainment options.

Do you ever compare a RPG to board games or to other activities?  If so, what kinds of comparisons (or contrasts!) 

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