Monday, November 28, 2022

Yes, You Can Resolve Action Without Dice and Do It for Years

A few days ago on the OSR subreddit, a user asked "Why Play B/X?" in the context of many modern games like Into the Odd, Knave, and Mork Borg being excellent at what they do. I had no skin in the game as I have a high regard for B/X and Old School Essentials (though I don't run them), but I got involved in the conversation when the predictable "Sure but you can't sustain an actual campaign" criticism was leveled against the so-called ultralight games currently vogue in the scene. 

It continues to blow my mind how often I hear this about rules-light games.

The specific discussion began like this:
  • User 1: "OSE feels like it has more depth and is more suited for campaign play whereas stuff like Mörk Borg seems to struggle with anything that goes beyond one- or few-shots."
  • User 2: "I ran Mork Borg for three months."
  • User 3: "But can you run Mork Borg for 6 years, like our longest AD&D campaign?"
  • Me: "I've been running a diceless campaign for five."
I was met with skepticism:
  • User 4: "Rolling dice is one of the best parts of role playing though!" 
  • Me: "I don’t disagree, but you don’t need them (or much infrastructure at all) to facilitate engaging, meaningful, and long-term play." 
  • User 4: "How do you handle the aspect of randomness/chaos that dice offer? Or how do you facilitate as being impartial when things happen if you don’t use dice? Also how do players hit or not hit then?"
In response, I realize I wrote effectively a blogpost to cover these questions, so I figured, why not just memorialize the conversation as a blogpost? So here we are. Consider this a sequel to How I Run and Play an Ultralight Game.