|"How was D&D last night?"|
"Well we refused to run away so we all got eaten... ...again."
About twelve years ago I ran away from my home city to a life of adventure on the seas. Not long after that my old D&D gaming group went over from 2nd edition to 3rd to 3.5 and eventually to 4th edition. From the outside what I saw was an evolution away from the imagination based games I had played, to a more balanced, rules intensive, board game feel.
Now these are all very good at what they want to be. I'm not going to get into that debate, but let's just say, it was the very un-tolkien-like psychedelic-otherness and sense that anything could happen of 1st edition AD&D that sucked me in. We used to do all the combats in our heads and miniatures were rarely used for anything other than showing marching order.
Now that I know more about the earlier editions I see that they too had that feel without being so complicated players spent all their time looking at notes, or sanitized for kids like 2nd edition on appeared to be. So I've decided to go Old School, I work too hard for D&D to be work as well so we're using Labyrinth Lord and some of the Advanced Edition Companion rule sets, but we are keeping race as class to avoid no one wanting to play a human fighter or thief. (My favorite classes by the way).
To understand how the old school style differs from more modern character-centric RPGs, it is helpful to read The Quick Primer for Old School Gaming (go on, read something). You'll learn why less rules means more options, faster play, and more fun. You'll also learn why your PC being very squishy also means more fun; sneaking up on that ghoul really is scarier if you know your PCs next moment could be their last.
This isn't cinematic. This isn't super-heroic. It is only even heroic in the sense that you will sometimes survive doing things most people would consider foolishly brave. It is rough and ready men and women coming together in a world that doesn't care to make of it what they can.
Read the primer, it's not long and might just save your PCs life.