I sure wish comments there were open, but since the turnpike is down, I'll post my thoughts here.
At one point I was probably judging Rob using half D&D, 1/4 Chivalry & Sorcery, and 1/4 rules I'd made up or borrowed from the dozens of games in which I was participating.I agree, and more importantly, I think this is exactly the thing that attracts me to the older rules, to the more open environment. When I sit down at my games, I'm running a rules set that has evolved from 30 years of doing some sort of RPG, whether it's D&D, Mechwarrior, Shadowrun, Star Trek, Star Wars, or LARP'ing. My game is the sum of my experiences and, more importantly, it's evolving. Jeff Rient's demonstration of the sublime simplicity of the d6, Alexis's hyperrealistic economic model, Stuart Marshall's inventive situations, Trollsmyth's Shields Splintering, on and on, all of these and almost everything I read affects me and guides me towards a game that I am continuing to discover and enjoy.
Tell me if it isn't true that this exact same openness to rules isn't still taking place right now, throughout the role playing community? One can only imagine the answer is “more so!” I can hear you all shaking your heads in agreement here.
The thing that is fantastic is something that I read on Knights & Knaves (if I recall correctly) - that we are truly blessed to live in these times and we are seeing an intense democratization of our gaming. We've gone from regional games and word of mouth rules transferring to now instant access. If I have a question on how to run the economy of a town, or just how short a gnome is, I can find easily a dozen or more sources of information at my fingertips, as well as game systems that make it easy for me to run pretty much any genre with the results of my research. We don't have to wait for fanzines or official publisher's rags - we can read dozens of blogs to learn how other people do it, why they do it and how we can incorporate it into our games.
EN Shook goes on to say that perhaps "Old Guard" is more appropriate than "old school" - that by saying you are Old Guard, you are giving honor and respect to the past. He says that indeed, we of this "renaissance" are in fact varying off from the original intent, writing new "canon" instead of staying within the strictures of how it was played (ie., the rerolling of hit points prior to each adventure) and therefore by identifying "old school" is both limiting and (if I'm reading Shook correctly) fallacious.
I don't think that rewriting what "old school rules" are is a bad thing, or invalidates what I'm doing. If I read the history correctly, and how I interpret it is that the rules were always meant as guidelines. If I want to take OD&D and houserule the hell out of it, that doesn't make me any less an OD&D player or GM - I think I'm truly honoring the "way of the elders" by taking what works and spinning my own. I don't see anything inherently limiting in calling myself "old school" or "old guard" or "role player who likes to play rules that hearken back to 0e/1e" - unless there was a downside to it.
I'm not sure I agree that there is a downside to labels. Labels are both freeing and limiting, but it's how we approach the conversation and context of those labels that will help define the conversation, which is why THIS is what really stands out for me:
The coin of the role playing realm should be the world.Applause. Not only for succinctly stating what I've been trying to express in my own fumbling ways, but also stating how I should state my preference for my rules.
Scott's Thool, for example, or Valley of the Snails, is exactly the kind of thing that I should demonstrate when I talk about old school. These are unique lands who speak to a type of play and a type of mindset/thought/approach that could span any game, and still express the wonderment of fantasy. Were it not for my active campaigns have players who read my blog, I would be more forthcoming about my own worlds...
Swords/Wizardry, OSRIC, 0e, Hackmaster, Tunnels & Trolls - these are just the tools we use to express our worlds. Old "whatever", to me, is an approach, a mindset and a way of presenting these strange and fantastic worlds, with a specific type of context and a specific type of feel. Take a dash of pulp, mix it with some "Yes or roll", "Save or die" mentality, some strange fantastic feel and you have exactly what I want to play, and you have the context by which I approach my mechanics.
So whether I'm "Old Guard", "Old School" or just an "Old Guy", this is the way I like to play and these are the worlds I like to express. My passion for promoting Swords/Wizardry, OSRIC and the "Old School Revival" is more about talking about the neat tools I have to express the wondrous worlds I have within my head and that I want to take my players to each time I sit down in the DM chair.
And just to put it into context, I find it immensely interesting that our hobby is going through very similar discussions of "Old Guard" versus "New Guard" that quite a lot of different social groups, lifestyles and hobbies are talking about. The Internet has shaken up the world and a lot of people are busy putting themselves into corners and labeling themselves as this or that. Most of the time it is truly limiting and divisive - the RPG world is one of the few worlds where I think it doesn't have to be. It's a convenient shorthand for saying "I do something that hearkens back to the past... but is full of life for the future."