Alright, maybe one of many divides, but it is certainly near the top of the list.
Character Mortality - boon or bane?
When I played (and DM'ed) AD&D back in the 80's and 90's, it was never assumed your character was going to make name level. Your PC lived in the now, acquisitions of magic and power was done with the thought of increasing one's chance of survival.
I wasn't a "Killer DM". I didn't keep a count of the PCs that I killed because I weren't looking to kill them. I figured the dice and the players' own decisions would take care of that for me, and they often did.
3x was the first time I saw players planning out their advancement 5, 10, even 15 levels in advance. It wasn't something I could comprehend, as just surviving to the next level was carrot enough for me. Was it the more complicated characters that 3x embodies that led to people assuming their characters were nigh immortal? Was the risk of character death significantly lowered starting with 3x? Was it the advent of computers assisting player record keeping that led to programs that allowed such planning to tae place?
4e just compounded the issue in my mind. 4e PCs don't seem to risk death. They certainly don't fear it, and it seems everybody knows exactly what their character is going to look like at any possible level int their future.
Maybe this is why I found the DCC RPG "Funnel" so refreshing- PCs died at a 50% casualty rate and the only complaint was that more didn't die ;) The 1st level party had 2 PCs that stared death in the face and managed to survive. It was refreshing.
I run my ACKS campaign in a "let the dice fall as they may" fashion. Haven't killed anyone yet but it's not for lack of trying ;)
I'm I wrong for looking at character mortality as one of the great dividing lines between "Old School" and "New School", especially among D&D in it's various editions and it's OGL offspring?
OSR Commentary On SURVIVE THIS!! What Shadows Hide - Cthulhu Sourcebook By Eric Bloat & Josh Palmer For The SURVIVE THIS!! What Shadows Hide - Core Rules' Rpg - It is a mistake to fancy that horror is associated inextricably with darkness, silence, and solitude.H. P. LovecraftSURVIVE THIS!! What Shadows Hide - Cth...
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