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I know in the past I've had to use active adapters when I'm dealing with a graphics card with DVI-I/DVI-D ports to get them to work with old VGA monitors.

I'm wanting to know if when I'm buying an adapter for my graphics card's DisplayPort to VGA.

Can I just buy any old adapter, to convert DisplayPort to VGA, or do I need an active one (if they exist)?

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Display port to VGA does require an active adapter, however it will get power from the port itself and does not require external power.

Further reading: here

Analog VGA and dual-link DVI require powered active adapters to convert the protocol and signal levels and do not rely on Dual-Mode. VGA adapters are powered by the DisplayPort connector, while dual-link DVI adapters may rely on an external power source (see Dual-mode).

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