Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The OSR and Gen Con

If you have any interest in neoclassical gaming or the old-school renaissance or any of those types of things, I'd really appreciate a few minutes of your time here.

First, I’ve been thinking it might be really cool to have a small Gen Con old-school/classic RPG tournament next year. It’d have to be manageable, like 4 or 6 6-person slots, with the highest group XP claiming the title. (It would also be fun to have awards for items like Most Kills, Best Idea, and Individual XP). I’d also like the games themselves to be manageable--I think 2-hour slots are optimal, with so much going on at Gen Con. Of course, there’d be several ways to go about it.

There’d be 4 Big Things:

DMs: I’d love to take a turn at it, but there would need to be at least a couple of DMs to share the load, and to hash out the overall rules.

Scenario: Do we use something pre-published but obscure? Do we tear something out of the One-Page Dungeon Contest? Or do we create a new one from scratch?

System: Labyrinth Lord? Swords & Wizardry? Microlite74? The Red Box itself?

Sponsorship: It’d be nice to give out a trophy or plaque of some sort to the winner.

Obviously there’s also the matter of interest, but I think that’s already there. Chgowiz’s games sound like they went marvelously. My Microlite74 game sold out, and I had a person show up with generic tickets to get in. Swords & Wizardry was exposed to a new element this year.

OK, onto my bigger point: I think it has been disappointing that TARGA and the neoclassic/classic/old-school RPG community has not been able to work up any more representation at Gen Con than on an individual level (such as Chgowiz with his Sword & Wizardry Quick Start, and running games). At Gen Con, you realize how many attendees still play and love earlier editions. I saw more than one old taped-up Red Box, and the AD&D 1e PHB was not unknown.

To a larger point, many of these attendees are “alpha gamers”. They take the new (or old) hotness back to their groups. Give them demos, give them a booth to interact with, give them opportunities for play, and watch it blossom. They're out there, guys. They may not visit the message boards or our blogs, but meet them at Gen Con, play with them, send them back home with a fresh copy of Labyrinth Lord or OSRIC in their paws, and watch the extended community grow. That's what I want. I'd rather sell 40 products to new customers offline than 80 products to the same old 80 folks online. Ultimately, I think we all want more people gaming the games we enjoy. Gen Con is one of the best ways to accomplish that.

Yes, it would take money. Yes, there are considerations to be made. Look, this is the same corner of the hobby that helped get previously obscure products in stores and distro networks, that pushed a quarterly gaming magazine to the top of lulu’s sales charts, and helped a retro-clone capture an award few people thought it had a chance of winning.

I’m willing to do my part for next year. What about you?


sycarion said...

Unfortunately, I'll never be able to go the GenCon because it takes place during a time that I cannot take time off work. Sad, I know. :(

Still, there's a white box Tekumel group that plays at a regional Con in Iowa. I'm sure we could do something smaller at a different con. (Maybe it is already being done.)

Other than that, I'll send some fundage to work together a GenCon something-or-other.

As to the ruleset, that may be a snag. I prefer Basic Fantasy, but I imagine OSRIC and LL are more popular. Maybe doing the Red Box would be the 'box to rule them all'.

Great idea. Look forward to what others have to say.

PS what is TARGA?

Zachary The First said...

Yeah, and I'm personally of the opinion that I'd love OSRIC, Basic Fantasy, S&W, LL--any of the retro-clones possible--represented. For the tourney, perhaps Red Box would be best. But I guess we'd have to put the thing together first!

That stinks you can never go to Gen Con! Perhaps things will change one day.




E.G.Palmer said...

What about an OSR co-op booth? You could man a booth with as many of the OSR publishers, writers, and pundits as could attend, and load it up with examples of everyone's work. I assume that None of them as individuals could swing the cost or time necessary, but as a group, the costs would be greatly spread out. Everyone could trade off time maning the booth and tooting the OSR horn, and I think it would have a more respectable impression to have an obviously organized presence on the convention floor.

I haven't officialy joined the ranks of the published OSR writers yet, but it is my intention to do so.

Zachary The First said...

@E.G.: I think it's a great idea! I believe that might be one of the best ways to ensure a common stake and feeling of camaraderie and investment in such an undertaking...

Wyatt said...

I'm not an old schooler by any means, but I have read and played some retroclones. I think the system you should use, if you decide to use only one, should be Swords and Wizardry. It won an Ennie so it already had a presence at Gencon, but there's more to it.

Having read the whole thing, I found it one of the crisper and best laid-out retroclones with a good presentation of the rules and a good general ease of use.

I think if you go with S&W you would get more than just old schoolers wanting in on it.

E.G.Palmer said...

I think you're right about promoting the feeling of camradarie Zachary. I personally think the OSR should be One-for-All, and All-for-One! I'd rather not pick a single retroclone to promote, I'd like to see them all represented in the Co-Op booth. Plus demo games of each, published products, pdfs on cd, shirts, maybe some simple black and white printings of OSR oriented gaming tips and advise.
Science fiction and fantasy cons often have a table of promotional materials in the lobby with flyers for upcoming movies and such.
We could do the same for the OSR publishers and blogs.

Lisandro Gaertner said...

Great Idea! I am sorry I can`t join you in this (I`m in Brazil), but maybe we can do something similar here. For tournament rules have you considered looking through this?


Chgowiz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chgowiz said...

I started a comment, but it turned into a blog post. The upshot is that I think TARGA was a glorious failure that shows us that the OSR is alive and well without groups, organizations or badges - and I think that any sort of support is awesome, but at a core, not needed.

Dude, you rock :) I love the enthusiasm. You've gotta come up to GaryCon or WinterWar so we can roll the bones together.

Zachary The First said...

@Michael: Great thoughts, sir. I’ve posted a reply over that way. Thanks!

Dylan said...

Hope it's not to late to hope in and support your idea, if it's still active. I was just thinking about Gen Con recently with the Red Box release at http://digitalorc.blogspot.com/2010/10/case-of-red-box.html