Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Two Cents On The OSR

Look, there’s been a lot of talk lately (especially over at theRPGsite) about the Old School Renaissance (OSR), and how people either don’t get what it’s all about, or dislike some portion of it, or are turned off by some attitudes.

Forget your idea of what TARGA is or isn’t, forget the idea of a Old School Pope, and forget anyone who tells you are or aren’t Old School. It’s about supporting and enjoying (did we forget the enjoying part?) classical games and their near cousins. There is no monolithic entity deciding what is and isn’t old school. If you want to get involved, want to see what’s quality, submit an idea for an article or an article to Fight On! Post your crazy homebrew rules. Make charts. Slap a bunch of 2e stuff together with your Rules Cyclopedia. Gut the crap out of 3.5 and return to something simpler. Play Hackmaster, Castles & Crusades, or Microlite74. Dig out your old Red Box copy of D&D, or the Little Black Books of Traveller. Put an idea together for an (Semi-)Organized Play program with you and a few "penpal" groups out there. Make modules for AD&D 1e, or run those put out by other. Make a hex map and post it online. Run games, run games, run games.

Bottom line, that any sort of Old School Renaissance is what you make of it. It shouldn’t be a bunch of people bragging about how they’re Old Schoolier Than Thou because they played Kriegspiel with Kaiser Wilhelm himself. It can be about reminiscing, it can be about analyzing, and it can be about creation and play. Again, there is no monolith. There are dozens of little communities that interact on occasion. If something catches your eye and it turns out a community is helpful or inspiring to you (as Fight On! was for me), then by all means, participate. If not, don’t. There isn't an all-or-nothing movement here you have to swallow whole.

Guys (and gals), the opportunities are there. Opportunities to have your classic games supported, opportunities to support them yourself, opportunities to run games for people starving for classic D&D, Traveller, Tunnels & Trolls, or whatever. Opportunities to have your work published in magazines like Fight On! and Knockspell. Opportunities to have something you made bring enjoyment to someone else’s gaming table. And yeah, there are jerks out there—is there any single game or genre or fan following in this hobby that doesn’t? Snark is snark, whether it’s someone defending Exalted at RPGnet, or some dude whose claim to fame is an article in Dragon #24. You’re going to have that. Being old-school doesn’t make you infallible, and it doesn’t make you a nice person. Just like anything else in life, if you think it’s worth it, ignore the creeps and focus on the fun.

And if at any point it becomes not fun or not fulfilling for you, let it go. Life’s too short to get worked up over a game too much, right? I understand people like to argue, but if I can get all John Lennon here for a minute, imagine if we spent the time we do arguing on making gaming material instead? I don't know about you, but I know I'm guilty on that last count. Little less talk, lot more action.

Use what works, trash what doesn’t. I don't care about making points, I don't care about proving anything, and I don't care any of the other peripheral crap that impedes the DIY ethic or people writing new material for me to play with. No more discussion on it--let's get to creating stuff.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sad that we have to spend time saying this instead of gaming or contributing ideas to gaming. Well said, on the spot, and a completely necessary post considering recent shitestorms, but the more we stick to regularly scheduled blogging the better.

Zachary The First said...

@Anon: You’re right. That’s all I’m going to say on it. Check back this afternoon for some gaming-related goodness!

Dr. Awkward said...

Well put, and the sort of thing I've been meaning to say for quite a while now.

Ernest said...

I am a bit confused. The OSR is an effort to promote other people's creative works (from the past) ? Your statement, "No more discussion on it--let's get to creating stuff" seems to be in contradiction. The OSR, by nature, is only about discussions and has nothing to do with creating stuff, other than arguments.

Zachary The First said...

@Ernest: Fight On, Knockspell, Swords & Wizardry Quick Start, Advanced Edition Companion, One-Page Dungeon Contest, Kellri's supplements, Castle of the Mad ArchMage, Microlite74, Death Frost Doom, and so much more.

That's what people interested in classical and neoclassical gaming can create.

If you're interested in creating and playing stuff, there's opportunities. That's what I'm focused on. If you aren't, look somewhere else for an argument--there's plenty of place to accomodate you.

Thanks for the comments!

sirlarkins said...

The only thing I hated about playing Kriegspiel with Kaiser Willie (as I called him) was with his gimpy arm he had to have someone else move his units for him, so it really slowed down gameplay.

Zachary The First said...

I also heard he and Bismarck were total power gamers. Little known fact: The Franco-Prussian War started with the words “But That’s What My Character Would Do!” France replied that Prussia should “see page XX for a ruling”, and it was on.

Ernest said...

Seriously sir. You're comparing your list to Dragon Magazine Dungeons and Dragons, and Keep on the Borderlands or the Temple of Elemental Evil or Tegel Manor for creativity ? Your list contains some fine products, but creatively are paler simulacrums. Any pastiche invites controversy for the sake of financial gain not invention.
The OSR seems to be built on a foundation that guarantees disagreement at the expense of creativity.

trollsmyth said...

ROFLOL! And, ACK! Too long to tweet! Ah well...

Amanda said...

I'm pretty new to the whole idea of OSR and the community surrounding it but what I took from all the blogs I've read so far it doesn't seem to matter what system you're playing. It's more about play style and an approach to playing rpgs. I'm going to be starting to DM in some more modern systems heavily house ruled but I can take all the advice from the OSR DM's I think and craft a game for my players that oozes 'old school'.

Zachary The First said...

Hey, whatever you can use, right?

Best of luck putting your game together!

Stuart said...

It’s about supporting and enjoying (did we forget the enjoying part?) classical games and their near cousins.

Why not take it one step further:

It’s about supporting and enjoying games.

BAM! Upgrayedd. :)

Jenny Snyder said...

You know, I play and write for exactly zero OSR style games. You know what else? I still love reading about them. OSR for me is a place to mine ideas and support creativity...no, scratch that. GAMING is about fostering creativity and supporting each other in those endeavours, and OSR completely fits into that. So I really appreciate a post like this, that asks us to ditch controversy and arguments about who's old schoolier, and wants us to focus on the parts of gaming that make it, you know, fun.

Because why the hell would we do any of this if it wasn't fun? It sure as sin doesn't pay the bills for most of us.

Greyaxe said...

Forgive my naivety I can not count myself a giant or frequent the Blog Sphere, however I play Rolemaster SS and FRP, Palladium pretty much everything, and I remember playing the entire D&D boxed set right up to Immortals. Do I qualify for Old timer Gamers thing? If so……get those young games off my Blog sphere……. Crotchety… grumble.. old, I did it better, my generation rules….. We invented it!!! It can not be improved. There was no imagination before me.

Zachary The First said...

@Greyaxe: There’s no qualifying, but if you want to talk some first edition Palladium Fantasy, I am totally there! That’s the first system I ever played!

Zenfar said...

What if just long to play some Dangerous Journeys again? Oh for the much more complex days of yore.

Zachary The First said...

Clearly, we need more Dangerous Journeys and Cyborg Commando retro-clones!

OK, how long before we see a Cyborg Commando article in Fight On? Somone make this happen!

The Lord of Excess said...

I agree with Stuart ... its about enjoying GAMES ... can't agree more. Whatever version, whatever brand ... if your doing face to face tabletop games I say AWESOME! I agree with the sentiment of ending the pointless version war debates. I think that we all are far better served on focusing on what we like and love about OSR games rather than endlessly bashing other non-OSR systems, etc. I really enjoy many OSR games but I also like several non-OSR RPG systems as well. I know there are some ultra pure OSR folks out there who seem to only have that as a gaming interest ... and to them I say if that is what you love Bravo. For me however I have a plethora of gaming interests and not just with OSR RPGs (or even just RPGs). So seeing some people out there who have such a puritanical, sectarian/denominational attitude has made me sad. Anyway thanks for a positive post ... I agree that the focus should be on building not on tearing down :)

Rusty said...

We need a random encounter table for Alsace.

Thanks for the post.

Greyaxe said...

@Zachary The First
Truth be told I dont understand the argument. I still play those games and enjoy them. I have also played, Cyperpunk, Top Secret, Toons, Paranoid, Warhammer FRP,each was different each had its own flavor. I haven't played a "Modern" game but from what I read from younger posters they often compain about character creation time. Perhaps you grow into the hobby but background and character creation make the game for me.

Andreas Davour said...

Guess why I have almost stopped caring about webforums like theRPGsite? The level of discussion is terrible.

I have no idea why, but they attract fools.