Sunday, August 23, 2009

Where the hell The Old School Renaissance come from?

Like the usenet searches I put my google-fu to work.

This is the first recorded instance I can find for the term in reference to retro-games,specifically Castles & Crusades

Link to Forum Post

This is by a guest so the author is unknown. Which is kinda of ironic in a way.

From reading the posts on the various rpg boards over the last couple of years it does seem there is a shift in thinking amongst the gaming community concerning what they want from future rpgs. The illusion has been dispelled that the d20 ultra detailed number crunching method would lead to a better gaming experience. A pining for more narrative simpler play and a looking back to the old days seems to be the new way forward.

The populatity of none d20 systems is again growing with WFRP selling second only to WoTs D&D. CoC and GURPS have also seen a slight revival in their market share. Compare this to the decrease in sales of d20 material over the last year (although still high). Over production and over stock is leading many online stores to slash prices. An old school renaissance could be on the horizon. C&C is ahead of the game for the moment but this won't remain the case for long. Already Green Ronin are toying with the idea of going rules lite and have put True20 out to RPG publishers for settings an ideas.

The delay in release of M&T (and CZ) and the poor layout issues of C&Cs first print run have certainly not helped in stamping C&C firmly at the vanguard of this new wave in gaming. However as C&C is the only runner (albeit a slow runner) they can afford to make one or two mistakes. They also have a hard core fanbase that has done loads of free promotion on the various boards.

Hopefully C&C will do well in the future dispite increased competition. I certainly was taken by their ideas and purchased C&C and Assault on blacktooth. However, due to the ongoing delays I have now gone over to WFRP due to more reliable publishing dates. (I also have the TRUE20 - C&C has better ideas with their SEIGE mechanic which are better in my opinion).
Between 2005 and 2008 there was more than a few post and blogs that talked about a renaissance in Old School games. Then in 2008 the term Old School Renaissance really took off started becoming a short hand for what the various Old School Publishers doing.

It appears it use grew by osmosis rather than being promoted by a trend setter or a group. Definitely not everybody is happy with the term. It was rather pleasing to be looking through the search logs on how it use grew.

Looking through the logs shows how the Old School Renaissance grew out of the uncoordinated efforts of a diverse crowd of gamers. Sometimes working at cross-purposes but for the most expanding the depth and range of material for the older editions of D&D. The logs show how no one group or entity dominates the OSR. Indeed short of Wizards re-releasing a ruleset and putting it support behind it, I don't see how anybody can at this point.


And that how exactly it should be.

To all those considering publishing, whether it is on a grand scale or small, come on board and get your stuff out. To all those who have stuff published I salute you and hope to see more.

10 comments:

David Macauley said...

...no one group or entity dominates the OSR...And that how exactly it should be.

Hear, hear! I love the phrase OSR and don't understand some people's objections to it. Personally I don't see the term "old school" as a having any negative connotations at all. Very interesting post, thanks Rob.

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

aethereal FORGE
--Nice to know. ;)

Tim Shorts said...

In most posts OSR seems to stand for Old School Resistance. The guest's post is positive and promotes growth, a proper Renaissance attitude. I agree with the post except I think C&C is slipping fast since this summer they were scheduled to produce important books that never materialized. They have run out of mistakes. With Swords & Wizardry recognition at Gen Con and their open approach I believe S&W is now the leader. I know Rob is working on an exciting product that will make some waves when he releases it.

Dan of Earth said...

I think the term was started or at least popularized by Fight On! Magazine. Then people started calling it the "OSR" after I started the OSR group store at Lulu (referring to it as "OSR", and after that it that it just spread very quickly.

But this is all just terminology. Sometimes a term just catches fire. If you're asking where the language came from that's one thing, but the whole origin of what we have today is much more complicated.

E.G.Palmer said...

A nice little piece of research there, thanks!
I also agree with your take on the nature of the OSR. I think it is best served by all concerned putting forth their best work without worrying about iron-clad definitions of what is or isn't. That point where the majority of OSR enthusiasts overlap in their views may be shifting and vague sometimes, but it's still there, and the center point of Old School thought is more important than sharply defined borders, zealously policed.

invokation said...

I agree with the post but in response to Tim Shorts, I don't think that TLG missed the mark this summer. There is only one release that has failed to materialize this summer and this has been their major stumbling block for the past couple of years. It's nice to see that it is (finally) mostly done. Those at the recent Troll Con in July was able to flip through various chapters and a lot of the fans were happy. The recent issue with the 4th printing PHB and OGM hardbacks has nothing to do with them not being done (they've been made available as softcovers) and everything to do with costs. Given the choice between paying $25 for a hardcover PHB or $35 for the same book, I think most people would rather pay the $25. They are moving the printing so that all of it is in-house which is very good news.

That said, I think TLG can't afford many more mistakes and they do need to complete the transition to a very small publisher to a slightly more professional one.

With Swords & Wizardry, I have to be honest when I say that I do not feel this to be a great accomplishment for the product itself. It's good news for the OSR community as this is good recognition of the various efforts being made. There's nothing wrong with S&W as a product but I think the 'ad campaign' suggesting a vote for this was a vote for old school went a long way to secure the silver.

D Collins said...

The OSR came from guys like me who kept on sponsoring 0D&D and other similar games both here, and at gaming conventions.

Even when such games were deliberately obscured by convention organizers, and not well attended by players, a small group continued to enjoy the fast play, and flexible nature of the original games.

New players eventually attended as well mostly out of a curiosity to get the "original" experience.

The original game encouraged and allowed for a large variety of play styles. Hardcore gamers wanted a better defined experience, so moved on.

Finding the well-defined game both constraining and time-consuming, many have joined the OSR for a more casual gaming experience. Kids seem to like the OSR as well, gives them room to develop their own ideas about the game.

@Tim Shorts -- I wouldn't count on relegating C&C to a lesser status, since it appears that the fanbase is actually growing, just not as much in relation to OSR games as a whole.

All of that is good!

Tim Shorts said...

@invokation & D Collins

I'be been enjoying C&C since the beginning of the summer. I like the system and have enjoyed creating adventures for the system, but the few products I've bought (other than the source books) have lacked quaility and an editor.

I may have gotten the release dates wrong, but I thought the Castle Keepers Guide was due out this summer. I was looking forward to it.

But there is enough out there to keep me and others busy until C&C can put out their books.

Actually going to the gaming store now. :)

Zachary The First said...

I think C&C has actually seen some growth. Once the CKG is out (and it appears to finally be drawing night), I think one of their last big stumbling blocks will be out of the way.

I play C&C, but also use a *lot* of stuff from the rest of the OSR in conjunction with it. Which is the best of all worlds, to my thinking.

I don't count any single company or product a "leader"; I count the now-hundreds of folks producing content for a classic, wonderful style of gaming the leaders, if anyone. The focused bursts of creativity for such products from the Swords & Wizardry Quickstart to the Castle of the Mad Archmage to Kellri's Netbooks to Fight On! all come from different folks, often inspired by one another, and that's what I find so great about the whole business.