Thursday, January 3, 2013

The OSR Handbook

The Old School Renaissance Handbook has been released by Brent Newhall. It is a concise summary of 16 roleplaying games that are considered by many as part of the OSR. One helpful feature of the comparisons is that he reproduces the same set of five characters for each of the systems. He also wrote some commentary on what he feels the OSR is about. It definitely not a definitive survey of the various retro-clones and old school games but very well done. I hope he does a followup on some of the games he missed in the initial release as well as one on adventures and supplements.

Note also that he is planning on publishing a book with some additional material contributed by various notable OSR authors and publishers like James Raggi of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

One final bit of commentary here, it is easy to knock stuff like this as hubris or trying to define the OSR. I for one welcome this kind of material as it can help newcomers get a sense of what is a glorious mess. I would encourage anybody with the interest in writing this type of material to do so and get it out there. The only caution I give is that whatever you write about the OSR remember it is only your viewpoint. In my opinion as of 2013 the OSR has grown so large and diverse that any of one of us only hope to cover a small fraction of what out there.

Just Look at the Horde and Hoard list which show over 700+ products as of May 2012 and that list was compiled just from those OSR that were designed specifically to work with a classic edition. Add the ones that are old school feel, and classic edition variants we are looking at a couple of hundred more.

Here to 2013 to being another banner year for the OSR.

Fight On!


Brent said...

Thanks very much for the kind review, Rob!

I completely agree that the OSR Handbook isn't a definitive survey of the OSR. Folks have already suggested over 20 other OSR systems!

I do plan updates to cover other systems. One nice thing about digital distribution is the ability to release updates frequently, and anyone who bought previous versions can get the updated version free.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I picked this up as well. I don't feel Newhall was trying to define the OSR at all. In fact I got the feeling that he certainly wanted us to know that it was not defined.

I am curious about the games chosen. Though, some I had not heard of and others were absent that really should have been there.

I should get a review of my own up soon.

Unknown said...

The same characters through each system is a great idea

DHBoggs said...

It may be a fine product, as far as it goes, but my initial reaction to the list of 16 games surveyed is "Huh?".

Where, for pities sake, is "Basic Fantasy?", one of the pillars of the OSR? Or for that matter, Delving Deeper or either of my own Dragons at Dawn or Champions of ZED? Instead of these and other relatively popular titles there are a full 6 of the sixteen listed that I've either never heard of or have only seen mentioned once or twice in the general OSR community.

Further, at least of the games I do know, all are fantasy games. Where are the sci-fi clones? Where's Mutant Future, Terminal Space, Humanspace Empires, etc?

Probably I'll get around to buying the .pdf, but "OSR Handbook" seems a very misleading title given Newhalls choices of what to survey and what to leave out.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Basic Fantasy was one of the ones that was really conspicuous by its absence.

I would have liked have seen Spellcraft & Swordplay in there as well. I find it more playable than say LotFP.

Anonymous said...

I shall check this out, thanks for the share. You guys may also like this old school channel that covers OSR and the older games

Unknown said...

Wouldn't someone who wants to learn about the OSR be better served by reading (and playing) some of these freely available game systems than by spending $4 on this?

The title also strikes me as presumptuous, given that it's not an all-inclusive (nor does it approach being thorough) handbook of the hobby.