Friday, September 3, 2021

Concerning the OSR, Everything is All Right.

Over the summer and recently I seen posts and opinions on the direction of the Old School Renaissance or OSR. Just keep in mind that due to how it came about. A result of discussion and sharing on the Internet combined with judicious use of open content like the D20 System Reference Document. Because of this, differences in content, tone, and feel are not only expected but inevitable. 

Everybody has equal access to the foundational material and the situation is such that one can do quite a bit within the time one has for a hobby. Even when it something more involved like getting a work in shape for publication. 

The result is that the OSR is confusing kaleidoscope of many voices doing their own things. Which is a good thing in my book as this ensure that your voice will be heard if you have the interest and time. Plus thanks to digital technology it only take a few hundred folks interested in particular take to keep it going.

The downside is that if you have a specific interest and it not being handled by anybody then the only recourse available is to do it yourself. Encouragement or promotion might work but the only way to ensure that something gets done is for somebody somewhere to pick up the available tools and starting making stuff.

Which why what I said back in 2009 is still true today, the OSR belongs to those who do.

Finally remember what you see, including myself, is just a slice of a much larger effort. With nearly 8,000 items on DriveThruRPG alone, I would not trust anybody's assertion that the OSR is about anything in particular other than it that probably originated in a theme or set of mechanics associated with the various classic editions of the world's most popular roleplaying game. 

But if you look at specific groups and specific individuals, like myself, then that will not be the case, and that there will be a specific focus. For me it been mostly about sandbox campaigns, hexcrawl formatted settings, letting players trash settings ,and when needed using rules based off of Swords and Wizardry. Other folks have their own focus.

One particular thing I want to mention that matured quite a bit since 2009 are virtual tabletops. Even after face to face gaming resumes it former place, the development of VTT software, like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds continue to allow people separated by geography or circumsantces to get together and play the games they like and love.  And the best part you can switch easily between a VTT and face to face when time and circumstances permit. Both start with the same material and require pretty much the same type preparation although there are differences in how the session are handled. 

As always Fight On! and have fun with the stuff. It yours to do as you will whether it is playing, promoting, sharing, or publishing. 


  1. Lots of people really underestimate the power of open content. I have long advocated that if the Linux community ever decided Linux Torvalds wasn't doing a good job, they could just go their own way and eventually a new leader would settle out. There might be division for a while, but eventually a new central figure would arise. Of course that dynamic is different for RPGs which instead celebrate the divergence down many different paths, yet I continue to see many different authors grabbing bits from 5e which suggests that while the games that fall under the OSR will continually evolve, they will constantly cross paths in a way that makes it easy to share content between them.

    The growth of VTT is amazing, and I totally agree, it will stay solid post pandemic and will continue to be a platform that allows obscure games to continue to live among the most popular games. People will continue to stay up way to late, or get up way to early to play in those games. I myself might never again grace an in person game, I was powering along on Roll20 for some time before the pandemic due to the convenience of not having to leave my home or invite people into it and how well that works with a wife and young children. When I eventually retire, I envision running games in the daytime at hours that will be popular with people in Europe, or other times for other parts of the world.

    In the meantime, people like you will continue to offer coherent views of particular play styles supported by a variety of content from blog posts, to adventures and settings, to rule systems. This breadth of publishing keeps these play styles alive and accessible.

  2. Appreciate your comment and agreed.

  3. Thanks Robert. Ha, our gaming group (a mix of you and old and experience with various editions) converted to Advanced Labyrinth Lord two years. Gaming other month, in-person before the pandemic, we are starting to hit mid-level power (5th to 8th or so). Since it has been almost 20 years since we ran and long-lived AD&D campaign (really about 25 years because the intervals between games were almost annual during the late 90s/early 200s) it will be interesting to see how higher level play stacks up against the 3rd and 5th edition campaigns we ran later.

    On a more "global" level I really enjoy the simplicity of the classic rules and the ease with which a new person is introduced to the game. The basics permit a ref to focus on the setting and scenario without worrying too much about rules variations.

    We have run 2 in-person games since the pandemic has begun to abate, but still haven't had a situation to implement a hybrid game of both in-person and remote players. I am super interested if we can make that work because it is super optimal given that some of our players have dispersed too far to make in-person games a regular accurance.

  4. (Har, a mix of "young" and old, Robert, although you are always welcome to join us.)