My little quickly written out thoughts about OSR have garnered a bit of attention.
My post was a vague commentary on some recent articles like this one:
Of course, my title was a bit over the top, so are these proclamations that OSR is dead.
One Blog Post out of millions says: Kill the OSR, OSR is dead, and people freak out. I even got banned on one group for my words as someone reported it as hate speech. Uhm, we're talking about Elf Games here. It's not real.
I'll post these screen grabs because I think being banned for having an opinion is hilarious.
And then Greyhawk Grognard also posted this response on the same group:
So I thought: well, if he can cite my blog post in his post I can repost mine there too right?
It seems citing me is one thing, posting me is another.
Banned 'til Monday.
But, my post is still cited within Greyhawk Grognard's post.
I am not in any way angry about this and I don't want to promote drama. I generally want to promote hilarity and to me this is hilarious!
Ok, back to OSR things.
I get it. Joe doesn't want to be weighed down with a term that means just one thing. He likes OSR. Fine with me. I don't need to argue with Joe because we are actually in agreement. We also are both focused on promoting the older games because they are fascinating to both of us.
So let me state that, no OSR is not dead. Yet it may be stagnant. The article about OSR being dead did have some salient points. It stated that there hadn't been as much activity on the subject of late.
The post argues that an absence of products is why:
Interestingly one person in an online discussions mentioned that OSR is actually a marketing term.
"It's a marketing term to sell RPGs to the older crowd who doesn't like the feel of more modern RPGs. It does serve a purpose for that reason alone. Kind of how "Alternative" music used to mean an alternative to the mainstream, and then it became mainstream so calling it by that name was kind of absurd, but it still served a marketing purpose even if dumb." - I won't post the author's name publicly for privacy reasons.
The comparison to Alternative Music as a term is dead on. what the hell does this mean once the product is a slice of a huge market?
I poked around the web and this popped up.
I still wonder what OSR means too. If a person is new to gaming the acronym means nothing. If you tell them it's Old School Game Rules, that sort of means nothing as well.
I talk to gamers all over the world and they usually surprise me. For instance, Poland is likely one of the great bastions for older edition RPG's. I recently met a gamer in Croatia and chatted about games. The entire tone of the conversation was about DIY and older editions, to which I responded: Oh, you must be the same age as I am. Well, I was wrong!
Age has nothing to do with it either.
There is nothing old about gamers who play earlier editions of games. It's like calling yourself an Old School RISK player because you own a board from the 70's; never mind when the game was originally published.
My focus is always on behaviors. What is it about OSR that is OSR:
1. People who are OSR play older editions of RPG's and not just D&D. Praise must be given to other early RPG's like Tunnels and Trolls, E.P.T., Rune Quest, and many others.
2. OSR players love the old Adventure Modules.
3. OSR players are DIY and play their own worlds and adventures (oh oh, what about behavior #2?)
I could probably make up a million other definitions. As you can see points #2 and #3 reveal the flaw in trying to define this beast. It means something different to everyone. And I will say that is why Greyhawk Grognard likes the term.
If OSR is dying, and I say IF, then it's the fault of those who play in the old ways failing to understand how to communicate what they do effectively.
Consider my experience of joining a Path Finder group several years ago. I rolled up a character, the party needed a wizard, and lo and behold my dice made an awesome one. Since I was the noob, I was told to take the Path Finder: Core Rulebook and just make up my character while the others played. My first experience with PF was sitting at a table for hours poring over a highly complex system in order to create my wizard as others played an adventure.
Being an old Grog, I play a very goal oriented style. You don't have to always kill the beastie. I played PF enough to realize that Obscuring Mist wis my friend and I could cast 2 in day. I used it to get our party past a room full of arrow slits and into the treasure room unmolested.
I mention this because I played PF in the old way that all of you who have experience are familiar with. For the most part, the game group was always doing hack and slash battles, because the rules heavily favor it. Yet it is possible to play a new game in a traditional style.
Consider a new player arriving at your session. I would assume you would explain a bit about what you are doing.
I can't tell you what and why you are playing your games, but it may be worth considering it yourself.
Why do I play the system I am playing over other newer games?
What is the intrinsic difference about the game I play that makes it different?
And also, is this concept I have defined for myself the essence of why I would define myself as an Old School Role-player?
RPG as a term has gotten bandied about as a way to market games for some time now. I personally do not consider a computer dungeon crawl to be an RPG, as I define it. And then I see the use of Old School as some way to define certain RPG's, yet there are a lot of old RPG's I would never play.
My reason for playing the old games is based on actual game mechanics. I play games where the game play is not limited by the rules. In fact, there are no rules for Role Playing. The Mechanic for the older, or traditional RPG is that the referee describes reality to the players and finishes by asking - What do you want to do?
The beauty of the original editions is that a person off the street can play this game, because we all know how to play make believe. A new player doesn't even need to know what the rules are at all.
David Wesely calls RPG's Collaborative Story Telling. His Braunstein game is the jumping off point for what has become D&D, and then every other RPG we play. it's a clear line of invention from him to Dave Arneson.
As far as we know, Dave Arneson created the play style that is used in RPG's. It is different from a Braunstein. The play style is somewhat watered down in a game such as Path Finder, becoming more like a war game with battle mats and minis for game play. And i use PF as an example and am not vilifying the game, if you like it play it!
I think it is important to be clear in how one describes these things. If OSR is old school rules, then everyone must be playing Braunstein games. Of course this isn't true. Yet it's worth thinking where exactly in the evolution of these games you are planning on existing.
You can call it what you want. If you play in the traditional manner as presented by all the early games from the 70's, then you are actually playing Dave Arneson's, Blackmoor Role Play Method. Well, BRPM doesn't serve to promote or explain what this is either.
Perhaps those who say OSR is dead are correct, as OSR is dead in terms of being a useful description for an era of RPG's.
I call what I do traditional role playing. If you ask me what that means, my answer is simple: come over and play a game with us and you'll know.
The only way to define these games is through in-game actual play experience. You can't convince a new gamer who plays D&D 5e that your game is different without a demonstration. And trying to qualify your game with words like, it's better, it's true to what Gary and Dave wanted, or it's a real RPG, aren't going to engender good will from other gamers either.
Yup, call it what you want as a rose is a rose is a rose by any other name.
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