Monday, September 14, 2009

Ah, more OSR debate (yay for rage)!

Dan over at Uhluht'c Awakens call our attention to a somewhat... tense... discussion over at Dragonsfoot, ostensibly about the point of this whole OSR thing.

The thread's OP, Gnarley Bones, starts out by (and I'm paraphrasing generously here) claiming something along the lines of "the retro-clone movement has co-opted the term 'old-school renaissance' from the out-of-print movement". He goes on to define the OSR as "individual OOP D&D gamers, spread far and wide and pretty out of touch with current gaming, getting together, talking shop and rolling the dice."

Now, I respect GB's work, and his moderation on DF has always seemed fair to me, but I catch a faint whiff of angst in this post. Perhaps something along the lines of "why are the retro-clones getting all the attention when we've been carrying the torch for OOP games all this time?" I could be wrong, its just the impression I get. (Kellri's response here is amusing btw).

Personally, I use the old stuff and the new RC's interchangeably, along with my own stuff, and stuff from the great blogs and old-school sites out there. I think there is a big difference between the "OOP movement" and what I consider to be the OSR.

I think a look at the definition of Renaissance is in order: "As a cultural movement, it encompassed a resurgence of learning based on classical sources..."

This is a very neat way of putting the OSR into perspective, or at least delineating it from a strict adherance to OOP materials: The OSR, as a movement, encompasses a resurgence of learning based on classical sources, using them as an inspiration and base for new things, and new ways to use old things.

This takes things a step beyond "old-school gaming". The truth is, the differences between B/X, AD&D, LL, S&W, LBBs, OSRIC is so insignifigant as to be reduced to a simple matter of taste. Its like arguing about what brand of sauce you like on your spaghetti. The big difference comes in whether you're using that classic material to keep your gaming experience alive and fresh, or are you just hanging on to the "pure" original for the sake of some sort of archival purity. Obviously I consider the OSR to be the former, not the latter, and I think that's what is making it a little more accesible to new fans, and a little more creatively active. Why take offense if a group of curious newcomers downloads and tries out Labyrinth Lord for free, rather than hunting down a Moldvay Basic set on Ebay or something? That is... silly.

As a disclaimer, I'm not putting one "side" above the other, just stating I don't really feel the term "OSR" is very applicable to the OOP movement. If you're perfectly happy with what you've had for the last 30 years and don't need anything else, that's great. But how about cheering from the sidelines, rather than booing?


  1. Amen, brother. Amen.

    Word: "predual" Wow. That's unsettling.

  2. I disagree with a lot of what Gnarley Bones was saying, but this point: "Rather, they are a reflection of the return to old school gaming. Alas, I think we are seeing a trend of entirely new games appearing which wear the trappings of older games. Hence, I dub thee not the Old School Renaissance, but rather The New Wave." I agree with.

    In particular, I think calling Mutant Future "Old School" is kinda silly. I think it's a great game - but it's a great NEW game. :)

  3. I think OOP and OSR go hand in hand

  4. @ Stuart: "In particular, I think calling Mutant Future "Old School" is kinda silly. I think it's a great game - but it's a great NEW game. :)"

    Well, I own both the 1st and 2d editions of Gamma World, and unless you don't consider those old school, I think it would be pretty hard to argue that Mutant Future isn't old school. The mutation lists are so close to identical that the only differences I could spot on a (very brief) comparison was the time travel mutation (which was pretty damn rare in Gamma World anyway), and while there are some mechanical differences because Mutant Future is based on the Labyrinth Lord (and by extension B/X D&D) ruleset, that hardly disqualifies it from being old school.

    I guess I would agree that it is a great new game, but I would go further and say that it is a great old-school new game. If that makes any sense.

  5. It does shed light on why street gang members shoot each other over misused or stolen gang signs, doesn't it?

  6. And this is why I generally don't read Dragonsfoot.

  7. I am all for mix-and-match, house-ruled D&D, using the OOP or retro-clone materials.

  8. These kind of dust ups always make me shake my head and wonder if any of these people actually, you know, PLAY D&D. Why anyone would be anal retentive enough to attempt to slice the OSR community up into thinner and thinner slices is beyond me, when you could be rolling dice with friends and having a blast.

  9. And this is why I generally don't read Dragonsfoot.

    Now if only I could learn that lesson, I'd stop getting bruises from banging my head on the computer desk.

  10. I keep going back to DF, not for the discussion, but just to remind myself why I hate genuine, blind-as-a-bat fundamentalism. If those people were Muslims, they'd have their wives in full burkha, and if they were Catholics, they'd be whingeing about the Birth Control Method That Shall Not Be Named. When posting there, just hang out a petard and watch while they hoist themselves on it.

  11. This is also why I don't hang around there very often.

    Drop the attitudes, pick up the dice, game and have fun. This bickering over such slight variations in roleplaying is a complete waste of time and energy. Time and energy that would best be spent running games and getting people involved.

  12. Ah, the good old nerdrage train; right on schedule. :)

    Less thesis-nailing and vermiphagy; more rolling.



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