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Saturday, June 29, 2013

This is the OSR


17 comments:

  1. I can't say I agree Jason. It might be your OSR, but it doesn't reflect "The" OSR. It's part of it, yes, but not the sum total.

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  2. Do you mean the contents of the book or the image on the cover of the book?

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  3. If AD&D, which stood Titan-like over all other RPG systems during the height of RPG popularity, doesn't reflect the OSR then what does? (that is a rhetorical question, the answer is that nothing else comes close). This is the heart and soul of the OSR. All the other systems out there are just pissing in a bonfire and calling it gasoline.

    If you want some all-inclusive everyone gets a trophy kind of answer you will have to look elsewhere.

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    1. Jason, all I have to say is... well said. I do not get why people are so confused over what "OSR" is. It's pretty clear to me and my group.

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    2. Thanks Celestian!

      My perception of the OSR is very visual, but it is also a matter of language. If I can pick up an adventure and read it without need of translation then it is a reflection of how the game used to be. I could always pick up, read and understand a B or X series module from TSR with my AD&D filter on. I can do the same with the Swords&Wizardry adventures, and for the translation of Rappan Athuk alone I have high praise for S&W (and the Tome of Horrors Complete). I know exactly what the OSR is and I refuse to muddy the waters by trying to include everything under the OSR banner.

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  4. Tony, I probably answered your question, but thanks for asking one and not just making an assumption about what a title and a picture means to me.

    The Tramp picture and the interior of the book both hold the same kind of magic.

    1eAD&D was done too well. You had all the tools and inspiration you needed to make it what you wanted it to be and therefore it could not be left untampered with by any company wanting to sell more product (be it washing machines, soap or RPGs.

    But the mechanics are not the Thing. Now the mechanics of 1e were a doorway to the Thing, which was a very fun, social, intense, imaginative, wondrous Thing when you look back on it and the OSR seeks to recapture this Thing. WotC seeks to do the same but only to bottle and sell it. Some people are on a different course and want to rediscover and label the OSR as something that covers all the myriad big and little game systems that led people to a fun and imaginative experience. Good for them. They need to put their voice out there. It just isn't anything I am interested in and has no meaning to me. I am sure there is some OSR in Russian, spelled out in cyrillic, but it would mean as much nothing to me as all these other game systems.

    So yea, 1e AD&D is the OSR. Tramp's cover and what is inside both.

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  5. Jason, I appreciate your clarification. I agree that 1eAD&D inspired a majority of the OSR movement; that the original intent was to "recapture this Thing," as you put it.

    To me, it is the "D&D Mine" concept that best represents the OSR. Inspired by their preferred D&D system (mostly OD&D, 1eAD&D and B/XD&D), many individuals "[made] it what [they] wanted it to be" as you put it.

    Back in the day, you could only experience the homegrown rules of the few gamers who lived in your neighborhood. Nowadays, these creations are shared with a world of gamers across the internet. Seeing the "Thing" through different lenses leads to inspiration, thought, and conversations for us game designers.

    So what old school products best represent the OSR to me? The original "D&D Mine" products like The Complete Warlock, Arduin Grimoire and the Fantasy Art Enterprises game books (by Paul Reiche III and Erol Otus before joining TSR). Small game groups publishing their home campaign materials and sharing them with the world.

    And yeah, Trampier's art was magic. I'll have to dig up that Wormy-based wargame I wrote some 10 years ago...

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  6. Tony, for me it is the 1eAD&D mine. I gather in all these sources of inspiration and mine then for my 1e homegrown campaign (currently using the Hyperborea setting from AS&SH).

    I am just rereading Benoist Poire's Hyperborean Laboratories from AFS zine #3 and although it is written as an inspirational module for any game system's rules mechanic the language I read it in is 1e. I heartily admire what he is doing with his adventure and think it is perhaps the best way to write a scenario for an experienced DM I know that I could not do the same.

    I belong to the AD&D tribe exclusively by choice. Like many a man I wandered away from my tribe in my youth and tasted the works of the Pagan, the Heretic, the Outsider, the Exotic and came back bearing many gifts, scars, and experiences, but in the end my tribe is my home and all these other game systems are only shadows or reflections of that home.

    The OSR is no shadow or reflection. It is the light before it is obscured or before it hits the prism and is split into a scale of colors. It is that Player's Handbook, that Trampier art, and nothing less.

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  7. I agree that the book inspired the OSR. It added a lot of rules and baggage that the OSR wanted to strip off to make the game simpler again.

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    1. The great thing is that with 1eAD&D it is perfectly simple to strip away and add on what rules you want for your home campaign and still be able to refer back to the rulebooks as a kind of Rosetta stone when talking to other DMs.

      I don't believe the OSR wanted to strip anything away from the mechanics. The idea was to publish adventures and settings in this most loved of all RPG rulesystems and not be crushed beneath the corporate iron heel.

      There has been a natural digression from this with more and more variations being offered as complete rule systems but they would be better off if they added their homebrew rule changes as an option rather than wedging them amid the original AD&D rules. Presented as an option these rule changes could be added or ignored much more easily and appeal to a wider audience, but hell, it just requires some extra work to sift through these offerings.

      My own taste isn't for alternate rule changes in the new OSR offerings, I still have my 1eAD&D rulebooks. No, what I am looking for are the settings and adventures and the closer to unchanged and undiluted AD&D the better.

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  8. The OSR is a phenomenon and a community not a movement. There is no Orthodoxy beyond the table at which you are gaming.
    Back in the day Traveller grognards said IMTU (in my Traveller universe) to talk about how things worked in their games. Perhaps IMOSR would be a valid sentiment. (¢02)

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    1. Jason, that is certainly your subjective opinion of what you understand the OSR to be, but I missed the world-wide poll on what the OSR is to the great unwashed masses of plebeian gamers who voted on the definition of the OSR and described it as some sort of workers collective or hippy commune of gaming.

      If all RPGs are equal some RPGs are more equal than others. AD&D is that RPG. AD&D is the 900lb Ogre at the gaming table, ready to eat the flesh and grind the bones of all other RPGs between its yellowed teeth.

      The sentiment I operate under is an undiluted, unfair, ununionized, 1eAD&D is the OSR.

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  9. The sentiment I operate under is an undiluted, unfair, ununionized...

    Ahh, now this post is much clearer.

    The OSR is and has always been, first and foremost, about bringing TSR D&D (OD&D through to 2e) back into print. WotC finally did that, but they did so too late since we the fans got control of the game through retro-clones, etc. years before.

    What has been interesting to see over the last year or so has been various attempts to rewrite the history of the OSR. There are those who claim it has nothing to do with publishing. There are those who claim they started it, despite being the same people who rubbished it for several years. There are even some delusional old ale-guzzlers who say they ARE it. There are even those who have tried to retrofit non-TSR games onto the model.

    Any honest look at "The OSR" will see that it had its foundations in a variety of elements that occurred in the years following the buy-out of TSR by WotC and that claims that any one of these elements is "The OSR" to the exclusion of the others is inaccurate and misleading.

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    1. Oh and I should add that we would be naive or dishonest to believe the OSR has not grown beyond its foundations. With no leadership, no manifesto, it has always been an evolving community driven process.

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    2. I'm sorry you've bought sausages but there's nae rolls.

      Nae hard rolls
      Nae soft rolls
      Nae well-fired rolls
      Nae seeded buns

      Nae Rolls!

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  10. An honest look at the OSR is a desire to publish AD&D modules and make back a little expense money in the process, not slap the OSR label on every edsel rolling down the assembly line.

    Republishing the AD&D rules has never been the object of the OSR since the rulebooks have never been hard to come by. For $10 each plus shipping, sometimes less, you have been able to get the City of Brass DM's guide, the Tramp Player's Handbook and the Godawful Art Monster Manual off ebay, so no need for something like OSRIC, except a burning need for it if you want to publish an AD&D module and call it OSRIC.

    What is inaccurate and misleading is trying to drag in some of these misbegotten RPGs. Hell, it is delusional. The OSr is AD&D and saying it ain't so isn't going to get you back to Kansas, Dorothy.

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  11. Despite the inference, I said nothing linking non-TSR RPGs to the OSR. The only thing delusional thing happening here is yet another rewrite of the the last 10 years of the online gaming scene, which is a pity. It's a shame to throw out all those years of Basic D&D (Labyrinth Lord) and OD&D (Swords & Wizardry), just because of a bias for 1e, which I agree was originally the 900lb gorilla of the scene.

    My initial instinct on seeing this post was "Dave it's a trap, don't comment just move quickly away." I should've listened. I will listen now. Feel free to sing another sarcastic Scottish song as I move on, it'll empower you.

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