Friday, January 06, 2012

Hey, the OSR won.....something! I guess

Some self-described members of the old-school renaissance (revolution, revival,...whatever it is) have declared victory. I didn't even know there was a game on, but apparently we're on the losing side. At least I think it's us, (i.e. non-OSR gamers), since it's not clear what the rules of the game are or even who's playing. Now, it would seem to me, a clear victory condition for the OSR would be for WotC to re-release all the older edition pdfs, but that hasn't happened. According to the "winners", the victory results from the release of the D&D Essentials red box and the fact that Mike Mearls likes old-school D&D. Well, I guess you take your wins wherever you can get 'em. Of course, before they pop the champagne corks, they should recall that WotC just hired Monte Cook. Remember, he's was one the main guys behind D&D 3e, the game the grognards used to complain about before D&D 4e came along. If the OSR guys think D&D 5e is going to be 1974 all over again, I think they're in for a surprise. There are certainly some admirable qualities to the DIY mindset of the OSR, but it doesn't give them much influence as far as the business of rpgs is concerned. Nobody is going to market a game to you if all you intend to do is praise it. Approval won't cover the payroll.



Aaron E. Steele said...


The explosion of interest in the OSR nicely coincides with the advent of 4e.

I had complaints regarding 3e, but it still had a DnD vibe.

If you have another look at the posts, you'll see that Paizo and Pathfinder are lauded as examples of FRPG's done right.

I wouldn't take those recent posts as a slam against your game of choice.

Happy 2012!

muleabides said...

Re: PDFs, not all of the dominos have fallen yet, but you don't have to be a prophet to see where things are heading.

Talking in terms of sides is a bit of partisan rhetoric; like the hot elf chick, this is an attention-getting tactic I don't wholly endorse but couldn't resist in this case. In any case I'd say that the sides are OGL = DIY and non-OGL = the losing side.

It's obvious that Paizo is the biggest champion among the winners. In a business sense, its sales dominance obviously matters more than the existence of a bunch of grognards grumbling that they didn't need 3E, much less 4E.

The reason that the OSR matters is that its ideas are where the next wave of RPGs are going to come from, just as the Forge is where the last set of ideas came from. Even though either of these movements was commercially insignificant, they were highly influential in the RPG community. 4E picked up lots of Forge elements in design; Paizo does lots of things like selling direct to consumer that are equally related to the Forge approach.

This relationship doesn't have to be causal. Eric Mona has loved Greyhawk and pulp fantasy his whole life, and there were sound business reasons for the Pathfinder introductory boxed set apart from the OSR's enthusiasm for such. The 'fight' metaphor is inaccurate because we didn't get these things by struggling for them so much as because they are part of the zeitgeist; the OSR is just the most expressive advocate of ideas that are widely shared in our time.
- Tavis

Rognar said...

What timing, eh! I guess we will get to see just how much impact the OSR is really having as the process of designing D&D 5e begins. Mearls seems to be implying that D&D will be much more flexible in the future. I would guess this means modularity. At its most basic, D&D 5e may be very simple, with plug-ins for things like skills, feats, etc. I expect it may still not be as organic as you OSR guys seem to prefer, but it may be closer than anything we've seen in decades.