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Friday, April 11, 2014

The First Rule of the OSR - One Does Not Define the OSR

This actually came up in last night's RPG BS Session hosted by +Tim Shorts - the whole nebulous definition of what constitutes the OSR.

What I took from that part of the discussion is that the definition of the OSR is a personal matter that is colored and defined by one's gaming background and expectations - I've yet to find two folks actively involved in the OSR give the same definition of what it encompasses.

This in and of itself makes it a wondrous thing and for me it would lose much if it's magic if it could be pinned down to a definition accepted by all, or even most.

The OSR is very much in the eye of the beholder...


  1. Sounds like it was a great session. For me many OSR related things maintain a certain simplicity of use. That doesn't mean that it can't become more complicated, but rather the game does not take hours of play just to figure out what your character can or can't do.

  2. The only reason I bother to make a distinction is, that with the existence of the retro-clones there is a group of gaming hobbyists who plays, promotes, and publishes for classic editions of D&D. I don't want to type in that sentence every time I want to refer to this group so I call it the Old School Renaissance or OSR.

    Because it is also centered around open gaming and the ongoing technology revolution, it allows an individual to produce professional quality work, This means that there are no gatekeepers . The result is that while the OSR has a center around classic D&D. The borders are very fuzzy and extend in all direction to encompass all type of games and variants.

    And it make me very happy that it is like this. It is a glorious mess and I wouldn't have any other way.

  3. Personally, I like Dyson's "Operation: Shared Resources" vision of the OSR.

  4. And Rob's response proves the thesis of the original post, since my personal definition includes non-D&D games of the same era (at least to the mid-80s). One of the very attractive things to the OSR is the diversity of viewpoints. I revel in the active fermentation that I see going on. Carry on and keep writing!

  5. Since I got started with 3e, OSR to me is the cooler game that everyone was apparently playing before I got started that I will never really get to play. Not that I won't try though. One of these days I'm going to roll 18/00 Strength.


  6. I thought we defined it last night, Old Sonsabitches Rollingdice

  7. I would say my definition is right along Robs.. Only because I only played D&D in the late 70s, early 80s...

  8. Given that 5e seems to be going back to the future in their gaming philosophy, is OSR even a relevant term anymore? It's fine to enjoy your favorite flavor of the game, but the DIY nature of RPG's means that everyone is essentially playing their own houserules, therefore no version is inherently superior to any other, only different.