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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Does the OSR Mean to You? (not asking for a definition)

What does the OSR mean to you? I'm not asking you to define the OSR, because such a definition is fairly nebulous and arbitrary.

For me, the OSR means making the old new again. Keeping the rules I first found as a teen fresh and relevant 30+ years later.

The OSR means I can find new adventures for my old rules, and new rewrites of the old rules that are easier for these aging eyes to read and this aging mind to follow.

The OSR has given D&D of old the lifespan and vitality of a Tolkien Elf - it will not die even as those that deigned it have moved on to the beyond.

The OSR is. That in and of itself is an amazing thing.

29 comments:

  1. For me, it means remaining with a system that I've loved, or a setting that I've favored, since I was a child.

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  2. For me it is the combination of the best from the old and the new - a simplicity where we play the game (not game the system) and where wonder, awe, the mysterious, and the strange are fascinating not mundane.

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  3. Flexibility, rulings over rules, and a feeling that anything is possible...
    -=A

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  4. For me, it's recognizing that design decisions made in the early part of the hobby were not only not mistakes or just because people didn't know any better, but were planned and very intentional. That they evoked a certain type of game and gameplay and promoted a strong and legitimate aesthetic. One that was slowly but surely bled out of the game as rules were made "friendlier", more forgiving, more "empowering" or whatever. Some people chafed under this aesthetic and their loud complaints were listened to, despite the fact that so many of us disagreed. Some people agreed but didn't realize what the unintended consequences of making rules changes would be until it was too late. To me, the OSR stands ready to unmake all the "fixes" to the game that were anything but. To roll back the changes that turned the game into something altogether different (and also good, but different). I don't ever want modern gaming to die. I just don't want classic gaming to do so either. And the OSR enables that.

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    1. "For me, it's recognizing that design decisions made in the early part of the hobby were not only not mistakes or just because people didn't know any better, but were planned and very intentional. "

      Amen!

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  5. To me, OSR games return me to a time when rules were not hundreds of pages long, and there wasn't a special case (in d20, that would be Feats) for every conceivable character option. The player determines what the character can do as much as the class.

    The "R" part is important to me too though - for my money, more modern "restatements" like Swords&Wizardry present the game I loved more or less the way I actually played it, and in a form that's easy to digest for a modern reader. Time has given the gaming community a better feel for elegance of statement and organization of complex rules, and OSR at its best embraces both the OS feel and modern editing practices.

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    1. Yeah, that "R" could easily stand for "reorganization." It's not a "fixing" or "improving" the old rules, but rather an effort to make them a bit clearer in their presentation thanks to the benefit of the passage of time.

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  6. I think it's a bit of a 'reset button'. Going back to fundamental origins and striking out on a new path.

    I see a lot of diversity in the marketplace compared to what I grew up with during the "d20 period"--and a lot of games that were designed for the joy of playing them, rather than to sell copious supplements.

    Preserving the old school game style is great, but it's also really cool that there are many new ideas for how to enjoy pen and paper RPG's.

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  7. No pause to consult a rule book for 15 minutes to figure out a modifier. That doesn't mean it is simple, just not exceptional. The exceptional comes from the way you play your character, not something dictated by the rules or something on your character sheet.

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  8. I get to play, and DM a game with players who are new to roleplaying games, yet pick up the game mechanics in the first session, and concentrate on playing.
    We're having good fun. There's a large community all over the world connected via the net who share ideas, adventures, and fun.
    Old school might be about etiquette, as well; and the renaissence part about educating yourselves on various topics, and interests, that you find, and that grow while creating fantasy worlds...

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  9. Rules light. Players focused on playing their characters rather than building them. And having fun.

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  10. Rules-light; compatible with most editions of D&D.

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  11. Playing instead of referencing the rulebook every time a new situation - combat, magic, etc. - comes up in the game.

    Charlie @ The Semi-Retired Gamer

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  12. OSR saved my life!

    Well, kinda. I came back to gaming after almost a dozen years out - I started playing RPGs with the original Chainmail, etc. version of D&D way back in the 70s and played up until 3.5 came out and then work and real life pressures put an end to anything other than corporate grind.

    Fast forward a few years and an accident sees me with spinal injuries, limited mobility, no career any more but with an abundance of time on my hands. Lacking the ability to do any of my old physical hobbies, I started reading again and my preferred choices of fantasy and sci-fi got me thinking about how much fun I had gaming. Taking a chance I sought out my old gaming club that I helped form back in the mid-80s and found it still going strong after all these years! Score!!

    Now I'm back in the gaming fold again and using my years of player/GM experience and a copy of ACKS to wreak havok amongst the younger gamers who are used to the more modern, bloaty rules-heavy systems. Ah they joy of watching them all experience the terror of the original Tome of Horrors and Against the Giants, etc. Brings a tear to an old Grognard's eye it does.

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  13. Means a bunch of grumpy old shits with beards sitting around bitching about which AC is best and variable weapon damage.

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    1. heading to work again without having your drink on? :)

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    2. I had a beard once for a role as the Ghost of Hamlet's father.

      Shaved it because it got in the way of getting laid.

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    3. That's strange. Facial hair has had the opposite effect for me as far as relations are concerned...

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  14. Simpler rules, more comfortable power level, expeditions over adventures, and tons of fun watching the creativity of "normal people" unfold in unexpected ways. (That last one is my big nod to everybody who's publishing their own stuff.)

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  15. It means gaming is actually fun again.

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  16. Agreeing with much of the above about rules light (for the core - I don't mind supplements for ideas) and the ability to just start playing and having fun without that much setup. My two systems were Champions (starting with 1st edition) and AD&D 1E. Drifted a little into 2E, and had the Holmes book, but both Champions and AD&D seemed so easy to just get up and running in no time at all.

    Trying now to get the kids into a Labyrinth Lord campaign (or maybe Hackmaster 4e...) - just need to find the time.

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  17. The OSR for me is a community of hobby gamers who embody the original spirit of table-top role playing games. Yes, we prefer tried and true core mechanics, but we also enjoy customizing the game to suit our individual tastes. The OSR for me is not just about a certain set of rules, but its also about the free exchange of ideas and the people behind those ideas. Perhaps it's the small size of the community, or maybe it's the grass roots attitude, but I haven't met anyone in the OSR community who isn't willing to give advice or help with the simplest to the most complex question whether asked by someone who has never played a table-top RPG or the most ancient of grognards. It was this exchange of ideas that brought the originators of the hobby together and I believe its the glue that has held it together since. It's a community where new friends become old friends in the course of a few hours and forge bonds that last a lifetime. Its more than a game or a hobby, its an attitude. Its an attitude that says if it ain't broken don't fix it and if you don't like something about the game, change it or throw it away; add to it or take away from it, but what ever you do make it yours and make it fun.

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  18. Playing classic archetypes in an exporation-style setting.

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  19. It means I can always find a group, that I can make a character in about 20 min, and that I don't have to think too hard ahead of time about motivation or anything with deep angsty weighty crap. I can just walk up, be told we're playing S&W, roll some dice, buy a sword, and go.

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  20. On a personal level, the OSR means redemption and rebirth for a part of myself I'd ignored for too many years: my roleplaying self. I'd stuffed it down and neglected that part of myself, but eventually I couldn't ignore it any longer. That's what made me do that fateful Google search a few years ago, and led me to Grognardia and the other older OSR blogs. Yes, part of it may be nostalgia, but I believe it's the good type of nostalgia that enriches the present, not the kind that makes you dwell too much in the past. It's the nostalgia that I feel when I'm actually roleplaying as my adult-self, rather than flipping through dusty pages of rule books and pining for a time long past. The OSR means a vigorous, vital, and active roleplaying life.

    Beyond the personal, the OSR (to me) means a more loose and imaginative style of play, where rules could be bent, broken, or ignored as needed during play. Rules were not meant to be slavishly followed in old-school-style play. Creativity trumps rules every time in my conception of the OSR. Actually, here's a thought: maybe we should start using the term "guidebook" or "guidelines" instead of "rulebook" for old-school-style games.

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  21. While OSR is inspired by OD&D, it's not limited to playing D&D. I am OSR using Hero 6e right now. It's about classical adventuring, sand boxing, keeping it simple, and heroes facing the world as it is instead of some levelled to match them creation. Sorta.

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  22. The primacy of adventure over story.

    The primacy of surrender to the wonderful, the fateful, and the weird over rules mastery.

    And Appendix N. Not Gygax's specific list, nor any other, but the attitude behind it in which one seeks to take the best elements of the exciting and the evocative and bring them quite literally to the table.

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