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Monday, September 14, 2015

ENWorld Article - Is the OSR Dead? (It Ain't Quite Dead Yet!)

An article went up on ENWorld earlier today titled "Is the OSR Dead?"

It's fairly long and the sources quoted aren't necessarily "authoritative" in my opinion (the Four Year Cycle attributed to Ken Hite for example is one I'd never heard of before and doesn't represent the experiences of myself or most of the gamers I know) but it does raise some interesting points. Read it in full at the link above.

The most interesting quote from the article in my opinion is below:
OSR-style games currently capture over 9 percent of the RPG market according to ENWorld's Hot Role-playing Games. If you consider the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons to be part of that movement, it's nearly 70 percent of the entire RPG market.  
The OSR has gone mainstream. If the OSR stands for Old School Renaissance, it seems the Renaissance is over: D&D, in all of its previous editions, is now how most of us play our role-playing.
As was pointed out in the comments section of the article, the numbers quoted are based on discussions at ENWorld, not actual sales. ENWorld has a higher % of D&D players than the hobby over all, as it is by it's history and nature primarily a D&D site. I think Paizo may disagree a bit with the market share assumed above. I also take issue with lumping 5e in with the OSR but maybe thats just me.

Now, if we look at Roll20's 1st Quarter usage numbers, we get the following:

See how 5e has more games but less players than Pathfinder? I suspect that's due to "New Game Excitement" effect.

AD&D / OD&D / OSR adds up to 16.49 % of players (obviously folks can vote for more than one game / category) - AD&D on it's own is over 11.5%. As for the share of games run, the numbers only add up to 3.19%.

Only in the RPG hobby would one consider success as death. Or dismiss something because another game borrowed from it. The OSR is less about the rules and more about the products you use those rules with. Until 5e goes OGL or some such, the OSR is where the real innovations will lie.



24 comments:

  1. They keep saying the OSR is dead, year after year, and year after year it keeps chugging along, producing new and exciting stuff, taking itself in different directions. I tire of these constant predictions of our demise.

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  2. Las Vegas gets the same predictions. Atlantic City was going to kill it, then riverboat gaming on the Mississippi, then gaming on reservations, then the internet, then China, etc. It's lazy journalism. Predict something's death, get eyeballs, move on.

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  3. "I also take issue with lumping 5e in with the OSR but maybe thats just me."

    It's not just you.

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    1. I would agree that 5E isn't an OSR product, but I would say that it does draw on some OSR aesthetics.

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    2. It's not just you. 5e resembles more a heavily/extensively houseruled 3.5e than anything else.

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  4. I don't think OSR people read ENworld much, vote in its polls or use Roll 20 very often.

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    1. OSR people use Roll20 all the time. I know several groups that game classic edition or one of the retro-clones on Roll20 including my own.

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    2. I will add that the percentage of people playing OSR RPGs using Roll20 or any VTTs versus face to face is probably no higher or lower than any other particular system..

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    3. None of the several OSR groups I know use Roll 20 or ever have. Curious.

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  5. I think the title of the article is sensationalized. I think if one gets past the title the point is the question whether the label "OSR" is applicable anymore.

    Does the OSR really get to claim every OGL product that could be used with 20th century D&D?

    I go easily look at the roll20 data as a dominant D&D group including 0e/AD&D/3.5e/4e/5e for my data points. Further, I could state that every OGL product that is useful to that group is included with it.

    If anything, the data per the OSR line shows there is little interest in specific retroclone rulesets other than as passing fancy for favorite houserule or cool included artwork.

    It really is all about the supporting products especially the adventures.

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    Replies
    1. What if I am not buying products?

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    2. Is the OSR not basically a publishing model? What does it mean to "part of the OSR" if you are not buying products that support the older systems?

      If you play AD&D and make up your own adventures, you are not part of the OSR, you are simply a D&D player who prefers an older edition.

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    3. @Shadow Demon - I fully and vehemently disagree. Players, not shoppers, are the heart of the OSR.

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  6. I saw said article on ENWorld; in spite of the title, the more I read, the happier I got! I'm totally willing to admit that 5e took many lessons from the OSR, but don't assume that spells the end times for the original source, you know?

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  7. Pay attention to nothing on Enworld. They are WotC fanboys, by and large.

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  8. Did anyone read the article and notice that it was a very favorable assertion that the OSR effectively changed the market, and now reflects the way most people prefer to play the game? Specific rules systems aside, and eye-catching title not withstanding, this was a damned positive OSR article that came from a site which is mostly about the current games, asserting that the OSR has crafted and changed the play environment for D&D permanently.

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  9. "The OSR is less about the rules and more about the products you use those rules with." So if I am not buying and using products, I am not part of the OSR? What kind of nonsense is this?

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    1. Good point. Which is ironic because I only use 5E (adapting OSR products for use with it) ....so am I an OSR gamer? But 5E isn't OGL yet so it's not OSR-ready? Hmmm. Something tells me that A: you do not need to buy one product to be part of the OSR, and B: you do not need to play only certain products to be OSR, either.

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    2. If you use OSR products for 5e, are you part of the OSR? I don't think so, you are buying material under that OSR publishing model for your use in D&D game.

      Further am I also part of it because I enjoy going to NTRPG Con and play 0e and 1e games?

      It is about the publishers and creators of the material, not the customers who buy it. The OSR as some kind of cult movement doesn't get to claim these people.

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  10. I'll tell you what. The U-Con OSR Track this year currently contains 33% of all of the convention's RPG events (42 and counting at present. and we are not done with event registration yet.) That doesn't seem like a dead thing to me.

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    Replies
    1. That is to say, 42 OSR events and counting. 130 RPG events total.

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  11. can't say I care or know what Enworld is or whether the OSR is real, alive, dead, fictitious, invisible, or just good friends

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  12. Been playing D&D for over 35 years,read ENworld when the "EN"had to do with one man, been OSRish for10 years, not even sure what Roll20 is

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