With the following words in the back of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, Mr. Goodman sparked a small firestorm on a number of blogs. Although I can understand why, I think we need to look just a bit closer at was was actually said:
To the many and varied OSR publishers, I offer one comment.As Grognardia marks its fourth anniversary in 2012,the OSR has re-published a plethora of variants on the coreD&D concepts. The target customer is offered no shortageof retro-clones, adventures centered on goblin raiders, excursionsinto the underdeep, and genre-based campaignsettings. I started work on the volume you hold in yourhand because I believe the time has come to break thechains of D&D convention and step back one era further,to the original inspiration of Appendix N, beyond the confinesof genre assumptions. DCC RPG offers a free licenseto third party publishers who wish to publish compatiblematerial. Even if you choose not to take advantage of thislicense, I ask you to consider moving past the boundariesof “TSR mimicry.” The time has come to offer our sharedcustomer something both new and old-school.
"The OSR has re-published a plethora of variants on the core D&D concepts." - S&W Whitebox, LL Original Characters Edition and the upcoming Delving Deeper gives us three clones of OD&D. Do we need more? Have all the original pre-3e editions been effectively cloned yet? (I believe 2e is in the pipes)
"The target customer is offered no shortage of retro-clones" - I'd attempt to list them, but I fear I'd miss a few. There is a list of links for free ones on the left side of this blog.
"I started work on the volume you hold in your hand because I believe the time has come to break the chains of D&D convention and step back one era further, to the original inspiration of Appendix N, beyond the confines of genre assumptions." This is where folks start getting pissy. This is where Joseph does a little chest thumping.
"I ask you to consider moving past the boundaries of “TSR mimicry.” The time has come to offer our shared customer something both new and old-school." And now Joseph throws down the gauntlet!
Still, look at the retroclones. How many go beyond what they are looking to imitate? Besides DCC RPG I can think of only two. (Truth be told, Joseph should have given credit to those that came before him. Each game has different goals, different directions, but they all broke the mold)
LotFP Weird Fantasy takes the White Box assumption and turns it on it's head. Only fighters getting a to-hit advancement. Thieves use a 6d for skills, and advance the skills with "pips". Monsters are unique - there is no section for a Monster Manual. It's high on atmosphere. It broke the mold.
Adventurer Conqueror King System adds a whole section of a character's career that was often hinted at in earlier editions but never truly addressed. The PC as a ruler, as a guild master, as that crazy wizard in a tower. While Weird Fantasy effectively takes the game "to eleven" and so does ACKS, but in a different direction.
Which is what Dungeon Crawl Classics is doing, in yet another direction. I can't fault Joseph Goodman for wanting to push the "Old School" envelope and hoping that others will follow DCC, WF and ACKS into the realm of "Old School" but more. There is a lot of comfort in playing (and DMing) in my comfort zones - I grew up on AD&D and later B/E/C/M/I. There is, however, more excitement for me, as a GM and as a player, when I can move out of that zone, at least partially. One foot in and one foot out.
"Old School +" is how I see these games.