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Monday, January 21, 2013

Which RPG Product Has Been the Most Influential on the OSR?

As we are conducting our list of Essential Free OSR 3 Packs  I thought I ask: "Which RPG product has been the most influential on the OSR and why?" I ask, because I can't think of a single one - I have a handful.

Castles & Crusades, as it opened the door that led to the OSR, even if it didn't know it was doing so at the time.

OSRIC, which firmly planted the flag to which other retroclones followed.

LotFP Weird Fantasy, a game that showed you could be true to your roots and still change things up. It also showed the importance of high quality art, and pushed the line of what's considered acceptable in RPG art.

I guess each one represents a different stage of the OSR for me.

Look at that, I asked for one anser and I gave three ;)

So, what are your thoughts?

20 comments:

  1. LotFP is definitely the product that got me interested in the old-school movement in the first place -- at least in the D&D-ish part of it, since I've never stopped playing T&T or (Chaosium) RuneQuest in the first place.

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  2. I'd have to say Labyrinth Lord as that's the rule set a lot of folks initially sunk their claws into. Others may have come first, but the old-time simplicity and OGL connected with LabLord brought a lot of folks back to the gaming table, I'd assume.

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  3. Although was leaning toward Swords & Wizardry which thanks to Frog God has a good presence now, I think in terms of actual play, products and general discussion Labyrinth Lord may have had the most penetration. It helps that LL recreates the B/X D&D experience and then tacks on the Advanced compendium...those two books together are an instant emulator for how I actually played D&D back in the day (using AD&D for characters and options, but falling back to B/X for combat and rules basics).

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  4. I think when I first started getting into the OSR, there was a friendly split between C&C, OSRIC, LL and a little of S&W, but it seemed everyone was using and talking about the OSR Primer.

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  5. I think it award would go to Labyrinth Lord, because there just seems to be more stuff officially compatible with LL than any other product, then I'd say either OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry. And if you ask Matt Finch, who worked on both, he'd probably say LL too.

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  6. I'm with Tim Shorts: I think Matt Finch's Old School Primer, which transcends any rule system is the reference to what old school play is all about. I also think Castles & Crusades has been tremendously important to the OSR as a gateway to old school play - sort of a methadone clinic to ween new school addicts off the junk.

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  7. For me, it's definitely Labyrinth Lord with Original Edition Companion (as Tori stated), followed by Realms of Creeping Chaos (for use with LL) and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

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  8. I vote LL too.

    C&C lay the groundwork but was pre-OSR. OSRIC had a tentative start as just a player's handbook, with the added complication that the publishers didn't strongly promote the game (it wasn't initially intended to be a game in itself, just a tool to help folks publish 1e-compatible stuff). And S&W, while popular, quickly became a confusing messy morass of different versions.

    Right from the start LL was marketed as a standalone game and remained fairly constant in its format. I could be wrong but I also believe it was the first of the clones to make it into bricks'n'mortar distribution.

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  9. You know, the OSR started way before OSRIC, LL, and (gods forbid) C&C. I find it incredibly bewildering to look at the OSR movement today and note just how oblivious it is of its genesis. Before OSRIC, before LL, and before (gods forbid) C&C...and before this whole OSR thing, there was Dragonsfoot and OD&DITIES. Just a bunch of guys sharing OoP support for free to other lovers of old-school (A)D&D. It really was a pretty cool time to be an old-schooler, back before retro/neo/kinda clones and endless kickstarters to support someone's house-rules. We've come a long way, i guess, from the days of logging onto DF to see if there was any new stuff to d/l for our preferred (OoP) edition of D&D, all the while fearing WotC would take it down. Who knows, maybe its just that I don't feel any kind of kinship to this "new" old-school movement like I did back in the early (pre-OSR) days.

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    Replies
    1. Are you saying that you're "old school" old school? ;)

      Good point about DF though. They kept the torch burning for many years.

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    2. The roots of OSR is more complex than just one or two elements, of which the two you mention skathros are definitely a couple of them. However, the phrase OSR began to be commonly used in the context of seeing TSR D&D back in print for the first time since WotC took control of the brand. There was no revival/renaissance of old school gaming itself, since people never stopped playing it - which DF is testimony to. What did suddenly change was seeing the old rules actually back in print again, even if in the form of retro-clones - that was renaissance in the OSR. :-)

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  10. Blogs. Seriously, Grognardia, Rients, Chicagowiz, Poleandrope, loftp...these and others were most influential for me. Actual products less so.

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  11. The blogs were how I first got interested in the OSR. Others above mentioned the forums from whence many of those blogs came as a big deal, though I myself have little experience with Dragonsfoot or the other forums. A lot of blogs were influential to me. Probably of the older ones, Grognardia, Jeff Rients and Sham's Grog and Blog were the ones I paid the most attention to originally in my case, though sadly Sham doesn't really update any more, and none of them have much of a post rate like they used to. (Of course, by the time I came along there were tons of those blogs - I think maybe the first one I saw was "It's OK, Gary sent us.")

    As far as actual products, I agree with those who state the importance of the OGL in allowing retroclones to exist. Also, though it's a special case, Hackmaster 4th Edition, as the very first retroclone (all the way back in 2001!), broke ground for all the Castles & Crusadeses and OSRICs that followed.

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  12. The blogs were how I first got interested in the OSR. Others above mentioned the forums from whence many of those blogs came as a big deal, though I myself have little experience with Dragonsfoot or the other forums. A lot of blogs were influential to me. Probably of the older ones, Grognardia, Jeff Rients and Sham's Grog and Blog were the ones I paid the most attention to originally in my case, though sadly Sham doesn't really update any more, and none of them have much of a post rate like they used to. (Of course, by the time I came along there were tons of those blogs - I think maybe the first one I saw was "It's OK, Gary sent us.")

    As far as actual products, I agree with those who state the importance of the OGL in allowing retroclones to exist. Also, though it's a special case, Hackmaster 4th Edition, as the very first retroclone (all the way back in 2001!), broke ground for all the Castles & Crusadeses and OSRICs that followed.

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  13. Sorry. The back key is not my friend.

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  14. It was clearly the third edition of D&D. Not only did it give us the OGL, but it also created a design philosophy to react against. If 3rd edition was a refinement of 2E it would have been very minor differences left for the clones.

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  15. I didn't know their was an osr but C&C inspired me to write my own bx variant rules - discovering the bloggosphere was the the biggest influence after that.

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