Thinking of the recent "controversies" in the OSR (mostly stirred for little more than the need for attention) got me thinking back to TARGA, the first attempt I can recall of trying to tame, define and direct the corner of the universe we refer to as the OSR.
It didn't go so well. The standard bearer watched as their desire to direct and control went up in flames.
The OSR didn't go anywhere. If anything, it just got stronger, and more diverse.
Grognardia was the next self proclaimed standard bearer. That didn't end well.
And yet the OSR still survives. Stronger and chaotic. Yes, if anything, the OSR is a thing of chaos. A many faceted gem of chaotic energy. It is within this chaos that the OSR finds it's strength.
The OSR does not need A standard bearer, as everyone that identifies themselves as part of the OSR IS a standard bearer. Each standard has equal value and equal importance. Whether one plays Original White Box, 1e as written, simulacrums, near clones or far clones, fantasy or scifi, Keep on the Borderland or Whisper & Vemom, or a mongrelization of pieces of the above and more - it's all OSR.
Embrace the chaos. Blood & souls for my lord, the OSR! ;)
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2 hours ago
What exactly was the deal with the TARGA meltdown? I was on vacation at the time it all hit. Plus, and I'll be honest, I don't read all the same message boards and blogs as everyone else it seems. Come to think of it I don't follow any message boards anymore.ReplyDelete
Wow, I had forgotten all about TARGA. That was just starting to flounder when I showed up on the scene.ReplyDelete
Wasn't the TARGA meltdown over "kid friendly" OSR vs. "deathmetal" OSR? Something like that.ReplyDelete
Yup. Chgowiz and others had a hard time accepting Zak S & James Raggi's takes on Old School gaming when both "applied" for "membership" to some blogging network, I think. It was the lurid artwork and themes of Raggi's work & Zak's connections to the pornographic industry that some folks found impossible to overlook, as they were trying to recruit new blood -- their young kids and grandkids and those kids' friends - to old school RPGs, and having to explain those connections to family, friends, and co-workers was a bit too much for these folks. I mean, when one of Mandy's topless photos pops up in your newsfeed, you might have some explaining to do. . .Delete
Most of the blog posts about the whole ordeal are now gone, as the blogs where it was discussed have since closed.
Zak S & Raggi & others might have a better take on it. It was rather, silly, really, and I think most of us are beyond it.
Now if we can only get over the trolls at YDIs (hello, ladies!).
Yeah, no. Chgowiz was totally cool to me. You got that completely wrong.Delete
Yup, I did mis-remember this. As I pointed out further down in the comment thread, I got the names mixed up. But thankfully both Mike and you popped in to set the record straight!Delete
I apologize for my mix-up.
I recently came to realize that the OSR is really about personalities. Old school gaming exists just fine across a broad swathe of gaming systems, styles and traditions, but OSR is the corner of the hobby where those systems, styles and traditions are defined by the people who have forged the OSR movemement. Nothing wrong with that....but it helps greatly to understand why things I consider extremely important in (to use Rob Conley's terminoogy) a small-letter "osr" way are not all-caps OSR.ReplyDelete
There were two things involved in the TARGA dust-up, and since my name and a couple of misunderstandings are being bandied about, let me tell you what happened from my perspective.ReplyDelete
TARGA was a confused mess, but I worked with it, in a blind faith that we could have nice things. TARGA was unfairly put into the position of being the OSR police when a fuckwad blogger got his panties in a bunch over Zak's (new at the time) blog. I felt kicked in the nuts by the nerd-waaah-brigade and left TARGA, because of what I was seeing as opposed to what I wanted - to just have fun playing games. I could have cared less about Zak. I still could care less about Zak. scottsz (Old School Rant) is a piece of shit.
The long version, Part 1:
Going back to 2009 (and you can go follow along in the TARGA blog for this), TARGA was set up by some folks with the purpose of... well, that was the big first issue, what the fuck was TARGA supposed to do? Originally, I think Victor Raymond had set it up to promote "International Traditional Gaming Week" and various bloggerati got involved. With the increase in interest in old school gaming, it morphed into this "thing" that some folks thought was the spokesperson of the so-called "OSR", some folks thought it should be something else. A cluster-fuck of committee-think. There were a number of emails, even phone meetings between myself, Jamal, Victor Raymond, Rients, ahhh... I think Raggi was there, but I honestly don't remember.
What I do remember is the sheer frustration. All I wanted TARGA to be was just another way to get people to sit down and play games. Some of the more publishing-related folks, Jamal for sure, and I think Raggi, now that I am writing this and remembering, wanted it more about publishing. The conversation got hung up on "what is old school" and various related bullshit, but in the end, a few of us, myself included, got a rough mission statement hammered out: http://traditionalgaming.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/targa-reboots-with-new-focus-you/ Put asses in chairs was the way I phrased it, but we said "put butts in chairs to play games." (YDIS folks, please insert homophobic comments here. C'mon, you know you want to.)
I became the cheerleader and kept the TARGA blog and news going, with a couple of others, but everyone was pretty much doing their own shit. Some people still tried to make TARGA into the old school police, but I ignored it, I didn't give a flying fucking rats-ass, as long as you were playing and it was roughly not 3e+, I welcomed it. I can't speak for the other TARGA guys. It was still an unorganized mess.
Then came the fucking fundraiser.
http://traditionalgaming.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/international-traditional-gaming-week-2010-and-pledge-an-auction-2010/ lays it out. Gail Gygax wanted to make a statue of Gary Gygax and so we were going to raise money by selling old school games and donate it. I ran ebay auctions, organized the shipping of items to me, and to the winners. I pretty much did it all myself, not giving other guys grief, just setting this up so you know my perspective. I carried the ball, gladly, and we raised $500. I was really damn proud of that, and I went to GaryCon to help give the check to the Gygax family.
That's when scottsz showed up with the precursor to YDIS - Old School Rant. He had been doing snarky/funny posts until he decided he didn't like Zak's new blog and he didn't like that TARGA had linked to Zak's blob. (http://traditionalgaming.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/this-week-in-the-osr-saturday-march-20-2010/)
That GaryCon weekend, when he posted some screed on his blog and rallied the nerd-waaaah-brigade over Zak, I was all happy that we had raised $500. I was pretty goddamned proud of that fact, that people had come together and raised some cash for what seemed like an innocent, but decent cause. I came home to a shitstorm of posts, counterposts, and all sorts of stupid-ass drama. All the good we had done was lost in the really fucking stupid, petty furor over one pissant piece of shit being all up in arms over some artist-type who worked porn and was doing video podcasting over gaming. Big. Fucking. Deal. (I still wouldn't piss on scottsz if he was on fire.)
So it got nasty and ugly and suddenly TARGA was put into the position of being - WRONGLY - told to take sides. WTF? It wasn't like we were saying that we should have CARCOSA-esque real life rituals, it was a FUCKING BLOG. Why the fuck should TARGA take a stand? It felt like nobody gave a shit about "putting asses in chairs" or fundraising or the hard work, all they wanted to was nerd-waaah-rage and to take sides.
One of the ways my Aspergers (and yes, YDIS folks, I'm diagnosed. Have fun with that.) manifests itself is through an extreme view of right/wrong, black/white and when I perceive injustice. This pissed me off to no end and it was the blinders coming off my eyes. I'd just given a speech in August when accepted the Swords & Wizardry ENNIE (on behalf of Matt Finch & Co.) about hobbyist DIY'ers having a voice... and our voice was a bunch of crying. Over a blog. I'd been involved in what I thought was some cool stuff, writing and playing games and meeting people and just having fun... and it was lost for a bunch of crying. Over a blog.
So, I took my ball and went home. After awhile, my Aspie calmed down, I got my act together and started playing and blogging again, but my blinders were off. I started seeing ugly sides of RPG and OSR publishing. I started seeing some shit that just didn't match with what I wanted - just to play games. Put asses in chairs and have some fun. So, eventually, life happened, and I left. I still call it the "so-called OSR."
TARGA died and long live TARGA. I think if more folks had just cared about putting asses in chairs and not being the outrage-nerdrage police that seems to rear itself every so often, it would have been more fun and not ended the way it did.
Everything Chgowiz says totally matches what I remember.Delete
scottsz started all of the drama.
Agreed. I actually ran some games at a con and advertised TARGA. Printed up fliers and all that. I still don't remember what the hell TARGA stands for though.Delete
When did JMal proclaim himself standard bearer? Tho I guess he was the de facto central hub of the OSR for a time. (Don't look now, Erik, but the hub is probably the Tavern now)ReplyDelete
Re the TARGA dust-up -- it is fascinating to read Chgowiz's take on it. At the time I thought "Old School Rant" was just asking a few questions, but all those posts are long since deleted down the memory hole, and I have heard the action was really in a bunch of emails that went back and forth, not blog posts. I still think scottsz was unjustly blamed for that, given the cycle of "OSR kerfuffles" since then (about every six months for a while there; they have gotten smaller each time as more people in the OSR pool have diluted the pis of the few who making a stink early on).
The Tavern may be "A" hub, but there are many hubs in the OSR these days. Oh, and many OSR flavors.Delete
I like to think that everyone active in the OSR is a standard bearer these days. There are one hell of a lot of folks active in the OSR now :)
@mikemonaco - scottsz and I exchanged 7 emails in total, all of which basically went nowhere. I did go back and find the emails in my Google - here's a link to the TARGATalk email list concerning this. I forgot that Steve also did a "Screw you guys, I'm going home" from TARGA on this. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TARGATalk/conversations/topics/755ReplyDelete
The rest of the so-called OSR was in the nerd-waaah-mode or "WTF is the deal" in some blog posts. To be honest, I was so pissed off over that little fuckwad, I didn't pay much attention.
I don't remember the text, but I seem to recall he ultimately gave a non-apology for shitting all over TARGA because he had his panties in a wad over Zak. A little while later, he folded his own tent and went the fuck away.
Scottsz wasn't unjustly blamed, he led the charge. Especially when it was over Zak getting attention and he did not over his reviews/playthroughs of some modules.
And if it seems personal, it is. We are people here, not just email addresses and Google icons. He shit on something I worked on, put money, time and sweat into, because he was pissed at not getting enough attention. That makes it personal. I don't like that fuck and have no bones saying it. I've been an ass to some people and if they don't like me, well, that's on me. I have the stones to admit when I've done something wrong, or even the stones to admit when my actions have caused someone hurt, even if I stand by my actions. That piece of shit didn't.
Mike, I personally thank you for you for posting this piece of history.Delete
All this happened as I was returning to the hobby, and I remember the bits and pieces, but the overview and personal insight you've shared are invaluable.
No worries, when I saw some of the misinformation, I wanted to set the record straight from a personal perspective.Delete
Go back to some of those Targatalk email threads - you'll see Victor and myself and others were dead-set against TARGA being the OSR-police. I can tell you that Victor and I were working hard to not be setting any standards aside from "older than 3e" at the time.
We were put in that position by a perception - there was interest in the so-called OSR and this weird-ass need by some to *have* a police, a "twue" definition or whatever the fuck they wanted.
Go play games. Have fun with what you have fun with. Don't be a dick. That's all that really matters, even when it comes to "old school vs. new school."
Well whatever the intent was, you're right that people should own up to consequences of their actions. What fustercluck, all around.Delete
Mike, thanks for jumping in and correting my mis-rememberings. I wasn't involved; I was a sideline spectator and obviously got the names of who was offended by who mixed up.Delete
It's good to hear the story from one of the folks involved. Thanks for straightening me out.
You're welcome. Was surprised to see this pop up on an old alert based on "TARGA" and "Chgowiz" I had set up ages ago.Delete
Awesome, an old email of mine on the Targatalk list! And Victor Raymond offering the fledgling NTRPG con money or donations (Thanks Victor! IIRC we thanked him but told him we didn't need it). Targa had some good folk.Delete
Show me where Grognardia proclaimed itself a "standard bearer." It was just a popular and articulate blog.ReplyDelete
I'll concede your point, as I can not be sure James ever said so, although between Grognardia and being the OSR poster on the WotC site, he certainly became the face of the OSR, especially for those outside the OSR. I'm not going to say that was James' intention, but it certainly was the result.Delete
That's a pretty important distinction. It's one thing to be viewed as a leader, it's quite another to make yourself one by edict.Delete
Some people might get that impression of James M from the fact that - satirically, based on stuff from YDIS or somewhere similar - he tagged himself as "pope of the OSR Taliban" or something for a while. For people who (wisely) didn't read YDIS, that might have seemed like he was declaring himself leader.Delete
Speaking as someone who was involved at the very very beginning of TARGA, but left for various reasons in the organizational stages, being an arbiter of what the OSR was, was never part of its mission. Facilitating and bringing OSR'ers together, yes. But there was no "desire to direct and control."ReplyDelete
"Some people still tried to make TARGA into the old school police" - to me, that means some tried to "direct and control". Set limits and parameters. What's "in" and what's "out".Delete
you really can't try to police chaos, no matter how good the intentions.
@Erik - that shit's been going on since ... well, pretty much since forever. The so-called OSR is no different. That wasn't the purpose of the group though, despite how some individuals felt. Steve left TARGA in part because we wouldn't join the nerd-waaaah-brigade against Zack. (that email was public on the TargaTalk thread I linked you to.) Josheph's right. From an organization perspective, there wasn't a desire to direct/control, except to put your ass in a chair. And play games.ReplyDelete
I do agree though, that you can't put a label on something that is, in part, an issue of a person's personal tastes and preferences. So many of us who grew up in late 70s/80s really latched onto D&D when we were young and formed a very personal bond with it. It's hard to let go of those bonds.
Then again, please be rest assured that this sort of label attachment, appropriation and reappropriation of history/intent/definitions happens all over the fucking place. See religion, gender issues, alternative medicine, Paganism, etc....
@Michael - Just a quick aside to thank you for the S&W Quick Starter rules. They remain awesome!ReplyDelete
Christ after reading all this I'm glad that I got into osr stuff after it had all blown over, and way glad that the who-gives-a-fuck brigade won in the end.ReplyDelete
Sigh. I watched all this happen from the vantage point of my little corner of the Internet, and it was pretty depressing to see. My impression, as a non-OSR person (I am not connected with the OSR; some of their stalwarts told me so. I am a old geezer of a dinosaur, trapped in the amber of the 1970s, and play a 'pre-edition' style of game that doesn't seem to meet the criteria and standards of the brand. Whatever that is.), is that some folks got their knickers in a twist over some other folks who weren't 'acceptable', and had some very public and ultimately pointless agonies over the 'issues'.ReplyDelete
I do have to hand it to them, though; they killed any interest in so-called 'OSR gaming' for me.
@Michael S - great to see you back - I really enjoyed reading your blog, and would like to do so again; where is it on the web, if I may ask?
@Chirine - thanks. It's still at the same place - http://oldguyrpg.blogspot.com/ - but I haven't blogged (or played D&D) since Nov 2011. @thePrincessWife and I got into a project that took a few years, but was successful and now will play out till March of 2015. We'll see after that. I do miss the solo game with her, but who knows?ReplyDelete
Thank you for the URL! If it's all right with you, I'll add it to my list of People Worth Listening Ton on my own little blog. I thought that what you had to say really was worth listening to, and I enjoyed your posts quite a lot.Delete
Looking forward to hearing from you once again!