Thursday, April 27, 2017

OSR Musing

Robert Conley at Bat in the Attic has a good post up called "What Everyone Forgets About the OSR"

I'm not sure everyone forgets his points, but it's still a good post...

Basically, the OSR is a mess... but a glorious mess. He suggests that this might be the second Golden Age of RPGs - because even the fan of the most obscure game can probably find not only other fans online, but someone creating something new. And while some will argue about what the "True OSR" is (it's Gygax, it's Arneson, it's LBB, it's blah, blah, blah), maybe it's just the ability to continue to enjoy the game as we play it... If you have owned the original brown books since the mid 70s and that's the only D&D you want to play, there's room for that. If you love all the splatbooks of second edition, there's room for that.

What I've experienced as a common denominator in the OSR is a bent toward a certain type of play - "old school" play, which isn't narrowly defined but includes things like megadungeons, episodic play, sandbox play. It includes rules "frameworks" instead of rules "codices" (that is, general rules that can be adjudicated by the DM vs. a rule for everything). But OSR is not limited to any of these and actually can even include some "new ideas" (even if WotC came up with them in later editions).

I remember seeing THAC0 in the 1st edition DMG and figuring out what it meant - and I started using it pretty quickly as a reference, so I could just do the math in my head (THAC0 is 11, AC is 4 so you need a 7 to hit - quick and somewhat elegant). Ascending AC now makes perfect sense to me, but for years I simply couldn't wrap my head around it. Now I prefer it. Sure it's new - but anything that makes me not have to stop play and look up a chart (without changing the fundamentals of the game) is a good idea to me. Sure, some will say that it DOES change the fundamentals of the game. I disagree. There's room for that.

Play what you like. House rule as you like. When does it stop being "old school"? Either as soon as you stop using 40 year old books (or their nostalgic reprints) or as soon as you change a single rule, even if we "did that back in the day", it's still not "true" old school.. Sigh.  Whatever.

Play what you like. Call it what you like. There's no OSR police out there.