Are OSR-style play and Story Now play really antithetical?

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Comments

  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Zak SDo not confuse "the OSR" with "attempts to claim people used to roll back in the day the way we do".

    That's like saying the Ramones were an attempting to sound like Buddy Holly.

    And anything is more efficient than buying a new game every week, reading it and rolling whole new characters just because you want to move the focus to a different thing for a few hours.
    If you have a conanical definition of OSR, I'd love to hear it.

    EDIT: Ninjaed! That's interesting. I'm pretty sure I've read others but yours is as good as any.
  • Posted By: Paul Bconanical definition of OSR
    The Conanical school is but one faction.
  • Posted By: Eero TuovinenI could just about imagine a Dogs session where the characters agreed all the time about everything. If this was the result of talks and soul-searching, then everything's good and the game can proceed to the next town over, where the GM will presumably seek to drive some wedges. If the players are of like mind because of a siege mentality or because they're seeking to "win", then it's not going to work - the game's not mechanically set up for mindless combat for the same of combat, it's not going to be particularly fun.
    Well, I donno. I think a group that seeks consensus about what to do and how far to go, then Sticks To The Plan can be very effective and fun in Dogs.

    There's this feeling that if the players aren't struggling that they're not playing Dogs right or effectively. But that's not been true in my experience. I've had some very confident people enjoy Dogs a great deal, because it gives them a language by which they can express their confidently-held moral positions. They don't mind if the GM escalates or causes unintended consequences - they are perfectly fine with it - they did the right thing - they know they did - let's move on to the next town - anything bad that happens, the poor bastards brought it on themselves.
  • So why step in with "don't mistake this for that" talk, Zak? Is OSR one of those "I know it when I see it" things? Or do you have a very firm idea of what it "isn't"?

    Because I gotta tell you, there are puh-lenty of OSR folks out there who do seem to think "this is how we rolled in the old days" is precisely, exactly what OSR-style play is: rules vs rulings and all that. Shit, Google "OSR" and the first thing you get is a link to a Lulu document that is a "how to roll like they used to in the old days" guidebook.

    Which is it? Is it "rolling like they used to?" Or is it "experimenting with the gaming possibilities of TSR-era rulesets and gaming tools with an eye toward possibilities that were left un- or under- explored at the time"?

    Each one of those is going to result in a radically different discussion. Because they're pretty much exactly opposite.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Paul BSo why step in with "don't mistake this for that" talk, Zak? Is OSR one of those "I know it when I see it" things? Or do you have a very firm idea of what it "isn't"?

    Because I gotta tell you, there are puh-lenty of OSR folks out there who do seem to think "this is how we rolled in the old days" is precisely, exactly what OSR-style play is: rules vs rulings and all that. Shit, Google "OSR" and the first thing you get is a link to a Lulu document that is a "how to roll like they used to in the old days" guidebook.

    Which is it? Is it "rolling like they used to?" Or is it "experimenting with the gaming possibilities of TSR-era rulesets and gaming tools with an eye toward possibilities that were left un- or under- explored at the time"?

    Each one of those is going to result in a radically different discussion. Because they're pretty much exactly opposite.
    This division is known to us:

    http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2011/03/things-we-should-agree-to-disagree.html

    We call it Vinyl Purists v. Garage Rockers.

    The point is: whether or not some dead guy once used a bucket of water to find traps is not the point. The point is some people now like to do it and found it helpful to have a name for that and associated practices, no matter what their pedigree.
  • So which is it, for the purpose of this thread? I think I'd very much like to ask the OP what his intent was, rather than having you get all proprietary with terminology, Zak. I'm just not seeing that as useful.

    Empires have been reduced to ash by definition wars. It's tiresome. Since the OP asked the question, it seems *to me* like the OP could clarify what he meant.
  • Filtered through my indie games sensibilities, I'm most interested in the OSR as a set of modern attempts to play under-explained/documented and sometimes inconsistent pre-1985 dungeony game texts and modes of play (and their descendents) in a way that consistently generates an enjoyable experience, including making enjoyable a bunch of stuff that sounds really unfun from many modern gaming perspectives (instant char death, mapping and calling, 10-foot-poles, etc.). Instead of rejecting the things that seem weird about early games, I like that the OSR attempts to place them in a context where they make perfect sense. That way, they increase our appreciation for aspects of early RPG texts, even if nobody ever played them the way the OSR does.
  • Posted By: Zak SThe OSR is an attempt to experiment with the gaming possibilities of TSR-era rulesets and gaming tools with an eye toward possibilities that were left un- or under- explored at the time.
    So is OSR some play on words with "TSR" or does it stand for something meaningful, like "Old School Roleplay" or "Overlooked System Rules"?
  • "Old School Renaissance" or "Old School Restoration".
  • Old School Roleplay seems strange to me. I do not understand it. It seems to me the people identifying with that movement are the mormons of rpg-culture, kind of. So I say; let them be.

    I've played classical games since I discovered them, back in -86, and will do for the foreseeable future. I've played modern games too, and will do. And every time I play I try to be inventive. I try to use my imagination. I try to develop the interaction, and the fiction, and by doing so I invariably do some informal development of the game too.

    Not to develop a role-playing game further, any role-playing game, is the antithesis to role-playing, in my view.
  • Just my two cents, here. It seems to me that OSR (which I understood to mean either "Old School Renaissance" or "Old School Roleplaying") might be best seen in a historical framework. I may be entirely wrong, given that the folks I know who identify with OSR are, in fact, people who were around and playing in the earliest days of RPGs, i.e. the late 70s.

    What I sense is that it's at least in part a reaction to all the stuff that's happened in the hobby since then. Innovations which, while certainly not bad, changed things, and made some older RPGers (and some newer ones) feel like stuff had been lost along the way.

    I'm still working out exactly what stuff might have been considered lost - but several things come to mind.

    1) Simple chargen - This seems to be a thing that comes up fairly frequently. Complex chargen has gotten more common, whether it be a lot of messing about with purchasing from a points pool, or lots of backstory. The general feel I've gotten from OSR folks is that they would rather have a quick, fast, likely random chargen system ala OD&D that allows them to get to actually "playing" fast, and figure out the other stuff as they play, if they want to.

    2) the "sandbox" idea - GMs not providing a single plot, but providing an open setting where character activities matter, in some sense I'm not at all clear on. There's a fair amount of subtle stuff here, that is not terribly well defined, but most OSR gamers I know seem to have an internal understanding of what they mean by this.

    3) simple game mechanics, in two ways. One, a reaction against the rather complex rulesets from the 80s, with all the charts and rules and (later) feats and classes and specializations and all that, which it seems they feel get in the way of their freedom to have the sorts of characters they want to have, and two, a sense that simple mechanics that don't force specific sorts of role-play are good, because again, they don't get in the way of the creativity of the players or GMs. There's also a strong sub-current that states that simple mechanics are better because they don't get in the way of playing, and are easy to use quickly.

    I'm personally of the opinion that OSR might better be described as a minimalist movement, on some level. That term, while descriptive, is also problematic - since there are at least two different kinds of minimalism easily available - one that's wide open (which is what OSR seems to be going for) and one that is curtailed for specific ends (which I think, in some ways, some indy games that are simple, but very specific as to what they're trying to get to, fall into).

    There's a bunch of stuff about the role of the GM, too, that I don't quite get yet. Having been around during the late 70s myself, some of this may be the fact that I probably have a bunch of unexamined assumptions about how people play and GM, which means I have a hard time distinguishing the differences.

    Like I said, just my observations here.
  • Posted By: Paul BSometimes the players became so comfortable with the setting assumptions that it wasn't hard to figure out correct/reasonable outcomes for the setting, freeing up bandwidth for more character-driven drama.
    This! This this this.
    Survival movies are often not really "about anything" except the very physical drama and tension of getting out of the situation alive. The main themes are betrayal and hopelessness, which mean that the characters will be bleak and the status quo changes a lot, which makes for a lot less "bandwidth" for complex moral and emotional dilemmas to develop.

    The problem with seeking emotional depth in a traditional game of D&D (wtf ever that means) is, usually, that there are no guidelines or rules for things like the PCs' emotional connections to the world around them. When you go in that direction, it's gotta come from raw acting skill - - the game provides no "net" underneath you to help you emotionally engage with the story, no guidance in that direction. It's all on you.

    At present, I'm exploring how much moral complexity/problem-having we can wring from Dungeon World. It feels a lot like Storming the Wizard's Tower - - when you take the time to really explore the PCs' starting relationships, you will almost assuredly be drawn into a complex drama. If people have defined motivations, if they move sharply towards their goals, then the "scaffolding" provided by these details will make it easier to "get into it" and know how to make hay with that content.
  • Posted By: TomasHVMOld School Roleplayseems strange to me. I do not understand it. It seems to me the people identifying with that movement are the mormons of rpg-culture, kind of. So I say; let them be.

    I've played classical games since I discovered them, back in -86, and will do for the foreseeable future. I've played modern games too, and will do. And every time I play I try to be inventive. I try to use my imagination. I try to develop the interaction, and the fiction, and by doing so I invariably do some informal development of the game too.

    Not to develop a role-playing game further, any role-playing game, is the antithesis torole-playing, in my view.
    If you think Old School Renaissance = Deciding Not To Develop The Game You're Playing you got it totally 100% backwards.
  • Very true.

    However, there certainly are people who view "OSR gaming" as a sort museum enterprise. They want to know exactly how Gygax, or Arneson, or Major Wesely did something, and do the same thing, to see what it was like. Many blogs and accounts focus on an almost anthropological approach, the goal being to discover (and sometimes recreate) what the roots of the hobby were like.

    That's a particular sub-strain I've seen a fair bit, and it's very interesting in its own right.
  • When I was 14, it was 1989, and I went to an RPGA event, where a guy who identified himself loudly as "Old School" screamed at all the young teenaged dudes at his table for messing around, laughing at our own jokes and doing funny voices. He used "old school" as a bludgeon - so did everyone else for the last 20 years - so mote it ever be. "Old school" means "my fun is better - I was here first - get the fuck out - I hate you - my life is so empty". Always has. Good luck taking it back I guess?

    The "indie RPG" guys worked really hard for many years to get people to think it meant "creator owned". That's probably a fifty percent win after all that work?
  • Posted By: Zak SIf you think Old School Renaissance = Deciding Not To Develop The Game You're Playing you got it totally 100% backwards.
    How?

    As I said; this thing is strange to me. If I have misunderstood it, please tell me how it really is.
    What's the core of this "renaissance"?
    Why has it grown into a philosophy? Or has it, really?
    What's the philosophy?
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: TomasHVMPosted By: Zak SIf you think Old School Renaissance = Deciding Not To Develop The Game You're Playing you got it totally 100% backwards.
    How?

    As I said; this thing is strange to me. If I have misunderstood it, please tell me how it really is.
    What's the core of this "renaissance"?
    Why has it grown into a philosophy? Or has it, really?
    What's the philosophy?

    Like I said at the top of this page:

    There are these old gaming tools.
    For various reasons (many commercial) they were abandoned or diluted before people got to do everything with them that could be done.
    So, now, people are looking at these old tools and doing new things with them.

    That is: developing the living shit out of those games. So: the opposite of "not developing the game".

    Every single rule is subject to possible change. All Hell's Angels ride Harley Davidsons. No Hell's Angel is allowed to be seen in public riding a factory, unmodified Harley.

    Vornheim is one example.
    Death Frost Doom is another.
    FLAILSNAILS Google + games are another.
    http://roll1d12.blogspot.com/ Dungeon Dozen is another.
    Scrap Princess' Planescape and Magic Girl RPG hacks are another http://monstermanualsewnfrompants.blogspot.com/
    Small But Vicious Dog is another: http://vaultsofnagoh.blogspot.com/2011/08/sbvd-pretty-pictures-edition.html
    Noisms Yoon-Suin setting ("Monsters and Manuals" blog) is another

    etc etc

    There are more examples of people with blogs and on forums using old games in new ways than there is agreement about how to define what they collectively do or why they get along with each other*. I would sooner direct you to read the blogs and play some games than to ask for a statement of intent from me and hope everyone agrees with it.

    In terms of playstyle, the OSR people are far more interested in finding actual people to play with and defending the rationale behind many old practices (and saying, "Hey, there was one") than with always playing games which stick to those practices.

    The philosophy? Mmmmm..."These antiquated practices are not necessarily out of fashion because they suck, let's rip theses old games apart and see what we can make out of them".

    This is probably the closest thing the OSR has to a philosophy:

    http://jrients.blogspot.com/2006/02/i-got-your-threefold-model-right-here.html

    Here is a community-built list of house-rules and gaming advice--ranging from the obscure and grognardly rules-obsessive to the wide open and weird:

    http://campaignwiki.org/wiki/LinksToWisdom/HomePage





    _____
    *This seems relevant: the OSR is a literal community in the sense that people know each other and game with each other. They disagree wildly on many things and play many different games but they read many of the same blogs, appear on many of the same forums, buy many of the same products. And--most significantly--when there is a game on? Everybody can sit at the same table and know they have enough of the same assumptions that the game will roll with no agenda clash. They have something in common, even if, say James M of Grognardia and JOESKYTHEDUNGEONBRAWLER and Scrap Princess couldn't all say what it is that puts them on the same continuum.

    And, perhaps most relevant, when I post a link to an S-G thread--they all are kind of baffled by the tenor of the conversation here in roughly the same way.
  • edited March 2012
    So this is in fact not "old school" at all, or? There is no dogma to it, no sentences for people to abide by? We are simply talking of people exploring the classical set-up (leader + players). Or?

    I've explored the classical set-up myself for as long as I have played rpgs. I never actually left the classical set-up, even if I have done (and still are) a lot of design of modern games too (games with no GM). Still; when working the classical set-up I would never consider what I am doing "old school" or "renaissance".

    In my experience most people play classical role-playing games. They never left it, and know of little else. I expect that to be true for the US too. But if that is true over there too; how come players are said to be returning to something they never left?

    Are we actually talking about developing an old school theorem, saying something along these lines;
    - We want to keep on playing these old games.
    - We prefer their inherent philosophy of play to other ideas on rpgs.
    - We proclaim a school of thought based on the old games.

    If these lines are somewhat close to reality, it leads me to the obvious question:
    - What is that school?
    and:
    - Why should we consider it an "antithesis" to other role-playing games?
    - Is it a part of that school to refute developments done in newer games, both classical and modern?
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: TomasHVMSo this is in fact not "old school" at all, or? There is no dogma to it, no sentences for people to abide by? We are simply talking of people exploring the classical set-up (leader + players). Or?

    I've explored the classical set-up myself for as long as I have played rpgs. I never actuallyleftthe classical set-up, even if I have done (and still are) a lot of design of modern games too (games with no GM). Still; when working the classical set-up I would never consider what I am doing "old school" or "renaissance".

    In my experience most people play classical role-playing games. They never left it, and know of little else. I expect that to be true for the US too. But if that is true over there too; how come players are said to bereturningto something they never left?

    Are we actually talking about developing an old schooltheorem, saying something along these lines;
    - We want to keep on playing these old games.
    - We prefer theirinherent philosophy of playto other ideas on rpgs.
    - We proclaim aschool of thoughtbased on the old games.

    If these lines are somewhat close to reality, it leads me to the obvious question:
    - What is that school?
    and:
    - Why should we consider it an "antithesis" to other role-playing games?
    - Is it a part of that school to refute developments done in newer games, both classical and modern?
    Maybe the best answer I can give is that agreeing on a set of answers to these questions doesn't seem terribly pressing to the community of people who either call themselves OSR or get along with them and play games with them.

    They have some things in common: death is ok, emergent story is ok, sandbox/location based play is ok, fast character generation is ok, characters that look (on paper) like other characters are ok, Erol Otus is ok, randomness is ok, railroads suck, etc.

    (The concept of "renaissance" probably comes from the idea that some people are so unfamiliar with these ideas, like, say "death is ok", that it often seems the entire mainstream of commercial RPGs has given up on these ideas for so long that it no longer even realizes anyone sane thinks they are valid or adheres to them out of anything but ignorance or nostalgia. Therefore advocating them is a "return" in some sense. For example, if you check discussions of D&D art you'll see many people who assume as a matter of course that Erol Otus sucks and was a primitive artist. The idea that he drew like that for a reason and that it was a style with interesting expressive qualities is unheard of in much mainstream art discussion--therefore interest in him could be seen as a "revival" rather than a "continuation.")

    When someone claims any of these things is Not Ok the OSR self-identifies in order to say "Hey, there's a whole community here who does this and it's fun for them and they are not insane masochists, know that" otherwise it is content to be a big tent.
  • edited March 2012
    Perhaps the term "School" is confusing here.

    It has more in common with the way the word is used in the phrase "Old School Hip Hop" than "The Frankfurt School". That is: there's no "school" of thought.

    It just refers to a time period and aesthetic practices and tools related-to or derived-from that time period.
  • I should think that everybody would realize that "school" in "old school" is ironic. I mean, it's a well-known idiom, isn't it? I'm nowhere near native and I don't have trouble getting this. "Old school" means "the way things used to be done before, especially and specifically by the cultural forebears of the currently dominant paradigm". It's not like there ever was a school that is now old, literally speaking - not in hip hop, nor in roleplaying. What's more, it's obviously a relative term. I can totally say "I'm kicking it old-school over here, playing Sorcerer and Dust Devils and MLwM, not any of that foolish new stuff." I'm referring to games published in 1999-2003 ironically as the "old school" of the Forge design tradition in this sentence, but still it seems to me that I am using the language in an entirely understandable way. Could be wrong, of course.

    Also, for what it's worth, the "renaissance" part seems entirely appropriate to me as well. I'm nothing like a "member" of this movement (if nothing else, I think that they don't allow dual citizenship in rpg tribes), but I've followed its development on and off, and from this random Internet person's viewpoint the entire trend seems exactly like a cultural renaissance. It's a small subcultural thing instead of a continent-wide revival of a thousand-year old culture, of course, but we are able to use words like this creatively, right? All I know is that in 2005 the only analytical/critical writing I'd seen that'd have considered old school D&D seriously came from some Forgistas dabbling in it, and then suddenly more and more roleplayers started to vocally create high-profile (Internet-wise, that is) content, theory and tools for the game. It's been such an obviously trending thing where more and more people have played old school D&D for the first time after an entire generation missed out on the experience... I don't know a better term than "renaissance" or "revival" or such. Of course there are old-timers who "never stopped", as they say, but that doesn't change the essential nature of the cultural trend: there would be nothing to discuss here were it not for the younger, new, vocal people with their new takes at old games.

    (Zak: because I know that the above probably annoys you, I should clarify that I do not intend to imply that Ron Edwards started the OSR movement. That would be, insofar as I know, ridiculous. I'm just describing the extent of my own awareness of the movement seven years back.)
  • Posted By: Eero Tuovinen

    (Zak: because I know that the above probably annoys you, I should clarify that I do not intend to imply that Ron Edwards started the OSR movement. That would be, insofar as I know, ridiculous. I'm just describing the extent of my own awareness of the movement seven years back.)
    ?
    I have no idea why you thought that would annoy me.
  • Just a feel based on our discourses over the last few days - I got to thinking that one could misread what I wrote, especially if they felt that I might be trying to undermine the legitimacy of the OSR movement or something like that. Internet forums are tricky, though, so I guess I got it wrong this time. No big deal.
  • Posted By: Zak SThey have some things in common: death is ok, emergent story is ok, sandbox/location based play is ok, fast character generation is ok, characters that look (on paper) like other characters are ok, Erol Otus is ok, randomness is ok, railroads suck, etc.

    ...

    When someone claims any of these things is Not Ok the OSR self-identifies in order to say "Hey, there's a whole community here who does this and it's fun for them and they are not insane masochists, know that" otherwise it is content to be a big tent.
    So ... the "school" is a sign-post for all those content to be playing that game they started up with back then, plus some popular judgements like "railroads suck"?

    Blimey! So much buzz for so little!

    I see that I am in line with a lot of the axioms this movement builds on (character death, simple characters, emergent story, randomness), in my classical design, but I also see that this "school" is not for me. I could never identify with a school of thought that makes popular ideas into gospel.

    Thanks for explaining this to me, Zak. Have a nice day!
  • edited March 2012
    @Tomas: It's totally cool if you're not interested in the Old School Renaissance or reinvestigating and rethinking early RPG play styles. No need to disparage people who are interested in those things. The OSR is one of the big movements and influences in Anglo-American roleplaying right now, and ridiculing it or suggesting that there's not anything to it is ignoring the facts: it's very meaningful and significant to a lot of people and will continue to be influential and lead to new understandings of roleplaying.

    As far as I can tell, both the recent indie games movement and the OSR originally came out of frustration with late-80s and 90s games and the sense that play was getting muddy, rules texts were getting increasingly vague or mysterious (all that talk about "creating stories," with few concrete procedures), and the desire for styles of play that felt more consistent and grounded in repeatable procedures instead of unstructured improvisation and "magical GM" performances. While indie games folks moved in the direction of creating new types of games and experimenting with new styles of play, the OSR tackled the same problem by returning to older pre-"storytelling" RPGs and trying to rediscover what was good about those games. Just like in indie games, there's some posturing that goes on about certain kinds of games being objectively better or "purer" than others, but at the core it's just an attempt to have more fun and consistent play.

    Recently there's been an increasing amount of crossover happening between indie and OSR folks. A bunch of indie folks have written stuff for Fight On!, an OSR-oriented zine. Folks like Jason Morningstar, Ben Lehman, Luke Crane, and others have been playing Moldvay and Metzger D&D. Ben's working on a semi-"old school" game called High Quality Role-Playing. Tony Dowler is all up in the early RPG vibe, both with his art and his play. And that's just the stuff I know about, which is the tip of the iceberg.

    In any event, all I'm saying is that: it's a thing, it's really happening, and it's significant right now. You're welcome to dismiss it, but that doesn't change any of those things. People will keep writing and playing other games too, including crazy experimental stuff, but the influence of early RPGs will probably be felt in the next generation of games to emerge from places like SG and the Forge, even more than it already has (Drowning and Falling, How to Host a Dungeon, Storming the Wizard's Tower, S/Lay w/ Me, etc.)
  • This thread diverged, but earlier you were talking about gamism and how the OSR is kinda-sorta-a-little-bit like it.
    But where did the concept of »gamism« in RPG come from if not from old D&D?
    That’s how I’ve always read it.
    That’s not to say, of course, that D&D can’t be other things too.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: J. WaltonThe OSR is one of the big movements and influences in Anglo-American roleplaying right now
    I think the Anglo-American thing is important. My family travels overseas a lot for conferences my wife attends, and I try to meet gamers wherever we wind up. The difference between local scenes is huge - the guys I talked to in Poland were very happy with what sounded to me like 90s style play in which they would write multiple page backstories for their lovingly detailed characters and then expect the GM to weave all these together using no tools beyond those offered in trad games that were big over here in the US back then, like 7th Sea or the L5R RPG. Lots of things that I saw as fundamentally important to the state of the art in RPGs, like organized play or indie games or the OSR, were based on assumptions that just didn't matter to those guys.

    Differences between scenes happen within even the same city - I didn't get to meet juliusz while I was in Krakow, but I know he's a local very interested in indie and OSR stuff - but the US/UK market is unified enough that movements in different places are often reacting to the same thing. The OSR isn't just about D&D, but because it's the Anglo-American 800 pound gorilla there's no doubt that the changes in the approach seen in D&D's recent editions are going to produce meaningful and significant reactions. If you never cared about D&D, or about what was published as the official version of a big-tent RPG that was a lingua franca for most every gamer you'd ever meet, then the OSR still might be interesting to you as a source of techniques and ideas but you won't get what it means as a movement to people coming from that background.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: 2097This thread diverged, but earlier you were talking about gamism and how the OSR is kinda-sorta-a-little-bit like it.
    But where did the concept of »gamism« in RPG come from if not from old D&D?
    That’s how I’ve always read it.
    That’s not to say, of course, that D&D can’t be other things too.
    "Gamism" is not a term I recognize as making a lot of sense.

    "Challenge-oriented play" is a major part of the OSR, but the idea of single-agenda focused play is, as I said on page one, not so big in the OSR.
  • Posted By: TomasHVMI could never identify with a school of thought that makes popular ideas into gospel.
    Clearly if you think there's a "gospel" you didn't even identify the words that I typed.

    There's a major difference between "several people having arrived (independently) at the conclusion that they all like pizza" and "claiming everyone should like pizza because Jesus".
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: Zak S"Gamism" is not a term I recognize as making a lot of sense.
    Hi Zak! Here's a link to an article on Gamism if you're interested. That should help clear some things up for you.
  • I've been agreeing with a lot of what you've been writing the past couple days Jonathan. :)

    The 80's really changed the gaming landscape and it was constantly moving forward, away from that one playstyle advocated in the primer and towards more rules and less need for rulings. AD&D was all about adding more rules to your game, likely as a side effect of becoming a business and needing to sell (and seeing a demand for) new product. Call of Cthulhu sure had a lot of character skills and less reliance on player skill. Champions and gurps added complexity and balance to character creation.

    I have a lot of empathy for most of the things the OSR puts forth as ideas and love when they detail specific ways to get a solid playstyle for your game such as they've done with D&D. I grew weary of the extended source books and new kit books and guide to this clan book or that splatbook we saw in the 90's and later. I think the idea of role playing is pretty simple and the more rules and complexity added dont tend to make a better game. My best games were almost entirely freeform with vague descriptions of abilities and characteristics and we'd just make rulings based on what we thought would happen. That makes me question why they've kept some of the rules they've decided to hold on to though, they seem to be more nostalgia or familiarity than providing anything useful. I dont think the D&D experience would be harmed if you dialed it back, got rid of the classes and levels just built characters based on what happens in play or where they spend the xp they gain. But that's just me.
  • edited March 2012
    On the issue of Gamism and the OSR, I can comment that, if you run the LBBs by the book (which requires some interpretation of certain vagaries, and that you bring an understanding to it that it assumes certain things about the DM, such as if-there-isn't-a-rule-then-make-a-call), they are a very clean and functional instrument for a certain brand of Gamist play. That being said, you can use it for other things. (Ron made a comment once about Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign (which I think is about games played with a system predating the LBBs) describing some things that looked like they could have been Narrativist, but I can't speak to that because I'm ignorant of the material.)
  • I have a feeling that the OSR was/is, at least in part, also a reaction to the new developments in D&D itself.

    It seems to me that a lot of D&D players felt that the 3rd edition, and especially the 4th edition, was turning D&D into something they could no longer recognize, play, or enjoy: the game was being designed in a way that was at odds with their preferred playstyle.

    If I am correct, this then pushed many of those people who might have been "on the fence" towards publicly reclaiming earlier editions of D&D and the associated playstyle. Hence the detailed investigations into "how it was done" so many years ago, and mining those experiences for techniques and playstyle which may have been "lost" to the mainstream.

    Is there some truth to my guess?
  • edited March 2012
    Bret, I'm pretty sure Zak has read those essays, based on my conversations with him. He just doesn't accept agendas as being singular, focused and exclusive, which I get and accept.

    But to paraphrase what he wrote above: "Gamism is when challenge-orientation is a major part of your play." Ding.

    I mean, there are people who are doing other stuff with OSR, but mostly, it's that.

    Another remark: in certain instances OSR can be read as Old School Revolution. It's very much about DIY culture, author-owned texts and games, sharing stuff for free on the internet and so on. Going against the "establishment" of the hobby. Stuff that should sound quite familiar to the "indie crowd".
  • Posted By: Zak SPosted By: TomasHVMI could never identify with a school of thought that makes popular ideas into gospel.
    Clearly if you think there's a "gospel" you didn't even identify the words that I typed.

    There's a major difference between "several people having arrived (independently) at the conclusion that they all like pizza" and "claiming everyone should like pizza because Jesus".

    I almost stepped in a few posts back and said, "Hey! Everyone be cool and remember not to invalidate other people's fun". Then you guys did it for me. 8)

    Also about a third of the way through this thread, someone said "maybe the OP should explain what was meant by OSR"? Well, I thought about that, and then I figured I didn't need to because (as seems to be so typical of him) Zak is saying it with way more concision and verve than I think I can. I was content to throw the rock into the pool and see what happened: I'm still not sure I have meaningful things to contribute, so I'll now re-lurk.
  • Posted By: Bret GillanPosted By: Zak S"Gamism" is not a term I recognize as making a lot of sense.
    Hi Zak! Here's alinkto an article on Gamism if you're interested. That should help clear some things up for you.

    I have read it (long ago and many times) and disagree with it.

    In general, it will help any community to which you might belong's reputation tremendously if you assume that when people disagree with you it isn't because they haven't read the stuff you have (theory bits and games), it's because they read it and have objections to it.
  • Posted By: J. Walton@Tomas: It's totally cool if you're not interested in the Old School Renaissance or reinvestigating and rethinking early RPG play styles. No need to disparage people who are interested in those things.
    Jonathan: please; if you feel hurt; say so. If you think others feel hurt; let them say it themselves. There are too many nurses on the net as is.

    I'm not disparaging people, or ridiculing anything. I do find some of the notions in OSR not very well founded, and have given my view on that, without going into depth on why I think so. I do think this forum has to give room for people disagreeing, and saying so.

    I'm not interested in going deeper into the matter, as I do view the OSR-movement (as described to me) of little interest to me. I find it peculiar to set such limits on ones interactivity. That's all. Thanks!
  • Posted By: Vernon R That makes me question why they've kept some of the rules they've decided to hold on to though, they seem to be more nostalgia or familiarity than providing anything useful.
    If there's ever a rule you don't see the use for, you have two choices:

    -ask people why they use it, or
    -assume the reasons aren't very good
  • (Zak, I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I'm pretty sure that Bret was kidding around with you.)
  • That sounds right to me, Paul. The OSR seemed to really gain steam through the 3.5/4E period, for whatever reason.

    It's notable that, just because the OSR and recent indie movement started as a reaction against late-80s and 90s games (or 00s D&D), that doesn't mean there's nothing awesome or valuable about those games. I mean, the 80s-90s were themselves a reaction against a lot of "stupid" stuff about early D&D ("meaningless" character death, 10-foot-poles, etc.). And, as Joe McDaldno has said, there will doubtlessly be a "Second Wave Renaissance" a few years from now, if it isn't already happening. Apocalypse World is already kinda in that vein, with it's non-OS sandbox-style play more reminiscent of Shadowrun and Vampire.

    All of which is to say: rethinking and reexamining older game texts or play styles that may or may not have initially made sense to you is just as valuable a way to broaden your understanding and appreciation or roleplaying as playing experimental or new stuff. And the OSR is contributing to that in a major way.
  • Well said, Jonathan.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: TomasHVMPosted By: J. Walton if you feel hurt; say so. If you think others feel hurt; let them say it themselves.
    There is a difference between "feeling hurt" and "hearing someone say or assume something inaccurate" (like all this about "gospels") and seeing that as the tip of an iceberg of misunderstanding one might wish to correct in order to have a conversation.
    I do find some of the notions in OSR not very well founded, and have given my view on that, without going into depth on why I think so.
    Well then you have a choice:

    -you can provide that depth so other people can see your reasoning
    -you can take specific ideas you see as ill-founded and ask people whether they in fact have foundations you did not recognize earlier
    or
    -you can assume other people have ill-founded reasons for what they do
  • Posted By: Paul T.I have a feeling that the OSR was/is, at least in part, also a reaction to the new developments in D&D itself.

    It seems to me that a lot of D&D players felt that the 3rd edition, and especially the 4th edition, was turning D&D into something they could no longer recognize, play, or enjoy: the game was being designed in a way that was at odds with their preferred playstyle.

    If I am correct, this then pushed many of those people who might have been "on the fence" towards publicly reclaiming earlier editions of D&D and the associated playstyle. Hence the detailed investigations into "how it was done" so many years ago, and mining those experiences for techniques and playstyle which may have been "lost" to the mainstream.

    Is there some truth to my guess?
    This resonates with my understanding as well. But the OSR community also seems to have widened it's view beyond just originally white box-based play or Mentzer box-based play, to look at other "root" games: 1e AD&D, Traveller (Classic), Gamma World, Starships & Spacemen, RuneQuest II.

    I think you have something that one of the reasons that OSR latched so solidly onto the "original D&D" root material rather than the other root games that were prevalent at the time lies in the (current) tension between that root material and its fan-base and the current incarnation of that gaming heritage in 3.x/PFRP and 4e and the "old guard's" disquiet with it. But I also think that the OSR's efforts have reached a bit of a new audience, as well -- Zak's own efforts include people with little or no "old guard" experience if I read his reports correctly, and I think that's important -- OSR is not necessarily just a rockabilly nostalgia for ducks, leather jackets, and Gretches -- there are new people being drawn into these games and having fun, too.
  • edited March 2012
    Posted By: viktor_haagZak's own efforts include people with little or no "old guard" experience if I read his reports correctly
    Yes, my group consists mostly of people who:

    -never played RPGs when they were kids
    -are much younger than the Grumpy Neckbeard demographic
    -will play almost anything
    -had played (as of 5 years ago) almost nothing, and
    -prefer a way of rolling that, when described in print to the internet, was proclaimed as entirely reasonable by the OSR bloggers and met in other quarters with bafflement and incomprehension.
  • Posted By: TomasHVM I find it peculiar to set such limits on ones interactivity.
    I know English is my native language, and I should be able to parse this from your text, but I am at a loss to understand what limits you are referencing.
  • Posted By: Zak S
    "Challenge-oriented play" is a major part of the OSR, but the idea of single-agenda focused play is, as I said on page one, not so big in the OSR.
    Single-agenda focused play, that’s a good way to put it and that’s something I’ve never wanted.
  • Hey, so to clarify on some of the CA stuff that's being thrown about...since it's easy to get confused. AFAIK, Ron's essays suggest that players move between creative agendas all the time, that it's relatively rare and unlikely (even in more focused indie games that are designed to support particular styles of play) that everyone's always doing the same thing, all the way through a campaign. That's why you don't classify specific games or instances of play according to CAs. It just doesn't make sense to think of them that way. Instead, you use CAs to examine long swaths of play (generally involving multiple sessions) and suggest what your play of the game was, in general, about. So you can choose to intentionally focus on a specific CA from the beginning, but that's not necessarily what you're going to end up exhibiting, and play itself is going to vary significantly, even in situations where -- over time -- you exhibit one CA or another.

    This has been a public service announcement.
  • I've heard that description before Jonathan but it sounds kind of wishy washy to me even if it's mostly right. The way I look at it is by looking at the big model with social contract in the outermost ring, CA is an arrow that goes down through it. That's the significant part. It's a social agreement on what the game is about and how it's played, it provides a workable frame for how the players will interact with each other but it doesnt govern the minutia of play.

    So if a gm is running in a "challenge based" fashion he knows he needs to create situations that are challenging to the players and the players know they need to be ready to respond to the challenges. That doesnt mean they have to be prepared to die every second of every game, nor does it necessarily preclude them building some depth into the character by adding facets that pertain to things beyond the challenge of the game. Those things just may not be handled as in depth as the challenge of the game is.

    What you cant really have is someone thinking that the game is being played in a power gaming fashion while someone else thinks the game is challenge based. The power gamer expects the gm to be lobbing up softballs so they can knock them out of the park while someone expecting challenge can get bored if there is none. Either they adjust and accept the way the game is being played or drop out.
  • edited March 2012
    Yes and yes to both of the above. It's a shared understanding that play will be, for a period of time, predominantly challenge-oriented (or whatever).

    There's something I've been mulling a lot about lately, after talking with Zak over email, and Eero's posts here have kinda confirmed that for me. I think there's an additional observation that Ron didn't quite make at the time, because he presupposes a super-democratic level of organization. Games with a strong GM role (and thus a more asymmetrical setup) are easier to manage across agendas because it's the GM that sets the agenda of a particular game (by creating responses to the player actions), and as long as they have one player working with them, it clicks. Players who don't click with the primary agenda are promoted to a sort of co-GM/pseudo NPC status that supports what the others are doing.

    But this is way offtopic at this point.
  • Posted By: TeataineYes and yes to both of the above. It's a shared understanding that play will be, for a period of time,predominantlychallenge-oriented (or whatever).
    I think the OSR usually assumes the engine of the first session (if not it's content--that is, the motive that gets the players started) will be challenge-oriented but that drift is totally acceptable thereafter.
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