Where I stand with the OSR

Originally posted over at UKRoleplayers.com where they’ve just discovered the joy of the Old School Renaissance, in this thread
Renaissance / Nostalgia / Whatever

I’ve followed the OSR with joy since Neil Ford introduced me to it a couple of years ago. Heck I even now own copies of the items of love and dedication that are OSRIC, Sword and Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord. The later is my retro-clone of choice and even got run at Furnace recently .

My interest in the OSR was intensified when people from that scene started mentioning my game OpenQuest (OQ)on their blogs, For example Akratisia’s excellent “Akratic Wizardry” blog has a series of posts about OQ. Mainly because not unnaturally people are saying OQ is a bit of a RQ retroclone. Part of me agrees with them, part of me doesn’s (see below)

Things I love about the OSR
The amazing labours of love books that are coming out of it -I’m bought “Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-Playing” for the amazing cover and the unique re-imagining of old D&D.
The fanzines – just looking at Fight ON! made me want to do The OpenQuester (originally named ‘Turn left’) for OpenQuest.
The forums/blogs where it’s obvious that people are playing these games with great love and more importantly FUN!

Things I’m not so sure about
The obvious retreading of old ground in some of the modules and really piss poor production values (Dark Dungeons I’m looking at you here – go to the trouble of recreating 300 odd pages of the Cyclopaedia and then fill it with really dank, dark horrible clip art, I’m out of here!)

Things I hate (when they occasionally rear their ugly head)

The obsessive fixation on getting the rules right.
The niggling when creators who are doing well move on from the happy clappy free/low cost model to a slightly higher priced but better for the author financially business model.

Is OQ the OSR RQ?
Part of me likes to think that OQ is a fast, easy to play, modern D100 system and others agree with me. Heck John Ossoway wouldn’t be writing River of Heaven and Rik Kershaw Moore The Company if they didn’t. But there’s also a part of me that says ‘Hell yes!’. The clue’s in the back cover :) One of my design goals for OQ was to make something that I could crack out the Gloranthan Classics and play with my kids (or interested kidults :) ) in my doting old age, with very little modification. If you are using definitions its ‘Tribute’ game to RQ2/3/Stormbringer 1-3, as well as being modern D100. OQ modules will reflect this diversity. The Savage North is very Old Skool, while the upcoming Life and Death is very modern story telling and Empire’s Rising reminds me of the RQ3 renaissance adventures.

The British OSR
What I’m having most fun with is looking back at the old British Roleplaying materials of the 80s; TSR UK modules, WHFRP 1st Ed, old White Dwarf and Imagine Magazines and off course the Fighting Fantasy books. There’s a strong arguement that the British OSR experience was fundamentally different because we were exposed to different influences;

http://fightingfantasist.blogspot.com/2 … -here.html

This is not just rosy nostalgia on my part. There’s a lot of really good practice in those old modules/books that’s worth looking at and bringing into my D101 games fantasy releases.

Inspired by this I’m going to be producing a series of modules under the banner of ‘Albion Adventures’.

You can read about my on going adventures in Old Skool land here on this blog.

6 thoughts on “Where I stand with the OSR

  1. I have a knee-jerk aversion to the “movementarian” aspects of the OSR, but there’s good work being done, and it’s nice to have some people to talk to about this stuff for a change. πŸ™‚

  2. I think it’s wonderful to have some spotlight on the British experience. Just last week I broke out Warlock of Firetop Mountain and had a blast. More OSR from Old Blightly, please! πŸ™‚

  3. Growing up in the hobby I always loved the British products. I much preferred White Dwarf over Dragon. I played my fair share of first edition Warhammer (and would have played a lot more if I could have convinced my gaming group at the time). The whole “grim and perilous” vibe took hold in my psyche and never let go. I salute your old-school efforts, Newt!

  4. I’m in broad agreement with the points you make here, Newt.

    Also, the TSR UK modules, White Dwarf, the Fighting Fantasy books, etc., were quite popular in Canada in the 1980s. Perhaps the Commonwealth connection was to explain.

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