Thursday, October 2, 2014

A few points & observations regarding the "history" & meaning of the OSR

In response to some of the recent bullshit:

1. It was gamers who were hostile to old school play, that first started referring to the OSR as a "Movement." Personally, I've always considered it an Event.

2. Just like it was people hostile to the nascent OSR, who started calling James Malisewski the "pope of the osr," then pretended he claimed that title for himself. Just so they could have a figure-head, with which to attack the "movement."

Alas, I was merely a "Saint of the OSR," (per Johnathan Bingham) and escaped their hostility.

3. Back in 2009-2012, when I was still quite active on the scene, most of the non-commercial, online OSR related action, by which, I mean DIY D&D works & commentary by people who considered themselves OSR gamers/publishers/enthusiasts, took place in the blogosphere. But, not all.

4. The previous observation is not meant to disparage, or marginalize gamers who considered themselves "old school," but not OSR. Or, those who never got into blogging.

It's certainly not meant to exclude members of the communities of Dragonsfoot, the ODD Forum and Knights & Knaves, all of whom put out a ton of DIY D&D stuff.

It is meant to acknowledge the fact that, at least at the time and almost certainly now, to some extent, many of those worthies eschewed the OSR designation and some were rather vitriolic in their criticisms.

5. While TSR era D&D and it's clones, derivatives, and private mash-ups were far and
away the most popular focus, there were always bloggers talking about Encounter Critical, Mazes & Minotaurs, Star Frontiers, Traveller, Runequest, Barbarians of Lemuria and various & sundry other games. Oh, and DCC, because, DAMN!

6. For the zillionth time, the number of retro, pseudo & neo clones, were and are, dwarfed by the number of modules, accessories, play aids and what-not, which the OSR has produced.

7. Back in the day, OSR meant Old School Renaissance. A few people decided the "R" should stand for "revival." Mostly in response to further criticism from "outsiders." Personally, I don't care what it means to you, or if you use the term at all.

8. But, if you decide you need to define the term for the rest of us, you're really missing the point of that brilliant, spontaneous energy that burst upon the gaming scene and changed it forever!

9. As to when the OSR started, what games are "cannon," etc., Fuck all of that noise!

Your personal opinion on the subject? Great! By all means, tell me what you think. As long as you don't take it too seriously.

Just don't try to tell me what to think. Because, the OSR, whatever the fuck it is, got along fine for years, without "gatekeepers," "authorities," "hierophants" or any sort of pseudo-academic wankery.

(edit: All right. There's been wankery. But it's usually been mis-characterized.)

10. To my mind, the OSR is a beautifully abstract thing. Kind of like TSR era D&D. It works best when you let it be what it is, when you don't concern yourself with other people's "badwrongfun," and when you don't grasp greedily at it, or try to over-define it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Buying D&D Over, and Over, and.....

That sumbitch Joseph Goodman!

First, he makes this utterly kick-ass game, Dungeon Crawl Classics, which the Gamer has to have because it's so fucking awesome!

Then, he puts out a limited, foil cover edition, which, the Collector just has to have because it's so kick-ass and the complimentary spines will look cool as fuck, on his bookshelf.

But wait, there's more!

So, I've already got two copies of DCC, when while putting out the second printing of the game, Mr. Goodman also decides to start releasing some limited edition covers!

And after buying the first several modules for the game, you know, the ones with the covers reproduced in the rulebook, the Collector really, really, wanted that first alternate cover edition!

Can you blame me? I mean look at this thing!

Hugh's dead, baby! Hugh's dead!

But, I put off buying it for a long time, until yesterday, when I saw there were still some copies floating around. I pulled the trigger and FRP Games just informed me that it's on the way! That groovy alternate spine is going to look real nice, next to the other two.

Of course, it's been often remarked upon, how OSR folks keep buying D&D, over and over, again. There's certainly some truth to that.

For instance, I have two copies of the AD&D PH and DMG, yet I also have two copies of OSRIC. Hell, I did have three, but I sold my Lulu HC, because I didn't need it and Lulu makes shitty HC's, anyway.

I've got B & X and a combo B/X in one. And Labyrinth Lord.

I've got the LotFP Grindhouse, and sooner or later I'll buy Mr. Raggi's latest edition of the game and I'm kicking myself for not buying Noble Knight's last copy of the Original LotFP Box Set.

And Swords & Wizardry! I've got Swords & Wizardry rulebooks out the wazoo!

And Delving Deeper! And...

The Gamer/Collector looks upon his groovy bookshelf and sees that it is Good!

But, goddammit I'm not going to buy the DCC Easley Cover!

Damn! It's kinda awesome, though, ain't it?

And yes, I'm aware of the Slipcase edition.

Fuck! Now I'm just having silly, silly thoughts.

Monday, March 31, 2014

If you're relatively new to the OSR, you may have missed one of the best gaming blogs, ever!


Last night I was reading Carcosa by the light of psychedelic candles, smoking some incredibly good shit, had Hawkwind playing in the background and the light from a muted Adventure Time episode dancing at the edge of my vision...

And then...

Then I started sipping some mushroom tea and reading Erol Otus' Booty & the Beasts, when I fell into a deep trance-like reverie and was visited by the spirits of Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith, and Dave Hargrave, who began speaking of ancient DMing secrets, all at once, as we flew over Barsoom, but I was able to keep each voice and train of thought distinct...

And then...

Then I came back to myself and rushed to the keyboard, intending to write down as much of their occult wisdom as I could possibly remember...

And then...

Then I felt an immense, but not unpleasant pressure building within my mind and like, all three of those masters suddenly spoke as one...

And then...

Then I found myself typing the following words:

Go read Planet Algol!
"Currently there's several Planet Algols in existence. There's the AD&D Planet Algol campaign that I DM every second sunday or so in Vancouver. There's the generic oldschool D&D Planet Algol booklet I'm working on that's based on and written for my AD&D campaign. There's also Sean Will's Planet Algol campaign in the UK that was originally Swords & Wizardry/Savage Swords of Athanor but is now a Barbarians of Lemuria game, and is also more gonzo than my own campaign. And than there's my own gonzo ideas which surface on this blog, such as Kurt Russel related magic items and Blue Oyster Cult based campaign elements."  
Blair on the Planet Algol blog, March 13, 2010.

Blair has yet to publish the Planet Algol book, but there's more than enough resources at his blog to run, or just read and enjoy the setting. I do hope he begins blogging again, one day.

If you've never visited Planet Algol, you're in for one wild fucking ride!

Blog Start.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Map

Working on some color versions of my map icons. Dropboxed, with link on the left.

Created in GIMP. I haven't made a map in over a year and I'm woefully out of practice. Not sure how far I can push the "icon style," but I think I'll do some tinkering over the next few weeks.

Monday, March 24, 2014

City State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter

I rarely do Kickstarters, anymore. There's various hassles, too damn many of the things, deadlines to kick in, etc.

But, this is the City State of the Invincible Overlord! I've already got a ton of old JG stuff, but a cleaned up version with a new map would be a nice addition to the old gaming library. At any rate, for those who don't have any of the Wilderlands stuff...


Friday, February 28, 2014

For 3 or More Adults, Ages 10 and Up

I'm still working on Cultic Greyhawk, but in the meantime, I'm about to start another campaign. My 10 year old son will be playing, so I wanted something a little less hardcore than what I'm envisioning for Greyhawk.

We rolled up PC's today and the three players have formed a party consisting of:

A 1st lvl Fighter.
A 1st lvl Thief.
And a 1st lvl Elf.

Heh. No Cleric.

My son's playing the Fighter and immediately decided he was Lawful. "I want to be a good guy!"

I decided to go with B/X. I've never ran it, but it should be perfect for introducing my son to the game. I almost went with S&W Whitebox, but I want his first campaign to be a TSR edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cultic Greyhawk Pt. 1

It's the damnedest thing. 

So, for the past three or four years I've been toying with running Greyhawk. Keep saying I'm going to do it.
Never pulling the trigger.

So, what draws me to Mr. Gygax's campaign?

It's not the history. Though, I like the history.

It's not the maps. Though, Darlene's Maps Kick all kinds of Ass.

Part of it's the strong ties to AD&D. And 1e Core's Implied Setting.

And the gods.

My favorite D&D pantheon, hands down.

Let's have an excerpt from an old blog post o' mine:

Shit! I better just quote the whole damn thing! (With a few edits...)

Gygaxian Supernaturalism - Or, What Happens to Hommlet's Rufus at 8th Level?
The Gods are Watching You!

From T1:
"Rufus Is also lawful good, and when he reaches 8th level he has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount‘s behalf."
Some Quotes from the DMG:
Page 81
"Why then the increase in hit points? Because these reflect both the actual physical ability of the character to withstand damage - as indicated by constitution bonuses- and a commensurate increase in such areas as skill in combat and similar life-or-death situations, the "sixth sense" which warns the individual of some otherwise unforeseen events, sheer luck,and the fantastic provisions of magical protections and/or divine protection. (Emphasis mine.)"
Page 25
Whether or not the character actively professes some deity, he or she will have an alignment and serve one or more deities of this general alignment indirectly and unbeknownst to the character.
         Page 79
By means of skill, luck, magical protections, quirks of fate and the aid of supernatural powers, the character making his or her saving throw takes none or only part of the indicated results - fireball damage, poisoning,being turned to stone, or whatever. (emphasis mine.)
There's more relevant material, such as that involving alignment languages, the penalties for changing alignment, etc. Hell, it's "passim" throughout the AD&D rulebooks!
One more quote, from Deities & Demigods, this time. Page 9:
Otherwise, the accumulation of hit points and the ever-greater abilities and better saving throws of characters represent the aid supplied by supernatural forces.
So. The supernatural realms and relations with deities are very, very important in AD&D. And an integral part of an AD&D campaign world.
Now, back to Rufus.

Almost 8th level! One step away from Lord. He's already gotten 3/2 attacks. Rufus is about to become a Superhero!
Rufus Is also lawful good, and when he reaches 8th level he has been instructed to return to Verbobonc for special service in the Viscount‘s behalf.
Now, Rufus wouldn't know what 8th level means. Would he? As you might suspect, I'm going to make the case that yes, 8th Level would indeed mean something to Rufus.
Gygaxian Supernaturalism! (With Thanks to Mr. Maliszewski.)
He might refer to it as becoming a Superhero. I don't think the text states that Rufus is a follower of the Cugel fellow, though Burne is. For the moment, let's assume Rufus is as well. It's likely, the cult of St. Cuthbert would have it's own title for 8th level. Or, maybe Superhero is more widely used.
The point is, that in a world where Leveled Characters are so closely married to the gods and supernatural powers, a Fighter as high as 8th level, especially one as well connected as Rufus, would have an idea of where he stood with his god, church and the Greater Supernatural Realm.
So, what might the Viscount have said to Rufus?
"Return, when you have witnessed the Vision of the Cugel at Noon."
Or, something.
Being a leveled Fighter, serving a deity, perforce, might be somewhat akin to being part of a Mystery Cult. Take structured training into account and Rufus may well be, just that! An initiate of a warrior brotherhood. The Cult of St. Cuthbert!

Rufus would know when he had crossed an important threshold. Not only is that the point at which Rufus was ordered to return, but it was understood that he would recognize his entry into 8th level. It could simply be that every level would be considered important. Or, maybe just every one above, say 5th.
At what point does a Fighter start noticing that he's a pawn of the gods?
Hell, he's probably been having dreams, nightmares and visions, sent by St. Cuthbert, and/or Planetars, lesser servants, etc., for quite some time. Not to mention nasty, demonic beings, or deliciously enticing ones, trying to make him swerve from his LG path.
Most gods aren't the type to be so altruistic and helpful, without ever being more noticeable. Or, demanding! Characters serving under protest, as it were, might be subject to more subtle treatment. Or, not! Those more involved with Churches and Organizations, might also only see signs of the deity, "out of the corner of their eye," as it were. Or, they might find themselves more directly put-upon.
Rufus' deity has been helping him out with Hit Points, Saving Throws, etc., to the point, where Rufus is 8th Level! He lives and moves in a supernatural reality and the gods have a vested interest, however small, in his doings. PC Level ties into this relationship directly! While it's easier to see with Clerics and MU's, as a Fighter gains levels, he's also becoming more tightly enmeshed within the schemes and powers of his deity. Whether he wants to, or not!
It makes perfect sense, that he would be able to see and track the progress of this relationship, at least somewhat. And that he would notice the changes his relations with the divine, were having upon him. His church, certainly his deity would know!
Established signs, omens, etc., not to mention the possibility of initiatory rituals of a sort, would fit in just perfectly.
Maybe the journey to visit the Viscount is a ruse and the Powers that Be, want to get Rufus out of Hommlet, so they can test his worthiness, to operate at 8th Level.
More on this shortly.