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.


  1. "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." ----There's the truest words said on the subject right there! Thank you.

  2. I'm always amazed at how much people just like to argue over a subject they already agree upon. It's really quite douchey. Sort of akin to all of these OSR blogs that use white type on black background.

  3. Hi James. So great to see you posting. Missed your posts. I don't have a dog in this fight but still wanted to say howdy. And also, I am a fan of the word, wankery. It's a good word.

    Happy Halloween & Boogie Boogie :-)

    1. Hi Spooky Whisk! Happy Halloween and you're right! Wankery is a fine word!

    2. Hey James - Came by today to say Happy Christmas and wishing you an Oogie Boogie, New Year.

  4. There's been drama? Again? People need to chill out.

  5. Testify brudda. testify. The number of adventures and supplements I can pillage for my home campaign use borders oon overwhelming. The one page dungeons alone could keep a campaign going for years

  6. "Alas, I was merely a "Saint of the OSR,"

    Yeah, but I bet your clerics have a blast.

    I've read some of the drama. I don't get it. People need to spend more time playing their games and less time with injecting politics into the hobby.

  7. I recall the OSR started long before 2009, my poor memory wants to say 2004-06.

    It's a big tent to me, but do recall a few of the original "crafters" were to me the worst of "D&D was the one true game and here is how you play it" know it all crowd based on their forum postings. That is my recollection of the original distancing.

    Funny some of that crowd did not consider the original materials pure enough.

    I also recall it was originally a way to get out of print material "re-printed" while avoiding copyright infringement.

    I'm so glad it has become more than that and has revived older style play and less heavy rules sets.

    I like "Old School Revival," fewer key strokes and easier to spell.