OSR A Historical Look at the OSR

Aldarc

Legend
The split is in fact threefold. The forum ODD74 is for fans of the original game and possibly Holmes edition. The forum The Piazza is mostly for fans of BX / BECMI. Dragonsfoot is mostly for fans of AD&D 1e (and 2e).
There's also more to it than that, as there is also the wave of OSR creators who aren't publishing modified retroclones, but, rather, are designing original works in the spirit of OSR design principles.

I do agree that the vast majority of OSR retro-clones are B/X / BECMI based. AD&D does have OSRIC and Advanced Labyrinth Lord. But many OSR games are based on the three little white books of Original D&D that came in a small box.
I know there are OSR games based on more than B/X / BECMI, but the latter has drastically outpaced the former in the market. I barely hear a peep about OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord either here or in the wider community discourse.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
There's also more to it than that, as there is also the wave of OSR creators who aren't publishing modified retroclones, but, rather, are designing original works in the spirit of OSR design principles.
The thing about this is they aren't. They are designing original works around imagined OSR design principles.

EDIT: I need to stop doing this. I was introduced to DW as OSR and it rankled me. Leaving the statement for full disclosure but I retract it.
Dungeon World, for example, isn't built around how people played D&D back in the day, whatever the introduction says. It is built around how people imagine it was played as seen through a narrative, fiction first lens that has little to do with what happened at tables the 70s and early 80s.

Scrolling through the OSR list on DriveThru shows you a few prominent retroclones (reorganizations of original rules) and simulacra (retroclones with more heavily tweaked rules), and a host of games that use the OSR label to gain attention for their distinct visual design or one particular mechanical innovation. That isn't to say those games can't be interesting-- and I think a lot of neat game design can be found in the OSR community-- but I don't think it is fair to say that those games are "old school" in any meaningful way.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
The thing about this is they aren't. They are designing original works around imagined OSR design principles. Ddungeon World, for example, isn't built around how people played D&D back in the day, whatever the introduction says. It is built around how people imagine it was played as seen through a narrative, fiction first lens that has little to do with what happened at tables the 70s and early 80s.
Dungeon World, for example, is irrelevant here. I don't know why you bring Dungeon World up this way, and I find it something of an annoying nuissance. I don't think many people, if any, consider Dungeon World part of the OSR movement. It's undoubtedly inspired by the renewed interest in older editions of D&D (i.e., explicitly the D&D Moldvay Basic Set) and OSR - as the OSR movement was picking up greater community awareness at this point - but I don't think that Dungeon World's authors ever intended itself to be part of the OSR movement or based on its design principles. I don't think it ever claims to play like how people played D&D back in the day. To the best of my knowledge, you are the only person I see bringing it up as if it was.

Here is what the Dungeon World introduction says:
Dungeon World is a world of fantastic adventure. A world of magic, gods and demons, of good and evil, law and chaos. Brave heroes venture into the most dangerous corners of the land in search of gold and glory.

Adventurers take many shapes in Dungeon World. The races of elves, men, dwarves, and halflings all have their heroes. Some are near-invincible beasts of battle encased in iron armor. Others are more mysterious, conjuring up and wielding the mighty forces of magic. Treasure and glory are sought by a holy cleric, a tricky thief, a mighty paladin, and more.

It isn’t all easy heroics and noble bravery, though. Every time the ranger guides his friends through the ancient woods there are a hundred things waiting to bite his head off. Slavering hordes of goblin troops, maybe. Or is this the Cursed Wood, where dwells the Gray Witch? Or the throngs of hateful dead, looking to drag a meaty corpse back to their lair? Scary, sure, but there’s treasure, too. More gold and jewels and magic lost to man have fallen between the cracks in the world than you can imagine. Who better to retrieve it than a band of stalwart heroes?

You and your friends are those heroes. You go where others can’t or won’t. There are monstrous things lurking in the world. Are you ready to face them?
Am I missing something about Dungeon World describing itself as old school or its design principles? Because the design principles of Dungeon World are practically lifted directly from Apocalypse World, and the writers say as much too.

Scrolling through the OSR list on DriveThru shows you a few prominent retroclones (reorganizations of original rules) and simulacra (retroclones with more heavily tweaked rules), and a host of games that use the OSR label to gain attention for their distinct visual design or one particular mechanical innovation. That isn't to say those games can't be interesting-- and I think a lot of neat game design can be found in the OSR community-- but I don't think it is fair to say that those games are "old school" in any meaningful way.
Neither would I, because I see a difference between "old school gaming" and the "old school renaissance," which is a modern revisionist movement in gaming. This article that has been passed around a lot - The Six Cultures of Gaming - for example, distinguishes between "Classic" (Gygaxian old school), "Traditional" (exemplified in Tracy and Laura Hickman's D&D and Sandy Peterson's CoC) and "Old School Renaissance."
 
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Mezuka

Hero
There's also more to it than that, as there is also the wave of OSR creators who aren't publishing modified retroclones, but, rather, are designing original works in the spirit of OSR design principles.


I know there are OSR games based on more than B/X / BECMI, but the latter has drastically outpaced the former in the market. I barely hear a peep about OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord either here or in the wider community discourse.
Correct. The Piazza is where you find those who create new content in the spirit of the BECMI rules and the Mystara setting. Their magazine is called Threshold. Dragonsfoot members create new content for AD&D1e. Mostly in the form of new adventures. Not sure if they do that on ODD74.
 

Mezuka

Hero
I know there are OSR games based on more than B/X / BECMI, but the latter has drastically outpaced the former in the market. I barely hear a peep about OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord either here or in the wider community discourse.
OSRIC, AL&L and For Glory and Gold (2e) are pretty much dead in the water since WoTC opened up DMsGuild and allowed pdfs and POD of old books. Even Dark Dungeons, which was a retro-clone of the BECMI Rules Cyclopedia isn't getting any traction anymore.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
You're quite right, though at least some of those people were modern indy games proponents (one in particular caught my eye), and I'm not sure calling them "the dominant style" is on target (5e people doing it? Absolutely).
Just to clarify, by “dominant style”, I mean 5e or whatever is the latest thing WotC published; or, if not a system, then an assumption of trad or OC/neo-trad play. I otherwise agree with you on the rest.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Dungeon World, for example, is irrelevant here. I don't know why you bring Dungeon World up this way, and I find it something of an annoying nuissance.
You are right. It's a personal bugbear of mine because I was introduced to DW as a prime example of the nuOSR by someone, and it rankled. I'll edit the comment to avoid pulling the discussion off track.
Neither would I, because I see a difference between "old school gaming" and the "old school renaissance," which is a modern revisionist movement in gaming. This article that has been passed around a lot - The Six Cultures of Gaming - for example, distinguishes between "Classic" (Gygaxian old school), "Traditional" (exemplified in Tracy and Laura Hickman's D&D and Sandy Peterson's CoC) and "Old School Renaissance."
That's an interesting distinction. I usually just refer to the mid 80s thru 90s as the "middle school" since a lot of the mechanical design remained focused on similar things while the "story" was shifting.
 


kenada

Legend
Supporter
You are right. It's a personal bugbear of mine because I was introduced to DW as a prime example of the nuOSR by someone, and it rankled. I'll edit the comment to avoid pulling the discussion off track.
The fifth article in the series linked in the OP lists Dungeon World as Nu-OSR. I can see how it could be mistaken as such (though I’d argue it’s not a particularly good emulation of the “D&D” experience).
 

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