OSR A Historical Look at the OSR

I'm also talking about OSE.

I literally just bought three OSE rulebooks brand new from Exalted Funeral, so your comments that "Bummer the only copy of the game is on ebay at $240. I bought the pdf but I'm more of a book person. So thousands of modules but nobody is publishing more of the rule books, we have to wait for each kickstarter" are super confusing to me. The rulebooks are available for sale, not just modules.
Yep, here it is:


They seem to go out of stock quickly though
 

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Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
I'm also talking about OSE.

I literally just bought three OSE rulebooks brand new from Exalted Funeral, so your comments that "Bummer the only copy of the game is on ebay at $240. I bought the pdf but I'm more of a book person. So thousands of modules but nobody is publishing more of the rule books, we have to wait for each kickstarter" are super confusing to me. The rulebooks are available for sale, not just modules.
I mean I see "OSE stuff" on that website, but not the boxed set or the all encompasing rules tomb. Its actually a little confusing figuring out what you want, some many books, so many versions (I think).
 

Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
Yep, here it is:


They seem to go out of stock quickly though
ok, I ordered it, never would have found it without the links :)
 

Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
You know that Oliver LeGrand actually did make a game called Mazes & Minotaurs, which was based off of OD&D, but set in Greek mythology instead of Tolkien-ish fantasy? The first edition was released before OSRIC and the rest of the clones. The blog posts that started this thread references it.

But to answer your larger question, it goes back to the roots of where OSRIC came from. They wanted to publish supplements for 1e AD&D. They weren't looking to make a brand new 1e-ish game. If that's what they'd wanted, there was already Hackmaster, Castles & Crusades, Palladium FRPG, and literally dozens of others, or just hacking up 3e to fit their needs for that matter.
Thats cool, makes sense, I'm not so much into the greek stuff, I need serious, studious wizards. I heard of C&C in passing, I'll check it out.
 

Egon Spengler

"We eat gods for breakfast!"
There are enough little changes in LL that it's more different than I like, but it's definitely a good game.

They're mostly pretty good changes IMO. Expanded weapon and armor lists, a clerical spell progression that looks more like AD&D, and (most especially) MUs getting to add spells to their books as they find them? Threaten me with a good time…
 


rogueattorney

Adventurer
They're mostly pretty good changes IMO. Expanded weapon and armor lists, a clerical spell progression that looks more like AD&D, and (most especially) MUs getting to add spells to their books as they find them? Threaten me with a good time…
I haven't done a real close side-by-side between OSE and B/X. My brief look made it seem like the exact same thing. I'm sure there may be some slight textual nuances here and there, but it certainly appeared spot on to me.

I did do a pretty in-depth side by side between LL and B/X when LL came out however many years ago, and the two big changes that stuck out to me enough to still remember was the significantly higher price for plate mail and the different cleric spell chart that gave cleric spells from first level.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
OSE is basically identical to B/X, plus the option of ascending AC.

Labyrinth Lord is full of little changes, some of which can be surprising toe-stubs when running it.
  • The expanded weapon and armor options strike me as mostly redundant.
  • Clerics getting a spell at 1st level I can take or leave, although them not having one does have some worldbuilding utility in terms of Acolytes as a monster and NPCs. It also makes them less of "just a better Fighter" at 1st level if you're running a one shot.
  • The expanded higher levels (up to 20th) and higher level spells... In some games might be useful.
  • The flipped reaction tables and altered treasure and encounter tables are some of the more annoying bits; they reduce compatibility when running modules written for the original games.
I 100% agree with liking MUs and Elves to be able to add found spells to their books. That was IMO a rare editorial miss on Tom Moldvay's part, and I normally house-rule that one. OSE offers it as a house rule in their Advanced Fantasy rules, overall doing a very nice job implementing an "AD&D, but simpler" set of expanded rules for spell books there.
 

This is exactly what I was discussing. There is nothing more aggravating (IMO) when you're trying to have a conversation than the person who barges in and says a variant of-
"How dare you call it Skilled Play? My game is skilled!"
"How dare you call it OSR? My game is old school!"
"How dare you call it Story Now? My game has stories!"
♫ One of these things is not like the other ones. One of these things doesn't belong. ♫

In specific I'm not aware that anyone talks about lower case "old school renaissance" in any other context, and although you could make a demand like "we want story now" but it's a very rare sentence and sentiment that makes that a demand. Skilled play on the other hand, not used as a proper noun, happens in every conceivable gaming context.

People don't, in my experience, object to the Old School Rennaissance being a thing. They object when OSR supporters try to implicitly claim that all old school gaming is their style rather than that they are one subset of old school gaming; I've very rarely seen the objection crop up as long as the OSR fans stick to the term of art rather than make an implicit grab for the whole of the term "old school" and drop the R. Skilled play calling itself such a generic term feels like an attempt to claim a generic term for themselves. And I've never seen even the most narrative-heavy White Wolf gamers objecting to the specific construct "Story-Games" because it's clearly and obviously a specific term meaning a specific thing.
 


GreyLord

Legend
If it hasn't been posted already, this has been a great resourse-

D&D Retroclones

And still they missed one...

5e Old School.

Available on DMsGuild...

It would probably fall under the category of several various versions (as it replicates ways to play OD&D, BECMI, and AD&D but using the 5e core rulebooks, so those versions but with 5e rules).
 


Generally speaking, when we're discussing what are more or less equivalent to artistic or literary movements, we can accept that there's a difference between romantics and Romantics, so it would be fair to say there's probably a difference between the usage of old school and Old School. Interestingly, it also parallels such movements in other art forms in that each movement is primarily a reaction to frustrations with the previous movement--

Modernism is both a philosophical movement and an art movement that arose from broad transformations in Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement reflected a desire for the creation of new forms of art, philosophy, and social organization which reflected the newly emerging industrial world, including features such as urbanization, new technologies, and war. Artists attempted to depart from traditional forms of art, which they considered outdated or obsolete. The poet Ezra Pound's 1934 injunction to "Make it New" was the touchstone of the movement's approach.

Modernist innovations included abstract art, the stream-of-consciousness novel, montage cinema, atonal and twelve-tone music, and divisionist painting. Modernism explicitly rejected the ideology of realism[a][2][3] and made use of the works of the past by the employment of reprise, incorporation, rewriting, recapitulation, revision and parody.Modernism - Wikipedia[c][4] Modernism also rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, and many modernists also rejected religious belief.[5][d] A notable characteristic of modernism is self-consciousness concerning artistic and social traditions, which often led to experimentation with form, along with the use of techniques that drew attention to the processes and materials used in creating works of art.

Realism in the arts is generally the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding speculative fiction and supernatural elements. The term is often used interchangeably with naturalism, even though these terms are not synonymous. Naturalism, as an idea relating to visual representation in Western art, seeks to depict objects with the least possible amount of distortion and is tied to the development of linear perspective and illusionism in Renaissance Europe.[1] Realism, while predicated upon naturalistic representation and a departure from the idealization of earlier academic art, refers to a specific art historical movement that originated in France in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1848. With artists like Gustave Courbet capitalizing on the mundane, ugly or sordid, realism was motivated by the renewed interest in the common man and the rise of leftist politics.[2] The Realist painters rejected Romanticism, which had come to dominate French literature and art, with roots in the late 18th century.

Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism, idealization of nature, suspicion of science and industrialization, and glorification of the past with a strong preference for the medieval rather than the classical.[1] It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution,[2] the social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity.[3] It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography,[4] education,[5] chess, social sciences, and the natural sciences.[6] It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing conservatism, liberalism, radicalism, and nationalism.[7]

The movement emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as fear, horror and terror, and awe — especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublime and beauty of nature.[8][9] It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, but also spontaneity as a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu). In contrast to the Rationalism and Classicism of the Enlightenment, Romanticism revived medievalism[10] and elements of art and narrative perceived as authentically medieval in an attempt to escape population growth, early urban sprawl, and industrialism.

The more precise characterization and specific definition of Romanticism has been the subject of debate in the fields of intellectual history and literary history throughout the 20th century, without any great measure of consensus emerging. That it was part of the Counter-Enlightenment, a reaction against the Age of Enlightenment, is generally accepted in current scholarship. Its relationship to the French Revolution, which began in 1789 in the very early stages of the period, is clearly important, but highly variable depending on geography and individual reactions. Most Romantics can be said to be broadly progressive in their views, but a considerable number always had, or developed, a wide range of conservative views,[39] and nationalism was in many countries strongly associated with Romanticism, as discussed in detail below.
All Blurbs from Wikipedia

The takeaway here is that each of these movements is reacting to and rejecting another movement in their construction of their own ideas (with post modernism rejecting the basic premises of modernism in turn), and it makes sense to think of RPGs which are cultural and artistic productions, as following a similar pattern. The appeal of the OSR as reaching back to simpler time that may have never existed is actually pretty in line with the ideals of the romantics and how they typified pre-enlightenment art-- but of course this doesn't invalidate the romantics either.

Its sort of an interesting idea, because you could even assert that the OSR, understood as an aesthetic movement, is trying to capture an idea that they once experienced but feel like has been lost in the movement that followed the old school. Another element of what's being discussed is the notion of whether that notion of "old school" is even really coherent or descriptive when there were games that were already leaning more narrative prior to what we usually think of as 'trad' and parallel to what we think of as 'old school' but when we discuss art and literature, we frequently discuss works that seem to precede the movement they seem to fit best, whether there's historical evidence for influence or not. But movements aren't all encompassing either, there are always people on the fringes who have different values than the zeitgeist (Gygax complaining about Dungeons and Beavers comes to mind, or the stuff coming out about Arneson that suggests he had what we would regard as a more modern sensibility in his gaming.)

I studied Literature in my undergrad years (prior to librarianship) and this all feels acutely familiar, but without the years of critical background clearly identifying (and fighting over) each movement, in place.
 
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Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I studied Literature in my undergrad years (prior to librarianship) and this all feels acutely familiar, but without the years of critical background clearly identifying (and fighting over) each movement, in place.
Good Post. Yeah, folks are really kind of just starting to dig into this kind of study, like in The Elusive Shift, which is apparently intended to be part of a series of books on RPG Theory from MIT Press.
 

Aldarc

Legend
The initial goal of the OSRIC was to get 1e AD&D back in print. I was in discussions with Matt and Stuart and the rest about whether and to what extent people were going to use what they were working on to make products that clashed with our sensibilities, and the conclusion was that people were going to definitely do that and that in the end, it wouldn't matter if we got 1e back in print so that the creators we knew would make product we liked would have the opportunity to do it with the rule system we liked.

I don't mean to speak for Matt, but my interpretation of the Old School Primer at the time was that he was introducing the "head space" to be in for people to appreciate the rule set he was selling - Swords & Wizardry. I didn't see it as a broad manifesto for old school gaming, but rather an introduction to the specific OD&D clone he had just published. I think that's pretty clear from the second paragraph of his Primer:

Personally, I think that if people want to make games conforming to the style laid out in Matt's primer, that's all good. For example, I'm really intrigued by Ultraviolet Grasslands and the faux-old school game Encounter Critical (which actually preceded OSCRIC, Matt's Primer and the OSR as a whole by a couple years) is one of my favorite things ever. But I don't think that was the original intent.
Mulling over something, particularly given what you say here. There is Matt Finch's "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming," which you see as a general primer about playing Swords & Wizardry, but now one of the most commonly referenced OSR primers is Ben Milton and Steven Lumpkin's "Principa Apocrypha." I'm curious if there is a shift in place here between OSR as playing old school D&D and OSR as a method or style of play.

Edit: At first glance, there seems to be a 10-year-gap between the former (2008) and the latter (2018).
 
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Egon Spengler

"We eat gods for breakfast!"
Mulling over something, particularly given what you say here. There is Matt Finch's "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming," which you see as a general primer about playing Swords & Wizardry, but now one of the most commonly referenced OSR primers is Ben Milton and Steven Lumpkin's "Principa Apocrypha." I'm curious if there is a shift in place here between OSR as playing old school D&D and OSR as a method or style of play.

Oh, absolutely. Ben Milton is vocally in the camp that says "OSR" is principles, not mechanics, and he most definitely backs up his position with a robust œuvre of publications.
 

rogueattorney

Adventurer
Oh, absolutely. Ben Milton is vocally in the camp that says "OSR" is principles, not mechanics, and he most definitely backs up his position with a robust œuvre of publications.
Which just goes back to what I’ve been saying in this thread and was largely the entire point of the 5 part blog series that started this thread… The “OSR” of now is not the “OSR” of 13 years ago.

It’s largely different people making game product for different purposes. No need to look beyond Milton’s utter bafflement at so much of the 1e DMG in his “Read the DMG” series to know that he and the makers of OSRIC were coming from completely different places in making their games.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
Alternatively, old school ended when the majority of players started focusing on playing one character per campaign and expecting that character to be the protagonist of an epic narrative. (Which appears to have happened at some point between 1975 and 1985.)
That shift took place between AD&D and AD&D 2E.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
That shift took place between AD&D and AD&D 2E.
Hmmm...I never played 2e, but in 1e, in the 80s, plenty of us had favorite characters that we kinda expected to continue living. Finding a temple to pay a bunch of gold to for a res was a thing in many 1e games at the time.

The big difference to me (not saying same is true for all), but in the 80s we would bring our characters from one DMs game to another. And most DMs were would just piece run a module or an adventure they prepared without any long story arcs. The whole adventure path wasn't a thing in the groups I played with.
 

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