OSR A Historical Look at the OSR


B/X Known World
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.
Sure. Individual groups vary. But the shift occurred in the rules themselves in that edition change. Compare the expectations presented in AD&D vs AD&D 2E. 2E is far more story driven / focused by default.

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I don’t think 3.x is a streamlined MERP, having played both (and Rolemaster and Spacemaster).
MERP clearly influenced 3e (the classes with skills system, rolling higher is always better, etc.). The influence of MERP (and RM) should be no surprise, given that Monte Cook had worked previously for ICE. I was a huge MERP (and RM) fan back in the day and I immediately discerned the influence when I first read the 3e PHB twenty years ago.

But 3e was definitely not a "streamlined" version of anything, including MERP, given (among other things) the existence of feats. MERP was (and remains) easier and faster to run simply because it has no built in "exception-based" mechanic.

(For an excellent updated version of MERP, by the way, check out Against the Darkmaster...)


I was deeply involved in the initial retro-clone phase of the OSR.
From our perspective, we won. We got what we wanted. Not much else to do other than game.

Many thanks to Rogueattorney for this insightful and informative post!

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that WotC's decision to release hardback versions of the core 1e AD&D books (and the collections of S1-4 and A1-4) in 2012, as well as subsequently to make available many long out-of-print TSR works (as PDFs + POD books), was (at least in part) motivated by the success of the OSR. OSRIC, S&W, and the others showed that there was a pent-up demand for these products. Now we live in a world where these products are readily available. We owe that, I think, to the OSR. OSRIC's success has made it largely unnecessary (but not completely: the PDF and Wiki of the rules are still free, and OSRIC explains some rules, e.g., initiative, far more clearly than the original AD&D books).

I was far more distantly involved in the OSR in its “early years” (really more of a bystander). (I do have at a post at Dragonsfoot in what I believe is the first thread in which the term “Old School Renaissance” was used, coined – appropriately enough – by an anonymous poster. I also developed some house rules for S&W that eventually were incorporated into Crypts and Things.) So I found the "historical look" blog posts linked in the OP quite interesting, especially the last two part. In case anyone is interested (not that there's any reason you should be!), I have some reflections on my experience with the OSR at my blog (included on the list of “pivotal early OSR blogs” in part 5 of the “historical look”): Reflection on the Old School Renaissance


Maybe you need to start deciding on the traits of a OSR game before deciding on when it ended. Simpler combat, high chance of death?
2e core books were fundamentally the same as 1e core books and I used 1e modules with the 2e ruleset.

Probably a better exercise for the bigger youtubers who are leading the OSR movement and have thought about it more.
You mean OS I think, OSR are newer titles. Generally once WOTC bought out TSR it's considered the end of the OS era.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)

You mean OS I think, OSR are newer titles. Generally once WOTC bought out TSR it's considered the end of the OS era.
You might want to check out the first post and the linked series of articles. OSR as a term has certainly evolved over time, having started out purely as a revival of interest in, re-examination of play with, and the retrocloning of, older titles like AD&D 1st ed.


Well, once Justin LaNasa loses the rights to everything TSR-related after his WotC lawsuit goes badly for him, you can bet he's going to try and paint himself as the originator of everything labled "OSR" as well. - He created a company called OSR Games in 2021 and if it's anything like what he did with the TSR label, he's going to shakedown every OSR producer and mansplain that if you're using HIS brand (namely, anything with OSR in the title) you're going to have to cut LaNasa a percentage of your profits or give him unrestricted access to your social media to post like he's some sort of mob godfather overseeing the whole industry.

That's what he tried doing with TSR in June of last year. He told everyone who had a Facebook page that either he got to post (without restrictions) on everyone's Facebook page OR they had to remove the "TSR" definition from their Facebook profile. It was ridiculous. He painted himself in the emails as if he were the ORIGINAL TSR Hobbies and the original creator of GenCon etc and that if you didn't comply he was going to take people to court.... and It wasn't until people started shoving back against him that Justin LaNasa finally backed down off of all of his lies after a while. Still, it was that he tried to get away with it that started the landslide against him and his company's shady dealings in the first place. Classic bullying tactic.

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