OSR Is there room in modern gaming for the OSR to bring in new gamers?

Emerikol

Adventurer
OSR style gaming is one flavor of gaming. It's like saying "can I get more customers if I sell chocolate ice cream". The answer is almost surely yes. The OSR being out there will add players to the hobby.

The bigger question for WotC is what they should do to maximize new players. Then it is not so clear. Endless debates can erupt about what the sweet spot is for gaming. I likely think properly presented that OSR gaming would be more popular than many on here might think but I'm still pretty sure it wouldn't be the absolute most popular style.

So are you helping the hobby in general by running good OSR style games? Yes absolutely. Good games always help the hobby regardless of the style. If you can help people discover their own tastes and you present it in a good manner you are doing good.
 

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Emerikol

Adventurer
And Jack, I too prefer your style of play when it comes to hard earned victories. But I agree with the others that it is not to everyone's taste. I know people who really do just want to "shine" and show off their cool powers and look good doing it. If they are having fun it's hard to argue they are doing it wrong. In fact that holds for any playstyle. Fun is the objective wth a game right?
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
If someone is offended that @Jack Daniel enjoys a particular type of hard-earned victory, they can speak for themselves. This is the sort of thing I was getting at. One rarely sees this sort of policing done to trad and OC/neo-trad play. Yes, there are arguments, but those involve actual people advocating for what they do.
I don't think anyone was offended that @Jack Daniel enjoys a particular type of hard-earned victory.

I thought it was actually a really cool and compelling play report. But the concluding statements kind of ruined it for me. Jack could have said "I don't think they'd want it any other way" and left it at that. Instead, Jack went on to talk about hollow victories that are handed to people who play other ways.

It's the verbal equivalent of tripping your opponent. I think that the playstyle Jack describes stands on its own merits, but I don't get that impression from Jack's statement. My impression from that is the only way an OSR playstyle can stand is by tearing down alternative playstyles, which is of course absurd.
 


Imaro

Legend
Pretty much

You want OSR to sell? Then you're going to want a big streamer doing a regular OSR game on Twitch or the like and advertising it.

Matt Mercer's done more for D&D getting out there than WotC's done in decades
I would say this + a high production value OSR game to showcase. It isn't though about often but WotC makes some good looking, eye-catching books and if you are trying to become an alternative to D&D for new gamers you want to be on that level.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
The best way to bring new players into OSR, in my experience, is to invite them. :)

Tabletop RPGs thrive on the fellowship of gathering with people around a table and creating fun memories. Doesn't matter if it's D&D, Ysgarth, Paranoia, Nephilim, Eclipse Phase, or some game your friend made from whole cloth. Get together, have an experience steeped in whatever genre the game has to offer, and enjoy each others' company.

I'm trying to do my part by creating a large OSE campaign in Austin. A 2nd DM has volunteered to join the fun and we hope to double the player base within a year. Where this will go...I have no idea. But our goal is to bring in new players and show them a good time. So far we've been doing pretty well with it. Fully half of the players are new and most have enjoyed it enough to go buy the rulebooks and come back for more sessions.

You prefer 5e as a game? Great. Go out there and get more gamers into the hobby. You like OSR? Cool! Invite your friends, put notices up on the wall of your FLGS, and get people into the game. EVERY stripe of RPG is better when more people are playing ANY stripe of RPG. A larger game community means more new ideas, more fresh takes on how to play, and a stronger community.
 

Retreater

Legend
Hard-won victories are fine. Getting completely trounced is not fun - especially if you are so out-classed that you can't even defend well enough to escape. Having every corridor in a dungeon lead to an encounter you cannot win is not fun. Playing in an adventure where you lose more XP through character death than you've gained in 6 months of weekly play is not fun.
This has been my experience in the OSR, and how it is intended to play RAW.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Hard-won victories are fine. Getting completely trounced is not fun - especially if you are so out-classed that you can't even defend well enough to escape. Having every corridor in a dungeon lead to an encounter you cannot win is not fun. Playing in an adventure where you lose more XP through character death than you've gained in 6 months of weekly play is not fun.
This has been my experience in the OSR, and how it is intended to play RAW.
RAI is as important, if not moreso, than RAW. And just because that was your experience, doesn't mean it was for others.

I started with the black box, without having anyone to teach me. At the age of 9 I was about the furthest thing from a killer DM. The thought of losing a precious character was heartbreaking to me, and I projected that onto my players. So, while we played by the rules, no one ever died in my games. Some of that was certainly luck, but it was also how I set up encounters and traps to give the players an edge.

There's absolutely no reason you have to play an OSR game as high lethality. The TSR ninjas didn't show up at my house when I failed to hit my killer DM quota. Despite that, I was in my early 20s before I finally killed a character. It felt REALLY bad, but the more characters I killed - and realized that my players weren't overcome with soul crushing grief - the more I got used to it. Nowadays, as long as the player isn't upset, I'll tease and taunt them if character death seems imminent.
 


Sithlord

Adventurer
When I think old school games. I think encounters that can be solved without a die roll for some reason. And I like to play that way. Not every encounter mind you. But little puzzles or things where the player had to notice something or use things found earlier to solve a problem. I am notorious for riddles (sometimes ridiculously easy sometimes hard). I just learned to never let them bottleneck an adventure. I even tell players up front they can bypass it and come back to it later most of the time. Sometimes a fight is imminent if u can’t solve it. I don’t do that every freaking adventure. I do many social encounters where a die roll is not needed. They just need to have learned what the npc wants to negotiate. And how bad the npc wants it. Sometime just doing a die roll even on a success produces less results because they don’t know what the npc really wants or likes.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
If someone is offended that @Jack Daniel enjoys a particular type of hard-earned victory, they can speak for themselves. This is the sort of thing I was getting at. One rarely sees this sort of policing done to trad and OC/neo-trad play. Yes, there are arguments, but those involve actual people advocating for what they do.
No one is 'offended' that he enjoys that kind of play.

The problem is that he and other people who talk about OSR just can't resist taking needless shots.

And if you're going to say we were taking shots talking about the 'be a coward or die' element, this very story shows the party getting mauled in both combats they entered and most of the session being about bypassing fights.
 

kenada

Legend
I don't think anyone was offended that @Jack Daniel enjoys a particular type of hard-earned victory.

I thought it was actually a really cool and compelling play report. But the concluding statements kind of ruined it for me. Jack could have said "I don't think they'd want it any other way" and left it at that. Instead, Jack went on to talk about hollow victories that are handed to people who play other ways.

It's the verbal equivalent of tripping your opponent. I think that the playstyle Jack describes stands on its own merits, but I don't get that impression from Jack's statement. My impression from that is the only way an OSR playstyle can stand is by tearing down alternative playstyles, which is of course absurd.
I read that statement differently. It’s not addressing a particular style but certain things (like fudging) that some GMs or systems do. It might put off those who likes that stuff, but it might also pique the interest of someone who doesn’t. If you take that out, then all you’ve got is some Bowlderized, milquetoast statement that reads like a marketing slogan.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Let me drop you OSR people a questline.

Polygon, a gaming website, is now accepting pitches for articles relating to Tabletop gaming. To those who wish to promote OSR gaming, this is perfect opportunity to pitch the OSR way to hundreds, even thousands, of impressionable gamers. Are there any writers among you who will heed this call?

The answer would be no, because this is the first I heard of that, and looking at the thread conversation, Charlie is already overwhelmed with RPGs and is looking for more boardgames, and they are specifically looking for contributions from people who aren't white men (which again, he's been swamped with).

However, I did just recently do an interview with Andrew Girdwood from Geek Native, so does that count?
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Hard-won victories are fine. Getting completely trounced is not fun - especially if you are so out-classed that you can't even defend well enough to escape. Having every corridor in a dungeon lead to an encounter you cannot win is not fun. Playing in an adventure where you lose more XP through character death than you've gained in 6 months of weekly play is not fun.
This has been my experience in the OSR, and how it is intended to play RAW.
I can't tell you what your experiences are, obviously, but I have been saying how they aren't the norm, and certainly aren't RAW. I've pointed out to you several times already how your claims of what is RAW is not true, and yet you keep repeating them as RAW. They aren't. I have no idea why you continue to claim these things when I literally showed you passages from the books that disprove what you're claiming. 🤷‍♂️
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I read that statement differently. It’s not addressing a particular style but certain things (like fudging) that some GMs or systems do. It might put off those who likes that stuff, but it might also pique the interest of someone who doesn’t. If you take that out, then all you’ve got is some Bowlderized, milquetoast statement that reads like a marketing slogan.
That seems like splitting hairs. Whether it's a criticism of a playstyle or a criticism of a technique utilized by various playstyles. You don't have to knock down what you don't like in order to build up what you do like. That's a choice, and one that is unlikely to make a good impression on an unbiased observer, or sway them to your opinion.

If what you like is at all worthwhile, it can stand on its own merits. It's okay to not like things but...

If the sentence about liking it is too much like a slogan, then it could have been omitted entirely. I think everyone here is intelligent enough to surmise from the report that it was an enjoyable experience for the group.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
And for the record, setting up PCs to always win, or to have every encounter winnable, or making sure even failures are failing forward existed pretty much from the start. I've been in games with DMs like that in the early 80s.

It's also a valid way to play. The only difference is that some editions are easier to play that way RAW than others. But again, not good or bad, but just different. And it's OK. It also means that just because those versions RAW are more mechanically forgiving than 1e, doesn't mean everything is a cakewalk for the PCs. TPKs have occurred in every edition to my knowledge.

20% edition system mechanics, 80% personal playstyle of your group. Not necessarily an OSR thing. More mechanically lethal? Yes, but that in no way means non-OSR is a cakewalk. Those types of phrasings need to stop as well.
 

kenada

Legend
No one is 'offended' that he enjoys that kind of play.

The problem is that he and other people who talk about OSR just can't resist taking needless shots.
I just find it very paternalistic to lecture someone on how not everyone necessarily has the same play priories or that there are more things in heaven and earth than someone’s philosophy. Some hypothetical player might like something else. What I’m saying is if someone who likes something else wants to speak out in favor of their style, then they can do so on their own accord.

And if you're going to say we were taking shots talking about the 'be a coward or die' element, this very story shows the party getting mauled in both combats they entered and most of the session being about bypassing fights.
My issue with “be a coward or die” is that there are procedures for escaping an encounter. You can potentially get in a fight you can’t win, but the escape procedure is a release valve that prevents things from getting out of control. Someone may still die, but the party will survive. In this particularly case, the party chose not to escape. They pushed on regardless and got to the enjoy the consequences of their choices. It wasn’t pretty, but it was their choice.
 

kenada

Legend
That seems like splitting hairs. Whether it's a criticism of a playstyle or a criticism of a technique utilized by various playstyles. You don't have to knock down what you don't like in order to build up what you do like. That's a choice, and one that is unlikely to make a good impression on an unbiased observer, or sway them to your opinion.

If what you like is at all worthwhile, it can stand on its own merits. It's okay to not like things but...

If the sentence about liking it is too much like a slogan, then it could have been omitted entirely. I think everyone here is intelligent enough to surmise from the report that it was an enjoyable experience for the group.
Sometimes one can’t help but contrast with other styles. For example, stepping aside from OSR for a moment, how can we discuss Story Now games without implicitly contrasting them with trad or OC/neo-trad? It’s impossible because they have opposed premises. One (Story Now) eschews coming to the table with a prepared plot while the other (particularly OC/neo-trad) considers curation as fundamental to having a meaningful story. If the story emerges through play, then it’s just random stuff that happened rather than being the realization of the arc that was implied by your character’s conception.

Bringing this back to OSR, there are some aspects that are also the opposite of certain styles of play. The idea that the referee is an impartial judge is fundamental. I’d also posit that encounters designed naturalistically rather than balanced with the capabilities of the players’ characters is another fundamental element. If you get into a situation, you’re not expected necessarily to fight through it (and reaction rolls are there to help keep the referee honest). At some point when discussing those things, you’re going to have to contrast with other styles or techniques.

I don’t think trying to make a good impression on an unbiased observer is worthwhile. It’s something that doesn’t exist. We all have our biases. If one is trying to recruit new players, then you’re going to see much better results trying to appeal to those who aren’t doing your thing but might have preferences that align than by trying to appeal in the abstract to a hypothetical, unbiased observer. Of course, when contrasting, don’t be a jerk about it. I just think sometimes it’s going to be contentious regardless.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
Sometimes one can’t help but contrast with other styles. For example, stepping aside from OSR for a moment, how can we discuss Story Now games without implicitly contrasting them with trad or OC/neo-trad? It’s impossible because they have opposed premises. One (Story Now) eschews coming to the table with a prepared plot while the other (particularly OC/neo-trad) considers curation as fundamental to having a meaningful story. If the story emerges through play, then it’s just random stuff that happened rather than being the realization of the arc that was implied by your character’s conception.

Bringing this back to OSR, there are some aspects that are also the opposite of certain styles of play. The idea that the referee is an impartial judge is fundamental. I’d also posit that encounters designed naturalistically rather than balanced with the capabilities of the players’ characters is another fundamental element. If you get into a situation, you’re not expected necessarily to fight through it (and reaction rolls are there to help keep the referee honest). At some point when discussing those things, you’re going to have to contrast with other styles or techniques.

I don’t think trying to make a good impression on an unbiased observer is worthwhile. It’s something that doesn’t exist. We all have our biases. If one is trying to recruit new players, then you’re going to see much better results trying to appeal to those who aren’t doing your thing but might have preferences that align than by trying to appeal in the abstract to a hypothetical, unbiased observer. Of course, when contrasting, don’t be a jerk about it. I just think sometimes it’s going to be contentious regardless.
Does this genuinely seem like an example of something that couldn't have been explained without contrast? I think the play report itself had already accomplished that, and I already suggested a rewrite to the sentence that demonstrated it wasn't in any way critical. If anything, it detracted from the overall point.

Sure, when the point is to contrast two styles and tease out their differences, there's nothing wrong with that. Presumably, one can accomplish that without trying to tear down either side.

However, I disagree that it was the case in this instance. IMO, it was completely unnecessary and added nothing positive to the discussion. If anything, I think it inflamed tensions and polarized opinions even more. That's not productive to discourse. If we're not here for discourse, then why are we here? To scream at each other "I'M RIGHT!!! YOU'RE WRONG!!!" until someone has an aneurysm? That's certainly not why I'm here, and if that's really the point then I'll show myself out.
 

kenada

Legend
Does this genuinely seem like an example of something that couldn't have been explained without contrast? I think the play report itself had already accomplished that, and I already suggested a rewrite to the sentence that demonstrated it wasn't in any way critical. If anything, it detracted from the overall point.
We’re probably going to end up having to agree to disagree, but I thought it was pretty mild. I can see how it would appeal to someone who dislikes fudged rolls or might be interested in that style of play (but had never done it) while being totally off-putting to someone who values those things.

What I think would have gone too far is if it denigrated those who liked that sort of play. I don’t think making a categorical statement regarding a certain style (that it needs certain properties and eschews others) necessarily denigrates. However, I’ll concede that while I think the contrast was important, it could have been expressed more artfully (though probably not as succinctly).

Sure, when the point is to contrast two styles and tease out their differences, there's nothing wrong with that. Presumably, one can accomplish that without trying to tear down either side.
The problem is that sometimes even a mild statement can be controversial. I almost didn’t include my example regarding encounter balance because I have been in Pathfinder discussions where suggesting that encounters could combine or be run organically was controversial, and it just gets really fatiguing having to tiptoe around everyone’s sensibilities.

However, I disagree that it was the case in this instance. IMO, it was completely unnecessary and added nothing positive to the discussion. If anything, I think it inflamed tensions and polarized opinions even more. That's not productive to discourse.
I think the fact that we’re having this conversation is a positive development, though I doubt that was the intended outcome.

If we're not here for discourse, then why are we here? To scream at each other "I'M RIGHT!!! YOU'RE WRONG!!!" until someone has an aneurysm? That's certainly not why I'm here, and if that's really the point then I'll show myself out.
But I thought arguing at each other is what the Internet was for. 🙃
 

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