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

kenada

Legend
Supporter
@Fanaelialae I think the "hardcore mode" feel of many OSR games is a turnoff for many players. My wife didn't like the idea of it until we played a high level one shot with lots of great magic items to give survivability and options in combat. She had a good time in that game.
B/X is prominent, so that tends to be the default assumption: of course your PCs have to be made of tissue paper and have few/limited abilities because that’s how you induce (various elements of OSR play). I don’t think that has to be the case.

I think for her, and some of my other players, a stripped down, fast playing D&D/OSR would be fine as long as you didn't feel super weak. For example, she loved HeroQuest when I introduced her. Something like that in a D&D form would be a hit with her.
If you’re open to suggestions, I’d proffer Worlds Without Number. It has B/X roots, but it also takes elements from newer editions. PCs are much more robust (and capable), but it’s still manages to evince the OSR style.
 

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Fanaelialae

Legend
@Fanaelialae I would add one wrinkle. When the dominate gaming culture dismisses certain games as “newer editions fixed the problems with (the game you want to play)” or opines with “why not just play 5e?”, having a strongly held position helps you push back on that and identify why you need different. People can be obnoxious about it (and that’s not helpful for getting people into OSR-style play), but that goes both ways.
Yeah, you're not wrong; I wasn't suggesting that the "other side" was perfectly civil in those discussions. However, the way that those strongly held positions were expressed frequently caused me to dismiss the attached arguments out of hand, due to an emotional response at perceived condescension. It can be hard to listen to reason when it feels like someone is talking down to you. So, if it was intended to change my mind, it actually had the opposite of its intended effect.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
A lot of it come down to selling the product. I'm bias as a salesman by trade.

However the dominant fantasy in media since the 90s has been Heroic Fantasy followed by Dark Fantasy. OSR style, sword and sorcery influenced, gritty
fantasy is barely keeping relevant.

so when the OSR crowd advertises OSR, they need to say more than "it's like some old books that aren't popular anymore" or "you die" then get grumpy that new fans don't flock in.

OSR has to be sold to new players.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, you're not wrong; I wasn't suggesting that the "other side" was perfectly civil in those discussions. However, the way that those strongly held positions were expressed frequently caused me to dismiss the attached arguments out of hand, due to an emotional response at perceived condescension. It can be hard to listen to reason when it feels like someone is talking down to you. So, if it was intended to change my mind, it actually had the opposite of its intended effect.
I agree that it’s off-putting. I wasn’t angling for a “both sides”, but I kind of weakened that in my closing. I guess I should be more explicit even though it’s based on supposition: I think there’s a defensive element to it. When the dominate culture considers aspects of what you do as problems to be fixed, the pretension is a way of asserting the legitimacy of what one is doing.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Dark Fantasy has significant overlap with grim & gritty, swords & sorcery.

It's an interesting question, whether to sell the older games more on their simplicity or their potential for high-difficulty play (which, as other folks have noted, does have a modern market, as we see with Darkest Dungeon and Dark Souls).
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
@Fanaelialae

I agree with what you wrote, which is why I think that efforts (like the one by Sacrosanct) to make an OSR game that is more explicitly welcoming to newer players and/or inclusive is a great idea.

I would say that there are multiple impulses inherent in OSR, and not all of them are great. On the plus side, there is a lot genuine joy- the desire to share experiences, the desire to share a certain playstyle (or modality of play), the desire to share a lot of great material.

On the minus side, there is a reactionary impulse; there is both a rejection of the modern (in the sense of the stereotypical, kids/lawns etc.) and a yearning for the nostalgic days of yore; the idea that if we could just get rid of the hit point bloat of 5e, we would also restore our lost youth and get back to the good ol' days of 8-tracks. Obviously, that's all untrue, but nostalgia is a helluva drug.

More worrisome are those who explicitly reject the inclusive aspects of modern culture, and believe that the old ways of D&D, when the game was primarily white and male, somehow were "better" and use OSR specifically as a counterpoint to the diversity we see today. That's not something I can ever agree with.

I think that there is a lot that is valuable about OSR, and it's definitely worth selling these concepts to the modern market and to new players. I don't think it will ever be more than a niche; after all, there is a reason for the success of rulesets such as 5e. But to keep it alive, we have to accentuate the positive, the joy, and the wonder.
 

Democratus

Adventurer
There's a danger in associating a game type with a type of person. That's stereotyping and is a slippery slope.

There are inclusive and exclusive people of all stripes, and who play all versions of D&D. Casting aspersions on those who advocate a particular version of our game is perpetuating the stereotype.

How about we just talk about the merits of the game and not try to say "this kind of awful person typifies fans of version X". There's plenty in the topic of "making a game welcoming to all" without that kind of stone throwing. :)
 

Retreater

Legend
If you’re open to suggestions, I’d proffer Worlds Without Number. It has B/X roots, but it also takes elements from newer editions. PCs are much more robust (and capable), but it’s still manages to evince the OSR style.
As serendipity would have it, last night I just downloaded the free PDF version and started looking at it. Of course, I probably skimmed through it for less than an hour before bed, but I had these moments of 1) how is this different than any other OSR system? and 2) this is a really unique idea.

It has a sort of Five Torches Deep feel to it, like it doesn't provide a lot of choices in spells, monsters, equipment, etc., (leaving it up to a DM to create everything other than the basest rules mechanics). Maybe there is more in the full version?

It's not bad at all, but my first skim through was thinking "why is this book so big?" when the rules seem so light? (The Rules Cyclopedia included lots of subsystems, tons of spells, magic items, a complete monster manual, and a mini gazetteer.) It seems really wordy in execution (Words Without Number?), but I'll give it a longer look through soon.
 

There's a danger in associating a game type with a type of person. That's stereotyping and is a slippery slope.

There are inclusive and exclusive people of all stripes, and who play all versions of D&D. Casting aspersions on those who advocate a particular version of our game is perpetuating the stereotype.

How about we just talk about the merits of the game and not try to say "this kind of awful person typifies fans of version X". There's plenty in the topic of "making a game welcoming to all" without that kind of stone throwing. :)
I'd push back - I would bet the bigger reason people aren't playing OSR is the other players, not the rules (or even the books.) If no one you want to play with is playing OSR, why would you want to start?

Admittedly, every fan group has "That Guys," but OSR is at the size where you enough of them to be noticeable but not so many total people that they get drowned out.

That's something the community would need to address if they want to add members.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
@Fanaelialae

I agree with what you wrote, which is why I think that efforts (like the one by Sacrosanct) to make an OSR game that is more explicitly welcoming to newer players and/or inclusive is a great idea.

I would say that there are multiple impulses inherent in OSR, and not all of them are great. On the plus side, there is a lot genuine joy- the desire to share experiences, the desire to share a certain playstyle (or modality of play), the desire to share a lot of great material.

On the minus side, there is a reactionary impulse; there is both a rejection of the modern (in the sense of the stereotypical, kids/lawns etc.) and a yearning for the nostalgic days of yore; the idea that if we could just get rid of the hit point bloat of 5e, we would also restore our lost youth and get back to the good ol' days of 8-tracks. Obviously, that's all untrue, but nostalgia is a helluva drug.

More worrisome are those who explicitly reject the inclusive aspects of modern culture, and believe that the old ways of D&D, when the game was primarily white and male, somehow were "better" and use OSR specifically as a counterpoint to the diversity we see today. That's not something I can ever agree with.

I think that there is a lot that is valuable about OSR, and it's definitely worth selling these concepts to the modern market and to new players. I don't think it will ever be more than a niche; after all, there is a reason for the success of rulesets such as 5e. But to keep it alive, we have to accentuate the positive, the joy, and the wonder.

Wow. This is almost exactly what's in my head, but worded better than I could lol.

I'm not trying to replace 5e (or any edition), or hoping its players stop playing and instead move to an OSR style. That would be silly. And dumb. And counter to the entire goal of what I'm doing.

I'm only arguing that in today's modern community and gamer base, there is room for fans of an OSR style of gaming. Like Retreater said above, not everyone is going to be a fan. But there are those that do like that feel to the game.

It's kind of funny. As far as I can remember, starting from when I began as a player in 1981, we played all types of RPGs. D&D, Traveler, Twilight 2000, RIFTS, Palladium, Car Wars, etc. So it's weird to me that we seem to have this assumption that gamers will only play 1 edition of D&D and that's it. Someone can play 5e and also play 1e (or another edition).
 

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