• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

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


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.
You can argue that, but I don't think it's a strong argument. Our OSR group consists of nearly 40 players now and there are more and more people in their teens and 20s joining than older folks.

Maybe the local vibe where you live and play has an issue with "people aren't playing OSR", but that isn't my experience. Admittedly I have only run games for maybe 600 players (a tiny fraction of the gaming population). But I haven't run into anything that would indicate that players of one sort of game have more or less of "that guy" than any other. And I've run games all across the country and abroad with players from age 8 to 78.

We must be careful that our impression of a group at large isn't predicated on broad stereotypes or "what I hear on the internet". Much like the Killer DM who is out to destroy the PCs because he is on a power trip - the 'offputting neckbeard' trope represents more of a boogey man than any significant portion of the community.

log in or register to remove this ad


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).
I first noticed this trend during the d20 era. Many systems went the d20 route because of its popularity and the OGL. Couple that with a system like 3.x/PF that required a great deal of mechanical knowledge, and you get a hesitancy to learn new systems.
There's a group I know that came in with PF1 and refuse to learn anything new because the learning of that system was such an arduous process that they don't feel that they can learn anything else - even when I tried to teach them 5e.
I think they're not alone. They think that they have system mastery in one game and don't want to move on - even if a game doesn't require system mastery.
But back to the original topic. I'd personally like to see OSR get rebranded and renamed. I don't know what to use. Perhaps "Foundation Role-playing?"


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. :)
Because perception is a real thing... that affects people's choices.


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.
When I was reading it, I got a strong OSR vibe, but I also saw a lot of stuff from modern games (like a best of 3e). How well it blends those things together is what makes WWN interesting. For example, it has a skill system, but it doesn’t undermine the default assumption that characters are competent (i.e., “if failure at a particular task would make the PC seem notably incompetent at their role in life, then they shouldn’t have to roll a skill check for it”).

Those modern bits are what sold it to my players. We had an acrobat in my OSE game, and when I converted his character over, I made him a partial mage with Velocitous Imbuement. The player was interested in the parkour stuff, and he thought being able to walk on the walls and ceiling was awesome. It literally added a new dimension to his character.

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).
It’s evocative and interesting, but I’m not a fan of the bestiary as presented. I don’t want to have to parse paragraphs while using them at the table. I think it’s also meant to be a template for making your own monsters, so there are a lot of generic stat blocks. WWN is fairly compatible, so you can convert monsters from other systems. OSE monsters (for example) can be used with little to no tweaks (depending on how closely you want to align them with how WWN does a few things differently).

The same goes for items (though there is also a modification system). It’s easy to convert things over from other systems. Bag of weasels? Definitely gave that to my PCs.

Spells I feel are a bit different. Magic is very Vancian. I don’t mean that because they have slots but because magic is very powerful. Even the best magicians only get to cast a handful of spells per day at most, but those spells can change how you go about solving a problem. Arts also help to flesh out a character and give them things to do.

Maybe there is more in the full version?
The deluxe edition includes three additional sections: Arts of the Gyre, Heroic Classes, and Legates. Arts of the Gyre describes several additional partial classes that are tied into the default setting and help you realize certain classic archetypes. In the case of the Adunic Invoker, it lets you use spell points instead of slots. Heroic classes are beefed up versions of the classes for use in a High Fantasy game where characters are powerful. Legates are sort of like exalted. They’re heroes with extraordinary powers.

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.)
Almost 40% of the free edition is setting-neutral tools for the GM. The setting (Latter Earth and the Gyre) is another 20 pages. The adventure creation chapter (22 pages) includes some stuff on domain management and tools for generating dungeons.

It seems really wordy in execution (Words Without Number?), but I'll give it a longer look through soon.
I really miss the style of OSE for detailing mechanics. There are more than a few places where you have to really dig, and there is one mechanic (group checks) that is not called out explicitly.

Group checks are when you have a situation where the group is attempting a task and needs to succeed together. WWN describes what you do in most situations that require a group check (have the best person roll on behalf of the group), but it doesn’t call that out as a general mechanic (like opposed checks). This lead to my confusion on how to handle surprise because it’s not called out as a group check, but it makes no sense as a bunch of individual checks. My conclusion is it was meant as a group check, but it wasn’t written as that.


But back to the original topic. I'd personally like to see OSR get rebranded and renamed. I don't know what to use. Perhaps "Foundation Role-playing?"
I think “OSR” is fine, but it could use a good elevator pitch. In particular, such a pitch should refrain from contrasting OSR play with other styles of play. Tell people what it offers not what it’s not. Principia Apocrypha is a good starting point, but it needs distilled down.

Update: added a link to Principia Apocrypha.
Last edited:


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).

That would have to be a calculation OSR designers have to make. Whether to play up the joy of victory in skilled play or the freedom to play with other objectives in dark fantasy.

The hard truth I must say.

Simplicity is the fools gold of sales.

It doesn't matter how easy it is to learn if I don't want to play that style of game. "It's easy" makes someone borrow the book and never buy after being disappointed their fighter is a scaredy cat coward and also dead.


Yep. And perpetuating these stereotypes contributes to maintaining said perceptions.

I'm saying that we should stop publicly dercying "OSR neckbeards" - therefore keeping the meme going for any new people who visit the board - and get on with talking about the game we all love.
Except the question is about whether OSR can attract new players and guess what the biggest obstacle to that appears to be to a lot of folks? Because those guys are out there and ignoring them is not going to shut them up.


It doesn't matter how easy it is to learn if I don't want to play that style of game. "It's easy" makes someone borrow the book and never buy after being disappointed their fighter is a scaredy cat coward and also dead.
The tradition seems to be that they're either a coward who avoids all combat, or they are dead.

Remove ads