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

loverdrive

Prophet of the profane (She/Her)
Isn't that a boardgame? It would be a D&D boardgame then, but clearly under the hobby of boardgames. Is anyone really as pendantic as to claim different editions of the same game are a different hobby.
I'd rephrase it now, and call it a different genre, but, anyway. It's not about the edition, it's about the approach. Mid school approach is fundamentally different from Old school one. They're just incompatible.

You show someone wonders of combat as war and boiling oil into sticky easily flammable olifa, and then you move, or your schedules don't longer align, or you fail a save vs. poison and die. Nasty stuff. Now that someone goes out and joins a "default" 5E group, and... And now they have to unlearn everything they've learned from you. They need a paradigm shift.

And if one needs a paradigm shift to understand and appreciate another thing properly, that's a telltale sign that these things aren't that closely related, if at all.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
And this is where we stumble. "...it was always a haven for those that were the outcasts of the time..."

We nerds were not THE outcasts. We had no monopoly on it. We were only one set of outcasts. There were others - black kids were also outcasts. So were gay kids. Hispanic kids, asian kids. Heck, girls, were kind of outcast if they didn't fit a couple of particular molds, and they were still being seen as second-class citizens even if they did fit in. And that's not an exhaustive list of outcast folks, merely a demonstrative one.

And, back in the 80s, we nerds were not particularly welcoming to any of them! In returning to "back in the day" the OSR is not freeing itself from its exclusionary past.

I am reasonably certain that the remainder of my post covered this; nevertheless, you seem to miss the most important point.

That a person found solace in a welcoming community .... means that it's pretty poor form to then use that community to exclude others.

The final part of your post is insulting. Do you know what "folks with different life experiences" should be able to play? Wait for it ... whatever they want to. And that includes (if they chose) the same things other people like to. This argument is just the flip side of the nasty arguments used by OSR relics to exclude people.

Finally, one major correction with what you are implying- in the late 70s and 80s, a lot of queer kids did find solace in D&D*. It wasn't like there were that many opportunities to express yourself or to roleplay in an environment were that would not be questioned; nor were there many examples like the gender-bending Corellon.

Corellon_Larethian.png

(That was 1980 .... the beginning of a decade that saw, among other things, George Michael (!!) not being able to acknowledge his sexuality).

*Again, mostly white and male.
 

Well, yeah. It's not like they have shared best practices, or can meaningfully help each other to achieve their goals.
Between 5e and a B/X clone? YMMV. I've literally run the same old school adventure (Caverns of Thracia) in both 4e and 5e - neither of which were either the one it was written for (it was written in 1979) nor the officially updated 3.5 version.
And, well, collecting different things are different hobbies in my book. It's not like I, while collecting firearms, can meaningfully talk to a hot wheels collector beyond the way I can talk to someone interested in, idk, tango dancing. Sure, we can talk passionately about our things, and it may be a very fun conversation, but we wouldn't be able to exchange experience in a way where we learn something applicable to our hobbies.
On the other hand a tango dancer and a ballroom dancer can talk to each other meaningfully about dancing. I've done it. And two singers in different genres can have highly meaningful conversations and share their loves if both are willing.
If one would try to approach a New School game with Old School expectations, like "oh, that's a TTRPG, I've been playing TTRPGs for my whole life, this is basically the same thing", they would end up being disappointed (and possibly leave others disappointed too). And vica versa, yeah.
I can't agree here. The Old School player will struggle with the new school. But vise-versa? This is not the case at all once the new school player understands that 1XP = 1GP is the driving mechanic and that combat is a failure state. It is entirely possible to treat a session or two of old school gaming as a special case of something that would fit right into the new school.
Jumping into the analogy land, if I'd try to play Call of Duty (an arcade FPS) the same way I play ArmA (a military simulator), I would have very bad time -- because Call of Duty and ArmA have almost nothing in common. Yeah, I move with WASD and I look around with mouse, and R is a reload key, but other than that, they are just... Incompatible.
Nevertheless if I try and play Call of Duty as an ArmA veteran then, as long as I'm willing to play it on its own terms, I still have the foundational FPS skills and will have a lot less adapting to do. If I expect everything to work the same way I'm doomed - but if I want to use them I have a lot of transferrable skills that e.g. Pokemon, Bejewelled, and Angry Birds don't give me.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
That a person found solace in a welcoming community .... means that it's pretty poor form to then use that community to exclude others.

Yeah, but... we have a long history of doing so.

The final part of your post is insulting. Do you know what "folks with different life experiences" should be able to play? Wait for it ... whatever they want to. And that includes (if they chose) the same things other people like to. This argument is just the flip side of the nasty arguments used by OSR relics to exclude people.

Oh, they should be able to sure. I agree 100%. That's not my point.

I'm saying that folks who are asking if OSR is a good entry point to RPGs shouldn't expect them to be so any more. Old school games were an entry point for some people, decades ago. Don't expect them to be a good entry point, for different people, in a different time, just because of that history.

Different people, in a different time, are likely to be better served by a different entry point. If they do find them a good entry point, that is awesome. But I wouldn't put my money on it being the preferred one.

Finally, one major correction with what you are implying- in the late 70s and 80s, a lot of queer kids did find solace in D&D*.

My experience back in the day was seeing lots of gamers throwing around homophobic slurs. My understanding from queer friends is that back in the day the overall culture of gamers was not welcoming.
 
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Retreater

Legend
My experience back in the day was seeing lots of gamers throwing around homophobic slurs. My understanding from queer friends is that back in the day the overall culture of gamers was not welcoming.
It still isn't that welcoming, at least in my experience. As a whole, the industry is trying to make strides, but I'm finding that the individual tables have a lot of work to do. Perhaps it's more in the wargaming portion of the hobby, but I've walked away from tables because gamers use racist and homophobic slurs. I'd say as many as half of the people I've played D&D with in person are bigots, misogynists, or otherwise intolerant.
My groups are mostly okay now, but that's largely because I've been able to curate better groups by playing online.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Oh, they should be able to sure. I agree 100%. That's not my point.

I'm saying that folks who are asking if OSR is a good entry point to RPGs shouldn't expect them to be so any more. Old school games were an entry point for some people, decades ago. Don't expect them to be a good entry point, for different people, in a different time, just because of that history.

Different people, in a different time, are likely to be better served by a different entry point.

See, on this I don't agree ... necessarily. Here's the thing- if you have an inclusive old school ruleset (say, the project Sacrosanct is working on), then that is the type of thing that could be enjoyed in a number of ways; for example, it is common for families, today, to play across generations.

I think that having kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, whatever ... having them be able to share in something that is inclusive and welcoming, yet also has elements that can be passed down as well, is something we should celebrate, especially in terms of entry points.

...and it's better than Monopoly!

I fully expect that the games will continue changing- 5e into 6e; other rulesets and ways of playing. I look forward to seeing what people keep making; like music, like books, like film, I expect it to continue to evolve to cater to the people that are its current audience; but also like other art forms, the past is not just the past, but also prologue.

My experience back in the day was seeing lots of gamers throwing around homophobic slurs. My understanding from queer friends is that back in the day the overall culture of gamers was not welcoming.

That's not exactly correct. Well, it is, but it isn't.

The past is so different than today, it's hard to explain. Liberace (!!) famously sued a tabloid in 1959 for hinting that he was gay. Charles Nelson Reilly, who was a go-to on TV throughout the 70s and 80s ... publicly acknowledged his sexuality in 2006.

So it wasn't the culture of gamers that "was not welcoming," it was ... the culture. All of it. Outside of pockets (such as parts of post-Stonewall NYC), it wasn't talked about.

Which is to say that many queer kids of the time gravitated to TTRPGs as a safe place to explore. No, you didn't announce it. But that said a lot more about the culture then than about TTRPGs.

(The real use of slurs, IMO, seems to have taken off more recently).
 

Retreater

Legend
This is the key to me.

Many OSR products I see don't invoke excitement. They often display dry rules with little explanation for why things are the way they are or what the worlds internals are.

So the onus is put on the DMs and GMs to invoke excitement and understanding as newer players are not coming from the same past as the original OS and don't share the same preconceived notions.
We all have our different tastes, and that's cool, but I find many OSR products to be more imaginative than anything produced by WotC. Sure, you have a lot of traditional dungeon crawls, but there's a lot of great stuff going on in zines like Planar Compass (and their take of extraplanar psionics). Then you have some really gonzo material, fantastic hexcrawls, amorphous hellish dungeons like the Stygian Library.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I'd rephrase it now, and call it a different genre, but, anyway. It's not about the edition, it's about the approach. Mid school approach is fundamentally different from Old school one. They're just incompatible.

You show someone wonders of combat as war and boiling oil into sticky easily flammable olifa, and then you move, or your schedules don't longer align, or you fail a save vs. poison and die. Nasty stuff. Now that someone goes out and joins a "default" 5E group, and... And now they have to unlearn everything they've learned from you. They need a paradigm shift.

And if one needs a paradigm shift to understand and appreciate another thing properly, that's a telltale sign that these things aren't that closely related, if at all.
They're not incompatible IME. My group mixes what you term old school and mid school. (We approach some encounters symmetrically and others asymmetrically.)

Obviously, if you expect encounters to be fair and balanced, and then you join a group where they never are, you may have a hard time adapting. Similarly, if you expect that encounters should be approached asymmetrically, and then the DM doesn't give you opportunities to do so but instead "railroads" you into combat.

But those are just different playstyles. You can easily have a playstyle (like my group does) that hybridizes the two. You can have a CaS style DM who allows CaW style tactics. Or a CaW style DM who designs elaborate CaS style "boss fights". Or whatever.

The point being, they are different but not fundamentally incompatible. I think too often we, as human beings, have are tempted to categorize things as either black or white (it's so neat and orderly), ignoring the reality that an innumerable range of grey (and potentially even other colors!) exists between those extremes.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I'd say as many as half of the people I've played D&D with in person are bigots, misogynists, or otherwise intolerant.

I'm sorry to say I am not surprised.

I have seen no indication that there's anything inherent in RPGs as a broad category that selects against such attitudes. So, I would expect gaming culture, broadly, to be at least as bad as the world at large.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Earlier there was a comment about “Everything grognards hate is good for new gamers.” Impudent comment aside, it got me thinking. Back in the early 80s, the game had a meteoric growth rate, so it seems that the old school style of play (being current at the time) did very well in bringing in new players. Now, 5e seems to also be doing a great job bringing in new players.

Has our community changed that much that not only is there no room in modern gaming for the OSR to bring in new gamers, but it’s actively harmful to bringing them in as that comment implies?

On one hand, I think there are elements of OSR games which might not have aged well as originally presented, but on the other, I still believe a game like B/X could be an excellent tool to being in new players. We seem to think that only the most recent edition should be used to bring in new gamers, and I don’t think I subscribe to that.

Thoughts?
I haven't read the thread so may be repeating things others have said, but I think you have to differentiate between OSR games (including older versions of D&D) and "old school themes." I have no issue with people playing the former, but I just don't think there's a lot of reason for new people to play anything other than the most recent edition of D&D. I'm not talking about the relatively rare case of a kid being introduced to D&D by his uncle, who runs BECMI. But I think the vast majority (say, 99%) of new players will naturally--and wisely--gravitate to the newest version of the game.

But "old school themes and elements" are a different matter. I'm not talking about XP from GP, but variations on fantasy that are under-represented within the 5E corpus. This is one reason why I'm a big advocate of WotC publishing Dark Sun: it fills out the range of fantasy. Seven years in and there's still no sword and sorcery, no post-apocalyptic, nothing truly dark or gritty (Ravenloft aside; it still veers towards the more gothic/romantic, imo).

Let's use the analogy of music. OSR games are like vinyl or cassettes. Now I personally love vinyl, but for someone who grew up with mp3s they are rather cumbersome. The occasional young person might discover and fall in love with vinyl, but they're the exception. Older forms of music are like old school themes and elements. You can listen to 70s funk or 40s big band on any medium - you don't need vinyl or cassette. Is James Brown best heard with the crackle of vinyl? Maybe, but the crucial point is that more people will enjoy and listen to James Brown if his music is available for download or on Youtube.
 

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