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

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
So, when we talk about a ruleset being "inclusive", as far as I have seen that's largely been about representation. But I have a strong suspicion that there's far more than that here.

Let us take just one example. We can look back at the basic implied story of OD&D and 1e, the original "old school game" story - a person starts with little power, and by hook, crook, and/or violence and use of squad-level wargaming, acquires treasure from others, growing powerful until they gather an army or group of followers and become rulers of a populated area of land as a right of their accrued wealth and might.

I'm saying that fundamental story may not be all that appealing or relatable, to, say, a queer 17 year old woman in the US today.

And it is not enough to say the game "can be played" in many ways. As an entry point, the appealing way ought to be basically the bleedingly obvious, default way the system encourages you to go by its construction. New players should not have to work out how to make the system do what they want - they should have a system that just does it naturally, right out of the box.

The thing is, the implied story that you see wasn't the actual story that many played. That is the amazing thing about games of the imagination.

But more importantly, I think there are two equally bad types of errors to make:
1. "What is appealing to people like me is appealing to everyone, therefore they must like what I like;" and
2. "What is appealing to people like me is not appealing or relatable to people unlike me, therefore they will not like what I like."

Weirdly, I don't think that primary problem in our society is (1). The primary problem is, and has been for a long time, (2).

"Girls don't like sports."
"Gay people don't like country music."
"Black people don't play golf."

Etc.

When we start with the assumption that "the other" is fundamentally unlike us (cannot relate to the the same things we do), it becomes easy to ignore them. Instead, it is usually better to let people in with no assumptions, and see what new and amazing things they bring!

I mention this because I believe you mean well, but so much exclusion starts with the premise that "things I like can't be liked by (this other group), therefore it's okay (that this other group) isn't involved in this thing that I like."


EDIT- to the extent this is unclear, people always argue, "It's okay that Pretentious Country Club doesn't have black people- golf just isn't appealing to them." Or, "I don't know why we have equal opportunities under Title IX; everyone knows girls don't like sports."

Yeah, it seems silly, doesn't it? And yet .... that's the argument of exclusion. It's always better to start with the belief that all people would like to do something, and then examine why they are not doing it (if they aren't).
 

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Retreater

Legend
"If a time ever comes when D&Ders agree on how the game should be played D&D will have become staid and boring indeed." -- Gary Gygax, Alarums & Excursions #2, 1975.
I was wondering the other day, while I was mowing the grass (deep in thought obviously), what Gary would've made of all this: the success of 5e, the rise of OSR, the movement of more inclusion in the hobby, popular live streams, etc.

It seems that there is more division in the game now than any other time I can remember. Sure, we've had rules arguments and edition wars, but a lot of today's arguments are tied into morality, politics, etc.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I was wondering the other day, while I was mowing the grass (deep in thought obviously), what Gary would've made of all this: the success of 5e, the rise of OSR, the movement of more inclusion in the hobby, popular live streams, etc.

It seems that there is more division in the game now than any other time I can remember. Sure, we've had rules arguments and edition wars, but a lot of today's arguments are tied into morality, politics, etc.
I think that lens is just amplified by the internets. When I sit (virtually or otherwise) down to play, nobody brings up morality or politics unless it relevant to the setting/game.
 

I was wondering the other day, while I was mowing the grass (deep in thought obviously), what Gary would've made of all this: the success of 5e, the rise of OSR, the movement of more inclusion in the hobby, popular live streams, etc.

It seems that there is more division in the game now than any other time I can remember. Sure, we've had rules arguments and edition wars, but a lot of today's arguments are tied into morality, politics, etc.
I suppose that's what one gets when it moves from a niche societal phenomena into a broad cultural one, the latter where it's been aimed and is heading.

Gary was always of the opinion that there was no wrong fun, so even if he didn't side with something (preferring like others his brand of gaming) he was not against games and having fun. Politics in games. Nope. Morality encompassed being decent, even-handed, civil and not a cheat.

I am not sure if the camps are divided, old and new. They seem to have a greater number of BIG common points than they'd readily admit to. I really believe that both sides are being fiddly and often times pedantic. Very HUMAN. My bat's bigger! Gamers don't need to conquer the bad points of being "gamers" but those pesky and oft-occurring not so good points of being human. :)
 

Games like Into The Odd, Worlds Without Number, Beyond The Wall, and Old School Essentials absolutely are great entry points for new gamers. Stars Without Number has been one of the easiest entry points for new players out of any game I have played in recent memory.
I've not actually played it, but based on what I've read it looks very easy for anyone already used to D&D tropes. If six stats, 25 skills, 3 saves, a BAB, Armour Class, and a few other D&Disms are assumed knowledge it looks pretty easy.

For someone not used to a D&Dish game I'd say that that's non-trivial, as is the D&D approach to play. For people who aren't boardgamers and who aren't crpg players my introduction of choice is, of all things, Apocalypse World due to the limited numbers, strong evocative mechanics, and rhythm of freeform.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I think of a few reasons. First being what I mentioned upthread about how B/X is much easier to bring in new younger players than 5e basic because it's simply easier to learn and less rules. Secondly, it's simply a different flavor of the same game. I'm sure there are people out there who would enjoy a quick and easy fantasy rpg where race is class, as opposed to classes and races separate with more options, etc.

It is easier, but much easier? I don't know, especially with smooth on-ramps like the Starter Set and Essentials.
I think this is a flawed analogy because you're comparing the tools and technology between music 50 years ago and today, and that hasn't changed for RPGs. I mean, yes, we have digital tools now, but the actual rules and tools of 5e haven't changed from 1e. You still have a book, you have dice, you have paper, and you have people. A better analogy is to compare the era of the music, rather than the medium. And I think there are people today who might prefer classical music, or 60s, or rock, or 80s pop, or 90s alternative, etc over what's currently on the Billboard top 10.
It could be either way. My analogy works, but it kind of supports my view, which is that you can capture much of the essential qualities of old school with the 5E rules - it doesn't have to be an actual OSR or early D&D game.
 

I think this is a flawed analogy because you're comparing the tools and technology between music 50 years ago and today, and that hasn't changed for RPGs. I mean, yes, we have digital tools now, but the actual rules and tools of 5e haven't changed from 1e. You still have a book, you have dice, you have paper, and you have people.
And by those standards there was very little evolution in music in about two thousand years. You still had a strings, brass, wind, and percussion. Never mind the development of e.g. the valve in the brass instrument or the harpsichord and piano.

I will say absolutely that we can do things with modern Indie RPGs mechanically that Gygax was unable to do - and that we were unable to do 20 years ago. And we've discarded a number of things we were doing in the 90s and before that were interesting but that computers have overtaken.
 

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