OSR publishers converting their own content

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Yes, yes. I know what they do. They’re very vociferous about it. Hard to miss… over and over again with near identical games.

My question was why?
To be sure, while they are broadly compatible with each other, they're not really "near identical games." Each has its own quirky rules, strengths and weaknesses; its own "look & feel".

So I think the "why" of it just boils down to aesthetic plus that fondness for tinkering. Or put another way: Why not?
 

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
My question was why?
Why homebrew or why homebrew old stuff?

For folks who like creating their own material -- which I do constantly -- it's just the way we're wired, I think. As for why they would want to homebrew OSR stuff, it's just what they're interested in. There's also plenty of people homebrewing every category of game.

I haven't published my own setting, but I have a truly enormous amount of homebrewed Shadowdark material I've made that I keep in a document so I can always have those stats or spells or whatever I want close at hand.

I have considered making my own fantasy heartbreaker in the past, and the goal there was to have all the rules typed up in one place, rather than having to have someone else's rulebook full of several hundred sticky notes that I would need to remember to consult each time. It's really the same impulse with the different OSR games: Put all the house rules into one "ruleset" and it's done.
 
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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Yes, yes. I know what they do. They’re very vociferous about it. Hard to miss… over and over again with near identical games.

My question was why?
Because no game is perfect. There's always something you want rules for, or better rules for. But a lot of OSR folks are mostly happy with specific TSR variants as a base (B/X is a good example), so many OSR games look superficially similar. The differences are in the details, and those details matter to many OSR designers.
 


Jahydin

Hero
As somebody not in the 'OSR' community I've always wondered... so, genuine question-- what's the point? Why are hundreds of people producing the same near-identical system? What's the point?
Off the top of my head, the major reasons are:

1. Artistic expression - Probably the most important one. A chance to breathe life into the mechanics by sharing your particular vision of what the game world looks like. Maybe they want an anime aesthetic, anthropomorphic woodland creatures, friendly and inviting CalArt style, a dark and horrifying inky look, etc.

2. Stable platform - If you plan on producing lots of adventures and supplements, knowing the game is completely under your control is comforting. Nothing worse than the original creator revamping their game to make all your material obsolete. Also, it only takes one alarming social media post to put creators in hot water... and those that support them.

3. Dialing in perfection - On closer examination, a lot of those "similar" systems actually do vary quite a bit. It might not be noticeable as you're flipping through your first time, but taking out certain spells (such as resurrection magic), allowing unique combat maneuvers, capping level progression, etc., can be quite noticeable in play.

4. Compatibility - Thanks to systems being similar, potential customers might be inclined to pick up your game just for your unique tables and houserules. If you're producing more product, they might skip your rulebook, but pick up your adventures to play in their own game. Not uncommon to hear someone using one game's skill system, another's initiative rules, another's weapon tables, etc.

5. Community - If your game resonates with enough people, a strong community can form that exchange ideas and grow the game around your particular vision.
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
3. Dialing in perfection - On closer examination, a lot of those "similar" systems actually do vary quite a bit. It might not be noticeable as you're flipping through your first time, but taking out certain spells (such as reresection magic), allowing unique combat maneuvers, capping level progression, etc., can be quite noticeable in play.

Yeah, this.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Off the top of my head, the major reasons are:

1. Artistic expression - Probably the most important one. A chance to breathe life into the mechanics by sharing your particular vision of what the game world looks like. Maybe they want an anime aesthetic, anthropomorphic woodland creatures, friendly and inviting CalArt style, a dark and horrifying inky look, etc.

2. Stable platform - If you plan on producing lots of adventures and supplements, knowing the game is completely under your control is comforting. Nothing worse than the original creator revamping their game to make all your material obsolete. Also, it only takes one alarming social media post to put creators in hot water... and those that support them.

3. Dialing in perfection - On closer examination, a lot of those "similar" systems actually do vary quite a bit. It might not be noticeable as you're flipping through your first time, but taking out certain spells (such as resurrection magic), allowing unique combat maneuvers, capping level progression, etc., can be quite noticeable in play.

4. Compatibility - Thanks to systems being similar, potential customers might be inclined to pick up your game just for your unique tables and houserules. If you're producing more product, they might skip your rulebook, but pick up your adventures to play in their own game. Not uncommon to hear someone using one game's skill system, another's initiative rules, another's weapon tables, etc.

5. Community - If your game resonates with enough people, a strong community can form that exchange ideas and grow the game around your particular vision.
All of this. Games can play broadly similarly, and have close enough monster statblocks that conversion on the fly is easy, while still offering variation in experience and particularly in subsystems.

5 Torches Deep or Shadowdark having roll to cast, for example. Or LotFP removing a lot of divination and direct damage spell effects, to support its lower-magic, horror-themed setting and feel. Or the changes it makes to the classes. Or Labyrinth Lord expanding the levels from B/X to 20 and importing a bunch of additional material (such as armor, weapons, and spells) from AD&D.
 

Simon Miles

Creator of the World of Barnaynia FRPG setting
Like many above (Waller and Sacrosanc et al.) I don't think any re-writing is necessary. The variations between the various OSE that I have played is minimal, if any is required at all. Our products are advertised as OSRIC and Old School Essentials Advanced edition and all that is required is giving the Armour Class in terms of old style descending armour class (AC) and the ascending armour class (AAC). I am pretty sure that the monster details included in the adventures and other supplements would work with most, if not all, the OSR variations with no adaption. We also advertise our products as being compatible with 1st and 2nd edition as well, because, in the terms of the details and mechanics of the products, the differences between the systems are not involved or trivial to adapt on the fly.
Similarly, when I am buying stuff I tend to egnore what game they are designed for. If the product sounds useful enough I will even by 3rd Edition and 5th edition stuff to use in my own campaigns. In fact, even as I write this I am not sure what version of the game we mainly play - the core rulesets have so much in common that in 90% of the game I could change rule systems multiple times during a session and I don't think anyone would notice... It's one of the joys of D&D and OSE!
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Yes, yes. I know what they do. They’re very vociferous about it. Hard to miss… over and over again with near identical games.

My question was why?
Why not?

People will make a thousand little rewrites of BECMI because they like it, because people like to be creative, or because they have some burning reason like Sacrosanct.

You can have a thousand of them on your flash drive now. You can rip out your favorite one to play. You can take the character classes from one and the races from another. You can sit there and admire them in their directory. You can do something else entirely.

Why do you need a reason?

One of the things I think is that there really isn't a lot of outlet for normal people to share their creativity; five hundred years ago you could paint your hut or be Pontius Pilate in a passion play or something like that. Now you're either JJ Abrams or you're consuming media someone else made. Homebrew OSR copies are a way to get some of that middle ground back.
 

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