Shadowdark opens late pledges next week!

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I didn’t pay much attention to Shadowdark when it was first announced on r/osr. It seemed like another OSR game with nice art. That changed once the appeal to 5e players started getting pushed. It felt like a safe space had been invaded by 5e proponents, whom I usually prefer to give a wide berth. But I got over it. It wasn’t fair to project that back onto the game — and I did eventually back it.

Will I play or run it? Very unlikely. There are things I want (as I’ve discussed here in various threads when I talk about my homebrew system) that it doesn’t do by design. I look at it as similar to Kevin Crawford’s games in that aspect, which are also games I am unlikely to run again in the future, but I think they are cool and deserve support.

Seriously, I wish RPGs would go back to line art for most interior artwork. I may be the only one, but it spurs my imagination more than the art created at a computer (“painted” art on a computer lacks the texture of real paintings to me).
I like the style and mostly agree, but I’d also be happy if more games put effort into their layouts and organization. Many games are not organized very well, or they don’t respect the spread and split information across both sides of the page.
 

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Retreater

Legend
I don't understand how out of the hundreds of OSR games to come and go, this one in particular is where I'm seeing serious discussion on "if we need another OSR game". There's like 500 versions of B/X and that's okay, but somehow this one in particular gets hesitation?

If I had to take a guess, it's just the tribal mentality of an "outsider" coming into the space since she doesn't fit the typical "OSR designer" mold.

As someone that listens to a lot of niche musical genres people build their identity around, can say I see this all the time...
For me, it's the $1M+ Kickstarter and all the discussion about how it's revolutionizing the OSR movement. There's a hype train I'm just not understanding. The product seems good. I've liked other products from the Arcane Library. I've seen enough videos with Kelsey Dionne that I can say I like her design philosophy. Personally, I think the story of how she came into the hobby is awesome (as I understand it, she started as a player with some of the old-time TSR people running games for her in Wisconsin.)

Some fans in the OSR community see it as a zero-sum game. They're already invested in Old School Essentials, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades, etc. They might fear that if those games lose new potential players and if their fanbases split off because of Shadowdark, that might mean there's not enough players to go around to really support any of the other systems. A system like Knave isn't going to be making a substantial split in the fanbases - but they might fear that Shadowdark has the potential to kill off a system (maybe Swords & Wizardry? maybe Lamentations of the Flame Princess? maybe OSE?)

When was the last time we've seen a "big" OSR system come out? OSE was released in 2019, but if we go farther back DCC (2012), Swords & Wizardry (2009), Castles and Crusades (2004). Sure there are other examples, but we're not seeing it all the time. Certainly nothing since 5e has exploded into a cultural juggernaut during COVID.
 


Retreater

Legend
I think most OSR folks realize that a lot of OSR D&D games are broadly compatible. Give or take. This is one of them. You could run Dolmenwood adventures in it or pick another OSR darling adventure.

I’m probably going to run UVG 2 with it.
Which is why many of us are saying we don't need it.
And it's puzzling why people are getting so excited about it. But don't mistake me - I think it's great that they are. I'm in favor for anything that makes people excited to game. I'm just confused by this particular product - when it's so similar to others.
 

darjr

I crit!
Which is why many of us are saying we don't need it.
And it's puzzling why people are getting so excited about it. But don't mistake me - I think it's great that they are. I'm in favor for anything that makes people excited to game. I'm just confused by this particular product - when it's so similar to others.
It’s one of the ones that leans into its 5e isms or more modern game design. Many of the other OSR games lean the other way. Even OSE leans into the fact that it IS Moldvey.

Shadowdark leans into more modern rules design without straying to far from Moldvey adventure compatibility.

For instance Knave is Moldvey adventure compatible and has modern design but strays pretty far. Though it also is extremely popular.
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Some fans in the OSR community see it as a zero-sum game. They're already invested in Old School Essentials, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades, etc. They might fear that if those games lose new potential players and if their fanbases split off because of Shadowdark, that might mean there's not enough players to go around to really support any of the other systems. A system like Knave isn't going to be making a substantial split in the fanbases - but they might fear that Shadowdark has the potential to kill off a system (maybe Swords & Wizardry? maybe Lamentations of the Flame Princess? maybe OSE?)
If S&W is going to get killed off, it'll be by OSE, which is everywhere, to the point that I see a lot of people thinking "OSE" and "OSR" are interchangeable.

Lamentations has its own niche of supporters, who often support it for political reasons.

Dungeon Crawl Classics and Castles & Crusades have their hardcore fans who I don't think really care about any other games at all at this point; they're all-in on their systems and perfectly happy. And both Goodman and the Troll Lords put out a very healthy flow of new content all year long. I think those lines end when the companies decide to wrap things up for other reasons.
When was the last time we've seen a "big" OSR system come out? OSE was released in 2019, but if we go farther back DCC (2012), Swords & Wizardry (2009), Castles and Crusades (2004). Sure there are other examples, but we're not seeing it all the time. Certainly nothing since 5e has exploded into a cultural juggernaut during COVID.
I do think you're right about some folks thinking it's a zero sum game, but as has been pointed out, so many OSR fans are big collectors of OSR works, either just for pleasure, or to grab parts from each, since they tend to be reasonably compatible across game lines, that circling the wagons when it comes to Shadowdark feels like it may be something more.

That said, that OSR compatibility rides to the rescue again. Even if one isn't interested in using Shadowdark as their engine of choice, the game's release also means a steady supply of new OSR adventures coming from a well-respected adventure author. It wouldn't take much effort to convert them over to another system (it's neither the first and it won't be the last to not use the classic TSR saving throws, and DMs have all adapted to that issue in the past).

And the commerce goes both ways. I'm very likely to buy The Temple of 1,000 Swords and Wyvern Songs to convert them over to Shadowdark along with Reach of the Roach God and the Monster Overhaul, once they're both in hardcover. A rising tide (of more people entering the OSR space) can lift all boats.
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
And it's puzzling why people are getting so excited about it. But don't mistake me - I think it's great that they are. I'm in favor for anything that makes people excited to game. I'm just confused by this particular product - when it's so similar to others.
None of the other OSR creators have anything like the YouTube profile that Kelsey does, other than The Questing Beast (which definitely helps Knave be a success).

And she is huge in the 5E sphere on DMs Guild and elsewhere. Given how much bigger the 5E audience is compared to the OSR space, that brings a lot of people over who may never have heard of any OSR or OSR-adjacent games other than (maybe) Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I get that there are people who feel like maybe some of those other OSR creators ought to be well known, but the truth is, they just aren't, other than Z.S., who is more infamous than famous at this point and seems unlikely to have a similar Kickstarter success in his future.
 
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Retreater

Legend
[snip] ... I see a lot of people thinking "OSE" and "OSR" are interchangeable.
Which is unfortunate, because the B/X design of OSE is probably my least preferred version of the OSR.
Lamentations has its own niche of supporters, who often support it for political reasons.
Which (based on my experiences with it), I'd be more than happy to see Lamentations scoured from the landscape. It's ... disgusting.
 

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