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OSR What Has Caused the OSR Revival?

fjw70

Explorer
Where was all this exactly? I've been going to the Wizards site since it was on AOL and I don't remember really any edition warring from 2nd edition to 3rd edition.
The edition warring I saw was on non-WotC sites. I think that is also significant. From what I can tell the OS folks pretty much stayed off the WotC boards during the 3e/3.5 run, but when 4e hitboth OSR and 3.x folks thought it was okay to go on 4e boards and slam 4e.
 

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MJS

First Post
This is all very interesting, and I enjoy these discussions, but the answer to the thread title is: coffee.
 


Meatboy

First Post
If only D&D and the RPG world evolved like the food world.
If they did WotC would probably have most of the market on lock down but we'd have who knows how many editions of "DnD". I could just see it now a whole shelf of core dnd books "Classic", "lite", "gritty", "tactics", "MAX", "X-TREME!!!!!!"...
 

TerraDave

5ever
11 pages and no answer?

Lots of reasons why someone might prefer pre 3E, but none on the timing.

There where always people who played 1E or B/X and some that stuck with 2E. But thats OS, not OSR.

The Pandora's box was cracked with 3.5, and hurled open with 4E. Check the dates on a lot of OSR blogs, or even the term OSR itself. OSIRIC came before, but the surge starts in 2008, and its not a coincidence.

People rallied around 3E. They liked it, and wanted to believe in it. And 3.0 has a lot of AD&D in it.

Eventually people began to say things like "NPCs are too complicated" and "Perception is a problem", "what is all this crap in [player oriented book X]" and "check out Dragonsfoot"

But there weren't very many of them. OSIRIC and Labyrinth Lord helped open the door further. But 4E, and WotCs attack on 3E, broke the consensus and made people wonder what other D&D they should try. OSR and PF are the beneficiaries.
 

Ulrick

First Post
11 pages and no answer?

Lots of reasons why someone might prefer pre 3E, but none on the timing.

There where always people who played 1E or B/X and some that stuck with 2E. But thats OS, not OSR.

The Pandora's box was cracked with 3.5, and hurled open with 4E. Check the dates on a lot of OSR blogs, or even the term OSR itself. OSIRIC came before, but the surge starts in 2008, and its not a coincidence.

People rallied around 3E. They liked it, and wanted to believe in it. And 3.0 has a lot of AD&D in it.

Eventually people began to say things like "NPCs are too complicated" and "Perception is a problem", "what is all this crap in [player oriented book X]" and "check out Dragonsfoot"

But there weren't very many of them. OSIRIC and Labyrinth Lord helped open the door further. But 4E, and WotCs attack on 3E, broke the consensus and made people wonder what other D&D they should try. OSR and PF are the beneficiaries.
I think we have the winner, folks! ^

I'd say the OSR was getting primed with the disenchantment people starting feeling toward 3.5e. But when 4e slaughtered a lot of "sacred cows" was when the OSR really took off, with blogs like Grognardia leading the pack and a number of OSR publishers coming onto the scene proposing alternatives to what WotC was offering.
 


fjw70

Explorer
Where was all this exactly? I've been going to the Wizards site since it was on AOL and I don't remember really any edition warring from 2nd edition to 3rd edition.
IMO another significant factor was that around 2007/8 it seems a lot of people around my age (I was born in 1970) started getting back into RPGs after leaving them after high school and 4e and PF were just too different from what they remembered from the 80s for many of them.

So there was a perfect storm of 3.5 fatigue, old OS players reentering the hobby, and 4e being too different for many people.
 

TerraDave

5ever
Short version: unmet demand.

Long version: 3E inadvertently killed a couple of major playstyles.

1) Skills, especially spot and perception, turned out to be a poison pill for player-skill based exploration
2) Steep power curves narrowed the scope for sandbox play, and made life difficult for mixed level parties

There were several other factors that reinforced these trends (build-based character generation, WBL, etc.) that could be overcome by some thoughtful houseruling, but these two were the game killers IME.

Those of us who wanted wotc to roll back those changes with 4E were disappointed, to say the least. And, since early 4E seemed hellbent on disappointing as many people as possible, there were a lot of people open to alternatives. And then the thing sort of just snowballed--like Paizo, but much much smaller and more fragmented.
OK, I see it now, towards the end.
 

GreyLord

Hero
Where was all this exactly? I've been going to the Wizards site since it was on AOL and I don't remember really any edition warring from 2nd edition to 3rd edition.
No offense, but it was RABID there. No way anyone could have missed those wars. It was far worse then the 3e to 4e transition. It was the first time I think WotC put the boards on lock down, and then eventually moderated heck out of the boards, at first basically banning OS discussions, and then opening another sub forum with any discussion going there.

Basically they tossed out the old guard and Old AD&D players, and welcomed in the new guys.

This is where I think places like Dragonsfoot and other forums dedicated to 1e really got the power to take off as many of those exiled or attacked by WotC migrated to places where they could discuss their games freely.
 

GreyLord

Hero
In reply to the original question...3e was what caused the OSR Revival.

It depends on what you DEFINE as OSR though. I don't see what I DEFINE as OSR being really any bigger now than it has previously. What has happened is a slow burn. Just like a rock rolling down a hill gathers more dust, so did the OSR. However, comparatively to things like D&D, or PF, it's not all that big per se.

Now if you consider things that say they take the spirit of the old types of games (like DCC), that's a different matter. If you are attributing it to that I WOULD say that was kicked off with 4e. When they started putting down the current version of D&D in order to promote 4e, I think that made enough people upset that they looked for alternatives...and things that were not actually OSR (in my opinion, OSR is more of direct remakes of D&D via the OGL) took root as alternatives or easier options to follow.

However, the original OSR movement (and indeed the name in some ways) was more a 3e creation giving birth to the idea of OSRIC (which is NOT an OGL creation) and probably given much more power with Gygax's endorsement (though not completely OSR, similarly enough to D&D Basic rules with a modified item called Siege, that it could be seen with very close similarities) of Castles and Crusades.

I've heard that C&C is one of the best selling RPG's of this type of movement (though not OSR itself) and that most of the OSR rpgs actually do not make that huge of a profit (comparatively to something like PF) though DCC may be making more than that in and of itself.

I still think the OSR movement itself is rather small and the revival you've seen is still the continuation of the stone that started rolling back in the 3e days as a result of the old schoolers and that edition war.
 

estar

Explorer
The short story is this.


The Internet allows niche communities to easily communicate and grow. In this case, around 2000, people playing classic editions of D&D found that there was a great deal of other people still playing classic editions. They started getting together and doing non-commercial stuff like OD&Dities.

The Open Game License allowed companies to use the d20 SRD as the basis for a game.

Troll Lord Games decided to make a AD&D RPG that called Castles and Crusade. But during its development decided to make it only AD&D compatible instead of a clone. It compatible in that you can take an original AD&D adventure or setting and use it as is and it will work with C&C.

Matt Finch and slightly later Stuart Marshall takes on writing OSRIC in the mid 2000s. They know IP lawyers and get them involved in the process. Their work relies on the twin pillars that the terms they need are open content because of the d20 SRD and that under US Law game mechanics can't be copyrighted. Their goal is to produce as close of a clone as they legally can. Their first editions was designed as a publisher reference/SRD to producing adventures and supplement.

Concurrently Chris Gonnerman produces Basic Fantasy which is a quasi-clone of BECMI D&D. However it doesn't have as great as an impact as OSRIC as it wasn't explicitly setup to allow third party publishing.

We are now in 2007.

In August Dan Proctor produces Labyrinth Lord a complete ready to run Retro Clone of B/X D&D.

In 2008 Matt Finch, one of the original authors of OSRIC, releases Swords & Wizardry a complete and ready to run clone of OD&D.

Finally in the fall of 2008 OSRIC itself is rewritten as a complete ready to run RPG as Version 2.

Before 2006 there were about 50 odd releases of various material supporting classic editions. In 3e world there was a back to the roots movement led by Goodman Games and Necromancer Games who were noted for writing old school adventures with new school rules.

These all count stuff targeted explicitly written for classic editions.
In 2006 this was nearly doubled with 48 releases.
In 2007 there was a small fall off to 44 releases.
In 2008 there was 76 releases.
In 2009 there was 125 releases

and keeps growing from there along with a huge growth in closely related games set in different genres like planet and swords or close in tenor and feel like the DCC RPG.

To recap the three factors that allowed the OSR to grow in to a substantial hobby niche are

*The huge body of people who played classic editions of D&D.
*The internet capability to allow niche communities to communicate and grow.
*The use of the Open Game License to RPGs to use the most of the same terms as classic editions.
*The inexpensive availability of Print on Demand technology.

The OSR is now a distinct niche of its own with it own industry side and hobby side similar to Fate, GURPS, Savage World, etc. Unlike the rest there is no dominant (Fate) or single (GURPS, Savage World, etc) publishers supporting it. It is solely supported by multiple publishers. This may change if Wizards decides to return to publishing older edition materials.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
The short story is this.


The Internet allows niche communities to easily communicate and grow. In this case, around 2000, people playing classic editions of D&D found that there was a great deal of other people still playing classic editions. They started getting together and doing non-commercial stuff like OD&Dities.

The Open Game License allowed companies to use the d20 SRD as the basis for a game.

Troll Lord Games decided to make a AD&D RPG that called Castles and Crusade. But during its development decided to make it only AD&D compatible instead of a clone. It compatible in that you can take an original AD&D adventure or setting and use it as is and it will work with C&C.

Matt Finch and slightly later Stuart Marshall takes on writing OSRIC in the mid 2000s. They know IP lawyers and get them involved in the process. Their work relies on the twin pillars that the terms they need are open content because of the d20 SRD and that under US Law game mechanics can't be copyrighted. Their goal is to produce as close of a clone as they legally can. Their first editions was designed as a publisher reference/SRD to producing adventures and supplement.

Concurrently Chris Gonnerman produces Basic Fantasy which is a quasi-clone of BECMI D&D. However it doesn't have as great as an impact as OSRIC as it wasn't explicitly setup to allow third party publishing.

We are now in 2007.

In August Dan Proctor produces Labyrinth Lord a complete ready to run Retro Clone of B/X D&D.

In 2008 Matt Finch, one of the original authors of OSRIC, releases Swords & Wizardry a complete and ready to run clone of OD&D.

Finally in the fall of 2008 OSRIC itself is rewritten as a complete ready to run RPG as Version 2.

Before 2006 there were about 50 odd releases of various material supporting classic editions. In 3e world there was a back to the roots movement led by Goodman Games and Necromancer Games who were noted for writing old school adventures with new school rules.

These all count stuff targeted explicitly written for classic editions.
In 2006 this was nearly doubled with 48 releases.
In 2007 there was a small fall off to 44 releases.
In 2008 there was 76 releases.
In 2009 there was 125 releases

and keeps growing from there along with a huge growth in closely related games set in different genres like planet and swords or close in tenor and feel like the DCC RPG.

To recap the three factors that allowed the OSR to grow in to a substantial hobby niche are

*The huge body of people who played classic editions of D&D.
*The internet capability to allow niche communities to communicate and grow.
*The use of the Open Game License to RPGs to use the most of the same terms as classic editions.
*The inexpensive availability of Print on Demand technology.

The OSR is now a distinct niche of its own with it own industry side and hobby side similar to Fate, GURPS, Savage World, etc. Unlike the rest there is no dominant (Fate) or single (GURPS, Savage World, etc) publishers supporting it. It is solely supported by multiple publishers. This may change if Wizards decides to return to publishing older edition materials.
Yeah there is no OSR Pathfinder. DCC did manage to break the top 5 RPG sales in late 2012 (ICV2). Not sure what the largest retroclones are atm but I suspect C&C and DCC are the 2 larger ones. Some 3rd and 4E players seem to have gone OSR as well as I know I am not the only one.
 

DMKastmaria

First Post
Yeah there is no OSR Pathfinder. DCC did manage to break the top 5 RPG sales in late 2012 (ICV2). Not sure what the largest retroclones are atm but I suspect C&C and DCC are the 2 larger ones. Some 3rd and 4E players seem to have gone OSR as well as I know I am not the only one.
Given the strong DIY ethos among OSR DM's and cross-pollination between the clones & TSR era rulesets, the idea of a "dominant" OSR game kinda misses the point of what a lot of people are doing. I own print copies of 9 retro & neo clones and usually run 1e, S&W or my own version of OS D&D, which cribs from multiple sources. All in all, that's not atypical.

Hearing DM's saying things like "Well, I'm running S&W right now, but it's so heavily houseruled and mashed up with other sources, that I don't really call it that, anymore," is par for the course.
 

estar

Explorer
Given the strong DIY ethos among OSR DM's and cross-pollination between the clones & TSR era rulesets, the idea of a "dominant" OSR game kinda misses the point of what a lot of people are doing. I own print copies of 9 retro & neo clones and usually run 1e, S&W or my own version of OS D&D, which cribs from multiple sources. All in all, that's not atypical.

Hearing DM's saying things like "Well, I'm running S&W right now, but it's so heavily houseruled and mashed up with other sources, that I don't really call it that, anymore," is par for the course.
One thing I noticed since I got involved with OSR in 2008, is that mash ups are the norm rather than the exception. Partly it the hobbyist ethos, partly it is the lite rules of some classic editions, and partly is because of the poor presentation of classic edition notably OD&D and some sections of AD&D 1st.

The next effect makes trying to be "By the Book" impractical. With OD&D you are automatically forced at the onset to make decisions on how to handle various aspects of the game. With AD&D most people run it as a combination of B/X or BECMI combat with AD&D classes and options. One reason why the Advanced Edition Companion for Labyrinth Lord is popular.
 

Thorf

First Post
As a fan of the old settings - Mystara in particular - we were based at the Wizards boards for a while. But around 2008, they suddenly and without warning decided to merge all of the Old Worlds boards into a single board - at which point Mystara community member Ashtagon created The Piazza, and we promptly upped ship and moved over there.

The timing is interesting, because since 2008 The Piazza has slowly grown into much more than the Old Worlds boards used to be.
 

Thorf

First Post
I agree with the point about mash-ups - in my (limited) experience, a lot of people enjoy mixing and matching their favourite parts from all sorts of sources/editions/games. That is also a defining factor of the OSR, isn't it?
 


Desdichado

Adventurer
Nostalgia 1: the state of being homesick 2: a wistful or excessively sentimental sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrevocable condition.
- Webster's 9th New Collegiate

If you think it's all just nostalgia I respectfully suggest you either have overly narrow views of what the hobby is now versus what it once was, or you don't have an accurate idea of the definiton of that word. It is not nostalgia to see the rules for a game abandon things that are considered by many to be vital elements, and subsequently decide to play a game with rules that revive things that you prefer about older editions over newer editions. OSR games are created and succeed because of unmet demand that new rulesets are actually responsible for creating. That level of demand is much more than nostalgia could ever hope to generate.

It is manifestly clear that each new edition of D&D has had its detractors even while still in development much less turning away from them after their actual release and you can't long for a time or a condition from some past period if it hasn't even ended yet. That is not nostalgia at work nearly so much as the simple inability to please everyone all the time. With D&D in particular a new edtion has come to mean that you either drink the Kool-aid that the developer mixes for you, or you get "left behind" because support for any and all previous editions was killed (likely in attempts to pressure players to purchase new rules which they would otherwise NOT be inclined to). The OSR movement survives and thrives because people sometimes prefer alternative, and already established approaches to the rules for valid and quantifiable reasons. Nostalgia for older rules may even be sentimentality but the OSR exists because the conditions are NOT irrevocable and the desire to play according to those older rules is a SENSIBLE desire, not a fanciful one.

MHO
None of which precludes nostalgia from also being a major factor.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
I am not an OSR gamer (aside from playing Basic back in the 80s before any revival) but I have question that is slightly tangential to the the question of cause. Why are there so many different types of OSR games? When I have a quick look at them with my un-trained eye they look very similar - why hasnt a game is the OSR set become predominate?
A year or two ago, I would have told you that it seemed Labyrinth Lord had, in fact, done so. Now, I'm not so sure.

Probably because it is inherently a do-it-yourself type of movement, such that folks appreciate the subtle differences. Couple that with the fact that almost all of them are freely available, and, well, why not go with the odd little niche version instead of whatever percieved standard?
 

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