D&D General Why is "OSR style" D&D Fun For You?

DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
Shadowdark is GREAT. It's 5E trimmed of all the chaff, simplified, and ads a touch of old school danger (though not as dangerous, a good middle ground).

I've tried other OSR's and the best thing about them is how it keeps it all so simple. Old school with adjusted for ease rules.

But seriously, try Shadowdark It's top tier and I say this as someone who has played every Ed of D&D (though I started at 2nd).
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I love DCC for that old school feeling. Funnels are a blast, and the game play is all about skill play. Its not something I want to play in perpetuity, but ill do a single sesh and/or short campaign anytime. Part of it is a changeup from some pretty detailed modern post Hickman play I am accustomed to. Another part is the simple nostalgia of gaming of yesteryear.

I also really enjoy Forbidden Lands by Free League. It feel like a detailed exploration heavy old school game with modern sensibility. I like the challenge of resource management but the clever mechanics to make it less of a chore. Also, you cant beat a streamlined combat system that gets out of the way of exploration play.
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
For me:

It's tonally a different game, closer to a horror movie than high fantasy. I use it to run grittier, more run and gun games, more along the lines of the 13th Warrior than Lord of the Rings.

Due to simpler rules and having cut my teeth on 1E and BD&D, there's very low mental load on me as DM, so I find it even easier to improvise in play, meaning things run quickly and smoothly.

OSR games are all extremely compatible with one another, meaning that there are decades of adventures and monster books to use, and the OSR movement means that there are now more of these books being released every year than TSR did through their entire run, so at worst, it's got the second-most material of any RPG out there. (If one piled them all up, it might even equal or exceed what 5E has available.)

The lighter rules mean that I can create monsters, treasures, spells and even whole classes quickly and easily, allowing for highly customizable games.

All that said, I am not replacing 5E with OSR. There are adventures and campaigns that make less sense to run in OSR. I prefer to use the right tool for the job.
 


Jack Daniel

dice-universe.blogspot.com
For me, it comes down to a few specific areas: ease, emphasis, and personal nostalgia.

BECMI is easy to run. The game's built-in tools make world-building (both dungeon and wilderness design) super easy. Once you have a handle on the core mechanics (searches, turns, wandering monster checks, reaction rolls, traps, combat, wilderness travel, etc.), the game runs smooth as butter. It's structured enough that I don't have to grope to make rulings all the time, but never so overcomplicated that I have to spend time looking up fiddly little rules. I can prep a world in a week, but then run it for a year.

As a "forever Referee," I like the old-school style's emphasis on challenge, exploration, world-simulation (i.e. playing to find out what happens rather than playing through a storyline that I, as DM, already know the ending to), and the concept of the "Grand Campaign" (the idea that instead of a single ensemble "cast of characters" all moving through a plotline together, the campaign instead consists of a large number of atomized, semi-independent adventurers who all have their own individual goals and aspirations, and the game is about finding out which of these characters will "rise to the top" and become movers and shakers, builders of nations, maybe even Immortals — as well as a grand struggle fought along factional lines between Law and Chaos). I don't mean to claim badwrongfun or yuck anyone's yum when I say that trad campaigns (the kind with a fixed cast and a storyline) are simply too restrictive and predictable for me — been there, done that, it's a solved game that doesn't interest me anymore.

Finally, I can't deny that nostalgia is a part of it. I'm a Millennial (to the extent that generational cohorts mean anything). I first played D&D on the 1070 black box, but I really got into the game as a high school freshman, first using the 1106 Classic set and then quickly moving over to AD&D. (While we didn't mix Classic and Advanced, heeding the strictures in the text that they were two separate games, we enthusiastically ran 2e games that included whatever 1e materials we could get our hands on. Even though we were definitely playing 2e, the 1e PHB and OA were always essential components.) We played AD&D in a very trad style, because that reflected our sources of inspiration (Tolkien, video games) and because it was in the zeitgeist at the time: the 90s were the days of "Vampire is for the real roleplayers!" vs. "Nuh-uh, AD&D can be for real roleplayers too! It's only a few bad apples (munchkins and grognards) doing all the hack-n-slash, rollplaying, and metagaming!" So to have the OSR come along later and induce me to finally go back and give those old rules that I started on a fresh look, and to discover that they were meant for something wholly different — an old-school Grand Campaign is so different in purpose and character from a trad campaign that I now consider them to be part of functionally separate hobbies — it was more than just enlightening, it was mind-blowing.

Now as to the OSR specifically, while I don't always go along with the ways that it revises history or defines itself against the modern game by emphasizing things like lethality or interrogating the fiction in lieu of using dice mechanics, I do think that there's one aspect of the OSR which has been undeniably valuable: the OSR has divested the game-engine underlying OD&D (in the broad sense — LBB, BX, BECMI, etc.) from the fantasy milieu itself and repurposed it for every genre, from modern to sci-fi to supers. There's a Swords & Wizardry derived, OD&D compatible OSR game out there for every genre, which makes OD&D now a universal system as adaptable as GURPS or Savage Worlds. That's phenomenal. It means that as long as I'm happy with the mode of gameplay that OD&D does best (challenge-based exploration that emphasizes the world over the characters exploring it), I never have to leave the OD&D ecosystem just because I want to play a game that isn't set in pseudo-medieval fantasy-land. If I want space opera, there's White Star. If I want post-apocalyptic, there's Mutant Future. If I want four-color superheroes, there's Guardians. And so on. I can't say enough good about that fact.
 
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fuindordm

Adventurer
Focus on skillful exploration and management of the risk/reward tradeoff. Should we explore one more room hoping for the big payoff, or return to town with what we have knowing that the dungeon denizens will have time to regroup? How can we bypass that fight altogether? At its best an old school dungeon (or any site-based adventure) is a series of interesting choices, as opposed to a series of scripted encounters.
 

Arilyn

Hero
It's not so much the system but the vast amount of very imaginative content: Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood, Brad Kerr's Wyvern Song, Zedeck Siew and Mun Kao's A Thousand Thousand Islands, to name just a few.

I've gotten more enjoyment from short zines brimming with cool ideas than from a thick hardcover from WotC.

Edited to fix Gavin's last name from Newsom to Norman. The Governor of California doesn't write rpgs, as far as I know. 😅
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
It's not so much the system but the vast amount of very imaginative content: Gavin Newsom's Dolmenwood, Brad Kerr's Wyvern Song, Zedeck Siew and Mun Kao's A Thousand Thousand Islands, to name just a few.
Incidentally, if one is interested in A Thousand Thousand Islands, buy the zines now. The duo has had a falling out and they're taking all of the stuff offline and, once Reach of the Roach God sells out (it's not even in the hands of retailers yet, though), it's gone forever.
 

Arilyn

Hero
Incidentally, if one is interested in A Thousand Thousand Islands, buy the zines now. The duo has had a falling out and they're taking all of the stuff offline and, once Reach of the Roach God sells out (it's not even in the hands of retailers yet, though), it's gone forever.
I hadn't heard. That's a shame. Thanks for the update.
 

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