Friday, July 9, 2010

I Don't Get It

I'm not "fat," I just weigh too much.

I'm not "married," I just have a wife.

I'm not part of the "OSR," I just play the older games or simulacra.

72 comments:

  1. Beat a dead horse much? It is rather a turnabout from "do it your own way" to "you must march with the rest of us just because you sing the same song."

    Fuck that.

    Why does it matter so much to you BEYOND the obvious advantage that an "OSR" has for a publisher?

    Call a spade a spade.

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  2. Despite this being a basically irrelevant semantic argument and therefore not that important to me, I'll volunteer that I don't consider myself a member of the "OSR" because:

    1) I find the "Old School" label simultaneously pretentious and punk-as-fuck (which is to say, pretentious), and since I don't roll like that I refuse to buy into it just because some people want to pigeon-hole me (similarly, I do say I'm married because I choose to, but would prefer you refer to me as "overweight", since I'm nowhere near obese). It's up to ME what I call myself.

    2) I've been playing the abovementioned older games more or less continuously since 1980, so all you "Renaissance" kids can go elsewhere to feel as if you've (re)discovered some long lost treasure trove of gaming goodness... Many of us have been here all along, in some cases since before you were born (yes, I know I'm not the oldest surviving gamer in the world).

    3) Like Groucho, I'd never join a club that would have me as a member. Actually, I'd never join any club, period, let alone a friggin' Movement. Things like the OSR are inherently political, and I can't stand politics. People get hurt, ostracized, and ganged up against in politics--it seldom goes long without getting ugly.

    4) Like others have mentioned, I don't think the book was closed on decent game design in 1989 (frankly, I think it was closed around 1983 and re-opened sometime around 2000, with notable exceptions). I like the Serenity RPG and the Coretex system, I don't think people who play LARPs or Storyteller games should be shot (shunned and ghetto-ized, yes, but not shot :), and I don't think 3rd edition D&D is all that bad, though I much prefer AD&D.

    I could go on, but you get the idea. Labels bad, freedom good. Mutually exclusive...

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  3. I don't know about flogging a dead horse, I certainly reckon it is a beat up. Going back only a few short years the online old school rpg scene was dominated by play it my way or the highway, card carrying, rabid, version fundamentalists. Then along came the OSR, birthed out of a wonderful mix of retro-clones, blogging, and PoD self-publishing. Suddenly we could break free of the moron-dominated forums, be free to enjoy this hobby of ours without being dragged down by the your doing it wrong crowd.

    Some of the biggest names in the OSR are people who are the most broad minded in the old school community. People who don't give a stuff who plays what. And while they may publicly state their personal preferences, that doesn't equate to telling others they're wrong. Anyone who thinks so needs to grow up and stop being so bloody insecure.

    I said I think this is all a beat up, I do. There hasn't been a controversy in the OSR for all of a couple of months now, things have got a bit quiet. The anti-OSR brigade obviously feel our online scene is overdue for another trolling session. So a big *sigh*, here we go again.

    You want to point the finger at people who are telling you you're playing it wrong, there's a couple of forums you can visit where they'll be in a mad scramble to be the first to do so. People who don't like or want anything new, even if it's been produced for their favourite version of the game.

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  4. I like how all the morons out there have formed their own little " Im not into labels and the osr " movement and dont even realize they have their own new movement. If you dont want to be part of the "game" then dont voice your opinion. Its human nature to gravitate to others who share some of your likes. Labels give us a way to identify others so we can interact on similar subjects. There is nothing wrong with calling yourself a boardgamer, history buff, sci fi junkie or even a member in the osr. It gives us a quick link to others so we dont have to have an in depth conversation with every person on the planet in the hope of finding someone who likes to talk about Big Trouble in Little China or Dune.

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  5. One thing that seems obvious to me after reading the comment above by dhowarth333, as well as numerous others around the blogosphere today is that there is an incredible amount of misunderstanding surrounding the phrase Old School Renaissance (or Revival).

    Old School is simply a label denoting a certain class of games, in particular the various versions of TSR D&D. And there are few people who would dispute that there was a change in philosophy when WotC took over from TSR in publishing D&D. dhowarth333 says the Old School tag is "pretentious". Why? It's just a convenient label. No-one would think it's "pretentious and punk-as-fuck" to call a vintage car a vintage car, so why the hostility over the Old School label?

    Labels are simply a convenient way for people to communicate, so we know what the other is talking about without the need for long explanations and clarifications. When talking about the "Old School community", we're simply talking about a bunch of people who get together and share their passion for a certain class of games. That we have people running around the blogosphere loudly exclaiming that the Old School community is an exclusive boy's club that hates anything that isn't old school is not only baseless, but an incredible exercise in extrapolation. To take someone's observation that they prefer certain games and say that means they obviously hate others is either incredibly sad or stunningly dishonest, I'm not sure which. Having a preference for a style of gaming doesn't automatically equate to hatred of styles that are different. And I notice none of the critics in this latest blow up are quoting examples of the I'm Old School and Prejudiced Club.

    The other misunderstanding is over the use of the words Renaissance or Revival, as nicely illustrated in dhowarth333's 2nd point above where he uses the word "(re)discovered". This has nothing to do with discovering or rediscovering anything. Both words denote growth and creativity and that is a telling difference in philosophy.

    Most of those people most active in the OSR are old farts. dhowarth333 wears his 30 years of rpg experience as a badge of pride, but most movers and shakers in the OSR can claim the same background. And like dhowarth333 they haven't lost anything to then have the need to rediscover it.

    The OSR is first and foremost a publishing movement. As I said in my post above it was birthed out of the coming together of three main elements: the OGL-based clone movement, the rise of blogging, and the ease of desktop publishing combined with cheap Print on Demand services. What happened then was an explosion of creativity focused around TSR D&D. That was the renaissance. Not a rediscovery, but a coming together of minds and talents and a bundle of tools that enabled people to get together and push this niche of ours outside of its previous boundaries. I won't bother to list the achievements, publishing or otherwise, of those who self-identify with the term OSR, they are too many and on public record. To those who feel threatened, or cynical, or any other negative emotion towards the OSR, instead of jumping on the bandwagon and joining the chorus, perhaps you could take the time to talk to those involved, ask them that wonderful and simple question - "why", and perhaps you can then begin to untie the knots in your knickers.

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  6. My only point was that I don't want to be told what to call myself, nothing more. I'm not a publisher, don't intend to publish anything, and while I wish anyone who does the best, I don't really have any ego invested in the success of OSR publishing endeavors.

    I think perhaps the problem is LotFP's two-part definition. I play an older edition of D&D. Great. But I don't have any interest in promoting the game to others or promulgating some sort of movement agenda.

    To say this point of view is moronic, or indicates that I'm feeling threatened or that I'm cynical, is outrageous. My knickers remain untwisted. I just don't give a fuck about your little self-congratulatory party. I've purchased plenty of OSR-related merchandise, including some of Mr. Raggi's products, a few issues of Fight On!, and various other things. I'll likely continue to do so when these products meet my needs. What else can you possibly expect from anyone?

    It doesn't mean I have to worship at the altar of Old School. If you expect everyone who buys an OSR product to become some sort of convert, guys, you're going to have a rude awakening in the not-so-distant future. I everyone who self-identifies with the OSR the best, truly, but I just don't.

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  7. Not being into "labels" doesn't make someone a moron. Thanks for adding THAT label.

    That is where part of the antagonism lies. Some people don't want labels put on them. Period.

    You can't respect that, then say they're morons. Its no different when a "non-labelled" gamer calls the "OSR" names. Tit for tat.

    OSR is NOT just a publishing thing. You can't publish Old School. It's something new, an adaptation maybe. But it's not a classic. Only games that came out back then are. You can paint them and put a label on it saying whatever, but it doesn't make it so.

    The OSR started off like a great idea, but unfortunately as politics intercede, it has grown tainted.

    And all the chatter & name-calling doesn't exactly help the cause of gaming, does it?

    Ciao!
    GW

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  8. @James: Is it really good PR to raise peoples ire when you're trying to sell something? Just wondering. You always seemed to be the sort to say what's on YOUR mind and fuck everyone else's opinion.

    Well, that does work both ways. You make some great points, but I don't know if they'll get across if you make it a my way or the highway decree. You're either with us or against us isn't good for business.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  9. @ Grendelwulf - Tainted? Really? What exactly does that mean? And are we talking about a Tainted movement, business, mass creative endeavor, or just people? The Retro-Clones?

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  10. @Grendelwulf: I have to disagree. I can respect that some people don't want labels put upon them and I can also think they're morons who get upset at the labels I use when describing them.

    And yes I use labels to describe people. I find people who get hurt by being labeled need to learn that what I think and say about them is about as important as what color my poo is today. IMO, my thoughts about someone as a person are utterly and ultimately unimportant to that person. Even if I think someone is a moron, that's utterly unimportant as well. It's only as important as that person makes it and well, honestly, if that person makes my thinking of them as a moron important at all, it kinda supports the thesis that they're a moron because my opinion is worth less than spit.

    Just as every individual determines how they choose to classify themselves, every individual chooses how to classify others. That's a truism to me. Having some sort of emotional response to what someone else is doing in their head to try and put order and structure upon a chaotic world seems fruitless to me.

    So yeah, I'm part of the OSR. I think everyone who's posted here is as well and I label everyone here as part of the OSR in my head to help me organize my world.

    Now, Do I have an emotional conection with being part of the OSR? Not in the least. It's just a label describing certain actions I do. I care about being in the OSR like I care about having blue eyes.

    Not everyone's like me of course, but I thought I should say something, as there are people here that seem adverse to labels or having others label them. To me, that's like being adverse to adjectives and adverbs.

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  11. Sorry, James. I meant to be asking "Jim".

    But, to answer the question: People. It all comes down to People, doesn't it.

    I don't have a personal beef with the OSR. I'd like to consider myself old school, having weathered the storms over many D&D editions and players opinions and such. But, as has been evidenced, some people don't like labels thrust upon them. They might agree in some of the philosophy, but it grates at them to call them by a category.

    Maybe it's from watching too many Prisoner episodes; It's a "not a number, free man" thing.

    I think that should be respected and not try to shove it down their throats.

    Everything to get new people into the gaming network is a great idea. I wholeheartedly agree with that. But people need to feel like they have a choice, they can be who they are, etc. Some may consider that an illusion, but if it is then you don't poke sticks to stir the sleeping giant.

    I am not savvy with all the "official" OSR pro's and cons. I just know what I read around on people's blogs. If more than a few people are name-calling and griping, they must have a reason for it. It's probably not all justified, but there is a thorn there. Finding it, and removing it would be great.

    I find it interesting that more than one blog has commented on the pro/anti OSR subject. Its not as bad as a few months ago, but it's a sore point.

    It does get to sounding too political or religious. Hey everyone, we all worship the same powers-that-be that give us life, or the games that give us enjoyment, whatever.

    Is there truly no room for differences when we all hold the same goal in mind?

    Ciao!
    GW

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  12. @jgbrowning: I see where you're coming from. Okay. It's like calling someone a faggot or a nigger or some such derogatory term. What I call them doesn't matter, only inasmuch as they allow it to matter to them. Yes, it's an outlandish example. Of course, people shouldn't let what others say bother them, but they do. Not every one is level headed. But, that would only make them fall into the category of the derogatory term, right? Fine, if that is your opinion.

    I try to hold abit of morality and compassion in speaking to people. That's my opinion. If I feel I am right about something, I say it. If I find I am wrong, I admit it. I don't try to rationalize it to myself or others later.

    JimLotFP said...
    >>Because role-playing is a social hobby, and a being able to be identified as a growing thing is the best way to get more people playing. Absolutely nothing gets people willing to try to play games more than the belief that it will be easy to find people to play with.

    That sense of mass and momentum is the greatest tool we have to get more people.

    If we disconnect, if everyone takes down their blogrolls, stops talking about each other's work, stops caring about the world beyond their table and just plays the game and says fuck everything else, then this doesn't grow, and it dies with us.<<

    To me, that says label us all. Some people, as I said to James, don't follow that philosophy. Name calling won't change it, and it actually is another crack in the solidity of our shared hobbies. So, why waste time going there? Why start a fire again? It sometimes make no sense to me.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  13. And yes I use labels to describe people. I find people who get hurt by being labeled need to learn that what I think and say about them is about as important as what color my poo is today. IMO, my thoughts about someone as a person are utterly and ultimately unimportant to that person. Even if I think someone is a moron, that's utterly unimportant as well.

    I don't care what you call me (OSR); just don't tell me that *I* must call myself what you call me. And yes, you thinking I'm a moron is entirely unimportant.

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  14. Yes, but having blue eyes does matter. I think blue eyes are just adorable.

    Yes, Aberrant Hive Mind, I heard you.

    >>D&D is D&D.<<

    I like to think so too.

    Ciao!
    GW

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  15. @Grendelwulf: I do think there's a big difference between calling someone a faggot or a nigger and calling them a gaming geek or a member of the OSR. Although the actions are, at their root, the same and one should not care about what someone else thinks of you, the intents are vastly different based upon history and context. To me, history and intent matters a lot in what I think.

    @dhowarth333: Why not? That may seem flippant, but it's a serious question. I mean, were I to tell you that you *must* call yourself a member of the OSR wouldn't that just seem utterly ridiculous, foolish, silly, and stupid all at the same time? There's absolutely no way my stupid command has even any remotely tenuous grasp upon reality were I to make such a demand so I'm honestly a bit confused as to why it matters.

    It would kinda be like me telling you you *must* eat peas and carrots today. It's just so ludicrous that I'm not sure why it's even worthy of mention.

    Oh, and I don't think you're a moron. Not that my thinking you're not a moron matters, but I would like to clarify and misconceptions if there were any.

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  16. @ Grendelwulf - I understood. My question was typed before I saw your response to Jim. :)

    I get that some gamers don't like it when others refer to the OSR as the be all and end all of Old School Gaming. I don't get why, this translates into insults and condescension, directed at so-called OSR folks. We get enough of that shit from 3e and 4e gamers. That last isn't directed toward you, but I do have to ask for a clarification: You're saying that the People involved in the OSR are "Tainted?"

    And while I'm on the subject, can anyone tell me EXACTLY what the difference is between OSR gamers and Non-OSR Old Schoolers, other than the fact that some of us like a fucking label? I get a lot of Labels: Father, Husband, Grognard, Gamer, etc. Is Old Schooler and ok Label? How about 1e Gamer? Or just Gamer? Is that Ok?

    It's Ok if it isn't, but I think the amount of Vitriol, which pops up in these discussions, is a bit weird. I have some ideas as to why it's happening. Don't like em, though.

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  17. Why not tell me I must call myself a member of the OSR? For starters, because I object to it and you respect the wishes of others...?

    Not buyin' that, eh? Well, how about because, as you yourself say, "...were I to tell you that you *must* call yourself a member of the OSR wouldn't that just seem utterly ridiculous, foolish, silly, and stupid all at the same time? There's absolutely no way my stupid command has even any remotely tenuous grasp upon reality were I to make such a demand..."

    Unless I have completely misconstrued the point of the original post, Mr. Raggi is expressly telling us that we must identify with the OSR if we meet one or both of the two listed criteria. I object to that. I don't see how this is controversial, or why it's even being discussed this late in the game. Didn't the "OSR" get over the self-definition phase about a year back?

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  18. @James: No, I didn't mean People involved in the OSR. I meant People in general. People who are complaining or making others complain. People are human. Nobody's perfect.

    jgbrowning said...
    >>Although the actions are, at their root, the same and one should not care about what someone else thinks of you, the intents are vastly different based upon history and context.<<

    The actions are, at their root, the same. The rest is subjective. Intent to wound, in whatever degree...

    drops stick, wiping dead horse glue from hands.

    Yours is a purer strain. 'Nuf said.

    Adios!
    GW

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  19. @dhowarth333: Ah, ok, somehow I'd missed that. For you it's a matter of respecting the wishes of others. I can dig that.

    However, there is a point where respecting the wishes of others regarding how one labels them does become silly. Where that limit is or about what subject that limit is broken varies from person to person. As a silly example - I know that I wouldn't refer to someone as an animal regardless how much they wanted me to. There comes a point where respecting someone's wishes is just to contrary to respecting one's own wishes to continue.

    I do see you as part of the OSR if you play the old games or publish for them as Raggi postuatled and to me, because you meet the criteria you must be part of the OSR as well, but only because it's a self-definitional thing. If I say a swimmer is someone who swims, and you're swimming, you must be a swimmer by definition.

    As far as being a swimmer "fanboi", well that's something else. I don't think all swimmers are swimmer "fanbois" although some are. Perhaps that's what you don't like with being told that you *must* be a part of the OSR - you're associating being in the OSR with being a swimmer "fainboi" as opposed to just being a swimmer?

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  20. @Grendelwulf: To me, what is an appropriate response to someone showing an intent to wound is very dependent upon the the degree. I suspect we're generally agreeing here in a roundabout way.

    I'm guess what I'm saying is that I'm a bit confused to the intensity of the response that Raggi's comments are engendering as I wasn't aware that being told that one is part of the OSR had any intent to wound at all.

    Perhaps I'm so out of the loop that I simply don't know any of the sub-text of the conversation?

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  21. This is what I got from the comments that have been posted so far:

    1. J.E. Raggi IV is saying that there IS such a thing as an Old-School
    Renaissance (M)ovement, made up of role-playing neo-classicist as it were, centered around the pre-3e D&D and OGL ruleset and that players and publishers are ipso factor, part of that OSR (M)ovement.

    2. The coining of the term "OSR (M)ovement" itself is a political statement
    because, as opposed to OSR (m)ovement, the term (M)ovement embodies a sense of organization, a resolve to achieve certain goals and in that way crystallize the existing (m)ovement in such a way as to attract the interests of the public to said (M)ovement and hence legitimize the views and actions of the (M)ovement leaders. This is as opposed to the self-evident prexisting OSR (m)ovement, which is preceived to be benign, leaderless and is not being marketed in any serious manner and therefore in competition with pre-existing products with greater market share.

    3. The problem stemming from the intended action (1) and the unspoken
    connotation (2) has, as expected, resulted in a backlash. This backlash takes 3 forms:
    (a) People who have strong libertarian tendencies reject being defined
    as being part of any (M)ovement, even as they honestly cannot deny that they are part of a prexisting (m)ovement. They are happy to be part of a benign niche (m)ovement and they do not want the debate between the neo-classicists and the Existing Order to impinge upon their interests.
    (b) People who do not preceive themselves to have any stake in the
    decision making process of the (M)ovement reject the leadership of any (M)ovement and its goals. Even though these people understand that they are part of the (m)ovement, they see this as only being incidental and have no interest in seeing the (m)ovement survive in any shape or form.
    (b) People whose interests are aligned with the Existing Order reject
    the existence of any (M)ovement and downplay the appeal of the (m)ovement because it threatens their market interests.

    4. Given the above, I would conclude that while Mr Raggi views may in part be
    altruistic in the sense that he truly appreciates the neo-classicist interpretation of Gygax, Holmes and earlier rpg pioneers, and so seeks to preserve this legacy, I fear that in this matter he has overreached. The (m)ovement is full of uncommitted or disillusioned members and his opponents are people in suits with bags full of money. Therefore, while I admire his tenacity and idealism, I must advise him to take heed from the fate of TARGA and readjust his goals accordingly. The powers that be may tolerate an OSR (m)ovement but never a (M)ovement because there can only be One!!!! They are already moving to cut off (m)ovement by releasing D&D Essentials. My advise to Mr Raggi is to turn to the writings of Sun Tzu and continue guerilla activities until a more opportune time.

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  22. Not sure why Jim deleted his original response to me, but let's go thru it:


    Because role-playing is a social hobby, and a being able to be identified as a growing thing is the best way to get more people playing. Absolutely nothing gets people willing to try to play games more than the belief that it will be easy to find people to play with.


    I disagree. It's easy to find players for 2nd edition AD&D, 1st edition AD&D if you put forth the sweat equity.

    What makes people willing to try is the fact that books are available, demo games are available and people are playing games.

    You don't need organizations and labels for that. Shall we examine the corpse of TARGA to put that argument to rest?

    What helps PUBLISHERS is to have a label to hook their game to.

    What happens when PEOPLE start caring more about the labels than the game is the shit that resurfaces every 3 to 6 months or so. Waste of time and energy, that's what those are.

    You think guys who've been playing for years needed an "OSR" to play games? No, they started writing clones to be able to PUBLISH, and the movement sprang thusly from that. Dan's got the right of it.

    What happened is everyone else jumped on the bandwagon and said "wee" and had both good and bad times. The labels are applied by those who care. They are ignored by those who don't. What's so bad about that, aside from that it reduces your potential buying audience?


    That sense of mass and momentum is the greatest tool we have to get more people.


    Having a label isn't going to "get more people" - having games and product. As a publisher, you care more for the latter.


    If we disconnect, if everyone takes down their blogrolls, stops talking about each other's work, stops caring about the world beyond their table and just plays the game and says fuck everything else, then this doesn't grow, and it dies with us.


    Yea, cause you know, there were no old school blogs, no old school games, no old school product before G-d came down and bestowed the mighty OSR on us.

    Really? Man, the old Jim I knew would tear this shit apart. Who are you?

    Dude, it's the games that matter, not some label.


    I've been on about this long before I had any sort of financial stake in it, and there's a hell of a lot more people than me that benefits from this. Not just publishers, either. Every single person who thinks they'd like to play but suffers from the old gamer curse, "can't find a group" benefits.


    Already dealt with that. You know how *I* got more people to play old school? Not from OSR labels. Not from my blog. It was from games - my 12 hour marathon, my 1 1/2 year AD&D campaign with over 30 people, my games I run at conventions.

    THAT is the best bang for the buck.

    Old school doesn't need the "OSR." Old school needs the people who come in and create energy. People don't need the "OSR" for that.

    But then, the almighty OSR is so great, that if we take away the label, all the blogs, forums and energy, plus all the games and the great tools to connect people to games will disappear.

    Pffft. What in the fuck are you smokin'?

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  23. @ChicagoWiz: "Old school doesn't need the "OSR." Old school needs the people who come in and create energy. People don't need the "OSR" for that."

    Hrm... I guess I have a very different view. I don't see a difference between Old school and the OSR. To me, they're definitionally the same.

    Oh well, gotta log off for the day. Nice talking with everyone.

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  24. @john - it's like a reversal from what we were arguing about last year.

    I'll tell you exactly why I have such a negative feeling towards to so-called "OSR" - it's because it turned from being about publishers and being about putting out new content to being some sort of definition of what you can and can't do - it became a vehicle for keyboard commandos to self-fellate themselves and make life hell out of everyone else because of their shitty attitudes and it was a way to make a game unfun.

    I have more energy bang for the buck by going to a game store and running a game and handing out samples or pointing people to URLs than participating in the so-called "OSR".

    GaryCon and NTRPG - running old school, but you remove the focus on being part of some "movement" and just get back to playing games, you have what they are doing. They don't need the "OSR" - they are just there at the right time for people to be done with the games they DON'T like and make/play games they do like.

    @Icarus - that's quite a screed. I sense some Illuminati going on there.

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  25. @ChicagoWiz: I guess you had a rough time. I dodn't pay any attention to the internet drama that floats around so I shouldn't be surprised if I'm missing sub-context.

    I'm glad you're having fun doing what you like, but I do hope that you come to see that at least for some people (like me) there is no difference between what you're doing and what the OSR is.

    I wouldn't want you to think I'm being insulting were I to say you're part of the OSR because that's not my intent at all.

    However, knowing how you feel about it, I won't say such a thing in the future. I hope your opinion tempers with some time and distance and that you won't think worse of us who continue to call ourselves part of the OSR.

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  26. @jgb - dude, I have no problem with what you want to call me. I've been called a lot worse (just not "convict") and labels don't bother me.

    What gets my shit is when people care more for the "sanctity" of the label versus just playing games. That's what I see Jim doing here. OSR uber alles. Pfft.

    Glam etal was metal was rock was blues. Death metal was metal was rock was blues. Numetal... well, let's not go there, but you see my point. You can slap labels on it all day, and if you mentally file me under OSR, that's fine. Just understand I don't really want anything to do with the "OSR" as much as I want to sit down and play the games I love.

    That's the difference - and I think it's lost in this discussion. Supporting the "OSR" means cheerleading and linking everything to the OSR - ala TARGA and all the other crap. Instead of cheerleading about a movement, I just write about my games.

    And I like yanking Jim's chain now, but that's a different subject...

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  27. @ChicagoWiz:"That's the difference - and I think it's lost in this discussion. Supporting the "OSR" means cheerleading and linking everything to the OSR - ala TARGA and all the other crap."

    Hrm... I never thought about that end of it, but I probably have a different viewpoint than most people on the OSR as I was publishing long before the OSR started. I mean, I've published 3e & 4e material so there's not really any concept of "real gaming" to me. It's all gaming, but there is definitely gaming I prefer over others. For me, that's Old-School

    I guess given that I've been soaked in the industry for so long all the cheer leading actually seems normal to me. But I can see how it would be annoying to someone who just wants to game.

    (I didn't have to go after all, the new Futureama isn't till 10 :))

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  29. I'll tell you exactly why I have such a negative feeling towards to so-called "OSR" - it became a vehicle for keyboard commandos to self-fellate themselves and make life hell out of everyone else because of their shitty attitudes and it was a way to make a game unfun.

    I keep hearing this, along with the accusations about the OSR becoming political, but I don't see the evidence for it. Where are the people saying and doing these things? I don't see it in the circles I haunt. I work with and have worked with several well known old school publishers, I am the admin guy for an old school organisation that seeks to introduce old school gaming to new people, I'm fairly active on a few old school forums and a moderator on one of them, and I don't see evidence of anyone laying down the rules, trying to form a movement with a capital 'M', or trying to take control of what is happening.

    It's all very well to jump up and down ranting and making accusations on the blogosphere, but without any actual evidence, it all sounds like sour grapes and hot air to me.

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  30. It's all very well to jump up and down ranting and making accusations on the blogosphere, but without any actual evidence, it all sounds like sour grapes and hot air to me.


    On a personal level, the failure of TARGA and PornGate. On a wider level, TARGA, these very posts that declare "OSR uber alles", the periodic "OSR is/isn't this/that" on the same blogosphere/forumsphere.

    It happens all.the.time. Declarations of what is/isn't old school. What's acceptable. Carcosa. The ongoing angst over the 4e Redbox. Etc., etc. C'mon, for someone so well connected, that seems a bit disingenuous.
    I can search on "OSR David MacCauley" and find a few controversies that you've commented on.

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  31. C'mon, for someone so well connected, that seems a bit disingenuous.
    I can search on "OSR David MacCauley" and find a few controversies that you've commented on.


    Well I'm certainly not being disingenuous on purpose Michael, I'm simply speaking what I see. Yes, we're all very aware of your very public clash with a tiny handful of people in TARGA, an event that should've been kept in-house but sadly wasn't (not blaming you), but apart from that I honestly am not seeing folks stand up and attempt to take control of, or steer the OSR in any way. And while people do of course express their opinions and preferences, I am not seeing any wide base or systemic anti-WotC feeling amongst those who'd consider themselves a part of the OSR.

    Either people are falsely attributing such behaviour to these folks, or they're mistaking those who are involved in the OSR with those who happen to play the same games. I happen to strongly disagree with James on the point that anyone playing and old school game is part of the OSR. Not true.

    And yes you are right Michael, I have spoken out on more than one controversy - and will continue to do so whenever I believe folks are unfairly and unnecessarily trying to tarnish and pull down this little corner of our hobby, especially when the "facts" simply don't add up.

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  32. Well good morning to the horde... wow.

    I started posting replies to a bunch of stuff, but I'll just respond to this:

    >>I have more energy bang for the buck by going to a game store and running a game and handing out samples or pointing people to URLs than participating in the so-called "OSR".

    By going to a game store and running a game and handing out samples, you are not only participating in the OSR, you're DRIVING it.

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  33. *I'm not OSR but buy my S&W Reference sheets*

    Fight the Power !

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  34. The crux of the argument, I suspect, is that the term "OSR" has more than one meaning, yet both sides have temporarily convinced themselves it doesn't. We're playing tug of war over a word that is too complex for either side to win.

    Yes, it can be read politically as Michael is doing, which would give people the right to self-identify as belonging or not belonging to it.

    And yes, it can be read demographically as Jim is doing, which would not give anyone the right to opt in or out, any more than you can opt out of being male short of some pretty radical surgery.

    But where you're both wrong is that each of you is trying to restrict its meaning to the one you've chosen for your argument. You're trying to deny each other the right to use the rest of the meaning of the word. It's a rhetorical sleight of hand that I believe you're both doing unconsciously, and that just about everyone who has responded has fallen for by taking sides in this non-argument.

    Jim, after what Michael's been through he's more aware than most of the political side of the word, the way in which the OSR can engage in herd behavior, and he's telling the truth when he says he ought to have the right to opt out of any political movement he doesn't want to get tangled up with. People are political animals, and OSR people are no exception, which is central to Michael's point.

    But Michael, Jim is also right that there is also a strictly demographic quality to OSR, because it was coined originally not as a political prescription but as a recognition of an emerging pattern of people who understood that by choosing to play older editions of the game they were bucking the trend and thus had something in common, regardless of how they self-identified. Trying to voluntarily opt out of that demographic description makes as little sense as trying to opt out of your species.

    The resolution to the argument is to recognize that the term is richer than either of you is admitting in this argument. There is both an OSR demographic and an OSR movement.

    Michael can opt out of the movement, but he can't opt out of the demographic so long as he plays the games he loves, nor does he have the power to redefine the word so that it doesn't include that demographic.

    Likewise, Jim can accurately put Michael in that demographic based on his behavior - and doesn't need his permission to do so - but he can't put him in the movement, nor does he have the power to define away the fact that the term OSR does also refer to that political movement.

    Maybe I'm wrong about this, but if I'm right the only way to resolve this argument may be to recognize the complexity of the word, give up trying to prove that your own restricted definition of it is right, and get back to gaming, producing games, and writing and arguing about games. That's what I'm going to go do now, anyway.

    YMMV.

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  35. Jim, now you are doing it again, arguing vehemently against something but don't giving any hint to what you are referring to.

    Mike is right here. Let's chill a bit. Who cares who is OSR or not?

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  36. No interest in causing a cross-blog kerfluffle. If I don't link, and just lay my view out here, then the conversation can happen here. Participate or avoid as desired.

    Those that then decide that they need to spread it to other places, not much I can do about that.

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  37. Sensible I guess, but I reads far less blogs these days and have NO idea what you are arguing about.

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  38. *I'm not OSR but buy my S&W Reference sheets*

    You'll notice I don't hawk my shit anymore. I sold the rights to Jon for the Ref Sheets and washed my hands of them.

    And if I want to sell stuff, so what? What does that have to do with me saying the "OSR" isn't needed to have old school gaming?

    Talk about sour grapes.

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  39. Can't we talk about the real issues - like whether armour should reduce damage or make you harder to hit?

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  40. Can I be part of the group that plays the games, and talks about the games, but not part of the group that talks about talking about the games?

    Oh wait, I just talked about talking about talking about the games, so does that put me in some kind of super-meta-elite?

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  41. I agree with anarchists post. I love coming to these blogs and getting great ideas from people who play the games I usually like and hearing about the games I have never tried. Lets get back to rants about game mechanics, house rules, modules and all that other great stuff that helps us all play better or have more fun.

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  42. Anyone who doesn't want to deal with blog drama or politics or in-groups and out-groups... probably shouldn't be on the internet. Old school blogs are at least a lot better about it than a lot of places I've hung around in. Most people around here are old enough to know better. And blogging in general makes drama pretty easy to ignore. Still -- it happens. It'll always happen. Whether everyone calls themselves "OSR" or not.

    Personally, I prefer the demographic definition over the organizational one for the OSR. But I never was much involved with TARGA or any of that. I'm pretty happy playing my games and writing about them, and the old school community has been a great way to hook up with people who share my interests, so I'm grateful to it for that.

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  43. Chicagowiz, I'd recently been on BB and seen the product on sale with your name on. You've enough of a history in the community for newbies to think -'that's by the guy who came up with all that cool shit on the forum, bet it's worth the $2'. If you've not selling it, well I'm truly very sorry for doubting your integrity but it doesn't make you less of an accomplice to the development of the OSR, however hard you wash your hands.

    'And if I want to sell stuff, so what? What does that have to do with me saying the "OSR" isn't needed to have old school gaming?'

    I may be the dumbest bloke around here
    but that isn't JUST what you were saying, c'mon, now that's being disingenous.

    'talk about sour grapes'

    I have no ailing vineyard to speak of (well, except for my growing disdain at collectors who don't game). May your revenge on the OSR be gaming well and enjoying yrsel.

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  44. I'm not part of the "OSR," I just play the older games or simulacra.
    I don't see the problem with that. Part of the reason why I feel less comfortable applying the 'OSR' label to myself is I see what that label means to other people who are "active" in the 'OSR' community --- and while many of their interests and mine may be similar, I don't feel the pressing need to 'grow the hobby' or 'protect the "OSR" from being associated with bad words on google searches' or 'determine what really is or is not OSR' or 'decide the future of TARGA,' etc.
    I'm not out to judge anyone else for their participation in or identification with the 'OSR' label. I hope others will understand that it's not a club I feel a pressing need to be an official member of.

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  45. Does anyone feel a pressing need to be an official member of the OSR ?

    Yeh, I was hooked for a bit, but now I only dabble occasionally - it's not a problem. By the way when it's Jim's game coming out, I've a hankering for more of that ol' D&D ? It's just that I read Dark Dungeons last week, LL last month, they're on the shelf if I need them. And if I don't use it, it's good for research and design ideas right, it's an investment. It's not a problem though, honest.

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  46. I play Swords and Wizardry as well as C&C, 3.5, 4e, Warhammer Dark Heresy and a slew of other games. I dislike the OSR term and cringe at Old-School. If I had to label myself it would be something like 'neo-classical'.

    However my dislike for the above terms no way says everyone has to start using them. Hell, if you follow my blog or see how much time I spend on OD&D and S&W forums you could lump me into the OSR and if you do it doesn't bother me.

    This boils down to RJK coming out and saying he is better than all of us in a sick need to stroke his ego. I am glad someone had the balls to call him on it.

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  47. I"m with you for the most part, but given the term 'OSR', I think it's fair to allow people who've been playing the old games continuously to exclude themselves from being included under this umbrella. They're old school, yes - but they're not intrinsically part of the 'renaissance' (or 'revolution', if that's the term you prefer). After all, they were there, doing what they do, before the 'renaissance' began.

    This is really more of a problem with the terminology than anything else. If we referred to ourselves as the OSG (old school gamers) or the OSC (old school community) instead, then the people who've been playing old games all along would clearly be included under either of those umbrellas.

    Going with OSC as being a preferable term for the community, I would contend that the term OSR is still useful, but that what it describes is a contemporary movement inside the larger OSC. You can be in the former without being part of the latter.

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  48. Self-definitions become utterly meaningless upon contact with other people.

    I wouldn't have gone with "Old School" in the first place (note the Creature Generator title calls the games "Classic" instead) but that argument is a lost cause. OSRIC was the big kick in the ass here, and Old School is right in the title. It was made by people who never stopped playing, but is anyone going to kid themselves that OSRIC is separate from the OSR when it was a big factor in launching it as we know it today?

    Fight On! catches the whole collective thing perfectly, and its subtitle is "A Fanzine for the Old School Renaissance."

    You can say "neo-classical" instead of "old school" or "I'm not an OSR guy, I'm a OSC guy," but is the distinction meaningful in any way whatsoever? I don't think it is.

    This OSR phrase seems to have grown organically, naturally. It's not a brand name or trademark, and I don't think it was intentionally coined to be any sort of oft-used name. I think that's why it stuck and why any deliberate attempt to use something else is doomed.

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  49. My question? Does being labeled by the OSR require exclusivity? The majority of my energies may be directed at C&C and LL, but if I also enjoy Fate powered games, or Warhammer 40k, am I now a heretic?

    That's the problem with labels... They are used to restrict.

    In the broadest sense I am a Gamer. And even that label leaves out 90% of what defines me.

    The OSR should be a publishing tool, little more.

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  50. >>Does being labeled by the OSR require exclusivity?

    Why would it? I played Maid last weekend and will be playing someone's Rogue Trader game if my schedule ever eases up. Can't get less old school than that.

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  51. Then why do most (not all) references to the OSR make on feel that you are being shown the "one true path to salvation"?

    Maybe I'm just getting cranky and cynical in my old age, but from my perception that often seems the case.

    Crap... Now I have cyndi lauper's "girls just wanna have fun" running thru my head.

    I blame Jim! Heh

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  52. ...the 'OSR' label. I hope others will understand that it's not a club I feel a pressing need to be an official member of.

    Does anyone feel a pressing need to be an official member of the OSR ?

    There is NO club! There is nothing to join. You can consciously "join in", but there's no group or organisation to join.

    I'm stunned at how many people simply don't get it. OSR is not a term labelling a group of people, it's a description of a trend that is happening within the rpg community. I'll say it again - OSR is not a group, it's just a trend. That's why you can't join it, you won't be able to find anyone running it, there's certainly nothing "official" happening. It's simply a trend and as such, you can join in, or not, as you choose. No one is making anyone do anything.

    However, the point of James's post that most seem to have missed is that as a trend, one that involves an explosion of interest in, and publication of old school games and materials, people can through their actions be part of that trend, even if they don't label themselves OSR. If they're helping to grow interest in old school gaming, then they're part of the trend that's been evident over the last few years.

    Does being labeled by the OSR require exclusivity?

    Since there is no organisation or club to do the labelling - no.

    I think it's fair to allow people who've been playing the old games continuously to exclude themselves from being included under this umbrella. They're old school, yes - but they're not intrinsically part of the 'renaissance' (or 'revolution', if that's the term you prefer). After all, they were there, doing what they do, before the 'renaissance' began.

    Which is why I don't agree with James that those who simply play old school rpgs are part of the OSR - if they are doing nothing to grow the hobby. If they don't encourage others to take up old school gaming, if they're not actively sharing their creativity, then no, they're not part of the movement or trend that has been occurring - and there's nothing wrong with that. And since there's no such thing as an OSR club or organisation, there is no one out there to tell these gamers that they're bad or wrong or whatever.

    The OSR should be a publishing tool, little more.

    That would be a little difficult since the OSR is not a thing. As I keep banging on about here, OSR is a label used to describe a trend. Part of that trend is indeed publishing, a big part.

    Then why do most (not all) references to the OSR make on feel that you are being shown the "one true path to salvation"?

    Probably because a key element in the phrase OSR is "Old School". This is a time in our hobby's history when a growing number of people are focusing on games from a certain era. People who then extrapolate the preferences of other people from "I prefer this game" to "I hate that game" tend to do so because they're feeling defensive, not because they have any reasonable grounds to do so.

    It's not hard to understand what the OSR actually is. Sadly, no doubt, some will persist in this "OSR club" crap even when they know there is no such thing.

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  53. It's not hard to understand what the OSR actually is.
    Based on what is posted on this blog alone in any given week, the rest of the world does not share your conviction in knowing what 'OSR' is or is not. Multiply that by the dozen blogs I know of (and realizing that there are many, many more I don't know of)where this subject gets discussed and debated and I really don't think there is as much universal agreement over what/who/where/when/why the OSR is and, thus, whether or not I should consider myself a part of it remains an open question. I'm not going to announce that I will officially join a 'trend' if I don't know what that trend is... yet every time I turn around there is someone with a new definition of what this 'trend' or 'movement' or 'wave' is (or what it ought to aspire to). I don't think a plurality of definitions is "wrong," but I won't join any group or movement that requires 'ideology' or 'purity' tests, and a few of the statements from some of the more strident members of the people who are calling themselves OSR don't attract me --- therefore I remain pretty ambivalent about associating with it.
    I guess I'm not saying I am or I am not a part of OSR... but when people talk in terms of branding, or whether or not there is a "marketing plan" or similar things, then I say, "No thanks." I don't begrudge other people those things, but don't have much interest in them at this time.

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  54. 'people can through their actions be part of that trend, even if they don't label themselves OSR. If they're helping to grow interest in old school gaming, then they're part of the trend that's been evident over the last few years'

    David OTM here. It's a label used to describe a trend. It is not a thing or a club.

    It is not stopping you from doing what the hell you want - be it playing/buying/designing

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  55. If the OSR is an organic trend then for god's sake people should just shut up and pretend it doesn't exist and let nature take its course. Continue publishing and playing and just shut up about the OSR already until after the fact. You don't kick it in the balls and tell it to man up. Don't anyone teach the French Revolution where you guys live?

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  56. Maid and Rogue trader is old school? wtf raggi? haha, that's fucked up jokester.

    Fuck it all, I'm a gamer.

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  57. The middle school is so funny guys, keep it up! My PHIL 104 Logic course can point out 189 fallacious arguments made, starting with two in the post itself.

    I think the funniest part is the person who said Serenity RPG was a good game and/or was being played at all... or, bring the n- word into a blog - historically speaking, that always drives home a winner and closes off argument!

    What people should do it purposefully NOT respond to flamebait. That would be so devlish, to picture the blog skippers returning to their CPU, or check their iPhone - or Nokia N72 if they are in Finland - and see zero response(s)...

    The D&D is D&D guy had it right. Let's all get over ourselves.

    That said, armbands will be available shortly. After that, we'll have a 4th edition as well as a Complete Book of Elves (23 for sale on Ebay currently) book-burning ceremony as well...Ok, I will include my copy of Gazeteer Grand Duchy of Karameikos too.

    Incidentally, more of those "Complete" splat books may sell than would OSR supplements combined during the past year twenty years after press. Nothing was better than Complete Book of Elves Bladesinger for the 2nd edition.

    And this all from the guy who runs his own hybrid, so I can have my own, master armband, for my group of one. I just think the twisted imaginations of OSR publishers lead to the best adventures and settings.

    If I have angered enough people to distract from the core narrative, then I will consider myself lucky as I intended. I can neither confirm nor deny any of the above.

    Let's just play, publish good stuff, whether it has the Nintendo Gold Seal of Quality or not.

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  58. I am with Chicagowiz on this.
    There is no real OSR, and there is no need to be. If you like oldschool games, play them and have fun. There are decades of material out there. What I do on my blog everyday a one-eyed retarded monkey can do and I acknowledge that.

    I used to care, and it wasn't the last kerfluffle (that I was a part of) that made me not care anymore. It was James Raggi's attitude. When I was a part of TARGA and we joked around and helped each other out, I really thought that there was an OSR. But Raggi made it painfully clear that he is friends with nobody here (there is a post to this effect somewhere in his archives). Well, if we aren't friends and we don't care about each other, then what do we have? What sort of people is the OSR comprised of if James Raggi is spearheading the operation?

    There are people online that I count on and do care about and call my friends. Some are people I have met in person, some on the phone, and some only through emails and blog notes. When Raggi cut through all that with his great sword of "I am right, here is the deal, now fuck off" I lost everything I had for the OSR, although I still linked to his game on ENWorld and I do hope that his game sells. Although trying so hard to be so tough and alienating people lacks professionalism.

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  59. *shrug*

    Honestly, my concern in gaming is the game. The people involved are interchangeable. Bloggers come, bloggers go. In all honesty I usually don't know my players before they start playing, and in most cases I don't keep in contact after they cycle out.

    The game continues, and that's what I consider important.

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  60. Sadly, it seems to me that those who are most vocal against the OSR are people who have had a run in with one or two others within the OSR, and have then decided to tar everyone with the same brush. Nothing sadder than throwing the baby out with the bath water. Nothing more unfair than generalisation.

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  61. I am not against the OSR entirely, David. I just no longer feel it is necessary. I know that there are a lot of great people in the OSR and I don't think that James Raggi is a bad person at all, however, I don't think that there is a movement anymore. There are just people who play and enjoy games or who want to, but still support the retro-clones.

    I will continue doing what I do and I hope that everyone else does, but I am not part of the OSR. I throw stuff out there, I run games, that's it. I will also bring things up on ENWorld (like the LotFP game, which I feel are relevant and will stand behind) from time to time, but I am not drawing a line in the sand against other gamers, I will not get involved in edition wars, and I strongly feel that any game a group likes is the perfect game for them, whether that is OD&D, S&W, LL or 4E.

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  62. I think the problem with the labeling is that then it generates an implicit adherence to some kind of OSR dogma. You have to admit, there is a lot of hand-wringing on blogs and forums about what orthodox old school means. So what you get is:

    "I play old D&D."
    "You are the OSR!"
    "OK, I'm OSR. Hey, I like 2e."
    "2e! That is not Elite Old School! You are not OSR!"

    And by the time it all ends, there's been 2000 words written on debate that does fuck all to advance anyone's game play experience.

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  63. "Old School" is a play style that has dick to do with editions. I can play an "old school" game with OD&D, C&C, 3.5e, 4e and any other game out there.

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  64. I have always thought that the OSR was a trend, as David M states. I never saw it as an organization or movement, complete with secret handshakes and creed.

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  65. @David:
    it seems to me that those who are most vocal against the OSR are people

    Nothing more unfair than generalisation.

    Irony, thy name is generalization.

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  66. @mxyzplk - Amen. I'm going to liberally link to your response.

    There's a small subset that *need* the label - publishing and promotion.

    There's a larger subset that *like* the label - it gives them an identity, which leads to the circle-jerking.

    There's a vast audience that may or may not benefit from the label, but can benefit from the promotion - but they continue gaming all the same. They benefit more from playing than from the circle-jerk.

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  67. And while I still agree with ChicagoWiz, I did write that post on Lord of the Green Dragons stating that James Raggi does do a lot for the oldschool games. For some reason I posted as "Mr" there. James Raggi is very passionate and promotes the games to no end, but there are no need for labels and pigeonholing for us all to get along.

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  68. @ChicagoWiz

    @David:
    it seems to me that those who are most vocal against the OSR are people

    Nothing more unfair than generalisation.

    Irony, thy name is generalization.


    Michael, you better look up generalisation in the dictionary, because I don't think you've quite grasped it. I would be generalising if I said "ALL those who are against the OSR are...", it is anything but generalisation to say "it SEEMS to me that those who are MOST vocal against the OSR are..."

    Well here's another "it seems to me": It seems to me you're trying very hard to blow things out of all proportion. And now THAT is ironic. After you pulled your "I'm taking my bat and going home" act, just because of a disagreement with a couple of people, you have now come back to the scene and seem to be trying very hard not only to revive your disagreement, but to spread it beyond the little circle of people that was TARGA. Surely you have better things to do with your time? I know I have, so chow ChicagoWiz.

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  69. @Josh - though *I* agree with you, and that you can play "old school style" with any edition, I think we've all seen copious claims to the contrary in various situations. Heck, 1e or Basic isn't "old school" enough for certain people with strong doctrinaire OSR opinions, it has to be brown or nuttin'.

    @ChicagoWiz - Agreed. If you want to identify as OSR, feel free, but I think that can go along with stuff that someone who doesn't want to be labeled legitimately wants to avoid.

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  70. I'd like to publically apologise to Michael/Chicagowiz for my snarkiness, just because I disagree with some things he writes doesn't excuse my bad manners. People matter more than games.

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  71. Dungeons and Dragons will never die!

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