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Old 02-20-2021, 03:08 PM   #1
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Default Old School Renaissance?

Of late I've been hearing about something called Old School Revival or Renaissance. Does anyone here know about this stuff?
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Old 02-20-2021, 03:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

That wiki page isn't a bad introduction. It's a movement of mostly older gamers which uses older--like, pre-AD&D--editions of D&D and similar very early RPGs as inspiration. There are a number of OSR products on the market produced in deliberate emulation of those old games in structure, content, and appearance. Relatively rules light ("Rulings rather than rules" is a common motto), mostly about killing things and taking their stuff rather than more complex plots, but on purpose this time rather than operating in the framework of pioneering an entirely new genre of gaming in the 70s when none of us really knew what we were doing. It strikes me as being somewhere between nostalgia and an attempt to create what us older gamers now like to think we could have experienced back then.
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Old 02-20-2021, 03:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

Try Matt Finch's Quick Primer for Old School Gaming for a better summary of the intent.

Note that this "movement" is more than a decade old, and has had plenty of time to turn on itself, schism into factions, and re-define itself. There are as many versions as there are writers, many of them contradictory.

Note, also, that as a gamer who lived through the era (started playing in 1976), I sometimes find my recollections at odds with the features that OSR advocates ascribe to it.
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Old 02-20-2021, 03:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrash View Post
Note, also, that as a gamer who lived through the era (started playing in 1976), I sometimes find my recollections at odds with the features that OSR advocates ascribe to it.
As a gamer of similar vintage (I started no later than '78, no earlier than '77), I concur.
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Old 02-20-2021, 08:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

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Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
As a gamer of similar vintage (I started no later than '78, no earlier than '77), I concur.
I didn't start til "79 but I don't remember the games of that era with fondness. I have a friend who's only 3 months younger than I am and he does claim to be nostalgic about D&D1e. I suspect my memory is more accurate than his.

I believe Castles & Crusades counts as OSR. It was certainly very like 1e in rules terms. I made the mistake of playing a Fighter in a short C&C camapign and it was incredibly boring (just like 1e). I've had fun playing fighters in 2e games even in recent years.

If you end up in some OSR game I recommend that everyone play Magic-users. Casting spells and comically trying to avoid losing your single digit's worth of HP are the only fun to be had.

I miss lots of things from 40 years ago but game rule sets aren't one of them.
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
It's a movement of mostly older gamers which uses older--like, pre-AD&D--editions of D&D
It includes the first edition of AD&D. Those who eventually called themselves OSR really started with AD&D and pushed further and further back. Two of the earliest efforts using the OGL were OSRIC and Castles & Crusades, both based on AD&D.

Quote:
mostly about killing things and taking their stuff rather than more complex plots, but on purpose this time rather than operating in the framework of pioneering an entirely new genre of gaming in the 70s when none of us really knew what we were doing.
Despite its internal battles, the OSR's overall philosophy is that the designers and those who gamed with them in the '70s did know what they were doing and did it intentionally. Most adherents to the OSR would say that "killing things and taking their stuff" is at best a poor way to describe what their sort of gameplay is all about.

Quote:
It strikes me as being somewhere between nostalgia and an attempt to create what us older gamers now like to think we could have experienced back then.
A lot of it is nostalgia, but a lot of it is a reaction against heavily-ruled games. The early forms of D&D relied heavily on the principles of Free Kriegsspiel, in which the job of the judge is not to process rules but to decide what happens when players do things, and a lot of people honestly do like this sort of game better.

Unfortunately, the OSR is also full of fundamentalism, historical revisionism, sock puppets, and internal political bickering. Blood-feuds erupt over whether Arneson or Gygax (or someone else) gets the credit for inventing D&D or RPGs. Propaganda gets published and criticism gets suppressed. If you engage in the OSR, do it purely as a consumer of their gaming products, not as a designer or forum participant!
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Old 03-25-2021, 05:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
That wiki page isn't a bad introduction. It's a movement of mostly older gamers which uses older--like, pre-AD&D--editions of D&D and similar very early RPGs as inspiration.
Most of the OSR crowd I've been seeing are NOT the old fogies like myself. They're usually 20-somethings and 30-somethings who think they know how things were done "Back in the day" based upon a few very vocal grognards recollections. Most of which look little like what I recall, but then again, despite the aim of the rules to be uniformity (AD&D 1E DMG introduction), it resulted in many different and incompatible playstyles.

Also, the base ruleset from which they modify is just about evenly split between Original D&D (axiomatically with sups 1 & 2), and Moldvay's Basic Set; OSRIC was by grogs for grogs and kicked off the OSR, but the OSR rapidly moved away from OSRIC as the dominant clone. A smaller set are based upon reducing OSRIC in specific ways.

One is a direct clone of the 4th edition of basic rules, the Cyclopedia, and it's Wrath of the Immortals supplement: Dark Dungeons.

I've not seen a specific Holmes clone nor BECMI clone, but BECMI is covered closely enough in Dark Dungeons.
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Old 03-25-2021, 07:05 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
I've not seen a specific Holmes clone nor BECMI clone, but BECMI is covered closely enough in Dark Dungeons.
There's the Blueholme rules. Excuse me, "BLUEHOLME™," with a bunch of marketed variants. The author never, EVER writes the name without the trademark symbol.
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Old 03-25-2021, 10:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak_aramis View Post
Most of the OSR crowd I've been seeing are NOT the old fogies like myself. They're usually 20-somethings and 30-somethings who think they know how things were done "Back in the day" based upon a few very vocal grognards recollections. Most of which look little like what I recall, but then again, despite the aim of the rules to be uniformity (AD&D 1E DMG introduction), it resulted in many different and incompatible playstyles.
As someone who played a fair bit of 1e AD&D in the nineties and oughties, I third this message that the OSR's memories of early systems and the culture in them is often fanciful. I also don't understand the desire to publish umpteen slight variants on the basic engine, although that was definitely the culture before 3e AD&D (remember Skills and Powers?) Everyone had a 3 ring binder full of house rules! I'm just not sure that any rules can square the circle they want.
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Old 04-06-2021, 08:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Old School Renaissance?

As one who played OD&D in the late 70's, I don't miss the random character stat generation. Roll 3d6 six times, no stat higher then 11. Next person rolls same dice six times, no stat lower then 12. What I do miss is the feeling that the characters have some control over their lives. Many of the modern 1-20 adventure paths seem like poorly disguised movie scripts where most of the action is pre-determined. "After accepting the mission to rescue the prince, the PCs exit town to the north until scripted encounter 1. After defeating the encounter the PCs continue until scripted encounter 2. After defeating the encounter and finding the key, the PCs soon arrive at the dungeon.... ".

Most of the campaigns in the early days were ad-hoc short missions often punctuated with a run through a freshly purchased module perhaps with a session of wandering around the countryside using the random encounter tables. Often, the GM would let the players choose what the next adventure was going to be.

After our Pathfinder sessions were paused due to Covid, we started up a TFT game over Roll20. We have gained 2 players attracted by the relative simplicity of TFT ruleset and the GM running a non-scripted adventure.
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