2013/12/02

One of the main reason i am against the OSR

Look, "Fantastic Heroes & Witchery".

YAOSRG (yet another old-school renaissance game).

Maybe it's cool, and probably it is indeed. The proliferation of new simulacrum is a good thing, i appreciate the inventiveness and creative inspiration of all the guys in any corner of the globe.

Perhaps i will even buy a copy of this new game. I find it enticing.

This phenomenon is like an avalanche. Other simulacrum and clones will surely follow.

It seems like we are now living in a garden full of flowers . New blossoms appears suddenly out of the blue around us. We marvel at it. How fragrant they are. No one can deny it.

Everyone pushes rabidly into the future while the past is a forgotten land.

Is it logical that there are all these new clones and simulacrum around and at the same time one cannot find info and cannot attain knowledge about the old D&D variants such as "The Compleat Warlock" in the internet anywhere?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Wh6au7F3xyY/TzNHxuKeKBI/AAAAAAAAAQo/dTlY59W5V_8/s400/Warlock.png

In the case of such a game, we are talking about a titan in the field of this hobby, a D&D variant of paramount historical importance (a game that arose the anger of TSR back in time and there was IIRC even a lawsuit against it).

Other D&D variants remains totally obscure to 95% of those who are now maybe writing a D&D clone (Nimolee, for instance).

How many bought a copy of "Beasts men & gods" by Bill Underwood when it was reissued a couple of years ago?

And if "Fantastic heroes and witchery" sold more than the new edition of "Beasts men & gods", is it coherent, does it make sense? Aren't we living in an inverted reality?

As far as i am concerned, you are allowed to put all the effort you are capable of in order to devise a new and awesome D&D clone or simulacrum nowadays, but you can't be interested in D&D variants which have yet to come and which have yet to see the light of the day (or that have just been published) - and not nurture interest in the D&D simulacrum published in the past and which shaped the historical development of all this hobby of ours.

This sounds like madness. It's a perverted attitude and i don't want to be part of it.


12 comments:

Luca Lorenzon said...

I guess it is much easier to be up to date with something that has just been published than putting your efforts (even financial ones) in searching forgotten modules which, as you pointed out in many old posts, are almost unknown - and very difficult to find.
Moreover, a thirty- or forty-something collector is probably more attracted to products simulating "the good old ways we used to play", even if they aren't exactly the same thing one used to play.
I fully understand your point (and sincerely I don't appreciate very much this OSRmania), but there are two different approaches: philology and nostalgia. And they can stick together without necessarily excluding one another.

Greg Gorgonmilk said...

Lack of perspective is not an OSR attribute -- it's a pervasive human quality. I'm not sure I get the whole baby-with-the-bathwater stance you've taken here, but I do agree that fully exploring and mining D&D's early variants is preferable to asphalting over them.

Perpetual Role said...

Luca definitely has some good points in his comment.
Personally I am just glad that people are still interested in pen & paper role-playing games at all, whatever they choose to play or create.
I do understand that there has been a resurgence of interest in the 'good old days' and also in recreating this feeling; but I would certainly like to see more potential game designers coming up with material that is drastically different from open game license templates.
Remember, when the people in their late 30s - 50s + are gone, what happens then? As you know I do not expect the trend of interest in pen-and-paper RPGs to be sustained and stand the test of time.
But I would like to see more re-releases of older games that nobody knew much about—perhaps with new art or design.

Tony said...

I don't see the OSR community to be as bleak as you describe. Recently, a co-author of The Manual of Aurania supplement from 1977 fielded questions about the book on another blog and allowed portions of the Manual to be posted. He even shared memories of playing Warlock with the original CalTech group (or, Dungeons & Beavers as their game was also known).

30+ years of obscurity means that it is up to scholars like you, me, Gorgonmilk and Zenopus to dig up these old fossils and bring them to light in the community. As for Nimolee, only 100 copies were published and I've never seen one. If you know more information, I'd love to read it.

I think it is unfair to say Fantastic Heroes & Witchery is merely "YAOSRG." I can think of many retro-clones that fit that category, but FH&W encourages more than just generic fantasy games: sword & planet, science fantasy, Lovecraftian "Weird Tales" and steampunk campaigns are all laid out. At first glance, this looks like a very inspiring book. It is certainly more comprehensive than my copy of Beasts Men & Gods.

David Macauley said...

This is all fine CL as long as you don't go down the road of old D&D variant = good, new D&D variant = bad. That would just be illogical and snobbery.

There are many practical reasons why rare, out of print games are largely unattainable - primarily because they are rare and out of print. If hoarding collectors push the prices up beyond the reasonable budget of the average gamer, if no one scans and shares the games, if the copyright owners aren't willing to republish in print or electronically, if no bugger writes more than a couple of passing lines about a game online, how are the majority of us ever going to own the old games, let alone even discover much about them?

The new D&D variants are simply more accessible. Criticising people for taking advantage of that accessibility is hardly fair.

I applaud Bill Underwood for republishing his game. Let's hope it's a trend that catches on.

Catacomb librarian said...

I see that there has been some misunderstanding, i'll reply later today to your comments in more detail.

Fabio Milito Pagliara said...

First of all thanks for the link to my small review. Then let me point out something.

Many of the OSR people have huge collection of RPG, lot of us are collecting rpg since the late '70 or early '80. And maybe we don't have everything was published or every small supplement, but a lot of the idea present in obscure publication come out in more mainstream games (not always in the dnd-verse) and so while is interesting to find every little bit others prefer to get idea and material elsewhere. (Just to give you an idea I have more book that I can keep in a single house...)

Furthermore the idea to put your ideas in order, the crafting of a whole book (even if there are just small bit of original piece) is one of the fun of the OSR thing, look at it as artisan work more than novel writing and maybe you can understand more this osr-mania :)

Luca Lorenzon said...

This post reminds me the two ways of studying linguistics developed (well, formalized) by Ferdinand De Saussure: you may adopt a syncronic point of view (making comparisons with other languages) or a diacronic one, considering how a language developed and changed itself over time.

Collecting very old and very rare modules gives you a syncronic way to see how our hobby could have developed over the years if that material had been succesful - reading and playing new OSR books is much like a diacronic look, since you can look at many variations on the same theme.

And so, I don't think it is weird one could write something redefining established rules and approaches without knowing even the names of games issued when the object of his attention was just released.

Catacomb librarian said...

I had just a cursory reading of "Fantastic heroes & witchery" so i'm not criticizing it, though i used the acronym "YAOSRG". As i said i will probably end up buying a copy and i wrote that i appreciate the proliferation of simulacrum.

There may well be (of course) old D&D variants which are rubbish (as an example i still haven't read Nimolee, i'll let you know)-so i'm not advocating that the old=good as if it was a mathematical truth and certainty.

The new D&D variants are more accessible, this is true, but recently old D&D variants were made accessible as well: not only BM&G but Wizards' world for instance by Goblinoid games.

Now the point of my post (what i maintain is contradictory, illogical and a wrong attitude) is the fact that "Fantastic heroes & witchery" (or any other new simulacrum) draws more attention and sells more than, say, BM&G or WW.

If you are interested in D&D variants, for what reasons you should prefer a simulacrum published in 2013 no-one knows anything about rather than picking a simulacrum which has an historical philological value - and which has been made accessible again after 30 years?

Let's imagine that you came to learn (one year from now) that "What price glory!?" which is a D&D simulacrum which first appeared in 1978 has just been republished in pdf format by its authors and that on the same day a NEW d&d simulacrum has just been published for the first time ever(let's call it "Amazing deeds & sortileges").

Being both equally accessible on the very same day, why does your mind and attention/ interest should be drawn with more depth towards the second one? i think that if this happens, that is a wrong attitude.This was my thought.

Luca Lorenzon said...

I am far from being as qualified as you in telling it, but are you sure fans would prefer (or be more attracted to) a new OSR game rather than a classic made available again?
I guess they simply would like to get both, the first out of curiosity/philology/collection's sake, the second as a way to sustain what remains of the rpgs industry, out of nostalgia and maybe with hope of finding some new and interesting approach to old ideas.
Maybe with the crowdfunding system there is more hype on new releases, but I'm sure a reprint of many games you showed in your posts would be a success among fans.
By the way, I prefer to have the original module/book/boxed set instead of a .pdf (or whatever) version of a Classic, but this is more acceptable for newer releases.

David Macauley said...

Yes, that's clearer. The answer has to be "both". :-)

Still, to play Devil's Advocate, I can imagine many people would choose the new game over the old because it would be seen to be a "living" game, one that is currently supported and would be more likely to have additional material released. And doesn't that just get the collector in all of us excited.

Fabio Milito Pagliara said...

There are various reason to buy a "new" game over an old one
better editing, better graphic, better format, much more content and usually a clearer exposition.

As I said before you are going after the craftmanship of the object.

The old game will instead be of interest to collector and "historian" of the game just to see what was published and what did I lose at the time...

:)

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