2016/11/22

Are old & dusty fantasy games germane to OSR?

Do you really think that OSR audience is really interested in old fantasy games from the past?

As time passes, i am losing more and more faith in this. Every time i have a look at forums and communities (such as the huge OSR community located at G+) i can't help but notice that everyone is getting excited at the new release of that shiny and brilliant tome with that cool and up-to-date graphic content that just catches the eye and looks gorgeous.

Aesthetic matters a lot; it guides the choices of many in buying a new OSR product. As i said, a shiny and cool "2016" look of  an old game's clone is an important aspect.
There is nothing wrong with this, even the AD&D premium reprints have a different and somewhat "more modern" covers, if i am not wrong, but nonetheless this made me think.

Would old and dusty boxed sets have the same allure today for the -literally thousands- of users who daily browse the OSR communities?




Would they get so excited in dealing with antiquity as they are when they hold in their hands that hardback new D&D clone which smells of fresh paper that just came out of the printer?

I have always been of the opinion that the entire OSR phenomenon has just been a revamping of our affection for D&D and all its clones and simulacrums, and nowadays i hold this view more strongly than before.

Hoary, boxed set precursors of our hobby are dismissed when compared to new renditions of old texts.


8 comments:

Dennis Laffey said...

I think the problem is two-fold (or maybe more-folded?).

First, like you say, we've become accustomed to advertising which promises us that "New and Improved" is a desirable thing. That's the reason people grumble that their edition is "dead" the moment WotC announces they plan to put out a new edition in 6 months time. All these retro-clones and new offerings promise some new shiny bits along with the comfortable game mechanics of older D&D, maybe with bits of some other games (old and/or new) mixed in to the author's taste.

Secondly, there's a practical component. It can be hard to get ahold of many of these old, less popular games, and these days again people have been conditioned to expect each player to own a copy of the rules. But there's another aspect of this point as well. People say "change is hard" but what they really mean is that "change is uncomfortable." That's why many gamers will only play the game they're comfortable with, instead of trying something new. And if you can convince them to try something new (new as in different, rather than of a recent vintage), they want it to be either something somewhat familiar (a retro-clone or revisioning of the old familiar). Barring that, they want it to be something (to bring back point #1) that marketing has conditioned them to expect more of in the future.

I don't get the rejection of game systems just because the company isn't making them anymore, or putting out any supplements for the game. I understand that people do feel that way, but I don't understand why. But yeah, the OSR is to a large extent made up of people who want new versions of old D&D, rather than being open to experimenting with other classic game systems, and those of us who are open to other games often have trouble finding enough players willing to give other games a try. I've pretty much given up of trying to run anything that's not either 5E or BECMI/Labyrinth Lord (aside from my own retro-clone creations) because the players I play with pretty much want one or the other.

Darnizhaan said...

Although I don't feel this way, I think that most consumers want new games with high production values and glossy pictures.

I love to see the old adventures and games written in the 1970s and early 1980s because I enjoy seeing what the authors were thinking about then.

Mark Craddock said...

For me it's also how the new printings are organized compared to the original book. I can find things easier in OSRIC than an AD&D PHB or DMG.

Nicholas Bergquist said...

I think this reflects more that it really is about the rules aesthetic of design, the ease of play, and familiarity of style (if not content) and not about reverence for the originals. The OSR is about tradition, but not necessarily about relics. To dive in to a religious analogy: a bible doesn't have to be a dust covered tome to be a bible. It can be glossy with gold foil, and still get the job done.

You can love the OSR and never touch a copy of AD&D or the LBB. And you can love the OSR and never touch anything other than AD&D or the LBB. This is made possible by the OSR, creating a new continuity across a spectrum of gamers. and allowing people to experience OSR designs without any assumption that game design is a linear progression. In doing so, it has allowed old and new to have a common dialogue and experience together.

WQRobb said...

I think the OSR community resists attempts to tar with a wide brush, because there are those who scavenge the internet looking for copies of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia or the Deities and Demigods with the Cthulhu mythos entries. (For the record I'm one of those guys, and own both.)

But for others it is about a certain set of rules, not the book, so you can be happy with a copy of Iron Falcon or OSRIC. For others it is the style of play and not the rules, so you can find the specific cocktail of rules modifications to suit exactly what you think is the best mixture.

I think it just varies by the hobbyist.

Catacomb librarian said...

Your comments gave me food for thought. I think all of the reasons you highlighted and possibly others added together all conspire against the developing of an archaeological attitude towards our hobby and the discovery of its roots.
People don't find it comfortable to change rule system. Also, the new printings are better organised than the old original versions.
But I found particularly interesting the notion that the OSR is about tradition and not about relics (or at least, it is about relics only for a few of us). Finally, @WQrobb: quite interesting remarks at the end of your comment; thereally certainly are, for instance, players in love with OD&D who never venture to find an old copy of it but areally instead perfectly satisfied with a pdf copy of Iron Falcon or something similar.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year!

Jay Murphy said...

My online play has been different then what has been expressed here. If I post I am going to run a consistent long running game at a certain time I will fill seats. If I post I want to run a one shot of something. .. Crickets.

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