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Author Topic: Core principles of the OSR  (Read 1378 times)

jan paparazzi

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Core principles of the OSR
« on: October 10, 2020, 04:56:31 AM »
Hi, I see many different topic about the OSR and I found some articles about the OSR claiming it's core principles or foundations. What do you think are the core principles of this movement? I also remember the Pundit wrote an article about several years ago stating the OSR foundations and I can't find it anymore, so if anyone has a link, you are welcome. Anyway, let me know what you think and I can get a better grip and what the term OSR actually means in design philosophy other than being nostalgic about old school rpg's and D&D.
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Dimitrios

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2020, 11:07:03 AM »
Hi, I see many different topic about the OSR and I found some articles about the OSR claiming it's core principles or foundations. What do you think are the core principles of this movement?

That TSR era D&D wasn't as broken and unplayable as some people like to claim.

Mercurius

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2020, 12:21:31 PM »
You might find the Principia Apocrypha useful: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rN5w4-azTq3Kbn0Yvk9nfqQhwQ1R5by1/view

I don't see "old school" as an either/or type of thing, but more of a spectrum, even a buffet of ideas and approaches that one can incorporate into their game. So the irony of the OSR is that by codifying old school, it runs the danger of becoming a kind of new-school version of old school, an enantiodromia through formalizing something that is meant to be free-flowing and infinitely customizable. This may be the difference between approaching old school via the letter or spirit of the law.

Many people continued playing new editions of D&D in an "old school" style, regardless of the rule set involved. Some of these folks didn't need to go (back) to OSR games, because they never stopped playing in an old school manner, regardless of edition. Meaning, the style is not dependent upon the edition or rules set, or at least the rules are secondary to the way you approach and use them. Or to give one example, old school doesn't require that you cash in gold for XP. To take every aspect of a document like the one above and codify it, is to confuse the letter and spirit and miss arguably the most important aspect of old school, the "rule zero" of "your table is yours."

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2020, 12:46:07 PM »
From what I've seen a short and early text seems to be the Quick Primer for Old School Gaming (available for free at Lulu).

Principles are:
Rulings, not Rules
Player Skill, not Character Abilities
Heroic, not Superhero
Forget about 'Game Balance'

Basically, you make stuff up as you go along rather than looking for page 356 of the manual, you have to think to check for hidden doors instead of rolling 'spot hidden', you are Batman not Superman, and nobody says there can't be a beholder on the 1st level of the dungeon behind that line of statues of screaming adventurers.

Have I got it?


Ratman_tf

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2020, 06:41:39 PM »
Hi, I see many different topic about the OSR and I found some articles about the OSR claiming it's core principles or foundations. What do you think are the core principles of this movement?

That TSR era D&D wasn't as broken and unplayable as some people like to claim.

It's been a long time, and I've forgotten the attributtion.* But someone put it "The rules are right." In that a lot of quirks from old school D&D were house ruled away until few remembered why in the first place. And the OSR went back, rediscovered those rules, and gave them a critical look instead of dismissing them out of hand.

*Hey, I found it!
http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2010/04/theoretical-framework-for-osr.html
« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 06:43:51 PM by Ratman_tf »
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estar

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2020, 09:48:52 PM »
Hi, I see many different topic about the OSR and I found some articles about the OSR claiming it's core principles or foundations. What do you think are the core principles of this movement?
Use the open content of the D20 System Reference Document to support and publish for classic editions of D&D with a small minority relying on game mechanics not being able to be copyrighted to support the classic editions, and another small minority publishing material useable with the classic editions of D&D that compatible but doesn't rely on the original IP.

While doing this using what current in digital technology and digital distribution. Which allowed most projects to be realized in the time one has for a hobby along with creating a situation where there are no dominate publisher. Also created a situation where there are no "core" principle other than I do it because I can with the time I have and with the tools and material at hand.

The reason there appears to be a movement at all because it centered on the use of the classic editions of D&D. This element provides a foundation on which people use to create a label  in order to try to simplify the actions of hundreds of authors operating independently or in small groups. Likewise the minimalist nature of some of the classic editions creates an illusion of minimalism along with interest in certain adventure styles like megadungeons, or sandbox campaigns.

However because the OSR is a kaleidoscope created by hundreds of authors, you can talk specific individuals doing specific things and why they are doing them. For example my work with the Judges Guild Wilderlands setting and sandbox campaigns. Matt Finch's work with OSRIC and Swords & Wizardry, Jeff Rients' interest in a more gonzo style, James Raggi interest in weird horror and so on. The only thing that connects us is an interest in the classic editions, and following up on the realization that we can do our projects with the time and tools at our disposal.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2020, 10:01:43 PM by estar »

Spinachcat

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2020, 01:37:02 AM »
Which OSR?

As an OSR fan and OSR contributor, I can attest there isn't one OSR, but multiple of factions with their own philosophies and agendas.

For instance, there's a whole faction of OSR fans who are all about TSR Revivalism (aka, the goal of the OSR is to play old stuff) and OSR contributors who don't have little interest in using TSR D&D as the baseline of their games, but focus on reviving interest by creating retroclones of non-D&D games.

However, there is *some* general agreement regarding Old School as a playstyle, and that transcends most factions. That said, there's also varying levels of revisionism regarding how some OSR luminaries claim their favorite games were played back in the day.

And then there's the O5R...

Shawn Driscoll

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2020, 02:00:38 AM »
Many people continued playing new editions of D&D in an "old school" style, regardless of the rule set involved. Some of these folks didn't need to go (back) to OSR games, because they never stopped playing in an old school manner, regardless of edition.
I was saying this 10 years ago when I was part of the YouTube RPG crowd.

S'mon

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2020, 06:02:58 AM »
That said, there's also varying levels of revisionism regarding how some OSR luminaries claim their favorite games were played back in the day.

"Back in the day" itself covers a range of periods from 1974 (& earlier!) through to at least the release of 2e AD&D in 88/89, and some people will put it to the end of 2e AD&D in 1999/2000. So you get some people wanting to recreate a 1981 Moldvay/Cook BX or Mentzer BECM(I) style of play, others a 1e AD&D (pre or post Unearthed Arcana); some look to TSR modules & adventures as the model for play. But the single strongest* force seems to be/have been the desire to recreate the game played ca 1974-1976, before the release of the 1e DMG and before D&D had much more than a cult following, albeit a popular cult. Hence the focus on megadungeons, strategic play, Lew Pulsipher type skilled play, and other features seen as characteristic of OD&D.  I find this antiquarianism very interesting and it certainly has brought up stuff I'd not considered, and caused me to try megadungeon campaign play. It turns out my players love megadungeons rather more than I do :D - I'm much more of a wilderness-sandbox type guy it turns out. :D

*After the initial early focus on 1e AD&D style module publication (OSRIC) and B/X retroclone (Basic Fantasy, Labyrinth Lord) with the popularity of S&W and the rise of the OSR bloggers, the OSR moved on to a strong focus on the campaign dungeon.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2020, 06:09:27 AM by S'mon »
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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2020, 05:53:46 PM »
As I said in another post, TARGA was a group created right before the OSR really kicked in and the driving goal was simply: get people playing older games (not just D&D) instead of talking about them. This was at the Dawn of the Simulacrums and before people like Dan Proctor and Brett Bernstein rejuvenated many older game lines.
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jan paparazzi

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2020, 06:12:21 PM »
From what I've seen a short and early text seems to be the Quick Primer for Old School Gaming (available for free at Lulu).

Principles are:
Rulings, not Rules
Player Skill, not Character Abilities
Heroic, not Superhero
Forget about 'Game Balance'

Basically, you make stuff up as you go along rather than looking for page 356 of the manual, you have to think to check for hidden doors instead of rolling 'spot hidden', you are Batman not Superman, and nobody says there can't be a beholder on the 1st level of the dungeon behind that line of statues of screaming adventurers.

Have I got it?
Yeah, something like this is what I meant. It seems to be mostly about player agency without it being rules-heavy.
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Eirikrautha

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2020, 10:13:46 PM »
From what I've seen a short and early text seems to be the Quick Primer for Old School Gaming (available for free at Lulu).

Principles are:
Rulings, not Rules
Player Skill, not Character Abilities
Heroic, not Superhero
Forget about 'Game Balance'

Basically, you make stuff up as you go along rather than looking for page 356 of the manual, you have to think to check for hidden doors instead of rolling 'spot hidden', you are Batman not Superman, and nobody says there can't be a beholder on the 1st level of the dungeon behind that line of statues of screaming adventurers.

Have I got it?
Yeah, something like this is what I meant. It seems to be mostly about player agency without it being rules-heavy.
Ehhh, "rules-heavy" probably isn't the right term, just because some of the old-school games had more rules than most modern games.  The difference was, I think, the rules in the old school were much more organic.  The grew out of a need at the table to simulate some thing that the players or DM felt mattered to their success at the moment.  So there was no real effort to make universal resolution systems or the like.  There's a dozen different resolution systems in AD&D alone, each growing out of some event at (mostly) Gary's table.  While I think the move towards universal systems of resolution has made modern games more easily learned (and thereby more popular), I often feel that this has lost something special or unique.  There is something a bit off-putting about the quest to make one kind of die roll the solution to every problem.  I think it's one reason for the loss of two of the three pillars of the old D&D experience.  Perception and persuasion should be something the players do, not roll for...

Nerzenjäger

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2020, 11:34:32 AM »
As I said in another post, TARGA was a group created right before the OSR really kicked in and the driving goal was simply: get people playing older games (not just D&D) instead of talking about them. This was at the Dawn of the Simulacrums and before people like Dan Proctor and Brett Bernstein rejuvenated many older game lines.

This statement only makes sense if you can state a definitive origin point of what you call OSR. Pro Tip: you can't.
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jan paparazzi

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2020, 02:04:27 PM »
I thought no rules but rulings was all about not having too many subsystems.   ???

Anyway, I did some digging and I did find these principles:

Rulings, not Rules
Player Skill, not Character Abilities
Heroic, not Superhero
Forget about 'Game Balance

And I would like to add:

Player Decision, not Scripted Story Plots
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VengerSatanis

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Re: Core principles of the OSR
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2020, 03:58:58 PM »
If anyone's interested in my collected wisdom (FREE PDF), you can download OSR Like A Fucking Boss here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/298385/Old-School-Renaissance-Like-A-Fucking-Boss

Thanks,

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