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Author Topic: The State of OSR  (Read 2907 times)

Mercurius

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The State of OSR
« on: October 04, 2020, 06:26:52 PM »
I've generally mostly played the current edition of D&D, whatever it is--from AD&D back in the early 80s to 5E in recent years--so never really dived deep into the OSR, beyond a peripheral awareness of what came out. But for a variety of reasons, my curiosity has recently been piqued. I've been doing a bit of research, but thought I'd evoke the erudition of the grognards here: What is the current state of the OSR (to the degree that it can be envisioned as a distinct movement/group of games)? Which games have separated themselves from the pack and which are dead and gone? How much did the overall positive reception of 5E effect the OSR? Etc. Pretty much any relevant meta-discussion of the OSR is what I'm looking for.

And, in your view, which is the "best" of the OSR games and products? Which is your favorite and why?

For reference, I've included a list of some of the major OSR releases. I've taken liberties by adding a few borderline cases, or those that have an "old school feel" but aren't properly retro-clones of previous editions of D&D, like Forbidden Lands and Conan. Thus "OSR+." But it is my thread, so whatever.

Anyhow, I partially include these non-OSR old school games because I think the timeline illustrates the view that not much new is coming out in recent years; most old schoolish games released in the last half decade or more aren't actually retro-clones, but diverge a bit.

That said, the big retro-clones still seem to have solid fan-bases, perhaps culminating in Hyperborea (which is one of the ones I hope to pick up, at least when the new revised printing is out in 2021), which in my limited knowledge almost seems like the crown jewel of the OSR. Some publishers are still churning out books, while others are relegated to a small group of diehards.

So, commence discussion...

OSR+ Major Releases (Partial List)
2001 Hackmaster
2004 Castles & Crusades
2006 OSRIC; Basic Fantasy
2007 Labyrinth Lord
2009 Swords & Wizardry; Lamentation of the Flame Princess; Barbarians of Lemuria
2010 Dark Dungeons
2011 Mazes & Perils
2012 For Gold & Glory; Dungeon Crawl Classics; Adventurer, Conquerer, King
2013 Blueholme; Dungeon World; OD&D Deluxe (reprint of 1974 box); Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
2017 Zweihander; Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of; Lion & Dragon
2018 Forbidden Lands
2020 Old School Essentials
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 11:38:16 PM by Mercurius »

Shrieking Banshee

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 07:22:24 PM »
Does Sine Publishing count as OSR?

If so I feel like they are the gosh darn best at it. To me at least, its a best of both worlds type deal.

TimothyWestwind

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 07:32:44 PM »
Two great games that are OSR inspired:

Sharp Words & Sinister Spells
Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells
Sword & Sorcery in Southeast Asia during the last Ice Age: https://sundaland-rpg-setting.blogspot.com/ Lots of tools and resources to build your own setting.

Spinachcat

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 08:07:27 PM »
I suspect Sine Nomine's Worlds Without Number will be 2020's big OSR event.



Spinachcat

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2020, 08:11:05 PM »
RPGPundit's Lion & Dragon should be in a list of OSR notables because he went all-in on putting the medieval back into fantasy RPGing. And he says he bought a house on the proceeds so apparently it sold well.

https://www.amazon.com/Lion-Dragon-Medieval-Authentic-Roleplaying/dp/197958091X

Crusader X

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2020, 08:17:44 PM »
Old School Essentials seems to be the most popular OSR product right now, as it is a direct clone of D&D B/X, and B/X seems to overall be the most popular set of rules for OSR material.

HappyDaze

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2020, 08:17:55 PM »
I really have to disagree about the Modiphius Conan having an old school feel. It's very heavily based on metacurrency (Doom) spending by players and GMs. That's not something that is found in old school games. The world of Conan might still feel old school (classic swords & sorcery), but the game does not. Still, if the OP wants to include it, it's his thread.

Snowman0147

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2020, 12:14:17 AM »
Dungeon World isn't OSR.  It is apocalypse world story game.  Zwhielder isn't OSR either as it uses gimicy story game mechanic.  Both games are also made by SJWs who hate the OSR.

Now you do need to point out Pundit's work in Arrows of India and Lion & Dragon.  You also need to check out Old School Essentials.  Last you need to read the entire line up of Sine Nomine books which are some of the most promising aspects of the OSR.

Spinachcat

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2020, 02:05:49 AM »
OSE fans, post a thread about OSE and explain what makes OSE "better" than Labyrinth Lord or other retro-clone.

theOutlander

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2020, 04:48:43 AM »
Against The Darkmaster can be considered a retro-clone too from what I can gather. Officially released this year.

I'm a late bloomer when it comes to drinking the OSR Kool-Aid. I've also never played the first few editions of D&D and have no attachment whatsoever to the system or IP, though I've followed as much as I can of the different editions, variations, clones and adjacent games.
That said, my fave Dungeon Crawl Classics. I went from knowing the game exists, to playing, buying half a shelf of books and starting a campaign in just a couple of months. Nowadays, skimming the rulesets of "original clones", they all seem lackluster and bland in comparison. And the literal Appendix-N connection of DCC is what really gives it a depth and meaning which are somewhat lost in all these years of D&D pastiches of D&D pastiches of D&D pastiches.

Now that said, what I'd really like to see in the OSR (i.e. what is missing right now) is more complete and literary inspired content, like DCC and Hyperborea. These days there seem to be two clearly defined roads to success - either go with another b/x clone or dive into the art-punk-DIY-zine weirdness (Troika, Ultraviolet Grasslands*, Mork Borg). The latter I admire, but I'm waiting for all the circlejerk to end and more hefty books and support be delivered, not just ideas and pretty scribbles on booklets and napkins.

EDIT: * Meant to say Electric Bastionland.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 10:48:56 AM by theOutlander »

lordmalachdrim

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2020, 07:19:23 AM »
OSR+ Major Releases (Partial List)
2001 Hackmaster
2004 Castles & Crusades
2006 OSRIC; Basic Fantasy
2007 Labyrinth Lord
2009 Swords & Wizardry; Lamentation of the Flame Princess; Barbarians of Lemuria
2010 Dark Dungeons
2011 Mazes & Perils
2012 For Gold & Glory; Dungeon Crawl Classics
2013 Blueholme; Dungeon World; OD&D Deluxe (reprint of 1974 box); Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
2017 Zweihander; Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of
2018 Forbidden Lands

HackMaster 4th edition and Castles and Crusades both predate the OSR.

HackMaster 4th is a mix of AD&D 1st and 2nd ed with every house rule you used and many you probably would have liked all crammed together. It is surprisingly a very good game once you get past the bombastic language in the book since it was written "in character" (if you read Knights of the Dinner Table you'll know what to expect for the author's opinion of other games and such). Even though Kenzer Co does not have the license for AD&D anymore a new group has started putting out material for the game with a plan to release a new version down the road - https://arghive.net/ (they also have a facebook and discord)

I have a love/hate deal with C&C.

For Gold and Glory is a pretty accurate repackage of AD&D 2nd edition - I just wish there was more then the single book.

Zweihander - I followed this closely when it first started development and was discussed back on the hold Strike to Stun forum and I backed it when it went up on kickstarter. I started lose faith in the product when the creature in charge went on his "aggressive" promotion run. What I got was not the game originally advertised on StS, and after it came out the he not only played all kinds of games about being a victim while lashing out at and doxing people but also started actively asking for suggestions from the "SJW" types on how to improve the game.

Myrdin Potter

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2020, 07:55:29 AM »
I think the two systems with the most constant release of adventures are Swords and Wizardry and DCC. DCC is a 3.5 system written, more modern than others on the list you made. S&W has a constant flow of content being released via crowd funding.

TimothyWestwind

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2020, 08:41:45 AM »
There's also Basic Fantasy RPG which along with many adventures and supplements is completely free.

https://www.basicfantasy.org/

Or can be purchased at cost price from Amazon.
Sword & Sorcery in Southeast Asia during the last Ice Age: https://sundaland-rpg-setting.blogspot.com/ Lots of tools and resources to build your own setting.

Armchair Gamer

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2020, 09:23:57 AM »
For Gold and Glory is a pretty accurate repackage of AD&D 2nd edition - I just wish there was more then the single book.

  There are a handful of supplements out there on DriveThruRPG and Lulu; look for The Hawk Wolf Network and Mad Martian Games on DTRPG.

Brad

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Re: The State of OSR
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2020, 09:28:21 AM »
OSE fans, post a thread about OSE and explain what makes OSE "better" than Labyrinth Lord or other retro-clone.

I'll just post a reply here, no need for a new thread...OSE is nothing more than a literal rebranding/repackaging of B/X. It is a 100% direct clone, with the "most logical" rules interpretations explained where B/X might have been unclear. That's it. I have all the hardcovers and the softcover BX Essentials and use them exclusively as a supplement for B/X games I run. There is ZERO reason to get OSE if you already have B/X unless you want an easy reference. It is super easy to print out a single sheet character reference (front and back) to give each player they can refer to without opening the book. Treasures and monsters are also easier to find than the two books. Otherwise, there is no point to the books other than they look nice. The actual D&D flavor is severely lacking, as is typical with these sorts of things.


That said, Advanced Labyrinth Lord might be a better game, honestly, because it doesn't try to shoehorn AD&D stuff into B/X, totally unlike the advanced books for OSE. ALL is a hybrid game, B/X in spirit but with enough elements of AD&D already baked in that adding stuff like monks and assassins comes naturally. Adding that stuff to OSE doesn't feel as clean. While I really like the concept quite a bit, I do not find the advanced OSE stuff all that intriguing or useful, and to me it's a failed attempt to AD&D-ify B/X, something that has already been done a million times by everyone one of us, probably. If I want AD&D, I will play AD&D. ALL is like AD&D-lite if you're lazy, and Castles and Crusades is AD&D for drunkards like me.


I am sure someone will be happy to dispute my position...