I’ve recently been listening to lots of Oct-OSR podcast and I began to wonder why I find myself more often than not agreeing with what seem to be different/divergent statements about what the OSR is.
So, I had a bit of a think and tried to put a pin in it.
Some say the OSR is playing in a 70’s style (or at least what they think happened back then), others say the OSR must be mechanically compatible with 70s D&D, others think it is an ethos or is the DIY scene etc.
Can these all be OSR, can the OSR really be this broad?
Perhaps yes, if these are all views/movements that represent ‘dials’ in the OSR that people can dial up or down. So, when peoples say OSR is “X”, what they really mean is “X” is what is important to me in the OSR. The other stuff (that is not “X”) is not so important to me, and perhaps negligibly important. When enough people have the dials set at the same-ish position, then you begin to generate a gravitational well that draws in more adherents. This gravitational well may even become sufficiently distinct to gain a new identity like the NSR movement/wing.
So why these gravitational wells in the OSR?
I think what is important to you in the OSR is what drew you into the OSR in the first place. It is likely that what drew you into the OSR was a contact with an “OSR” (be it a person, group or product). If you liked that “first-contact-OSR” you joined the OSR. If you didn’t like that “first-contact-OSR” you left or never joined the OSR, and probably warned others off the OSR. That “first-contact-OSR” will therefore have strongly coloured your understanding of what the OSR is. Of course, the bigger the gravitational well of an OSR wing, the more likely it is to be a person’s “first-contact-OSR”, and so these wings of the OSR grow.
So, bringing this together – what do I think the OSR is?
I think the OSR can be as broad as the various people say it is. People naturally think the OSR can’t be that broad. But, I’m not so sure. I think the OSR is like a thin membrane capturing all the OSR gravitational wells and movements derived therefrom.
To me, I now lean towards thinking that the OSR is … a non-conformist movement (like the Arts and Crafts movement) where free-thinkers do ‘RPGs’ in the way they want to, and do not simply accept what corporates like WOtC (or other main stream commercial publishers) said RPGs are, e.g. currently 5e D&D.
I think the OSR was kicked off (began to crystalize?) when people read D&D 3/4e and said: nooooooo, I’m not playing D&D that way!
But, what do I know!
– – –
Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous