... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What the OSR Can Do

There's been a couple blogostorms out there. Whether they are trolls or serious criticism, they are RPG politics, not concrete, practical matters. But can I rephrase these criticisms as practical challenges?

One of the big fights is over story in RPGs, something I will be talking about, but not just yet. The other is over the contributions of the Old School Renaissance; ironically, it's a complaint that the lovers of old school play have nothing new to offer.

But let's take that as a practical challenge. What practical things could the OSR pursue to offer something new to RPGs in general, while remaining true to old school principals? I'll steal this list from James Raggi, as an example of old-school thinking rather than as a definition, and create some practical goals:

Random Character Generation
, Backstory:

I had a weird character creation process for Resist the Atom!, where dice are rolled on a character silhouette to allot scores and special abilities; perhaps I could adapt that to D&D. I like my approach to character backgrounds, but it would be better if there were a random version of that available.

Player Skill, Not Character Stats

  • more blog posts or published guides to the player puzzle-solving play-style, similar to all the guides about how to immerse in your character or how to optimize your character.
  • campaign options that de-emphasize stats/fight bonus inflation.
Slow Leveling/“Eternal” Campaign:

  • blog posts/guide to how to keep players interested in long-term play
  • resources for generational play (as in Pendragon,) trading high-level characters for low (like henchmen.)
  • resources for the OD&D "end game"
  • eternal scenario generators.
Other "what is Old School?" lists could be developed into practical goals in the same way.


  1. Lots of very good ideas here. :) I think we're especially lacking in the area of "eternal campaign" resources.

  2. That's one of the frequent "wish list" items on old school forums, from what I can tell. Unfortunately, although I developed this list as ideas I should think about developing, I'm focusing much more on random generation resources, so I won't be much help on the eternal campaign front. Unless I get really inspired...

  3. I have taken your suggestion for "The Devil's In The Details" style tables for Riskail and have just whipped-up a set for the Jarpha wich I've tossed up over at my blog. I will keep this very clever idea in mind as I develop entries for the other non-standard races. It is a nice way to flesh them out without drowning in too much minutiae or trivia. Thanks for the suggestion! I am definitely going to have to pick up some back issues of Fight On! from the looks of things.

  4. @NetherWerks: I noticed!

    I haven't seen a single issue of Fight On! yet. I should, at some point. The example on Torch, Pole and Rope was interesting, though.