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Monday, December 13, 2010

Too Much D&D in the OSR?

James Maliszewski has attempted to answer some criticisms that the OSR is too "D&D-centric". As he and others point out, there's certainly some activity relating to other games... and we must indeed acknowledge that there has always been more interest in fantasy gaming, and D&D specifically, than in other games and genres.

But there's also something else at work: other old-school games, much like the "Forge-style games", tend to be more focused, either tied to a specific kind of setting or play style. The BRP-based games (RuneQuest, Call of Cthulhu) have changed very little, because their rules sets were designed to hit a specific spot, as was The Fantasy Trip. Even if you ignore the Traveller setting, the game is designed for a specific kind of space exploration setting.

And, in a sense, aren't all the other games D&D as well?


  1. Traveller changes for no good reason I've noticed every few years. Runequest changed plenty over the years just not as fast as some other games have. The Fantasy Trip became GURPS. They aren't' all D&D.

    To me asking if the OSR has too much D&D in it is like asking if my Hershey bar has too much chocolate in it.

  2. To me asking if the OSR has too much D&D in it is like asking if my Hershey bar has too much chocolate in it.


    (So says the guy who played very little D&D in the 80's once he discovered there were other games out there. MERP, Rolemaster, Warhammer, Gurps, James Bond. But it was D&D that started it all and what most of us eventually return to. I see very little reason to complain about the D&D focus of the OSR. Those of us who are interested in other games will write about them and hopefully even play them.)

  3. Well, of course the OSR mainly concentrates on D&D. Most other old school games haven't ponied up with an open license for us to home publish using their systems. At least nothing like the scope that the OGL has given us to spread our wings and breath new life into old editions.

  4. @JD: How about TOON as an example Old School game that didn'6 really change?

    I'd say that The Fantasy Trip became GURPS in the same sense that D&D became The Fantasy Trip. It's pretty different, although the influence is recognizable.

    @Sean: Good point. The OSR isn't just playing old games, it's writing new stuff based on old games.

  5. The Fantasy Trip and GURPS have the same author. TFT was written in response to D&D while GURPS was a new and improved TFT.
    TFT currently has a look-a-like game out there by the way but the scenarios are a bit pricey for me.

    TOON was almost perfect at what it was written for, why would anyone change it?

  6. GURPS has a couple ideas from TFT, mostly derived from the idea of basing the rules on board games instead of miniatures: narrowing combat to 5 or 6 second turns, rolling for every action, and using attributes as base target numbers, all of which can now be found in many RPGs. The only elements in GURPS that could be considered uniquely TFT would be the way damage is marked off against an attribute and the damage/fatigue split.

    The resolution system and the way talents interact with it is different (things tend to add or subtract from the number of dice to roll, instead of having precise modifiers.) And although talents resemble advantages and skills in a way, they are much simpler and can't be directly improved by experience -- the character generation system is entirely different and bears as much resemblance to GURPS as BRP does.

    And all of this is because Steve Jackson made TFT as a work-for-hire and was unable to take it with him when he left Metagaming to start his own company. He specifically had to design GURPS as a new system, not as a new and improved TFT, because he didn't own the rights to TFT.