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Sunday, August 11, 2019

OSR Splinter Faction

There have been a couple posts lately debating whether or not the OSR is dead (because reasons.) I will only link to this one at The 3 Toadstools, not only because I agree with the basic point, but also because it links to several other posts, so I don't have to do it myself.

One of the things people on both sides say is that the OSR is splintered. But I'm going to ask: Is it, really?

The core OSR experience is to revive old school D&D and some of its practices. Few people who were involved with that have stopped playing old school games. They are doing what they always did. Are they a unified community? Well, no, but they never were. There were always some people who didn't talk to each other. Hell, I left Dragonsfoot more or less because of a handful of people who dominated those forums and made the conversations unpleasant, one example being when they started insulting Isaac Bonewits after he died, because ... they were good Christians, I guess? That was one year after I started this blog.

So there's really no more splintering than there was at the beginning. What may be confusing people is that there's a whole extra set of people that weren't part of the OSR back then. These are the people who think of the OSR as being edgy, DIY, light mechanics RPGs. They aren't really interested in old school D&D at all. We could debate whether they are really OSR, but the point is: there are at least twice as many people who identify as (or are linked to) the OSR as there were originally, and there is a sharp divide in their interests.

It's not because one faction has split away from the other. It's because a new faction has joined.

Perhaps it's a bad alliance. Perhaps the two factions will never get along. But the point is, the OSR has expanded as a result, not splintered.


  1. It’s not a community.

    A community has rules and it has gatekeepers. More than that, it must keep some people out, or else it’s not really a discrete thing.

    I’ll be damned if I submit myself to someone else’s say-so about how to play or who can play with me.

    If you want to label it anything, it’s a school of thought or a philosophy. And since we are all our own philosophers (or people say pundits or muses or whatever), the school of thought is only growing as we disagree and hash things out.

    No we’re not splintered because there’s nothing to splinter. I don’t owe anyone anything and no one owes me.

    On the other hand, I will interact with folks who share my interest in the hobby (whether they share my philosophy or not.) but only if they’re not attempting to control people, exclude people etc.

    Unfortunately that means there are a lot of turkeys out there I’m just not going to talk to. But I come here to roll dice and talk like a hobbit and not for politics.

  2. No we’re not splintered because there’s nothing to splinter. I don’t owe anyone anything and no one owes me. Totally agree. I only think it takes away from the gaming to keep waving the flag of the moniker, but whatever. If it makes people happy to call out for and against OSR, let them.

  3. A community is just a group of people that live together. In online terms, that talk in the same spaces about what are vaguely the same interests. There doesn't have to be rules and gatekeeping, that's not a requirement of being a community.

    I always raise an eyebrow, then, at the idea that the OSR is not a community- are we not inhabiting the same spaces on the internet, discussing the same games? What is that but a community?

  4. When the moniker was first used we were to busy talking about games, and now it seems people talk too often about definitions of "OSR" so that's what I want to drop. The community, whatever that is, will live on without the three letters.