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O.S.R. – Ep163

Whatever you want to call it (Old School Renaissance, Revival, Rules or Retro-clones), the OSR has been a big part of the gamer culture for a while. Then why is it that the majority of gamers don’t know what the hell it is?

If you have some input on this, leave a comment here, via email or on our Facebook page.

Cast – Eric, Mike, Dan, Brandon, Shannon, Jayson & Shawn

Items Mentioned:
Dungeons & Dragons, Gore, Mutant future, Gamma World, Call of Cthulhu, Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord, Dungeon World, Mazes & Minotaurs, Castles & Crusades, Microlight 78, Adventurer Conquerer King, ZORK, Bravely Default, Baseball Stars, Shadowrun, Star wars, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Hackmaster, Pixel Dungeon, The Last of Us, OSRIC, Gen Con, Tenkar’s Tavern, Dyson’s Delves, Gygax Magazine, Dragonsfoot


  1. Not too pedantic, I hope
    Not too pedantic, I hope May 31, 2014

    You expected corrections, so Lamentations of the Flame Princess is the game you’re thinking of, not Labyrinth Lord, when it comes to gory “metal” artwork.

  2. erik tenkar
    erik tenkar June 1, 2014

    Gore is a clone of Call of Cthulhu

    Mutant Future would be the clone of Gamma World (Other Dust would be another clone of Gamma World)

    Dungeon World is a fine game unto itself, but it is not regarded as OSR

    just some quick points – I’ll do something further on the blog side in a day or two

  3. Dallas
    Dallas June 2, 2014

    I’ve listened to this ep and it’s gladdening that you all sound positive about OSR games. That said, and you’re right, this episode drove me a more than a little crazy. 🙂 I’d recommend revisiting the topic but maybe bring in someone to interview who has some knowledge about the scene.

    These interviews are great for instance:

    “Dorkland! Roundtable with Matt Finch” (the guy behind Swords & Wizardry and originally OSRIC)
    (… and probably a bunch of other Dorkland interviews, maybe James Maliszewski, Zak Smith, Kirin Robinson and others…)

    “Old and New School Sims and Diffs with (Vincent) Baker and (James) Raggi”

    “Indie+: Why Should You Play FLAILSNAILS” (i.e. online OSR gaming)

    Some of the Grognard Games videos…

    … plus a ton more I’m just forgetting right now.

    As for what OSR gaming is about, you’re right in that it means different things to different people, but I could define the following broad camps (which are hard definitions or barely existent, depending on the individual you’re caricaturing):

    1. Old school gamers. i.e. people who have discovered, rediscovered or never stopped playing Original Dungeons & Dragons, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Holmes, Moldvay/Cook and Mentzer “Classic” D&D. (And other 70s-1990, say, games.)

    These people live on blogs and forums like Dragonsfoot.

    1a. Some of these people stick to the original games only. Perhaps retroclones are heresy, or should only be available as a vehicle for publication of new material for the original games.

    1b. Some of these people like to play the “first wave” retroclones i.e. 100% faithful or very close facsimiles of the original rulesets. Single book, currently supported, cheap/free are all lures. But otherwise exactly like playing the old games.

    2. “Second-wave” (i.e. a base system + novel/original house rules or thematic changes) OSR gamers as per the definition discussed here:

    Believe that the old games are an excellent base for further innovation.

    Maybe their home is more blogs and Google+?

    3. “DIY D&Ders” which seem to have more of a home on blogs and Google+ rather than forums. They tend to be more about creating original content (with a focus on making stuff for their active campaigns then sharing it) than venerating the original material. Prefers “classic D&D” type systems to Advanced D&D, say, as the former is riper for hacking.

  4. Pearce
    Pearce June 2, 2014

    Some things:

    Early waves of OSR material (OSRIC being the classic example) are often much closer emulations of the original games (“retro clones”) than more recent OSR games (like Lamentations of the Flame Princess or DCC).

    The early OSR stuff tends to use the OGL to reproduce as closely as possible the older rules, though usually the clone authors take the opportunity to resolve contradictions or apparent errors in the original texts.

    Per Matt Finch and other authors of these early clones, the point of releasing the clones was:

    a. to make the rules legally (and usually freely) available so that people could play B/X or OD&D or 1st edition without owning the original rulebooks and;

    b. giving people interested in producing and consuming better-production-values-than-homebrew content a legal platforms on which adventures and supplements might be published.

    I can’t presume to represent the OSR, but I can say that in my interaction with a lot of the people that produce OSR content (and as someone who produces OSR content myself), nostalgia has really very little to do with the appeal; rather it’s mostly just recognizing that the older style of play provides a fun, viable alternative to whats offered in the more mainstream modern rpg.

    In re video games: there are a ton of recently released old-school-style video games. I don’t think there is necessarily much of an actual connection between the OSR and what’s happening in video games, though there are similarities/coincidences.

    Recently, there have been lots of rogue-likes, gauntlet-style rpgs, metroidvanias, point and click adventures, platformers and puzzle games and even a few brawlers – all styles of video games that had been largely abandoned for strategy games, shooters or rpg epics or some amalgam of the three.

    Nidhogg, Towefall Ascension, the Last Door, Gunpoint Dungeon of Endless, Fez, the Swapper, Super Meat Boy, Risk of Rain, Monaco, Lone Survivor, Legend of Grimrock, Legend of Dungeon, Gone Home, Hammerwatch, La-Mulania, Mercenary Kings, Hotline Miami, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Braid, Dungeons of Dredmor and FTL are all very much old-school style games, many without any real story at all/perfunctory story and all released within the last 2-3 years. (There are at least 5 or 6 more that come to mind, but whose names I can’t remember… but you get the point)

    Odin’s Sphere and Dragon’s Crown are both larger games which are pretty much just the old brawler formula with some more involved means of character development.

    Dark Souls, which is a hugely popular AAA game, is very similar to the old King’s Field games, which themselves were an attempt to use the Wizardry-style of first person dungeon exploration to emulate the experience of playing older D&D.

  5. Gamerstable
    Gamerstable June 2, 2014

    Thank you all for commenting.

    Our policy is that we welcome all comments, questions and criticisms so we truly appreciate you taking time to do so.

    As was stated in the episode, OSR is certainly a huge topic that we couldn’t dream of tackling in our 30 minute format and we are nowhere near experts. That said, we don’t want fear of getting some details wrong to deter us from a topic. That’s why we relish your input.

    What this episode was (like our Indie Games episode) was to get those who didn’t know that the OSR existed interested in it. Hopefully we did.

  6. Community
    Community June 11, 2014

    DCC is not really rules heavy, especially compared to today’s games. The book is thick, but much of is because of the spells…they each get a page. One of the goals of the game is to make each class fun to play, and they really succeed. Goodman games has come up with some very innovative ideas.

    I think it would be fun idea for a show, for the Gamer’s Table gang to do a DCC adventure and discuss. I introduced it to some skeptical 4e friends and 3 of the 4 players wanted to do more DCC. They liked it because it has a very different raw feeling. Play smart or die. If it looks too tough to fight, it probably is so run.

    The one player that didn’t like it really didn’t like it. He couldn’t get past the fact that he had a fighter with 11 strength (among other unimpressive stats.) DCC success relies on the player, and not the characters being uber buffed feats/high statted “builds.” The players that did like the system really enjoyed the freedom that DCC allows, and the interesting takes on the classic character classes.

    I really enjoyed this show. Thanks guys.

    David S.
    Minnesota, USA

    • this_is_Dan
      this_is_Dan June 12, 2014

      Funny you should bring that up, we recorded this episode shortly before I got my DCC rulebook and I was shocked by how few actual rules there was.

      Currently i’m running the group through a 0Lv funnel #meatgrinder!

      • Tom
        Tom June 23, 2014

        I’m so glad you’re playing DCC Dan. When I first played it, my first thought was a quote from you on one of the earlier episodes: “3d6 down the line! Are you man enough?!” So great. I love the system, can’t recommend it enough.

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