2018-10-22 Indie or not?

Blogosphere Power Engage!

If you have a RPG blog, either for the OSR or for Indie games, please submit your blog by leaving a comment. These are the two Planets I run right now:

A Planet is a website which collects posts from member blogs and display them on a single page. Thus, these two pages are ideal for people looking for new blogs to follow, people who aren’t subscribed to 200 blogs or more in their feed reader, people who are curious. And it’s a low cost way to get your blog in front of more eyes.

It does raise the question, however: what’s the difference?

What’s independent and indie in this context? As all RPG companies are very small, one could argue that the term is meaningless. I can just say what I was thinking of: things like Powered by the Apocalypse, Mountain Witch, Mouse Guard, Fate, Lady Blackbird and the like. But really, where do we draw the line? I have no idea. Is D&D 5E already Old School? Is Shadowrun small enough to be indie? Is Pathfinder the only one that’s mainstream? I truly don’t know and hope that people will self-sort and as if by magic we will all be happy.

What are our alternatives: story games, narrative games? For me, indie is what started at The Forge, right at the time when print-on-demand via Lulu became viable, when selling PDFs via RPG Now became viable, when more people started looking for alternatives to the d20 system.

Conversely, I like to think that starting with 6 abilities to define a character, saving throws to avoid mishaps, hit points, to-hit rolls using a d20, damage rolls using smaller dice, xp for gold and levels is 100% OSR. There are things that are close in execution, or close in spirit, or just define themselves to be close (thinking of Into the Odd). So that’s the OSR.

On Google+, Brendan said it best: “just click on the planets, skim the list of site names, and decide which crowd you want to hang with.”

In either case: please help spread the word such that more RPG bloggers join up. Rebuilding the blogosphere is a community effort:

Basically we will have to do manually what Google+, Facebook and all the other social media companies are doing for us:

Then again. It’s not hard. It’s a blog. You write text. It does what it says it does. It has links. It’s yours. It’s perfect! 🙂



Hey, please add


To the OSR list.

Charles 2018-10-23 03:32 UTC


– Alex Schroeder 2018-10-23 07:13 UTC

For a different perspective, see Brad J Murray’s post on categorization. I think I understand where he is coming from since I would not label myself as a this or that gamer. I like them all. But that doesn’t mean that all games are equal, or that all cliques or design sensibilities are equal, and just because the edges are fuzzy doesn’t mean that the categories themselves are useless.

In my blog post I wrote about the connotations the terms have for me, and as such, I find them to be useful shorthands. I find them to be useful terms for people to self-categorize.

  • You like or dislike Zak S.? There’s a strong indicator. (Added later: see 2019-02-11 More Zak Smith)
  • What about the Grognardia blog?
  • Do you follow the Story Games forum?
  • Did you like the Forge?
  • Do you think story emerges from the apparently random events, do you appreciate the idea of the game as a piquaresque?
  • Is the story as directed by the player’s hopes and wishes more important than the consequences of the characters’ actions?

If your response is a simple “it’s all good” then there’s no point in having this discussion, of course. But if you think one or the other is important to you, then having more words — labels! — is a benefit. Labels invoke context and associations and they make our vocabulary richer. Just don’t let them dictate your thinking.

So, to come back to Brad’s point about categories being needlessly divisive: as I find myself in both camps, I don’t experience it as a us vs. them dividing line but rather as a shorthand when talking about games. But yeah, it can be (mis-) used for us vs. them, too.

As for tags to describe games, I sort of liked the system of referee and player badges that some people talked about in 2011.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-02 23:22 UTC

I find it a little disturbing that the top item for categorizing games there is how one feels about a particular person. That disjunct is exactly the sort of thing I’m talking about: it’s impossible to keep it about the games.

Brad J Murray 2018-11-02 23:51 UTC

That’s true. All I can say is that we’re talking about people, there will always be groups of people. They share some values but not others, and they need words to describe themselves. I agree: it’s impossible to keep it about the games.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-03 08:14 UTC

Unrelated to the discussion about the benefits or drawbacks of categorization, I was recently reminded of this series of blog posts by Zak S.:

How Much Do You Want To Be A Wizard?: “in the most interesting and original indie games I’ve seen, the players are all put on the spot at one point or another to come up with some interesting and creative story elements.”

And in the same post: “In other words, D&D supports several playing styles simultaneously (assuming the DM’s any good). In a good game, everybody’s playing the game they want to play, even if it’s eight different games.”

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-06 14:20 UTC

Update: 2019-02-11 More Zak Smith.

Hey, Alex! People have recommended OSR Planet to me ever since I started blogging again. Could you add my blog?


Thanks! The OSR Planet does seem like a good idea!

Talysman 2018-11-14 00:33 UTC

I like very much that you promote so many individuals’ creativity in one place, a place which you are kind enough to build and host yourself.

Would you be so kind as to include my Coiled Sheets of Lead blog in the OSR section, too? http://zrzavy.blogspot.com/

p.s. Thank you so much for creating and improving and hosting Gridmapper! It’s fun and easy to use, and I admire your generosity in allowing people to use it for free. However, would you be interested in installing a Tip Jar feature on one of your pages? It would be nice to have the option of contributing something to help defray your cost for hosting or subsidize the costs of what you like to drink.

Karel 2018-11-14 06:23 UTC

Hello Talysman and Karel – sure thing! Both are added.

As for a tip jar: thank you for the offer! For a while I had a PayPal link but then I figured that it makes no sense. I don’t need the money so if all I end up doing is support other people, then all we have done is pay PayPal or the credit card companies (or both). Donate the money to somebody else, somebody who needs it. 🙂

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-14 06:35 UTC

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