2018-11-18 What I love about the OSR

People are writing about the Old School Renaissance (OSR) again...

I just read the blog post by Emmy Allen, Why I love the OSR. I reflects my own ideas. The problem is that outside the OSR, everything is so damn encumbered with IP, it makes everything extra hard. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I love Free Culture and I like neither intellectual property, nor permission culture.

But that is not all. Like Emmy Allen says, the focus on classic D&D also brings quite a bit of benefit: 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, gaining levels to gain power – these things are somewhat easy to understand and they are easy to use in a different context. So it doesn’t matter if you’re playing Wolf Packs & Winter Snow by Dying Stylishly (i.e. Emmy Allen) or Stars Without Number by Sine Nomine Publishing (i.e. Kevin Crawford).

But why are people writing about the OSR? It’s because of bitter fighting on social media, as far as I can tell. It’s the culture war, again.

Stuart Robertson wrote about the OSR logo: “Lately I have become increasingly concerned with content published alongside the OSR logo that is harassing towards members of our community including women, LGBT+ and ethnic/religious minorities. I strongly object to this and do not wish my artwork, and by extension myself, to be associated with hateful content of this nature.”

Kiel Chenier stopped working with Lamentations of the Flame Princess: “Even if this was done as a marketing gimmick (LotFP uses a lot of shock value marketing), I think it implicitly sends the message that LotFP is a game that is accepting of Peterson’s fans, anti-trans people, and the alt-right. By posting this from the official LotFP account it signals acceptance of these people and their beliefs by the brand itself. These are things I cannot in good conscience be okay with or be associated with.”

Evelyn Moreau is moving away from the gaming scene: “This is not the first time that I thought of this, I decided multiple times to remain but it appear that it was not a healthy thing to do. Toxic shit in the soil make me move away but I want to turn this into new opportunities for my art.”

Anyway, these events, and the ensuing discussions, mark this as a pretty low point for the OSR. But we’ve had online drama before. And as Zak S. said elsewhere, anything that’s non-trivial will have drama. My point is that the OSR still has value. It stands for my values. Various individuals might not, but that is besides the point.

I care about B/X and the closer family of games. What else should I call it? “Classic D&D” might work but what if I want everything that Kevin Crawford does as well? “Old School” is something that sounds like it should work. And I like the Renaissance. Somebody recently said somewhere that the OSR was like oil painters. Or expressionists, I guess. What would it mean if somebody were to hate on oil painters because a famous oil painter was saying weird stuff? I guess if the expressionists actually got together and said we’re going to do our own thing, outside the French academy of art, then that’s basically a club and a real association – but we never had that. And even if we did, are other people who paint in that style not expressionists, too? That’s why I keep thinking: this too shall pass.

Remember all the good stuff the OSR produced. It’s still good.

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Also note Welcoming intolerance is NOT just scene drama by Paul Gorman.

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-18 17:35 UTC


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