Old School Renaissance

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The Old School Renaissance, Old School Revival,[1] or OSR, is a trend in tabletop role-playing games which draws inspiration from the earliest days of tabletop RPGs in the 1970s, especially Dungeons & Dragons.[2] It consists of a loose network or community of gamers and game designers[3] who share an interest in a certain style of play and set of game design principles.[4]

Terminology[edit]

The terms "old school revival" and "old school renaissance" were first used on the Dragonsfoot forum as early as 2004[5] and 2005,[6][7] respectively, to refer to a growing interest in older editions of Dungeons and Dragons and games inspired by those older editions. By February of 2008, a pre-launch call for submissions for Fight On! magazine described it as "a quarterly fanzine for the old-school Renaissance".[8] The two terms (revival and renaissance) continue to be used interchangeably according to user preference,[9] though a 2018 survey found that most respondents understood the R in OSR to mean "renaissance" over "revival", with "rules" and "revolution" as distant third- and fourth-place choices.[10]

History[edit]

The OSR movement first developed in the early 2000s, primarily in discussion on internet forums such as Dragonsfoot, Knights & Knaves Alehouse, and Original D&D Discussion, as well as on a large and diverse network of blogs.[11] Partly as a reaction to the publication of the Third Edition of Dungeons and Dragons,[12] interest in and discussion of "old school" play also led to the creation of Dungeons and Dragons retro-clones (legal emulations of RPG rules from the 1970s and early 1980s), including games such as Castles & Crusades and OSRIC which were developed in OSR-related forums.[13] Zines dedicated to OSR content, such as Fight On! and Knockspell, began to be published as early as 2008.[14][15][16]

In addition to the development of internet platforms and printed rule books, other printed OSR products became widely available. In 2008, Matthew Finch (creator of OSRIC) released his free "Quick Primer for Old School Gaming", which tried to sum up the OSR aesthetic.[17][18] Print-on-demand sites such as Lulu and DriveThruRPG allowed authors to market periodicals, such as Fight On! and many new adventure scenarios and game settings. These continue to be created and marketed, along with older, formerly out of print gaming products, via print-on-demand services.[19]

In 2012, Wizards of the Coast began publishing reprints and PDFs of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set materials, possibly in response to a perceived market for these materials driven by the OSR.[20]

Games[edit]

A variety of published RPGs can be understood to be influenced by or part of the OSR trend, ranging from emulations of specific editions of Dungeons and Dragons such as OSRIC[21] and Labyrinth Lord[22] to games such as The Black Hack and Into the Odd, which are designed to recreate the "feel" of 1970s roleplaying while taking only slight (if any) inspiration from the early rules.[23]

Broadly, OSR games encourage a tonal fidelity to Dungeons & Dragons as it was played in the first decade of the game's existence—less emphasis on linear adventure plots and overarching metaplots and a greater emphasis on player agency.[24]

Style of play[edit]

The general ethos of OSR-style play emphasizes spontaneous rulings from the referee, or Game Master, over set rules found in a book.[25] The idea is for the players to engage with the fantasy as much as possible, and have the referee arbitrate the outcomes of their specific actions in real time.[26] The idea of game balance is also de-emphasized in favor of a system which tests players skill and ingenuity in often strange or unfair situations.[27] The players should expect to lose if they merely pit their numbers against the monsters, and should instead attempt to outwit or outmaneuver challenges placed in their way. Keeping maps comes highly recommended.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Old School Revival | The GeekPreacher". 30 June 2012.
  2. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. This has led some critics to charge that the old school revival is essentially “fundamentalist,” while many old school players counter that it is in fact radical in its original meaning, which is to say, returning to the roots of the hobby. Many of these same bloggers are participating in campaigns using older rules or retro-clones and use their blogs to demonstrate the principles of the style of gaming they prefer: rules light, freeform, and placing a greater emphasis on player skill rather than on character skill. Taken together, along with a do-it-yourself spirit, the outlines of what the old school revival is all about become more apparent.
  3. ^ Bebergal, Peter. "Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast's Problem Child". Boing Boing. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Sometimes referred to as the Old School Renaissance (OSR), this loose gathering of gamers and designers [...]
  4. ^ "OSR survey: meaning". Necropraxis. Archived from the original on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. These averages tell a simple story, which is that respondents agree most that OSR refers to a play style and set of design principles. Respondents agree somewhat that OSR is a scene or movement and that OSR is a collection of aesthetics.
  5. ^ Foster, T. "The long journey home..." Dragonsfoot. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. If the 'old-school revival' continues to pick up steam and the current game continues to flounder [...] sooner or later some bean-counter at Hasbro who doesn't have an emotional attachment to the current edition is going to realize that there's a demand (i.e. money to be made) for 'collector's editions' of the classic games (OD&D, AD&D, B/X D&D) and we'll see them back on the shelves in some form or another.
  6. ^ "Is True20 mustling in on Castles & Crusades' turf?". Dragonsfoot. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. The populatity of none d20 systems is again growing with WFRP selling second only to WoTs D&D. CoC and GURPS have also seen a slight revival in their market share. Compare this to the decrease in sales of d20 material over the last year (although still high). Over production and over stock is leading many online stores to slash prices. An old school renaissance could be on the horizon.
  7. ^ Conley, Robert. "Where the hell The Old School Renaissance come from?". Bat in the Attic. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  8. ^ Calithena (27 February 2008). "Revenant Runes Pre-Launch Thread". OD&D Discussion. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  9. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. a fully-fledged old school revival (or, as some call it, an old school renaissance)
  10. ^ "What about the R?". Necropraxis. Archived from the original on 24 February 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Respondents clearly preferred Renaissance (70% of responses) as the meaning of the R in OSR. Revival took silver, with about 20% of responses. After that was a long tail of many different alternatives. Third place was “Rules” (but at less than 4%).
  11. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Forums like Dragonsfoot, Knights & Knaves Alehouse, and Original D&D Discussion all play vital roles by enabling old school gamers to discuss, share, and argue about their ideas with one another, just like the ‘zines and APAs of yore. In recent years, these forums have been bolstered by a vast network of blogs, each as idiosyncratic as its owner, and many of which have produced a significant amount of new — and free — material for use with both original and retro-clone games.
  12. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Dragonsfoot benefitted from these fans that had little interest in the latest version of the game, whose rules and aesthetics seemed very different from their own preferences.
  13. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. C&C grew out of discussions on Dragonsfoot in 2003 [...] OSRIC, a First Edition AD&D clone created by Matt Finch and Stuart Marshall of the Knights & Knaves Alehouse in 2006
  14. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Through forums, blogs, and new fanzines like Fight On! and Knockspell, the movement is now attracting the attention of gamers of all stripes, including many born well after the hobby’s early days.
  15. ^ "Fight On! magazine - Issue 01 Information Page". Fight On! Magazine. Archived from the original on 26 April 2020. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  16. ^ Finch, Matt. Knockspell Magazine #1. Mythmere Games. p. 3.
  17. ^ Robert Conley (8 October 2008). "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming". Bat in the Attic Blog. Retrieved 13 February 2018.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  18. ^ "A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming". Wired. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  19. ^ Bebergal, Peter. "Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast's Problem Child". Boing Boing. Retrieved 24 June 2021. [...] print-on-demand, an option that has become central to OSR culture.
  20. ^ Bebergal, Peter. "Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast's Problem Child". Boing Boing. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Wizards of the Coast finally got around to acknowledging that some people like to play the earlier versions of the game and, seeing a small but flourishing market, tried to capture the spirit of OSR with a number of publishing initiatives. [...] It is as if Wizards does not really see new value in the old D&D material, but merely recognizes the opportunity to make money from those who do.
  21. ^ Bebergal, Peter. "Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast's Problem Child". Boing Boing. Retrieved 24 June 2021. The earliest iterations of OSR games, like the Old School Reference and Index Compilation, are simply various editions of the early D&D rules with new art and accompanying text offered as PDFs (often free) or print-on-demand at cost.
  22. ^ Maliszewski, James. "Full Circle: A History of the Old School Revival". The Escapist. Escapist Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021. Daniel Proctor’s Labyrith Lord, which emulates the 1981 edition of Dungeons & Dragons, was the second retro-clone
  23. ^ Gailloreto, Coleman. "Excellent Tabletop RPGs From The Old School Revival Genre". Screen Rant. Retrieved 24 June 2021. More than strict rule emulation, though, OSR RPGs like those mentioned below seek to capture the feel of roleplaying game sessions from the time [...]
  24. ^ Gailloreto, Coleman. "Excellent Tabletop RPGs From The Old School Revival Genre". Screen Rant. Retrieved 24 June 2021. OSR RPGs [...] seek to capture the feel of roleplaying game sessions from the time via the following principles: high lethality, randomized and horribly unbalanced encounters, followers who flock to the side of high-level adventurers, and a free-form, unplanned plot that rewards careful exploration and creative solutions to dangerous scenarios.
  25. ^ Finch, Matthew (2008). A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming. Swords & Wizardry. p. 2. Most of the time in old-style gaming, you don’t use a rule; you make a ruling.
  26. ^ Finch, Matthew (2008). A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming. Swords & Wizardry. pp. 2–5.
  27. ^ Finch, Matthew (2008). A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming. Swords & Wizardry. p. 6. Game balance just isn't terribly important in old-style gaming.
  28. ^ Finch, Matthew (2008). A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming. Swords & Wizardry. pp. 5–8.