Response to Melan's "End of the OSR"

Updated: Aug 9, 2019



I find it surprising that A) I agree with you and B) I don't care.


A) When I returned to AD&D I had some convincing to do (namely my players). In preparation, I re-read the core books (cover to cover) and set about re-acquainting myself with BOTH the spirit and letter of "the law". Then, because the rules are hard to follow, I went on line to seek (validation?).


There I stumbled on the G+ OSR "community"--------only it wasn't exactly. 


The nice people sort of banded together and so did the assholes...though the assholes also consistently turned on each other. Added to the mix was the platforming of this or that political bent and regular chastising. I mentioned at one point that what went on in the "community" wasn't much different from the early rage-exchanges that happened in The Dragon, letters to the editor column.

No shock as gamers in general are often ornery, opinionated people that wish to remake the world. Thus campaigns are born. I am no exception.


The entertaining self-immolation of he-who-must-not-be-named was indeed a big part of the OSR shattering, combined w/ G+. And, maybe it's only because I'm no longer part of Old School online gatherings that I feel like the whole thing evaporated. Obviously this isn't true b/c there are still groups out there on MeWe...or whatever. But it's split into camps now, right?  So I agree.  But...


B) I got what I needed before G+ shuttered. I made acquaintances with some of the nice (and the very smart) and realized through the combined reactions to my work (both from local players and folks on line) that what I was doing was a version of "correct." 


"Ok, Anthony, yes...you understand AD&D and you're doing it correctly. Also, Anthony, we like the stuff you're doing."


Great. That's all I wanted to hear.


I felt sad that G+ went away, but I think now it's probably a good thing. It was toxic. It gave my AD&D efforts visibility, which was fun. But it also gave voice to a bunch of ugly stuff I didn't like. What I wanted was apolitical gaming where things that happened in a game were not constantly compared to the causes and conflicts of real-world chaos.


My take-away is that you can't fight the future. 5th Ed and beyond is the future. Joe Manganiello heralds the future. And yay! People are playing D&D again. They aren't playing AD&D because they weren't there when I was there. They don't have the nostalgia that I have. Or they had a bad DM back then and what they're playing now is actually a better experience. 


Truth is, even if I waged a campaign to energize sentiment for the old rules, it would fail. It would fail because I am boring. I do not attempt to sensationalize or outrage. Worse yet, the old rules are nuanced, idiosyncratic, and often hard to justify. They require mental acrobatics, abstract and concrete thinking. They require interpretation. They require a certain level of genius even to wield.


Hey, if you think I'm bragging, so be it.


But not me, not Melan, not anybody is going to get famous or rich blogging or publishing specifically for Old School. There might be 12 people that read my blog. I don't fucking know. Why do I do it then? Because I care about what I've made? Because I care about the ideas in AD&D. I care about the subtle beauty of these systems that let you conduct combat in a quick and agile way. I care about the philosophy of old school--------the good always mixed with the bad, pros and cons, death and riches. The ability to simulate almost anything you can imagine.


That's what I care about.  Not about "communities" of people I barely know. Or about getting famous or rich. I publish exclusively on Lulu for fuck's sake! How can you get noticed doing that? But it's there. You can choose it or not. What I care about is that my local players have a great game, that I am hewing to the Gygaxian spirit of the game's original intent and that the work I've done creating a setting and adventures isn't lost in a closet somewhere.


I'll be dead soon-ish (probalby within 25 years) like everyone else who was around when AD&D first came out. But I get some satisfaction in seeing these places and adventures that I authored as a kid sitting on stands at Gary Con, waiting for people to pick them up and maybe even run them. That's kinda the only connection I need to a larger community. Because the real satisfaction is that I've been running my game for over 5 years now and my players are still with me...and they still say things like, "I can't wait for Monday night." 


Some day, AD&D might die entirely. When the last person dies that was alive when the rules came out, the game might persist on legends I suppose. Folks might dig it up out of curiosity and try to figure it out. They will speculate and argue. Hopefully my blog posts on AD&D will be archived somewhere as a point of reference. But probably not.


It doesn't matter because what mattered about AD&D most, despite all the discussions I could have about why it's better than 5th edition, IS the same thing that matters IN 5th edition: the friendships. You can't archive friendships. They last while you are alive. 


So that's where the real energy goes, and not into communities like G+ anymore.


This is not to say that online friends are of no value. I am so glad to have "met" Ben L and Melan and Allan and Guy and...well, the list goes on. It's just that I can enjoy the fact that they are playing in their games and I am playing in mine and we have a thing in common. That's enough.

The OSR is not a movement. Or, I think, it should never have been a movement. It should simply have been a way to reconnect...or connect for the first time maybe with your kids. Old School Renaissance?  Nah. That ain't happening. Old School Roleplay. OK. That works. That's all it means to me anymore.


As a tack on, I am working on a first real introductory post to my campaign setting (wherein all my supplements are based). I'm updating my campaign map as a starting point; re-scanning it for the first time in 20 years at 600 dpi and am re-labeling everything. This while I'm moving to the new house, and finishing up the final edits to Geir Loe Cyn-crul. Busy-busy.


Peace and happy gaming.

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