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Friday, May 22, 2015

OD&D - The OSR and Innovation - A Few Thoughts

I have recently read Where Should the Innovation in the OSR Be - Rules or Settings? over at Tenkar's Tavern; Settings or Rules or Both and Why Not, Another Giveaway over at Gothridge Manor; and Innovation: settings, rules, or... what? over at Greyhawk Grognard and see also +Michael S+Tim Shorts+Joseph Bloch, and +James Spahn.

So I decided to weigh in with a few comments of my own.

Now before I comment I would like to establish exactly where I am coming from on this. As of this coming fall I will have been playing and reffing OD&D for 40 years. I don't consider myself to be part of the OSR, since for me there is nothing to revive, since I never left old school gaming and OD&D to begin with. For me it is as fresh and new as when I started. I have not played any of the retro-clones (see my list of those products Ye Olde School List of Retro Games & Clones, Retro Clones, and What Have You!) but I have copies of the free ones and have looked through them for ideas. The ones that are for sale I am curious about, but not enough to spend money on them yet. I don't have any problem with anyone making money on their labor at all. But when it comes to new rulesets based on OD&D or Classic D&D, I want to look before I buy. That is just me, now if I like your ruleset - i.e. I find it readable and with no deal breakers then I might be enticed to purchase a product based on your ruleset. As I said, I am all about promoting OD&D - see The Ruins of Murkhill - True OD&D - Original Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Worlds for this blog and OD&D - Campaigns and House Rules Discussion for my forum.

Now on to my comments concerning the OSR and Innovation. The above noted essays on the noted blogs mentioned Empire of the Petal Throne, Blackmoor, Spears of the Dawn, Arrows of Indra,  White Star, Carcosa and others. 

Now the question of where should the innovation be Rules or Settings is to me fairly simple. IMO the main efforts for innovation should be going into settings, new spells and new monsters. Let me elaborate on this a bit, when it comes to new rules/house rules/rule sets I say keep them coming, write all of the clones, retro clones, retro games you want and I will happily use any new rule that looks like fun and if it does enhance fun I will keep it. 

However, when it comes to settings and to me this does mean new spells and new monsters, I was surprised that no one mentioned The Arduin Grimoire (The Arduin Trilogy). Dave Hargrave started Arduin as an OD&D campaign and then when he published he was forced by TSR to change it from what was essentially an unofficial OD&D supplement into its own game. It was a extraordinary setting with many new spells and new monsters and it had all kinds of innovations many of which were brought out 20-25+ years later by others as new things, but they weren't new at all. So I say aspire to be the next "Arduin", be truly innovative in a way that goes way beyond just a new setting or a new spell or a new monsters, create something that really breaks the mold. Those are things worth buying!

But here is the thing for me, I am not going to use your setting the way you write it, I am going to mine it for ideas to mix with my own ideas and then use it IMC the same way I steal rules and use them IMC.

Over on my forum, I am encouraging people to post their campaign worlds and we have several that we have started and along with that, information about campaigns and game play. One fellow plays on a Jupiter sized world and it is a generation game that has been running for over 40 years and he is starting to post about the current characters that are 7 and a half real world years into circumnavigating the globe. To me that is something I want to read about and I hope it runs hundreds if not thousands of posts. Others are brand new worlds, some just beginning and I want to see where they go. I want to see things that stir me up and make me care.

I suppose that is really what I want from the OSR - not just your rules, settings, monsters and spells - I want to hear about your campaign and see your maps - I want to know what weird things your players did and the strange things they found when they explored your world. I want to see and read about things that I would not think of. I am not a deep thinker like some of the bloggers are, so just my 2 coppers.

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