Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Membership in the OSR

Why be part of the OSR?  Why define yourself as part of it?  Can't we just play the game we like, share our creations, and encourage others to do the same and thereby grow the hobby?

A couple if posts of James Raggi and Rob Kuntz are showing a couple of different mindsets.  Jim defines anyone who:

1.    Are you playing pre-1989 D&D, or a simulacra unofficially based thereon?
2.    Are you publishing material for those games? deep in the OSR.

Rob doesn't want to be part of it, basically because—-guess what---it doesn't matter why.  Everyone has the right to be part of whatever they want.  If we can't even self-identify, WTF good is life?

I think its cool that so many people are getting back into older D&D games.  But truthfully, maybe the whole OSR thing has run its course in terms of being useful to growing the hobby.  I mean, has it brought in any new players?  Or is it just 600 people on a nostalgia trip, rediscovering a game they loved as kids and making stuff for it? 

At the very least, its dogmatic tendencies make it something I don't want to be part of---if I ever was in the first place.  I'm just a guy who likes to play AD&D who can't get a group going because no one else plays AD&D around here.  I don't share shit with others on my blog, I don't write modules, and I don't write long pseudo-intellectual crap telling others what to think about old shit other people published, like some art teacher regurgitating to his students what to think of paintings in the words of his grad student teacher of  40 years ago.

The end result of such academic definitions is dogma, and things that “qualify” as old school, and things that don't.   Or they get categorized in a certain “age” of D&D.  I mean, who gives a shit?  How does that affect the game we play?

Fighter:  “Wow, that particular bit of dungeon ecology is a fine example of old school Zagygian Naturalism from the Golden Age of Dungeon Architecture.”

DM:  “Um...yeah.  While you were admiring the Bugbear's latrine, one one of them came up and chopped your head off.  3D6, six times in order bitch.”

In the meantime, we fight over bullshit distinctions, as to who's in it, who's not, what it means to be in it---and God forbid you don't drink the right color Kool-Aid.  Then you're ostracized.   Defining something just creates one limitation after another.  All that results in is limiting creativity as you are forced to create within a certain box for a certain audience, which defeats the whole purpose of a game with unlimited imaginative potential like D&D in the first place.

Can't we all just play the fuckin' game we like to play and share our best creative work with each other and try to get new people into the hobby?  Especially the latter part, or else the whole branch of the hobby we love so much will just die off as we argue over the virtues of bugbear latrines and their place in the history of D&D.  For Christ's sake, run a fuckin' game at a Con and get people exposed to the game.   That's something even I've done.

Otherwise, as Chogwiz said, its like a big circle jerk.

EDIT:  Just to clarify, what Jim is doing is above and beyond what most are doing to bring others into the hobby.   My post was directed against him at the beginning only, in terms of defining membership.  The rest of it was more towards the potential of the OSR to grow the hobby, yet not seeing much happen on that front.  How about running games at cons for example?  Probably the best way to do it.  Not seeing too much happen.  To run an OSR con is great, but does it expose others who wouldn't go to it in the first place to older games and gamestyles?  I see a lot of energy wasted on fights and history, but not much in sharing the game and growing the hobby.  On that front, Jim is doing more than most, with his exposing the game to others at Ropecon as well as other games and publishers.  He gets that a rising tide raises all ships.