The state of Post-OSR content

Yora

*eyeroll*
For the last year or so, but especially in recent days, increasing numbers of people have voiced the view that OSR is no longer whatever it originally was, and probably has actually ended some years ago. And I think few people would deny that the common space of rules-light Do-It-Yourself fantasy RPGs has separated into different branches with little in the way of cross exchanging ideas or sense of shared identity.

In my own perception, OSR really came into shape when lots of people realized "D&D 4th edition sucks, and actually 3rd edition also sucked. Let's ditch them and go back to where we left off", and the people who never jumped on that train saw that their skills and experience were now in demand by a wider audience. That common sense of purpose doesn't seem to exist anymore, and so people are exchanging ideas and collaborating based on other shared interests. And I am curious what those groups might be, as seen as the people in them.

I've often seen mention of GLOG, which seems to be quite a popular thing, but I don't really know anything about it.

Another group that I feel being relevant is "DIY 5th Edition". Somewhat quietly, there seems to be a non-insignificant number of people who were active in oldschool games and content creation who looked at D&D 5th edition and said "I can live with that. It matches my primary needs as a GM, and if the kids really want to play this, I can work with that." I also feel pretty sure that the idea for DM's Guild came directly from seeing what OSR creators had been doing for many years. This group I would clearly place as post-OSR. In no way OSR, but a hybrid offspring of it and mainstream D&D.
 

DangerousPuhson

Should be playing D&D instead
OSR is on it's way out, but DIY D&D is very much alive (at least, in the little echo chamber that is my YouTube algorithm).

WotC, while notoriously litigate in the past, has slacked the reigns and unleashed the marketplace in order to onboard new players (and thus, sell more core rulebooks). Even releasing the SRD is a smart move because it unburdens them from being the sole content creators for the game. It's like how a videogame developer can extend the life of their game by releasing mod tools; even though Skyrim was released 8 years ago and has a zillion free mods, people will still buy official DLC and still play the shit out of it.

OSR on the other hand is a famously close-minded and gatekeep-y community, fractured into nonsensical factions and too many retro-clones that essentially all do the same thing: let you play D&D in slightly different ways. There was something admirable about trying to keep the "ways of old" alive, but you can't build an industry around a niche few grognards fighting amongst themselves, and frankly anyone who believes that the concepts of OSR can't translate over to 5th edition D&D are just unimaginative.

OSR morphed into something it wasn't at the start. Rather than an embracing of the old ways of play, it became all about rejecting the current zeitgeist of modern D&D. Like any "rejection-based" counterculture, it became really elitist (the dorkiest thing anyone could ever be elitist about, I'm sure), chasing off new creators, shouting-down existing creators, and being a generally miserable bunch of grumblers. At least, that's the face of OSR that the world is seeing.

5th edition is streamlined and newbie-friendly. New content creators are churning out materials for it daily. YouTubers, podcasters and adventure writers are making careers through it. The reasons for rejecting D&D are gone now - the OSR has no raison-d'etre. The latest and greatest adventure material from the OSR could have been written for 5e and it wouldn't have compromised anything (and probably would have made the authors more money since there's a larger market for 5e stuff, incidentally). Homebrew stuff has a place, but the actual Old School Revolution has played out now.

Honestly, I'm fine with that.

As for the whole "GLOG" thing - it's just another attempt to brand, a worse one, frankly, because even the name of it esoterically revolves around Goblin Punch, and is therefore non-inclusive from the get-go... at least "OSR" has a more inclusive, universally understood name. Call it what it is: a blog ring for RPG content homebrewers.
 
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Palindromedary

A FreshHell to Contend With
frankly anyone who believes that the concepts of OSR can't translate over to 5th edition D&D are just unimaginative.

...

5th edition is streamlined and newbie-friendly. New content creators are churning out materials for it daily. YouTubers, podcasters and adventure writers are making careers through it. The reasons for rejecting D&D are gone now - the OSR has no raison-d'etre.
I think the idea that 5th edition has magically squared the circle of modern game play and mass appeal vs. an old-school experience is completely wrong. Old school play is two things: play style, and rules mechanics. 5th edition provides neither. It's a better compromise game that 3rd or 4th ed ever were, in terms of appealing to a broad base and (somewhat) lightening the mechanics load (though I'm not sure that being in the right place at the right time in terms of zeitgeist and digital tools doesn't have a lot to do with it), but it doesn't facilitate old-school play. In terms of mechanics, that you can make it do so theoretically seems like nothing more than the grandest example of Rule 0 apologetics--the number of changes you have to make it do so so radically rework the game that you might as just well play an actual OSR game--while in terms of playstyle, one only has to take a look at the front page of this website to see that 5th edition writers and players by and large have no interest in putting in the work to make that kind of game happen, not because they're lazy or any such rubbish but because they're not even remotely interested in that type of play. And these two feed on each other: it's hard to write for an old-school experience even when you have it solidly in mind if the mechanics don't back you up, hard to find anyone to buy / play in your carefully crafted old-school-styled campaign materials if most 5th ed players aren't interested in or even aware of that style of play in the first place.

I don't have any existential hatred for 5th edition like some grumbly grogs, but plain and simple the current edition of D&D doesn't facilitate the type of game the typical old-school player wants (myself included). As long as that remains true, the OSR continues to have validity. In that regard, the popularity of 5th no more obviates the niche that the OSR has carved out than it obviates the niche occupied by HERO players or Car Wars aficionados. And I'm okay with it being a niche.
 

Palindromedary

A FreshHell to Contend With
For 4th ed, over and above the XP system, there's skill challenges, social skills, perception, ability checks, healing surges, short and extended rests, three death saves, light cantrips, sunrods and everburning torches, no reaction table, no morale rules. Perhaps there's more--I'm not overly familiar with 4th--but that's plenty (I'd argue that the rules in general--especially the base 200 pages of character creation--fail the desired rules-light test of OSR gameplay, but some people don't hold to that as an essential element).

If you're having a good game, great: that's really all that matters. But whether you like 4th ed or not, while you can throw a party into a dungeon with ease, it's more than just the XP system that's preventing it from providing an old-school experience without a great deal of effort. I can't imagine how you're getting something like a 1st ed game with all that, though I'd be curious to hear your details.
 

The1True

*eyeroll*
Agree with Beoric here, except in my case, my merry band of power-gaming munchkins has been stuck on 3.5 since 2002. But I mostly run them through my extensive collection of B/X and 1st and 2nd ed AD&D classics. It all comes down to mentality. We like the old-school feel of the adventures but everybody's comfortable with the structured rules of the d20 system. I'm not here to argue what's better. I get why people hate 3rd and 4th ed. It all comes down to the rules system that makes your gaming group comfortable and willing to come out and play at the same time every week. It's up to the DM to run the adventure in an old-school way; keep it light and breezy and encourage the players to interact with their environment and explore. When it gets down to the nitty-gritty and the lawyers come out, you've got the rules system everyone has agreed upon to fall back on.

What I'm concerned with is where the implied customer base is going. If more and more OSR fans are sending their dollars over to 5e adventures, should creators be primarily writing for that market first and making conversions to LL or S&W or DCC or whatever second?
 

Yora

*eyeroll*
Primarily everyone should try making their adventures the best they can be according to what they consider good. Looking for customers first and then deciding how to get at their money is rarely a path to anything of artistic value. Especially when you create something to meet standards that you don't personally like.

But looking at all the adventures from the last 40 years, this seems to be the least problem that most writers appear to have.
 

Melan

*eyeroll*
Old-school gaming has been "dying", "dwindling into irrelevance" and "being abandoned rapidly" since before someone made up that pompous fucking acronym. Nevertheless, it keeps going because surprise surprise, it has actual staying power. It is solidly built in ways the proposed alternatives aren't.

FOE GYG!
 

DangerousPuhson

Should be playing D&D instead
I think the idea that 5th edition has magically squared the circle of modern game play and mass appeal vs. an old-school experience is completely wrong. Old school play is two things: play style, and rules mechanics. 5th edition provides neither.
You forgot "weird sense of superiority for playing a convoluted retro version rather than the modern 'lame-stream' D&D played by these nerd 'poseurs'", yes?

Playstyle for an imagination-based tabletop game is not system-dependent - it's DM dependent. A 5e DM can emulate any playstyle that you seem to believe are only exclusive to old-school games. All it takes is creativity, and maybe a little problem-solving. Seriously, one of the very first things that just about all DMGs say is "these rules are not set in stone and can be changed to suit your group". Prefer gold for XP? Easy fix. Hate Advantage/Disadvantage system? Don't use it. Enjoy playing with THAC0? Sorry about your brain damage.

Meanwhile, the rule mechanics only exist to determine outcome of actions in the game. The only way you could argue that one is better than the other is if the game become encumbered by the rules, and in doing so, makes the game less fun. 5e is the most streamlined version of D&D to date - I would know, I've literally DMed all of them. The current rules are more user-friendly and straightforward compared to all previous iterations. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice by rejecting them because they are different, but you are inflicting your weird hang-ups on your group, and that ain't cool.

I get it; when 5e dropped, I was firmly entrenched into 3.5. I had all my books, I knew the system like the back of my hand, I didn't want to change. But I did, and I see now that sticking with the old system was just straight-up holding myself back for no reason. My group too is much happier, especially the new players that we could only onboard because the group was willing to adapt.

Too many people wear OSR as some weird nerd-cred badge - Newsflash, it ain't. If you played D&D in the '70s/'80s, then you don't need to broadcast it by refusing to adopt 5e. That's as lame as those guys who still write novels on typewriters, hamstringing their own productivity for image reasons. The 5e frame is pretty solid, and the nice thing about frames is that you can build whatever the hell you want on top of them.
 

Palindromedary

A FreshHell to Contend With
You forgot "weird sense of superiority for playing a convoluted retro version rather than the modern 'lame-stream' D&D played by these nerd 'poseurs'", yes?
No, because I don't claim or feel any of that and, more importantly, didn't state even a hint of that. I don't care if you play 5th. All the more power to you, enjoy, everyone should play what they want. I play several different systems myself. I'm not sure what prompted your weird defensiveness or need to put words in my mouth.

Playstyle for an imagination-based tabletop game is not system-dependent - it's DM dependent.
That's naive. If mechanics didn't matter, we'd free-form everything and free up a lot of room on our shelves, or go with one ruleset for all RPGs ever. Mechanics have very real effects on gameplay. Mechanics determine and shape gameplay. If rules for something don't exist (besides roleplaying itself, to some degree), the player naturally assumes its not important. Those elements tend to be de-emphasized or ignored. If rules do exist for something, those things are generally assumed to be important. They'll tend to come up in a game, and play out the way the game suggests they do. A game with detailed travel mechanics will play completely differently than a game with none. The same goes for elaborate social mechanics, or firearms rules, or domain rules, or insanity rules, etc etc. Even small mechanical changes on the same rule can have huge differences on gameplay. The same DM running the same general adventure will have meaningfully different results if using meaningfully different systems. This is all common sense.

A 5e DM can emulate any playstyle that you seem to believe are only exclusive to old-school games. All it takes is creativity, and maybe a little problem-solving. Seriously, one of the very first things that just about all DMGs say is "these rules are not set in stone and can be changed to suit your group". Prefer gold for XP? Easy fix. Hate Advantage/Disadvantage system? Don't use it. Enjoy playing with THAC0? Sorry about your brain damage.
The Rule 0 fallacy is one of the oldest fallacies of game design and I'm quite surprised you're using it here with the expectation of convincing anyone. Yes, if I change everything I don't like, removing all the stuff that hinders and writing in everything that I need, then I can have what I want. This is as true for Star Wars D6 and Cyborg Commando and GURPS and HERO and FATE and FATAL as it is for 5th edition. It's true for all games, and thus helps defend none of them. Why would I bother ripping out short rests and long rests and the XP system and the HP inflation and Investigation and Insight and Deception and Intimidation and Persuasion and death saving throws and player-based perception checks and 0-level light cantrips and the Ranger's ability to trivialize overland exploration at level 1 and how lesser restoration makes disease trivial by (a very rapidly gained) level 3 and potentially hero points and anything that interacts with all that and anything that breaks compatibility with old-school modules AND then add a reaction table and decent morale rules, when I could just play a system without all those issues in the first place? That you can eventually saw through a table to get at the screw you want isn't exactly selling a saw to me over a screwdriver here.

Not only are you doing yourself a disservice by rejecting them because they are different, but you are inflicting your weird hang-ups on your group, and that ain't cool.
The fantasy version of myself you've constructed is very fascinating, but ultimately it says more about you than it does me. I don't play 5th because it fails mechanically in very specific ways--ways that I value and have laid out above--not because it's "different". I feel no pride in this, no sense of achievement; instead, I picked (well, wrote) a ruleset that does the job I want (because, again, mechanics matter). 5th works just fine for some things. Just not old-school play.

Too many people wear OSR as some weird nerd-cred badge - Newsflash, it ain't. If you played D&D in the '70s/'80s, then you don't need to broadcast it by refusing to adopt 5e. That's as lame as those guys who still write novels on typewriters, hamstringing their own productivity for image reasons.
I agree. I'm not sure who you're talking to here, since no one has claimed anything like that in this thread, but yeah, you're right: that is sad, about as said as performing enough strawmanning to guarantee one a part in their local revival of The Wiz.
 
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Beoric

Should be playing D&D instead
I can't imagine how you're getting something like a 1st ed game with all that, though I'd be curious to hear your details.
Here are the details.

Don’t confuse the way 4e was presented in a multitude of god-awful adventures with the way the mechanics actually work. As I said above, with the exception of the XP system, there is not a single mandatory mechanic in 4e that stands in the way of having a 1e play experience (unless your experience depends on rules nostalgia, of course).

The mechanic that drives every edition of D&D is that it is a game of attrition that requires players to manage scarce resources that are periodically replenished, usually daily. Most of the resources are identical in 4e, with the exception that health is more properly measured in healing surges than in hit points.

Lets start with the skill/ability check system. The core mechanic in 4e for every type of check including combat is: roll 1d20, add your modifiers, compare to a target number.

That 4e “rules heavy” approach replaces the following 1e “rules light” mechanics: different strength modifiers to hit and damage; roll low on a d6 to open doors, except when you roll low on a d8; roll low on percentile dice to bend bars/lift gates; wisdom bonus to certain types of saves; different dex modifiers for AC and missile discharge; roll low on a d6 and apply a dex modifier to determine surprise; roll low on percentile dice for eight different Thief skills, with six different dex modifiers, eight different racial modifiers, plus a number of armor modifiers I can’t remember; different con modifiers for fighters and non-fighters; roll low on percentile dice for system shock; roll low on percentile dice for resurrection survival; different cha modifiers for loyalty and reaction adjustment; assassination table; assassin spying table; chance for a sage to know something table; roll low on a d6 to detect secret doors; weapon speed factor; armor class “to hit” adjustment; loyalty of henchmen table (percentile based, with a couple of dozen modifiers); detection of invisibility table; listening at door table; encounter reaction table (percentile based); morale table; ranger tracking (percentile based); evasion of pursuit mechanics (percentile based, lots of modifiers); matrix for clerics affecting undead; psionic v. psionic combat table; psionic v. defenseless psionic table; psionic v. non-psionic table; saving throw tables; entirely different combat system for sieges; entirely different, percentile based system for weaponless combat, with different tables for grappling and pummeling; rolling under ability score with 1d20 or 3d6, depending on your preference; and rolling under or over an arbitrarily chosen number on an arbitrarily chosen die any time you need to determine something randomly and can’t figure out what ability score to apply. Have I missed anything?

My point is, rolling a die to determine success or failure is common to 1e and 4e, and the only difference between using a unified mechanic and using a few dozen subsystems is how any charts you have to look at.

Social skills are just reaction and loyalty checks. Perception checks replace the find traps mechanic, the find secret doors mechanic, and the surprise mechanic. Ability checks are in pretty much universal use now, whether you are rolling a d20, adding mods, and comparing to a target number; or rolling a d20 or 3d6 and trying to get under your ability score.

Let’s look at hit points and healing. In 1e the character loses hit points over the course of the day and if he runs out he dies (unless someone binds his wounds: DMG p. 82). However, he can use magic to recover hit points. In 4e the character loses healing surges over the course of the day and if he runs out he dies (no exceptions). There is no way other than rest to recover healing surges. In practice these mechanics provoke the same behaviour from players; when they get low, it is time to hole up somewhere and heal.

In 1e, after a fight the party takes 10 minutes to search the bodies, search the area, etc., bind wounds, and those who need to heal apply resources in the form of potions (a consumable resource) and spells (a daily resource) in order to do so. In 4e, after a fight the party takes 5 minutes to search the bodies, search the area, etc., and those who need to heal apply resources in the form of healing surges (a daily resource). In practice these mechanics provoke nearly the same behaviour from players.

In 1e, if a character drops to 0 hit points, he bleeds out until he hits -10 hit points, at which point he dies. Bleeding and death can therefore take up to 10 rounds, and can be prevented by binding his wounds or applying healing magic. In 4e, if a character drops to 0 hit points, he makes death saves until he fails three, at which point he dies. Death can therefore take as few as three rounds, but on average occurs in six rounds, and can be prevented by binding his wounds or applying healing magic. In practice the mechanics provoke identical behaviour.

At the end of the day in 4e you sleep and recover all of your healing surges. At the end of the day in 1e you sleep and, if you use no magic, recover only 1 hit point (with certain modifiers for constitution). So theoretically natural healing is slower. In practice, I have never found that to be the case. Healing spells are recovered daily, and can be purchased from clerics in town (and the characters get a lot more gold from adventuring in 1e). At worst the cleric spends a whole day casting healing spells. I see little practical difference.

(It’s also worth mentioning that diseases are more prevalent in 4e and often take several days to heal if you don’t have access to magic.)

Let’s talk about light. In 1e, torches (40’ radius) cost 1 cp and last an hour. Noone ever runs out of light. We were discussing it in this thread and I don’t think anyone had ever run a campaign where someone ran out of light. Any risk is completely obviated by third level, when either the MU can cast continual light (60’ radius) on a stick, or you can pay a MU to cast continual light on a stick, always assuming you haven’t picked up a magical sword or dagger. By fifth level your cleric definitely has continual light (120’ radius). And pretty much all the demihumans in the party have infravision.

In 4e, torches (25’ radius) cost 1 sp and last an hour. Sunrods (100’ radius) cost 2 gp and last four hours. An everburning torch (25’ radius) costs 50 gp and lasts forever. (Note that characters can expect to get about 1/14th the amount of gold from adventuring between levels 1 and 2.) A light spell (20’ radius) costs nothing. As with 1e, there is not much chance of running out of light, but it is more expensive and it gives off considerably less light. And unless you have a drow, duergar, kobold, shade or svirfneblin in your party, nobody has infravision. And fewer parties include wizards.

If anything, light is more of a problem in 4e; but in most instances, the only difference in playstyle is that the 4e party will get surprised more, and the encounter distances are shorter.

Diplomacy checks, a charisma based mechanic, replace reaction tables, a charisma based mechanic.

There is no express mechanic for morale, but the skill system can accommodate it without making any new rules (Intimidate check, made whenever you would check in your favourite old school system). We found the 1e morale system clunky anyway, and tended to just roleplay NPC reactions based on their personality and the circumstances. I suspect using the 4e skill system for morale is more like Basic, if I am remembering it correctly, in that it is a simple roll against a target number.

Skill Challenges are a poor mechanic, but they are discretionary. I, and I think most people who still play 4e, generally use our discretion not to use them, which breaks no rules.

Character options can slow down character creation and level advancement. Fortunately, it can be done between sessions, so it has no effect on playstyle. It is also allowable to limit options. Lots of DMs limit options to just those in the PH, and there are actually fewer classes in the 4e PH than there are in the 1e PH. Others use the Essentials books, which contain fewer classes with fewer options and simpler mechanics. And for those spur of the moment sessions, I keep a bunch of pregenerated first level characters around, and convert 1e modules on the fly.
 
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Palindromedary

A FreshHell to Contend With
The mechanic that drives every edition of D&D is that it is a game of attrition that requires players to manage scarce resources that are periodically replenished, usually daily. Most of the resources are identical in 4e, with the exception that health is more properly measured in healing surges than in hit points.
I don't have time at the moment to go over your entire post, but this leapt out at me: the idea that (if I'm reading you right) that essentially healing surges are another way of saying "more HP" rather than "instant healing mechanic". If so, though, I wonder why one would not just give more HP in the first place?
 

Beoric

Should be playing D&D instead
Being able to apply a limited portion of your hit point reserve to any given combat makes combat more dangerous while you are in it. If you enjoy tactical combat (and you shouldn't be playing 4e if you don't), you want the individual combat to be interesting without seriously impacting the resource management of the game.

Lets simplify the numbers to illustrate the principle. Let’s say your fighter has 4 hit points and 12 healing surges (I think fighters have the most surges in the game, and it makes the math easy). Each healing surge can restore one hit point. Also assume that monster attacks do one hit point of damage.

How well you do in a fight affects how quickly you burn through healing surges. If you use your 4 hp in a fight, you will have to use 4 healing surges to replace them. You will still have 4 hp for the next fight, but you will only have 8 healing surges left. Assuming you average losing 3 hp per fight, you will be able to have several fights and each one is as dangerous as the last.

If you take 4 hits during a fight you are in danger of dying, which gives the fight a certain urgency. You would not have the same urgency during the fight if, instead of having 4 hit points plus 12 healing surges at the beginning of the day, you had 16 hit points and 0 healing surges. If monsters still do 1 hp of damage, then you will not be in any danger until you have been through several encounters and are running out of hit points; the interim encounters are not dangerous at all.

On the other hand, if you instead increase monster damage proportionately to 4 hp per attack, then the first combat encounter is as dangerous as the one we originally discussed, but you have no resources left to pursue any more of them. You probably end up with a 1-2 encounters per day.

Now, why have 4 hp plus 12 surges instead of 1 hp plus 3 surges? Because it reduces the importance of random chance in the encounters, and increases the importance of the player’s tactical skill. If you (or a monster, you have the same hit points) can be taken out by a single hit, there is little time to employ clever tactics after the beginning of combat. Increasing the hp available during the fight makes combat less swingy, because combat effectiveness is spread out over more rounds, and tactical choices end up playing a much larger role. The tradeoff is that combat will take up a larger portion of your gaming session; if that bothers you, don’t play 4e.
 

DangerousPuhson

Should be playing D&D instead
I'm not sure what prompted your weird defensiveness or need to put words in my mouth.
I suppose at the point where you said something akin to "5e can't replicate the old-school experience", and when folk said "yes it can", your reply was pretty dismissive. To me, that smacks of elitism. If that's been misinterpreted, then I apologise; Most communication is non-verbal - misunderstanding happens on the internet. That being said, I think you're wrong when you say that the old-school feel can't be replicated with modern rules - this may have to do with a fairly nebulous definition of what exactly "old school feel" is. We probably both believe in something different.

If mechanics didn't matter, we'd free-form everything and free up a lot of room on our shelves, or go with one ruleset for all RPGs ever. Mechanics have very real effects on gameplay. Mechanics determine and shape gameplay. If rules for something don't exist (besides roleplaying itself, to some degree), the player naturally assumes its not important. Those elements tend to be de-emphasized or ignored. If rules do exist for something, those things are generally assumed to be important. They'll tend to come up in a game, and play out the way the game suggests they do. A game with detailed travel mechanics will play completely differently than a game with none. The same goes for elaborate social mechanics, or firearms rules, or domain rules, or insanity rules, etc etc. Even small mechanical changes on the same rule can have huge differences on gameplay. The same DM running the same general adventure will have meaningfully different results if using meaningfully different systems. This is all common sense.
I think you've built up something of a fallacy here. Your conclusion that mechanics determine player actions based on the rules presented is off base. Anybody who has ever had to homebrew a rule, or buy a splatbook with situation-specific rules, or downloaded an addendum to already published rules will tell you that your players are going to do literally anything, and there needs to be a ruling on it. They don't base their options on what rules are extant. It's completely counter-intuitive to the whole reason pen and paper RPGs even exist (because they're literally a game where you can do whatever you want). And when you're talking a game with unlimited choices requiring potentially unlimited rulings, the best system is the one that allows for easy, sensible resolution (for which I laud the d20 system for solving almost entirely).

The Rule 0 fallacy is one of the oldest fallacies of game design and I'm quite surprised you're using it here with the expectation of convincing anyone. Yes, if I change everything I don't like, removing all the stuff that hinders and writing in everything that I need, then I can have what I want. This is as true for Star Wars D6 and Cyborg Commando and GURPS and HERO and FATE and FATAL as it is for 5th edition. It's true for all games, and thus helps defend none of them. Why would I bother ripping out short rests and long rests and the XP system and the HP inflation and Investigation and Insight and Deception and Intimidation and Persuasion and death saving throws and player-based perception checks and 0-level light cantrips and the Ranger's ability to trivialize overland exploration at level 1 and how lesser restoration makes disease trivial by (a very rapidly gained) level 3 and potentially hero points and anything that interacts with all that and anything that breaks compatibility with old-school modules AND then add a reaction table and decent morale rules, when I could just play a system without all those issues in the first place? That you can eventually saw through a table to get at the screw you want isn't exactly selling a saw to me over a screwdriver here.
See here's the thing about that; it's WAY easier to ignore rules than to invent rules. And while you could say the same of FATAL and HERO and etc., none of them have the development support and the all-encompassing ruleset that official D&D has. It's the system around which literally all pen and paper RPGs have evolved. I could build a 2019 Honda Civic from a 2018 Honda Civic, or I could build one from a 1977 Pontiac Firebird, but obviously one is going to make for an easier job with less work.

But aside from that, I don't know why you'd even fuss with ripping functional stuff out of the game... to capture this elusive "old school feel"? Again, you probably need to clarify what you mean by this, because I'd argue that by your definition, you're seemingly creating a game that's needlessly arduous, different by way of complexity while simultaneously being somehow more primitive.

I don't play 5th because it fails mechanically in very specific ways--ways that I value and have laid out above--not because it's "different". I feel no pride in this, no sense of achievement; instead, I picked (well, wrote) a ruleset that does the job I want (because, again, mechanics matter).
It's strange that you'd mention this when earlier you were insistent on this point:

If mechanics didn't matter, we'd free-form everything and free up a lot of room on our shelves, or go with one ruleset for all RPGs ever.
You're free-form ruling after you've just condemned the idea. But more importantly you've argued my point; you wanted a specific outcome and you've adapted the rules to meet it, yet just after that you say:

5th works just fine for some things. Just not old-school play.
And to that I ask "why do you think it's easier to Frankenstein together some new mechanics in order to capture a vague 'old-school feel', than it would be just to make some slight tweaks to an existing, robust, fully-realised system? Is the entrenchment of written materials causing some roadblock for reaching this 'feel', and if so, why are you having such trouble correcting it?"

But more importantly, you claim the impossibility of an old-school feel using 5e rules. THAT is my main problem with your statements. It's a blatant falsehood, because there are many people who can and do accomplish it.

I don't want to start a flame war or anything, but as I stated in my original post, the one you called me out for: "frankly anyone who believes that the concepts of OSR can't translate over to 5th edition D&D are just unimaginative." I still stand by that statement.
 

Palindromedary

A FreshHell to Contend With
I suppose at the point where you said something akin to "5e can't replicate the old-school experience", and when folk said "yes it can", your reply was pretty dismissive. To me, that smacks of elitism. If that's been misinterpreted, then I apologise; Most communication is non-verbal - misunderstanding happens on the internet. That being said, I think you're wrong when you say that the old-school feel can't be replicated with modern rules - this may have to do with a fairly nebulous definition of what exactly "old school feel" is. We probably both believe in something different.

...

I don't want to start a flame war or anything, but as I stated in my original post, the one you called me out for: "frankly anyone who believes that the concepts of OSR can't translate over to 5th edition D&D are just unimaginative." I still stand by that statement.
Fair enough: no harm no foul. I'd like to dive into this tomorrow when I have more time, as I think it's worth exploring in detail. Cheers.
 

Melan

*eyeroll*
Fifteen years ago, I performed a similar experiment with the 3.0 rules. We introduced house rules and made interpretations and tweaked things and added some stuff to the core to create a "third edition rules, first edition feel" experience. What we got out of it was something that could not be called 3.0 by any honest standard, broke compatibility with the majority of 3.0 stuff, and would have completely befuddled a newcomer in our campaign. So, we made a clean break and (inspired by the development of Castles & Crusades, but going in a different direction) I wrote an entirely new game (you can check out the rules summary here - the full version is a complete RPG with robust GM support and several published modules).

You could do the same to 5e to hammer it into an old-school shape, but the end result would have a completely different play dynamic than the base game, and unrecognisable when it comes to non-core addditions. Once you look at 5e through an old-school lens, a lot of things will be "wrong" or "off", because the design intents are different. Looking at the 5e adventures Bryce is reviewing (and almost uniformly trashing), I would also say that these games cater to entirely different tastes and sensibilities than old-schoolers share.

These differences would be hard to reconcile. Sure, they may not matter if your only interest in old-school rulesets lies in "free, simple, house rule-friendly D&D". If you actually care for old-school design principles, though, they will matter.
 

DangerousPuhson

Should be playing D&D instead
Old school design principles such as...?

Forgive the ignorance of any of this, but I was always under the impression that "old school design" meant classic scenarios, mythic unknowns, tongue-in-cheek references, crawling with 10' poles and so on, and I don't see how any of that is contingent on the ruleset used.

For example, Bryce always chides on adventures for not having an old school feel or praises adventures that do, yet in all instances he never mentions anything about rules - it's all atmosphere. So when I say "old school feel is the result of a creative DM", that's what I'm referencing; not torch counting and calling Wizards "Magic Users".
 
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squeen

Should be playing D&D instead
Ooo! I too want to wade in to this lively debate and says some provocative things about which I have little or no expertise!

First, I want to talk about ME (I'm sure that's what you all want to read about). I was a addicted player in the late 70's through early 80's with an older DM who had chosen to "go rogue" from TSR long before I joined his group. He wrote his own game mechanics (mostly opaque to players). Sure, I had the 1e books at home, but other than the PHB spells and equipment lists---fat lot of good it did me.

(As an aside to this aside, I want to give my old DM Kenny further credit for printing his own retro-clone PBH in 1985 on an IBM daisy-wheel printer! A real iconoclast he was, and truly ahead of his time. Sadly, he passed away prematurely at age 36, before the internet and OSR got into full swing---but I think he would have loved it. Aren't you glad you now know that? Someday I'll post about his god Wham!---always spelled with an exclamation point.)

When I started DMing about 6 years ago I thought we'd play 1e, but things eventually landed on Swords & Wizardry since that's seemed closest to my youthful experience and is very amenable to wild situational modifications. I was too cheap (or lazy) to wade in to 3rd or 4th edition and the timing was such that I totally missed it and went right back to playing what I had known and loved. Also, it smelled funny and the internet buzz was not good---more on that later.

Now, after that entertaining interlude into my personal history, I will try to (weakly) tie it back to what YOU ALL have written:

1) D'Puhson seems to be recovering from an abusive internet relationship with OSR grognards. As a result, I sense he has an axe to grind against OSR Zealots. Now that you know me better, please rest assured I am not one of Them. Nevertheless, I think OSR is a wonderful "term" for the current DIY state-of-affairs. Although I missed it's inception, I imagine OSR was intentionally selected to sound a lot like TSR---out of pure nostalgia. It rolls off the tongue (mental keyboard?). I like it, and hope it sticks around.

Also, I love the word "renaissance". It's under utilized in common speech and has the meaning of "rebirth" which is dead-on for what happened. Just like after the dark ages, the intelligentsia of Europe rediscovered the ancient Greek classics and recognized them to be in many ways superior to the current dogma, the OSR delved back in time to find the elements of the original game that had been "lost". It's a cool, intelligent, and appropriate analogy.

Is the OSR over now? I'd say no. There are still folks (like myself) arriving late to the party. Discovering that the hobby has both simultaneously "moved on" and reconnected with it's roots. Sure, just like with the actual Renaissance, there were zealots who started to claim that if Aristotle hadn't written it, it's illegitimate---there are folk on the internet who claimed the same about Gygax. History repeats, human nature being what it is.

Currently, to me, the OSR just means you can still play the (old) game if you want, and you won't be doing it alone. You can even find new content to inspire. Some of it is pretty amateur (just like it used to be!) and some of it quite polished. Cool.

Also, on the "it's over" topic. I think about some things that Gus L. wrote (I miss you Gus, please come back!) about how the mood of the times have changed since the heady early days. On that topic I just want to draw an analogy between the OSR and Open Source Software. Like the OSR, open source was so much a product of the internet. Isolated fringe groups in the late 1990's and early 2000's were suddenly much more connected that ever before (another personal aside---in case you missed me talking about me---I used to post junk like this on ASCII Express 300 baud modem bulletin boards in the early 80's using my Apple ][+ before AT&T killed the "call-pack unlimited" that folks used to connect cross-country via an amateur network of cheap local calls). Additionally, those users were also under the heel of an oppressive monopoly pushing a bloated and dumbed down product (Microsoft Windoze) and feeling strangled as all the fun of their beloved (computer programming) hobby was dying.

It's no coincidence that the OSR got a shot in the arm from the "Open Gaming License" which was inspired by the GNU Public License that ignited the Open-Source movement.

The beginning of the Open Source movement was a heady time. We all felt inspired by manifestos like Eric Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" (=Finch's OSR manifest "Quick Primer for Old School Gaming") and empowered to do-it-ourself and take on the corporate monopoly. We could get "back" to the early days of Unix where people collaborated, freely shared, and empowered each other to DIY (...before corporations like DEC, IBM, HP, SGI and Sun controlled and proprietized UNIX---and so it goes...). Everyone was starting up their own competing projects. Hell, there were easily half a dozen Microsoft Word clones looking for co-developers! And let's not forget the nacient internet---here was an uncontrolled distribution mechanism. We thought we were at the dawn of a golden age.

What happened was a script that was repeated 10 years later in the OSR. Corporate interests woke up and commandeered all that raw creative energy and enthusiasm. And after the movement was "mainstreamed", it lost a lot of its subversive glamour. A bunch of very dull and "fanboy-ish" folks showed up with factional ideas, loud opinions, consumed without contributing, and everyone started in-fighting. Most of the creative innovators went silent or elsewhere.

Sound familiar?

2) (I know what you are thinking---"OMG! He's only on point #2. WTF! Bryce should smite him dead for this wall-of-text!)
I know little about 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th editions, but I won't let that stop me. Here's an outsider's take:

2e seems lame and vindictive---it's like after Steve Jobs passed away and Jony Ives wrestled control of OS X from Scott Forstall and pissed all over skeuomorphism. The visionary was gone and the remaining crew was just settling internal vendettas and riding the proverbial cash-cow into the sunset.

3e seems like a role reversal with a very different target audience. Ignoring the bizarre twist D&D took after the success of Ravenloft---becoming a weird story-telling game for dull, passive players---it seems the influence D&D had on early video games had swung full-circle to poke it in the eye. Video combat had seeped in to 3rd-edition design. Characters were cyber-punked, super-humans---powering-up and smashing their way through staged combat scenes. Buying magic items? Challenge levels? Healing surges? Ugh! Too garish video-gamey for me. Clearly the majority also thought so too, as the reset button was pressed two (and a half) more times in rapid succession.






That's all folks. Did you make it to the end? What it worth it?

No?

Well, in that case, here's the only nugget worth saving:

I wish Gus L. would come back to the board.
He was the real deal.
You may not always 100% agree with him, but his absence leaves us all the poorer.




@Yora: Thank you for kicking this heated topic off.
It was getting kinda quiet 'round here.
Cheers.
 
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squeen

Should be playing D&D instead
Forgive the ignorance of any of this, but I was always under the impression that "old school design" meant classic scenarios, mythic unknowns, tongue-in-cheek references, crawling with 10' poles and so on, and I don't see how any of that is contingent on the ruleset used.

For example, Bryce always chides on adventures for not having an old school feel or praises adventures that do, yet in all instances he never mentions anything about rules - it's all atmosphere. So when I say "old school feel is the result of a creative DM", that's what I'm referencing; not torch counting and calling Wizards "Magic Users".
Yeah, that's what I'm talking about Mo'Fo's....

"Magic Users!"

In ya' face fools!



Seriously DPS, I sincerely loved your verbal riposte.
It made me smile after being stuck in traffic for two hours (crawling with a 10' pole?)
 
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The1True

*eyeroll*
These differences would be hard to reconcile. Sure, they may not matter if your only interest in old-school rulesets lies in "free, simple, house rule-friendly D&D". If you actually care for old-school design principles, though, they will matter.
Would you mind unpacking this statement for us?
 
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