The state of Post-OSR content


8, 8, I forget what is for
And this one here pretty much summarizes the Beoric school of debate...
What's that, intellectual honesty?

For the record, everyone, here is a more complete quotation, as it is relevant to DP's comment:

I mean it should be self evident that, if the result is the same regardless of the players' choice, then the player's choice is meaningless and agency is negated. That really should not be an issue for serious debate.

I think it is possible to have a debate about whether the negation of player agency in this manner is a bad thing. My hypothesis is that is nearly universally is a bad thing, and I can point to examples from my experience, but I can't prove it.
And I haven't tried to prove it. I have spoken about my experience. I have expressed skepticism about your alleged successes. I have objected to your casting of everyone as an inferior DM. I have pointed out some of the flaws and circularity in your own argument. But I have not suggested that the goodness or badness of the negation of agency is objectively provable with the available evidence.

To be clear, nothing you have said on this forum convinces me that you are a better DM than me, or than anyone else who posts here. I categorically reject any argument that relies upon your superior skill as a DM to support it. And I am losing patience with your insults to me, other members of the forum, and anyone we have played with. I know you got offended the last time I said you weren't better than anyone else here, like being the same as us mere mortals was some sort of insult. Well, I have no patience for that. You are not better than the rest of us, period. I suggest you stop pushing that crap, because next time you make anyone else's DMing skill the topic of conversation, you will get as good as you give. Or better.



My my my, we just loooove to hear ourselves don't we?
It's rough watching these debates get increasingly abstract. It was easy to follow at first but by the end, you're just attacking each other's points, becoming mired in semantics and getting more and more angry about it, which is pointless.
The core conceit of the Quantum Ogre argument is that you're supposed to broadcast information to your players so they can make informed decisions. I think that's what the Anti-QO faction is getting tied up in. They're assuming that DP's players are making decisions based on broadcast information and those decisions are being disregarded, which I don't believe is the case in his campaign. We havn't heard much more about it other than that it is improvisational and occasionally uses drop-in events where appropriate.
DP is playing devil's advocate (as usual) with a couple of holy shibboleths of the OSR; the Quantum Ogre and Railroads. Of course the world is painted in shades of grey. Of course there is an exception to every rule and DM's were born to break the rules.
Taking turns dismissing DP's campaign and then getting your backs up when he dismisses your own DM's (admittedly in less civil terms) is turning what was a tense but engaging debate into personal attacks (again). And in this case I suspect everyone is angrily agreeing with each other: Making decisions is fundamental to the game.
I think the actual point of contention might be that it sounds like, due to the improvised nature of his campaign, DP's players don't have a chance to make informed decisions. But we don't actually know that because everyone's been busy quoting each other and picking away at semantics. It sounds to me like he's reacting to his players decisions with a catalog of potential encounters. As long as they aren't specifically preordained (he happened to have an ogre-in-the-woods encounter; the players happened to decide to walk into the woods) it sounds alright to me. What I'm curious about is whether DP broadcasts results of the player's decisions in a way that allows them to choose something else if they don't like it?...


Should be playing D&D instead
Just to quickly point out,

Here's the clutch distinction: I define improvisation as being akin to a "floating" plot element - one that only comes into existence when I invent it and communicate it to my players. Everything in my game exists exactly where I intend it to exist. I consider the Quantum Ogre to be comparable, by design - a monster, or situation, or whatever other element that "floats" and settles into the game when needed.
This was my original comparison I made between QO and my improvised game. Note I said comparison (bolded for emphasis, and so people will actually read) - I didn't say "my improvised game is also a Quantum Ogre", the way that Beoric seems to skew my points. Now, pushing that out of the way...

It sounds to me like he's reacting to his players decisions with a catalog of potential encounters.
Finally, someone understands what the hell I'm talking about. Yes, floating encounters (which I used as an example of something which are comparable to Quantum Ogres) - a catalogue of ideas, encounters and environs, slotted into the game when appropriate, much like how I was arguing QOs should be deployed before I was taken on this irritating side-trek into mundanity.

I want this noted, for the record:

1) I play "traditional" D&D. I have two games on COVID-hiatus that will pick up again once restrictions lift; one group is in a homebrew campaign with materials I made for it in advance, the other group is in Undermountain doing the Dungeon of the Mad Mage.

2) I play a weekly improvised game of D&D, which differs from a normal game in only one way: I don't use any materials prepared beforehand. Yes, all the other stuff that's in a normal D&D game is there too - like choices and agency and all that other shit that makes you guys wet. The difference is that instead of going

"Opening the door? Well let's see, that's Room 15...hmmmm OK...yes... page 43... so, 'this room is triangular in shape and contains...'"

I say

"Opening the door? Ok, so you see...hmmm... a triangular-shaped room, and inside there is..."

That's it. That's the only difference in the improv game. I thought it might make a good example of a QO because nothing is firmly set anywhere specific unless I set it there, and a QO is comparable, so I made the comparison. Apparently it's not a good example, because nobody gets what I was trying to say, so forget it.

you're just attacking each other's points, becoming mired in semantics and getting more and more angry about it, which is pointless.
So yeah, I'm done with this topic, for this reason.


8, 8, I forget what is for
Here's an excerpt from the introduction to The New C Standard: An Economic and Cultural Commentary by Derek M. Jones

Jones said:
1. the more practice people have performing some activity the better they become at performing it.
Aristotle Meta-physics book Ii said:
Our attitude towards what we listen to is determined by our habits. We expect things to be said in the ways in which we are accustomed to talk ourselves: things that are said some other way do not seem the same to all but seem rather incomprehensible. . . . Thus, one needs already to have been educated in the way to approach each subject.
Many of the activities performed during source code comprehension (e.g., reasoning about sequences of events and reading) not only occur in the everyday life of software developers but are likely to have been performed significantly more often in an everyday context. Using existing practice provides a benefit purely because it is existing practice. For a change to existing practice to be worthwhile the total benefit has to be greater than the total cost (which needs to include relearning costs),
Jones said:
2. When performing a task people make implicitly cost/benefit trade-offs. One reason people make mistakes is because they are not willing to pay a cost to obtain more accurate information than they already have (e.g., relying on information available in their head rather expending effort searching for it in the real world). While it might be possible to motivate people to make them more willing pay a greater cost for less benefit the underlying trade-off behavior remains the same,
Jones said:
3.people’s information processing abilities are relatively limited and cannot physically be increased (that is not to say that the cognitive strategies used cannot be improved to make the most efficient use of these resources). In many ways the economics of software development is the economics of human attention.
I feel as though this is a the heart of why there is so little willingness for edition-hopping: the cost vs. benefit. Jones was referring to resistance to changes in an established programing language, but there are similarity with D&D.

For example, I am convince most OD&Ders rail against the "stupid" complexity and disorganization of AD&D mainly due to an unwillingness to expended the effort to (re)learn it---i.e. the benefits are not immediately recognizable given the effort. However, that same crew happily grab the expanded spells, classes, monsters, and treasure listed in the AD&D book because all that is low hanging fruit that can easily be made to fit in their existing mental framework.

Similar arguments could be made about the 3e to 4e shift (the benefits were not clearly spelled out, and the complexity/changes price seemed too high). Also, 5e was a clear attempt to lower the complexity bar to get new players into the game (and older players to reunite)---and it worked.

In the context of changing the C programming language, Jones (who was involved with the language standard) seems to be waiving a cautionary flag against radical, frequent, or frivolous change---because of the human factor. Perhaps WotC should take heed as well, and find a way to generate revenue without another reboot.

Once you've found your "Jeep", you don't see the benefit of just want to play D&D. There's probably a fairly small window in which a players or DM's mind is open to tinkering with rules. I feel as if mine is closing (closed?). When I talk about the OD&D/AD&D "vibe", perhaps I am just exemplifying what Aristotle said: "things that are said some other way do not seem the same to all but seem rather incomprehensible". I cannot connect what is being said in 5e to the type of game I like. It's not that it's not possible---it's just being said in a different I do not speak, so it sounds like gibbering-badness to me.

There is a wonderful quote with regards to coding format which is (tongue firmly planted in cheek) called The One True Brace Style. (@The1True!)
The Commandment:
10 Commandments of C Programming said:
Thou shalt make thy program's purpose and structure clear to thy fellow man by using the One True Brace Style, even if thou likest it not, for thy creativity is better used in solving problems than in creating beautiful new impediments to understanding.
My favorite part: "...even if thou likest it not" :) LOL!

There it is, in a nut shell. I offer up The First Commandment for a Newbie DM:

"Thou shall learn the D&D rules completely (even if thou likest them not). Instead of modifying them, use your creativity to make wonderful game content for your players---otherwise all you will have done is created new impediments to human understanding."

The other option is to, like the OP @Yora decided, convince yourself that for what you are trying to do, D&D just isn't a good fit---and then go play some other game. The Commandment is truly edition agnostic, but that last little bit of advice is not. Once you've truly learned the edition you are using, and discover it's just not doing it for you...then perhaps it's time for a new pasture.

Tired of all the "house ruling" that was happening with OD&D (due to ambiguity), I believe this was what Gygax & Co. were attempting with AD&D. Not a straight-jacket for creativity---just one for misplaced creativity. In the case of rule-mod'ing, Better is probably the enemy of Good Enough. They just wanted to get everyone speaking the same language (e.g. at tournament$). The Holmes Beginner rule-set was a similar (initial) attempt at unification. Ironically, AD&D ended up being too "advanced" for the average Joe and instead of uniting the tribes, was D&D's Tower of Babel. (The B/X rules...I would argue were attempting something else entirely, and I personally struggled at it's initial publication with the vibe/language shift.).

For me, moving from OD&D and learning AD&D (properly) has had a rewarding cost-benefit. I am glad that---through the efforts of the folks that produced the trailblazing retro-clone OSRIC---that option is still alive and kicking. I'm also thankful there are sites like K&KA and The Blue Bard to teach me how AD&D generally works better once I stop ignoring half of the rules!

After that, I'm not sold---i.e. the benefits are just not obvious. I love to learn new things, but "it's simpler/easier" is just not a sales-pitch that resonances with me. "There's more knobs" (for players to fiddle with) seems just like bad design practice (e.g. tits on a bull). Popularity has never been a big motivator in my decisions (unless I'm worried about support). Lastly, change for the sake of change also seems kinda pointless and dumb (unle$$ you are WotC).

When I came back to the hobby in 2012, it was overwhelming. So many rules! So many systems!

Do I pick one? Or is it a smorgasboard?

My thinking now is that's it the former, but had initially assumed it was the latter---after all OD&D was extremely DIY. I had even a some point mistakenly bought into the twin myths of "broken" and "progress"---but that was just salemens' FUD. Still, my sincerest thanks to all who genuinely helped me navigate the edition maze and find my way home.

I just wanted to close out this ancient thread at a personal level. My hardback copy of OSRIC arrived in the mail from Blade Blade Publishing yesterday. It's beautiful.
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Beek Gwenders

Great post Squeen.

I understand the appeal of rules-light, but after playing (and mastering to some degree) AD&D for decades now, the leaner versions of D&D always lack that ‘little extra’ that makes a good game for my group and I. It’s either AD&D, or it’s another game entirely, not another version of D&D. The only exception being introducing kids to the game, then and only then, would I look to actual run with a different version.

As for the state of post-OSR content, the last few years have been quite telling: there is a flood of ‘sort-of-like D&D adventure + setting + game system’ publications hitting the market with a focus on style over content (Electric Bastionland, Ultraviolet Grasslands are good examples) labelling themselves as OSR. The OSR has been a boon for all of those art and design student graduates. It’s something they can really thrive in; they have the know-how to put together top quality self-published books and the entry level into the RPG industry is much lower than other forms of publishing.

I think Prince’s quote from today’s review of Vornheim is quite on the mark:

”The Artpunk is rising. After Lotfp was dealt a grievous hit under the water-line and took on water, the adherents of this terrible creed emerged filth-spattered from all of its nooks and crannies and leapt into the ocean, to search for greener pastures to infest. In its wake follow Troika, and now Mörk Börg, and with each iteration we see an inexorable decline in gameability, depth, substance and thematic fealty in favor of gorgeous presentation, posturing and off-the-wall hair-brained ideas.”


Should be playing D&D instead
I think playing a lot of systems and having a couple of favourite systems are different joys. Not quite different hobbies, but very different practices within the hobby.

I am often convinced by friends to give new systems a try, and the fun is in experimenting with these systems, seeing how they work to shape our agency within the campaign, being fluid and flexible in adapting to the system such that one acquires greater facility with it over time, etc. The novelty and acquisition of facility with, but not necessarily mastery of,the system are key components of what makes doing this fun.

At the same time, there's maybe 5 or 6 systems which I know very well, which are extremely comfortable to use and where a particular combination of mastery and transparency due to familiarity are the primary delights of using them (I don't even like at least one of these systems - D&D 3.5 - in practice, but I can absolutely make it sing from long familiarity).

These have always seemed like very different kinds of gaming to me, albeit not irreconcilably so (often a group will have people who both are masters of the system and who are newly come to it and appreciate the novelty). I think the stuff you're talking about, Squeen, is very much concerned with the question of putting the effort to shift from having the first experience towards a particular game into having the second kind. And I agree, as a description of that process, that Jones' description is broadly accurate. But I do think a lot of the time one can simply kind of diddle around playing with a system without deep comprehension and still have fun - it's just a different kind of fun to when one starts acquiring true mastery.


Should be playing D&D instead
I had to look this up, because of various reasons. It certainly seemed credible. Well done.
Senpai noticed me 0_0

The other one I thought about posting was:
- Gary Gygax 1e DMG pg. 22

Adorable nonsense :D
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Still waiting for that "Greater D&D" blog post Melan!
(Also, have you won Nox Archaist yet?)
I am making great strides in Papers & Paychecks, and I am not to be disturbed!

(Uh, yeah, about that... I will get back to the topic, I promise.)

Now, I am suddenly thinking about an all-caps GYGAXIAN PROCLAMATIONS GENERATOR.


8, 8, I forget what is for
That's a wonderful notion Beoric.

The Heretic

Should be playing D&D instead
And now to ruin everyone's fun by bringing this thread back to being (sort of but not really) back on topic.

I am often convinced by friends to give new systems a try, and the fun is in experimenting with these systems, seeing how they work to shape our agency within the campaign, being fluid and flexible in adapting to the system such that one acquires greater facility with it over time, etc. The novelty and acquisition of facility with, but not necessarily mastery of,the system are key components of what makes doing this fun.
My group has been derailed by the pandemic. We've been playing an Uno knockoff online instead of getting back to D&D. Mostly this has been my fault (lack of inspiration, having a seven year old's attention span when it comes to a campaign, blah blah blah), so I've decided to do something new since one of the players is indefinitely out due to commuting issue.

So I've decided to run the rest of them through ASE1. Since I don't want to get out my old BECMI books I decided to download Labyrinth Lord, since ASE was written with those rules in mind.

Oy. It's like going from World of Warcraft back to Zork. I don't know if I can make it. I probably should've went with a 1e clone. Oh well.

I miss the options of modern games. Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Thief. Ugh. Thief. WHY THE HELL WOULD ANYONE ROLL UP A THIEF, THEY ARE FUCKING USELESS.

Anyway, as I've been reading ASE for the game tomorrow I keep thinking "wow, this is going to be a slaughter". So should I break down and give them a little bit of good advice ("Roll an elf or a magic-user, and memorize the sleep spell if you want to survive") or should I let them figure it out on their own?