Hounds of Hendenburgh

By Liam Padraig o Cuilleanain
Self Published
Low Levels

Terror roams the dark and brambled paths of the Kryptwood. A pack of giant spectral hounds rule the night, savaging those foolish enough to brave the forest. The villagers of Hendenburgh cower in the shadows of the ancient boughs as each morning heralds a newly savaged corpse.

This 22 page adventure presents a delightful little romp through a colourful town, a dreadful forest, and a small haunted dungeon/crypt. Would that everything I reviewed were at least this good. A credit to county Donegal!

Ok Liam, I’ll strike you a deal. I’ll give this one a pretty good review and in return you don’t roast me for not including the fifteen different accent marks in your name. 

We got a small village. Folk inside it are being attacked by ghostly hounds. Oliver the poacher took out a mob to the forest to hunt them down, and  they killed a few, but the mob got seriously fucked up. Hola bitches; it’s time for you, the party, to show up and fix things. Or, so it seems. What we have here is something quite interesting: the adventure is not the adventure. The ghost hound thing, while a real situation, are but one of things going on. They are, essentially, a pretext, with the rest of the excitement of the adventure coming from the townfolk and others hanging around. And it is magnificent. Simple, but engaging enough situations to add complications and shit to any  adventure that party might want to head in to.

Let’s see, the local lord is ancient and senile. But, he got an “inappropriately young wife.”  That’s fun! Both singularly and in combination with each other! And, also, she’s  “a student of the new learning who regards reports of the ghostly hounds as mere peasant superstition. She attributes the savaged bodies found in the woods to the work of a particularly vindictive badger.” Great! And, Oliver the Poacher, who’s ready with a posse of the three Winstaple sons, Gregory the Blacksmith, and five village toughs in case the party throws around too much weight. A fuckingpoacher man! And “the Winstample boys.” Fyuck yeah. That’s how you add specificity. That’s how you make a situation. The pastor, who could banish the ghosts, is a hoot. He’s a heretic. The villagers informed on him and he was punished by the bishop. He’s fucking bitter as all fuck. And a drunk, making his own wiskey. Convince him to help them and load him up with grain alcohol! (And, at the end, the villagers love him, turn to his heresy … only to have the bishop send in the inquisition, eventually. Sweet!”) The miller is sad, his wife is gone. I guess the hounds killed her. Turns out shes left him and moved in with the local bandit leader. He’s Sly Willy, with his men. More bluster than ability, but he DOES have a lot of men. Also, he reneged on a deal to marry one of the three crones that live in the woods. I didn’t mention them? How about “Naked apart from the cloud of flies that cling to her old leathery flesh” or “Eyeless crone who wears a tattered black leather cap and robes sewn from seaweed and taut human flesh.” Great! Perfect! Three’s about six or so more townspeople/things in the woods that you can deal with, including the ghost dude in charge of the hounds. Just break the circle around his tombs dn he’ll fuck off along with his dogs. And he’s a man of his word! There’s SO. MUCH. going on here. And it’s never overpowering. It’s never so much you can’t handle it. It’s all delightful, terse, and sets up a great situation for the party to handle. You’ve got lots of paths to weave your way through this little area and whats going on. There’s no assumed solution, although there are notes to help with the most common ones. 

This is all fucking great. The designer has a knack for these situations, human nature, and a terse but evocative description. Treasure is well-enough described, just a couple of extra words. Like a gold wedding band or a gem-encrusted jewelry box. All told, you get nine hexes described (and about nine more empty), with one of them being the town and another the main dungeon/crypt of nine rooms. 

I’m a pretty ig fan of this. But it could be better. Maybe a one pager with the major NPC’s on it. And, at heart, beyond the townfolk shit, this is a horror adventure. It’s fucking ghost hounds in the woods attacking folk and a crypt at the end. It should feel scary. And while the descriptions and the ilk tend to lean a little in that direction, it doesn’t really push that theming very far. A few extra notes … a little bit of a lingering phrase to help bring home the dread and anxiety would have helped quite a bit. You want to keep that theme going int he adventure, after introducing it, instead of it just coming out as a hack. And the designer could have done more to help bring this forward, especially for the DM. There’s nothing to stop the DM, and even some theming to help, but it really just needs more in this area. 

Big fan though. Looks like this is his only adventure?

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $2. And with a sixteen page preview, you can see more than enough of the adventure. Nice job.


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155 Responses to Hounds of Hendenburgh

  1. Liam Pádraig Ó Cuilleanáin says:

    Hi Bryce,

    Thanks so much for such a generous review. It’s much appreciated. Don’t worry about the fadas.

    • Anonymous says:

      Congrats! I don’t play Cairn but this was lovely to read. The details about the townsfolk are exceptional.

    • Maynard says:

      Hi Liam,

      This seems like so much fun! Reminds me of the intro area for the first Witcher game. Is this coming to POD anytime soon?

      I apologize for the non sequitors in the comments. I hope in the future such discussions can be held in the forum so the adventure getting reviewed can get the attention it deserves.

      • Liam Pádraig Ó Cuilleanáin says:

        Hi Maynard,

        Thanks for the feedback. I don’t have any immediate plans to do a POD (I think I would probably have to alter the formatting to make it suitable for print) but I might consider it down the line.

        Also, the Witcher connection is well-spotted (the hags in this are heavily inspired by the crones in Wild Hunt).

  2. Nobboc says:

    2 sessions so far with this one. Great fun

    • Liam Pádraig Ó Cuilleanáin says:

      That’s great to hear! It’s a wonderful feeling to know that someone is playing something I wrote. I’d be curious to know how the adventure panned out!

  3. Bucaramanga says:

    Irish People Doing Irish Things. By An Irishman.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Amazed this was published as compatible with Cairn when it uses such a problematical concept as Crones…

    • Anonymous says:

      Prince – you are so fucking tiresome.

      This sounds like a good adventure. Yet cause it’s written for a system they dislike, No Artpunk assholes need to shit up the comments with /pol/ memes.

      • Prince says:

        This one was not mine. I have no cognitive dissonance with good adventures existing for Cairn, Brad Kerr wrote a Best tier (Demon’s Maw) years ago. But the general quality is low and the system is crap. Please don’t spread false accusations, I know you guys have problems with that but you are a guest here. Act accordingly.

      • Prince says:

        Perhaps as additional clarification to help you understand your current predicament: As Cairn has a community that is explicitly about progressive extremism and morally policing segments of the hobby that they have no place in (see also, the accusations against Gabor Lux and Alex Macris for example), it will happen occasionally that any work published under this banner will catch some part of that fallout if it is introduced in more moderate (e.g. normal) circles. I personally think good authors for any system should be celebrated, perhaps stimulated to try his hand at a more mature system like OSE. As for the rest, how would you say it: Actions have consequences?

        • Anonymous says:

          So in other words. It’s okay to be intolerant and attack the works of authors that are part of communities who dislike far right authors … but it’s not okay to be intolerant of far right authors.

          Meaning that No Artpunk is a right wing or /pol/ political scene that harasses people based on their perceived political views rather than anything related to the content they produce.

          Good to know. Still fucking tiresome. Also hypocritical.

          • Prince says:

            The problem with bad faith argumentation and deliberate misinterpration is that eventually everyone figures out you are doing it.

          • Anonymous says:

            NAP author here: I didn’t publish for any political reason, and don’t pay much attention to the internet or whatever silly political debates might be getting enmeshed into game debates, I just published for NAP because I liked the idea of trying to write a vanilla D&D adventure. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a ‘NAP scene’ (at least not that I’m aware of), but the premise is good: make playable vanilla content not obsessed with graphic layout.

          • Anonymous says:

            Imagine being so deranged you cannot see the world in anything but right and left. Sad!

          • Anonymous says:

            If everything is tiresome to you you should probably get some exercise and a job while you are at it you lazy parasite.

  5. The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

    Good authors should be, MUST BE, celebrated. but Cairn is just another tiny niche ruleset, like so many others out there these days, that only a very few people will actually use and/or care about. That is until another tiny niche ruleset comes out and becomes the current favorite and everyone moves to that one and then the next one replaces that one and so on. YAWN!!!

    • Nobboc says:

      Cairn (as ITO for example) is a super simple system, it’s just super easy to play it with any DnD or DnD like you favor. I played it with OSE for example. The strengths of this adventure are not to be found (fortunately) in any particular technical use of a system.

      • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

        Then I have to wonder what’s the point of Cairn if you can run this one with OSE? Presumably, that means that several of these rulesets are pretty much the same as the others mechanically. If that’s the case, then what’s the point of creating more? A new ruleset created today should offer something significantly different than the 10 or 20 other small press B/X-inspired options that are out there. Otherwise, what’s the point?

        • Nobboc says:

          People have fun to hack systems, create systems, and share their stuff. And some people enjoy them and some even prefer them to the original. That’s it and that’s the point. What ‘s the problem with that?

          • Anonymous says:

            Bowdlerization. Endless clutter. Trash. Grifting. Surface mimicry. Simply because something is enjoyed, does not mean it has value or is good for the surrounding eco-system.

          • Anonymous says:

            Nothing. And nothing is wrong with calling them out as just another meaningless set of rules-lite, house rules.

          • Seneca says:

            Once upon a time A wanted to play chess so he started a chess club. There were people to play chess and it was good. Then they wanted more people to play with, so B, who liked playing chess, was also invited. Now B also liked playing other things, and he did not want to be rude, so he invited C, who liked putting chess pieces up his ass. Very soon C asked that people stop discussing chess, because it had too many rules. Also, he proposed a new version of chess called ‘Cairn’ with different pieces, which were easier to fit up his ass and consider it just as valid as chess. When A asked him what all this had to do with chess, and pointed out this was a chess club, C got very upset, and asked B to please tell C to play his version of chess elsewhere because it was hurting his feelings. This is the story of the OSR, and it has been repeated many times before.

          • Nobboc says:

            “this is the story of the OSR…”
            Sad story but no. Not on this side of the screen anyway.
            Actually, we all know you’re just a bunch of grumpy, vocal grannies. Unable just to rejoice when a good adventure appears in the mountain of crap published every day. That’s why you have a yellow complexion, ulcers, too much bad fat around your belly, and lost your hair prematurely. Don’t complain!

          • Seneca says:

            The Artpunkman, incensed at being named, loses track of his metaphors, and bumbles from an ageist rant into one against the infirm.

          • The Middle Finger Of Vecna says:

            @Nobboc, I will defend anyone’s right to create but I will question why they created it. Oh sure, I understand the need and the desire to create something but why just another fiddly version of B/X? As I said above, what’s the point of more of this, especially now in 2023 when we have many options that are simply a tweak here and there? People need to stop aping B/X and create something NEW. Don’t get me wrong, I love B/X but we have A through Z versions of it today. How many more does the hobby need? Enough is enough.

          • Nobboc says:

            “How many more does the hobby need? ”

            I think the hobby *needs* nothing. We all have something to play with until the end of the world, and if not, we all know how to remedy the situation by creating our own stuff. Easy.
            When someone publishes/shares their hack of any version of DnD, or even just their houserules, it’s not something we *need*. Just something we may or may not find interesting, add to our practice or not. Something to grind maybe. Something to think about, perhaps, something to give us new ideas. I see absolutely no harm in it.
            Seneca’s narrative above is not something I believe in (it’s just the last rales of an old sad granny sitting on her arse on a bench watching others having fun without her!) What’s the point of denigrating this kind of work? Seriously…

            (Note: Cairn is not a hack of B/X, but of Into The Odd, whose ideas, as far as I’m concerned, have added quite a bit to my practice and my way of thinking about my DnD)

        • Seneca says:

          This is an interesting question. A good ruleset should last you years, maybe decades before all of its possibilities are explored. The real market for rulesets should be quite small, with their creation relegated only to the most knowledgeable and experienced. It takes years to work out the kinks, to refine it.

          The reality is that there are by now countless rulesets and at best people flit from one to the other, always searching for novelty, never settling down to properly explore the game. Some are kept together by personal magnetism or marketing. Less then a handful are of genuine merit. Most are never played and utterly worthless.

          People play for 3 months and then publish their own homebrew. To tinker as you play is totally natural, but to everyone else this has almost no value because inevitably the same ground is covered that has been trod a thousand times before. Try to read a reddit thread about people’s banal homebrew concepts without groaning I dare you.

          The bulk is not just derivative, but misses some nuance that makes the whole of vastly lesser merit then the original game. Have the courage to look at something and say that anyone with three hours of spare time could do much better.

          Who is attracted by such a low bar? People with high-time preference, the lazy, the casual, the mayfly. People want to call themselves game-designers when they have minds suited for digging holes or breaking stones with mallets. This is the rules-lite shitbrewer.

          • Nobboc says:

            “..with their creation relegated only to the most knowledgeable and experienced. ”

            Fuck off!
            We’re talking about having fun toying with games. Not starting a new religious sect.

          • SargonTheOK says:

            I’m not usually one to defend Cairn, but the OSR doesn’t benefit from this sort of elitist Brahminization, where only “the experts” create and the rest consume. (Who anoints the experts anyway?)

            We don’t need to be regulating output in this space to ensure only enduring things are made – let it be made. The cream will float and the dreck will sink on their own accord. Though I do wish there was less dreck.

          • Anonymous says:

            I feel like there is (or was, and should be) a distinction between creating stuff and selling stuff. Pretty much since rpgs began almost every GM has created their own adventures and house rules, and most of them were shitty. The difference now is that the bar to publishing is so low that what was once handwritten in a notebook and inflicted on like 4 or 5 of the GM’s buddies and forgotten about a week later is now thrown up for sale on DriveThruRPG or itch.io. There’s stuff out there where the authors literally say “this is my first ever attempt at designing a dungeon” or who write and release their own “hack” ruleset after playing for a couple months (or not playing at all and just reading another game). I don’t begrudge them doing that – I did the same as a kid, and it’s how you learn and get better. But you don’t deserve to get paid for it because it’s apprentice-quality junk, and having so much trash out there cluttering the market makes the stuff that’s actually good harder to find, because who has the time or $ to wade through all of it (besides Bryce)?

          • SargonTheOK says:

            “Besides Bryce?”

            I’d also include other OSR personalities like Ben Milton, but I think you hit something there.

            When clutter abounds, the need for curators increases. Steam and the iOS store arguably have the same issue – absolute race to the bottom. But just as DTRPG empowers publishers, we need to likewise empower reviewers and taste-makers to more effectively sort craft from cruft.

            But people aren’t going to stop publishing their stuff – that genie’s out of the bottle. Objecting to it is just yelling at clouds. Maybe we should all be writing more reviews?

          • aseigo says:

            > A good ruleset should last you years,

            Counter points:

            Lots of mediocre and even quite *poor* rulesets have lasted years and even decades.

            There have been really *good* rulesets that haven’t lasted, but faded into obscurity as their community dissipated and people stopped playing them.

            Some rulesets that are quite good are not intended to last: they are intended to be experienced in a limited fashion and enjoyed before moving on. I have quite a few of these games on the shelf, and they have value as well.

            So while a good ruleset *can* last for years, longevity really isn’t an indicator of .. anything.

            > The reality is that there are by now countless rulesets a

            Yep, you’re right. And it hurts neither you nor I one bit. (If you disagree with that, I’d like to hear a cogent argument that doesn’t confuse “my fun” and “your fun”.)

            > Less then a handful are of genuine merit.

            All game systems put out are flawed, and some are more flawed than others, some (perhaps even most) deeply so. I try to take them on individual merit, however, rather than dimissing the milieu with a hand-wave.

            Because in that mass there may be a classic in the making or a diamon in the rough asking to be discovered. The rest that doesn’t appeal to me doesn’t really matter.

            > to everyone else this has almost no value

            Your creative efforts need only have value to you. If they appeal to others, awesome. If they appeal to lots of others, even better! However, even though an attempt may most likely result in failure does not mean attempts shouldn’t be made. Otherwise we’d all attempt nothing, and the good things wouldn’t appear either. Nobody is forcing you or I to read, let alone play, their games. And if other people do want to, it costs me (and you) nothing. It’s on them. So why so bothered?

            AslO: your argument presupposes that we can a priori predict the value of output, measuring value perhaps even before anything is begun, and that’s simply the wrongest sort of wrong. The history of art and expression is filled with people who were lauded but were making dreck, people who were overlooked but produced fantastic things, and people who were both lauded and made fantastic things … and most often the conclusions were only made long after the creative attempts were wrung through the machine of time.

            > but misses some nuance that makes the whole of vastly lesser merit then the original game

            Ah, the “original game”. Which one is that, then? Dynasty? Braunstein? Greyhawk? How about anything not precisely of the faux-medievalism-with-stats from that era?

            Do we limit card games to some arbritrarily early one, and condemn the rest? Boardgames? Games played on grass, with sticks, with balls? Pong and Pacman for video games? We can certainly measure against this or that game, but clining to an ‘original’ anything is so limiting it is absurd.

            But that aside: it’s ok if some miss nuance. Some don’t. Some do their own thing better. Sometimes it takes a hack of a kind of ‘meh’ thing to get to great .. and if that first ‘meh’ thing wasn’t there, missing all that god damn *nuance*, where would we be? You know, like D&D and Greyhawk. Or the Black Hack and Black Sword Hack? (or any other number of similar examples)

            The path to good, even great, is often through mediocre. And that mediocre costs you nothing. It may be someone else’s “ooh, neat!” and someone else’s inspiration to make something with that fantastical ‘nuance’.

            > Who is attracted by such a low bar?

            *Your* low bar may be fundamentally different from mine. That’s ok, it doesn’t make you wrong. Something you think is great is something I might find highly flawed with reasoned criticism to support that. And vice versa. Imagine that: we may not be sole arbiters of the height of achievement bars!

            There’s an amazing hubrish in your declaration of quality. Enjoy what you enjoy. Where “you” can be literally anyone in the world.

            > This is the rules-lite shitbrewer.


            Cairn is, as you put it, “rules-lite”. It has spawned a couple of games I really enjoy, such as Liminal Horror. It’s a much better horror system for me to run than the venerable (“one true Cosmic Horror System”?) CoC. There are *fantastic* modules available for it. It is rules-lite, and fantastic horror.

            That is also the “rules-lite shitbrewer” in action, and a direct result of Cairn existing. Even if I don’t play Cairn, even if Cairn fails to meet whatever bar of quality, I couldn’t give a shit because it also helped deliver Liminal Horror onto my shelf.

            I wonder how much truly great ales you’ve missed because they didn’t come from the holy font of the TSR brewery. Your narrow idea of how quality can be predicted, let alone adjudicated, if followed by everyone in the hobby would result in a very boring, very non-creative, non-innovative, low-bar-hugging hobby.

            I write that as someone who loves old-school D&D (which I started playing in the late 80s), doesn’t really enjoy the Art Punk poster children of Mork Borg and her hundred children, and doesn’t really play Cairn, etc. But also as a person who’s benefited from Cair existing, think the module reviewed sounds pretty darn good (system doesn’t matter), can also enjoy things that are entirely new, and don’t feel threatened by other people’s honest attempts at creative endeavour.

        • Gnarley Bones says:

          Particularly when good-quality original B/X rule sets are still easily obtained. I bought a set for my nephew just a few years back. It really wasn’t that expensive at all.

          However, there’s nothing gamers love more than tinkering with rules, and so the inevitable avalanche of nigh-identical clones.

          As some Great Mind once predicted in 2009: https://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=38355

          • Anonymous says:

            Hear, hear GB! You nailed it back in 2009, the OSR has been co-opted and turned into a vehicle for people to produce their own games. The newbies who weren’t there back in the day should read this post.

          • Nobboc says:

            Incidentally, a video appears today on YT that adress part of the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO5QOCL2mqA

          • Nobboc says:

            Incidentally, a video appears today on YT that address part of the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO5QOCL2mqA

          • aseigo says:

            The Monolith Fallacy.

            There are different people who share an interest in the modes and style of play seen in games that emerged and were practiced in the 70s and 80s.

            And among those with that shared interest, there are different creative aims, none of which fundamentally discount the others.

            There are those looking to preserve older games as they are with minimal to zero change in presentation let alone mechanism. This is cool 🙂

            There are those looking to preserve older games by revisiting presentational choices (layout and fonts have come a short distance since the 80s) and addressing inconsistencies that were found and discussed ad nauseum Back In the Day. This is also cool 🙂

            There are those looking to preserve the *style* of play and the profound gaming ideas from those same games, but are less concerned about the literal construction of those rulesets. Embodiment, inspiration, and learning rather than straight replication. This is also cool.

            Some of these attempts are successful, and some are .. less so. That includes entries from each of the above three avenues of interest. There have been some absolutely pitiful attempts at preservation.

            I have probably half a dozen attempts to preserve OD&D on my shelf, and only 2 of them really ‘speak’ to me and are done well enough that I personally consider them ‘playable’.

            Ditto for new rulesets that aim to capture aspects of the old-school methods.

            There is no Monolith, and that is not a bad thing. Nor does it need christening as “some other sect”. There’s room enough for all these experiments and creative attempts.

            I mostly play B/X when playing FRPGs these days, but also play other things too. And I’m happy if you find B/X does everything for your gaming needs. And I’m happy when someone dabbles with Cairn.

            They are all celebrating a certain type of creative effort and a shared set of themes. There is a *lot* of cross-talk and cross-polination to be had in there.

            More than anything, though, people shouldn’t feel they need to pick this or that to play because it is or isn’t OSR/NSR/whateverthehellthenextmonikeris.

      • Seneca says:

        Nobbocs position is at least explicable since he is a vendor of third-rate rubbish and various reheated turds such as KNOCK magazine. He offers no less then two shitbrews for the low low price of 16 dollars per PDF!

        For a long time I considered whether it would be possible to simply co-exist with this type of person but this is a mistaken assumption. The Nobbocs of the world will always try to deceive, undermine and occlude. They know, deep down, that a perfectly informed customer would instantly peer through their cheap glamours and see the emptiness beneath so they MUST deceive, disparage and dissemble. His ideal is a mindless wallet, always chasing for the next glitzy short-lived high. The grift, the thirst for petty cash, will always trump any love of the game.

        • Nobboc says:

          Boy, you’re serioulsy disturbed.

          And if you think you debunked anything here, just check and see I always sign here with my merrymushmen mail address and/or my website address. No secret.

          • Anonymous says:

            The quiet majority agree with you, Nobboc.

            There are a few shrill puritans who take almost no joy in this hobby, preferring instead to hiss and spit at each other like rival high school cheerleading squads fighting over… nothing important.

            They mewl about the one true way. They wag the finger at anyone who disagrees. They are miserable void-screechers with little to show besides dusty blogs full of screeds that nobody will remember.

            They puff up with vainglorious pride at the dozen or so people on the internet who even care what they have to say.

            They seethe at Knock’s success and the creative joy it brings hundreds and thousands of people they can only hope to influence, but will never reach.

            The majority of normal, happy gamers roll their eyes at these fussy pearl-clutchers and go back to enjoying elf games with their friends. Meanwhile, the gibbering howler monkeys are still trying to figure out what friends are.

            They are swiftly being left behind.

      • Seneca says:

        I will briefly note that the ruleslite peddlers defence is not that his catalogue is of any merit but that everything is a mere stupid toy, and therefore complaining of the quality is unwarranted. With such advocates one hardly needs enemies.

        I will also laugh heartily at the declarations of historically inevitable victory from the same miserable sourpusses that write gnashing pseudo academic obituaries for the OSR every year.

        There are in fact plentiful indications that fantasy-adventure gaming is not simply surviving but making a comeback. Look ye to ACKs, or to the NAP contest, or to the community, many youngsters among them, that still play AD&D, or OD&D. A focus on accessibility has netted you five for every one of ours, each one useless, crippled by ennui, incapable even of formulating the question of what the OSR is. Your old grandees wither and stew in the ignorant darkness they have created, or have sequestered in disgrace.

        Knock is a prime example of entryist OSR, a collection of old blog posts, with a massively inflated production value to attract casual buyers, and almost no new or playable content. Is this the best you can do?

        This invisible silent majority goes back to their games? The majority goes back to buying games and putting it on their shelf, desperate to gain by consumption what can only be gained by love. The majority is eternally cast about like leaves in the wind. Shadowdark, Mork Bork, Troika. The foundation will be held by the builders, the movers, and you will move on, attracted by baubles and bright lights and take your parasites with you. It will be as though you had never been.

        • Anonymous says:

          You just prove my point further. “Nobody is worthy unless they’re in OUR group.”

          The articles in Knock were prime rib in the OSR until they appeared in Knock… now they’re just worthless rehashes, according to you.

          It’s fine for you to like AD&D and OD&D — pretty much everyone does. What’s absurd is when you pretend game design hasn’t found ways to improve upon itself in the last however many decades, and that any progress on that front cannot be better than the interesting, but deeply flawed mélange Arneson and Gygax conceived when RPG game design was merely a shared, localized art between about 20 people.

          The point is the “rules light” systems you chide (many which have much more complexity than you care to notice before casting them aside, if you even read them at all, which is doubtful…) are well designed works by people with more experience in RPG system crafting than the original Lake Geneva and Twin Cities crowd. It’s inevitable and self-evident that game design has progressed since then.

          So it’s laughable to say nothing has improved upon OD&D or AD&D, or that ACKS (which an insignificant number of people play compared to its peers) is in some way a movement or greatly impactful next step forward. It’s a great game, but it’s simply a safe rehash of your beloved darlings, which is why you approve of it while pretending you approve of something actually new and innovative.

          The invisible silent majority understands this. It’s why they roll their eyes at you when you cling to the bizarre Titanic of AD&D’s superiority above and to the exclusion of all else. You are sinking aboard that ship while listening to the refined violin music of elitist snobbery you espouse that’s being played, ever more frantically, upon the flooding deck.

          NAP is producing great modules that are for and by the approximately two dozen people who circulate here and backwater boards to spout the same nonsense to each other. Again, perfectly good material. But fake progress. Fake movement. It is in no way better than the excellent works for other systems that surround it.

          Nobody is demanding that you like Cairn or similar, which you wouldn’t (and no harm no foul,Cairn isn’t for me either). But then you look ridiculous when you’re caught with your pants down about how an adventure like this one could receive Bryce’s Best marks. You can only explain it by saying it would have been better if written for the *refined and tasteful* systems YOU approve of with all your flawed qualifiers.

          I, for one, appreciate Bryce’s integrity in seeing the value in old and new material alike. Good works like this one deserve consideration and respect that you and your little witch’s coven of purists will never afford it.

          The game industry and OSR at large really is moving on from your way of thinking, and the proof is in the numbers. Unfortunately for you, the sheer bulk of supporters arrayed against your retroactive dogma is getting wise to it. Not all of them are stupid, as you claim, and many of them are equal or better game designers than you or their forebears. No amount of elitist wine-cork sniffing on your part will do anything to reduce the quality of their own vintages, no matter how much you declare their inferiority.

          So keep on with the 20-ish people participating in NAP, keep on with ACKS, keep on with being mad that creativity and skill in game design are not only sourced from your chosen wellspring of traditionalist purity. You will have to come to terms with it at some point and realize your issues aren’t stemming from the vast multitude’s lack of insight and taste — Occam’s razor says they’re stemming from yours.

          • Gnarley Bones says:

            No one in an actual silent majority ever has to describe themselves as being in a silent majority.

            Sage advice: you speak for no one and nothing beyond the end of your nose.

            You are entitled to an opinion; no one can begrudge. An appeal to a non-existent authority is a particularly clunky and clumsy logical fallacy.

            Lastly: attempting to punch up at the ghost of Gygax has never worked out for anyone.

          • Anonymous says:

            Gnarly, the silent majority doesn’t often refer to itself, by definition. It still exists. I can point to it without making it disappear — it’s not a quantum particle.

            You and your posse actually speak for no one except your tiny group, which is something you don’t seem to understand. My entire point is that there is no central authority, and by trying to claim it, as Seneca and Prince do, you are revealing your silliness.

            Punch up at Gygax? I wonder how honoring and admiring his legacy, as I have just done above, could be considered punching up. Saying that game design has improved since his era is fact, not insulting or punching in any direction. I’m sorry it made you feel like it was an attack of some sort; hard truths often land hard.

  6. Shuffling Wombat says:

    A fine discovery from Bryce. And well done to the author: a strong effort by any standards, and as a first offering, highly promising. Write more! Excellent freedom of action, good hooks, engaging NPC descriptions, multiple ways of resolving the main problem.
    There are a couple of places where a little more detail would have been welcome:
    (i) What is the nature of the pastor’s heretical beliefs? The party may be broadly sympathetic, or strongly opposed, which will change the dynamic of their interactions;
    (ii) Should there be a bounty on the highwaymen, especially their leader, and/or wanted posters? The aftermath section mentions bounty hunters. Also, what are their statistics? Does Cairn have a bestiary, standard profiles for common NPC types? (I know little of this system.)
    (iii) The usual fantasy default for ethereal creatures is that you need magic (or possibly silver weapons) to harm them. Perhaps the Kryptwood Hounds should appear to be normal ferocious creatures until killed, then turn shadowy (and fade after a few hours). Another possibility would be the poacher has a magic/silver weapon which was war booty, the others don’t. And the hags have some they can loan, for a price. OSE could certainly handle this.
    (iv) I’d gather all the NPC stats in a monster roster at the back (as an addition).

  7. Frank Denser says:

    Sounds like Hound of the Baskervilles.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Seriously, Nobboc et al just use the term NuSR to describe what you do, it wasn’t the OSR’s goal to morph into a world of 3,000 Troika variants or other rules-lite rubbish, save the public the confusion please. The OSR was about old-school D&D; playing, preserving and making content for the game we love, not Johnny’s new house rules getting a glitzy review on some smooth youtuber’s channel (who also wants to sell his rules-lite piece of worthless junk). If every poster on Dragonsfoot back in the day did what the NuSR has been doing with their rules-lites, there’d be a 1,000 extra OSR systems out there (thank god no one thought that’s what the purpose of sharing house rules was about back then). The crass commercialisation of someone’s jazzed up house rules adds nothing, and only detracts from the game, and splinters the hobby into smaller and smaller niches, each getting its little pathetic time in the limelight before the next shiny thing comes along.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would anyone use a term of insult to describe their work?

      How could something like Knock – a literally collection of OSR blog posts not be OSR?

      I think maybe the pack of revisionists, ACKs loving assholes clustering around NAP should instead describe themselves as Hategames. It’s a good description as you A) hate games B) Most also have some other form of weird antisocial hatred that they are using games to promote.

      • Gnarley Bones says:

        I don’t know how any rational person could identify NAP as hating the game. That’s some A-level mental gymnastics, right there, folks.

        If anything, NAP is a love-letter to D&D. I will never understand how it could inspire any single thing *other* than a desire to roll up some PCs and play.

        • Anonymous says:

          Look at all the comments from NAP types above this: name calling, insulting, and hating on this seemingly good adventure, on hobbyists, and publishers all of whom play a D&D … but not the particular high restricted version of D&D that they like.

          Look at Prince’s own posts on NAP, full of juvenile insult stolen from incel forums and /pol/. Look at him skulking around in someone’s discord where people are talking about writing games to screen cap and bitch about how other people have fun with RPGs.

          If that’s what you call love, I am sincerely sorry for you and anyone you claim to love. If you have any interest in being a better person just imagine that it’s possible to live things without hating people who love them some other way.

          • Gnarley Bones says:

            Oh, the drama!

            I know this will stagger you; please hold onto something, your well-being is important: The overwhelming majority of gamers play the game.

            They don’t talk about the game.
            They don’t talk about blogs and posts.
            They certainly don’t waste a moment worrying about what some blogger is doing on some other blogger’s discord account.

            They are rolling dice and enjoying the game that you ostensibly also enjoy (?)

            I know you are shocked and awed right now, but as your breath returns, you will realize that one can heartily play the everliving daylights out of NAP 1 and 2 without once ever spending a moment about whose internet lingerie was bunching or who is wringing what appendage about some other game system.

          • Anonymous says:

            Their elitism is hitting an all-time-high fever pitch. It’s repulsive to me and many other people who have been here a long time and have enjoyed this hobby for decades. But they’re too dug in to stop.

            Sad to say it, but I don’t read Prince’s blog anymore. Too insufferable.

            Gretchen, stop trying to make TRVSR happen! It’s not going to happen!

          • Anonymous says:

            People may be able to play the adventures in NAP … I recognize some of the authors, they may have written good stuff, but I will never know. I won’t be reading it, and unlikely anything else by them in the future. There’s plenty of good stuff out there by non-assholes. I’m a bit sad that I won’t be purchasing anything with Peter Mullins art anymore… but … I don’t need to support people who support Macris and are affiliated with insult and assholery.

            As to the rest of your response? It’s typical for 4Chan types. First, you fail to address that actual vile behavior of the group you champion. Then claim that it doesn’t matter because most people are too uninvolved/stupid to see the antisocial behavior and that anyone who disagrees lacks knowledge. It’s a combination of denial, vanity, and contempt for others that’s sadly too common these days.

            Face it. At some point your love of old school D&D managed to get you radicalized into a hateful group that harasses people online and uses incel and men’s right’s rhetoric. That’s certainly a weird situation, but it’s not playing D&D or what the OSR is about. What’s sad is that if you are sincere and you actually care about playing 1E or whatever no one is trying to take that away.

            In the language of your cult. Touch Grass.

          • Gnarley Bones says:


            All your rending of hair and garments about 4chan and TikTok and God knows what else is transparent projection. I can assure you, gentle summer child, I couldn’t find those things if I tried.

            With time comes understanding and it will dawn upon you that people can disagree with you without being demons.

            Further, you will realize that you are capable, indeed inevitably so, of being wrong. Experience is a hard teacher, but some will have no other. 😉

          • Bird says:

            It is worth pointing out that Chris McDowell, Skerples and Emmy Allen all have deep 4chan /osrg/ roots, far more obvious then Prince or anyone associated with NAP.

            And then of course there are the accusations against the PaimonProwler. An associate of the above.

          • Anonymous says:

            Pay no attention to that furry sex predator behind the curtain!

      • Anonymous says:

        I mean, if we’re being real here and want to coin this term as an actual thing, Hategames sounds a bit extreme.

        Their way of thinking is a mixture of elitism and superficial understanding (and summary dismissal) of systems outside their preferred swimming pool.

        I think in about five years we might see this era and group referred to as the “Orthodox SR,” aka the people with too-dogmatic myopia who cling to an almost religious traditionalism that does not actually improve or build upon the game at large.

        • Anonymous says:

          Pseudo-academic equivocation and smug bravado without substance. You have not demonstrated any improvement, nor have you demonstrated superior understanding. Point to something you have written or done.

    • Nobboc says:

      “just use the term NuSR to describe what you do, it wasn’t the OSR’s goal to morph into a world of 3,000 Troika ”

      Hi. Seriously, what are you talking about ? Knock is a compilation of pure OSR works. You can us the totality (well, say 98.5% maybe) of the content for O/AD&D, B/X, Osric etc… And, incidentally, it appears it also please the guys of what you would call NOSR (of what the fuck new acronym you’dlike).
      Knock is fully about OSR, as you’d like it to be.Period.

      That said, I seriously don’t give a shit about any certificate of purity. FUCK that, big time.

      • Seneca says:

        KNOCK is a great example of late-stage over-commercialized OSR. Ancient blog posts from popular authors (some cancelled by the NSR now) which may be freely read online, thrown together indiscriminantly based on popularity, compiled into a glitzy, overproduced hardcover that would not look out of place beside an omnibus of Iron Man comics or funko pop collection. Pass.

        • Nobboc says:

          You never read Knock, but yes please, pass.
          It’s a disturbing sight to imagine you holding my work in your hands in your mother’s basement. Thanks in advance.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I’m blacklisting this product because it includes art by a guy who contributed to a contest run by a guy who said nice things about a guy who used to work for a guy whose politics I’m against.” Since the blacklisting presumably also extends to other products by that publisher, and to people who’ve said nice things about those products, we’ve reached a full 6 degrees of blacklist association. Probably easier to just say “I’ll only buy stuff produced by a half dozen of my Discord buddies because everyone else is in a cult. And never mind the Discord buddies who’ve been credibly outed as sexual predators – at least they’re not within 6 degrees of association with a cartoonish media personality who I reflexively hate!”

      • Gnarley Bones says:

        As if they were in some manner of bunker, some might say. 😉

      • Anonymous says:

        Not buying something is not black listing. It’s not McCarthyism to avoid assholes. That’s the problem with you dudes, yet all about you freedom until someone else says they’re using there’s to do something you don’t like then you start freaking the fuck out.

        I make my money without you jackasses and can spend it anyway I fucking want. I can even tell you why. So fuck NAP and anyone associated with it.

  9. Gnarley Bones says:

    Who’s they?


    Conspiracy theories never pan out, chief.

    • Anonymous says:

      “They” is referring to the OrthodoxSR, which is plainly obvious. Your false incredulousness is absurd.

      Pretending this was in reference to some nebulous, undefined “they” is the exact sort of bad-faith argumentation I’d expect from your sort.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Let’s compare average ratings of No Artpunk entries bs everything else. Of the 11 NoArtPunk 2 entries 3 were rated The Best (call it 5/5), 7 No Regerts (call it 4/5), and 1 God Effort (call it 3/5).

    By comparison, of the last 25 other titles reviewed, 3 got The Best (including this one), 1 got No Regerts, 16 got a mostly negative review with no tag (call it 2/5) and 5 got a negative tag (Do Not Buy Ever, My Life is a Living Hell, etc – call it 1/5).

    So at the top end (The Best) they are doing the same, but below that the difference is stark: 10 out of 11 NAP2 titles got a positive review and none got a wholly negative one. But of other titles almost everything that wasn’t The Best got trashed. Average rating for the 11 NAP2 titles is 4.18/5. Average rating for the 25 other titles is 2.24/5.

    The notion being pushed by the prolific Anon in these comments that the hobby as a whole is producing great stuff and the NAP2 crowd is stuck in an endless stale rut and dwindling away is not consistent with the facts on the ground. Yeah, some good stuff is being produced outside of NAP – about 20% of the sample, pretty much consistent with Sturgeon’s Law. By contrast, NAP2 got over 90% positive reviews. And it’s also free. But why let facts get in the way of tribalism?

    • Gnarley Bones says:

      How dare you behold my nudity?!

      – the Emperor

    • Anonymous says:

      Prolific? I’ll take it.

      For the NAP comparison, you’d need to use an apples-to-apples assessment, like another design contest where writers put their best foot forward rather than a scattershot sample.

      Bryce ran Wavestone Keep on here, which fits well. It had 22 entries (more than double the last NAP), so it matches with your “25 other entries” method you used above, except that it’s now an accurate comparison pool.

      Wavestone: 54% places as No Regerts or Best. A full 95% placed as acceptable (standard) or better).

      Best had seven entries, two more than NAP, for the OSE, B/X, Cairn, and Shadowdark systems.

      No Regerts had five entries, two less than NAP, for 5e, B/X, and ACKS.

      Standard had ten entries for “OSR,” B/X, OSE, AD&D, 5e, “Agnostic,” and S&W.

      Wavestone had no fully negative reviews, unlike NAP’s one.

      It seems that when the public is allowed to contribute designs for any OSR system, not the tribalist and puritanical short-list NAP allows, you get a superior spread of high-quality material that outperforms NAP. Alas, the NAPsters actively tamp down system competition, possibly because they fear outperformance by another spread of results like the above.

      • Anonymous says:

        I find it entertaining and telling that several Bests from Wavestone Keep are for systems explicitly disallowed in NAP with much frothing and spitting. Good stuff. EVERY entry on the Best list are ones that Prince disfavors over AD&D — his scorn for B/X and OSE over AD&D is obvious, and his outright ree-ing over Cairn and Shadowdark is legendary.

        • squeen says:

          Prince started out as a very vocal B/X supporter & player. Only slowly, over years, was he pulled into the AD&D orbit.

          It’s a natural progression that arises as you play more/longer campaigns.

      • Seneca says:

        I’d hate to correct you, but you omitted several details in your analysis. Now, you have an obvious history of deception, but given your terrible position it makes sense this is your only resort. It was, however, your most coherent point so far.

        The last NAP had 23 entries. Only the best 11 were published. The ratio of Best for NAP is a comfortable 27%, with the other 63% falling in the No Regerts category. In terms of average quality, it straightforwardly outperformed Wavestone Keep.

        Now you once again twisted the facts by stating a wholly negative review, when the rating was a God Effort for Under Mt. Peikon. Again, subtle deception, to be expected from your ilk.

        The ratio of Wavestone Keep (a splendid design competition by all accounts, showing that having a coherent standard for adventure design as opposed to vague praise for creativity and ideological coherence is superior) would be 28%, slightly higher, with a No Regerts category of 22%. This is from an audience of tenfootpole regulars, who are most likely to be able to match Bryce’s adventure game standards, and by now likely exceed the abilities of the bulk of industry professionals.

        I raise an amused eyebrow at the intimation that NAP is performing some sort of system boycott out of fear of competition when avoiding competition and trying desperately to stifle it seems to be the only playbook that you gentlemen have. The idea that in order to familiarize onself with design principles and shed excess buffoonery you use the original set should be self-evident even to one of your impaired cognition.

        I will note that these ‘random selections’ are published works that the public is expected to pay for, but I am glad you have already implicitly accepted that their quality cannot match that of earnest practitioners submitting things to a contest. I ask you, why would you desperately try to avoid a straightforward comparison with average adventure quality?

        I would say that having parameters for a system in a design contest is no more tribal then having parameters centered around a certain theme or dungeon, but given your proclivities, it is not suprising you would consider any sort of standards to be an indicator of jingoistic tribal oppression.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’d hate to correct you too, but your slyly disengenuous argumentation needs a realty check.

          The last NAP had 23 entries, 11 of which didn’t make the quality cut. You could submit those to Bryce outside NAP, but they wouldn’t place since they weren’t superior over the existing Bests from the contest. So, a pack more of standard ratings (maybe even a rare No Regerts!), resulting in a mere 13% Best proportion for NAP compared to Wavestone’s 31%.

          What is truly disengenuous is that proportions aren’t the right way to assess this, despite Wavestone’s leadership in that regard. When you misleadingly try replace volume with proportion, you stray into absurd results inherent to small data sets.

          For example, some writers Bryce has reviewed have a 3/3 Best rating, making them appear to have a 100% quality record with no regard for the very small volume of actual work. At these tiny numbers, proportion is misleading. Volume is more accurate.

          So it goes with NAP. NAP has three Bests to Wavestone’s seven with an almost identical numbers of entries. Not a bad showing, but it’s clear which contest produced both a higher volume (and proportion, if you insist on sly metrics) of better works.

          To your point that Bryce’s readers can outpace industry professionals — I agree, but I also note that both industry professionals who entered the Wavestone contest both placed Best (Jacob Hurst and Kelsey Dionne). In other words, they’re performing as they should.

          NAP’s system boycott could be out of fear. Or disgust, or lack of understanding, or a variety of other reasons. Regardless, there’s a difference between specifying content rules (low-level, fantasy genre, old school style) vs. a system rule.

          What you get with NAP is a car race that only allows Ferraris and does not allow Lamborghinis, and then tries to conflate the results with Ferrari’s superiority.

          If it was an honest old-school design contest, it wouldn’t be so afraid of other old-school derived systems. NAP has every right to disallow certain systems, of course, but the reason is obviously repugnance, evident by your own choice of the word “buffoonery” and your utterly myopic comments on your own blog about the subject.

          The fact is, you and I will never agree what constitutes old school, procedural gameplay. You believe it is attached to an era, a frozen point in time, and I believe it’s attached to a design mentality and style. We’ll let the public decide who is right using the best and most enduring litmus test there is — capitalism.

          In the meantime, please go on calling everyone who disagrees with you (basically everyone out there playing OSR material who aren’t even aware of you) a half-wit or undereducated. There is no better mirror than a baseless critique.

          Finally, to your question, using contest entries vs. standard everyman fare is a misleading context for comparison. That should be obvious. Would contest-grade material from Wavestone featuring industry professionals stack up fairly against Billy’s First $1 ACKS homebrew, especially since that would then cast judgment by association onto ACKS?

          Any honest person would see that’s disingenuous. But coming from you, it makes sense.

          There’s only so far I can go against your sophistry before we hit an impasse, so I’m not terribly inclined to grapple with your next rash of alt posts trying to flood out these comments with a fabricated majority. Readers have seen enough to be warned that your pseudo-academic responses and barely contained, gleeful hubris are the symptoms of dishonesty and myopia.

        • Seneca says:

          And you are already giving up, just when I had prepared a second volley. Excellent, your lack of dedication, slovenly due dillegence, lack of intellectual integrity, moral turpitude and lack of energy has been noted.

          So! If we also include the first NAP contest in our analysis, we arrive at a nice even 19 publications. With its 3 Bests and 1 No regerts, it would attain a The Best rating of 31% (with an additional 3 the bests out of 8), and a No Regerts rating of 42%, placing it well ahead of Wavestone keep.

          Now. You immediately reveal your lack of intellectual integrity by making up an assumption and passing it off as fact, that the rating of some of these adventures could not possibly be The Best as I had not selected them. But my standards and Bryce are different by default. In one case, a module was disqualified by being the wrong system. This is the sort of slovenly academic practice that will likely keep you in college debt for years to come.

          You then go off on an assumption about volume, but you ignore entirely the question of sample representation (which you attempted to disguise), or even what you are attempting to prove at all. The above comment merely indicates that NAP can put together a good anthology. This is without question. Why you would at this point try to desperately avoid that is anyone’s guess. Are you genuinely regarded as wise by your foolish friends when you pull these cheap tricks?

          As for a difference between system and standards, this is another rule that you have simply made up. You cannot explain why a contest that is specifically geared towards encouraging familiarity with the extant basis of DnD should allow systems that explicitly deviate from it. Now, if the very idea of the contest is offensive to you, which it is, then this could constitute a reason in and enough of itself, but then the point would be made that you are something other.

          Once again, the assesment of a deceitful intellectual bumberclot regarding what constitutes an old school contest is totally irrelevant to everyone because it is a subjective criterion, of meaning only to yourself.

          Seeing you invoke capitalism as a desperate means to save face in what has been for you, a humiliating performance, is quite alright with me. I am confident fantasy adventure gaming has a bright future ahead of it. And since you rely on capitalism, you will presumably tell your criminal friends not to proceed with their creepy boycotts no? After all, it is the quality of the product that counts. The free market shall decide.

          I can tell that you came here thinking you were genuinely going to tell everyone off with your intellectual prowess so I hope this will serve as a first step on the road to self-awareness. I would tell you to get laid instead but given the sordid history of some of your associates that would not be a recommendation I can countenance.


          • Anonymous says:

            Oh, I didn’t know we were allowed to start moving the goal posts and including multiple bodies of work together when our current numbers are lacking! I’ll get hunting around.

            The assumption that they could not make Bests is coming from you, since they were not considered good enough to make the top 11 cut. Why would you stuff your top 11 with things that could only hit No Regerts, and leave all those languishing Bests out to dry?

            NAP is indeed a great volume. Wavestone was demonstrably better.

            Oh wait, I need to go combine some further contests into Wavestone to amp its numbers and keep it in the lead against your two NAP volumes.

            Your contest is not about encouraging an understanding of basic DnD, it’s about picking what defines the old-school DnD mentality based on your preferences. You’ve shown your hand.

            Capitalism, desperate? I never thought I’d hear you say that! I guess it sucks when people vote with their cash and it doesn’t go in your favor. A harsh reality.


          • Anonymous says:

            Also, I don’t make false claims to intellectual prowess, although I’m flattered you read what I wrote and assumed that’s where I was going.

            I’m frankly sick of YOU making the claims to intellectual prowess and elitist superiority, and so I had to call it out using the basic terminology of the masses and forgoing such gems as “jingoism.”

            But please, continue to sling words like “praxis” around the internet when you actually mean “practice.” It makes you sound so very smart.

            See below for the exciting sample of where you created a false rheological fallacy that you think make you sound more academic.

          • Seneca says:

            I can see I have angered you into rebutting yet another time when you had already prepared to flounce, embaressing. We will see if we can get you to flounce again and then return again.

            I will explain the concept of measurement. Bryce’s measurement (1) and the standards of an ancient Roman philosopher (2) are not the same. Ergo, it is possible that the NAP judge, a completely different individual who I believe goes by Prince, would rate something as barely adequate while Bryce would rate it the best. This should be obvious to a child or any college-educated person before 2010.

            If there is some sort of hand that was shown, you have not demonstrated it. Instead you have lied repeatedly, acted smug, and have now returned for another helping. Perhaps it would help if you considered the notion that words refer to an underlying objective reality.

            Ah, the ironic reversal of the statement, the very one I remarked on a comment prior to this. Again you slovenly trudge well behind me, poorly imitating my moves. I shall look forward to an NSR inspired high level design competition using some form of classical DnD in the year of our lord 2030.

            I repeat my observation r.e. your likely disgusting proclivities and general lack of moral fibre.


          • Anonymous says:

            I wonder if Bryce’s measuring standards suddenly do not hold up that you wanted to use them to originally prove NAP’s superiority?

            Sorry that I disappointed you with my failure to flounce, ergo, my slovenly trudging along. It’s amazing, by the way, that anyone can understand half of what you say through the pseudo-academic highbrow vocabulary haze.

            I’m just waiting to see if anything you say resembles a coherent argument! I haven’t seen it yet — this has been about as entertaining as shooting fish in a barrel.

            I can see you want the last word, so have at it. I’ll do you the courtesy of not replying no matter how obnoxious you are, nor how entertaining it is to rebut you, so you can get on with your day feeling as if you’ve won.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ah, we look for malice and secret zeitgeist-defining agendas, but I’m mostly convinced that NAP is just Prince’s overreaction to the high cost of custom art these days.

        “Art is expensive but necessary? Fuck it, art is the enemy! All art-heavy adventures are bad by default! So decrees the guy with a blog audience of dozens! Old-timey synonyms! Antidisestablishmentarianism!”

  11. Anonymous says:

    Knave, Into the Odd, Troika and now Shadowdark (+ the 100 others) are not OSR; they’re the antithesis of the OSR: the OSR was about rejecting new forms of D&D; it was about preserving, maintaining and developing old school D&D, not making up new games. It was explicitly NOT ABOUT new forms of D&D, but the rejection of them.

    The OSR has been co-opted and used as a vehicle to push new games, not preserve and enrich the old game. The makers of these systems are not OSR, they are NuSR. Why make rules sets rather than adventures or supplements? Rules sets sell better, hence the endless stream of shallow, meaningless rubbish that pops up with the ‘OSR’ tag. God, look at Reddit, it’s cringe worthy, every week there’s a couple of posts with Johnny Shallow’s new game being advertised.

    Elitism? By it’s very nature, a well run AD&D campaign (or an OD&D one too, even maybe B/X), by the level of demand it can put on the DM is elitist. It’s not for the casual gamer, it’s for the devoted connoisseur. For everyone? No, it’s for those willing to step up and put that extral level of effort in, if that means you’re an elistist, sign me up. I’m not wasting my time with systems that can’t handle a campaign past 6th level and will likely be forgotten when the next shiny, Questingbeast-approved rules-lite comes along.

    • Seneca says:

      Let us dispense with histrionic claims of being a silent majority as though this were some sort of argument for anything. First, because this is an anonymous blog, anyone can claim to be anything. Even if it were true (and a glance at the most popular system still being a version of bog standard B/X puts the lie to that claim), it is not relevant. Numbers alone do not determine the value of a thing. Let us also dispense with tone policing, the endless cries of ‘4chan! gamergate! Hitler!’, as if the people making those claims have any right whatsoever to determine the tone or the faculty to recognize such a phenomenon.

      The OSR is inextricably linked to oldschool D&D. It came from a community that kept playing the game when the trend had moved elsewhere. As the official game changed, people found they were missing something, and flocked to the banners once again. This community grew and produced many great things, but as is the case when something is succesfull, it began to attract trouble.

      If there is a failure that can be levvied at the Grogs that kept the original game alive it is that they were not careful enough to approach and acclimatize the new crowd that was attracted. Some, who were genuinely interested, acclimatized themselves, but the rest was left adrift. Cynics, and people who actually wanted to play some sort of indie-game (which never took off on its own on account of its extreme shittyness), pretended briefly that they had an interest in the OSR because of its crowd, but of course all their actions spoke otherwise. Their claim to fame, really, their only claim to fame, is that they managed to blur the defenition of the OSR and broaden it to the point that the link to oldschool DnD is now no longer self-evident. Some initiatives have started to restore this broken link, but there is a lot of work left to be done.

      It would be best for both if these people simply left, for they are awful and at best mid-witted, taking whatever confused youngsters they have managed to lure with their pied pipes, but unfortunately, their refusal to learn anything about the thing they ape makes this impossible. The interminable catalogue of ruleslites would instantly become useless if removed from the context of DnD. They do not understand the rules they clumsily appropriate, the game they try to simplify. This is all personal vanity, the desire to step outside of the giant shadow they can no longer endure. They cannot abide to learn, so they must obscure the sources from which they steal.

      They are herein aided by cynical merchants. The truth is that it is a lot more beneficial for them if people endlessly rebuy broken rulesets and always chase the next glitzy product then it is to have a true community of hobbyists, that is to say, a group of interested, empowered practitioners that understand the game well, run games regularly, and regularly exchange information. But such customers do not need a ruleset or a module every week, and anything that comes out must match itself against decades of backlog, so they are treated as hostile because it makes publication difficult.

      • Anonymous says:

        Prince, er, I mean, Seneca: “Dispense with the histrionics, meanwhile everyone I don’t like is awful and mid-witted and refuse to learn anything about the DnD I enjoy.”

        You truly are a walking contradiction.

        Your assessment of the OSR’s origins and purpose is rosy, and stuffed full of absurd assumptions. It suits your purposes, but not the facts. You can’t even look past 1977 without getting lightheaded.

        • Anonymous says:

          Statement without corraboration.

          • Anonymous says:

            Seneca/Prince’s above statement is laden with opinions (provable neither true nor false) that presume to know people’s thoughts, motivations, and goals — utterly without evidence.

            Do you need me to walk you through each of those for them to “count,” or can you read well enough on your own?

    • Gnarley Bones says:

      Yes, verily.

    • aseigo says:

      > By it’s very nature, a well run AD&D campaign (or an OD&D one too, even
      > maybe B/X), by the level of demand it can put on the DM is elitist.

      It was a game (and still is!) played by 12 year olds. That is not a pejorative, it’s just what it was: a game that appealed to all sorts, kids and adults alike.

      And that alone lays bare your claim that it requires some elite level of demand. I was one of those 12-year olds. We played AD&D. It didn’t take elite levels of mastery. It was just a great game. (Still is!)

      > The OSR has been co-opted

      Nope. The OSR has been … *successful*. It has grown past the original limited set of interests the people who started it had. Again, that is not a pejorative: there were a limited number of people, it was going to result in a limited band of interests.

      In one of the first A&E’s it was written that D&D was too big to leave to Gary Gygax. The players demanded, and did so without any permission required, that they take the game where they wanted. They house-ruled the living *fuck* out of the game, and so much of that ended up in …. AD&D.


      A lot of the house rules from that era were also quite poor. The original Bard as seen in A&E 1-3 is pretty …. dubious. But it came around, more or less. Lots of other homebrew ideas died on the vine, many because they weren’t great ideas.

      Wait … where have I heard all this before? Ah, right. The OSR is what the original in-group define it as, and everything else is bullshit homebrew.

      1975 called and wants it’s rantings back, Anon.

      So let me update that classic for us all: The OSR is too big to leave to the original grognards who started it. It belongs to us all. Witness the homebrew and ruleslite experimentation and layout variants and other creativity and weep.

      It will, and is, bettering the OSR as a whole. Just as the content from the community in the 70s informed AD&D and made it better and was, indeed, not just left to Gary Gygax.

      If you don’t get that, you don’t understand the history of the self-same old-school games you so dearly appreciate.

  12. Nobboc says:

    “it was about preserving, maintaining and developing old school D&D, not making up new games. It was explicitly NOT ABOUT new forms of D&D, but the rejection of them.”

    Hi Glorioius Anonymous! I disagree with you, at least partially, but I come in peace (try doing the same, it’s fun).

    What you describe is only one part of OSR, IMO. And it’s perfectly acceptable to stop there from my point of view.
    But the primary motivation for OSR, IMO again, is: let’s get back to the fun we had in the early days of D&D that we don’t get with modern versions. That certainly requires a return to the roots, to the basics, but it certainly doesn’t mean that there can’t be a new evolution from there, towards a model, a new system, a variant, an improvement (whatever), more capable of achieving the original goals. At least you can try to do that, it’s not a crime or a betrayal. You can decide that OD&D, AD&D1 or B/X are the alpha and omega for achieving that goal, why not, but others may also think that another, better way is possible to achieve the same result.

    To use an analogy, imagine you’ve been a computer enthusiast for decades. And you don’t like Windows any more. You decide to go back to DOS and tinker with it, and maybe you’ll try to make your DOS system evolve along a different path to Windows: towards something that’s more likely to offer you the same enthusiasm as when you started.

    My first experience with OSR, although I don’t think it had a name at the time, was in 2001. We hadn’t been having fun with D&D for too long, and we decided to try and recapture the freshness and fun of our early days (81 for me) by starting a new campaign using B/X, by the book. It was a bit of an epiphany for me.

    Since then, the work of guys like Arnold K, Chris McDowall, Dave Black, Jeff Rients and many others has had a huge influence on my practice, and still gives me plenty to work with. There’s no need to start a religious war here. Nor to set ourselves up as “guardians of the true faith”, right?

    • Seneca says:

      You keep repeating this religious analogy in lieu of argumentation but the chess analogy really suited quite well. Let me give you a cognitive tool to help you understand: If you ‘innovate’ (innovation assumes some sort of improvement, this is not the case with ruleslites) too much from the original source, it is no longer a part of that category, but becomes its own thing.

      There have been dozens of games that came out before the current ruleslite plague and although there too too many of them (B/X clones) were considered annoying clutter, but some were considered legitimate in their own right. People do not agitate against GLOG, ACKs, Seven Voyages of Zylarthen, Worlds Without Number or Ruins & Ronin.

      What is the difference?

      Thanks to people like Bryce, we have excellent data on what happens if you deviate too far from the assumptions of oldschool dnd. It, get this, no longer resembles oldschool DnD to anyone who is familiar with it.

      In passing, I will remark that the same people that are always mortified when someone speaks of how they enjoy DnD but not the latest ruleslite is mysteriously silent when a bugman curses the clunkiness of the older versions in their presence.

      • Nobboc says:

        “You keep repeating this religious analogy in lieu of argumentation”


        “when a bugman curses the clunkiness of the older versions”


      • Anonymous says:

        The chess analogy was sub-juvenile. It implies the two extremes are “good gaming” (normal chess) and “gaming utterly without merit” (sticking chess pieces up your butt).

        That’s where you continue to go wrong — you can’t fathom why someone might not like playing chess the way you do, and so they must be sticking pieces up their butts.

      • Anonymous says:

        Here’s a cognitive tool to disprove your first argument: Innovations in airplane design have made them safer, constructed from wholly new materials, and faster.

        Are they still airplanes?

        • Gnarley Bones says:

          Ah, so you’ve moved on from an apples-to-pomegranates comparison (“fiction has demonstrably improved”) to apples-to-alligators.

          Well done.

          /golf clap

          • Anonymous says:

            If you think comparing an airplane to an airplane is like comparing apples to alligators, you’ve been flying on some pretty fucked up airplanes.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is about co-option and distortion of purpose. D&D was ‘improved’ when it was released in 1974 and hit the first DM’s table: it’s called house ruling, and it’s existed since the game began. The rules-lites are nothing new or innovative, they just market themselves as that; everyone’s tinkered, improved and made ‘elegant’ systems for things they found unwieldly. The rules-lites peddlers co-opted the OSR into something it wasn’t: a way to market and sell new games, new versions of ‘D&D’, which no matter what you say wasn’t the purpose of the OSR, we had our ‘new, modern’ version of D&D we were rejecting. And now we’re going to reject these other new forms of ‘D&D’ (Knave, Shadowdark, Troika, Cairn etc.) and all the other shallow rubbish that is being produced by those who don’t really understand old school D&D or the roots of the ‘OSR’, and who’s experience with D&D probably doesn’t stretch past running a 3rd level campaign in B/X.

      A message to Questingbeast (I hope you find your way here):
      You’re a double-edged sword for the OSR. On the one hand you’ve brought in a lot of new blood to the hobby. Good. On the other hand I see you as the primary source of common misunderstandings, such as ‘OSR = rules-lite’ (no it doesn’t, it just means rules lite when compared to 3e) and ‘combat as failure’ (no, old school players love killing shit and stealing their stuff’). You portray yourself as some form of authority on old-school play, but you’ve never played AD&D or even read the books. AD&D was a cornerstone of the OSR; it might not be your thing, but if you want to be taken seriously by anyone not 25 years old, you need to read and understand it. I appreciate your reading of the 1e DMG on Youtube, but save the commentary for when you’ve read the whole system, you make yourself look like an ignorant ass. And Knave isn’t OSR, please use NuSR or something else. Those of us at the beginning are not appreciative of you using us and our efforts in the 2000s as a marketing tool. I repeat, our purpose was not to create ‘new versions of D&D’.

      • Anonymous says:

        you’re a victim of cultural appropriation snowflake! As you’re not signing this post, we can’t give any credence to what you say, nor can we know who this “we” is or whether you’re really the owner of this “our efforts”. What you’ve really done for the OSR, in comparison (or not) with what Ben Milton has done, is totally unknown.

        • Anonymous says:

          I think you might’ve missed what he said. I think he’s very much acknowledged how much Questingbeast has done to bring people in to the hobby, but also noted that due to Ben’s level of influence, he has magnified beyond their true size several ‘OSR-isms’. E.g. OSR = rules lite, etc. And Ben’s very much been able to peddle his own rules lite games under the OSR tag, whether they belong their or not (they don’t). Ben’s commercialism has at times been quite crass too, I remember the video he released imploring people to vote for his adventure Waking of Willowby Hall for an Ennie, which just came across as highly distasteful. Evidently Ben did too, he withdrew the video shortly after. He’s free to make money however he thinks he can, but we’re free to comment on whatever he does in whatever way we like too.

  13. Howard Allan Treesong says:

    ‘No one is taking your DnD away,’ is always telling for its vicious dishonesty. The pretense is that everyone can get along and play different games but the reality is that there is a limited pool of players, a limited number of entryways into the hobby, and an increasingly large barrier to find available players. You 100% should advocate for your preferred style of gaming, and if people attempt to enter the same social space with a way that is completely incompatible, it is not in your best interest to let them do as they please at all. Does anyone still collect model trains? No one under the age of sixty. It was not advocated for.

    This is not a purely manchean equilibrium. Obviously people transition from one game to the other so there is some value in games like Knave if they can reach a newer crowd and room for different editions of oldschool DnD. But communities that pretend to be part of a greater whole but actually desire a completely different outcome should be considered effectively hostile and repelled ESPECIALLY since they have no problem doing the same.

    ‘Get with the time gramps,’ is the new ‘It’s 2020.’ Cheap rhetoric, signifying nothing, getting you to lower your guard.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry, IS someone taking your preferred version of DnD away? You base your entire argument on this completely absurd assumption.

      There is not a limited pool of players, evidenced by DnD’s year-over-year growth of player base. No ceiling yet, and not one in sight.

      You have every right to advocate for your preferred way of gaming. That does not give you the right to then prevent other people from “doing as they please.”

      You act as if other people are taking people away from YOUR train collecting, errrr, game system of choice. But people have free will. They are taking themselves away from it.

      I’m trying very hard to understand why it’s somebody’s fault fault that nobody wants to play your preferred version of the game anymore. Why won’t the people just COMPLY? Could it be because:

      A. All of them are idiots, every single one
      B. They don’t like what you like and have moved onto greener pastures
      C. You are an idiot

      I’m having a really tough time choosing the right answer on this one.

      • Seneca says:

        One imagines you often have trouble choosing the right answer.

        • Anonymous says:

          When one has such a weak imagination, that’s not a surprise.

          I’ll go work on getting laid and write you a step-by-step guide so you can also give it an attempt! Happy to trailblaze for you, as ever.

    • Anonymous says:

      > the reality is that there is a limited pool of players, a limited number of entryways into the hobby, and an increasingly large barrier to find available players.

      No mate, that’s entirely subjective to your experiences, and not an appropriate bellwether of a larger problem.

      Limited pool of players? The issue I’ve seen these days is WAY too many players (but not enough DMs). Limited entryways to the hobby? The D&D movie, Baldur’s Gate 3, and the upcoming official new edition are floodgates that have been dumping new players into the hobby nonstop. And what is this prohibitive this barrier you speak of – is there a bouncer at Club Tabletop all of a sudden? Online gaming has made is easier than ever to connect to groups. Hell, I’ve had literally two brand new players approach me *this morning* to form a *fourth* weekly D&D group.

      The problem is in your head, bud. Nothing is stopping anybody from doing anything in the tabletop RPG world except their own personal issues.

  14. Seneca says:

    ‘Game design has advanced a lot since then,’ is an interesting doctrine of the NSR cult, not because it is false, there are countless examples of such falsehoods, but because it has never in the history of RPGs been true.

    ‘Game design has advanced,’ was the rationale for the move from old-school gaming to trad games, and then again from Trad to GNS Theory based game design, and from 3e to 4e and so on. In every case there was no advancement, only a reshuffling of priorities. If anything, the very existence of the OSR shows that progression of time does not automatically equal any such advancement, and that alterations in one area can cause a loss of function in another.

    Given that we do believe that some advancement is possible (say, megadungeons, an old method of play, has been successfully revived and honed), I propose we simply ask the NSR, advanced where? In what direction? What are the priorities? Simple questions a designer should be able to answer. But this cannot ever be articulated, and if it were, the difference in priorities would immediately become apparent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Game design has indeed changed a lot over time. It has advanced in some ways that are useful and in some ways that are not.

      It comes down to the fact that you are conflating advancement with being good, and then dismissing all advancement because you feel even *one* thing from it is not good.

      Weak argumentation, of course.

      So let’s look at it from a broader perspective. Many, many things have “advanced” into objectively superior methods over the last 50 years. Medical science, fiction writing technique, the speed of computing, airplane design… the list is endless. While I don’t have time to list it all here, it is patently obvious that design, science, art theory, and any number of fields have advanced toward *improved quality* over the last 50 years.

      The fact is, there’s a very strong correlation between advancement (“progress,” “innovation,” whatever you want to call it) and improvement in quality.

      We can’t assume game design is an outlier to this obvious trend when there is no real evidence that’s the case. In fact, there’s a great deal of evidence that game design has concretely improved in several ways.

      This could fall into numerous categories. Game approachability, information delivery, targeting more elegant ways to encourage player action toward a specific goal, speed of gameplay, consistency of gameplay, retaining “feel” using simpler delivery methods, strengthening gameplay loops to produce more clear outcomes, finessing the number of rules to strike a measurably more satisfying balance between intrusion/abstraction/simulation.

      Some of this is down to opinion, but much of it is genuinely objective and measurable by data. How often are players confused about a gameplay loop in AD&D vs. something more modern? How often do players hit barriers due to cludgy design in AD&D that have been implemented in an objectively more streamlined way in other systems and also produce the same statistical and player-motivating results?

      Keeping your head in the sand about these facts is not doing you any favors.

      • Anonymous says:

        Fiction writing technique has objectively improved in the last 50 years? What kind of new utter bullshit is this?!

        • Anonymous says:

          Sure, I suppose Moby Dick would be a bestseller these days if only it had been released in the right time.


          You can go back to reading Wuthering Heights now, that sparkling gem of fiction writing prowess that in no way smacks of elitist posturing. Didn’t meant to interrupt.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, at least you’re (anonymously) owning your ignorance and philistinism and confirming what was already obvious about the quality and value of your opinions.

          • Anonymous says:

            As are you, anon! Although only Prince would deign to use such a word as “philistinism.”

            You are exactly the kind of person who thinks Wuthering Heights is the peak of fiction, which is what makes it all the more funny. What’s next on your refined gentleman reading list, Jane Eyre?

          • Anonymous says:

            Misogynist much? No wonder you can’t get laid!

          • Prince says:

            Prince here. That was not me, although philistinism is a pretty good word. Also, I might rag on OSE but my last few reviews of it have been quite positive, and I have played the old girl for quite some time. I even wrote a module for it, by name of The Palace of Unquiet Repose, which has been reasonably well received.

            Have fun!

          • Gnarley Bones says:

            Oh, good heavens. Any moment now, and this guy is going to pronounce that music has objective improved in the last 50 years.

            It’s been apparent to me, at least, that many folks interested in the OSR really don’t have a great handle on the history of the game. They really don’t know what’s new because they have no frame of reference.

            I happen to be a member of an OSE fb group and I can’t even count the number of times when someone with good intentions (anonymous troll posters have no good intentions) posts, ‘how would you rule on this?’ or ‘what happens when x?’ and I chime in something along the lines of, “Len Lakofka had an article on that point in Dragon #73,” and folks are just stymied that there is this IMMENSE WEALTH of gaming knowledge built up over the past 49 years.

            This troll will just about to proclaim that some dodgy indie band is demonstrably more punk than The Stooges. Hold my beer.

          • Anonymous says:

            Naw, he’s left all us nerds behind and gone out “trying” to get laid. Lol at the telling slip that even in macho dick-swinging brag mode it’s too much of a stretch for him to imagine that he might actually succeed

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh, that word choice was no accident. I’m working on a guide to help Prince learn to do this, which will require trying on his part. I’m making an effort to put myself in his shoes here.

            What makes that difficult is I’m very happily married and seem to have no trouble with this sort of thing.

            Prince, this will take some effort on your part knowing how unpalatable you are. Guide forthcoming!

          • Anonymous says:

            Pretty good save, brother anon. I’ve decided you’re alright. I mean, you’re wrong on the substance and your “lol, you probably think Moby-Dick is good” flex was an embarrassing misfire, but at least you’re having fun with the sparring and aren’t a joyless miserable twat like our other anon-cousin who’s all “I’m taking a bravely anonymous moral stand by boycotting all products that contain art by a guy who’s four degrees of separation from a media bogeyman of 10 years ago who hasn’t been relevant in the last 5.” You show ‘em, brave anon! I’m sure the publishers are quaking in fear at the prospect of your one-person anonymous boycott of products you weren’t going to buy anyway.

      • Seneca says:

        Now we are coming closer to an actual argument, quite the achievement. I will ensure the NSR does not learn you are platforming intelligable viewpoints.

        So: When these sorts of statements are made it helps to evaluate them in context. Do I genuinely not believe in advancement? Why then do I mention an advancement in the same comment? The first point is to dispel, conclusively, the idea that because something is new, it is neccessarily better or more suitable to your purposes. The example is the various editions of DnD, which, in the name of ‘modern game design’ ended up appealing to radically different audiences, and making all sorts of trade-offs.

        Your statement r.e. advancements is unneccessarily broad and also inaccurate. Your assesment r.e. art is laughable and will be ignored out of hand. Scientific reliability has decreased (you may take the replicability crisis in the humanities as an example). Fiction writing technique has merely adjusted to a lower attention span and average intelligence, as well as a shift in demographics. This is not an improvement.

        What you now do is a common fallacy, which is to invoke a general principle and simply assume it must apply to every case. But there has been an incredible shift in talent, with many game designers going over to video games, the lifespan of a design cycle shortening drastically, and the conditions under which a game is made altering accordingly. In this case, AD&D is a good case study.

        It is not considered controversial that AD&D is hard to understand. However, one is an example of a game that has ‘grown’ and been adjusted by rigorous playtesting with multiple groups over a period of years. You can then invoke ‘objective gameplay loops’ all you want, but to compare this to some cobbled together microgame that has been created in an hour and tested for all of 2 months before being put online is foolishness. Accessiblity is something, but accessibility at the cost of depth is a horrible cost. If you could make B/X accessible by removing all levels above 3, is that a good trade-off? If so, for who?

        Perhaps we can put your claim, and I will give you credit because you have provided some criteria, to the test. Pick some sort of NSR game, do a comparison point by point (I assume you know AD&D since you have an opinion on its clunkiness yes? Otherwise B/X will serve).

        For this exercise, dispense with the grandstanding if you will. You are an anonymous outsider here and can gain no clout, and I am an anonymous roman philosopher with a penchant for Roleplaying games. I have traded both insults and discussion with greater men then you. If you wish to keep going, pick a name.


      • Gnarley Bones says:

        So … all that and you COULDN’T identify one improvement.

        Welp. That precept ended with a whimper.

        • Anonymous says:

          Gnarly, go lay by your dish. The adults are talking. You have added nothing to this conversation besides serving as a backing track.

          Prince, I don’t accept tasking. So you can have a task instead — read a modern system and locate as many of the above improvements as you can. They are almost all present in several cases. I’ll re-list them here:

          Game approachability, information delivery, targeting more elegant ways to encourage player action toward a specific goal, speed of gameplay, consistency of gameplay, retaining “feel” using simpler delivery methods, strengthening gameplay loops to produce more clear outcomes, finessing the number of rules to strike a measurably more satisfying balance between intrusion/abstraction/simulation.

          Criteria: the game you choose must have been 3+ years in development. You probably won’t be able to identify any because you don’t know anything about modern games.

          If you really can’t find one on your own, I suppose you could cop out with the Dolmenwood preview.

          Go ahead!

  15. Dr. Banner M.D. says:

    This is Dr. Argent Banner, silent majority speaking. I am one of the NSR’s biggest supporters. For years I have spent thousands of dollars worth of Zines and Sword-Dream merchandise every day. I have run and played in every ruleslite and IttO hack in existence. After seeing the abhorrent behavior of the Cairn community in this comment section, I can no longer support that position. I have returned all of my merchandise and demanded refunds under pain of legal action. I have also informed all of my friends, co-workers, family and national security about this and warned them well away. I have since converted to OSR play and now expect to buy thousands of dollars worth of oldschool adventures every day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Prince, you accidentally change your name to an alt again for this post! Hard to keep it straight with all those various accounts.

      • Dr. Ng. Otombe says:

        As an associate of Dr. Banner I can confirm he is 100% who he says he is and more. He has helped me flee colonialism which was directly inspired by Old-school game design. For a long time, I supported the NSR’s crusade against adventure design contests for this very reason. However, the behavior of the Cairn contingent in this comment section goes beyond the pale. I have since burned all of my zines and now play exclusively B2.

        • The Ass Man (M.D.) says:

          Dr Cosmo Kramer, The Ass Man (It’s true I exist. Check my license plate) My associate Dr Van Nostrand directed me here. It has been most enlightening as I read the various and sundry musings regarding this or that RPG. The vitriol and angst are curious. There may be a paper in this. After all, this much butt hurt (my specialty after all) is surely worth studying.

  16. squeen says:

    “Youth” has taken societal norms on a wild joy ride this past decade. Lack of experience in real-world success/failure has meant most of those changes have resulted in ill-considered consequences and/or a total train wreck. It’s a repeating pattern that got amplified by the demographics of our two major population bulges of the Boomers and their children, the Millennials.

    While there’s nothing wrong with trying new things (or even repeating old mistakes), there equally nothing wrong with calling “bullshit” on an experiment’s results and placing persistent value only on things that have held up over time. Recall Edison’s old adage about 99 failure for each success. Some things are easy to see that they are objectively bad—some are deceptive. Lots and lots of play-testing is the final proof. Is a song still being played on the radio after 20 years?

    The kids who are in love with their own creative output will scream “gatekeeping” if their precious baby happens to fall on the wrong side of a quality-judgement, but ultimately the marketplace decides real long-term value (minus the smoke and mirrors of current fads).

    As creators, we can’t be so hypersensitive that someone (or a group) thinks our little hobby-collage is crap. Thick skin is a requirement for success in the larger world. We have to take that as feedback to improve, hope that perhaps time will change some minds, or else just be happy with our small niche of friends and family—all without petulance or hate.

    So….we must all suck it up and learn to handle criticisms. This really has nothing to do with politics, just preferences. Allow other to state theirs. The truth is we are not universally playing the same game in the same style. Mileage will vary.

    • Anonymous says:

      Define “held up over time.” What qualities does YOUR system of choice have that have held up to the exclusion of all other systems?

      Inquiring minds are curious how you actually quantify what is good vs. what is not. What are your parameters? How are you so sure your favored ways of doing things hold the exclusive title to those qualities?

      • Gnarley Bones says:

        No need to define ‘what is art?’ and dance on the head of a pin with an undefined number of angles, kid. Take him at his word.

        3E came along as an improvement over AD&D, in every way. That was its selling point. All the fiddly, clunky, dropped-lantern-tables of AD&D streamlined, consistent and covered by glossy new rules. It was a modern game, ushering in a new age.

        That was 2000.

        In 2023, more people are still playing 46 year-old AD&D than are playing 23 year-old 3E. Indeed, 3E’s precepts have been flatly rejected by the gaming community and it was that rejection that directly led to the OSR in the first place. We believed that 1E and B/X games (and, begrudgingly, red-headed-step-child 2E) could and would directly compete with and beat 3E if allowed to be legally published.

        That is literally precisely what happened.

        Its difficult to argue with success.

        • Bucaramanga says:

          Nice cope but millions upon millions were and are still playing 3E under the name of Pathfinder.

          • Gnarley Bones says:

            First, Pathfinder is not 3E. In an AMAZING AND NOT-AT-ALL-HILARIOUS turn of events, 3E’s cancelation resulted in a simulacrum of 3E. It tries to emulate 3E, to be sure, but the Pathfinder adherents will tell you that it’s actually a variant of 3.5E.

            Second, OSR products are stealing Pathfinder’s lunch money every day of the week and twice on Wednesdays. 😉

          • Maynard says:

            Right when I went to Origins the pathfinder rooms were more packed than 5e or “misc games” rooms where you’d find an OSR game. Believe me the D20 system is alive and well.

          • Gnarley Bones says:

            And I just discovered that Pathfinder 2E is a thing.

            Please do excuse me while I collapse into laughter.

          • Anonymous says:

            The sound of Gnarley backpedaling about Pathfinder almost blew out my speakers.

        • squeen says:

          “held up over time.”

          This is exactly what rubs new “innovators” the wrong way because that automatically disqualifies new products. The “you’ll have to wait 10 years to see if your new-thing is any good”. Legitimately frustrating, but heck…dem’s the breaks. Older products that have hung in there have bragging rights. That’s the way of the world.

          That’s not to say one can’t point to objective things and proclaim “better” or “worse”, but that’s really, really hard if better is intertwined with taste. Mostly OSR Grodnards are looking for a different experience than Story Gamers. That’s what makes it hard to judge (objectively).

          So there’s a false dichotomy in there argument you are bringing up and what good old GB is saying. If it’s true that lots of people are still playing 3e/Pathfinder (?) — then there must have been something to it. Is it “better” than OD&D/1e AD&D? Probably ‘yes’ if you’re a 3e player, and ‘no’ if your a 1e pl.ayer. In that sense they have both withstood the test of time and can make claims a new system cannot.

          What obviously wrong to me, after kicking this can around in the forum for years, is that 3e/4e and 1e are NOT the same game at all. The elements in it that that 3e players find fun are not the same flavor of fun 1e players are seeking. It excites different pleasure centers.

          More useful is to compare editions that are very close such as rules-light (OD&D, B/X, S&W) versus more detailed counter-parts (AD&D). There is an obviously observable correlation there between casual/new players vs. long-term campaigners and a preferred edition.

          Seriously though, whatever the new hot-thing may be, it will only appeal to experienced players if it has enough meat on it’s bones (i.e. is not lesser is scope) and/or solves certain known problems elegantly while at the same time preserving the preferred flavor of play. That’s how technological innovation works. It builds upon the past and incrementally solves a particular problem. It is most definitely not just different to be different, or caters to an individual’s preferred/ego (e.g. I never really understood the complex AD&D rules, so I just invented my own, simpler ones that I do understand fully…but with lots of holes because I lack play/design experience).

  17. squeen says:

    By analogy: Checkers is the rules-light chess.

    Which is better? That depends on who you are. Both have withstood the test of time.

    Are Chess players elitist gatekeeper?
    (yes…the arrogant bastards!)

    • Anonymous says:

      Go is the rules-light version of chess.

    • Anonymous says:

      > Are Chess players elitist gatekeeper?

      You aren’t a gatekeeper by virtue of simply indulging in a different hobby.

      You’re a gatekeeper if you go around telling everyone that there’s a *right way* and a *wrong way* to enjoy a hobby. You’re a gatekeeper if you shit all over a hobby that you yourself don’t even indulge in, all under the guise of “I just need to set these people straight real quick”. You’re a gatekeeper if you publicly deride others for enjoying their hobby perfectly fine, and admonish them for not sharing in *your* interests or adhering to *your* perspective.

      That’s what gatekeeping is, squeen. Sound familiar?

      • Anonymous says:

        Expressing an opinion about your preferences is not gatekeeping, even if you do do using colorful language. Producing and talking about material that demonstrates and supports your preferences is also not gatekeeping. But trying to deplatform and “cancel” people because they have different opinions than you do, or because they are “affiliated with insult and assholery,” is, in fact, gatekeeping.

  18. Anonymous says:

    “People may be able to play the adventures in NAP … I recognize some of the authors, they may have written good stuff, but I will never know. I won’t be reading it, and unlikely anything else by them in the future. There’s plenty of good stuff out there by non-assholes. I’m a bit sad that I won’t be purchasing anything with Peter Mullins art anymore… but … I don’t need to support people who support Macris and are affiliated with insult and assholery.”

    This feels like an extremist, black and white view of the world. I’m pretty sure that there’s no unified ‘NAP’ group that I’m aware of, and if there’s some people who wrote for it or like it, they’re not a monolithic whole, and like most people operating in society, NAP authors have differing views. They’re probably just old enough and understand that not everyone’s going to agree with you, but that’s life. Who’s Macris?
    Are you going to cancel Peter Mullen then? I mean, do you know what his actual thoughts on anything might be? Other than contributing an adventure to the NAP contest? If you cancel him just for association, well you better cancel DCC and Questingbeast (Ben Milton) too, and a large chunk of the rest of the OSR that has his art in it. Yep that means you better cancel Swords & Wizardry, OSE and OSRIC while you’re at it. Oh, you might want to check your last sentence to make sure you’re not guilty of the same crime you decry.

    • Gnarley Bones says:

      “Only the Sith deal in absolutes.”

    • Malrex says:

      “This feels like an extremist, black and white view of the world. I’m pretty sure that there’s no unified ‘NAP’ group that I’m aware of, and if there’s some people who wrote for it or like it, they’re not a monolithic whole, and like most people operating in society, NAP authors have differing views. They’re probably just old enough and understand that not everyone’s going to agree with you, but that’s life. Who’s Macris?
      Are you going to cancel Peter Mullen then? I mean, do you know what his actual thoughts on anything might be? Other than contributing an adventure to the NAP contest? If you cancel him just for association, well you better cancel DCC and Questingbeast (Ben Milton) too, and a large chunk of the rest of the OSR that has his art in it. Yep that means you better cancel Swords & Wizardry, OSE and OSRIC while you’re at it. Oh, you might want to check your last sentence to make sure you’re not guilty of the same crime you decry.”


      Anyways…sounds like a cool adventure.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Came for the reviews, stayed for the endless tirades. Well played Mr. Bryce.

  20. Disappointed Observer says:

    Jesus fucking christ you miserable old grognard twats of all stripes are fucking incorrigible and beyond civilised conversation. You, adults all should be ashamed of your mud slinging here.

    Read through every comment here in growing morbid fascination that has quickly morphed to disgust. Fuck me what a waste of my time.

    • Dhr. J. T. Kissenger-Feyngold says:

      This is Dr. J.T. Kissinger-Feyngold, silent majority and neutral observer here.

      I just want to share my appreciation that people still come here to play and discuss actual oldschool games. Obviously the OSR made a minor misstep by indulging the rude and unpleasant nogames mongoloid mutants of the indie gaming scene and breaking bread with them, but despite that minor setback, there are still so many people, young and old, with an interest in oldschool D&D that I can’t see it end any time soon. Keep doing whatever it is you are doing! Peace!

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