Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's a Dead Man's Party

So, EN World has put forth a question "Is the OSR Dead?". Any article that begins with a question is quite literally begging for an answer. And even the first comment answers it well enough by citing Betteridge's Law of Headlines: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no.'"

I was a bit surprised at this article, until I considered the source. The OSR dead or dying? Quite the contrary. I find it to me alive and thriving today than ever before. A Red and Pleasant Land blew the doors off at the ENnies, and my own White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying has been sitting in the top 5 of RPGNow's best sellers for over four months. 

The OSR is far from dead. +Erik Tenkar points out on his blog that the the "Old School Renaissance" has gone main stream - and while I'm not entirely sure I agree and think that may be a bit premature to claim, I do see his point. The ENnies this year certainly made folks sit up and take notice of the community. Erik also points out that it's not about discussion topics or percentage of games played on Roll20, and there he's absolutely right. The great immeasurable thing is whether or not the games are being played. For me, there's no question about it: OSR games are getting played and they're getting played a lot. However, short of a huge survey you can't measure who is playing what. 

But while people are still playing the hell out of OSR games, they're not playing as many "traditionally" OSR games. Sure, folks are still playing Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, OSRIC and the staples. But the OSR is also taking these games in new directions. Red and Pleasant Land, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not, is absolutely original and sure as hell going to take your game into a new direction White Star asks "What if the framework of 1974 fantasy RPGs was used to build a sci-fi game instead?" Dungeon Crawl Classics grabs the OSR tropes, turns them up to eleven, rips the knob off and throws it across the room. 

The point is the OSR isn't dying or dead. Because the OSR is an ideology built around DIY gaming. Now, doing it yourself is awesome and all - but a lot of times if someone else has already done it then there's no need for you to do it. Why put work into something that's already been done for you, right? Unless, of course, you want to do it differently or in a way suited to your gaming style. In that case, rock on with your bad self. That's what's pushing the OSR off in new an exciting directions. That's what's given us things like David Okum's Star Sailors - a magical girl supplement for White Star that I would never have thought of. That's what gives us awesome posts form the blog of +Mike Evans WrathofZombie's Blog. Because there's always cool shit no one else thought of.

As long as the OSR continues to evolve, push itself in new directions and hold to its quick n' dirty DIY philosophy, it won't die. It'll just keep getting cooler.