Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ebb and Flow in the OSR

So, I was pondering gaming while at the day job. Shocker, I know. I got to thinking about the few books that have survived my numerous book reductions. I found myself very, very satisfied, regretting almost none of the products I sent to new homes - except for one game line.

Labyrinth Lord.

This game was my gateway into the OSR and I produced almost 100 products for Labyrinth Lord before working in Swords & Wizardry White Box. I felt my affection for Labyrinth Lord begin to rekindle. Like a childhood love, it was a gentle kind of memory and I remembered how much I really love the game. I regretted letting go of my LL stuff, especially +Pete Spahn's wonderful products. I wanted them back.

It got me thinking about why I have moved away from LL. It was purely pragmatic, to be honest. My sales had dwindled over the years. I released White Box stuff to test a new market and after finding success there, I went on to launch my own line with White Star. I'm still very excited by White Star and have many products planned for the future.

But what happened to Labyrinth Lord? Has it faded from popularity in the OSR? I don't see LL products breaking the top ten on RPGNow very often, nor do I see new releases very often. Why? It's a fantastic game with endless third party products to support the line. I'd really like to see the vitality of a few years ago return to LL.

Maybe I'll work on a few products for my first love. It's the least I can do.


  1. I think there are three things:
    1. LL is no longer new.
    2. LL is no longer rare: there are lots of OSR products so while it was early it is now part of a crowded field.
    3. LL doesn't seem t be receiving the love it once was (with new official GG products, supplements, etc.). This might not be accurate but it does seem that way to me.

    That said, it's still fun.

  2. Labyrinth Lord was my door into the OSR as well. It was the first new RPG I bought. I picked it up from a game store on Divisidero St after requesting a recommendation from James at Grognardia. I wrote both of my box sets with it as its 'official rules', so I am a big fan.

    I honestly think it was a victim of its unexpected success. I met Dan in person at my first GaryCon. Now 23 old-school focused conventions later it remains the only time I have met him. I think sustaining, let alone growing, what it was becoming was harder than it looked. I think SW just filled the same need and, with a bigger company behind it, was able to draw on resources Goblinoid was not willing to match. Dan is a top guy and he should be proud of what he created.

  3. Moldvay Basic was my introduction to RPGs and is still my go to for spur of the moment gaming. While I tend to prefer AAC versus DAC, I still have a soft spot for Race-as-Class and generic dungeon crawling. LL tends to be the easiest rules set to publish classic Basic adventures under that are pretty much compatible with all other Basic retroclones. For me it still hits that nostalgic sweet spot.

  4. Speaking of Labyrinth Lord, I actually tried contacting you the other day (through G+) regarding a few questions I have regarding your Class Compendium which I recently purchased it through RPGnow.

    I wasn't sure which was the best way to contact you (I couldn't find an email addy either in the CC PDF or on the Barrel Rider Games website), so G+ was a good option. On reflection, though, leaving a comment here might have been smarter. Doh! :)

    Anyway, hopefully the G+ email got through to you. If not, I can send it to you another way. Just let me know.

    1. Von,
      Feel free to add me on G+, or send me a PM. I'll gladly do whatever I can for you.

  5. Don't ask me. I tried to break in with Adventures Dark and Deep, and, while it has a nice core of fans, it's nowhere near either LL or S&W. I totally misread the potential audience for a game based on 1E, rather than 0E.


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