Saturday, October 13, 2018

"OSR Guide For The Perplexed" Questionnaire: My Thoughts...

So Zak S. posed some very interesting questions in his "OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire" which has become a bit of a round-robin in the OSR blogging circles. What is the OSR? What does it mean to you? Is it important? What's the best parts of it?

Always willing to become One More Lemming with these things, I thought I'd jump in and give my thoughts on these queries...

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

When I first started poking around in this musty corner of the role-playing universe, I stumbled across Jeff's Gameblog and the long-since-defunct blog Grognardia. I can't really put my finger on one specific article that exemplifies the OSR, but these two encompass the spirit of the OSR best, so I'll go with that as my answer.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

The classic: "Rulings, not rules" maxim. And something my DM said back in the 80s after I argued about what I felt was an unfair PC death: "Of course it's unfair! It's D&D!"

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

I love, love, love Vornheim. I've never before seen an RPG supplement just CRAMMED with useful stuff. Every chart, every table, inside and out (including the dust jacket, for god's sake) is chock-full of useful in-game stuff. Blew my mind when I first got my hands on it.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

The d30 Substitution Rule that sprang from The Order of the d30 G+ group. Once per session, any player can use a d30 rather than whatever dice the roll calls for. So that 1d4 dagger damage could instead cause 25 points of damage (severing a major artery for insta-kill) or that To Hit roll now has 10 chances to roll ABOVE a nat 20 to hit. (I usually give out uber-bonuses when someone rolls a nat 30.) This simple rule gives the PCs a chance to perform some legendary feats and/or epic failures.

5. How I found out about the OSR:

Used to be seriously into role-playing back in the 80s during the hey-day. Wandered away during the college days, though I still puttered around with shared-universe writing, a local LARP group, etc. Online about 10-11 years ago, and wondered if gaming was still a thing. Found Goblinoid Games by chance, bought Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future, jumped into the OSR movement, and haven't looked back.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

The online tools created by Purple Sorcerer Games for DCC RPG and MCC RPG is nothing short of amazing. PC generators, grimoires, charts, tables, etc. all at the click of a button. But their Crawler's Companion is a work of art. If you play DCC RPG, this handy app is all you need at the table. When I play DCC at conventions, everyone has this app running on their phones. And the fact it's free? Amazing.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:

The current online resource for talking about OSR-related things is G+. For some reason, the OSR gaming fans and subgroups glommed onto this social network rather than Facebook and the like. However, for face-to-face interaction, you have to attend one of the OSR-centric conventions, such as Gary Con, North Texas RPG Con, and many, many smaller and well-attended game conventions.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:

Typically one of the local-ish game stores. The SoldieryThe Guardtower, and Ravenstone down in Columbus are good hangouts, as well as Weird Realms up north in Cleveland.

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

Whether you defeat the dragon, rescue the princess, thwart the evil wizard, etc. it doesn't matter. All the stuff leading up to those climatic game-ending events, that's the fun stuff.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

I consider it OSR as it's been around since the 80s, but other may not. I'm a huge fan of the Pacesetter line. The original games Timemaster, Star Ace, Chill are fantastic. Even though I wasn't playing for 20 years, I still held on to my well-played, well-loved Pacesetter games. The fact that Goblinoid Games now owns the trademark and - gasp - I've written stuff for the lines has been an amazing bit of karma for me.

11. Why I like OSR stuff:

If I'm being honest, what brought me back in was the nostalgia. OSR games were the games I played in the 80s. 3d6 in order. 18(00) STR. The DM's word was law. All of these trappings were familiar and comfortable, so I was able to pick right back up after a lengthy absence without missing a beat. However, I also see we have the ability to mix and match the best parts of various systems without a lot of conversion. The OSR has exploded from "yet another fantasy heartbreaker" to various genres and settings, various derivative rules, various creative folks putting their spin on the classics and releasing it into the wild for all to enjoy -- and all of it is both familiar and brand new. Exciting stuff always happening in the OSR!

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

1. Contrary to outsider opinion, there is no "wrong way" to play. I've not yet run into anyone with a "badwrongfun" attitude. For example: after one game I ran at Gary Con, one of the players came to me and said, "I didn't want to say anything, but you were throwing your saving throws backwards the entire game." When I asked why he didn't mention that during the game, he shrugged, smiled, and said, "It's your game. I figured you were running it the way you wanted."
2. The folks in the OSR are the friendly I've met in 35+ years of gaming. For a group commonly considered grognards with an "old school" outlook, these folks are open to new ideas and welcoming to new members.

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

Jeff's Gameblog. Lotsa good stuff there.

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

For purchase: One Year in the Savage AfterWorld -- a book of 52 mini-adventures for Mutant Future. Also, Burial Plots -- a book of 5 adventures for Cryptworld.
For freebies: The Apocalyptic Stormfront Mega-Table -- a table of 50 weird, wild weather patterns for gonzo post-apocalyptic RPGs. Had a lot of fun making this and have heard a lot of folks are still using it in their games.

15. I'm currently running/playing:

Always playing Timemaster, Cryptworld, and Mutant Future. Have taken a recent shine to Mutant Crawl Classics and am noodling around with the system and creating material for it.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

Either is fine by me. I don't care if your AC goes up, down, or sideways. Roll the damn dice, and let the DM figure it out.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Stared at this classic DM Screen image during my many games in high school. It's burned into my consciousness as "This Is Gaming":

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