A Post about the Future

Every so often one still comes across some post bemoaning the death of the OSR. They’ve slowed to a trickle by the end of this year, but every once in awhile some guy gets all weepy about the Grognardia archives or something.  Consider the Dyvers list, which shows that there are still hundreds of blogs out there. Sure, several of them may be “going dark”, but for every gaming blog that has died, there are dozens of others still going strong.

I think that people confusingly correlated the publication of clones to the community as a whole when they proclaimed the OSR is dead.

There IS a decline in the publication of new clones & “OSR Heartbreakers”. A big part of this is that there are already LOTS of good OSR Clones and OSR Retro systems out there already to choose from. I would not go so far as to say that the market is saturated, but between Basic Fantasy RPG, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, Lamentations of the Flame Princes, Blueholme, ACKS, BBRPG, DCC and several other acronyms I’m forgetting, chances are most gamers are going to find what they like without having to go out of their way to write a new system. Add to that that Wizards finally reprinted darn near every edition that the OSR draws from, and you’ve got choices gallore! And I’m pretty sure that Pathfinder and the plethora of d20 stuff has the 3e crowd sufficiently covered until the end of days.

There has been some backlash caused by a number of kickstarter debacles, including games that funded but were never delivered and established gaming companies using it essentially as a pre-order system (which was NOT its original intent), but that doesn’t mean that there are suddenly less people out there gaming. Just less people taking a chance on developing new systems for which there is shrinking demand, simply because people don’t have time to run all the games they have, much less try out new ones.

So, where does the community go from here? Obviously, modules for existing systems will be where the bulk of creative energy will be directed. Most of these will not be so ambitious as to need kickstarter, but you’ll find some good ones out there hosted on blogs or at DriveThruRPG. Interestingly enough, 4e will be the final frontier for the OSR, as long as we’re talking about retro-clones. As Wizards drops support for the red-headed step-child of D&D, I predict that in 2014 we’re likely going to see some reimaginings of the 4e system.

Plus, all of the above assumes that gaming is limited to the D&D sphere, which it most certainly is not.

9 responses to “A Post about the Future

  1. I am going to start my first C&C campaign after christmas and for most of the players it will be their first game that they ever learn. And I am still seeing occasional threads by GMs trying to get into one of the retroclone games. Actually, I see this much more often now than ever before.

    With 4th edition, it really remains to be seen what will happen to it. Paizo pretty much has a monopoly on 3rd Edition retrocloning with a single game, and barely anyone ever seems to give a second thought about 2nd Edition AD&D. I wouldn’t be too suprised if there’s never going to be a major 3rd party continuation.

    • While there are a few retroclones I’d really like to try, namely Blueholme, more than anything I’d like to start a B/X group (with a primary focus on the Moldvay Basic set).

      As for 4e, I do know that my friend Dither over at Rumors of War has been working for some time now on a 4e… something. I don’t want to call it a clone, since he’s essentially breaking it down and rebuilding it from the ground up, but I’m sure curious to see what it eventually winds up as.

      2e in some ways suffers from its adaptability. For most purposes, it’s a sterilized and sanitized version of 1st ed rewritten by someone with some actual technical writing skills. Splatbooks aside, it doesn’t add much new, so there’s not a lot of appeal technically or aesthetically that aren’t better satisfied by other variants. Personally, if I had to choose any non-B/X edition to run, I’d pick 2e for its clarity and effective presentation. It’s just not ‘pretty’ and lacks the Gygax mystique (which I equate with his failings as a designer).

      • Thanks for the mention! 🙂

        The project I’m working on is most easily described as a 4e-clone, but I’ve done a lot of research on B/X and the bulk of my gaming experience is with 3e, so I’m incorporating “fast and furious” sensibilities of earlier editions, while retaining innovations introduced in later editions.

        One idea is to create a wealth of character options introduced in 2e/3e/4e while keeping character creation down to 30 minutes or less. 🙂


      • As you’ll notice, this post is totally a setup for a future plug once you get closer to wrapping things up!

        Also, short character creation is a plus. I know that I’m too lazy to roll anything up without software after 2e! Thank goodness for Redblade, amirite?

      • Oh, it was a 3e character generator. It covered all of the basics of stats, classes, skills, spells, feats, and also had a wide range of equipment and respective equipment packages and then could export everything to a printable html character sheet. Leveling was pretty easy with it too. It had overrides, so you could track items, gold, spells, and other stats if you wanted to keep track of your character using the software. It was really good for rolling up high level characters, since it calculated gold by level, so you could give them appropriate equipment, ranging from customized magic weapons & armor to a laundry list of mundane adventuring items.

        The only things it lacked were short descriptions of spells and the ability to run complex packages, such as my hypothetical 3e staff-slinger that would get weapon focus bonuses to both ranged and melee attacks.

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