Friday, March 4, 2011

Go Play OSR!

Yeah, it's been over a year since I posted here. That's not because I haven't been gaming, I'm pleased to say, but blogging has taken a backseat to living life.

That's the excuse I'm going with, anyway.

The truth of the matter is that when I first began blogging years ago, I did so because I had moved across the country from my friends and family in order to attend art school, and blogging was a pleasant way to let them know what was going on in my life. Since I've graduated and returned to my home state, I haven't felt as much need to type lengthy descriptions of my day-to-day life. With Facebook and Twitter, I feel even less of a need to devote time to such efforts.

But the nice thing about having a game blog is that it gives me a place to put my thoughts where others might see them. Yeah, sure, part of it is sheer vanity - every gamer has a desire to share the fruits of their creativity with others and receive some kind of recognition for being the innovative genius they always thought they were. But also, quite sincerely, I don't know if I'll ever use a lot of the ideas I get, so hopefully by putting them out here in the ether, someone will find them and get some use out of them even if I don't.

Anyway, back to the look of things. Blogger has made some nice changes since the last time I was here, so I've cobbled together a new banner which is probably too big and doesn't show any gaming paraphernalia. I've changed the body font to something with serifs and the title fonts to some pleasantly Warhammer-ish typefaces. I'll probably get around to updating my links before long.

One other new thing is the "Freak Flags" I've hung up in the top right corner. The one on the right is an older one: it's the "Go Play" logo, which identifies me as a roleplaying gamer, inside an icthyus symbol, identifying me as a Christian. The basic philosophy of Go Play (which is discussed at some length here; the last post on page 8 is a fine summary) is essentially this: games were meant for playing, so go play them! It's not meant as a slam on those who are discussing their favorite games, or those who are prevented from playing due to their circumstances, but rather it's a light-hearted reminder of what we were meant to do with these things. It's also a kick in my own pants to remind me not to get caught up in the potentially endless process of game prep, the irrational "stage fright"-like fear of pre-game jitters, and other mental traps. No game will be perfect, and the games in which I have to improvise usually end up being the more fun and exciting ones. So go play!

The symbol on the left is much newer, and might require a bit of unpacking. OSR means Old School Renaissance or Old School Rules (or a dozen other terms); Bing it and you'll find a slew of blogs written by people who are playing older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as a lot of other "old school" games, like Runequest and Classic Traveller. Recently a discussion began within these circles, spearheaded by the likes of Dr. Rotwang!, Jeff Rients, Thomas Denmark and others, in which the future of the Dungeons & Dragons brand is considered an entirely separate, unconnected entity to the game itself. WotC can do what they like with the brand, but what we're playing - be it the original white box D&D, BECMI, AD&D 1st or 2nd Edition, or even 3e/3.5 - is no less "Dungeons & Dragons" than the edition currently in print.

I happen to agree with the sentiments in this discussion. As I discussed to some small degree in an earlier post, I didn't buy 4e when it came out, and I'm still not really interested in it. When WotC abruptly ceased selling older edition material in PDF format, it really felt like they were telling us they weren't interested in our money any longer. As others have stated, it felt like they fired us as customers. I'm not saying this to stir rancor with newer players or people who have made the jump to 4e and have never looked back. I'm totally uninterested in Edition Wars. If you enjoy playing 4th edition, awesome - more power to you.

Like the Go Play symbol, the OSR logo isn't meant to be a slam against those who play and enjoy 4th Edition D&D, or any edition that may come after it. Instead, as Thomas Demnark outlined, it's meant to represent that:

1. The product is compatible with the original white box (or wood-grain box) edition of the worlds first and most famous fantasy RPG.

2. That's it.

As he explained in the comments section on that thread,

I see it as a group of people still passionate about the game they fell in love with as a kid. The only unifying factor being that it all sprouted from that little white box published in '74.

The symbol was originally created by Chad Thorson, who generously suggested that anyone who wanted to use it or modify it was free to do so. The version I have here is one I modified to my liking, with a parchment background and some graph paper within the letters OSR to represent the dungeon-crawling, mapping, graphic roots iconic to Old School gaming.

My posting it on this blog basically means I prefer to play older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as being interested in other out-of-print games. The material I post here may be for any number of game systems, though admittedly the majority of what I post will be system-agnostic. I'm not really a crunch-and-mechanics guy.

To me, though, the OSR symbol also embraces an underlying philosophy, as Rotwang! said: games which are no longer supported by the companies that published them aren't "dead." So long as you keep running your old game with your friends, that game is alive.

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