What’s up with role-playing games?

As many of the regular readers know, role-playing has been put on back-burner for me. It has been quite some time since I had a regular gaming group with weekly games, or since I got exited about anything new RPG related. Releases which would have had me in stitches a few years back just feel kind of meh and bland now. The adage “same shit, different package” goes for a lot of new games. For example, Pathfinder is just a rehash of D&D 3rd edition, and while I did spend a LOT of time with that game when Pathfinder first became all the rage, it just got old for me. Seen it, done it, more rules, more character options, and “builds” (God, I hate that word in this context.), more recycling of old ideas, just redone in a sleek, sanitized, manga-influenced package. And don’t even get me started on the currently prevalent “Dungeon Punk” look of most of the character art in BOTH Pathfinder and D&D 4th Edition.

In fact, the more time goes by, the more I feel the need to find something that seems real, and genuine. Something that has that certain spark of inventiveness, and has all of its rough edges unfiled. Thus, pretty much the only kind of gaming that has any draw for me, is old school, be it D&D related, Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play or BRP. Many of the older games didn’t stand the test of time, but the few that did… they just seems so much more real and interesting than anything that’s come out since.

Which brings me to the topic of the Old School Renaissance, or the OSR, which while concentrating on playing the older games, or simulacra ISN’T just a bunch of old fogies and has-beens rehashing old shit, or back room anachronisms hack’n slashing their way through 10′ by 10′ corridors filled with orcs in search of treasure. Quite the opposite, in fact: While building on a solid foundation of simple, time-tested rules systems and tradition, a lot of the actually new stuff coming out of the OSR is undiluted inspiration given form. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the stuff being put out by creative powerhouses such as James Raggi, Geoffrey McKinney, Matt Finch, or Daniel Proctor, or have a look the vibrant blogosphere, where people like Zak Sabbath, Jeff Rients, the guy who writes Planet Algol, and many others are creating brilliant, innovative and imaginative stuff for Old School role-playing on a regular basis.

Anyway, back to the original topic. What was it again?

Oh yes. This: 1) I don’t have a regular weekly game at the moment. 2) I’m not interested in any of the new games. 3) The OSR rocks my socks, and that’s what I want to play and/or referee. 4) Give me four players with the same interests, views, and time tables, so that I can get a game going.

Too much to ask? Probably.


4 responses to “What’s up with role-playing games?

  1. Maybe if you told us what interests you in OSR stuff? You blogged about what it ISN’T, but what about what it IS?

    I remember your old post about looking for a sturdy adventure game, but I’m a bit lost trying to understand how OSR reaches this. To my untrained eye Raggi is doing essentially lovecraftian stuff (“touch it and you die”) and the rest of the bunch print 70’s D&D in different colored boxes. This most likely isn’t the truth, but as said, I’m having problem seeing what makes OSR so “real”, “genuine” or “inventive”. Care to help me out? Maybe that would also help you find like-minded players.

    • I find myself in a situation similar to the man trying to describe the ocean to another man who isn’t familiar with the concept of water. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And I’ll continue my list of ISN’T with just one more: The OSR isn’t just one thing. It is several things, some of them very unlike each other.

      I will however take a stab at describing what kind of things within the OSR appeal to me in a future post. Deal?

  2. The OSR of course has a large amount of resources going on the 0e front, but that’s its roots.

    Now we are seeing things begin to go off in different directions. Microlite 20 has made me get back into TRPGs in a big way. Being able to bring the best parts of all gaming together and make the game you want to play is like being a kid in a room full of Lego blocks.

    M20 is so adaptable I would be willing to say that just about anything is possible with it. Like skills? Use’em. Like attributes better? Use’em.

    There is a sampler out there that is over 600 pages of rules and systems that were developed from the original M20 which weighs in at an astounding 3 pages.

    You can find it here:


    And if you want to check in on the status of the retro clone scene this is a good quick read with links:


    And yes, I like this guys blog. His blend of d20 and old school is, imho, the best out there with several variations to suit almost any taste.

    Good luck on finding players. It is getting easier. More folks are trying out the OSR everyday.

    Have fun ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for the links. I’m already somewhat familiar with Microlite, but I’ll check those out. And yes, having fun, and playing the game is something we all strive for (at least I hope), so maybe I should get back to doing more of that instead of moaning about my lack of players. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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