Sunday, October 20, 2013


So I am in ‘OSR Lurker’ mode as a few Real Life deadlines and challenges have jumped up on me, and the other day I dropped two innocuous questions on the blog of one of the OSR leading lights, “What do you get out of D&D?” and “Are all the different books & editions just grist for the mill?” To the first query I got the snide-sounding “Some of your questions make no sense.” I resisted the urge to reply in a snarky way “What word are you having problems with? Maybe a remedial reading course would help.” To the second question I got “I keep the good and drop the bad.” A blindingly obvious answer, to be sure, and also obviously impossible for us humans, as the plethora of heartbreakers, Synnibars, WTF D&D and failed Kickstarters attest.

Basically, someone just tried to OSR butthurt me. Who? That’s not important, I won’t call out anybody, but I am sure Google will help you if you want to now. Prepare to be unsurprised. The more interesting question is why, and by answering this we can also uncover some rules to help us survive the inevitable OSR Butthurt when it happens to us.

REASON ONE – None of us are friends, all of us are strangers

Responding to blogs is a funny type of interaction in two ways. First, we have no qualms starting an online conversation with a person we’d never talk to on the street, or one whose house we’d never think of entering. Commenting online disarms us against strangers, we let our guard down thinking they will be courteous and kind when we may have just inadvertently challenged a major tenet of their belief system and set them into attack mode in their own territory. Add to that the fact that the emotionless & contextless nature of leaving online comments is like trying to teach the lyrics of a song with a kazoo in your mouth, then the possibility of misunderstanding and conflict is obvious.

Remember, none of us are friends, all of are strangers, and the chances we will misunderstand or argue are greater than those that we will get along.

REASON TWO – All of us are trolls at one time or another

I dimly remember making a positive comment about a blogger a few years back to which my butthurter objected. The details elude me now, but I remember not saying anything abrasive, and quite oppositely trying to calm down or show support for someone who had been riled up. Although this incident was unimportant to me, the OSR leading light seems to have remembered and decided to shoulder a chip and exercise a grudge against me.

Which, if you think about it, is pretty sad. Holding a grudge about an insignificant comment about roleplaying games for years is a terrible waste of a person’s energy and emotion, and brings me to my next point:

REASON THREE – The Smallest Thing In Real Life Is Bigger Than The OSR

Right now, I blog to let off steam and have a quasi-creative hobby while I finish a PhD on US economic discourse (don’t ask), look for a new uni to work at for the next 4 to 5 years, and simultaneously raise my beautiful 4 month old son.

The OSR and my blog is pretty far down my list of priorities. I enjoy the boundless creativity of many fine blogs out there, the amusing personalities and insightful comments, and even the scandals and flamewar of the week. But I never take any of it seriously. Sadly, over the years the OSR has lost some great biggies (ChogWiz and James M to name a few), and doubtless an uncounted number of unknowns to its frequent waves of drama. Me, I’ll take the good and leave the bad, just as my butthurter advised me.

REASON FOUR – Don’t Monetize Unless You Can Deliver the Prize

This last one has nothing to do with the incident that inspired this post, but as I have resolved not to charge for any material I produce, I thought I’d say a word about the OSR as business. I admire the heck out of people who do great work and deservedly make a living off the OSR in particular and RPGs in general. But there are far too many out there who think game design is a quick, fun job. A quick glance at Tenkar’s list of failed Kickstarters sadly reinforces this reality, and I for one both admire Tenkar for holding people’s feet to the fire while at the same time feeling what a great waste of his time and talents it is to keep the list updated.

Ask James Raggi – he may personally be having fun producing LoFP, but he’s also working his arse off. The two aren’t incompatible, but like any creative endeavor you can’t succeed in games without hard work.


Finally, in a non-sarcastic way I’d like to ask you dear readers the same two questions that set off the OSR bigwig: “What do you get out of D&D?” and “Are all the different books & editions just grist for the mill?”

For me, D&D is both pleasant nostalgia for the games of my youth, as well as a great mental exercise that takes my mind of the depressing things I find in my thesis. Economics is starting to look like the greatest scam ever perpetrated to me, so the idea of bashing down doors and braving monsters and traps for gold is refreshingly pure and simple.

I’d have to say that with the exception of the Midnight campaign setting, which I L-O-V-E, I enjoy the mishmash of anything pre-3e. I have tried 3e and 4e, and maybe if they hadn’t been sold as D&D I would have liked them more, but playing them after years of 1st and 2nd edition was like switching to new Coke or Crystal Pepsi. Might have been fine if I hadn’t known better, but once you taste that classic stuff, new is not always better.

No comments:

Post a Comment