Saturday, December 18, 2021

Farewell OSR, Welcome NSR!

I don't think this blog is OSR any more. That's because I don't think the OSR is OSR anymore.

Let me explain...

To me, the OSR was three things:

1) An anti corporate movement

First, it was a response to what many saw as a step away from the games we love, through both the churning out of over-priced and increasingly complex new editions, as well as the unavailability of many out of print games people still loved, but were no longer supported.

WotC ironically ushered in the era of retroclones and tinkering with old systems with its Open Gaming License. I suppose they didn't see the harm in losing a few old neckbeards to older editions, and thought like a D&D fanatic friend of mine, who said about anything pre-3e "Who'd wanna play that old garbage?"

It was ironic that OSR consulting would lead to 5e, which has now become a corporation juggernaut whose marketing and production puts the splatbook excess of 2e and small press explosion of diminishing returns that was the d20 glut to shame.

The result of this corporate media 5e saturation is the rise of anti-5e Facebook groups and gradual disenchantment with 5e and profiling of other, new indie games by D&D Youtubers and RPG podcasters.

2) It was a DIY creative movement

In the Halcyon days of the movement, OSR meant high quality passion projects. Look at the Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope, Telecanter's Receding Rules, and Chogwiz just to name a few. They churned out content of amazing quality, and showed what motivated bloggers could do. Few of those old craftsmen OSR blogs are still around, with exceptions like Tao of D&D, and modern blogs offer mostly 5e reviews and mods (How to build X character from a movie / anime in 5e).

Even EN World has started musing about the drop in quality of 'D&D articles.' This is what happens when corporate media takes over coverage of a hobby and begins churning out soulless listicles to lure in young customers who don't know other games.

3) It was a diverse and inclusive movement

The early OSR was very diverse in its tastes, and if half of OSR blogs focused on older editions of D&D, the remainder looked at other TSR games (Top Secret, Star Frontiers), IP like 007, or cult hits like Unknown Armies. One of my favorites was the sadly gone Mesmerized by Sirens, which made a point of ferreting out old and obscure games.

The early OSR was also diverse, and featured women bloggers like Akrasia, and bonafide porn starlets throwing off stigmas and chucking dice. There was very little politics and polemics, but gradually these increased to be the deafening rumble of misogyny and attacks on leftist strawmen that we sadly see too much of today. When a blogger writes pages and pages insulting and belittling others instead of writing about games, it is time to head for the door.

I'm not the only one who is thinking this. Although I've had this post in mind for a while, the venerable Alex Schroeder has beaten me to the punch and also gave up the OSR moniker.

So does this mean I am shuttering this blog? Far from it. I'll keep chuggin away at my tinkering with old games, weird musings, and introdcutions of the newer games that now beckon to me from my shelf. I suppose changing the O to N won't make much of difference...

... but it'll feel right. And that is all that matters.






  1. I love this take! "An anti corporate movement … It was a DIY creative movement … It was a diverse and inclusive movement" – not sure about diversity but I agree with all the other points.

  2. (Also, send me an email if you want to be on !)