Phraints in the pants: The OSR & “originality”

People with more time to think and write about this than me have already raised good points in the discussion about whether the OSR is stagnating because everything is so alike or whatever. You say “retread,” I say “let a million flowers bloom.”  I love reading about all the different things people are doing in their campaigns, from Jeff Rients’ “Surfeit of eels” to Planet Algol.  Retreads?  Whatever.

Not enough attention is being paid to some of the seriously innovative (and still Old School in all the right ways) stuff Scottsz is doing at The Sorcerers  of Doom.  Scott’s taking the four page rules for DM-less dungeoneering published by Heritage USA (a long defunct miniatures company) and making them into a cool as hell game.  It’s not exactly a RPG but it isn’t meant to be.  Here’s the mission statement:

Project Mission

Beginning with old Heritage Dungeon Dwellers rules, Sorcerers of Doom expands the game to be: 

1. A fun solo experience enhanced by more players.

2. A useful fast testing tool for RPG adventure writing.

3. An exploration of the middle ground between board games and role playing games.

4. A method of transitioning young people from board games to role playing games.

I can’t thank Scott enough for taking up this project and sticking with it (it’s been a lot more than year in the making…this is his third blog on it, in fact).
I’m doing the full-blown D&D thing right now but I love a beer & pretzels dungeon crawl.  Some time when I don’t feel DMing or we can’t “reach a quorum” to play I should break out the Cavern of Doom.
Anyway sorry about the post title…I came up with it when I was thinking it was “phrants” in Arduin but it’s “phraints.”
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Published in: on January 9, 2011 at 12:39 am  Comments (7)  
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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hear ye.

  2. There is nothing “truly original” in all the role-playing games that I have encountered, even among those that I hold dear. There are only various potent verisimilar distillations of fictions of all sorts, which I admit to enjoying. If a thousand brewers were to offer me a sip and argue amongst themselves as to who amongst them were the best, would I be in anyway distressed?

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by L0newolf Clawtooth. L0newolf Clawtooth said: Phraints in the pants: The OSR & “originality” « Swords & Dorkery: Scott's taking the four page rules for DM-les… http://bit.ly/gcYaLj […]

  4. Many thanks for the props! Forgive a long comment:

    On originality: I don’t think anyone in classic gaming should ‘give up’ on originality, but I don’t really think you can force it, either. I think what’s ‘good’ for gaming is look for solutions to the whole experience (getting players together, simpler rules, accessible materials, etc.) An example is Raggi’s encumberance system or Telecanter’s Choose Your Thief rules. Things that simplify are good. Originality should happen… and I don’t think it’s bad to be skeptical of ‘the new’. Gamers have been sold enough disappointment over the last couple of decades.

    I think the advantage that Old School has is that it respects reductionism and Free-Form/Liquid gaming.

    We’ll see more innovation and creativity in the coming years… but it has to happen slowly and with care.

    The last thing tabletop RPG’s need now is a huge fad of demand like in the eighties.

    Again, thanks for the shoutout. All are welcome to give feedback over at the project’s blog.

    • When I hear “reductionism” I always think of the postivists and the claim that psychology (for example) is reducible to physics. But I think I get what you mean.
      I actually have some sympathy for Chgowiz et al. who want to see something new, but you can’t force that stuff. I am absolutely in awe of the Hill Canton’s project right now, to create the domain-level “end game” not by just making shiat up but by running a game and letting the system “grow” “organically”. As others have mentioned EPT, Blackmoor, Carcosa, and so on all grew out of play (or other things in the case of EPT) rather than someone setting out thinking “And now for something completely different.”

  5. Absolutely. Especially if Jeff Rients is involved in the design process!

    @scottsz:
    General:
    Spot on!

    The Fad(until ’85 or so’):
    Not likely to ever happen again. I’ll just settle for the games in a wide vareity of stores!

  6. @Mike: Sorry for the confusion – I meant reductionism in the sense of the Greek Odometer that ‘reduced’ length calculation to simply counting pebbles…Odometer.

    I should have specified mechanical reductionism…


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