I was somewhat engaged in the OSR in its “early years” (this blog is on the list of “pivotal early OSR blogs” in part 5 of the “historical look”). I even have at a post at Dragonsfoot in what I believe is the first thread in which the term “Old School Renaissance” was used (coined – appropriately enough – by an anonymous poster). (However, T. Foster referred to the “Old School Revival” in an amazingly prescient post a year earlier .)
After a decade away from D&D (and relatively little in the way of other RPG activity during that time, despite frequent visits to gaming shops), 3rd edition lured me back in 2001. But by 2004 I had DM’ed two campaigns with 3rd edition D&D and had come to find it rather tedious. Once the characters reached 6th or 7th level (which took about 10-11 months in my groups, as I was deliberately giving out “stingy” rewards in order to keep things sane) the game simply became a joyless chore. My experiences did not match the fun I remembered having during the 1980s. (I also was a fan of Middle-earth Roleplaying back in the day – indeed, as much of a fan as I was of AD&D. But MERP had gone away with ICE’s loss of the license in 1999, and Rolemaster had evolved into a rules-heavy behemoth in its “Standard System” edition. Of course, I could’ve played MERP again anyway. But I did not consider that option at the time.)
So, disillusioned with 3e, I began looking for something different...
I was an early Castles and Crusades enthusiast, especially when it promised to be a vehicle for the publication of Gary Gygax’s Castle Zagyg (a version of his original Castle Greyhawk mega-dungeon). That project proceeded quite slowly, alas, and only saw one release directly related to the mythical dungeon: Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works (co-authored by Jeffrey Talanian). Then Gygax shuffled off this mortal coil, at which time the entire project ended. (I still have that box set, which I believe is now quite valuable, along with the other CZ-related products – all carefully packed in a box in storage somewhere. For an excellent, comprehensive review of The Upper Works, see this one by Grodog.) But I eventually drifted away from C&C. One reason was the end of Castle Zagyg. Another, entirely independent of the system, was the terrible editing by Troll Lord Games. While Upper Works was fine, almost everything else I read from them (including the core rulebook) was simply too badly edited for me to enjoy.
During this same period, fortunately, I also had dusted off and reacquainted myself with 1st edition AD&D, B/X D&D, the Rules Cyclopedia D&D, and the like. I played in some online (play-by-post) 1e AD&D games (in a Greyhawk one as a cleric of Trithereon). Unlike C&C, this interest in AD&D and D&D persisted. Then came along OSRIC (the 1e AD&D clone), LabyrinthLord (the B/X D&D clone), Swords & Wizardry (the 0e D&D clone), the fanzines, and so forth. The OSR was well underway – and I signed on.
This blog started out as a tool for me to talk about old school D&D/AD&D-based games, including especially Swords & Wizardry. I contributed articles to Knockspell and Fight On! back in the day. Having reread many of R. E. Howard’s “Conan” and “Kull” stories in the years immediately before I started this blog, I was interested in house-ruling S&W in order to play some “swords and sorcery” flavoured games. (Those house-rules remain available here; many were later incorporated into Crypts and Things.) I eventually became interested again in more “conventional” modes of play, including especially 1st edition AD&D, and made a minor contribution back in 2013 to the OSRIC supplement Dangerous Dungeons (“background professions”). I also ran a brief AD&D campaign around that time (2013-14).
But I’ve drifted away from active participation in the “OSR scene” in recent years. I never was active on Google+. I sporadically followed what was happening through forums and blogs. But in terms of actual gaming, I have spent more time playing Mythras, Call of Cthulhu, Adventures in Middle-earth, and the like, over the past seven years or so.
However, I never abandoned my interest in “old school” Dungeons and Dragons. So I found part 5 of the “historical look” quite informative. It filled me in on what has been happening over the past several years. In a nutshell: it’s largely been fragmentation, decadence, and degeneracy. I guess not paying attention was beneficial – at least for my mental health. (Unsurprisingly, the pre-OSR, old “old school” communities seem to be carrying on just fine.)