29 November 2009

What is the OSR, part deux: The Pundit Replies

The RPG Pundit has replied to my post on ‘What is the Old School Renaissance’ at his own blog here. The whole rant is rather entertaining, and highly recommended for a good chuckle.

It seems that the poor Pundit is frustrated by the lack of a clear definition for the OSR. Of course, that was the entire point of my post. It simply is impossible to provide a precise definition for such an amorphous, diffuse, cantankerous group of people. If the OSR is a ‘movement,’ it is one in which the participants disagree with each other about what truly constitutes ‘old school’ (aside, perhaps from a few ‘core cases,’ such as 1974 0e D&D and, perhaps, Holmes Basic D&D; even 1e AD&D is probably considered too ‘new school’ by some participants). I consider the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu to be ‘old school.’ Some other folks would not. Amazingly, there is not ‘authority’ in the OSR to tell us who is right and who is wrong.

What’s puzzling to me is why the Pundit has such animus towards the OSR. Perhaps he is bitter over the relative lack of success of his own ‘old school’ game, ‘Forward to Adventure!’? Or perhaps he simply likes to construct new ‘enemies’ to be the targets of his rants?

In any case, I found this remark rather sad: “I, as someone who defines Old School as an aesthetic and not a mechanic, already feel like I ended up in the wrong side of the fence…

Well, Pundit, nobody put you on “the wrong side of the fence” (whatever that means) except yourself. It’s only because you decided to construct an ‘enemy’ out of the OSR, and infuse that ‘enemy’ with a fictional consciousness and ‘ideology,’ that you are on the wrong side of some imagined fence. You could have been a participant in the OSR, Pundit, and you still can, if you like. Heck, I believe that Calithena even invited you to write an article on FtA! for Fight On! a year ago (I know that Jeff Rients positively reviewed FtA! in Fight On!).

Destroy that fence that you’ve built in your mind, Pundit. Join the OSR, if you like. Nobody is stopping you except yourself.


  1. RPGpundit is tilting at windmills. His post merely trots out the same old totalizing, post-Christian, reductionist line that you'll find on a dozen topics on a thousand blogs. It could just as easily be a rant about architecture, fine dining or climate change.

    The model of the OSR in your head and your (virtual, typographical) utterances concerning that model simply must match 'pundit's... otherwise, I don't know, darkness will swallow the sky and people will stop idly reading blogs?

  2. I stopped giving a shit about the Pundit's opinions about a week after I started blogging and reading blogs. Akrasia, you have better things to spend your time and energy on; your nifty set of house rules are testament to that.

  3. well versed reply to Pundit's misguided arguments!

  4. "Akrasia, you have better things to spend your time and energy on"

    I agree. Sometimes I let myself get dragged into pointless on-line arguments. I suppose that it is a form of procrastination.

  5. What Ryan said, but.

    I largely agree with pundit's post (and he toned down his usual trademark flaming/trolling rhetoric to make reasoned arguments).

    I also think you're both wrong or at least incomplete. Take most of what pundit says and most of what you said in orig post and it's a much more accurate assessment/description of the OSR than either of you seem to have individually.

    But, really why are we talking about this when we could be describing 2 headed turtles or drawing dungeon maps? Oh yeah, procrastination, indeed ;)

  6. "Take most of what pundit says and most of what you said in orig post and it's a much more accurate assessment/description of the OSR than either of you seem to have individually."

    I'm not sure how this could be possible, given that our views are pretty much incompatible.

  7. Heh, the OSR is ill defined,this is fitting for a gaming philosophy built on a love of an abstract rules system. I'm ok with it.

  8. To be blunt, this time the pundit's post doesn't even make a ton of sense. I felt your definition of the OSR in your previous post was pretty damn spot-on. . . as clear a "definition" of a group that does not particularly like to be concretely defined can be.

  9. The issue with the OSR that keeps popping up is that some people have started defining it as playing the exact game they play and the exact way they play it. More so, you are either "Old School" or "New School" -- and they hate anything they define as "New School".

    My playing preferences and game preferences are old school. But that's as far as it goes for me. I'm interested in different games; I don't hate nor despise other games.

    I will not sit and let a Game Tyrant try to argue with me over why I'm not playing the right game (their game) and how I'm wrong for my preferences. And that is what Old School is devolving to: "Play my game the way I play it or you are the enemy."

    I've been on forums dedicated to "old school" games, but set up by people who are gamers first and foremost: they play different games, including newer ones and have fun. Those are the gamers I like being around; those are true gamers.

    And that's why I will not refer to myself or anything I make as "old school", even if it fits in the OSR or is narrowly focused on old TSR-era games.

    Because: I'm making it for all gamers -- not just for "old school" gamers.

  10. "And that is what Old School is devolving to: "Play my game the way I play it or you are the enemy.""

    I don't think that this is what the OSR has 'devolved' to at all. That certainly has not been my experience.

  11. I have only one question for you mate, why do you care?

    Why do you care what he thinks?

    Why do you care what anyone thinks?

    Be true to your own thoughts and views. Learn from others, right and wrong, and evolve your own thoughts.

    As for all this "old school/new school" thing, school got in the way of my education.

    Peace and keep blogging :)

  12. "I have only one question for you mate, why do you care?"

    I don't care in the sense that the RPG Pundit's opinion of the OSR -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- will not affect my own activities (gaming and writing).

    I do care in that I dislike it when incorrect claims are made publicly about an activity with which I am involved.

  13. I know this is a few years late, but just remember that the RPG Pundit is completely insane. One you remember that, he's pretty easy to ignore.

  14. Yeah, late. But, interesting given Hasbro's recent announcements re: D&D and wanting to include *all* play styles. Which I view as the OSR (and mid-school, and new-school) winning.

  15. Is this post being linked to somewhere? I find it interesting that it's receiving comments over two years later. I welcome the comments, of course! :)


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who divides his time between Milwaukee and Toronto.