The OSR: Stagnation, Preservation or Evolution

Let’s start with the disclaimer that I know that I’m probably going to get some hate mail on this one. Such is life on the Internet.
With the recent announcement of DNDNext, I’ve been doing usual round of peeking on various forums, sites and blogs and as usual it’s pretty thought provoking. In case you’ve been living under rock, WOTC has offered the olive branch to the OSR with their announced design goals for the next iteration of D&D. Of course, even this hasn’t set well some folks.
There are some nay sayers who insist that the OSR is just stagnation of the hobby perpetuated by a bunch of nostalgic grognards. Yeah, OK. I admit that I’m grognard and I was pretty much a grognard before it was “cool”. I do hang my head in shame that I wasn’t wearing my gognard tag with a sense of pride. But the accusations of stagnation are just plain silly. For those who prefer the retro-clones that most closely emulate the original editions or still have copies of the original editions, they aren’t stagnating. If anything they are preserving the legacy of games of yor. Really, would want to live in a world where no one has heard of “Save or Die”.
It may sound silly to preserve a set of rules or a play style but really. The whole damned hobby was built because of the success of the original editions. You may not like the game but every gamer owes at least a nod of gratitude to that little white box. Hell, it should be rite of passage to play through one of the original adventures with the original rules, just for the experience. Now, I know that there many crazy rules in the old games. I’ll admit that. But on the flip side, just because a game is new doesn’t mean that it is good.
Over the decades, the hobby and the games have changed drastically. As far as OSR games go, I consider myself and evolutionist. There’s nothing wrong with games based around the theory of “What would Gary do?’. It doesn’t mean they are accurate. It doesn’t mean that they are right but dang it they are trying. For me, I have no qualms about pulling a rule or a concept from a modern game then tweaking it into an OSR game. If it works and keeps with the rulings-not-rules philosophy then it’s a good enough for me.
So there it is. The OSR is not about stagnation. It’s about preserving what has come to past and building on it for the future.

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