In the wrong context, that can be seen as a loaded question or asking for a fight. But I really mean "to you". In your opinion, regardless of someone else's opinion, what makes an OSR game?
Is it something mechanical (roll in order stats, THAC0)? Something in the theme or setting (lots of demons/devils, life is cheap)? I'm assuming it's more than new rules that look like old rules, with 20 years of advancement in layout and writing style.
I've been wondering this for a while, though don't really have anything much to contribute. I've only just started exploring OSR, but the games seem to focus on player skill, GM rulings, and narrative through play. High lethality and a DIY approach seem to be themes as well.
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I find it's how you approach the rules - I'd call Castles&Crusades OSR even though it's really DnD 3.x lite (replacing the d20 mechanic with their Siege System d20 variant): its looseness and treating 'balance' as a 'judgment call' rather than a math problem i.e. Imbalances can be corrected through Role Play not just tinkering with the stats/bonuses.
On reflection I'd say aDnD type OSR is any nostalgic game that doesn't have the likes of CR's, as an algebraic function, to gauge encounters. Other systems are a bit harder to define: BRP (runequest etc) is still BRP (with refinements) today and Mongoose Traveller is still basically Little Black Books Traveller with tweaks - does that make them OSR when they are very much 'here and now' systems?
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So expanding on the original question is OSR just D&Desque retroclones?
Nope. The first two letters in OSR (generally) stand for "old" and "school"; while D&D makes up the lion's share of OSR play and discussion, any old-school system slides neatly under that heading. Chaosium's recent RuneQuest Classic - a reprint of RuneQuest 2 - is OSR. Marvel Super Heroes (the old "FASERIP" system) is OSR. Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP) - a Rolemaster derivative - is OSR.
I'd call Castles&Crusades OSR even though it's really DnD 3.x lite
C&C is an OSR game because it was designed and marketed to tap into that old-school feel. I mean, the original release came in a white box specifically designed to feel like original D&D, and even included a set of GameScience dice.
does that make them OSR when they are very much 'here and now' systems?
The line does tend to get a little blurry in cases like those. There are people who are playing, say, AD&D today who object to being labelled as OSR; they say that they're not involved in any renaissance or revival, because they've been playing that way all along. They're not... reviving anything, they're just having fun the way they've always had fun.
I think games like Traveller are definitely old-school games. I mean, my understanding is that very little rules-wise has changed in current versions compared to the original. Whether you lump them under the OSR or not... *shrug*
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Provinto: I was thinking about asking something about GLOG, but then I realized something: It says OSR on the can, but it tastes like Hippy Game
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geraldkw: I think it tastes like PBR, oh wait that's hipster.
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