Friday, 19 June 2015

The Coming of the OSR

From early in the history of RPGs, people wanted "story" in their games. But in the 1990s they ended up with the pre-written story where their PCs no longer mattered at all - either they were replacable cyphers, or in the worst cases they were onlookers while NPCs did the cool stuff. This mode of play is still common today; most Paizo APs are structured as pre-written stories, and most seasons of WotC's Encounters program are literally scene-by-scene stories where the players just roll dice.

It's funny that the OSR never rebelled against what had been the dominant mode of play in the '90s - indeed 3e in 2000 was itself trying to move away from railroad/illusionist play with its "Back to the Dungeon!" mantra. Instead OSR was specifically a rebellion against the mechanics - "character building" and suchlike - of 3e, and 3e's general tone of 'Player Primacy, GM Subordination' in 3e - but that tone was itself a reaction against railroady '90s play where players felt helpless in the hands of the GM's plot. But the result was that the OSR in delving back into history discovered pre-2e (and especially pre-1983!) modes of play that had long been lost. I find it slightly amusing that the initial Reactionary sites like Dragonsfoot are centred on the module-based play of the '80s, and often don't get along well with OSR purists who are looking for the original pre-module modes of play that were really already dying out when the 1e AD&D DMG was published in 1979.

No comments:

Post a Comment