Reviving the blog for OSR

I’ve had this old blog or something like it for a long time now, but it petered out while blogging seemed to be out of fashion. All the political bloggers I followed got real jobs, the conlang bloggers hopped from one forum/platform to another, and all the RPG bloggers moved over the Google+, where I didn’t follow, while I finally made the shift from just reading about OSR while playing D&D 3.5E/d20/Pathfinder to actually running (Advanced) Labyrinth Lord and DCC. In the meantime I spent my time on Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter. But the internet was better before all of those, full of weird little blogs and creative rebels. Facebook is a malicious Panopticon, Twitter is distilled poison for discussion. YouTube is the only major Google service I haven’t been able to escape yet.

Looking again, though, I find that the OSR RPG blog community is very vibrant. There’s been a lot of talk recently about abusive and political elements in the OSR, especially after Zak S’s ostracism. But for me, the OSR was always about retro adventures, lightweight mechanics, and creativity. The main blogs that represented the OSR for me were always Grognardia, Jeff’s Gameblog, Hill Cantons, Dyson’s Dodecahedron, Tenkar’s Tavern, and the old Save or Die! podcast. After the Dwimmermount debacle and so many blogs left for Google+, I followed the OSR only loosely, since my groups were heavily invested in Pathfinder (which I now refuse to run) and I was reading mostly 1980s texts.

Over the last year, though, I’ve finally been running a Labyrinth Lord campaign, and looking for practical GM advice has sent me out into the OSR again. I finally read A Red and Pleasant Land last year, which was my first major exposure to Zak S besides some rumors. But I discovered the Questing Beast channel on YouTube and the Fear of a Black Dragon podcast, which have introduced me to all kinds of neat blogs: CaveGirls’ Game Stuff, Skerples’ Coins and Scrolls (especially the Tomb of the Serpent Kings ), The Black Hack, The Petal Hack and other awesome Tékumelia, tenfootpole.org. @cartweel has pointed me towards lots of weird-but-intriguing indie/storygames by people like CassK’s Sun & Daughter and Avery Alder‘s The Deep Forest.

Anyway, the RPG forums have been talking about the idea of a SWORD DREAM which sounds kind of silly except for the idea that “DIY Rules Everything Around Me”. What I love about the OSR is how rules lightness and “rulings not rules” creates more opportunity for real creativity, rather than the ersatz creativity players have in a rules-intense game like Pathfinder. D&D 5E also seems like an attempt to “own” the hobby. But RPGs should be a hobby, not an “industry”, since the games work best when they unleash the creativity and imagination of everybody at the table. An “industry” in capitalism will seek to consumerize players, rendering them passive purchasers of content. The TTRPG hobby should be a gift economy, maybe with a few artist-operated studios and Kickstarter campaigns. Viva la RPG blog!

So I guess I should get around to posting some of the random tables and monsters I’ve put together over the last few years? This necro-blog is as good a place as any.

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