Irritated With the Latest Nonsense From Wizards of the Coast, "OSR" thoughts

As I stated in earlier 'blog entries, Wizards of the Coast authorized the release of older products on Print on Demand; I was pretty happy about that turn of events.  Now, I figured, I could show people where they could buy old-school stuff - but brand new!  Unlimited amounts of it!  No PDF-only, or having to go with a comb-bound or printed-out copy.  This, I felt, was the great and proper turn of events.

Well, my happiness here has been short-lived.  Inexplicably (and I mean, inexplicable: I have asked three points of contact at Wizards of the Coast about this and gotten nowhere), the Dungeon Masters Guide and Players Handbook have been pulled off of PoD.  The progress of modules being added has slowed to a stop, and there's no indication at all that any original D&D items are or were being put up.

I was going to review (for the long-neglected YouTube channel) a Print on Demand module I'd ordered, but now, I doubt I will: it's not like I can tell folks "Well this is what you get, this is what it looks like, etc." for something they can't buy.  Yes, I know I've discussed and reviewed out of production things before, but this is different.  Part of the appeal was that people getting in to AD&D (and don't fool yourselves, people do jump in to it afresh) could buy new, clean products at reasonable prices.  But of course, Wizards of the Coast has scuppered that.

Insult to injury, now I find out that Goodman Games has been tapped to print and publish 5th edition versions of original modules.  That's right, just what nobody asked for!  Your favorite modules now choc-a-bloc full of 5e stuff.  

I playtested 5e, I've played 5e, I make no bones about it.  5e was okay for what it was.  It was definitely better than 4e or 3e but don't mistake that for me feeling like it was a substitute for AD&D, because it's not.  When I want AD&D...I play AD&D.  And Goodman Games (a company I have my share of problems with in general, but that's another story) slapping 5e all over classic,  This I can do without.

More after the break.
Okay, so while I'm ranting...there's a subject I've kind of danced around over the last few years, and I don't think I've just flat out said how I feel about it or why, but as of late this has been wearing on me so I thought I'd go ahead and crystallize my thoughts and feelings on it once and for all...

Regarding the self-styled OSR, the "Old School Revival" or "Renaissance", and the way it is now, what it mutated in to etc.  I was done "edition warring" years ago.  I know what I don't like, I know what I do like, I've got plenty of material and can create more as I see fit, and to be honest when I run games at stores and conventions people seem to flock to the table regardless of what edition I play (indeed, older editions draw more players).  That said, you might think I like the idea of the OSR.  I mean, it's old-school, right?  It's older games, or new versions of old games, so it's awesome, right?

No.  Generally, no.  So much garbage has been lumped under the umbrella definition of "OSR" that I've lost track.  Games that inexplicably seem to draw in gore porn, regular porn, put there just for shock value (anything James Raggi does, for example, or the execrable "Carcosa" by Geoffery Mckinney), or games that are story-games in drag, or are inspired by 4e and 3e rules systems just with "Old School style x" somewhere in the description...they're not.  I'm sorry, they're not.  

When we're talking about Dungeons & Dragons, do you know what is old-school?

Dungeons & Dragons.  AD&D, Original D&D, the various flavors of Basic D&D.  Even 2nd Edition AD&D.  Those are.  Them.  They Are It(TM).  I get it that more games than D&D existed back then.  Tunnels & Trolls, Traveller, etc. etc.  Yes, sure.  But I'm talking right now about D&D, because D&D is what I care about.  And I don't care about the latest iteration of a copy of a clone of ideas based off of Swords & Wizardry (which is a fine game to play if you can't get a copy of original D&D), but with xyz mechanic from 4e and prestige classes and so on stuck in there somewhere.

So let me be one hundred percent, entirely crystal clear on the subject so there's no mistaking my point of view:

You are either playing D&D, old-school, or you're not.  I'm not cultish and insular about this, I really want a lot of people to play and enjoy classic D&D.  But the fact of the matter is that most of the people creating and selling "OSR" are people who saw an open niche and jumped in with little regard for what is actually old-school.  Just slap "OSR" on your shit art project and bam, it's like 1974 all over again, right?!

The cult of personalities that sprang up and the...God, I don't even know where to begin this...weird...hidebound...organization?  Structure?  Pecking order?  where "Das OSR" decided that this 'blogger and that kitchen-sink press (usually the two were/are one in the same) were going to decide the marching tune?

Nobody asked a bunch of self-appointed game-tourists who had no, nada, zero interest in actual old D&D to waltz in and decide that because you picked up a moth-eaten copy of the red Basic D&D box that suddenly six months later, after you'd spent your entire RPG hobby time prior playing...well, not D&D, not AD&D, that you're all the gatekeepers for the hobby?  Get away.  Get back.  I'd sooner play Pathfinder than what passes these days as "new Old-School" games. 

Play what you want, love what you play, just quit foisting off the useless, pointless "OSR" as anything other than what it is: a cynical cash-grab and a social circle-jerk.


  1. Asked around about the issue behind the PH and DMG, and Steve Wieck from OneBookShelf got back to us. I'm quoting him directly now:

    "I will check on how close we are to having these print formats corrected and available for sale again and post here again once I know.
    It is a by-product on our POD processing that we cannot have a book available for sale while it is being corrected and updated."

    So now we know these were issues with the files that somehow got screwed for POD processing. I'll comment again here when I hear back from Steve again, after he checked out the status on the corrections.

    1. I was surprised to see him say they had been pulled because I still see them on the drivethru site. Perhaps I missed the period they were missing but I'm happy to see it was a mis-understanding.

      The only real complaint I have about WoTC these days is the lack of anything BUT 5e on the DMsguild site. I was happy to see there was no OGL/SRD requirement for the items on dmsguild but then....I was going to put some AD&D creatures/spells up for Fantasy Grounds and found out they only allow 5e....

      So, send a comment to DMsguild asking for other versions of the game support. It's free money for them. They just have to host the site.

  2. Bill and me on a game show...

    More seriously, my issue with the OSR is that it misses that there are those players who never left and continued playing OD&D, BD&D, AD&D, B/X D&D, BECMI D&D, and/or AD&D 2e past the year 1989 and/or 2000 and into the present. It assumes that it is responsible for the "renaissance," some going so far as to say that the OSR now is better than the heydays of TSR. I disagree -- especially with regards to the overlooked 1970s output of wargames and RPGs before the AD&D game spawned more and more module releases than its predecessors had.

    Nice rant, Bill. I would like to subscribe to your newletter... (do you have one?)

    1. Ha! I was kicked out of the Old Grognard's Mailing List for my radical views ;) I kid, I kid. Sadly I don't have a mailing list or anything like that. Just...uh check back here. :)

  3. Hi. Sorry. Stupid question: Where's the hidebound gatekeeping going on? The only marching tune I'm hearing associated with Das OSR is "start your own band". Who is being cast out and who is doing the casting?


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