Wednesday, January 2, 2019

OSR Project #3 - Vision

The new year is upon us, and I have decided to give myself a bit of a break. Sword & Scoundrel is chugging along nicely, but writing the GM section has been a headache. Thus, I long to unwind with more pleasant game design tasks.

I started the OSR Project series of posts in October 2017. I sidelined it not long thereafter to force myself to concentrate on S&S work, but I never gave up on the idea. After a good year or so of stewing on the thing, I know exactly what I want to do with it. That brings us to this post: my vision for the OSR Project.

I'm fascinated by the early days of the hobby. OD&D and the way people ran it. The original role of Chainmail in the game. The more I dig into things written in this era, the more I can make sense of later eccentricities of the D&D canon. Things that seemed broken and bizarre in later D&D makes perfect sense when you find the roots of it. Even more bizarre is that certain flaws of the later game only crept in after it abandoned elements from the original game.

I want to write a game that is equal parts alternate history and experimental archeology. I want to write a game with the following ideas at its core:
  • The Alternate Combat System was never adopted. While it was still listed in the LBBs as an option, no one bothered with it. Instead, chainmail remained the core of the D&D combat system and evolved with it over time
  • Tolkien never became the dominant influence. While somewhere out there people still enjoy their hobbits and dwarves, that's not what D&D was about. D&D stuck to its roots in mythology, folklore, and the path trod by sandaled feet of early pulp Sword & Sorcery fiction
  • The game went through similar transitions as the actual game. WotC eventually buys the game, 3.X happens. 4e happens. People go back to figure out what was lost. The OSR is born.

The game I want to write is what comes out of the OSR in this alternate time line. I'll try to keep you up to date.

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