Community Part 2.

Just because we’re a product of our environment growing up, doesn’t mean we can’t change. We don’t have to continue being all of those bad things some of us are getting accused-of.


We “old grogs” have gotten a bad reputation.

If I ask someone on RPG Twitter to describe the term, “Old Grognard,” I’m likely to hear some things none of us are very fond-of. I’m going to say terms like “cynical, racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist,” and “transphobic.” Many of us are characterized as cishet, narrow-minded right wing old fart conservatives. Apparently the MAGA crowd is now big on OSR gaming? Heck, I even saw the term “Nazi” flung around at one point. (*Not naming anyone specifically, because ouch.)

This is what one “Old Grognard” looks like.

I don’t think anyone likes being referred to that way? I sure as heck don’t. Then again, I would like to think I espouse peace, understanding, tolerance, democracy, freedom, and love? Sorry, I’m really big on my “New Age” spiritual beliefs that don’t leave room for hate. Hate is a huge waste of time and energy.

I’m trying to leave politics out of this. Truthfully, I voted my conscience last time and pretty much everyone I voted for didn’t even get mentioned in the final results. Some of them never got nominated officially. (LOL?😅)

Old Grognard gamer stereotypes.

Yeah… some of this stuff is painful to hear.

OSR or nothing! Nothing new is good! D&D 5E is the worst thing since D&D 3rd edition! These darn kids today don’t appreciate anything! These darn kids don’t understand what homebrew really is. Matt Mercer is leading these kids astray. Critical Role is terrible. Blah blah blah. <OG grouchy noises>

I’ve heard people online saying things like this and worse. Way worse. See also, “Back in my day.” I could legit do an entire series of memes just on stuff some of us “old grogs” have said online and irl. We veterans of gaming for 20+ years have a lot of history and a lot of baggage.

The really tragic part is, I know people who are harsh on new editions of almost any game, especially D&D. I know people spouting bigoted, hateful, terrible things online and in the real world. It truly saddens me.

I could say it’s a sign of the times and a pattern of behaviour learned in a different era. We said the same thing back in the day. I used to get on my dad’s case for using the term, “negro” to refer to African Americans. Guess what? He grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s and that’s the word they used.

Just because we’re a product of our environment growing up, doesn’t mean we can’t change. We don’t have to continue being all of those bad things some of us are getting accused-of. I mean, yeah some of the older editions of D&D included some pretty racist, homophobic and transphobic content. We didn’t see it as a bad thing at the time. Now? I hope older generations of gamers are catching on that terms and times are changing.

Modern cancel culture would have it in for some of my all time favorite AD&D books.

Unearthed Arcana Alt Cover.

My favorite example of racism in AD&D First Edition is the racial enmity table that appeared in the Unearthed Arcana. The original UA is one of my all time favorite books because it revolutionized AD&D. I can point to so many other things in UA that are so amazing. But the whole table of X race hates on Y race but tolerates Z race really makes it look bad nowadays.

This only one example. Some have said the entirety of Oriental Adventures is one bad racial slur against Asians and other POC. In a way it really was. Again, I’d love to see some of the content from that book (classes, weapons, and spells) get revived today, but not in a way that’s going to offend people. The RPG industry let a lot of stuff fly back then that we wouldn’t dream of accepting today.

Standing up for Old School Revival gaming LOOKS like standing up for the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic junk that was rampant in gaming and Western culture at the time. That’s pretty not okay.

Some parts of this book are among the most amazing RPG content ever. Some aspects of this book have also become quite infamous, sadly.

This is not to say we should ban either of these two books. The classes, items and spells make them a worthwhile read. OA covers a really nice do-it-yourself martial arts system that has never been replicated in another official D&D product to my knowledge. Even the artwork in both of the books I’ve mentioned is pretty phenomenal.

Unfortunately some of the stuff contained in both books probably warrants skipping over. Some people may wish to not partake in games using these two books or maybe skipping the entire edition of the game in favor of friendlier content.

T$R should not be confused with OSR, however. We’ll get more into that in the next installment. There’s a lot of old school stuff out there that doesn’t carry the junk with it and I’ll get more into that later as well. Just because something has that old school D&D look and feel doesn’t mean it carries all of the negative crap with it. As with gaming, as with gamers on all counts.

To be continued again…

It looks pretty dark for the “old grogs” right now. Yeah, some of us really are that, uh… messed up? Backwards? Old fashioned?

As my dear old dad used to say, “It never gets any easier.”

Sometimes that is the truth. Thanks for being here. Hope you’re having a good week. Please keep gaming regardless of the edition or game. Life might not always get easier, but it can get better. Game on!

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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