One? D&D. Only One, Huh?

I can only say what I think of this new edition of D&D. For the record, I don’t love it or hate it more than prior editions. It’s just another edition change.

I’m struggling to stay positive with this “One”

I listened to the Wizards of the Coast announcement of “One D&D.” Okay, I tried. Honestly, I skipped the Magic: the Gathering announcements and some of their other corporate Mcdoublespeak. I like the spokespeople they had for D&D Beyond and the new rules.

I’m not going to talk about everything that I took away from this. I have a couple of main concerns. First, is the supposed retro compatibility. Second is what it sounds like might happen to retailers. Last, aside from their announcements I’m not really keen on all the hype.

I’m very skeptical about the idea that editions are going away.

We’re told by WotC that everything we’ve purchased previously (for FIFTH Edition!) will still be compatible. Okay. Waitaminute. What? Then, someone at WotC went so far as to say “we don’t see things in terms of editions.”

Yeah, because if you acknowledged prior editions, you’d remember there are actually six editions prior to this “One.” Basic/BECMI, First Ed AD&D, Second Ed AD&D, Third Edition, Fourth Edition, and then Fifth Edition. For some unexplained reason, the nice folks at WotC always seem to exclude all of that content prior to Third Ed, unless they can bring it back to make a quick buck or two on it. (Spelljammer, Dragonlance, etc.)

I appreciate what Fifth Edition has done for the hobby.

Some people saw Fourth Ed D&D as basically the “New” Coke for RPGs. For those to young to remember New Coke, it wasn’t very good and it gave Coca Cola an excuse to bring back the old formula and make more money off all of the grateful Coke drinkers. In terms of advertising and marketing, it was brilliant. That said, in terms of being on the consumer end, it sucked. D&D Fourth was sort of the same way.

Fifth Edition is when WotC supposedly started listening to the players and incorporated feedback and merged some of the better concepts from prior editions. That’s true for the most part. But how do they explain the OSR movement?

Fifth Edition also introduced thousands of new players and DMs to the hobby of tabletop role playing games through Critical Role and other actual play podcasts. I think we’re all truly proud and grateful for that. As much as I kinda jab at Matt Mercer occasionally, he did do ALL that, and it’s a genuinely good thing. (And I know Matt would never read my blog. LOL!)

They think they have a solid lock on their demographic.

You know some marketing goobs at WotC sat down and asked, “What does a typical D&D player look like?”

Because that’s how marketing works. Make no mistake, WotC is still part of a very large corporation, HASBRO. Their job is to make their brands profitable. If it ain’t making money? It’s gone.

None of us want to see D&D go away forever. So, they sat down and figured out that their target audience is mostly between the ages of about 14-35, primarily in English speaking countries. They want people who are either completely new to the game or came in during the Fifth Ed craze. They’re also likely assuming the new players are somewhat tech savvy, phone constantly in hand, social media users, and accustomed to virtual play.

They admitted in their announcement video that the game is 50 years old. But they’re really only looking at about half of that demographic. In my opinion, it’s like they’ve completely turned a blind eye to the rest of us. They’re not going for any compatibility beyond Fifth Edition for the most part. What about the OSR crowd?

Then there’s their fancy virtual platform.

Yes, we’ve been asking WotC for years to bundle PDF copies with physical rulebooks. Yet if you go on D&D Beyond currently, you’ll notice they’re still charging print prices for digital products. Want the print book? That’s double the price for both. At least DriveThruRPG sells the PDF and physical book together for the price of the physical copy plus shipping and still gives you the PDF.

I kind of suspect with the recent merger of OneBookShelf and Roll 20 VTT, we might be seeing WotC/Hasbro winding up to buy them both. DMsGuild is a joint venture between WotC and OneBookShelf already. I don’t think it’s going to be a big surprise if they are assimilated. It’s only a theory for now.

What concerns me the most is what the new D&D Beyond platform means for retailers. Right now, if their announcement is to be believed, they will be selling the physical copy and bundle it with the digital copy ONLY if you buy it directly from WotC. They sound to me as if they are going to cut physical retailers out of the process as much as possible and only sell directly from their website. Great for WotC, bad for your Friendly Local Game Store. We’ll see, I suppose.

As a famous rapper once said, “Don’t believe the hype.”

I already see the official/unofficial hype folks on YouTube and Twitter talking about One D&D and the playtest materials. Oh, it’s going to be great. Just listen to what they’re telling us and don’t use any discernment of your own.

WotC has made One D&D an open playtest from now until 2024. You can download the latest playtest materials and read them for yourself. Surveys for the first round were due to open September 1, 2022.

I suspect, much like any survey research, this is being done primarily as a public relations tactic. They want us to feel like we had an opinion to contribute this whole time. However, in the corporate world, that input does not matter for squat and we know it. In all likelihood, they’ve already got this new edition in the can. They’re just appeasing the fan base and making sure they’re reaching their target demographic.

Hey, what do I know? I’ve only been around since 1972 and gaming from 1982 onward. I’m just a guy with a blog, right?

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Keep playing the games you love.

Only Show Respect.

Only Show Respect, the other abbreviation of OSR. The one that we all know and love is Old School Revival. It basically just means all of us OG’s like to play original or first edition D&D and other classics from the early days of RPGs.

I wish I’d thought of this one.

I’d been kind of kibitzing with Tom from TableTop Taproom in his YouTube comments about doing a “No Hate in the OSR” logo. I had one that I was working on, but I’m not maybe as artistic as the folx Tom has access to. I’ll start using this on my OSR content as soon as I can. Love it!

Only Show Respect, the other abbreviation of OSR. The one that we all know and love is Old School Revival. It basically just means all of us OG’s like to play original or first edition D&D and other classics from the early days of RPGs.

“We’re here to game.” – Tom/Jedion.

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The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.

Due to some seriously negative horse crap in the RPG community, a lot of us older fans really want to drive the point home that we’re NOT HERE TO HATE! I agree entirely. I’ve rallied behind this movement. Everyone is welcome, so long as they do no harm in the real world.

I’ve mentioned in other posts that a lot of us older gamers were raised in a different era. An era when treating some people with disdain, disrespect, and even hate was considered okay. Now, culture in the US and other countries has evolved. Some of us OGs are still evolving with it.

We’re taking charge of a narrative with this.

It’s no secret there are people in almost every community that hold some kind of bigoted beliefs or some personal ideals that seem a little sketchy. I shamefully fell into this category at one time. People can change! People are capable of opening their hearts and minds.

You don’t have to be a bitter, spiteful, Old Grognard forever! There is love in all of us. Open your heart and hopefully your gaming table up to new people. Leave ego and politics at the door and roll some dice together. It’s easy.

It’s not “Woke” culture.

Keep it warm and fuzzy out in the real world.

Please be respectful. Please be kind to others. Play nice. This is not new information. We didn’t just wake up one day in a world where people expect to be treated the way we want to be treated.

If one finds oneself on the receiving end of “Cancel Culture,” maybe it’s a signal that mistakes were made. In other words, if someone is getting pounded on social media for being rude, insensitive, or acting like an ass- some reflection is in order. That’s simple matter of social sanctions within a community against someone who is violating an unwritten or even sometimes written code of moral conduct.

Lovingly submitted, it’s not 1983 any more. The cultures we live in are changing. What was once considered socially acceptable is changing. It’s not a written law, it’s what others find ethically and morally acceptable now.

Hot take: What was acceptable in 1776 United States might not be so popular now.

They did what, exactly?

The Founding Fathers of the United States weren’t exactly angels in some respects. Some of them owned slaves, committed various crimes by today’s standards, and did some pretty reprehensible things back then. If someone acted that way in 2022 and got caught? They’d be going to jail for a long time.

I’ve seen many similar lists to this one from Ranker.com. While the history books paint pretty pictures of the Founding Fathers, they were not all sunshine and rainbows. My point is: what we think of as “right” and “wrong” today looks nothing like what it did in 1776, 1863, or even 1983.

RPGs written in 1980 or earlier are pretty cool, but remember from whence they came.

Even RPG designers of yesteryear are guilty of having some sketchy ethics and beliefs. I’m not going to name anyone specific. I think we all respect and admire certain RPG royalty in much the same way we admire the Founding Fathers. (Sorry, gotta go with what I know. I’m sure Canada, Great Britain, and other countries have their own versions.) None of our heroes are completely untarnished.

Pathfinder 2E (Paizo) and D&D 5E (Wizards of the Coast) are even changing what they are doing with what we called races back in the early days of gaming. We can change the way we look at our hobby and still have fun. Conflict in one form or another still drives a lot of RPGs. Those older games are still great, but we have to remember that morals and ethics were different when they were written. Things that would be considered racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and ableist now were overlooked as the norm then.

The disclaimer that has caused so much uproar in the OSR RPG community.

That’s not to say that being a jerk is okay any time.

The “Old Grognard” in me wrestles with some these concepts regularly. Sometimes ethical and moral dilemmas are at the very heart of RPGs as well. I like a little deeper roleplaying when I’m not slugging it out with superheroes or blasting giant robots. Some of these very deep concepts can lead for epic storylines in RPGs assuming everyone at the table is cool with it.

Just because there’s literally a race reaction table in the Unearthed Arcana AD&D 1E, doesn’t mean we have to play it that way in Old School Revival. Part of the beauty of OSR is that it’s a revision or even a rewrite of the old rules. We can have the nostalgic old school feel without the messed-up old school racism, sexism, -phobia, etc.

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I’m all about that OSR way of doing things because that’s my generation’s way of gaming.

Heck yeah! Let’s go romp through some dungeons the old beer-n-pretzels way! Slay that dragon. Grab some cool loot. Just leave the negative stuff toward other people out of the games we write and the way we play.

Then carry that attitude to our Friendly Local Game Stores. Let’s bring the fun with us to conventions. Let’s bring people into the hobby and show them how awesome roleplaying games can be. Please convey that positive, welcoming message everywhere we go.

O.nly S.how R.espect.

Thanks for stopping by!

What’s OSR?

Old School Gamers typically have been around for a long time. The reason we are somewhat attached to RPGs of the years past is because of the experience with those games/editions. Some of us have had the same Dungeons & Dragons books since they became available back then.

Old School Rules/Renaissance/Revival and what it means to me.

I’ve been seeing more rhetoric from multiple angles on this topic again lately. Maybe Go-oggle and Yu-Tube have picked up on the conversations in the room and my search history, etc. Who knows? But anyway, we’ll talk about what an OSR RolePlaying Game is as opposed to a more modern one.

Disclaimer: This is NOT about one being better than the other. Both schools of gaming thought are valid. Both styles of gaming are perfectly valid. One is no better or worse than the other. Please accept this as strictly my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

Old School Gamers typically have been around for a long time. The reason we are somewhat attached to RPGs of the years past is because of the experience with those games/editions. Some of us have had the same Dungeons & Dragons books since they became available back then.

It’s not 100% just D&D, either. There are plenty of other games and other editions of games out there from the 1970’s -1990’s that are plenty popular. Marvel Superheroes RPG has had multiple incarnations over the years. Star Frontiers has only really had one official edition so far. Middle Earth Role Playing (MERP) was around before the movies breathed new life into an old series.

Some of us OGs have been around even longers still. Remember Chainmail? Remember Warhammer before everything had a $100+ price tag. Some folx (before my time) played the predecessor to GURPS called The Fantasy Trip. (TFT) Call of Cthulhu has been around a very long time as well.

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Now that we’ve heard about Old School, what’s considered “New” or “Modern” roleplaying?

My personal definition is anything that would be considered the most recent edition of a game. D&D 5E, for example, is most obvious. Some games such as RIFTS or Pathfinder 2E have just been reborn in newer editions, even under new systems, in the last five or ten years.

Game companies are businesses as much as we tend to forget. We would like to think the writers, editors, and production staff of these games as friends who help facilitate fun with our gaming group. We want them to do well. Unfortunately for our wallets, that usually means new editions, new sourcebooks, or new games.

New games, reboots, or new editions often take the form of a Kickstarter or some other crowdfunding effort. Most new games happen that way these days. If a product can’t pass crowdfunding muster, then it’s probably not going to happen. Some companies do the majority of what they do through Kickstarter and BackerKit almost exclusively as if retail and the PDF market are almost secondary.

Newer games tend to have a newer approach and a different attitude.

For example, D&D 5E bases level gain on Milestones (preferred) or Experience Points. Roleplay and story aspects are emphasized over combat. Older editions of D&D tended more toward smash the monster, grab the loot, gain the XP. DMs could set XP for other types of encounters, but it was quicker to go full on murderhobo if you just wanted to level up.

D&D 5E tends toward shorter dungeons, maybe five or six rooms that usually follow a somewhat logical pattern. Most of the story takes place in terms of interaction with other characters and NPCs. Most Old School NPCs were a means to an end. The loot and the monsters were the real goal and they were usually stashed away in some unbelievably huge multilevel underground complex full of traps, puzzles, and more monsters.

One last example. D&D 5E is sort of a generic system. People have created campaigns and settings for superheroes, giant robots, space opera, and even shoujo style manga roleplaying. The best part is, thanks to the Open Game License, creators can get paid for these efforts. In the before-time (Classic Star Trek reference,) there was no OGL and if you wanted to work for a game company you had to bend over backwards to get printed in a fan magazine and then pray you got picked up to write an article for Dragon. Then maybe get a foot in the door at old T$R or another established company. There were different games for everything, too.

So why is OSR so cool, exactly?

This is still all I need for old Basic D&D.

Game companies tend to drop old products like a hot rock once they cease earning money. I mean, it’s just good business, right? Sometimes they move onto a new edition. Sometimes they move onto another project altogether.

Back in the older editions of D&D we had a class. That class was pretty broadly defined in most cases. Fighter could be anything from a pirate to an axe wielding barbarian. In D&D 5E there are subclasses and even some specialization within the subclasses. There are more ways to customize your character than you can shake a stick at and a rule for every one of them. (This is also why Pathfinder 2E is 700+ pages for just the core rulebook.)

If we didn’t have a rule for something back then, we just made it up. Admittedly, some DMs had entire three-ring binders full of house rules. It was fast, it was loose, and it was fun! Our character’s actions were mostly limited by our imaginations.

AD&D 1st Ed had the Fiend Folio and two Monster Manuals. Anything beyond that had to be created by the DM. Nowadays we have how many official books plus dozens of third party monster books? It staggers the imagination and the gaming budget. That’s why I love Dungeon Crawl Classics (an OSR game,) so much. I end up creating and describing most of the creatures I want.

Another case to be made for OSR games is we know there really aren’t any sourcebooks coming out for the original editions. However, newer replicas of these old games serve two main purposes: to bring back rulesets into an OGL framework and to allow for the publishing of old homebrew adventures under the new (old) ruleset while still keeping it fresh. I truly wish I had hung onto some of my old dungeon maps.

Some modern RPG companies have found ways to cash in on old trademark IP. They’re selling reprints in PDF and even Print On Demand copies of old games. This is great because it gives new players a chance to get the old stuff without having to photocopy some beleaguered book the GM has been using for 40 years. There aren’t as many notes and coffee stains on the reprints, either.

I love both.

Fun old times. New fun times to be had. It’s all good.

I’m a roleplaying game fanatic at heart. I’ll run, write, or even play just about anything. It’s still a game. The rules are superfluous to having fun. I like crunchy bits like no other, but I do enjoy a good story, too. Whatever gets us there is fine.

I like older editions of some games for their charm, nostalgia, and fond memories they hold for me. A lot of old curmudgeons balk at new rulesets or editions. I welcome at least taking a look at them. Sometimes the new rules and art of newer editions draw me in. Sometimes they make me want to stick to the old stuff.

It’s also funny to convert newer RPG creatures and ideas into retro games. First, it makes me look like I made it up. Second, it gives me a reference to fall back on if I get stuck. There’s a lot of stuff we wish we had back then that is commonly available now. Plus, I know some OG curmudgeonly gamers have never picked up any new material. Heh heh heh…

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you regardless of editions or game systems. Hope you’re having fun. See you soon.

Is OSR Really Better?

I’ll be gettin wheeled into the old gamer’s home with my notebooks, mechanical pencils and dice in hand some day. I don’t care which edition we play.

Why can’t we love all the editions equally?

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Old School Rules, or Old School Roleplaying, whichever you prefer. It’s really just throwbacks to older editions of D&D, usually First Ed AD&D or Basic/ BECMI. I get it. I had to buy a new copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia a couple of years ago because mine wore out.

I love all the editions equally. Well, okay… Maybe 4th Ed is just something I have a lot of respect for. It shares a lot of similarities with WoW, which I also still have a lot of regard for. Good times were had. I created a lot of neat stuff for that edition.

Then there’s 5E. We all love the Fifth Edition stuff. A lot of folx got their first taste of roleplaying through this edition. Unfortunately, some people also got turned away from the latest edition.

The Old Grognards are going to be coming at me with torches and pitchforks.

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I can just hear it now, “How dare you compare the greatness that was White Box D&D with this fruity Fifth Edition of the game? Grr blargh! It’s not even the same game we had back in my day… (Old Grognard noises.)”

To which I always reply, it is- but it’s not the same game. It’s all D&D. Apples and oranges are both still fruit. But the flavor is much different. With a new edition of the game around the corner in about a year and a half, a lot more people are going to be seeing eye to eye with the OSR and Pathfinder purists.

After all, Pathfinder began because some people didn’t want to let go of the goodness that was 3rd Ed D&D. Since then, it has grown into its own separate yet marvelous empire, but its humble roots are in D&D. Pathfinder isn’t OSR, but many of the players of each share a sort of quiet respect for one another.

Old School has its place.

I love Dungeon Crawl Classics by Goodman Games, which also shares a great deal with both BECMI and 3rd Ed. I also still do get the urge to go back to when my entire character fit on one side of one page in my wide rule notebook. Heck, we didn’t even need character sheets back then.

Maybe that’s why so many minimalist games have caught on in recent years. My favorite is probably ICRPG. The whole idea that your whole character can fit on a 3″x 5″ Index Card appeals to many of us. The rules are so simple, too. (I swear Runehammer did not put me up to this.)

Whether it’s nostalgia for simpler times or an easier game, OSR has gotten super popular. I won’t ever say “better” because it’s all a matter of preference. I would show up for any of the above. I have quite the PF2E collection, too. It’s all a game to me, and I love RPGs. Please, do what makes you happy!

Thanks for being here! Regardless of what game you play, you’re always welcome to stop by. I appreciate you!

Yes you. Really!

Casting Call for an RPG Campaign?!?

Take it from someone who has run a lot of convention games in a dozen different systems and never received a dime in cash or been in front of a camera doing it. Take it from anyone who survived the “Satanic Panic” era of Dungeons & Dragons when everyone was gunning for the hobby to be shut down. Heck, take it from someone who was bullied, insulted and rejected for being a gamer on a regular basis by the church, the school, the parents and his “peers.” Y’all kids have it lucky now. Trust me.

Sayyy whaat???

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I’m kinda passionate about this, so please bare with me? I was passing by a post on #RPGTwitter today that almost triggered me. They were holding auditions for a Blades in the Dark campaign. Auditions? For the cast? Like a TV show? WTAF?!? Okay, I’m triggered.

Not at the folks running the Blades campaign. Your game. You run it your way. Cool. It’s also an Actual Play podcast. I get that.

Matt Mercer and his crew of wannabe gamers are taking it too far, In MY Opinion!

Look, at first I thought Critical Role was a novel idea. Matt Mercer who is a poster child for Wizards of the Coast/D&D hosts a cute “game session” for a bunch of voice actors. Some of the actors are actually quite famous for their roles in anime, American cartoons, and video games. But here lately, I think it’s just gotten completely out of hand.

You know how many game sessions I’ve recorded and/or broadcast? That’s right. NONE. EVER. And honestly, I may never do it. Nor should I have to. I’m still perfectly capable of sitting down at a table in a game store or anywhere else with live human beings and rolling some dice and running original adventures that I have written myself- FOR FUN!

Congratulations, Critical Role. You flushed out this Old Grognard out of his basement. Now look what you’ve done!

And I should say kudos to Matt Mercer for putting D&D 5E on the map. Yay for him and his Critical Role efforts for that. The show has also spawned hundreds of Actual Play podcasts and dramas all over the Internet. I guess that’s cool if that’s what you’re into? Maybe?

I want to make two points about this whole thing and then I promise I’ll move on quietly; peacefully even. First, you don’t need an Actual Play broadcast of any kind to run your RPG. I can’t stress this enough. You need friends, dice, books, pencils/pens, maybe some minis. Cameras, batteries, and laptops not required. No fancy casting needed. No fancy character voices needed. No animators required afterward. Play the GAME for crying out loud!

Second, Dungeon/Game Masters don’t have to be Matt Mercer. I know a lot of people are calling this the “Matt Mercer Effect.” I think they’re giving him too much clout all around. Folks, I’m sure Matt’s a nice enough guy. (He’ll never see this and I’ll never hear from him. Ha ha.) But the one thing people forget, is that he is basically on WotC’s payroll.

Watch what happens when the game switches editions here in a couple of years. Do you think the entire cast will receive all new shiny copies of the latest PHB? Yeah… probably for free. Say what you want about the game and the show, but the people in charge are not stupid. (They do make some serious blunders at times…)

I’m not Matt Mercer. Likewise, he’s no Jeff Craigmile. (*Again, he’ll never see this. I’m small potatoes.) If someone rolled a truckload of money up to me to hang out with voice actors and pretend to roll some dice occasionally? Heck yeah!

But good old Matt will never run anything that’s not made by WotC, such as ICONS, ICRPG, or Starfinder. You’d certainly never get the “Mighty Nein” to sit down and play Dungeon Crawl Classics. I bet money their characters would die so fast in an old school dungeon crawl with a different DM, their heads would spin and we’d spend half an hour watching them all roll new characters.

They know how to make cartoons. They know how to do the voices. But are they gamers? Take it from someone who has spent a lot of hours sitting around a dark basement with five other guys who play RPGs as a hobby- Critical Role’s cast are almost the opposite of that. Yay. They make it look like fun…

Take it from someone who has run a lot of convention games in a dozen different systems and never received a dime in cash or been in front of a camera doing it. Take it from anyone who survived the “Satanic Panic” era of Dungeons & Dragons when everyone was gunning for the hobby to be shut down. Heck, take it from someone who was bullied, insulted and rejected for being a gamer on a regular basis by the church, the school, the parents and his “peers.” Y’all kids have it lucky now. Trust me.

Critical Role might look like they’re playing D&D, but the sweat equity in the game and in the industry just ain’t there, folks. Love em for it, but what you see is what you get. Play the game for yourself. It might not be as glamorous, but it can be a lot more fun. Hey, no cameras- no pressure.

Good for you if you’re only 20 something and just getting into D&D. Good for all the new players. I hope you stick with the hobby, even if times get rough again. If Critical Role inspired you to play or even DM for the first time, hallelujah! Just remember a lot of folks who will never see as much recognition came before Matt Mercer and his cast.

Okay, getting off my soapbox now.

I promise I’ll behave. Rant mode off. Luckily for WotC and their advertising department, I’m a small time blogger with a little bitterness toward their prizewinning show pony. Guess I’m lucky and blessed with a small audience and I can still be grateful for every last follower. Thank you, family!

Take care. See ya soon.

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