Is OSR progress?

Is OSR progress in TTRPG? Is that advent of OSR gaming a way to innovate the hobby, or is it simply a reaction to game systems people didn’t like? I have to admit, I’m torn on this one, but as this whole OSR thing doesn’t appear to be going away any time I’ll weigh in.

By OSR, I’m referring to games that seek to resurrect older editions of games like Dungeons and Dragons in order to re-introduce elements of gaming people thought were being sacrificed in more modern games. This got started about the time Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition was released. I never played much 3rd edition, but I’ve played a lot of Pathfinder, a game designed to be backwards compatible with D&D 3.X. Pathfinder is decidedly not OSR, and it is something people reacted against. Apparently, Pathfinder, and more modern games have too many rules. I don’t know if I agree, but this is the argument a lot of OSR gamers advance.

The the question I’m often stuck on is, do OSR games represent actual innovation?

I guess in a way. The people who crafted the systems did so with an eye towards cleaning up and polishing some of the rough edges of earlier games. Rules have been refined, and re-worked to reflect more modern gaming. I guess in a way this is innovation. Technically, something new has been made.

At the same time, the only reason these games exist is to rehash older games. Literally. In some cases this is stated out-right. It’s hard for me to look at this and think its a step forward, even if some of these games are quite good. The real purpose of OSR game is to preserve a certain manifestation of TTRPGs.

There is nothing wrong with this, and I will always defend people playing the games they want to play. However, I’m generally not all that inspired by the OSR movement. I’m happy to see people taking a stand for something they love, but I’m not so keen on people acting like other ways to play TTRPGs are somehow not proper RPGs. Such is life. Everyone is entitled their opinion.






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