Open Source Roleplaying

A recent (private) thread from +Stacy Dellorfano and an ensuing comment from +Kiel Chenier got me thinking about what I like about these older, simpler rulesets. Bottom line up front: it’s the “simpler”, not the “older”.

Part of the appeal to some gamers of the “Old School Renaissance” is nostalgia. This is how they played when they were younger, and so (much like music), the games they played in their childhood or adolescence imprinted on them. I get this, not least when I see screenshots of old games like EGA Trek.

Credit: wrathofzombie

But I didn’t really play D&D much back at that time. We dabbled a bit in AD&D 2nd Edition, but I grew up in a conservative evangelical family that saw (sees?) D&D through the lens of the Satanic panic. So we quickly moved to science fiction or other non-fantasy games like MegaTraveller and GURPS. As an adult, I played lots of Star Wars stuff (primarily the RCR and Saga Edition), plus roleplaying in MMORPGs.

Labels don’t matter much to me. RPGs are my hobby, not my profession, and I like it that way. But the DIY ethos of the punk movement, which is reflected in the “open source roleplaying” interpretation of OSR, matters to me a lot. I have some of the slickly-produced 5e stuff, and it’s well done, but I also like my d30 companions and such. As previously noted, I like a “riffing” style in my RPGs. Other people can play however they want in whatever frameworks they want, whether that’s story games or ultra-crunchy tactical maneuvering or total freeform text RP. There’s no objective standard or judgment here – only personal preferences.

So, DIYpunk or dungeonpunk or D&DIY or whatever – bring it all on. Everybody’s welcome, as long as they “imagine the hell out of it!”


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