The bounds of OSR

If either of you find this kind of game interesting, there is Do Not Let Us Die In The Dark Night Of This Cold Winter a.k.a Cold Winter, which might be a nice starting point.


I agree and that’s why I’m interested in the design of game systems to define goals and player activity, but I didn’t want to disregard their thoughts completely because they were offering a different perspective I hadn’t thought of yet . I prefer rules to meaningfully drive gameplay and not to act as the physics engine, but it’s helpful to think about what rules could be and what those rules mean for the game. That way, we can delineate how rules in general precede gameplay.

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Yeah, your line of thinking is completely fair, and it’s important to consider different points of view!

Am I right in my guess of what type of game you would be going for?

Yeah! I think I’m going to make a blog (I would hate to word vomit on here all the time) and freeform design some rules and see what happens! :slight_smile: I’ll have to think about what role(s) the players take on, whether they collaborate as one village or if they are multiple villages or families collaborating together.

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Thank you for reminding me of this! I love the resource management between Food, Medicine, and Fuel :slight_smile: I wonder if this could be improved with like meeples or something, that way you don’t have to erase and write over things so often.

Hey @chiquitafajita, I would say that it’s fine to wordvomit on a forum, that’s what they’re for, but I don’t know if the staff here agrees! Anyways, I would appreciate if you would update us here on any developments, I think it’s a cool endeavour.

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We set up this space for long discussions so don’t worry about writing too much. In fact, since this discussion is so interesting, I would be happy to read updates on this, here or on a linked blog.


Sorry for the mess, everybody. I hope it’s now ok

Thanks yall! I’m making a quick blog right now and I’ll post updates there :slight_smile:


First blog post! This is so exciting!


The reason why I am hesitant to have players lead individual villages is because of the potential that the game would turn competitive rather than collaborative. It might be better that the players act as villages elders/nobles, and should they die they pass on their title to an heir.

I fear that, in this kind of game, there will emerge a competitive, political element. You either have to accept this or find something that might unite everybody like the danger of the dungeon does in more traditional OSR games. Maybe define a menace (war, famine, pestilence…) for the community at the start of the game, something so big that the community has to act as one in order to survive. Maybe you could change the danger every “adventure” (but, at some point, the village’s story would become comically dramatic).

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I’ve actually now accepted the competitive element to an extent! Like, why not go all-in on it? The players will elect a commander who can take what they want from the other players, but everyone has “loyalists” that they can call on to remove the commander from power.

Ha, I’m talking about this as if it’s a game that exists and not a bunch of scribble notes on my computer! But this is super interesting so far, and I’m excited to come up with scenarios where all the players have to work together.

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Welp, I’m super late to the party, but this discussion seems really cool (I’m a fan of the warm 'n cozies too) and I wanted to throw in my two cents. Hopefully I’m not too redundant. I’ll try to outline mechanically how I’d probably alter things if I wanted to run a game with this feel (hopefully not pushing the bounds too far).

-I actually outline this part of the method on a post in my blog. I’d use B/X reactions as is, with reactions defined as 2d6 with immediate attack on 2 and hostility with lower numbers and neutrality with higher numbers. I’d probably sprinkle in a table on “What do monsters want?” with some predefined items whenever they don’t attack. Depending on how friendly or unfriendly I want the world I could tweak numbers.

-Combat (AC/Attack/What have you) - I’d get rid of it. Outright. And replace it with a save system, something a la Maze Rats for example.

-Ok hopefully I don’t delve too deep into blasphemy here, but I’d also get rid of HP. Not death however. The way I see it, HP sort of defines getting “thicker skin” as you’re adventuring. Instead, liklihood or not of death would be based on the save system. That brings me to…

-XP. With no HP, XP would directly be moved, most likely, to improving saves. So instead of gaining thicker skin, as HP would imply, you gain a sharper eye and a keener mind, allowing for more saves. Earning XP would still be GP, since I like the system. Bringing me to my next point.

-Gold: You never find this lying around guarded by monsters. That’s boring in most games imo. Instead, you look for things. Again taking inspiration from Maze Rats (I like the game, if you can tell), you should be trying for an economy of things. Some of these things are wonderous, mystical, magical, and worth gold back home. Other things are random junk left by other adventurers, which you’ll need to use as tools to finagle your way through the world. Not like you can use your fists.

And that’s about it. Now you have a world where monsters don’t always attack, and may even be reasoned with in many cases (adjusted by a dial, I’d probably include fewer undead and the like and more fantastical beasts and sentient creatures, and crank the dial a little more positive that in B/X). You’re a small fry going out looking for things and using things to explore the world, and have to use your keen mind and sharp eyes to avoid dangers, because you’re not going to get a chance to really defend yourself in a fistfight. Disclaimer this is patently untested past the first point.


This is just an aside, but I wonder if you have played many recent games? Coop games are big (pandemic, spirit island, ghost tales, for example) and story telling games are a plenty ( near and far, above and below, Arabian nights, etc) and many many games you really have no idea who won until the end (many games, including raiders of the north sea, caverna, etc).
With legacy games, you even have some world building.

I too prefer RPGs but I think modern board games might be more fun than you remember.


I absolutely adore this, and it would be perfect for running a DND-like game in a friendlier world! :smiley: I especially like the focus on items and on things that people (or monsters) want. If you wanted to take it a step further, you could go full gift economy and get rid of Gold. Then you could gain XP based on gifts that you give to people–and then lose XP based on how much you receive.

I also really like getting rid of combat and turning death into an immediate save throw! That will absolutely encourage players to play combat smart, but also encourage them to seek other solutions too. :slight_smile: Thank you for this!

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You might want to check out Brindlewood Bay. It is an OSR adjacent game about grandmas solving mysteries. It has a very cosy aesthetic. I think it is achieved more through style and setting more than mechanics. One of the game’s elements is describing your cosy life, but apart from that it is pretty much a detective game. It might be nice to look into for inspiration.

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Oh wow, I love this! I knew it would be based off Murder, She Wrote before I clicked the link. :joy: This is super cool, thank you!

You’ve gotten me intrigued, care to elaborate? Would XP would be tied to social capital in this case? Would it still affect the same stats?

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Oh sorry that was just me spitballing! It would basically be social capital; maybe it’s not tied to leveling in the traditional sense, but more like how much the community at large is indebted to you. I think that this is a very slippery premise for a cozy game. I’m writing a paper for my class right now about how the gift economy is more coercive than it’s given credit for by some recent anthropologists. So, if the designer is not careful, it could end up that the player simply aspire to enslave their neighbors through debts that they can’t ever repay.

Of course, built-into the gift economy is collapse–once someone gives too much and has no more to live off of (not to mention no more to give), they fall back down.

So I can see this being a little too heavy/coercive for a cozy game, which I imagine must be more no-strings-attached. I think it was Marcel Mauss who said that altruistic gifts did not exist until the economy was no longer gift-based. I can see this is why cozy games often ignore any economic implications: food grows in trees or you can just catch fish, so gifts are 100% nice things to do that just make both people happy. I think these are the lines to think about either a gritty pre-monetary game, or a cozy-game when taking those caveats into account.


Hi all! :slight_smile:

As part of a game jam, I wrote a game to try to approach this question by changing the very structure of the game from linear development to repetitive cycles of activity! :slight_smile: Usually, the solution to “softening” roleplaying games is to invent conflicts and situations that are non-violent, but this can be an unsatisfying answer when the mechanics strive to build up to something. So, WILWYF is a game about not really building up to anything at all!

Its immediate inspirations are Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon in how it attempts to break out of linear structures to become a repetitive, almost anti-game! I include some overarching “conflicts” to guide the player (ghostly grandparents, house debt, mail delivery), but these are intended to be sources of anticipation rather than completionary aims!

As of now, I prefer the execution of this to the settlement game I was working on because it utilizes a different structure from other RPGs to achieve its mood and guide player behavior! Whether it has stretched the bounds of OSR or broke free of them is an interesting discussion, because I avoid using mechanics to structure the game around the narrative and the precise aim is to create emergent play. At the same time, this has little to do with adventuring and dungeon-crawling anymore!

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