Many of us here on this forum follow the TTRPG discussion on Twitter. And, because Twitter can get aggressive, and highlights hot takes and extreme views, many of us prefer this forum as their platform for RPG discussion.
I like that, here, discussion isn’t dictated by trends of social media outrage, but I do want to comment on the ongoing discussion. Sometimes I want to speak out on other platforms, but fear angering people. I’m not an influencer, but the idea of being blocked or shouted at by creators I admire terrifies me.
So when indie TTRPG influencers are calling out to cancel (or “fuck”) the OSR I’m not quite sure what to think.
On one hand, I understand the need to disassociate oneself from the stigma of OSR, brought on by the problematic people associated with the term over the years (up to present day). For people who are only familiar with the OSR via scandals or hearsay it can be baffling why people would go on using the term when, to them, it is synonymous with bigotry and little else.
On the other hand, I find the play styles and the design principles associated with acronym OSR very attractive. I like the DIY culture, I like the focus on layout and usability. I like random tables. I like hacking. I like short rules-light systems and the philosophy of rulings over rules. I like looking at old systems and seminal works of TTRPG history, even when they are problematic, and seeing if there’s anything there I can use today.
The OSR community on the whole has been a positive place for me. The discussions on this forum have been great, and the respectable part of OSR-adjacent Twitter has been quick to shut down bigotry, and routinely promotes marginalised creators.
However, if the term “OSR” has become too tainted with uncomfortable associations for the wider audience, I totally understand and respect creators’ unwillingness to associate their products with the term, because it could hurt their business. I understand and respect individuals who wish not to be associated with the term, even if they share some of the creative values behind that term.
But about people (like myself, I’m sad to say) who still subscribe to most of what OSR stands for (rules-light systems, sandbox playstyles, DIY etc) but are discouraged from using it, either because of outside pressure or internal reflection?
Should another word be invented? I don’t think that would work, because it would be defined as “what the OSR is calling itself now”.
Should we then not define ourselves at all, instead existing within the greater indie TTRPG community, even if we can’t then find people who agree with us about high lethality, the art of Larry Elmore, the superiority of unbalanced encounters or xp-for-gold?
I don’t think the people dissing the OSR are necessarily wrong or right. Mostly, I think we’re a good bunch, but some things still need fixing. I personally enjoy the darker side of RPGs (and very much embrace moral ambiguity in my home games) but I do think the OSR still has a blind spot for LotFP as a publisher, and I think that needs to change.
I like the OSR Pit, and the people I’ve met here, and I’m gonna keep coming around, chatting to people and working on the zine thing, which is one my favorite things on the internet right now.