Sunday, July 11, 2010


Blog Administrator Note:  Most of you will be familiar with Tim Kask.  There is not enough good I can say about his overall contributions to the role-playing industry and specifically to the Dungeons & Dragons game.  His incisive commentary is always aimed at those whose foot will wear the shoe...   Tim maintains a Q & A forum at the ever popular Dragonsfoot and he is constantly busy with many other and varied game industry related activities.

Guest Editorial

There once was a very small, insignificant little man who looked upon a great edifice of imaginative design and construction, unlike anything ever built before. This little man of no training or skill of his own felt that the magnificent construction was not finished. He took it upon himself to sneak up the side of the marvel of design and add a flagpole to the very top. As he perched upon the very pinnacle of another’s innovative achievement, looking out upon vistas never even contemplated before, he exulted to himself that his was the great achievement, for was the flagpole not the highest structure in the land? Old Delusio fable.

If there is one thing that the Internet has taught us, it is that any delusional narcissist can find an audience for his rantings. You need no credentials to proclaim yourself an expert, you need no expertise; apparently, all you need is too much time on your hands, an agenda and a very wide streak of “I love me.”

Another thing that the Web has taught us is the viral speed at which labels and classifications can spread; like viruses, the mutations along the way can be extreme.

As an example, let me use the example of the phrase “Old School Revival.” (I have also seen references to “Old School Renaissance,” which is apparently much the same concept or “movement.”) What exactly does this mean? The more often I see the term, the more confused I get with the contexts in which it is used.

OSR (whichever phrase you prefer), is, on its surface, an oxymoron. For something to be “reborn” or revived, it must first be dead. The original spirit of D&D never died; it just was buried under all the crap that came out with editions after the second. A lot of us never bought into what has now become a video game with dice and paper. However, I digress…

The very vociferousness of the self-appointed denouncers goes against the very fabric of the game as we played it in the early and mid-seventies. These Inquisitors separate and divide; the real original style was: whatever works and produces fun is OK. It was about the fun. The DM outlines the plot components and the players fill in the details.

As far as I can tell, the individuals most closely involved in this movement to “be pure again” seem to number no more than several dozen. Oddly enough, a couple of the more opinionated, and to my eye more ignorant, seem to claim individual credit for the “movement,” as though they created and/or defined it.

Two particularly obnoxious individuals have set themselves up as some sort of Star Chamber in which they pass judgments that others are actually supposed to care about and heed. Aside from vociferous vituperation, what have they to offer?

Recently, a friend directed my attention to a blog from some “OSR evangelical type” that made some of the most ill-informed, unfounded and absolutely ludicrous statements that showed his total lack of understanding. One must assume that he simply ignored anything that did not fit with his sickeningly self-congratulatory belief that the OSR is now superior to the original TSR.

What does that even mean? As a charter member of the “original school,” I can certainly assert that this dogmatic, divisive “movement” has little or no idea of what it was like gaming back then. Their ignorance cannot be excused; enough of us from the founding years have certainly been very forthcoming on various websites over the past several years. (My thread on Dragonsfoot is 160+ pages and I have answered every question put to me in that venue.)

In recent years, I have been going to cons and running adventures of my creation. Virtually every group that had never played with me before were astounded that I could run a four hour adventure without ever cracking open a book. Not only that, I forbade books at the table. With one possible exception, every group I have exposed to my style of play, which has not changed rules for 30 years, had a hell of a lot of fun. At least, that is what they told me.

Fun is what it is all about. Someone once asked me what the measure of a good DM was. My response was that when your players show up every week to play, you are doing just fine.

What we produced was the product of our minds and hands, something that had never been done before, a totally new gaming experience. What we did fed our children, paid our utilities and made the mortgage payments every month. We did it by creating something brand new. We built a market in five short years that virtually dwarfed the hobby of five years previous. In addition, we did not do it with a government subsidy or grant.

Saying that current OSR material is superior to TSR material from 1977 (just a year I was there, nothing special about it) is like saying that today’s Mercedes-Benz is superior to the farm-cart-looking wagon that Herr Daimler motorized in the late 19th century. Well, duhhh. Look at all we’ve learned since then; it had better be better. Lots of people have the ability to improve; very few can create. That is why there is a distinction between a game designer and a game developer.

Unbelievably moronic statements have been made about Dragon Magazine to the effect that it was not like Knockspell and Fight On! (both of which I have written pieces for and one of which dedicated an issue to me and Dragon—for the purposes of full disclosure) magazines of today. Well, no shit, Sherlock. The Two you tout are fan magazines; Dragon was a gaming magazine. We were growing an industry and hobby that those responsible for such utter tripe now take for granted. Neither Gary nor I had the slightest interest in a house organ, one-trick-pony thing. We squared that between us before he hired me. Before D&D truly took off, we had already planned a gaming magazine. (Big dark secret: many of our early readers were not D&Ders; some became…)

Perhaps the most singularly asinine comment that I have had brought to my attention lately came from an obscure self-styled publisher from a small European country. He opined that TSR did not act like a book publisher. Once again: well, no shit Sherlock. We were not a book publisher, we were game publishers desperately trying to protect our IP so that we could continue feeding our families, paying the bills and having light to work by. (We put in some pretty prodigious hours in those early years.)

If not for the OGL, none of these blatherers and blowhards would have anything to crow about. (Man, what a mistake that was, eh?) (WotC and the Hasborg must have recurring nightmares about OGL, d20 and all of that debacle…good, the greedy soul-less bastards…)

Somewhere along the way, OSR seems to have lost its way. If it was a movement, what has it brought to the hobby? More hobbyists? Nope; in fact, it seems to be driving some to other rules systems. Better products? Nope, although there have been a few good ones like The Dungeon Alphabet that compare favorably. Innovation? Nope, again. Has anyone ever published something like Empire of the Petal Throne? Seems to me that the OSR is long on Nopes and decidedly devoid of any Yups.

Let this serve as notice: What I am writing and will soon be publishing is no way connected to, associated with or in any way part of anything that calls itself OSR. My stuff is me and my take on what can provide some fun role-playing.

There once was short man that convinced a giant to let him stand upon his shoulders so that he might better see a parade. So intoxicated did the short man become with the view and perspectives revealed up on the giant’s shoulders that he grew full of himself, forgetting that without those shoulders, he would have seen nothing at all. Another old Delusio fable

Note:  Tim's Response to the Initial Serious Inquiries

I really did not want to name names; I was citing a couple of recent items as a metaphor for, or example of, what I see as a bizarre schism in our hobby. Mr. Raggi (please note use of honorific, Mr. Raggi”) has successfully identified himself, and the publisher is the individual he quotes.

First, I did not "trumpet" my contributions to any publication; I listed them in the interest of full disclosure. (If Time-Warner lists what stock it owns when doing a news story in TIME Magazine, I felt compelled to be no less honest. I guess that honesty isn’t always the best policy.) If I were of a mind to “trumpet”, I would have listed several others that I have written for, and the games I’ve edited and developed, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

Second, I am not "bragging" about my DF thread; I simply used it as a reference to the fact that a great many of us "old salts" have spent considerable time answering questions the past few years, about everything from how decisions were made then to the way we play our own games now.

As a history teacher, revisionist history rubs me the wrong way. I find it particularly suspect when it is apparent that the revisionists have done little or no research in any attempt to understand context. Steve Marsh, Rob Kuntz, Frank Mentzer, Jim Ward, Zeb Cook and myself (and these are only the ones I know about personally) all have threads one or more places where we gladly answer these types of questions. I don’t preach on how to play the game; I preach about having fun playing.

As I try to get a handle on this whole self-identified movement, I see several people speaking of it as though it were their doing; so who is honest and who is not? I don’t really care, but it puzzles me. In reading various threads, looking at numerous websites and even viewing a couple of blogs, I find more negative didactism  (“that is wrong; this is right), dogmatism and dictatorial behavior evinced in the “Old School Revival” movement than was ever the case back where we all began. How did this happen? This also puzzles me.

Some of what I have read lately would be akin to my trumpeting the fact that I can print a prettier Bible than Gutenberg did, without once ceding the point that without the invention of movable type I would not have collected nearly 2500 fonts for my PC.

I chose to get involved in this because of what I perceived as an egregious failure to credit the foundation of what became this hobby that so many of us love. Mr. Raggi's self-congratulatory crowing about "better,” without once acknowledging that foundation upon which he built is disingenuous at best.

The fact that my (apparently) misguided attempt at full disclosure is twisted to become vainglory; the fact that I cite an example of readily available information is then distorted into “crowing,” what kind of game is this?

On yet another blog, my very credentials are being called into question, as well as my actual contributions to the game. Rob and I know the truth. I have long made the facts available whenever asked specifics; I have never felt the need to define “my” contribution to the game as we all felt that it was “our” game. Now I am having other thread posts cast in a light that does them discredit as they are being cited as an example of my supposed bias against AD&D as they are cited totally out of context. Why would I be biased against AD&D? I helped Gary Gygax define what became AD&D; it was my job. That I prefer to play my version of D&D (3 LBBs and 1st 3 Supp.), does not mean that I am biased. We all put a lot of stuff in the various rules for the purpose of allowing people to opt out of doing all the work. Sadly, we figured common sense would always rule; we were wrong.

I was not bragging about my DM abilities (I’ll let Rob do that); I was pointing out the apparent culture-shock induced by my “loosey-goosey” style as opposed to being bound by endless charts, tables and die rolls. We weren’t there to look at books, we were there to have an adventure.

I admit that I used a couple of harsh terms, and I publicly apologize to any individual that assumed that I was skewering them.

Now, it has been brought to my attention once more that Mr. Raggi has made overtures to contact me privately. No.

Public disputation should be settled in public.

Tim Kask
1st full time employee for TSR
Founding Editor of Dragon Magazine

NOTE THIS Related Link


Dustin said...


bombasticus said...

THANK YOU! And here I was just rereading a Bob Bledsaw news bite calling you "Timid" Tim Kask....

I like the creativity but have been turned off by the self-conscious factionalism and utterly bewildered by all the clones. When and if humble little me cranks out a project, it will have no "OSR" trade dress. It'll just be an exploration of the themes that haunted me for the last three decades.

Rob Kuntz said...

Hey Bombasticus, Tim has never been "timid
so I am sure Bob was joking and real hard.

Happy Gaming and Creating--RJK

Will Mistretta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Will Mistretta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Kuntz said...


As much as I appreciate your questions, but the use of vulgarity when aimed at people, whether names or not,--and that includes everybody--is not permitted here.

Just to let you know that I am deleting, if possible, that portion of your post which contained such and cautioning others in respect to that.--RJK

Rob Kuntz said...

Reposted after deletion of vulgarity:RJK

"Two particularly obnoxious individuals have set themselves up as some sort of Star Chamber in which they pass judgments that others are actually supposed to care about and heed. Aside from vociferous vituperation, what have they to offer?"

Which two? Do you have some examples of the ruthless cyber-tyranny of these mad overlords?

"Innovation? Nope, again. Has anyone ever published something like Empire of the Petal Throne?"

Carcosa. And if a lot of the stuff in Fight On! isn't gonzo enough for you, I don't know what is. The first issue had a piece called "The Space Wizards" that has to be one of the weirdest LSD trips of a campaign idea I've ever seen. :)

"If it was a movement, what has it brought to the hobby? More hobbyists? Nope; in fact, it seems to be driving some to other rules systems."

Can you prove this? If someone out there is collecting numbers on this, I'd like to know how, for starters.

I know some people who don't like tapioca pudding. Clearly, tapioca is doing something to drive some eaters to other puddings, if not out of the pudding-eating field entirely.

Clearly. Now way just pulled that whole thing out of my ass on the spot, or anything.

Word verification: "lather." You're good at whippin' your readers into one, alright. I just hope you have examples and facts to justify it. Otherwise it just sounds like you're here as an excuse to brag about yourxxxxxxxx 160-post thread. Sorry about that.

FASERIP said...

"If there is one thing that the Internet has taught us, it is that any delusional narcissist can find an audience for his rantings."

No kidding.

Just look at Dragonsfoot.

Rob Kuntz said...

That's it? That's all? No more? OK. Cool.

Now onto Monday.

Goodnight 'til the cock crows...

Next UP: Zayene the Insane...

Anonymous said...

the phrase “Old School Revival.” ...What exactly does this mean? The more often I see the term, the more confused I get with the contexts in which it is used.

As this post sadly demonstrates.

OSR (whichever phrase you prefer), is, on its surface, an oxymoron. For something to be “reborn” or revived, it must first be dead.

Which again shows you either don't get it or don't want to, but instead like so many others are tragically caught up with personalities and "who", rather than "what".

The OSR is not about personalities, it's about what has been happening over the last few years.

What we have seen is the legal return to print of TSR D&D through the medium of the clones, making it possible for gamers to walk into a game shop and buy brand new TSR D&D compatible (old school) modules and supplements. In fact if the number of TSR D&D compatible modules now available for sale, in print and pdf, hasn't exceeded the total amount of modules printed by TSR, it won't be long before they do.

This has nothing to do with anyone being better than TSR, but everything to do with a renaissance - a rebirth.

You're right Tim, the spirit of the game wasn't lost. People still continued to play it through what some saw as the dark age of WotC D&D. What did die was the legal publishing of products for TSR D&D, the loss of new printed product.

But that has now changed, publishing has been revived, younger players are discovering the joy of old school (TSR) gaming, and this corner of the hobby is growing in popularity.

And then along comes blog post like this one. What a pity. Instead of all the crap we've seen this week of people scrambling over each other to tear down the OSR and paint it in a bad light, people busy hurling insults and focusing on personality clashes and arguments, wouldn't it have been so much better to have people focus on "what" has been happening in the OSR - which has been an explosion in publishing for the game we all love, a surge of interest from newbies and those outside of our sphere? Blimey, there's so much happening now that it's extremely difficult to keep up with all the new stuff. You'd think that would make those who love old school gaming pretty happy. Yeah right.

The very vociferousness of the self-appointed denouncers goes against the very fabric of the game

That is so true. And what a pity, it looks like another has just jumped on the bandwagon. So much for the spirit of the game. Shame, shame, shame!

Rob Kuntz said...

Hello David, I appreciate your intelligent and reasoned post; and although Tim may have further commentary, I will respond to some of it due my expertise in the area.

Mayfair Games and my outfit Creations Unlimited published D&D compatible products with disclaimers even as D&D was still being produced. Why? Because it was legal to do so as TSR could not claim the mechanic or many common words which were in public domain.

Anyone can do D&D compatible product without the OGL, it's just that people choose to believe that they have no legal right to do so when WotC issued the OGL in tandem with the d20 license to expedite their control of the market. It back-fired with the result as we are aware of. The OGL still exists, however. That WotC knew this is a fact, for why else would they release it. If you need links to the factual matter involving the case as ruled by the court (TSR vs. Mayfair Games) the link can be found in my Up on A Tree Stump post by clicking on the first link which will take you to PPP's site, scroll to the bottom for the link to the case.

Secondly, people could still print and disseminate and create D&D material even after TSR broke the past compatibility of previous editions by forwarding 3E--they just couldn't do it for profit. So, Greytalk-L, Canonfire, Dragonsfoot, and several others sustained the output of not for profit compatible material, again pointing to no cessation in the pre-3E D&D hobby or its products. This in turn promoted the hobby to others as Dragonsfoot has been instrumental in doing for years, for instance. That D&D was still being played at conventions , that rule books in all editions became pdfed and available (until recently) on such places as RPG Now only continued to raise the exposure for the game which WotC indeed left at the roadside, but it did not die or become crippled in the least, for if it had, there wouldn't have been such a market available for so many companies to operate in now, no?

This is about, in part and maybe even whole, honoring our past. I am an ex-TSR employee, an alumnus and the 6th employee hired by the company. I honor that tradition and I have been nothing but supportive of the future of this hobby, but I will not sustain childish insults any longer, and neither will other TSR folks, you must understand that. It's not professional and is downright disrespectful. Our age was perhaps raised differently, we were taught decorum by participating in a professional environment, and if that is not possible from those claiming to run companies and to be business people, then of course these things will occur. A shame? Quite so, And in more ways than one, unfortunately. Luke Gygax is deployed overseas right now and is no doubt reading the emails I sent to every TSR alumnus I could about this. A real shame.

Justin Alexander said...

Mr. Kask is clearly writing in response to some specific stimulus. It might be wise to actually make explicit exactly what he's writing in response to, however, because without that vital context my initial and overwhelming response to his condensed anger/bile is, "What a dick."

I'm not sure what "star chamber" Mr. Kask is referring to, but as far as I know the OSR has never had a membership requirement. Just about anybody is capable of standing up and saying, "Hey! I'm part of the OSR!" Does that kind of open inclusiveness mean that some of the people who associate themselves with the OSR will turn out to be jerks? Sure.

But to go from "some people participating in the OSR are jerks" to Kask's conclusion that everyone involved in the movement are "delusional narcissists", "self-appointed denouncers", "inquisitors", "ignorant", and "moronic" is quite a leap.

It is particularly surreal for me to see this hateful talk perpetrated on a blog that I only read because I was linked to it from OSR blogs. And which has included among its contributors self-proclaimed members of the OSR.

This surreality is only heightened by Kask's rhetorical device of faux confusion/ignorance concerning the meaning of "old school renaisance"... before trumpeting his own contributions to Fight On! which advertises itself as the "premiere fanzine for the old-school renaissance".

When you have actually participated in the self-proclaimed Old School Renaissance, you have perhaps given up the right to pretend you don't know what it is. (Which is not to say that Kask shouldn't feel free to rebuke the movement he's been a part of if that's what he really wants to do.)

As I say: For the moment I'm assuming that there is some specific piece of slanderous hate to which Kask is responding. But the piece he's written here, without that context, is, at best, confusing. At worst, it paints Kask himself in a very negative and hypocritical light.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can do D&D compatible product without the OGL, it's just that people choose to believe that they have no legal right to do so...

Which only backs up what I said. Through fear, however unfounded, the market of new print items for TSR D&D dried up to nothing - that is until the clones and print on demand publishing hit the scene, beginning a revival in TSR D&D publishing.

And yes for a short period of time WotC sold pdf's of TSR D&D, but apart from the fact that many people hate pdf's and there's some mucking around involved in getting a hard copy, they weren't new products - and if a scene like ours doesn't get an influx of new creativity, things start to get stale and tired.

people could still print and disseminate and create D&D material...they just couldn't do it for profit. So, Greytalk-L, Canonfire, Dragonsfoot, and several others sustained the output of not for profit compatible material

This is actually a very important point in all this. When it comes to growing the hobby, to having newbies join the scene, quite a few people are simply not interested in a "new" game if it doesn't appear to have some support. While we've all been incredibly lucky to have the torch carried by DF, etc., the fact is their free items can't be found in a game store. Believe it or not, people like to spend their money. People place more value on theose items they pay for than those they get for free. Authors of free products are forever complaining they can't get feedback. I see it on sites like DF all the time.

And then there are the younger gamers who don't have the nostalgia we old gamers have for the original game. They're not interested in bidding on Ebay for increasingly more expensive used copies of the rule books.

The clones have enabled gamers not familiar with the old school scene to walk into a game store and not only buy a rule book, but support material too. This is a powerful thing and something that keeps the hobby alive to a far greater degree than free stuff on the web.

The OSR, which is just a label for a trend that has happened over the last few years, has seen a renaissance of creativity and output that is nothing but good for us all. The fact is, whether or not people like yourself and Tim like the label, what has come about can only benefit you both in your own publishing endeavours, as it greatly increases your potential customer base. It would be a shame to see our corner of the hobby degenerate into unnecessarily fighting camps, splintering the community and driving away potential new folk.

This is about, in part and maybe even whole, honoring our past. I am an ex-TSR employee...I have been nothing but supportive of the future of this hobby, but I will not sustain childish insults any longer, and neither will other TSR folks

And that's fair enough Rob, but it's a two-way street, respect goes both ways. You guys already have it from the vast majority of us. It would be a great mistake to tar everyone with the same brush, alienating many, just because of one or two outspoken people. The OSR is the result of the efforts of a large group of diverse people, people who love this game and have given back much for the wonderful goodness you originals gave to us. The crap that has gone on this week does no one any good and is all so unnecessary.

anarchist said...

The OSR provided the audience for this editorial denouncing it.

anarchist said...

Also, unless I misread you, you seem to acknowledge that the OSR is producing superior material to TSR, but be denouncing Jim for saying it.

Rob Kuntz said...

Two way street? TSR was on the receiving end, this is the response. I have said nothing to slight the OSR, I merely claimed disassociation--look elsewhere for comments which labeled me thereafter... Comments which my own professionalism would have never allowed to stand on this board if they had been made no matter the issue. That's decorum.

I am my own entity,so are others. That is why I said what I said in the comments section of the Tree Stump post, in positive reaction to Dan's post there (near the bottom), Read it if you have time.

There is no proof in my estimation of growth in the retail sector of the market because of the OSR movement--perhaps numbers should be generated for that and posted to assuage your claims? In their absence I will defer to convention schedules in published catalogs, and it appears from the many I've studied to date that the old editions are the ones being played there, and not many produced at all by the OSR. This is where real growth occurs,don't fool yourself.

As for the one split and we all split idea. Are you in business? Look, let Tim and the party in question (see link to post) discuss this. It's already wasted a lot of people's time and upset many who are primarily and truly vested in this.

As for the rest...

Next UP: Sleep

Flynn said...

I have to admit that I'm not sure why people feel they have to tear other people down, both here and elsewhere. What does it accomplish? I can understand the emotional satisfaction of denigrating someone that you might perceive has harmed you verbally, but the harm that comes to your own reputation or the community as a whole appears to make it a losing proposition. Sadly, I see it happen all too frequently, and in each case, whether I agree with the content or not, my respect for the individual is diminished.

If only they could put that much energy into finding the good in someone they don't agree with, or at least positively promoting their point of view instead of tearing down "the other side"...

My Personal Opinion,

jgbrowning said...

So, one is James Raggi. Who's the other?

Anonymous said...

There is no proof in my estimation of growth in the retail sector of the market because of the OSR movement--perhaps numbers should be generated for that and posted to assuage your claims? In their absence I will defer to convention schedules in published catalogs, and it appears from the many I've studied to date that the old editions are the ones being played there, and not many produced at all by the OSR. This is where real growth occurs,don't fool yourself.

Don't fool myself? Charming! Just as you base your opinion on your observations Rob, so do I. After several years of frequenting various old school forums, after a couple of years of following numerous old school blogs, and now working as the admin guy handling memberships of a retro-clone organisation whose main aim is to grow the hobby through convention demonstrations and other strategies, I have noticed a constant and growing number of people commenting that they have either discovered old school games for the first time, or have come back to old school gaming after a long break, and they have mostly done so through the agency of the retro-clones and various "OSR" blogs. And it's happening much more now than before the trend that is the OSR first kicked off. That kind of proof is hard to ignore.

As for the retail market, likewise there are increasing reports of people find new "old school" products in bricks and mortar stores. It's early days but it's happening, and it's growing. I can't give you "proof" of my "claims", only report what people are saying.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

To me, the main point was this: It is about the fun.

That line says what gaming has always meant to me, and hopefully to many others who play. The enjoyment of sharing a form of entertainment that really means something to the people participating. At their core, the "old school" and "new old school" are, at heart, really the same beast. Everyone just wants to play and have fun.

Forget the few allowing their egos to interfere; from those that forget about the shoulders they stand on to those who think they are making something new of their own by copying what came before. Everything old is new again. It is similar to children wanting to be their parents; like humanity wanting to become divine. It is a slow evolution. Sometimes painful. Yet, we are still growing aren't we?

We are all building gaming history. One brick at a time. Try not to lose sight of the forest through the trees.

Trust in God, but keep your powder dry.

Anthony Simeone said...

Hi all,

I just don't get all the vitriol being bandied about within the fantasy RPG hobby. I've been out of the hobby for a while and have decided to get back into it after a long hiatus. I've started a blog about my current return to gaming, and I've been reading a lot of other people's blogs. And I just don't get all the fighting. It's really making me very depressed. Shouldn't we all just be glad at the fact that Dungeons and Dragons is being played at all, that it's survived (and thrived) this long? And isn't it great that people are playing so many different versions of it, be it from the old TSR books, the new WotC books, or the stuff being produced in the retro-clones? Who cares what you play, as long as you are playing and having fun? Isn't that what it's all about? I'm about to wax philosophical: why does everything humanity puts its hands to turn into this petty bickering? Do I have to bring up the "it's just a game" arguement as well? Seriously, everybody shut the heck up and JUST PLAY! Revel in the wonderous variety that has come from that old Gygax-Arneson Ur-game. We should be so happy for those two late gentlemen, because their creation has given so so many people happiness, and D&D has gone forth and multiplied into so many great games, and has inspired so many. No one is doing it "better" than anyone else, no one version of the game is more "pure" than another. You all sound like the stereotypical nerds that people outside the RPG world believe we are, arguing over obscure minutia. Here's a revelation for you: No one cares! So for the love of the game, give it a rest, already!

Thanks for listening.

Zachary Houghton said...

Man, I am really disappointed in this. Disagreement is one thing, but this just seems so…unnecessarily divisive and inflammatory.

No one is making anyone be a part of anything. “OSR” is a descriptor of a perceived or actual heightened interest and product of classical-style products. That’s it. People can try to make more out of it, but that only has validity if you let it.

I talked about the OSR vs. TSR on my site last week (, but it’s not an issue of disrespect, at least it isn’t meant to be. It’s an honest comparison of the tools and philosophies of two eras, and their interpretations and variations on a game. If it gave offense, I’ll happily apologize, if that will make amends.

Look, how about this? Ignore the term if you want, use it if you want, but let’s all take a minute and realize we’re just talking about 3 little letters here. I don’t want to trivialize any hurt feelings, but come on, guys—is this really the big issue people are making it out to be?

Will Mistretta said...

Sorry that you felt the need to edit my "vulgarity", Rob. I guess I'm used to the internet being a place by and for adults. I thus tend to talk online as if I was "hanging out in the bar", as it were.

For what it's worth, though, I rarely, if ever, employ such language as epithets against specific people (i.e. "You are a dumb f***"), and that's a distinction that I feel is important.

But I'll keep your own guidelines in mind when commenting here in the future.

Anonymous said...

Virtually every group that had never played with me before were astounded that I could run a four hour adventure without ever cracking open a book.

Big woop! I'm playing in a Pathfinder campaign and our GM has opened a book once in last couple of sessions. It was the bestiary and she needed stats on a Devil. I don't think that skill is as rare as you seem to think.

Will Mistretta said...

"I'm not sure what 'star chamber' Mr. Kask is referring to"

Nor am I! I understood his clumsy reference to J. Raggi clearly enough, but I follow a lot of classic D&D blogs. A lot. And I have have no idea at all who this mysterious "Star Chamber" might be. Are there's two specific bloggers that I'm "supposed to care about and heed?"

Damned if I know.

Word verification: "thirlik." Officially stolen for the name of my next barbarian.

Steve Lawson said...

I'm with Drance, above. I'm getting back into the hobby and am enjoying my old AD&D books, new 4th edition stuff, and especially the newly-created old-school stuff. So these highly personal and divisive rants just make me think "what a sad petty man to feel threatened by all this."

This post is a stellar example of how not to handle this kind of situation.

David The Archmage said...

I agree with Drance, Steve Lawson, and all the others who feel that this was a really unnecessary and divisive post. There is plenty of room for everyone at the table. Play what you want, how you want it, and be happy the dice are rolling.

Patrick W. Rollens said...

Just one gamer's perspective here: Until the summer of 2008, when I started reading about Ben Robbins' West Marches game (and Grognardia, et al) I had never purchased a TSR product. D&D passed me by during my gaming adolescence.

Now, in the last 2 years, I have tracked down copies of the AD&D Players Guide, DMG, Monster Manual, B2 Keep on the Borderlands and Isle of Dread, shelling out my own hard-earned money for books that were new 30 years ago...

...all because of the OSR.

Justin Alexander said...

I keep coming back and trying to make sense of exactly what all the fuss is supposed to be about. Mr. Kuntz and Mr. Kask are clearly deeply insulted by something.

But when I hunt down the Raggi post I'm assuming was one of the instigators for this, what do I find? "Yes, there are some classic modules from the old days of TSR, a few of which stand so tall that we'll never compare."

So clearly that can't possibly be what has them rankled... can it?

Pity that they're being so coy in refusing to talk about what they're actually talking about.

I will also note that any growth of pre-4E versions of D&D is completely dependent upon retro-clones. When I create enthusiastic new players using OD&D, I can't send them to the White Box to own the rules or run their own games. It doesn't exist as a commercial product.

I, personally, felt that retro-clones were pointless as long as the original rulebooks were available for sale. But since WotC yanked the chain on that, retro-clones are now an essential part of growing those game systems.

Patrick W. Rollens said...

Maybe they're writing in response to the Ennies nominees? Raggi showed up a few times therein. I dunno...

Alan said...

*sigh* I was typing up a long post, but in the end decided, "You know what? Why let this stuff bother me? Why let the rant of someone I don't know nor care about cause me to waste my time? Just unsubscribe from the site and avoid it."

Job done.

The Grey Elf said...

In many ways I agree with Tim's statements. I've made comments on several occasions that we amongst the old school gaming community are unnecessarily divisive and elitist about our status as "old school gamers." We have become dogmatic and overly arrogant about what exactly constitutes "old school play," and turn our noses up at people who have different definitions.

Nor do I claim complete amnesty from this trend--I try not to be that way but there have been times when I've been overzealous about correcting people's perceived misconceptions.

In truth, the OSR should mean one and only one thing--people who continue to play and support pre-1990 games. Regardless of your personal preference for game or era, I think it's possible to agree that it was somewhere around 1990 and the advent of Vampire the Masquerade that the industry underwent a paradigm shift.

But even with such an understanding we needn't be snobbish or self-important about it, and far too many of us are. We're not an elite. We're just a community of gamers who enjoy a different, older style of play than that which the past 20 years have fostered. Why do we have to lambast new games in order to encourage the enjoyment of our own? Why do we have to make grandiose claims about the old school?

Unlike Tim, I'm not going to claim not to be a part of the old school community. I actively enjoy playing old school games, just as I did the first time I sat down at a table in 1979. I just think we need to enjoy our own games without judging other people based on their different tastes.

I do think it's important to point out that when we've lost (or are in danger losing) the support of luminaries like Tim Kask and Rob, we've also lost sight of the point of the old school revival / renaissance / revolution to begin with. These guys are the old school. Is it a good idea (never mind the practical wisdom, just philosophically speaking) to alienate them? Don't we then cease to be about the actual old school and become about some revisionist history movement?

Dan said...

What an incredibly mean-spirited editorial. What vitriol. The OSR folks might have their faults, but they in the end having fun with the hobby same as everyone else. Since fun is your holy grail, maybe you ought to respect that.

For shame.

bear_sophie said...

Many of the sentiments have been echoed above from my post(s) elsewhere.
But, I was less ad hominem.

OF COURSE, it is ridiculous for someone to declare you are part of their movement, that their current products are "better" as though it is special.

Yes, indeed, folks can fulfill multiple criteria and not automatically be members of a "group" - Duh.

...Think of how many companies have the same mission and COMPETE here. E.g., - P&G and Unilever both have soap brands. What we are seeing is, competing philosophies and views of the situation. We can all be Old school gamers, developers, and not be part of one movement, or even two.

It is not inherently bad that everyone isn't rank file over arbitrary definitions, labels, philosophies, and styles.

Building upon the achievements of others is always easier.

We can convey all this above without "pwning" others.

Also, my feeling is, no one is member of anything they do not have to pay for or be accountable for. Who cares if I am registered "Libertarian" and even vote that way. Now, if I part with money / resources... well, now I truly am a member.

So, why argue over it. This is why we learn early to say "Wanna Bet?" to Test how serious someone is about their thoughts.

The Grey Elf said...

I don't see Tim's remarks as mean-spirited OR divisive. Indeed, they comprise a direct retort to remarks on other blogs and forums which I would posit are more truly divisive and arrogant.

It's never comfortable or well-received when someone calls you on your bull...but as a community, part of me thinks we're overdue for someone to call us out.

Just my two cents.

Akiyama said...

Well, I've bought everything James Raggi has produced so far, as well as lots of other old-school products. I've also downloaded some astoundingly good *free* old-school modules.

If the product Mr Kask intends to publish gets reviews as good as the so-called OSR products get, I'll consider buying it. Since Mr Kask was the first full time employee at TSR, and the founding editor of Dragon Magazine, and has a thread on Dragonsfoot that is 160+ pages and can run a four hour adventure without opening a book, I'm sure anything he writes will be worth looking at.

Akrasia said...

This screed, while amusing, does not reflect well on the author, in my opinion.

And I'm still trying to figure out who the other member of the 'Star Chamber' is!

Jason wrote: "they comprise a direct retort to remarks on other blogs and forums which I would posit are more truly divisive and arrogant..."

Any links?

The evasiveness and vagueness that permeates this whole 'debate' is rather frustrating.

anarchist said...

I would have been less surprised by this if someone had written it on their own blog. People use blogs to vent, and I can imagine bashing out something like this in a white heat (and then taking it down later).

But this was a 'guest editorial'. So at least one person looked at it in cold blood and decided it was the best way to...what? Talk about gaming? Promote their projects? Sort out this 'OSR' thing once and for all?

Seriously....whatever you were doing, you're doing it wrong.

Ragnar Hill said...

I might disagree with Raggi, but I let him know, I don't beat around the bush and I respect James Raggi, even though I don't agree with him for a number of reasons, here are just two:

1) He is very passionate about what he does. Look at what he did to promote oldschool gaming at the local convention, he brought in product to expose people to. He didn't have to do that, but it did it for the benefit of everyone interested in oldschool gaming.

2) The "self-styled" publisher turns out a professional looking product every time. Look at that boxed set! I might think he is immature at times, but I have to admit, he has me drooling to get one of those boxed sets.

Whether one agrees with James or not, he does MORE to promote oldschool gaming than most anyone out there. I just disagree about the need for a movement. I run games to have fun and I don't want to be labeled or pigeon-holed. I try to do waht I can and be a positive force, but I cannot tell people what sort of game they should be playing and what is fun, that is for each group, and their game to decide.

metamorphosissigma said...

This sounds an awful lot like the vituperative editorial diatribes EGG used to waste our time with back in the day in Dragon (Cf. "Role Playing: Realism vs. Game Logic; Spell Points, Vanity Press, and Rip-offs" in Dragon 16, and "Poker, Chess, and the AD&D System" in issue 67, among others), in which he sought to convince us he was the sole arbiter of what "real" D&D and/or AD&D was all about and disparaged those who refused to conform to his vision of the game, or criticized TSR in ways he deemed disrespectful.

I disagreed with Jim Raggi's statement that the OSR is better than TSR, and was one of the first to say so. Frankly, I think it was a ridiculously self-aggrandizing statement evincing a total lack of perspective on the history of the game and the relative quality of the products of each. The products of the OSR have almost universally been less well written and less well designed, with worse artwork and poor editing. This is to be expected, as none of these are professional publications.

On the other hand, as the saying goes, "What have you done for ME lately?" Mr. Kask?

Zzarchov said...

The part that makes this post a bunch of whining is the contradictory statement about running a business being why TSR did what it did, the need to feed families etc (which is good and honest)..then complaining when Wizards did the same thing, made decisions purely for business reasons (and seeing as Wizard's never collapsed in on itself, seems to be the smarter of the two).

Thats just an objective look at the business of TSR and the business of WotC, WotC (who sold themselves to hasbro) did better as a business and was better run than TSR. That isn't a statement about the character of those involved anymore than it is to say that between the Cubs and the Yankees..the Yankees are better at baseball.

Also note that a Renaissance does not mean the original has died out or that it keeps the same flavour. As Grognardia pointed out, original greek statues were bright and tacky while the renaissance produced white marble, and greek worship still continues in parts of Pakistan to this day (and not in a revival).

Ragnar Hill said...

For some reason I am coming across as "Mr" but it should say "ancientvaults" and I should add that I wrote in haste and the post should say that while I don't always agree with Raggi, here are at least two reasons why I respect him.

Zzarchov said...

Reading through the comments I am again saddened (my Original reply goes to the original post).

But for such Hypocritical statements?

Quote"Our age was perhaps raised differently, we were taught decorum by participating in a professional environment"

being said by the person who made the following:
"Unbelievably moronic statements have been made "
"Well, no shit, Sherlock."
"good, the greedy soul-less bastards"

This more than anything else irritates me. In my generation we are actually taught respect through enforcement. And I would fire anyone who considered such behaviour part of a professional environment.

Now if you don't consider this a professional environment that is a different matter...except you then go on to specifically claim that it should be?

There is nothing wrong with disliking the ranting and posteuring of others, there is nothing wrong with being vocal about it and using colourful language on your medium. But it is disengenious to then claim other folks need not act as vulgar as you, because you would never stoop so low yourself.

thekelvingreen said...

OSR (whichever phrase you prefer), is, on its surface, an oxymoron. For something to be “reborn” or revived, it must first be dead.

If it is an oxymoron, you're perpetuating it, because this:

The original spirit of D&D never died; it just was buried under all the crap that came out with editions after the second. A lot of us never bought into what has now become a video game with dice and paper.

This is what the OSR is all about. It turns out you've been a member all along!

Anonymous said...

dhowarth333 said...
This sounds an awful lot like the vituperative editorial diatribes EGG used to waste our time with back in the day in Dragon

Yes, I miss those too. EGG was entitled to disparage who and what he wanted to. It was his game. His baby. He had loyalty to TSR and defended them. What's wrong with that? He was passionate for what he believed in.

We all adopted his baby as our own. How do we feel when criticized about it? Seem familiar?

And every little slight or snarky comment doesn't boost anyone's credibility in refuting his opinion. It only makes the heap higher, and pretty soon nobody can see the things that are of any real value.

Tim Kask said what he needed to say, in response to comments originally made elsewhere. Suddenly, it is all, "Oooh, he shouldn't say that" or "That's just not right" or "My game can beat up your game anyday".

You disagree, fine. Tim and Rob are still entitled to having their say.

To the naysayers & complainers, put your pride in your dice bags and just play. That's what Tim says old school "original style" was really about: "whatever works and produces fun is OK. It was about the fun."

Just play. I know I am going to.


Robert said...

I admire Tim and James for many of the same reasons. For instance, that they are both passionate and unafraid to speak their minds.

It seems to me that perhaps Tim misread James. I don’t think James meant to insult Tim or Rob or other TSR alumni. I think he was praising other people’s work as much as his own.

Yet, there’s a lot of wisdom in Tim’s response.

Rob Kuntz said...

Mr. Kask's comments to the posts will be coming later this evening as his day is consumed with family matters. In between roll some dice like GW said.

Rob Kuntz said...

I will add from my own POV that what Jason says above are possibly the most intelligent and professionally considered questions and inquiries that I have heard come out of the OSR movement since its inception. My opinion is that this form of inquiry comes form having considered all of the matter and fairly--and over a wide space of history. This is the form of high inquiry and standards that will lead thought rather than destroy it. Bravo! My hat's off to you as one historian (and possible scholar?) to another.

nextautumn said...

Mr. Kask,

Previous to reading this ill-conceived, vain and hate-filled diatribe, I felt a great deal of respect and admiration for you; after reading it, I find myself still overwhelmingly grateful for your many and marvelous contributions to the game I love and the hobby in general - but sad and disappointed that you would stoop to such deplorable language and rhetoric.

I personally do not enjoy 3rd or 4th edition - I tried, for a few years, to get the hang of them; they just weren't the right style for me and my group. But I have zero problem with those that enjoy them - more power to them; after all, it's all really just about having fun, as you assert. I don't denigrate those games or them.

When I decided to return to older versions of the game, those blogs that self-identify as old school (when I discovered them) gave me a sense of community, a endless procession of highly-creative free products and resources, inspiration and friendship. I don't care about labels.

Please reconsider your thoughts on this subject. I think you'll find, in retrospect, that you may have let destructive emotions get the better of you.

I hope this finds you in a happier mood. Best.

The Grey Elf said...

Why thank you, sir. That means a lot. If I'm a D&D scholar, it's an amateur one at best. I'm just a longtime enthusiast. In other areas I'm a scholar, for sure--I have a degree in religious studies and am pursuing a master's in library and information science at current :).

metamorphosissigma said...

My hat's off to you as one historian (and possible scholar?) to another.

For obvious reasons, I'm just going to roll my eyes at this and move on..

The Dungeon Delver said...

funny, it's not accepting my less than 4096 character response, so I'll just sum it up: Tim, you're wrong.

Here is a link to my comment, in full:

Rob Kuntz said...

Why is it that those who seem to post the most inconsequential barbs have their profiles non-viewable? OH! I get it... ;)

Now back to the "sane" channel...

Just another note: Tim will be responding tonight. Get your popcorn and fave beverage ready and eat a good meal in between. :)

metamorphosissigma said...

I don't think my barb was all that inconsequential. You're blowing smoke at James, implying that you are a historian and (possible [sic]) a scholar. You are neither, unless I am misinformed.

I'm not sure what you get. I don't have my profile viewable because I don't have anything in it to view. That makes me insane?

Just another note: Tim will be responding tonight. Get your popcorn and fave beverage ready and eat a good meal in between. :)

I fully intend to do just that.

metamorphosissigma said...

Pardon me, make that "Jason", rather than "James".

Rob Kuntz said...

In fact I was communicating with another professional in the manner I chose, but you are obviously part of the gang here to reinterpret not only D*D History but my life and studies as well. I don't waste anymore time these days with senseless banter, and neither did I call you insane (but if you believe I did then maybe there's an issue there which you were unaware of).

Timothy S. Brannan said...

It's hard to know what I can even add to this.

I have to agree with Mr. Kask.

To me the oldest old school is getting together and playing games and having fun.

I love old games, I love new games. I don't understand why half my game time is supposedly "funner" than the other half?

And if there is vitriol in the post above, well I would be too if some guy that had only created derivative works claimed that these works were better than the originals.

metamorphosissigma said...

Fair enough, though I dispute your use of the word "professional" as I did your use of the word "historian" and "scholar". What studies would those be? The only thing I'm "interpreting" is that your lack of any formal education in the discipline of history make you a non-historian.

What I'm trying to point out here is that we're talking about amateurs here all around. The OSR folks are self-published, you are self-published, and Mr. Kask hasn't worked in the gaming industry for almost 30 years, to my knowledge.

Cimmerian said...

This topic is older than most people think. Rob brought up some very important points a long time ago in this very blog.

We all enjoy the idea of everyone getting involved, having their say and participating in their hobby.

I know that Rob & Tim believe in keeping it fun and most of all unshackled & creative! Sometimes you need experience to tell you to stop re-inventing the wheel and design a to new heights!

If you feel your predecessors have wronged you or have been heavy handed it might be because the lesson is not being learned. If you are done learning then you are ok with the fact that the game has reached its zenith?

Why do these TSR guys still care so much? I can tell you they do care & neither of them as you can see is afraid to tell it from their pov.

My feeling is that the coattails are still being ridden, using the old game like training wheels. There is plenty of duplication of the game rather than a searching spirit or direction of growth, it's time to open up the throttle and take some risks. There is still room for innovation & creativity. There are certainly many creative and intelligent minds at work out in the blog-borg to push the envelope further.

What was Tim's intent? I see 'fun' laced throughout.

The Grey Elf said...

Uh...I'm not an amateur. I have published three full books in the industry, multiple periodical articles, and have two other books waiting for publication. These from companies such as Palladium, Troll Lord Games, and Eden Studios. I DID self-publish Spellcraft & Swordplay, but that was because I did that game on a lark and was pleasantly surprised to see it as popular as it became.

As for a scholar, as I said I have a degree in religious studies, which is not theology, but is a multidisciplinary field which encompasses history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, literature...and am pursuing my master's degree in library and information science as we speak. So yes, I'd say I qualify as a legitimate scholar.

The man you are attacking, calling an amateur, in case you weren't sure, is Rob Kuntz, who in point of fact is another luminary of early gaming, and who HAS published many things in the past ten years and has also worked with Troll Lord he's far from an amateur himself.

I also find it in exceptionally poor taste to lambast someone on their own blog.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Well...Jason and I both have books out next month and have few professional published titles under our belts.

Even though the book I wrote does get some good press I'd never dream of telling someone not playing my game that they are doing it wrong.

So I get where Tim Kask and Rob Kuntz are coming from.

Jason and I have had people tell us that their work was better than ours, even if all they did was copy the work we had already done.

Rob Kuntz said...

Mr. Dhowarth: Tim and I are both professionals, learned and studied in many areas of expertise, not just games. My bio at wikipedia does not start to expand on the areas of knowledge I am studied in and I only really do this as a pastime, as I love the game I helped create.

I am a very private person otherwise. But I will guarantee you, I am no amateur--amateurs do not win Charles Roberts awards. Amateurs do not devote themselves to teaching game theory to others (read my posts here); and amateurs do not take it upon themselves to cross publish in many fields and to study in depth those fields top to bottom. Only professionals do.

As far as Tim Kask's involvement in the industry and what he did as a teacher teaching kids role-playing theory and play when he was out of it, you might make inquiry into that subject as well when he appears tonight.

Zac said...

I don't get it. Maybe some people read a different expat-in-Finland blog than I did.

I do think "If you're playing or writing for old-school games or retroclones, you are OSR" is pretty much the direct opposite of, as Jason put it, "dogmatic and overly arrogant about what exactly constitutes "old school play," and turn our noses up at people who have different definitions."

Zak Sabbath said...

I don't know man--has there EVER been a renewal of interest in a thing where the originators of the thing being renewed didn't clash with the renewer?

You think Chuck Berry was a big Ramones fan?

One day the OSR will lead to a large body of great new game stuff, or it will try and fail and won't. That's when I'd judge it. Not on people's blog rhetoric.

I never judged TSR by what TSR said about TSR, I judged it based on how much I like playing the games.

Anthony N. Emmel said...

I have to agree with Tim. The attitudes of some are amazing.

I use the OSR tag myself, but more because it's a quick descriptive of the type of games I run.

Dan of Earth said...

There are so many levels of topics here that I don't know what I can or should comment on. I suppose the smartest thing would be to just lurk, but I do feel compelled to comment on at least one aspect of this discussion.

It's always been very important to me to emphasize how the retro-clone rules I publish are not new and that they are entirely in the debt of the work that came before them. Anyone who has read the foreword to Labyrinth Lord knows that I take no credit for the game in terms of its rules and general composition. It is what it is, and i claim nothing more. If anything, I only take credit for the effort involved in putting it together and making it compliant with the OGL -- no small feat.

I would be happy to discuss my perceived need for Labyrinth Lord's existence and it being in game stores. It's a long discussion; I have various reasoning. In short, it was my goal to bring this classic game back into print to try to help bring in new players. This is a big job, I realize, and off the internet we are making small gains, but they are gains nonetheless. This is a long term goal and it is done by a community, not just one publisher.

Anyway, I guess I've rambled a bit. In a nutshell I think it is important for any publisher to remain humble, remember our roots, and treat each other with integrity. If we can do all of those things I think it's a great start toward working together despite differing opinions about how the hobby might be furthered. Maybe I'm too optimistic that there is enough common ground for a productive course, but I hope not.

W said...

This post, like the silliness from James that prompted it, is undignified and ill-considered.

But James is fulfilling a lifelong dream with LotFP, and bound to be a little, um, hysterical about it. Such youthful boasting is all very metal, y'know? Mr Kask, despite wounded pride in his own accomplishments, has no such justification. This is not a squabble worth entering into. It's OK for people to be wrong on the Internet, y'know?

No winners today!

W said...

I don't know man--has there EVER been a renewal of interest in a thing where the originators of the thing being renewed didn't clash with the renewer?

You think Chuck Berry was a big Ramones fan?

The jazz tradition is one obvious example of sometimes-combative transhistorical cooperation. Infighting among 'schools' in the jazz world could be intense in the 50's, 60's, and onward, but the old-time cats could walk into any club, any time, and get respect from players who'd then walk up onstage and violently banish the old styles.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I'm post #70!
I have always wanted to say that. :)

Sorry, you can get back to what you were doing. Everyone has taken the time to do at least one game activity today, right? This doesn't count.

Let's hear some dice rolling. . .


Dan said...

OK, I guess my comment was called an ad-hominem attack (although the original post contains much of the same). So I'll clarify why I disagree with it.
I'm not part of the OSR. I only get to play tabletop games from time to time, and currently they are new D&D and 'new school story-games'. But I can see that the OSR movement is all about love for the original TSR stuff and a desire to keep it going, to prevent stagnation and continue creating material and running games. Thus it seems to be born out of the exact same virtues that Mr Kask espouses. I read many OSR-labelled blogs because of their infectious enthusiasm for the hobby and their font of ideas. I see no clash of ideals here except one that has been created for the purpose of this editorial, perhaps out of ageing insecurity. The cry of "some OSR material is as good as some TSR material" was a joyful one, one that recognised that players and GMs are the heart of D&D - sentiments Mr Kask puts forward as well. Really, this feels like a chipped shoulder that has turned a compliment into a perceived attack.

Matt Finch said...

I've never been able to post here - this is a test. If it works, I'll write a real comment (nothing to see here, citizens, sorry for the inconvenience...)

Joethelawyer said...

I would just request that Tim name names and link to blogs for clarity's sake. I'll reserve my comments, if any, until after Tim's rebuttal

mxyzplk said...

Dang, I guess Gary didn't corner the market on bombast in early TSR. Who knew?

metamorphosissigma said...

@mxyplk - You ain't seen nothin' yet, just you hold your hat when the big gust of hot air comes...

Adam Thornton said...

I don't get the vituperation. Really, I don't.

The best thing about GaryCon II, for me, was that I played something like 28 hours of games over the weekend, with nary a douche at any of my tables (and I hope I wasn't one).

Hell, Tim Kask himself gave me a thumbs-up for a bit of roleplaying. That was when my paladin put two copper coins on the eyes of a kobold he'd just dispatched. It was an excellent game (and yes, I had to pinch myself that I was sitting in the chair next to Actual Honest-To-Goodness Melf).

And yet: I've bought nearly everything Raggi has published. I've also bought all nine issues of Fight On! in hardcopy. I've had pieces in two of them. My two current home games are Microlite74 and Mutant Future.

Now, some of my spending money on OSR games is that I *have* money to spend now--I am an IT guy in real life, I make good coin, and I get to indulge my more harmless hobbies by spending some of it. But some of it is that a lot of these things are damn good.

But without a bunch of blogs and print-on-demand stuff, I don't think I would have realized that there were whole bunches of people out there who liked playing the game the way I did (which is, roughly, "rulings not rules", fast and loose, the players have to trust the DM and the DM has to trust the players). In fact, it took S. John Ross telling me about Jeff Rients' blog, after I mentioned how damn much fun I'd had breaking away from our too-high-level-and-rulesy-to-be-fun 3E game[0] and our abortive attempt to have fun with 4E, and playing Isle of Dread, for me to figure out that hey, I wasn't alone here. That's a good thing.


[0] I would argue that the core of 3E is, actually, many of the good things about AD&D, without a lot of the baroque excrescences it grew in late 1E and early 2E.

Anonymous said...

Readiness is all.............................................................

Rob Kuntz said...

Note that Tim has updated the initial editorial which I have posted, this to clarify where needed and to answer the inquiries where possible.---RJK

metamorphosissigma said...

Unfortunately, that chute never opens........

Rob Kuntz said...

Of course what was meant were the serious inquiries made and which Tim regards as worthy of response. If folks have more inquiries than what may be possible to answer here, please note that he is accessible at the initial Dragonsfoot link in the Editorial's introduction.--RJK

Will Mistretta said...

"In reading various threads, looking at numerous websites and even viewing a couple of blogs, I find more negative didactism ('that is wrong; this is right'), dogmatism and dictatorial behavior evinced in the 'Old School Revival' movement than was ever the case back where we all began."

Again, failing to cite names and examples only makes it look like you just want to be able to any old assertions you like, without worrying about how well they might map to reality.

No comments on the obvious hypocrisy in presenting TSR as publishing games for profit due to altruism and to satisfy noble artistic drives while it's just "soul-less greed" when WotC does the exact same thing except without you involved?

On the whole, you just come off as bitter. People are doing work now that's just as good, and often much better than you and your buddies did years ago and you're mad because they're not giving you and the rest of the TSR crew *enough credit* for making it possible.

Get real! You've 160 pages online of people praising your work and listening in admiration as you answer their questions. You've got a OSR fan magazine dedicated to you. You're an honored convention guest. Even your hateful and ill-informed editorials get wide distribution due to your past accomplishments.

And that's just you. Take a truly big figure like Gygax and many of these OSR types you loathe so much are trying to get a statue erected of him. A *statue* for God's sake!

Oh, but Raggi failed to pay you explicit homage in one blog post and suddenly those damn ungrateful Kids These Days don't have enough respect.

How much is enough?

Fact is, if you want simple recognition of your accomplishments, you've already got it in ample quantity. As much as you deserve, no more and no less. If you want everyone who wasn't working for TSR in the 70s to ceremonially bow and scrape and debase themselves before The Great Kask each time they publish something because you wrote the Player's Handbook introduction thirty years ago or whatever, that's just sad.

Will Mistretta said...

Edit: Mike Carr actually wrote the PHB introduction. Sorry about that confusion on my part.

I'd recommend Wikipedia for a summary of Mr. Kask's work.

brasspen said...

Dear Tim,

You seem to have a sense of entitlement. And yet you have produced nothing anybody can use, free or otherwise. Raggi, whatever his personality, has produced goods. Rob Kuntz has produced goods. You have been cited a year ago as being in a business venture to produce goods. We have seen nothing.

Back when EGG ranted about what was official and what wasn't and how The Sword And The Sorcerer was a better movie than Conan, my friends and I thought he was a joke. But who cared? We bought modules and had fun with the game. It was our game and not his. It's our game and not yours. You'd be forgotten if it weren't for the enthusiasm of players out there in the wide open. The OSR has brought you back to life. And now you want to appropriate a sense of entitlement similar to that fool we laughed at back in 1981.

But what he had going for him, and what seems to drive you nuts about Raggi, is that both have a body of work that other people can consume, use, play with. Produce a module, Tim. Or go away.


Unknown said...

I'm sorry, but I cannot accept the various claims that Tim is not out to tell people how to play the game when he denounces every edition after second. If it were true, y'know, then all the fun I and so many others've had with editions past second would be okay too, and not derided.

Justin Alexander said...

Re: Update.

I find Mr. Kask's insistence on hurling out insults from behind a veil of vagary to be both disrespectful and cowardly. He paints with an awfully broad brush when he tars the entire OSR for the actions of some unnamed minority. One wonders what James Maliszewski or Jeff Rients did to deserve such public scorning at Kask's hands.

In addition, the rose-tinted glasses with which he views the first decade of gaming as some sort of "everybody's getting along just fine" utopia is absurd. It is trivially undercut by pointing to any number of contemporary examples. For example, Gygax's editorial in Dragon #16. (Published during Mr. Kask's tenure as the magazine's first editor.)

And offering a mealy-mouthed apology for hurling vague insults while simultaneously dishing out even more of the same is simple, pure hypocrisy of the rankest form.

I was willing to give Mr. Kask the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, he has banished the doubt.

artikid said...

Mr. Kask's "response" is even lamer than the original post.
Talk about divisive and dogmatic? Ah Irony....

Zachary Houghton said...

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. -Luke 6:44

Rick Krebs said...

I much prefer Kask and Kuntz for my Dungeons & Dragons gaming experience. There will always be the originals and the imitators. As I grow older, I much prefer a fine wine to the wine coolers of my youth.

The Grey Elf said...

Okay, folks...I've read Mr. Kask's response and I've read Mr. Raggi's rebuttal. Both make salient points, but tempers are running too hot to find a solution. This has now become on both sides the very example of divisiveness I dislike in the OSR--and I'm quite certain that neither Mr. Kask or Mr. Raggi have that intention.

Now I'm going back to playing games. I suggest we all do the same.

The Grey Elf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Finch said...

What really troubles me about this whole tragic debate is that it pits the "old guard" of ex-TSR employees against the second generation of gamers - people now generally in their thirties and forties. That's probably farther than either Raggi or Kask intended to go, but it's what each has done by dint of overbroad, sweeping statements.

Raggi's comment about the new material being better than TSR's pre-1989 work can be read to mean "all new material" compared to "all older material." Kask's comments imply that no new work can possibly, as a theoretical matter, top any older work - and any suggestion to the contrary is inherently disrespectful. Both these expansive interpretations of what was said - by either party - would be asinine.

Respect is important -- although I think what Tim actually describes is an admixture of gratitude and courtesy rather than respect. I'd certainly dismiss the idea that I should "respect," say, a vicious criminal who happened to also have written some masterpiece gaming material; even though I would accord that person such gratitude as my enjoyment of his material provided, and treat him with common courtesy while not actually respecting him.

I, myself, think of the OSR simply as a descriptive term for the increased communication (via internet) between gamers who play out-of-print D&D. It's not a perfect term, it's simply the term that caught on. Perhaps it applies better to the creative output resulting from the better communication platforms - substantive messageboard posts, free game material, the evolution of cottage publishers like me and Dan, the blogs, and the new conventions like GaryCon and NTRPGcon.

But if this is going to come down to stone-throwing based on whether or not someone worked for TSR, that would be a sad and silly thing. Rick Krebs, up above, has just stated his side on precisely that division. Rick Krebs, above this comment, has just stated his side on precisely that division: age over quality. As I suspect with Raggi and Tim, I suspect what Rick wrote was broader than what he meant. But what he actually wrote establishes a very pernicious line in the sand.

I completely agree that we all stand on the shoulders of giants; I agree that gratitude is due to the game's founders; and I agree that any discourtesies should be frowned upon. On the other hand, I think it's wrong to assume that some thirty-year-old cannot as a theoretical matter, produce a high work of creative D&D material which rivals the original products. I also think it's poor reviewing to lump together all of a company's production from 1974 to 1989 and make sweeping comparisons with a huge body of later material.

Overall, though, I hope that this doesn't end up as a call by either the TSR old guard or by the second generation of gamers to dismiss each others' creative works. If we willingly lemming ourselves over that cliff, we deserve what we get.

Matt Finch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Finch said...

Deleted post above was an accidental duplicate.

The Grey Elf said...

Hear, hear, Matt.

GragSmash said...

I really don't know what to think or say about this. I started my personal "old school revival" about 6 months ago (I think) with a burning controversy over there being (OMG) girls in the clubhouse ( -- And now there's this. I wonder if this is just going to continue, inevitably, with fresh arguments coming up as old wounds are healed.

I don't feel right speaking ill of the honored elders. I think it's inconsiderate and mean to say "what have you done for us lately", as I certainly don't demand gifts when I visit my grandparents.

I try to remember that their memories, like mine, are tinted with nostalgia, but probably clearer as they were adults when I was a child playing with dice.

When I disagree with my father, I try to do so with respect and humility, understanding that his experience is greater than mine, and his perspectives grounded in different times.

I haven't read Tim's thread on dragonsfoot. I will need to make time to do so. It sounds like he has definitely "given back", based on what he has said.

I will say, I have been giving serious thought, when I start my old-school game later this year, to replacing saving throws with 4e-style resistances. I haven't figured out yet the specifics. I guess when I start writing about those I'll see if I end up strapped to a metal chair with bright lights in my face. If a stated preference for ascending AC hasn't already set that in motion...

artikid said...

"I really did not want to name names"

This is really ridiculous.
How many people do you think read D&D blogs?
How many "self-styled publishers from Europe" exist among the OSR evangelists?

I think that many of us here have immediately thought of the LOTFP guy.

Mr. Kask's post is no more, no less, than an awkward personal attack.

A very insulting one:
"delusional narcissist...all you need is too much time on your hands, an agenda and a very wide streak of “I love me.”...vociferous vituperation...sickeningly self-congratulatory shit, Sherlock...utter tripe...asinine...blatherers and blowhards"

Not once did Mr Kask talk about the quality -or lack of it- of the OSR products.
Debating the quality of OSR products -or its lack- was never the intention of this post.

But this is the worst:

"self-styled publisher from a small European country"

You are basically implying that the opinion of an european, and someone from a small country at that,is worth nothing.

Mr Kask, if you want respect, respect you must give.

As an european I take offense.

As a gamer with 30 years of experience I regret every single penny I paid to TSR that paid your bills.

If Mr. Kuntz wanted to avoid personal attacks on this blog, he should have not allowed Mr. kask to post this.

Luigi Castellani
Rome, Italy

Rick Marshall said...

Dear Rob Kuntz and Tim Kask,

I am a self-identified member of the OSR, the non-movement without any members. The one tarred by that big brush in Mr. Kask's guest editorial.

Here's what I have to say about that.

We love you guys. We love your work. We love the legacy you and your friends created for us. You changed our lives for the better.

We have so much respect for what you did, that many of us are willing to marginalize ourselves a little bit by self-identifying as being more interested in playing the kinds of games you made than the kinds of games that sell more today. That's what the term "OSR" means to many of us. We catch some grief for our interest in your work - it seems to make some people genuinely angry that we won't exclusively play whatever is brand new - but it's worth it to us.

Some of us don't care for labels and won't publicly call ourselves OSR or anything else, but nevertheless demographically we are a growing segment of the population that has this in common:

We are the gamers who respect your work the most, the ones who put our money where our mouths are, the ones who play your games, imagine with your games, build upon your games. We also read your blogs.

We don't look to Mr. Raggi or Mr. Maliszewski or Mr. Shorten or anyone else as some kind of Star Chamber. No one tells us what to think. We independently arrived at similar conclusions about the importance of your accomplishments and the fun we have playing your games. We read those blogs not because we are docile followers but because we enjoy it. It's fun (most of the time), even when we disagree, which we often do.

Because we respect and value your games, we are engaging actively, like so many of you asked us to do in the things you wrote. Actively engaging with your work means doing work of our own, work that builds upon what you did but that nevertheless is our work, not your work, no matter how indebted we remain to you (a debt we not only do not try to hide, but that we proudly acknowledge).

And when we do our work, we have to be able to compare it to your work, because you set the bar against which we measure ourselves. That isn't some kind of disrespect of you or your accomplishments. That's how we find our place in the world. None of us is claiming to have created D&D. You did. You win. We're just trying to make modules and rules supplements and retro-clones and other products for the game whose quality meets or exceeds the quality of the products you created.

Sure, that's going to ruffle your feathers - no one likes to have every weakness of their work scrutinized. If we didn't respect you, we'd be ignoring you, but instead you captivated us, so that's the price you pay for doing something worthwhile, that the next generation looks for ways to improve on what you did. If that makes you upset and if from time to time you need to write angry editorials about it claiming that all of us in the OSR are some kind of disrespectful young punks with a hive mind, we may feel hurt or disappointed, but overall most of us will understand.

And it won't change the core truth about our relationship with you:

We love you guys. We love your work. We love the legacy you and your friends created for us. You changed our lives for the better.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

Jefferson said...

I like your Cold Text stuff quite a bit, but I gain nothing from the proliferation of this vitriol.

Unknown said...

"self-styled publisher from a small European country"

He isn't just implying that the opinion of an European from a small country is worth nothing. He is actually saying it outright. AND he adds to the insult by calling into question the publishing credentials of said individual, of which I'm sure Mr. Kask knows nothing about.

Who the f*** does this Kask guy think he is.

Anonymous said...

. . . and I think that's officially the End of Round Two.

Woo-hoo, 100th post!
sorry... ;(


KenHR said...

I'm amazed this post surprises anyone. Read some of Mr. Kask's post on his DF thread; screeds against amateur publishers and lots of bitterness over this or that. I wrote him off as poison soon after he resurfaced.

Anonymous said...

when I start my old-school game later this year, to replacing saving throws with 4e-style resistances...I guess when I start writing about those I'll see if I end up strapped to a metal chair with bright lights in my face. If a stated preference for ascending AC hasn't already set that in motion...

@GragSmash - Don't believe everything you read about the OSR. It was people within the OSR that gave us S&W with its single saving throw and ascending AC for example. You'll find OSR types amongst the most broadminded and accepting people within the broader old school gaming community. The irony here is that those pointing the finger at the OSR and saying "they tell you you're playing your game wrong" are usually the Version Fundamentalists who crouch in the forums whining about anything new and ridiculing anyone who doesn't play their favourite version of the game.

Write about your game GragSmash, you'll find the OSR crowd a very supportive and encouraging audience. As was said above, you can tell 'em by their fruits.

Justin Alexander said...

Read some of Mr. Kask's post on his DF thread...

That was revelatory reading. The part where he lashes out at Dave Arneson on the self-admitted basis of hearsay and employs thinly veiled "pseudonyms" while coyly refusing to admit who he's talking about. From his position of cowardice, Kask labels him a "limited talent", "lower than mediocre", "unorganized", "consumed with envy", and a "malignant toad". Midway through the process, he apologizes the "animus"... and then proceeds to continue doing the exact same stuff.

In short, it's the exact same ego-schtick we've seen displayed here.

As kind of a cherry on top, Kask rapidly finds his groove of anti-fan sentiment by labeling them a "horde" of "eager imitators" (as opposed to Kask, who is no mere imitator by virtue of his TSR salary).

GragSmash said...

@David Macauley

Yeah, I know. I was making a joke about the "OSR star chamber"

I really appreciate the sentiment, however. Whether it's a movement or just a group of guys with a common interest in a style of play, the DIY/OSR/Classic game community has always struck me as more interested in gameplay than dogma.

While this is the second big argument I've personally seen (and I was only joining in during PORNGIRLSOHNOEZ), this community has always struck me as one with a lot of love for one another.

So I would be really surprised to be attacked for trying to do something different, even if it's patching rules in that I happen to like from more recent editions.

Havard: said...

I don't like what I am seeing here. I can understand that Kask and others have been offended by these comments, but at the same time, but I dont belive they were written to offend anyone. We should all realize that we are a very small pond and that rifts within this community could stiffle the creativity which has risen from it so far.

imurphy943 said...

The OSR has attracted one other hobbyist: me.
Blogs such as Tao of D&D, Society of Torch Pole and Rope, Grognardia, Playing D&D with Pornstars, and LotFP have incalculably enriched my life and opened my mind to playstyles I hadn't even considered. Before, I was playing Pathfinder.