I think - and this is more true of the for-profit publishers but it might also apply to those who are producing free resources - that there is a general split within our community. This one isn't a split that causes acrimony, or at least, it only causes acrimony at the far ends of the spectrum.
The split is between those who are thinking of the game in terms of what younger kids - let's say middle school age - will or would see when introduced to the game, or the retro-clones, or the community, or the modules currently being produced. Many people who are playing Swords & Wizardry are using it as a game to play with their kids. I imagine the same is true of Labyrinth Lord. By contrast, OSRIC is a fairly overwhelming book, and obviously LotFP is simply not designed as an intro game for middle schoolers ... even though middle schoolers could probably handle the currently existing contents of Jim Raggi's products without too much trouble. Look at what's on the video games they play, and you see plenty of stuff that's over the top of what Raggi has done. I think Jim plans to get further out there than that, but I'm talking about his rulebook and the modules that have been published so far. But I don't think the material is aimed at kids.
So there are two different target audiences in operation. Most of the people playing right now are the generation between 35 and maybe 45. There are plenty of people in their fifties, and plenty of college students, so it's more diverse than that, but those are the far ends of the bell curve. This majority has kids that are roughly between 10 and 20, as a general estimate. And the dads (and moms, perhaps) are either playing with the kids or they aren't.
Which creates a big mental split in terms of what they want "the OSR" to look like. The ones who game purely as adults are perfectly willing to have material that shows a big more dark to it - we know what the actual world has and had in store for us. There's still the limiting factor of good taste, but the mental scope of escapism is fairly broad.
On the other hand, the parent-gamers don't want to see too much of that reach in the resources and games that they're looking at. It doesn't need to be "kiddie D&D," but there's a whole realm of fantasy that's rich and compelling without delving too deeply into villainy as it was portrayed in the sword & sorcery fiction. Let's be clear - even though most of the evil happened off screen, the suggestions of what was going on back there could get pretty rough, raunchy, or both.
This leads to two different approaches. One of the comments I made during the process of producing Swords & Wizardry Complete was that I wanted a 9 year old girl to be able to identify with it, and that I wasn't - in the rulebooks, going to cater to the darker side of a 13 year old boy.
That's in the rulebooks, not the modules - I have a much more flexible standard for the modules. Those are either getting bought by parent-DMs or by kids that are familiar with what the x-box programmers are dishing out to them.
In any case, this is something that I don't think many people have really identified as being a tectonic plate in our community. It's far less contentious, but it's an interesting way of noting that there are many "divisions" in our community that aren't the source of internet battles. We have many, many subgroups in the community that are perfectly healthy ones to have.
OSR Christmas - Awarding the Gifts for Day 10
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