Saturday, January 6, 2018

Growing the OSR if you want: part 2

So, based on the various realizations I talked about in the last post, what are the things I'm trying to do in 2018 that will boost the signal of the OSR and provide more material for us to use? As I mentioned in the last post, these two goals are highly linked, because a rising tide lifts all boats. More signal tends to create more material.

My plan basically has three parts to it, addressing a mix of the issues with each point. (Those points being a missing generation, different communication patterns in that missing generation, the community-building power of face-to-face contact whether by video, hangout, tabletops, or conventions, and then lastly that rising tide lifting all boats.)

Part 1 of the plan was to create a website that pulls together and links the various media sources of the OSR: blogs, youtube, facebook, G+, podcasts, and others. Those aren't currently shown in the same place anywhere as an OSR smorgasbord because social media doesn't link them in any useful way. That website is now up and running as Old School Gamer Radio ( As of today, we are still adding content and fine-tuning the functionality, but it's looking good for becoming the type of resource that will do what it's supposed to do.

Part 2 of the plan was to create an OSR youtube channel that does a few different things. First is simply to create that face-to-face feeling of community. I have been "interviewing" lots of people from the OSR, ranging from DIY stars like Matt Jackson up to publishers like Jim Raggi and bloggers like Tenkar. I'm including artists, cartographers, and a wide range of people. I have gotten LOTS of comments that these videos offer a much greater sense of connection to the community than a blog format (that's not a criticism of blogs, which are better at content, just the fact that video offers something more powerful at a different primary goal). The youtube channel is Uncle Matt's D&D Studio, and since it's been established longer than the actual Old School Gamer Radio site, it has pretty good depth of content already.

Part 3 of the plan was to get an actual example of old-school play into the mainstream of that "lost generation," since old school gaming tends to require "show," not "tell." So I am running an online Swords & Wizardry game called Swords of Jordoba, pointing out that it's the original version of D&D, and airing the episodes on the channel. The first episode is mission and marching order, so it might not be as engaging as the second episode, which is where the actual dungeoneering begins. Watching online games is a much more common pastime in the youtube generation than it is for us older farts. The game itself is still in an evolving technological phase, and I'm calling both of those episodes "pilots," but it should be up to full quality very shortly.

Funding is an issue for these projects, although this post is a summary, not a plea for cash. For those interested, the patreon for the website (still a very disorganized patreon presentation with no rewards or other whistles and bells) is at patreon/mattfinch, and the better-looking one for the Swords of Jordoba game is at patreon/Jordoba. Contributions are welcome, of course, but both these projects are still in formative stages.

Next post on this topic will be about what those who enjoy the project of growing the OSR can do to move that goal forward.


  1. Thanks for including Bat in the Attic on that list.

  2. If you can get a hold of Stuart Robertson from the Strange Magic blog, and if he still have them, the sound files of "Expedition to the Ancient Academy" is pure gold to show how this role play thing works.

  3. Hi Matt. I'm not sure if I'm in the missing generation you mention - I'm in my late twenties and started gaming with 5th Edition - but as a newcomer to Blogspot and Google+, here's how I feel about the different platforms:

    * Youtube is great for watching actual play (more convenient than Twitch, certainly, although it's hard to tell when a Twitch video is inaccessible because of monetization, and when it's just because of bad design). As for anything else... I have watched some "talking head" videos that gave me useful ideas, but on the whole, I don't really get the point. Videos should be used for showing something in action, or for interviews and roundtable discussions (exactly what you do). But for monologues, I would much rather have a well-edited blog post to skim and re-read at my leisure, rather than a charismatic but rambling vlog.

    * Facebook is pretty much rubbish for any purpose except organizing a birthday bash. Maybe one could find some local communities there if looking to start a game.

    * Twitter is not really for discussion, either. It's fine for discovery, sharing links, getting reminders about which product or show is out, or even shooting out a quick rules question. But the really meaty thinking and discussion are in blogs and their comments, I've found. So that's why I looked into joining the Blogspot realm, which means joining Google+.

    * Google+ is strangely formatted with the multiple columns. (Also, where do I discuss? Below the blog? Below the share on Plus?) But more significantly, the social barrier of entry is higher than, say, Reddit, or Tumblr, or one of the many good old-fashioned forums. For one, most people on Google+ use their real names - even though it's not strictly required, the impression is that this is the place for your real-life persona, a "professional" setting.

    Of course, for professional game designers that is no issue, or even a positive thing. But I suspect that for some people whose full-time careers are in other fields, their preference would be not to connect their real name to discussions about disemboweling orcs or diseases you can get from a medieval house of ill repute. Not because it's wrong, but just in case a potential employer who isn't as hip googles their name.

    Inexperienced writers/designers may feel more comfortable experimenting under a pseudonym. And some writers will prefer not having their juvenilia on display for all eternity. Some people just want to remain anonymous on the internet in general. What's more, even if you present a pseudonym, there are technical barriers - did you know that Blogspot requires a Google account, and opening a new account requires verification by mobile phone? Most websites require email verification at most!

    So that may be one reason for the lack of new blood to Google+ you've observed. However, I don't really know of a better alternative. Certainly videos and tweets can't replace articles, but maybe a combination of all three is most effective.

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  5. Hey Matt, of the Necromancer Games products for 5e, do you have any product that details a hexcrawl protocol?

    Tomb of Annihilation has one, but I was wondering if perhaps a directory OSR inspired one might be simpler to generalize and use elsewhere.

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