Monday, March 7, 2011

Series in Parallel

Joe Browning just pointed out that austrodavicus at his blog Theres Dungeons Down Under has been posting a series that's got lots of parallels to the series I've been writing about the commercialization of the Old School.

The first post on his "The Old School Renaissance is Dead" series is here.

And for convenience, since I saw him do this, here are links to the parts of my series so you don't need to scroll around (I'm still learning this blog thing):
Commercialization of the Old School Part 1
Commercialization of the Old School Part 2
Commercialization of the Old School Part 3
Commercialization of the Old School Part 4

PS, as it happens, I didn't have austrodavicus's blog on my radar, but I've now added it it to the little link-sidebar thing here.

PPS - his timeline is probably WAY more accurate than the rambling one I did from memory in one of my posts (I forget which).


  1. Series in parallel indeed, I see in your latest post that you've touched on some of the issues I was going to address next. I think there are times in the growth and development of a community that certain things need to be addressed. This must be one of those times.

    Thanks for linking to my blog Matt. You'll find a couple of links at the bottom of my second post to yourself discussing the history of the OSR. A firsthand account is always much more valuable than that of a bystander like myself.

  2. Heh, I think that directly participating in some of those things probably means that I have a skewed perspective more than an accurate one. :)

    Something feels weird in the community to me these days, and I think it's that the for-profit publishers - and I put myself absolutely at the forefront of any suspicion here - are somehow getting detached from the baseline community.

    Maybe it's just that I have gotten detached, or maybe it's just an illusory impression caused by so much change in the way Swords & Wizardry has operated as a publisher/hobbyist continuum over the last years.

    I've personally been very, very focused on S&W's growth into the mainstream over the last several months, and I think what it might be is that I need to dig back into the roots again, getting away from "growth outward" and back to "doing more stuff with/for the original gang." (Also I haven't had a chance to game with our group in quite a while). Maybe that's why I'm feeling detached.

    Joe Goodman's game might just be my personal bugbear in the closet, but for some reason its anticipated release seems for me to be visually highlighting the stress-fractures we already have.

    I don't mean to sound down - writing this series definitely did point out to me that there's a group of the community who legitimately have some reasons not to like the current directions. In general, looking at the overall sweep of things, I have to agree with Joe Browning that the OSR is alive and well.

    But I just have this nagging feeling that keeps coming back, without anything specific to point to as the source.

  3. To be brutally honest, the way I see it is you built a community around S&W on a foundation of DIY gaming with a real hobby feel. Then when you joined with Frog God Games you seemed to pull the rug out from under the feet of that same community, replacing the DIY hobby feel for a full-blown commercial model, potentially alienating the very people who are the core of S&W customers and supporters.

    Now this is just my perception of events and I'm not claiming it to be accurate. A better picture would come from honest feedback directly from the S&W community itself. And that would definitely be worth seeking out.

    I do however believe it is possible to do both, to go full steam ahead with the commercial model and at the same time encourage the DIY hobby aspect of the game. In fact, I believe that such a strategy would ultimately grow the brand rather than damage it, as you will be empowering the community by giving them a sense of shared experience and even ownership.

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  5. Yesterday was a pretty bad mood day by the end of it, and I deleted a post that I think was too much of a downer. :)

    Good stuff coming today!

  6. For what its worth, I really think you've done a great job with both ends of the spectrum. This is good, because I think both are good for a healthy fan-base.

    While I myself am pretty much a straight up old-school style player, most of the people I play with are attached to either 3.5 style play, or Vampire. I pull out my Rules Cyclopedia and Thac0 causes them to bare their fangs and hiss. Swords & Wizardry though? The simple saving throw mechanic and the option for ascending AC really sold them in to trying out the game.

    The complete rule-book has helped even more. I hope you do get a chance to recharge your batteries, but I wanted to let you know that your efforts have helped at least one gamer.