Thursday, 17 December 2020

The State of OSR Adjacency

I am very positive and hopeful about the future of the OSR and those, like me, who are "adjacent" to it. (I hate the word "adjacent", by the way. Partly because of the daft way it's used, but mostly because of how it looks on the page. It's aesthetically nasty. "Eels" is another one, when the initial E is capitalised. It just looks wrong. But anyway.) It is true that blogs are not what they were and there is much less dialogue taking place between the big ones. And G+ has gone. But this is all to the good. For me, the disappearance of "community" and all the crap that went with it is a mercy. (Possibly it exists on Discord, but I never go there and am not really sure what it is.) We can now concentrate on playing and making things for games, and abandon gossip, drama, and social signalling. 

The OSR has won its war. D&D is now free from the clutches of any one company, 'gatekeeper' or owner and is, instead, a freely available and universal pastime like chess, knitting or squash. (Melan has already pointed this out.) This is no mean achievement. No, it doesn't matter a jot in the grand scheme of things. But it is a significant psychic victory in humanity's endless war against the forces of overbearing technocratic order and control. D&D is for anyone who wants it. It has become part of our common heritage.

The beauty of this is that, ironically (because undoubtedly the OSR is partly a market phenomenon and indeed in a sense created a market where there was none before), it means that D&D has become a space unmediated by the market. You don't need to buy anything to do it now. You never did, of course, not really, but now one can say it with a bit more conviction. It is something we can simply share in as human beings. On the level. Together. Me and you and whoever wants to join in. This is a good thing. Just as good is that if one wants to try to make a living at it one can do that too: that it allows one to take advantage of the very humane and beautiful impulse that underpins markets and ultimately capitalism - to trade a thing of value for something one values in return, and thus to make both parties better off from the exchange. That the OSR is both not about money but also about money at the same time is part of what will make it last.

31 comments:

  1. Can't say that I agree with this take, as it seems unrealistic and too romantic.
    The drama, the "business", the gatekeeping, it is all still very much present, at certain points up to the extreme. Just because the grass is green in your little corner (which is amazing if it is though!) doesn't mean that the rest of the scene is a meadow. I honestly believe that I enjoyed this hobby way more before the blogosphere.

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    1. Where is the drama happening? Where is the gatekeeping? On Twitter? There's an easy solution to that: don't go on Twitter. There is no good reason for any sensible person to be on Twitter. It's a sickness.

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    2. Read my comment again. As I wrote, we can discuss the state of OSR (or RPG in general) being healthy in its state behind closed doors. But out in the open (where the "scene" actually is) is pretty shit. Twitter, Discord, forums, wherever. Even blogs are torn apart if they post content deemed "inappropriate" by the scene. That is not a state of victory or healthiness.

      If you're more referring to the last bit of my comment (where I state I enjoyed the hobby more before the blogosphere), sadly I must admit that all this fuckery with drama did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I don't want to be judged based on what games I play or what kind of content I put in my games. The hobby was way more pure when it was focused just on books and whichever kind of inspiration you drew from, without the medium of internet giving it a ton of cancer. People ruin everything.

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    3. "There is no good reason for any sensible person to be on Twitter."

      Amen.

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    4. Anonymous, I half agree. My point is that one can ignore 'the scene' now. Chess doesn't have a scene. Squash doesn't have a scene. OSR D&D doesn't have to have one either and it's now finally in that happy position.

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    5. If you really believe that, I'm afraid that you play neither chess nor squash.

      The chess scene.

      The squash scene.

      Wherever there are humans and any kind of limited resource (from money, to books, to bodies) a "scene" will develop, no matter what.

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    6. I play both chess and squash and that's why I know that there is no central globalised 'scene' for either, like there was for the OSR.

      Sure, there may be local 'scenes' around a chess or squash club or whatever. But when I meet a colleague for a game of squash before work, or play a bit of online chess with various friends, there is no scene involved. They are just pastimes which people can pick up and enjoy. The OSR is becoming more like that.

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  2. Any word on when YS 2nd Ed will be on KS?

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    1. The text is long done. Waiting for art and then layout.

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  3. One of the few things I dislike about the current scene is less awareness of new OSR products... aside from "the new hotness", whatever that happens to be. 2nd tier products rarely get the spotlight. Back in the g+ days of the OSR, I heard about everything.

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    1. I would agree with that actually. I think Reddit is the place for that now?

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    2. The OSR Reddit is fairly dead (though not without value).

      The “official” (lol) OSR Discord is very active. It’s had its share of drama of course, and bad actors come and go, but in the two years that I’ve been active on it I’ve found the good parts far outweigh the occasional bad.

      I do miss the quasi-permanence of G+ though. :(

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  4. The discontent wafts by like bad air on discord. It’s a good place for nonsense.

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    1. It just sounds like a quicker and more chat-like version of Twitter, which is basically my idea of hell.

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  5. EELS in all capitals though, that looks positively badass.

    EELS & EATERIES

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    1. Quiz question: what is the only 5 letter word in the English language to have three 'e's?

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    2. Is "eeler" a word? Is "epees" sufficiently English?

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    3. I can't believe that I got responses to this! Epees is cheating. (Also we would have to get into the deep philosophical question about whether an e-acute is the same thing as an e.)

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    4. Oh, I just realised someone already said it below. Damn.

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    5. Wouldn't levee count as well?

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    6. God damn it. Maybe the question I wanted to ask was what is the only word in the English language with 5 letters and 4 vowels.

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  6. like Fawdon Metty in the dead of night

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    1. You are going to have to explain that reference!

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  7. Concur that there is now no bottleneck on content needed to buy - but also I think a great boon has been just the 'how-tos' and actual plays and the generators and all the 'this is my new blog' green shoots that show lots of folk just getting stuck in which encourage others who may be hesitant and so on and so on.

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  8. I agree with this. I've been happily creating my stuff in the vacuum of a few friends and posting on my blog. It makes me happy that I'm less aware of drama nowadays. That said I miss gplus somedays, just for the interaction and new stuff.

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