David Johansen

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THAC0 is used in the first edition DMG. There's a stat listing for all the monsters in the Monster Manual in the appendix that uses it.
 

Moonglum

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I don't really consider any of the AC/to-hit variations (THAC0, ascending AC, etc.) to be functionally different from each other, so I don't consider it an issue that would make me prefer one game/edition over another. Other than some edge cases where the to-hit target 'sticks' at 20, I don't think any of them are mathematically distinguishable from the others.

The only thing in 'core', pre-3E DnD that drives me absolutely batty is the flatness and 'chunkiness' of the improvement in to-hit odds. A 3rd level fighter has been through a lot and, based on HP, is miles ahead of most people. But their chance to-hit is unchanged from character creation and little different from a wizard or zero level NPC. It's not a deal breaker and I understand that on-balance the advantages in equipment and HP that fighters get is their main 'angle'. But it is just one of those pointless, irritating design choices that bug me.
 

Dammit Viktor

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Fighters in AD&D get -1 to THAC0 every level after 1st.

In D&D, they got -2 to THAC0 every three levels.

Your point's valid for 1st and 2nd level Fighters... it's one area where I prefer 3e. Just a weird level to use for an example, since it's the one level where Fighters on both versions of the game improved.
 

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So I'm sure a number of people in this thread can relate to both liking something like B/X. but also having a laundry list of things they'd personally change to B/X given their druthers.

How exactly does one label that weird relationship ? :grin:

Also, if you have those conflicted feelings (I certainly do), do you ever wonder when exactly it stops being a B/X derivative, or B/X with some switched-out parts and really becomes something of its own, and different enough to be considered its own game?

Admittedly, I suspect this is something that matters more to GM-Tinkerers than the average player at the end of the day.
 

Bunch

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So I'm sure a number of people in this thread can relate to both liking something like B/X. but also having a laundry list of things they'd personally change to B/X given their druthers.

How exactly does one label that weird relationship ? :grin:

Also, if you have those conflicted feelings (I certainly do), do you ever wonder when exactly it stops being a B/X derivative, or B/X with some switched-out parts and really becomes something of its own, and different enough to be considered its own game?

Admittedly, I suspect this is something that matters more to GM-Tinkerers than the average player at the end of the day.
Marriage.
 

Brock Savage

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D DeadBob I don't see any disconnect or conflict in someone who enjoys a classic gaming system but wants to apply some of the innovations in gaming that have occurred over the last 50 years

It's like having a classic car but upgrading it to modern safety and comfort standards. People do it all the time while respecting the authenticity of the original.
 

DeadBob

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Hey I get that. But I think most of you also understand what I’m getting at about, basically, how much of the framework still needs to be there before it becomes something else?

although I have met quite a few people who consider any sort of RPG of any sort, no matter how removed, to be “ dungeons and dragons “.

it isn’t even like calling all facial tissue Kleenex. It’s closer to calling any disposable paper product Kleenex.
 

ffilz

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Fighters in AD&D get -1 to THAC0 every level after 1st.

In D&D, they got -2 to THAC0 every three levels.

Your point's valid for 1st and 2nd level Fighters... it's one area where I prefer 3e. Just a weird level to use for an example, since it's the one level where Fighters on both versions of the game improved.
In OD&D, fighter levels 1-3 use the same row on the attack table... (and saving throw tables also).

In AD&D, a fighter getting +1 every level is an optional rule.
 

Armchair Gamer

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In OD&D, fighter levels 1-3 use the same row on the attack table... (and saving throw tables also).

In AD&D, a fighter getting +1 every level is an optional rule.

And in 2nd Edition, progression is generally smoothed out to 1 point per X levels for both saves and attacks, with the exception of priest-group THAC0 (which improves as 2 per 3 levels) and some points on the save tables where people jump 2 or 3 points between level clusters.
 

lgm

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Hey I get that. But I think most of you also understand what I’m getting at about, basically, how much of the framework still needs to be there before it becomes something else?

although I have met quite a few people who consider any sort of RPG of any sort, no matter how removed, to be “ dungeons and dragons “.

it isn’t even like calling all facial tissue Kleenex. It’s closer to calling any disposable paper product Kleenex.

You're going down the path to the Ship of Theseus paradox. That way lies madness.
 

Brock Savage

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Hey I get that. But I think most of you also understand what I’m getting at about, basically, how much of the framework still needs to be there before it becomes something else?
I understood your question, I simply didn't see any point in trying to provide a definitive answer. We can debate it all day without coming to a definitive answer and even if we did, what use would it be?
 

Gringnr

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.

I dunno, it seems like flagging creator support might be a factor as well. I mean, it can't be easy to keep cranking out product for something that's not hugely profitable.

I know Labyrinth Lord used to be pretty popular, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. Swords & Wizardry is definitely still supported, how is it doing?

I see OSE has become very popular, but I always hear praise for its layout, rather than its rules. Is it just the OSRIC of B/X?
 

Baulderstone

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I understood your question, I simply didn't see any point in trying to provide a definitive answer. We can debate it all day without coming to a definitive answer and even if we did, what use would it be?
One of Old School D&D virtues is that it really encourages people to tinker with it. Drawing some line that can't be crossed or it ceases to be D&D goes against that spirit, in my opinion.
 

Voros

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.

I dunno, it seems like flagging creator support might be a factor as well. I mean, it can't be easy to keep cranking out product for something that's not hugely profitable.

I know Labyrinth Lord used to be pretty popular, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. Swords & Wizardry is definitely still supported, how is it doing?

I see OSE has become very popular, but I always hear praise for its layout, rather than its rules. Is it just the OSRIC of B/X?

DCC is the obvious exception but for some strange reason gets excluded from the OSR by some, mostly because I've seen others say it is based on 3e/d20 although I'd say it has so many changes it is really its own beast.
 

Lofgeornost

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.
I guess it depends on how you classify the OSR. Personally, I’d put Sine Nomine (Kevin Crawford’s) work into that grouping. Stars Without Number has gone through 2 editions and a number of supplements and still seems to be recommended when someone is looking for a generic SF game.
 

Torque2100

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.

I dunno, it seems like flagging creator support might be a factor as well. I mean, it can't be easy to keep cranking out product for something that's not hugely profitable.

I know Labyrinth Lord used to be pretty popular, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. Swords & Wizardry is definitely still supported, how is it doing?

I see OSE has become very popular, but I always hear praise for its layout, rather than its rules. Is it just the OSRIC of B/X?
Swords & Wizardry has been out for 15 years and still going strong. Frog God Games have a real winner with their World of the Lost Lands campaign setting. S&W has the best all-in-one complete box set for OSR beginners.
 

Moonglum

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This question of longevity of OSR product lines is a good, and interesting, one. It is certainly true that this genre experiences sort of decadal-time-scale waves of popularity. That is perfectly normal and healthy in any active marketplace where there is some level of competition and effort to project freshness and creativity and production values into the products. So, I think the question isn't so much why, in general, the OSR isn't a static monolith, but rather, what are the variables that really control competition.

One, perhaps illustrated best by Frog God Games and Goodman Games, is persistent commitment to a coherent product line. Both companies have made lots of mutually consistent and re-enforcing core books, adventures and campaign settings. So once you enter their eco systems you can continue investing in them, benefiting from those investments and strengthening your commitment to them.

A second is production values. You could argue that DnD won the market competition of the late 70's not so much because of its position as the first known fantasy gaming system, but because it delivered production value that blew the doors off the competition. There was simply no comparison between the hard cover core books, starter boxed sets and charming pastel modules TSR put out and the various offerings of other companies ca. 1975-1980. In today's OSR, I think OSE's status as a new darling derives from its extraordinary approach to production value. Their slip-case sets of thin hard cover books have a sort of 'product magnetism' that just draws you in. And then that attraction is rewarded by a very clean, clear, usable presentation of the game itself in the text.

A third important factor is how well a given OSR core system connects with other parts of the original-game and OSR product lines. Systems that feel like they require significant translation to use with products made for other systems are fighting an uphill battle. DCC somehow survives despite a big handicap here, but I think this departure from original DnD mechanics, stats, etc. has hurt a lot of other OSR game systems. C&C was really big during a time when there were not very many well produced OSR systems that conformed more closely to original rules, but once those came into being it found itself in this awkward place, too different from original additions to be used seamlessly with a wide range of materials, but lacking in the distinctive, wild creativity of DCC.
 

Brock Savage

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity?
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea has been around since 2012, recently released a third edition and has a long string of successful Kickstarters. There are more than a few OSR titles that have appear to have steady sales and interest but your post seems to be referring to buzz on the Internet which can fluctuate wildly.
 

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One of Old School D&D virtues is that it really encourages people to tinker with it. Drawing some line that can't be crossed or it ceases to be D&D goes against that spirit, in my opinion.
I don't actually disagree entirely, nor am I trying to kick somebody out of the tent or declare myself Pope of B/X.

I do though think that somewhere along the way, enough changes have been made that game isn't D&D anymore.

I don't know exactly where that line is drawn. Maybe it's impossible to draw.

Is White Lies also D&D, for example?

Is Black Petal Hack ?

I could see an argument realistically going either way on something like that.
 

Moonglum

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One thing that makes this discussion of longevity hard to parse is that few of these games have really 'died' in the sense of going out of circulation or totally stopping new support. But they have definitely waxed and waned in breadth of support and interest.

It is also difficult for these discussions that there are a frillion OSR game systems, all of which can probably find someone who will say it is their favorite, but my guess is that only a few of them are actively played by a sizable community.
 

Baulderstone

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.

I dunno, it seems like flagging creator support might be a factor as well. I mean, it can't be easy to keep cranking out product for something that's not hugely profitable.

I know Labyrinth Lord used to be pretty popular, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. Swords & Wizardry is definitely still supported, how is it doing?

I see OSE has become very popular, but I always hear praise for its layout, rather than its rules. Is it just the OSRIC of B/X?
Labyrinth Lord has 718 supplements on DriveThru, and it only faded because OSE came along, which is, for all practical purposes, the exact same rules but with a cleaner layout. It's all just people playing B/X non-stop.

A book that would have come out with the Labyrinth Logo compatible logo 5 years ago is now more likely to sport the OSE logo, but it's the same game.
 

Baulderstone

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I think the new hotness is Old School Essentials.
Definitely. My point is that it is the exact same game is LL, the previous hotness.

Necrotic Gnome, the makers of OSE, actually made a lot of supplements for LL. Gavin Norman at Necrotic Gnome eventually wanted to layout his own version of the rule set, and that lead to B/X Essentials, which then became OSE.
 

Moonglum

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Well, the underlying issue is that this community really just likes playing DnD without all the goo gahs that you encounter in both the more 're-imagined', derivative OSR games or the more polished modern games like 5E. For that group, you really are just talking about facilitating continued play and publication for B/X or 1E.
 

Bunch

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Lamentations of the flame princess is, imho, an improvement from bx and is still going.
I was going to say this and has at least last I checked good production values to M Moonglum 's point about what helps make them succeed. If it's star has waned it seem due to the controversies it's provoked and at least according to some a reduction in quality of adventures(I think)
 

Baulderstone

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I was going to say this and has at least last I checked good production values to M Moonglum 's point about what helps make them succeed. If it's star has waned it seem due to the controversies it's provoked and at least according to some a reduction in quality of adventures(I think)
Even if it is waning, it's had a good run by RPG standards. ACKS has put out a solid product line and is still going. Then there is Stars Without Number, which has been around forever by OSR standards. It has a large number of supplements and is still going, and is just one of Kevin Crawfords games. I don't think game have less longevity in the OSR than anywhere else the industry.

Another consideration is how cross-compatible all this stuff is. Yeah, there is an OD&D/S&W scene, and a BX/LL/OSE scebe and the Black Hack scene, and the DCC scene, but its fairly easy to use adventures from any of these scenes with the OSR game of your choice.
 

Neon

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I was going to say this and has at least last I checked good production values to M Moonglum 's point about what helps make them succeed. If it's star has waned it seem due to the controversies it's provoked and at least according to some a reduction in quality of adventures(I think)
Yeah. They've gone through some changes in recent years. Their best selling author was involved in controversy (and we know how the rpg community handles that well), they've changed course to a more realistic historic setting for their adventures than previously, they almost went bankrupt from over extending. All that said they still come out with good adventures but the osr community has since caught up to that quality and production standard.

Their core rules which are available for free without art on DTRPG is still one of the best bx derivatives out there imho.

Anyone not interested in anything lotfp related could just grab the rules and be better off for it.

I also really like DCC so maybe that speaks to my tastes.
 

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And the great thing about osr to me is that even if there is a boat ton of derivative stuff I see it all as interchangeable. So I see new core books from a different publisher simply as a product supplement to what I'm currently playing.
 

Baulderstone

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And the great thing about osr to me is that even if there is a boat ton of derivative stuff I see it all as interchangeable. So I see new core books from a different publisher simply as a product supplement to what I'm currently playing.
One reason the OSR gets away with it is that the actual rules sections of OSR games tend to be short, allowing most of the book to be setting/classes/magic/monsters/new systems or whatever else the appeal of this particular OSR game is.
 

Mankcam

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I don't actually disagree entirely, nor am I trying to kick somebody out of the tent or declare myself Pope of B/X.

I do though think that somewhere along the way, enough changes have been made that game isn't D&D anymore.

I don't know exactly where that line is drawn. Maybe it's impossible to draw.

Is White Lies also D&D, for example?

Is Black Petal Hack ?

I could see an argument realistically going either way on something like that.
There's a poorly defined term 'OSR-Adjacent RPGs' bantering about now, so I'm assuming if a rpg shifts too much from the core D&D mechanics it is emulating, yet still captures the old school spirit of TSR D&D, then it is 'OSR-Adjacent".

In which case I am clearly an "OSR-Adjacent" kinda guy.
I think one of my favourites in this category would be Low Fantasy Gaming
 
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robertsconley

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.
I don't know you can look on this list.


Swords & Wizardry and OSRIC still going strong. Labyrinth Lord was originally THE B/X Clone but now OSE has taken that crown. But LL still sells from what I understand. My Majestic Wilderlands supplement still sells dozens of copies every year that was released in Dec 2008.


I dunno, it seems like flagging creator support might be a factor as well. I mean, it can't be easy to keep cranking out product for something that's not hugely profitable.
It is profitable but it is also work done in the time one has for a hobby for most of us. You can push it pretty far like you can any hobby but unless your skill is that good or you have a little luck in popular interest there comes a point where the next step is just too much. Or just as common your life circumstances change enough that the time you have for a hobby shrinks.

Personally, I opt to take my time to do the stuff I want to do. Aside from a subscription to Adobe Creative Studio and the various website fees; I have no overhead that forces me to adhere particular schedule. I can do this because of the economics of publishing in the 21st century.

I have some small hits. Blackmarsh has had nearly 15,000 unique downloads (free PDF) since 2011, along with 511 copies sold (print). 12,300 of the downloads come from DriveThruRPG while free requires the user to make a minimal effort to get compared to my website link. And monthly print sales slowly but steadily increased over the years. Used to be 1 or 2, now it up to 5 to 8.

All of this is mostly word of mouth. Nor I am unique in this. The OSR most individuals see is just a tip of a very large Iceberg even the part that just focuses on the classic edition. The OSR is so foreign to how nearly every other niche of the industry operates that most don't get it. The closest that comes to it is the Cepheus niche of Traveller and perhaps Fate.

I know Labyrinth Lord used to be pretty popular, but it seems to have fallen out of favor. Swords & Wizardry is definitely still supported, how is it doing?
Still chugging along, I use it as the foundation for my material and it helps. It helps that Matt Finch is more active about his personal creative projects.

I see OSE has become very popular, but I always hear praise for its layout, rather than its rules. Is it just the OSRIC of B/X?
It more popular than OSRIC in it's niche.

Wrapping it up
The thing that most folks don't realize that the OSR is profitable but you have to earn by putting your time in and being personable on-line. A few notable individuals aside most people involved in the OSR are not giant asses. Sure some of them will bite if you mock their favorite edition but most are just hobbyists with the gumption to go the extra mile to make something that looks nice and useful to share.

Oh you need to have reasonable goals. If you go in thinking you going to have full color art in your books with a box set then it is a good way to turn $10,000 into $1,000. Plus murder you with all the work involved. But a solid b/w presentation or the occasional color with a nice layout is well within the reach of most folks who want to use their hobby time to publish.

My recommendation for 15 years is that if you feel you can sell 100 copies with a profit of $5 each within a year (a total of $500 for the year) you will find the effort worthwhile. Maybe you won't do it again but it won't feel like a giant waste of time either.
 

Torque2100

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Another consideration is how cross-compatible all this stuff is. Yeah, there is an OD&D/S&W scene, and a BX/LL/OSE scebe and the Black Hack scene, and the DCC scene, but its fairly easy to use adventures from any of these scenes with the OSR game of your choice.
This is why I love the OSR. I can grab a Swords and Wizardry adventure and use it in Old-School Essentials with very minimal conversion work.
 
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Brock Savage

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The tinkering nature of the OSR also means that a lot of GMs are genuinely curious to get a look at other people's rules builds.
Right? I enjoy learning about other people's OSR houserules but house rules from other systems generate as much enthusiasm as "lemme tell you about my character" unless that person has an excellent understanding of the system.
 

Simon Hogwood

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Has any OSR game achieved anything resembling market longevity? Am I sniffing glue? It seems to me that each one builds a fanbase for a few years, then gets dropped in favor of the new hotness. I guess Pathfinder, maybe C&C if those count.

I dunno, it seems like flagging creator support might be a factor as well. I mean, it can't be easy to keep cranking out product for something that's not hugely profitable.

Even if it is waning, it's had a good run by RPG standards. ACKS has put out a solid product line and is still going.
Since you were so kind to bring it up, let me just take a minute to plug the new ACKS Dwarf book:


Interestingly, the description mentions that the book was designed to not need to be used with ACKS as such, and will include conversion notes for other OSR games. It'll be interesting to see how that works out, and which specific other games (other than OSE) it goes with.
 

Baulderstone

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Interestingly, the description mentions that the book was designed to not need to be used with ACKS as such, and will include conversion notes for other OSR games. It'll be interesting to see how that works out, and which specific other games (other than OSE) it goes with.
The biggest issue I saw with ACKS is that it has its own system for AC which I don't recall being statistically different than the standard. It's just different to be different. Given that the core of the system is mostly B/X with the BECMI proficiency system added, it creates a needless compatibility issue.
DCC is the obvious exception but for some strange reason gets excluded from the OSR by some, mostly because I've seen others say it is based on 3e/d20 although I'd say it has so many changes it is really its own beast.
That sounds like the kind of argument that comes from people that think anything more creative than re-writing Keep on the Borderlands for the 100th time is heresy against Gygax. If taking some mechanical inspiration from modern D&D excludes you from the OSR, you have to throw out a lot of games like Chris Gonnerman's Basic Fantasy, which was a vital part of the early OSR.

Then again, I have always been more interested in the part of the OSR that is doing things rather than the part that is mostly interested in telling people what they can't do if they want to be in the club.
 

Fenris-77

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I like the OSR scene particularly for that element of being interested in the minor (or not so minor) tinkering that gets done in each case. It's almost like I'm collecting a whole range of interesting twists on the same rules (essentially true as it happens) which leave me in the position of being able to pick and chose what base and what tweaks to use for a given campaign. I have LL, OSE, DCC, Black Hack, White Hack, Macchiato, B/X, BECMI, plus any number of other variations, supplements and whatnot and I combine them pretty freely. The library taken as a whole gives me a lot of gaming pleasure in a lot of ways.
 

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DCC is not quite my cup of tea but I appreciate that they know their audience. They promise a particular type of play and actually deliver that type of play. Their recent kickstarters have a few thousand buyers and 'compatible with DCC' tends to get several hundred buyers so they seem to be doing decently.
 
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