The British Old School Revival (B-OSR)

Séadna

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Was this in Dublin Rob? Always wondered about the scene there, headed into the Games Workshop in Blanch the odd time I could coerce my Dad into it!
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Yeah it was mate! Used to shop in Dublin City for all RPG stuff. The Dice Man when I was about 13 but it closed down. Then the good old Virgin Mega store, which, when it opened was the best around. I bought my first copy of WFRP when there when I was 16!

I feel old!
 

Séadna

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Yeah it was mate! Used to shop in Dublin City for all RPG stuff. The Dice Man when I was about 13 but it closed down. Then the good old Virgin Mega store, which, when it opened was the best around. I bought my first copy of WFRP when there when I was 16!

I feel old!
Ever head to Sub City? It was like a myth to us this magical shop that actually (gasp!) sold RPGs. When I finally headed into Dublin when I was eighteen its RPG section was gone, never saw it in its apparent heyday.
 

NinjaWeasel

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AFF is probably my favorite of the old stuff (apart from WFRP). I really like Troika!
I've been hearing Troika! (and it's relationship to AFF) referenced quite a bit lately AND I see there's a "Numinous Edition" on Drive Thru RPG. In what ways is it similar and/or different from AFF?
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Ever head to Sub City? It was like a myth to us this magical shop that actually (gasp!) sold RPGs. When I finally headed into Dublin when I was eighteen its RPG section was gone, never saw it in its apparent heyday.
Yeah, I've been in a few times but not for I'd say nearly 20 years. I've been living in the countryside for a long time so I've not been to that side of Dublin at all. When I was there, their RPG section was quite small. So, it might have been winding down.

I actually ended getting most of my books from the UK as they had some really cool shops over there. :smile:
 

Rob Necronomicon

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I've been hearing Troika! (and it's relationship to AFF) referenced quite a bit lately AND I see there's a "Numinous Edition" on Drive Thru RPG. In what ways is it similar and/or different from AFF?
Well, it basically uses the same rules. However, the setting is 'off the wall' in a good way. It's very original... However, the setting is very scant and you just get awesome nuggets of information to build stuff on. So, if you like weird setting and don't mind a bit of prep it's well worth it imo. :smile:
 

NinjaWeasel

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It's got my interest. I do like to read gonzo settings but, however, I rarely end up playing published settings. I do have a lot of time for anything Fighting Fantasy related though. I have most of the material published for AFF 2e and have been thinking about picking up Return to the Pit this week.
 

AsenRG

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Re urban vs frontier; I think it goes beyond that to how the countryside/wilderness is conceived and presented in FF - Forest of Doom - or in White Dwarf scenarios, vs how it appears in US D&D etc. In British stuff you wander down a crooked lane deep in the dark woods, and you might meet a leprechaun or come across standing stones. It feels a lot more intimate than the Big Country feel in US stuff.
The US stuff almost always tends to remind me of a Western with fantasy trappings. Since Gronan has mentioned Western Boomtowns as inspiration, I'd guess that was a job well done:smile:?

Good point, I won’t go into any further detail.

Edit to add if anyone is interested in these types of psyops you can also find studies that discuss where we (the US) did it in the Philippines, a campaign that involved local vampire legends, and in Vietnam.
I've had some NPC of dubious moral standards using the "Filipino gambit", as I call it, in a game.
Best part was when (some of) the PCs believed it:wink:!

We did have one case of one of my friend's parents having heard the news reports and getting worried he was playing something "satanic". But we just invited his vicar to sit in on a game session. Don't know exactly what the vicar reported back, but we never heard of any issues from his family after that.
Anyone else betting on "it's just like a boardgame, has some maths, and the kids do some stupid stuff, feel adventurous without risking to actually break their necks, and exercise their imaginations":grin:?
 

bottg

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The 1980's in British Gaming certainly did have a defined "feel" to it. As has been mentioned upthread, there were various influences that all got mixed up and worked on each other. FF Gamebooks, 2000AD, Citadel Miniatures and more all riffed off each other.

Hell, one of the issues of White Dwarf even had a flexible record by "Bolt Thrower" on it! Not really my thing so I gave it to a good friend (who later became a big, big star in the Heavy Metal scene) but it shows the mixing of influences.
 

Bilharzia

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I grew up in Northern Ireland where the Satanic Panic was certainly a big thing. It also hit conservative parts of Scotland, East Anglia etc.
I grew up in East Anglia in the 80s and I didn't experience anything of a 'Satanic Panic', nor did I hear anything going on in the region either. My science teacher at school was a quite serious Christian and hosted our RPG club in his lab, where we played CoC, Bushido and RuneQuest. Any issue parents, teachers or other adults had was simply to do with concerns about simply wasting time rather than anything to do with Christian prejudices. In the country of Narnia, Middle Earth, Discworld, living amongst stone circles and barrow mounds, the idea that fantasy games drawing on the same imagery and themes are going to undermine the young was not going to find any purchase in the UK. In my school The Weirdstone of Brisingamen was one of the texts we studied in English.

There were other moral panics in the UK that people were much more interested in and had real consequences - a different import - "Video Nasties" from that awful country the USA was one of the big ones. The 80s had real crises in the UK that Satanic panic had no chance against - a war with Argentina, the miner's strike, riots all over the country, mass unemployment, Phil Collins going solo, it was a tough time.

I do see a difference between the US take on fantasy RPGs and the UK's, I'm not sure it needs to have or fits a 'B-OSR' label though. When people talk about the UKs' slant on fantasy in RPGs largely they're talking about WFRP, which did much of the most of the mulching together of themes and elements to produce this characterisation. Dragon Warriors was a flop at the time and I think had very little impact (from what the authors have said about its lack of commercial success), its recent re-issue was far better presented and probably reached a wider audience. D&D was always the biggest game, very briefly in narrow competition with RuneQuest, which itself was replaced by GW with its D&D competitor WFRP.
 

Black Leaf

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Anyone else betting on "it's just like a boardgame, has some maths, and the kids do some stupid stuff, feel adventurous without risking to actually break their necks, and exercise their imaginations":grin:?
Possibly with an additional "although it got quite tiring how they all sniggered whenever one of them said 'do it'".
 

NinjaWeasel

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In the country of Narnia, Middle Earth, Discworld, living amongst stone circles and barrow mounds, the idea that fantasy games drawing on the same imagery and themes are going to undermine the young was not going to find any purchase in the UK.
The area where I grew up, and still live, has very strong links to Tolkien and the geography of the area was an inspiration for locations in both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. In fact there's a whole minor industry that revolves around this fact, that incorporates things like The Tolkien Trail (a countryside walk through places he visited) and The Middle-Earth Beer Festival, so fantasy fiction is woven somewhat into the normal fabric of life here. Playing RPGs was only ever unacceptable in the sense that it was deemed to be for social outcasts rather than anything to do with the actual content of the games. Anything deemed "intellectual", or even just "arty", was simply viewed unfavourably.

In my school The Weirdstone of Brisingamen was one of the texts we studied in English.
We read this at school, when I was around 13 or 14, and it was my favourite of all the books I read at school. I bought an anniversary hardback edition of it in 2011 and it's one of my most prized books. I rarely hear it mentioned by anyone these days and basically thought it had slid into relative obscurity. Thinking about it now I reckon I could run a pretty cool game inspired by The Weirdstone using Things From The Flood. Hmmmm...
 

Voros

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I think Alan Garner is one of the greatest writers of fantasy we have. The Owl Service and Red Shift are particularly wonderful.
 

NinjaWeasel

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Amongst the circles I move in it seems like Alan Garner is fairly well known, for the TV adaptations of his books if nothing else, yet The Weirdstone of Brisingamen seems to be relatively unknown to anyone who didn't read it at school. As a big fan of that book I find that a little sad!
 

Voros

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Amongst the circles I move in it seems like Alan Garner is fairly well known, for the TV adaptations of his books if nothing else, yet The Weirdstone of Brisingamen seems to be relatively unknown to anyone who didn't read it at school. As a big fan of that book I find that a little sad!
The great thing is that all his novels are so short you could read his entire corpus in a few weeks.
 

NinjaWeasel

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The great thing is that all his novels are so short you could read his entire corpus in a few weeks.
When I re-read The Weirdstone of Brisingamen in 2011 I read it over two days but that was due to other things getting in the way. I'm sure I could have read it in a single (albeit long) afternoon if I'd had the luxury of no interruptions.
 

S'mon

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the idea that fantasy games drawing on the same imagery and themes are going to undermine the young was not going to find any purchase in the UK.
You're denying my lived experience!! :p

Re Satanic Panic, don't you remember the '80s Satanic child abuse panic - social services in various places throughout the UK became convinced that covens of middle class Satanists were abusing children en mass. They had been visited by US 'experts' and convinced.
 

Stevethulhu

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The 1980's in British Gaming certainly did have a defined "feel" to it. As has been mentioned upthread, there were various influences that all got mixed up and worked on each other. FF Gamebooks, 2000AD, Citadel Miniatures and more all riffed off each other.

Hell, one of the issues of White Dwarf even had a flexible record by "Bolt Thrower" on it! Not really my thing so I gave it to a good friend (who later became a big, big star in the Heavy Metal scene) but it shows the mixing of influences.
It was Sabbat, not Bolt Thrower and the song was called Blood for the Blood God.

Man I miss the thrash gigs of the 80s.
 

Black Leaf

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Re Satanic Panic, don't you remember the '80s Satanic child abuse panic - social services in various places throughout the UK became convinced that covens of middle class Satanists were abusing children en mass. They had been visited by US 'experts' and convinced.
May be slightly on the line here in terms of forum rules, but what was interesting there was that a lot of the protaganists didn't fit the standard picture of Christian fundies. People like Bea Campbell.

Obviously we did have our own homeground fundies as well. Mary Whitehouse, James Anderton etc.
 

Warthur

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The UK had its own irrational panic in the form of the Video Nasties scare. And unlike rpgs it actually led to some people going to jail just for distributing horror films, most of which are far tamer than the average episode of TWD.
A pet theory: this comes down to UK culture, especially its more conservative ends, trusting books more than TV/movies (at the time, at least). After all, "everyone knows" that reading books is a thing clever people do whilst watching the television rots your brain (despite the fact that there's some very clever television and movies out there, and some stupendously worthless books for that matter), so many parents fretted about what their kids were watching but didn't mind, eg., gamebooks because "At least they're reading", and RPGs tended to involve enough thick rulebooks that parents could convince themselves that it was OK because it was educational.

On the other hand, in US culture (and its more conservative corners) there's something more of a strain of anti-intellectualism (which has infected the UK a bit since then), so the priorities went in a different order. TV and movies might be dodgy and objectionable... but books were outright scary. Being educated was less important than being wash-ed in the blood of our saviour JEEZ-us! (anddon'tforgettosendyourtithetoourtvstation...), and in the minds of some the more widely kids read, the less likely they were to be good unimaginative evangelicals. Note how Pat Pulling and her crew tended to tell outright lies about the content of D&D books, like they taught you how to cast real spells; they were doing that to hype up the idea of the books as sinister Necronomicon-esque grimoires.
 

Bilharzia

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You're denying my lived experience!! :p

Re Satanic Panic, don't you remember the '80s Satanic child abuse panic - social services in various places throughout the UK became convinced that covens of middle class Satanists were abusing children en mass. They had been visited by US 'experts' and convinced.
Err didn't you just say there was a rpg Satanic Panic in the region where I grew up? I've no idea what the experience was at the same time anywhere else. Yes, as I said, there were plenty of other moral panics going on, I thought we were talking about RPGS not child abuse.
 

Voros

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A pet theory: this comes down to UK culture, especially its more conservative ends, trusting books more than TV/movies (at the time, at least). After all, "everyone knows" that reading books is a thing clever people do whilst watching the television rots your brain (despite the fact that there's some very clever television and movies out there, and some stupendously worthless books for that matter), so many parents fretted about what their kids were watching but didn't mind, eg., gamebooks because "At least they're reading", and RPGs tended to involve enough thick rulebooks that parents could convince themselves that it was OK because it was educational.

On the other hand, in US culture (and its more conservative corners) there's something more of a strain of anti-intellectualism (which has infected the UK a bit since then), so the priorities went in a different order. TV and movies might be dodgy and objectionable... but books were outright scary. Being educated was less important than being wash-ed in the blood of our saviour JEEZ-us! (anddon'tforgettosendyourtithetoourtvstation...), and in the minds of some the more widely kids read, the less likely they were to be good unimaginative evangelicals. Note how Pat Pulling and her crew tended to tell outright lies about the content of D&D books, like they taught you how to cast real spells; they were doing that to hype up the idea of the books as sinister Necronomicon-esque grimoires.
Worth noting that Pat Pulling was not a fundamentalist or even Christian. In his book Dangerous Games Jospeh Laycock surmises that Pulling was presented as the face of the anti-D&D movement not only because of her hearbreaking personal tragedy but because she presented a more mainstream, middle-class non-fundamentalist front for the 'movement.'

As to why they were so clearly ignorant of the game they were attacking, Laycock has some interesting, complex ideas about that but I'd have revisit the book to summarize them here.

But that certainly isn't rare today either, I've encountered more than a few people online who attack films they have yet to see based on a trailer, or a writer they've never read or most relevantly for this forum a game they clearly haven't read let alone played.
 
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There was undoubtedly some element of the "Satanic Panic" in Britain, but perhaps it wasn't as strong (either in its level of support or in its influence). Also, they (the panicked) seemed just as confused about the contents of the books. Ian Livingstone often recalls the story of a woman who thought reading Fighting Fantasy made her son fly:

Not everybody liked the books. Livingstone recalls: "The Evangelical Alliance published an eight-page warning guide saying, because children were interacting with ghouls and demons, they would be interacting with the devil. One housewife phoned her radio station and said her son levitated having read one of my books. A vicar also threatened to tie himself to the gates at Penguin Books until Fighting Fantasy was banned."
I have to say, if I'd heard that FF gave people the power to levitate, that would send me straight out to WH Smith with my pocket money to snag a copy.
 

Black Leaf

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I have to say, if I'd heard that FF gave people the power to levitate, that would send me straight out to WH Smith with my pocket money to snag a copy.
True story:

As kids, we'd heard of this infamous RPG that had real spells and encouraged people to do things like urinate on altars. So we tried tracking it down. We were so disappointed when we found out they were talking about the comparatively tame D&D.
 

NinjaWeasel

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I remember a news report (on the BBC I think) in the mid 80s that was all about teachers, and some kind of "concern group", worried about books for children and teenagers that contained potentially unsuitable material. None of it was anything occult or satanic. They were worried about overly graphic sex and violence basically. I remember a Fighting Fantasy book being one of the examples they talked about. My parents saw the report but it didn't stop my Mum buying me the FF book mentioned (I think it was Island of the Lizard King but I'm not 100% certain of that) less than two weeks later. :grin:
 

Black Leaf

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I remember a news report (on the BBC I think) in the mid 80s that was all about teachers, and some kind of "concern group", worried about books for children and teenagers that contained potentially unsuitable material. None of it was anything occult or satanic. They were worried about overly graphic sex and violence basically. I remember a Fighting Fantasy book being one of the examples they talked about. My parents saw the report but it didn't stop my Mum buying me the FF book mentioned (I think it was Island of the Lizard King but I'm not 100% certain of that) less than two weeks later. :grin:
The main worry I remember coming up was one about kids reading nothing else.

But as a teacher pointed out to my mum at parent's evening, FF fans fell into two braod groups.

Ones like me who read all the time and just added FF to that.

And ones that never read prior to the FF boom.

And he was strongly of the view that "reads nothing but gamebooks" was a big step forward on "doesn't read full stop".
 

NinjaWeasel

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And he was strongly of the view that "reads nothing but gamebooks" was a big step forward on "doesn't read full stop".
I never encountered this attitude at school but I'm pretty certain it was my Mum's attitude. I was waaaaay behind everyone else when it came to reading skills for the first couple of years of school. However, once I got to the point where I could read and enjoy comics and then, a little later, FF books I started reading them all the time and my reading (and writing) skills increased rapidly. I ended up ahead of pretty much everyone else in my class by the time I was 8 or 9 years old. I heard my Mum say to a few people that she was just happy to see me reading.
 

Ladybird

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And he was strongly of the view that "reads nothing but gamebooks" was a big step forward on "doesn't read full stop".
There's something like this for almost every generation. Being the series that non-readers read is the key to making a lot of money :smile:
 

bottg

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Sounds like they were an enlightened individual! More of that, please!
I have spoken to people who were English teachers at the time and they have told me that the FF books were probably the biggest factor in getting especially boys reading in the 1980's.
 

dbm

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There's something like this for almost every generation. Being the series that non-readers read is the key to making a lot of money :smile:
...if your property can support a film franchise :money:
 

soltakss

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I have spoken to people who were English teachers at the time and they have told me that the FF books were probably the biggest factor in getting especially boys reading in the 1980's.
The Harry Potter of its time.

There were some bloody terrifying kids' T.V. shows in the UK in the 70s. As well as Doctor Who going through its 'gothic' phase I also remember...

Escape Into Night (an adaptation of Catherine Storr's novel Marianne Dreams later made into the film Paperhouse).

King of the Castle - described by one of the writers as "Kafka for kids".

Children of the Stones - rural horror, sort of The Wicker Man for kids. The theme tune alone was the stuff of nightmares.

I think grimdark is just part of our cultural dna :smile:
I can't remember Escape into the Night or King of the Castle, but growing up, I was exposed to Arthur of the Britons, Knightmare, The Tomorrow People, Blakes Seven, Doctor Who, Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, Robin of Sherwood, Maid Marian and her Merry Men and many more.

If you want Grimdark, we had the Singing Ringing Tree, which was super freaky and terrifying, but was almost hypnotic in its attraction.

Once you have all those, accepting a game where you play someone else fighting orcs is easy.
 
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Rob Necronomicon

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The Dice Man! Where I bought my copies of Deluxe Traveller and Deluxe RuneQuest! and several D&D and Traveller modules.
Man, that takes me back! I bought loads of figures there as well. I remember I bought my first edition CoC there too (the box set!).
 
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