Tuesday, January 20, 2009

not the revolution I signed on for

Just so you know, Dan Proctor is friggin' awesome. Not only is he directly responsible for Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future, but while many of us were talking about a centralized old school storefront he actually went out and did it. There's still work to be done on his new Old School Renaissance project. More publishers need to sign on (though he's already got some great folks) and at some point it needs to migrate to a site where products sold outside Lulu can be listed. But Dan took the big first step that the rest of us were dragging our feet on.

As with any group that features beardy old men, a few naysayers were probably inevitable. The folks demanding that OSR protect the children/society at large/your mom from Carcosa I can write off as a tempest in a teapot. We don't need some anonymous internet wussboy screaming hysterics to protect us from the evils of a book. I can respect that a lot of people on the internet wish to operate under a pseudonym for various reasons, but when that reason is to call for the censorship of a book I smell the whiff of moral cowardice. And as always, I believe that the way to counter bad speech is with good speech. You think Carcosa is bad and want to be rid of it? Write something better.

Again, I think too many words have already been written denouncing and defending what is ultimately an edge case not requiring anyone to alter policies over. The idea that Carcosa will open a floodgate of questionable material is laughable. What I find much more sinister is the suggestion being floated by a few that OSR needs a steering committee to separate the true old school wheat from the chaff. To be blunt, there's no fucking way I'm on board with that.

Part of my participation in this crazy old school thing involves going back and rereading what authorities like Gygax, Arneson, Moldvay and many others have to say about our hobby. The overwhelming lesson I learn again and again "this is how I do it, but do what you think is best for your game". A committee to inform us what is and isn't old school undermines the very referee autonomy that makes running these games so damn interesting.

Furthermore, and please understand that I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don't trust any of you bastards to tell me what 'old school' means! Nor should anyone trust my personal definition. As far as new products are concerned, I think everyone who wants to come to the table should be welcome. For example, I don't normally think of second edition AD&D as an old school system. But if someone wants to write an adventure for 2nd ed I want them to get just as much encouragement and support as I got when I threw together my OD&D module. I might not find that 2nd ed scenario suitable to my tastes, but who cares what I think?

We don't need an inner cabal of grognards granting or withholding their blood-soaked insignia from various products. All we really need is more and better reviews. That's an obvious addition to a future iteration of Old School Renaissance, a decent review system.

Finally, I'll close with this cool little graphic:

I scanned this pic from the inside front cover of The Tomb Complex of Nereshanbo, a really neat-o dungeon for Empire of the Petal Throne. I like EPT and that picture of Professor Barker is awesome, especially the smoking cigar. But you know what this seal of approval means to me? Absolutely nothing. Why the hell should I care whether this adventure meets with the M.A.R. Barker's approval? All that matters is whether I can use it in my campaign or not.