OSR Guide for the Perplexed Questionaire


I still, for life of me, don’t understand why Zak Smith has taken a dislike to me, it seems to be purely for political purposes, but these questionnaire things and ‘article a day’ things help keep me motivated and productive. So what the criminey-heck.

‘OSR’ stands for ‘Old School Renaissance’, it’s a back-to-basics approach to roleplaying with a focus on homebrew and just-above-homebrew implementations of rules which, mostly, stem from ‘Red Box D&D’ and other early editions.

The capability to create all these ‘forks’ from the old D&D rules in part stems from the peculiarity that you can’t copyright rules, and in part from the Open Game Licence that came along with 3rd edition.

‘OSR’ is less a specific set of rules, though, and more an attitude. ‘Old school’ in that regard is more of a punk rock, heavy metal, unreconstructed, undeconstructed, in your face ‘pulp’ attitude to the way you game, rather than what dice you roll.

D&D has no nostalgia factor for me. I didn’t start with D&D, I started with MERP, Dragon Warriors, Fighting Fantasy and other games that were far more popular in my little corner of England. I’m also neither entirely a narrative, nor a crunchy system fan. I like different things for different reasons, the right tool for the right job. Still, the OSR shouldn’t really appeal to me, and I don’t really play much in the way of old school games (Dragon Warriors stream notwithstanding). Still, this ‘Here’s three dice, now make a game’ attitude is appealing, as is the ‘fuck you if you don’t like it’ approach found in things like Carcosa and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:

This old article from back when The Escapist had some balls provided me with a basic grounding in what was going on, back in the day. Still with a shufti via the ol’ Wayback Machine.

2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

“I find myself with insufficient time and desire to write about games but I also have the sense that the ‘OSR’ scene this blog is devoted to has become a rather disgusting place where crass commercialization is strangling a formerly creative amateur community, and where destructive ‘alt-right’ views are becoming increasingly prevalent, even among some of the more significant publishers in the community.”

This from this blog.

I mean, it’s just so absurd a thing to say, but why this is my favourite thing is that it got virtually no currency within that community. It was rebuffed for its absurdity and ridiculousness without getting the same kind of traction it has in other RPG communities.

That’s one of the biggest and best selling points such a community can have to me.

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

I’m not a ‘supplements’ sort of guy, which is why I hardly ever purchase them and why I try to write into any adventures that I create some kind of added value (GM advice, random tables, that sort of thing). So this is a tough one, however I’d go with Vornheim. Predictable, I know, but it did demonstrate there were other ways to lay out, write, organise and use supplements that has – modestly – informed some changes I’ve been making.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

Using tokens to reward player attention and roleplay moments, and to penalise player distractions, inattention and mood-breaking.

5. How I found out about the OSR:

I have no idea. It seemed to just sort of… arrive by osmosis.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy:

This medieval town/city generator.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers:


8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games:



Facebook, and here

Youtube and here

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough:

Vomit it out, then clean it up.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG:

I hate these kinds of questions. Who can ever pick just one? Enjoying Iron Kingdoms, FATE, Eclipse Phase and the games I’m working on at the moment.

11. Why I like OSR stuff:

The punk aesthetic, the IDGAF community, the ‘try anything’ freedom that the narrative game community aspires to, but gets too hung up on politics and wokeness.

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

My Machinations of the Space Princess RPG.

My house-rule that you can try any combat move you like, but at a basic penalty of -5 (gives fighters something they REALLY excel at, swashbuckling).

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be:

Tenkar’s Tavern.

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is:

All of them.

15. I’m currently running/playing:

The Iron Kingdoms RPG (the non-d20 one). Our heroes are a band of morally questionable mercenaries, working for a secret society of wives/widows of the powerful tjqmG1539440448men of the city as their enforcers and investigators. It’s all ascending towards some sort of confrontation with the current, established powers that be.

16. I don’t care whether you use ascending or descending AC because:

So long as everyone at the table agrees, why the cock should it matter?

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:

Is at the top of the page.

#RPG #TTRPG #My30dayWorld – Are the Lands Cartographed? Where are the Boundaries?


This is the last entry in this monthly challenge, so I’m not paywalling it. We’ve mapped out the basics of the world and have some idea of the rules. Eventually, I’ll get around to turning them into an actual book! As regards this question though… I think short of roughly mapping the world and – perhaps – ‘hex crawling’ a section of the world as a starting area, I’d like to leave things rather vague. Talk of distant nations and lands without anyone being truly, entirely, sure of what is out there. A less defined world leaves far more room for Games Masters to add their own material and leaves room free for supplements and definition as good ideas occur.

Some things will be defined of course, and those have already been covered, while the ‘bottom page text’ – as with Machinations of the Space Princess, will contain plenty of rumours and story seeds.

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#RPG #TTRPG #My30dayWorld – What Character Would you Play in Your Own World?

alexandru-negoita-g2I tend to have a few particular archetypes that I play most often. In the world that I have spelled out thus far I would play a rogue/thief type character who has come up from the slums in one of the fortress cities via sometimes grim and often criminal means. He would be a capable fighter, compensating for the relative lack of combat capability compared to a fighter by taking compensatory skills and specialising in particular weapons. He would mask a terror of falling back into poverty with bravado and a surface-level amoral and materialistic fixation. Beneath that he would be a good man forced to live in bad circumstances, but with sympathies for The Comity’s assault on the status quo.

He would not be above slitting a motherfucker’s throat in their sleep, but would also get drunk afterwards from the guilt.

He might look something like this…

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#My30dayWorld – Do Any People of Your World Revere Nature? How Deeply?


Nature in this world is extremely dangerous. Even without the mutations and strangeness incurred by the wars of the Philosopher Kings this is a world with megafauna, magical animals, plants and the same natural disasters, plagues, fires and issues that would occur in a low or no magic setting. Mother nature is, very much, a bitch. Nature is something to be tamed, exterminated and beaten into submission for most peoples in this world. It’s a hostile relationship with nature existing as a sort of amoral (rather than immoral), destructive force…

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#My30dayWorld – What is the Most Misunderstood Player Race?

Halfling.pngWhatever my equivalent of halflings ends up being, these will be the most misunderstood race. There will be prejudice against them at all levels of society and in all ways. This will range from simple distrust and dislike to the degree of treating them as pests, in much the same way we would treat rats. While they’ll be known as thieves and pests to most other races, they will have a unique and interesting culture that explains and covers much of their behaviour, as it is seen by outsiders…

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#My30dayWorld #RPG – What Prominent Fantastical Bodies of Water are there?


For the most part particular seas and oceans are not fantastical per se, but rather locations within them are. Given some of my inspiration is going to be taken from pre-christian European mythology, wells, ponds and lakes are more likely to be individually magical and to be the dwelling places of fantastical creatures. Locations in seas or things that live within them may be fantastical, but as to magical bodies of water themselves? Not so much…

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#RPG – #My30dayWorld – Are there Many Underground Locations in Your World?


In terms of things like The Underdark, no. I don’t think such things make particular sense in the world I have thus far described. Having a whole, separate underground world makes it become somewhat mundane and the unique and strange nature of such a place becomes diluted over time through familiarity. So rather than a single, connected, unified underground realm I think each underground location will be unique…

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#My30dayWorld – #RPG – Are There Evil Races in Your Realm, Such as the Drow?


I’m torn in two directions on this. On the one hand the absolute, black-and-white morality found in – for example – the D&D alignment system is something I find incredibly dull. On the other hand there is a demand from some quarters to a return to that simplicity and to examples of pure good and unremitting evil. I am not a fan of the idea that, say, orcs are all born evil, with no hope whatsoever of ever being anything else. This leads to things like Paladins slaughtering goblin babies in their cribs…

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#AprilTTRPGmaker Feature a TTRPG designer

tumblr_m7q21tXbvq1qzb1rlo1_500I admire, and am envious of, the success of James Raggi. His Lamentations of the Flame Princess is ‘just’ a D&D retro-clone, but he has made it phenomenally successful, purely on the basis of presentation, creativity, thematics, mood, marketing and investing in the art.

The fixation on a single game is also something I find amazing. I always flit from one idea and one game to another. To devote so much time and effort to a single game, and support for it, is an ‘outside context problem’.

Raggi also has the same ‘fuck you’ attitude to people who have issues with what he does, seemingly giving even less of a shit than I do that anyone’s offended or upset. He’s also unafraid to work with people who feel the same. The criticism at least seems to affect him less as well.

All of this, at least to me, is admirable. Even if I’ve never been a particular D&D fan.

#RPG – #My30dayWorld – Are Constructs Common in Your World? What is their Role?


By default, I am not going to consider constructs to be especially common. Giving life to something would require a massive amount of magical energy, energy not typically easy to find – especially compared to the half-life that undead manage, often only able to sustain it through cannibalism, murder, blood drinking or sacrifice. Constructs are – rather – things that have been given a kind of permanent life, lending animation to an otherwise inanimate object like a statue, clockwork, carving or golem…

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