I Shot the OSR - It's Dead. DEAD I Tells yah!
The Old School Reference Index and Compilation (OSRIC) started by Matt Finch and later championed to completion by Stuart Marshall was the first of the Clones. The original intent was not to create (or recreate as it were) the original game system rules. It was more an effort to legally craft a framework that companies could publish new materials for old game systems. So it would be understood that when you said your product was OSRIC compatible that what you were really saying is that your product is for use with 1e AD&D. There was a lot of clamor for a completed OSRIC rule set that folks could purchase a hard copy and use it at their table in much the same way they use any other game books. That is the point where I got involved. I didn't do any of the writing or editing chores, I felt that the folks at the Knights and Knaves Alehouse forums had all that stuff adequately covered. I DID jump at the chance to do the art. The thing about OSRIC is that none of us were paid (well, at least for the original 2.0 release) and all of us volunteered a lot of free time to put together a work that I think is truely amazing. OSRIC is a total love letter to Gygaxian fantasy gaming as epitomized by 1e AD&D. OSRIC is in my mind one of the best deals going for old school gaming value. It is freely availiable for download and the hardcopy (both hard and softcover versions) can be had for cost. It's hard to beat that deal. And Black Blade Publishing did a bang up job at adding even more art for just a few cents more.
But I digress. The initial aim of the OSR was to get folks publishing material again for the game systems that they had been playing for the past 30+ years. The next group of clones (Labyrinth Lord and Swords and Wizardry) filled out the Original Edition of Dungeons and Dragons and made it possible to publish works for those systems. So now we have new old school products available for old gaming systems. Good times indeed. But why stop there? Why not take those old gaming systems and do new things with them? How about tailoring them to horror, weird fantasy, domain games, post apocalyptic fantasy, science fiction, etc. Games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Adventurer Conqueror King, Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Mutant Future and Stars Without Number were thus designed. While some have argued that these are simply house ruled versions of D&D, I'd have to submit that many role playing games are either a house ruled take or reaction to D&D. After all Tunnels and Trolls, Arduin, Palladium Fantasy, Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, Chivalry and Sorcery, the Fantasy Trip etc are pretty much direct reactions to D&D or house ruled versions.
But anyway, what has any of this got to do with the OSR being dead, not dead, mostly dead, dead/alive, or undead? Nothing. You know why? Because the Old School Renaissance is first and foremost about getting folks to play old school games be they playing the original D&D games, clones, derivatives, mashups, etc. I submit that the OSR has never been more alive than it is right now. The rerelease of the 1e books won't do much to diminish that I think. If anything, it just reinforces that the old games are just as much fun right now as they were 30+ years ago. Releasing the backlog of TSR product in pdf does nothing to quench the thirst for new adventures to be had. I mean look at the kick starter for Rappun Atthuk. Looks to me like folks are asking for more. Look at Fight On! Look at the Swords and Wizardry Kickstarter, look at the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG. It seems that Old School gaming is settling in quite nicely along side the new stuff.
So it would seem to be evident that the OSR still has a lot of life left in it. The OSR is dead, long live the OSR ;)!