Today’s pieces by Ethan Gilsdorf in the New York Times, David Ewalt in Forbes, and Greg Tito in the Escapist – as well as the Legends and Lore column by Mike Mearls – bring confirmation that the OSR has won sooner than I expected. Apparently there is some inaccuracy in taking a summer temperature by counting the frequency of cicadas chirping, or in predicting the arrival of 5E by how often people are crying that the sky is falling.
Here are folks I know have been listening to what the OSR has been saying, talking about the announcement:
“The long open testing period for the next edition, if handled correctly, could be exactly what’s needed to make players feels invested in D&D again.”
- ACKS developer Greg Tito, quoted by Gilsdorf (who also quotes me and name-drops Adventurer Conqueror King)
“I’m not a fan of fourth edition. I find the combat slow, the powers limiting, and the rules inhospitable to the kind of creative world-building, story-telling and problem-solving that make D&D great. But so far, the fifth edition rules show promise. They’re simple without being stupid, and efficient without being shallow. Combat was quick and satisfying; we got through most of an adventure in just a few hours.”
- David Ewalt, one of the participants on the “The World Dave Built” panel at the Arneson Memorial Gameday.
“It’s a compliment to the new rules that I was rarely aware of them. It might have been Mike’s expertise as a DM, but the new D&D does feel like a pleasant amalgam of every edition and the elegance of the rules allowed us to concentrate on the adventure’s plot… Many of us fell in love with the game through the adventure modules released by TSR in the early days of the game. Gygax’s Against the Giants modules are still regarded as a crowning achievement in how they planted plot details in the dungeon along with exciting combat, and Mearls said he wants to get back to that level of story-telling through new published adventures.”
- Disgruntled 4E playtester Greg Tito, in his own piece.
Are these not some of the things that we’ve been asking for?
I don’t think that the OSR’s every word has been taken to heart. It’s certainly not that our size or market impact has made any kind of meaningful impact on Wizards of the Coast’s business projections; I’m not even sure our OGL ally Pathfinder can claim that distinction.
What I do believe is that the OSR represents the same zeitgeist that is putting like-minded souls into art galleries and theaters and sports teams and the leadership of WotC and Paizo. And I believe that our cacophonous, insanely divergent group of loudmouthed blind men provided an unusually complete description of the elephant in the room throughout the 4E era. Facing an insanely difficult task of design and marketing as they try to usher in the new age of creation, not even WotC would have the hubris to completely refuse to drink from the OSR’s pool of free advice and analysis.
Of course, WotC’s capacity to screw things up often seems limitless. If in trying to give the OSR what we want they make a complete mockery of everything we believe in, feel free to say I was among the first to get egg on my face.