OSR Experiments: What makes a game OSR?

Of course, Old School Renaissance is a style of play rather than a particular game system. And in my mind it's no use to argue about which game would be old style, and which one isn't. Perhaps some masters and players out there manage to play old style feel with 4th edition D&D, just ignoring most of the rules and advertisements and products that do not help them.

Perhaps there are OSR style players who don't even know they actually play what many OSR protagonists would say is their type of game. And maybe also the other way around.

But... lurking in the shadows of the renaissance, I started to wonder. Is my own Dark Dungeon 2nd Ed. game in a way OSR compatible? Can it have that feel? Or is it doomed to be something else entirely?

I decided to do some experiments, which you can see coming up in the next few weeks.


  1. It's been a while since I've been inside a copy of Dark Dungeon, but as I recall it looked OSR-tastic to me.

  2. Aha, the Dark DungeonSSSS (Retro style)
    at http://darkdungeonsblog.wordpress.com/
    very much is so. Yet my own game, which developed from D&D, RQ and several home brews during the late 80's, which is called Dark DungeoNNN looks rather different. That's why I'm going to do these experimental conversions. See if the spirit may be there despite the looks. You can download it here and see if it's the same game you mean.

    Thanks Jeff!

  3. For this one, I can only say that "being like D&D" isn't a good thing to me ;-)

    Dark Dungeon appealed to me and others I tried it out with because of the more European, Warhammer Fantasy Battles kind of setting... a little more dark and edgy, not afraid to mention real-world religion and places (sort of) etcetera.

  4. I had to google up OSR because basically, I had no idea what you were going on about. As for the phenomenon itself, it seems to have hit its peak around 2009? Or that's how it looks like to me after a cursory google-around.
    My preliminary reaction to the OSR pundits (not to your blog post), I think this guy sums up my stance (despite his unnecessary harsh language):

  5. Being on the fringes of the OSR movement it seems to me that the core lies in why each participant games. Not for the combat, but for the adventure. The goal of the player is to see strange things, meet strange people, interact with them, and do adventurous things.

    Sense of wonder plays a big role in OSR gaming, and the goal of any player is to see and do things he could never do in real life. Combat and treasure play their parts, but in an OSR game they need not be the sole aims of the party.

    Of course, I could be wrong, but that's how old style games strike me.

  6. @JLC: You might want to have a look at
    and further posts for a history.

    As opinions go... I don't agree with Pundits harsh language in the post you linked, but I do agree that RPGs are there to develop and to stay, whether it's an OSrevival, with lots of new stuff or otherwise. Pundit is a very ok writer btw.

    But, just like you one day said we all should go back to AD&D (in 1993?) instead of DD, I think there is truth in OSR too.

    Trying to understand some of it with these ramblings.