Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bundle of Holding offers two flavors of OSR: crazy weird and conventional classic (mostly)

This book deserves all the praise it's gotten. 

Just got word on this, and had to get the new OSR+3 Bundle of Holding. The notice also mentions that the original OSR bundle is also back up and live. Here's what they offer:

OSR+3 Bundle of Holding:
Slumbering Ursine Dunes
Gnomes of Levnec
Strange Stars
Weird Adventures and Strange Trails
Hit the level up goal and you get:
A Red and Pleasant Land (yes, that's right)
Owl-Hoot Trail
Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
Beyond the Wall
...I own none of those.

The list above is some interesting stuff, and I own none of them. In thinking about this I had an epiphany: OSR is indeed about reviving the Old School in RPGs and D&D specifically (see the original OSR below for an example) but a lot of the OSR today is about something else entirely, a new beast which reflects not quite the OSR as it was, but the OSR as it has changed, it's legend growing with 40 years of fans to contribute to it.

Let's face it: none of us in our middle and elder years today are the same people we were in the 70's and 80's. My game tastes and style are considerably different even if you can see the budding core of my being back in 1980 manifesting; the trail leads on a long and wild ride to the sort of gaming I do today. Much of the OSR is about this sort of experience....not a precise duplication of what we were but what we have become. It's one of the reasons I've always looked with interest on books such as the mess above, but never dived in*....what we as gamers are today is often tightly defined by our own path of experience, and it's often difficult to reconcile what one guy does at his own table with what I do at mine, so something like Red and Pleasant Land comes off more as a piece of art to be admired than an actual utility to be deployed** least among the old guard.

I suspect the young OSR crowd is just generally fascinated by all of it and takes for granted that we're all freaky old madmen who have been like this all along. I contend that we were never as crazy back then as we are now, no matter how much we wish it were so. When I used to have raunchy adventures in the mid-eighties full of demons and rogues and lusty women and barbarians and was because that stuff was very cool in my teens. When I do it now? There's weird and sometimes disturbing subtext, a constant challenge from moral gray areas and a general sense that the scope of any adventure is deep and wide, waiting for it's depths to be plumbed. I think it's like that for a lot of current older GMs, too.

Maybe there was some crazy back then (I mean, sure there was), but it's never been as prolifically documented nor as seriously regarded as it is now. I really can't say any of today's coolest OSR content would ever have seriously emerged in the golden age as it has today--but if it did, it would have at best been mimeographed in to an issue of Alarums & Excursions or some fanzine, and would have probably bordered on the unplayable by today's standards. And yes, we'd have loved it.

There's also the classic OSR Bundle. it's a much safer beast.
Swords & Wizardry
Tomb of the Iron God
Cyclopean Deeps I
OSR Toolkit
And level up to get:
The God that Crawls
The Monolith Beyond Space and Time

...barring the last three items, it's a lot more timid and conventional. Also, I think I own all of that in some format (not sure about the last two modules, though....LotFP books, I think). Vornheim might fit in the prior category I discuss....but ACKS and the S&W offerings are firmly rooted in a modern return to classic form. Great stuff, but not quite the "risk taking, shit-kicking" madness something like Red and Pleasant Land exudes.

Both of them have about 10 days left on the clock....check it out if you don't already have all of it.

*price for PDFs being the top reason, though. So thank you, Bundle of Holding!

**That said, now that I have the PDF, I immediately bought a physical copy at because this book is amazing. It lived up to the hype....I am impressed.

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