Thursday, February 11, 2021

Knock! - and am I an OSR DM?

Spoiler: I am not.

A few months ago I came upon the kickstarter for Knock!, an OSR "zine", and liked the look of it enough to back for a physical copy. It wasn't cheap, but I thought a physical copy would be better for appreciating the art and finding the articles I wanted.

I received my copy a couple weeks ago, and I was glad I made that choice.

Now I am not someone who appreciates a thing simply for its beauty; even when I get something beautiful, it is for what it represents, and what it advertises about myself (i.e. vanity).

But this thing.

This zine here is a joy to behold and to hold. The artwork within are so evocative and varied, and the layout so whimsical, one could spend hours poring over the pages.

Actual photo of me reading Knock! #1, 2021 - colourised

The text are of course good and useful too, but they are apart from the physical quality of the book: the texture of the paper, the heft, the boldness of the colours, the contrast, the use of non-parallel layout... Suffice to say that I will be backing issue 2 of the zine later this year.

The text did, however, cause me to ask myself: am I an Old School Revival DM?

That question in turn begs the questions: what is an OSR style game? What other styles of games exist besides the OSR style? Is this a binary thing, a spectrum with two ends, or a multi-dimensional measurement thing?

There are articles aplenty already written on what defines an OSR game, and having read several of these and the zine, I came to the conclusion that I am not an OSR DM.

Well, not entirely anyway.

There are aspects of the OSR style that I like and employ in my campaigns, such as a grittiness instead of high fantasy (something often said of 5E) and emphasis on player-based solutions instead of character-based solutions (again, 5E).

At the same time, there are aspects of the OSR style that I do not enjoy, such as the "gonzo" style dungeon, where the whimsical and unexplained exist seemingly just to impress, but make no sense.

Of course neither of these preferences/peeves are absolute; depending of the campaign I am playing, I may occasionally embrace the gonzo (as I did when I ran a short White Plume Mountain mini-campaign), or I may handwave away the logistical problems like money and encumbrance (as I did when running my Space Opera campaigns).

I do, however, have a preference when it comes to running my staple fantasy campaign in Terrinoth, and I hope to pen down these thoughts in the future, both as reference for myself, and any new GM who might find them useful.

In the meantime, do consider getting a copy of Knock! #1 from here.

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