Where I thought I was blazing trails through untrammeled wilderness I actually discovered a well travelled path. In fact, many had gone there before me. At first there was a bit of disappointment. You know how it feels when you thought you had discovered some new path or trail to be blazed, or product to be discovered only to find out that someone had gotten there before you. But then I was elated. I lost track of the number of times I would be reading on the internet and say out loud even, "COOL!"
In short I have discovered a large community of aficionados and game designers that are heartily committed to the spirit of old school role playing games. They have taken the open source material, consisting largely of rules and algorithms (that cannot be copyrighted) and rebuilt the game from the ground up so as not to conflict with the intellectual property purchased by Wizbro. What they did is retain the spirit of the game. This is possible, because as Gygax made clear the spirit of the game is in the rules themselves. In my opinion they have done an excellent job in doing so.
Now, some may be wont to ask "But why not just stick with 1st and 2nd edition? I mean we have all those books, so let's forget all this and play!!" Because my good and noble friends--we need your talent. Let's face it, the actual number of active old school FRPG designers working today is small. I offer below a partial list of these excellent comrade in arms that are actively offering old school supplements. But the fact is that there are not enough. Don't get me wrong, they are doing an excellent job, but we need more creative material out there. Either in public domain format or as a commercially available product. These same sites and entities I mention below are also extremely helpful in getting your own material published. I would also imagine they are more than eager to take quality submissions.
If this aspect of this hobby that we all love is worth preserving then we must do all we can to awaken new gamers to the experience that is old school fantasy role playing. We must create a dynamic community full of options and opportunities. I know some of you have powerfully creative and imaginative talents that have helped you produce awesome characters, adventures, campaigns, magic items, spells and even artwork in classic style. Let's give this to the world. Admit it, you always wanted to be a game designed, but knew you could never make enough money at it. So now you don;t have to. You can get your stuff out there part time. Maybe earn a few bucks, or at the least enshrine your creativity in print for hundred and thousands to enjoy and benefit from. OSRIC and S&W allow you to do this. they even give you advice for doing so. Not legally binding advice, but they make that clear. The main point is that if you follow their lead you will be following the lead established by the SRD and the OGL and you will be safe 99.9% of the time.
If we are actively gaming under this license (OSRIC or S&W--which is technically under the SRD and the OGL) then everything we do is ours. And we can publish it, trade it, sell it etc. etc. And its still the game we love, because the spirit has been preserved. Like I said, you can tell this is exactly what I was looking for. It doesn't mean we can't use old school stuff previously published: such as OD&D, AD&D, Basic and Advanced D&D, Judges Guild Stuff or Mayfair stuff. We can use those with ease, because they are in the same spirit as Public Domain OSRIC and S&W stuff. There are more issues to this, but you get the idea.
And what do I mean exactly by "this aspect" of the hobby? I mean the spirit of old school role playing games. The spirit that first ignited the fires within us and that many modern games have lost as they have sought to "improve" upon that which was mighty fine in the first place.
So what does this mean for me? This leg of my quest is over. But I have discovered a new land peopled with innumerable like-minded souls engaged in building the vast creative panoply that is OSFRPGs. There are numerous such endeavors out there, but I am focusing largely on two: OSRIC, the Old School Rules Index Compilation & Swords and Wizardry. OSRIC is the recreated First Edition rule set within a fantastically faithful new rendition. And S&W is the recreation of the rule set of the old brown books of Gary & Dave's first run of the classic. Not only that but they are supported by a huge fan base & a quality, dedicated online community. Not to mention, of course, the fact that a growing number of resources are available from just these communities.
So be a part of the change and the dawning renaissance of old school gaming. What gaming was really meant to be.
The following is a list of these new friends I have discovered online: I want to first offer my thanks to them for the work they are doing. We are truly comrades in arms. I also want to make it clear that this list is by no means exhaustive. If you encounter others who are actively engaged in such work please let me know and I'll include them:
- Knights and Knaves: Stuart Marshall? and perhaps others run this awesome site. It's an excellent resource, with a great forum; and more importantly its the home of OSRIC!
- Basic Fantasy Role Playing Game: I'm not sure who the masterminds are here, but a lot of people contributed to the make-up of this excellent Old School game.
- Mythmere Games: Again not sure who is behind this brilliant site, but its the home of the Swords & Wizardry system. Huge resources, great forum and old school all the way.
- Delver's Dungeon: A helpful 1st edition resources site
- Dragonsfoot: This was the original site I ran into looking for 1st edition resources. Has some excellent downloads and an active and friendly community.
- The Acaeum: A D&D collector's site. Also has helpful indexes.
- Pied Piper Publishing: One of the originals! Rob Kuntz is still dedicated to OSFRPG since 1971! He was there helping Gary and Dave box up the original OD&D sets. Now he's marketing First Edition SRD based supplements--and some award winnings ones too! Check it out!
- Old School University: A forum strictly for 1st Edition AD&D and earlier sets. Not fond of D20 SRD, and I'm unsure of their take on OSRIC or S&W.
- Grodog's Greyhawk: Ethan Scott Grohe's Greyhawk site. Part of the Greyhawk Online community.
- Philotomy's OD&D site: Dedicated to OD&D.
- The Greyhawk Index: The Old Greyhawk Information Page.
- Doomsday Games Forums: A good old fashioned Old School forum.
I'll post links to these sites in my links section. Again, please visit these sites and support them if you believe in the magic that is OSFRPG.