Monday, July 11, 2011

Nobody Likes Old School?

Okay, that title was designed to be inflammatory. It was at least designed to make you look. The real dilemma I have right now is that nobody wants to play with me! Okay, it's not exactly me they're rejecting it's the games I wanna play.  I got a wee bit mad at them at first. Called them some nasty names. But just on my blog ... it's not like I did it in public or anything.

Seriously, I have been trying to get a Hackmaster Basic game, a HM 4e, Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG playtest, and a 1e game for awhile now; and I've got no takers. Well, they agreed to humor me and began rolling up PCs for HM4e, but quickly dumped it. So I'm currently running a Pathfinder game for the summer group, and no one wants to take it over so I can run an earlier or new OS version. And even if they were willing to take it over I would probably have no one wanting to play in my game with an active PF game going on.

I've also got my hobby shop owner really wanting me to run a 4e encounters session at the FLGS. He rarely carries RPG stuff, and says if he has a hope of supporting anything it's likely to be 4e. They run a very successful Friday Night Magic game and he thinks a Wednesday Encounter session would be as popular or moreso--but he needs an experienced and forgiving DM to organize and run it. He also wants the DM to be an adult that he can count on. He says I'm perfect for it. But I keep trying to talk him into supporting an OS game, or a small press game; but while he says I'm more than welcome to run the game at the store, he's unlikely to be able to support it much with print sales. He's a small store with a small customer base.

Sigh. It's like I can't get away from the inevitable. As many of you know I began the blog under the auspices of 4e, but over time changed the focus to old school gaming. I've been all over the page on this, and I'm right back where I started. Lately I've really struggled with the lack of cohesion in the OS community. It's fine if you've got a group of OS players that are willing to play each week in classic OS style. But you can forget it if you want anything like larger gaming community. And moreover, I'm afraid that the decentralized nature of the OS publication endeavors makes for lots of repetition and variable quality. I mean there's Dragonsfoot, and there's Knights and Knaves, but those forums really are just individuals exchanging opinions on what has been, and discussing ideas that have been explored dozens of times before. Literally I have a tough time finding something new to read or talk about there.

But even that's not the real difficulty the OSR seems ill-prepared to answer. As I've talked about before: there is no central OS authority. Support is diffuse at best and often very slow in coming. Lots of people spend time duplicating the efforts of others by rewriting rules again and again after their own preferred fashion. I started one project like this myself, before somebody cut me off at the pass; and believe it or not was just considering starting another one as well. How many times can we cut down the same tree? In my opinion this is all due to the fact that we lack central authority. Some would say this is good, sort of like the free market. But, we are not just talking about economics here. We are talking about a social endeavor that cries out for some organizing factor. Thus far, as good as they are, Dragonsfoot, K&K, and even TARGA have all failed to bring the movement together. If we desire to make contact with other old schoolers outside of th net, we are left with a small group of conventions that cater to OS games like Garycon. And if you're like me you can't afford to get to any Cons more than 6 hours away. TARGA was designed to bring OS gamers together but it didn't work. To be fair I geuss the OS gamers didn't support it. I put myself on the list to be a regional rep in Utah, but no one ever called or contacted me. And when I sent requests on how I could help or what I should do, never received any notice or contact. Now the TARGA website has been coopted by some gambling site and they have a minimal Facebook presence.

If you follow my blog at all you will recall that just recently I was contemplating a radical shift in my focus to try and be an old school clearinghouse. A place where old schoolers could come and find everything in one place; I was also hoping it might develop into Old School Central and perhaps succeed where TARGA failed. Suffice it to say the cold hard hand of reality slapped me down but quick. The reasons why it didn't work were all those mentioned above and more. I just don't think it can be done in the current old school environment. Don't get me wrong, some good stuff is being put out there. I like some of it. But it simply lacks the kind of community that other games are providing. Other games like D&D 4e and Pathfinder.

Some might say they are able to pull this off due market share or economic power. But either way the situation remains unchanged. And you would think building a community doesn't take market share or buying power. It simply requires that the community be willing to come together around something more than an idea. Hell, even if they would actually come together around that it might be different, but they don't seem willing to.

And the real trouble for me, is that hereabouts there is nobody that wants to belong to that community anyway. This blog was my attempt to connect with that community. But that's all it's been--an attempt. It's one more old school blog amongst the hundreds if not thousands out there. It was more successful in some ways when it was a diary of our gaming experiences for 4e. Now, this doesn't mean that I'm stopping the blog, oh no. But here I sit writing old school rhetoric and philosophy, yet I'm playing a very modern iteration of the game, and being begged to play the latest version. When you're in my position and trying to build a gaming community it seems kind of counterintutive to pull so strongly against the stream. With the intentions of building gaming in my own small neck of the woods I've now effectively isolated myself by edition division. I and my blog is just spinning the wheels and we're stuck in some pretty deep mud.

It may simply be time for me to bite the bullet and move over to the table where there are acutally players willing to play.
Post a Comment