Friday, March 13, 2009

Old School Renaissance Picking Up Steam?

Over at Grognardia*, it seems that the possibilities of the Old School movement are opening up a bit in some ways. James is laying another foundation stone in the Old School toolkit. How's that for mixed metaphores?

I think this is a great idea. I'd love to see this kind of work come out and be cross compatible with Osric and Labyrinth Lord as well (though I imagine it would be less than a nothing to make it so). This is a great tool to add to the kit!

My only concern, here, is that while James is talking about seeing D&D move into completely new realms, he seems to be settling for cloning yet more of the old rules via the facilitation of the SRD/OGL. It's not a bad thing, by any means, to see renewals of what has come before. It's important that these things be refreshed and, since we cannot republish them as is, bringing them out again in renewed format is the best option. However, why are we stopping there?

Instead of settling for another version of Supplement III's psionics rules, I think a better option might be the release of a new set of psionic rules, different than what has gone before. It'd be nice to see, in addition to the recapitulated Supplement III rules, a second section with a completely new take on powers of the mind. Something to get that foundation stone rolling rather than settling for rebuilding Illium.

I know: it's easy to talk about what should be when somebody else is doing the work of putting pen to paper. James isn't really a standard bearer for the movement, or the spiritual leader of the renaissance handing down papal bulls, or neccessarily the guy who even wants to be the one to push this particular stone down the ramp. But in the end, I agree with Geoffrey McKinney. I'm eager to see Supplement VI, VII, and VIII put out, whether in paper copy or PDF. I'm eager to see those new vistas opened up and explored by more creative minds than mine (after all, I came to D&D when the theme was changing from "Imagine the Hell out of it" to "Yeah, we can make a rule/option to support that.").

And say what you will about Carcosa - it's taste, tact, or presumption and I won't even dip my little toe into that debate - it is, I think, exactly what the Old School movement is looking for more of.

Maybe I'm out of line on this, in which case I'll step back and leave it to better minds, but where's Supplement VI that details a world overrun by out of control plant growth with sentient vines and carnivorous fruit? Where's Supplement VII that introduces us to Rune Magic and the fall of the Kthoi? Why is the Old School Renaissance cloning old material and printing occasional modules?

*It might seem like I talk about James a lot and, well, I do. It's not just because I'm a fan of his work, but because he's intelligent and cogent in a way that few are, even when I tend to disagree with him at certain junctures. For whatever reason, and whether intentionally or not, the man has become one of the prime standard bearers for the Old School revolution and as such, when talking about it, it's hard not to talk about, or to, James. What can I say? I admire the guy.


  1. I've been scratching at a psionics system but it's being stubborn as a mule on me. I might just default to a psionic class -- though even then it's being stubborn as a mule on me.

    New critters and classes and such have been considerably easier. But I shall persevere! ;3

  2. I've found myself drawn to the idea of re-doing psionics too, but every time I look at it, things get too complicated and end up being not worth the effort. Nobody wants a system that ends up being little more than a mini-game attached to the larger game.

    Recently, though, I've been more drawn towards trying to cobble together a system for a new kind of magic based on Runes and Sigils rather than the Vancian system. It wouldn't replace the existing Wizard or Priest type casting, but would run as another type of magic for Thylia. It's something that I think would fit if I can hammer something out rather than just re-use the Viking sourcebook runes (which I like, but seem sort of half-assed in the end).