Thursday, January 19, 2012

Between hope, wonder, and ambivalence...

That's where I find myself, folks, in light of Wizards of the Coast's latest move: the announcement that they will be reprinting the 1E AD&D books that St. Gary laid down all those years ago. Wow. I really feel like this is surreal. Let's talk about this, shall we?

What is WotC up to? That's my gut reaction. Sorry to be cynical. But seriously. Are they really finally taking a page from the OSR, admitting that old editions have their place in the gaming world and not just some fringe movement? Are they giving props to the OSR, actually listening to long-time fans of the game's many incarnations from the last few decades? Do they want to play nice and live in harmony with fans of all editions of D&D? Is this an extension of the squishy 5E feelings that they're pushing?

Or is all this some ploy to steal the OSR's thunder? Because as expected, the news of 1E's reprinting (albeit a limited release, supposedly) has some OSR diehards crying foul. Why? Because, the diehards say, this will make OSRIC obsolete. Uh, I personally am not so sure about that. I can see how some might consider WotC re-releasing OOP edition as a move to quash the OSR. Every group has conspiracy theorists, right? I'm not so sure it would mean the end of all the retroclones, though. Ironically, some might find the clones to be more user-friendly, having given the old rules better organization, etc.

For me, these days, if I wanted to play in the 1E style, I would just keep playing Castles & Crusades. For me, C&C takes the spirit of 1E and blends it seamlessly with the best of the 3E mechanics (I'm sorry if I sound like a broken record, with the C&C love I constantly spout). I'm not sure I would even want to go back to the old 1E rules as originally written, as heretical as that may sound to some. But, let's keep in mind that Gary gave the C&C guys his blessings back in the day, so...there you go.

Is WotC just jumping on the bandwagon? That would be something of a victory for the OSR, eh? The movement has become something that WotC can no longer ignore, eh? I wonder what all the "This Is A Dying Hobby" doomsayers are thinking right now.

I've been so busy today that I haven't had time to do any reading on the 1E situation, so I don't know if WotC has released a longer statement as to why they are reprinting Gary's masterpiece. But between this and their "kumbaya" 5E love-fest ("it will bring all D&D lover's together!"), I'm really feeling a bit like I'm dreaming. I really don't know what to think at the moment. It seems to good to be true. Or at least to good to be kosher.

So I just wanted to vent. I sit here between hope, wonder, and ambivalence about all of these recent developments, and frankly I just don't know what to think. And I know I'm not alone. Thanks for listening to me babble. I'd love it if someone would babble back, to let me know what you're all thinking out there.

Interesting times we live in, eh?

UPDATE: Since I can't seem to post a comment to my own blog at the moment, I'll respond to all the people who stopped by through this update.

Chris Creel: Glad you got a laugh outta that! And I agree that there's a good likelyhood that 5E will take some inspiration from C&C (this opinion is no surprise given my *ahem* boner for C&C ;-).

Greyhawk Knight: Thanks for the insight, specifically the reminder that this is a limited print run. And those who don't want to plunk down the cash on the Hasbro of the Coast altar can also take up the OSRIC cause.

Martin: Hey there! Good to hear from you! How are things? Agreed on the hype factor on the part of WotC, the canny bastards! And you worked with WotC before, right (no judgement there, of course)? Who better than you to know their tactics? Yeah, this 1E reprint thing smacks of another olive branch that is designed to test the OSR interest in "official" D&D.

To Gwydion and all: thanks for the reminders of the real purpose behind the clones.

James and Tenkar: thats for stopping by and for helping to put things into perspective!


  1. it's to raise funds for the Gygax Memorial. I doubt we'll see any other stuff reprinted.

  2. At the K&K Alehouse, pretty much the home of OSRIC, the reaction was quite joyous. People have been doing the happy dance, all over the place. I have heard that DF had some negativity, but I rarely go there, myself.

  3. The AD&D reprint is going to be limited to N. America (at least at first...who knows what might happen if international gamers start pestering them). Also, I'm assuming it will not be more than one print run (again, unless they sell out incredibly fast and there's tons of demand for more). So I've got no fear that OSRIC will disappear or be overshadowed. Plus, unless they stick an OGL in the reprints, OSRIC will still provide cover for folks wishing to publish their own AD&D modules.

    I'm hoping they sell well to raise money for the memorial AND to broaden the awareness of the old school games. And unless WotC makes a radical shift in direction and starts re-releasing the other old stuff, folks who pick up the AD&D books for the first time with this reprint will be coming to the OSR for support.

    That's my take on it, anyway.

  4. I think Lord Gwydion hit the main point - OSRIC won't be obsolete as long as the AD&D reprints aren't "open", which they won't be.

    The whole point of the "main" retro-clones (OSRIC, LL, and S&W), as far as I can tells is to make open versions of the early editions of D&D so that other parties can make adventures and supplemental material for them.

    If WOTC only comes out with the reprints of the MM, PHB, and DMG, and then nothing else, then really all they're doing is creating some hype and some good PR, plus hopefully raising some decent cash for the Gygax memorial.

  5. Actually, this release may bring OSRIC into the fore of the OSR retroclone scene. If the media (and blogs) relate this story more (when the books appear in April) and interested customers lose out on the limited edition they can be directed to OSRIC instead.

  6. "Their "kumbaya" 5E love-fest," classic!

    Until now I have really had no thoughts on this announcement from Wizards. As is obvious, we have plenty to play with and don't need these books they are re-releasing. But you all have presented some good points. Perhaps they intend to design 5e similar to the C&C design with simple mechanics from 1e (combat, character creation) and include some elements from 3.5. Thus, when the release a module/adventure for 5e, Assault on the barriers of Eberron, it may be playable using 1e or 5e.

    Just another one of my wild ideas.