22 June 2022

Can the OSR Die?

 Simply put, yes.

But the bigger question is, is it dying, or even should it die.

Is it dying? On the whole the scenes that are the OSR is in total, 20 years. If you break it down into waves, phases or schools, each could be considered to last between 5 and 10 years with overlap since different schools diverge while still being "OSR." But it's still here, and since this is not even third time over the last 5-6 years I've heard "the OSR is/should die," I doubt it will anytime soon.

 As it exists broadly, OSR is a marketing or branding tool (cue pitchforks), one that has remarkable staying power especially in light how often people will publicly decide to divest themselves of the label, myself included having in my memory done so twice mostly as a reaction to the reactionaries. As long as people are slapping OSR on products it will exist. As long as important marketplaces, notably Drivethru RPG, include OSR as a category it will exist. And as long people will see some game and declare it to be OSR regardless of the creator's intent or feelings, it will exist, Hackmaster for one.

The OSR is a weird monolith, a small one in TTRPGs, but one nonetheless. 

Is the OSR dying? This is like saying is Traveller dying. Is D&D dying. Is World of Darkness dying. Game lines for major and minor publishers are more likely to die than a largely fan and user driven concept. WoD could die as in no more published content if White Wolf, or whoever owns the ip, dies. Same with Traveller. I hear talk that Legends of the Five Rings might be dead or dying. Star Wars and Star Trek have had multiple licensed RPGs, all of which have effectively died. There are three  Robotech RPGs, one of which is demonstrably dead (Palladium's). So games can die, but OSR can't really die, unless Drivethru, Itch, Lulu, Twitter, blogs all go tits up. Only then would the OSR as a broadly known label die.