Interview with Benoist Poiré on Bedrock Games speaking about “What is the OSR?”

Bedrock Games interviewed Benoist Poiré back in November of 2013. During the interview, Brendan at Bedrock Games asked Benoist about the OSR. This is what Benoist had to say about it:

Brendan: You’ve been a strong advocate of old school play, and The Marmoreal Tomb is definitely planted firmly in the Old School Revival (OSR) approach to module design. I think there are many misconceptions about what that means. To people who have never played older editions of D&D or are unfamiliar with OSR, what is this style of play really all about? What problems or needs does it address ? And perhaps more importantly, what are some misconceptions about OSR adventures you think need to be cleared up?

Benoist: I think there are as many definitions of the “OSR” as there are people claiming tobe part of it, to be honest. I don’t see myself as being part of a club, like a card-carrying member of some elite of old-school gaming or whatever. I do know what I like and do not like in my games, and what I want out of a role playing game session in general, and these are the things I try to think about when I am sharing my opinions with others.

I think there is this misconception out there that the “OSR” is a “thing” like some type of political affiliation or religious movement or philosophical school of thought where you are “in” or “out” or something. Beyond the fact that people who identify themselves as fans of an old school revival that is going on right now in role playing games—and yes, it is a fait accompli—will tend to like games loosely related to the early D&D experience and the games that immediately followed it, I don’t think you’ll find many who will agree on absolutely everything like it came out of a gospel. In that sense the “OSR Taliban” is a myth.

To people who have never played older versions of the D&D game, or other vintage role playing games for that matter, I would simply say: “There are cool games out there which happen to be very old. You might want to try them some time. You never know, you might even like them, regardless of what people like me have to say about them!”

I think that beyond the question of ideologies and RPG politics and all that, what the play style really comes down to is enjoying the games for what they are and play them on our own terms. It’s fundamentally not about theory-crafting or brainstorming about systems in a vacuum wondering how to “fix” them. It’s about playing the games and enjoying them for what they are.

There’s no “one size fits all” in role playing games. Notions like absolute game balance, canning the game play experience, construing the game as the rules and the rules the game. . . these ideas are pointless and even detrimental to some gamers’ enjoyment of role playing games out there. They yearn for less thinking about playing, and more actual play. They want to be back in the driver’s seat, and run their own games on their own terms. That’s what the original games fundamentally allow them to do. That these games happen to be “old” or “vintage” is completely incidental to their actual merit and function – to empower their users, and make them explore “the realms of their own imaginations”, to paraphrase the old TSR tag line.

The rest of the interview is well worth reading as well, as it talks about Benoist and Ernie Gygax’s future plans for publishing which have now come to fruition with the launch of G-P Adventures.

Thanks to +Chris Mata for reminding me of this.

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