But that was all just bloody chum in the water, an attempt to get a feeding frenzy stirred up. The point of his article, the true thesis, can be found in the final paragraph:
To me, old school is not about freedom or lack of rules, but attitude. To me, the ultimate old-school is the Arduin Trilogy, just pure ideas pouring one after another so fast you can't even stop to evaluate them. I like to consider my work "old school" in that sense, I like variety and options and things which are hinted or implied but rarely explicitly said, things which inspire the DM to create on his own.
See what he did there? Of course you do. It's the same thing that Monte Cook did when talking about his Dungeon-a-Day project, the same thing we saw a bit of in the build-up to the launch of 4e. I think we saw a bit of it in the latest issue of Kobold Quarterly. Everybody seems to want a bit of the Old School magic.
Why? Is the OSR really that popular? Damned if I know. I doubt anyone has any real solid numbers. What can't be denied is the creative power that the OSR has focused and unleashed. Knockspell and Fight On! have gone from blabberings on chat boards to multi-issue magazines with impressive art and page counts in the three-digit range. I would have given a pinky for either magazine back in the day, and I'd hold up Knockspell against any other professional publication out there right now in terms of layout, editing, art, and writing. And now there's talk about a sci-fi mag too.
On top of that, we've got creative output coming out all over the place. Mr. Maliszewski has commented that he can't keep up with it all. Mr. Raggi's officially gone pro, and is churning out that doesn't look like anything the industry has ever seen before. Chgowiz has produced a quick-play packet, complete with adventure, for Swords & Wizardry. We're up to our eyeballs with bloggers publishing houserules, adventures, character classes, spells, monsters, treasure, on a daily basis. I can't keep up with it all; I know I'm missing cool stuff every day, and don't have the time to hit every blog on my blogroll every day anymore, and I have a growing list of blogs I really need to add to it.
The OSR might not be the most lucrative sector of RPGs right now. It might not be the most recognized. But it certainly seems to be the most exciting right now. It's no longer a question of whether or not anybody plays these old games. Now we're wondering if we're spread too thin, if projects like Fight On! are stealing the thunder from other projects, or whether or not we really need to reference the OGL.
In short, the OSR has arrived. It is, we are, now all players in the industry. Future products will take us into account, at the very least, in their marketing if not in the actual content. Now is not the time to let up or slow down. Now is the time to strike fast and hard and continuously, and leave our mark on the industry for the sake of the games we love so much.
Photo credits: egarc2 and Matti Mattila.