Pathfinder, however, has been fairly antithetical to the Old School way of doing things. While the adventures offered allow flexibility in how their challenges are tackled, the existence of an "adventure path" pretty much necessitates a railroad.
So I find this press release about their latest six-volume adventure path rather interesting:
We're very proud of Kingmaker, as it marks a new kind of Adventure Path for us. As always, there's an underlying story—this one involving a secret villain and a bandit lord and trolls and barbarians and missing villages and superstitious kobolds and drunk thugs and so much more—but how that story unfolds is going to be left in large part up to the players. In each of the six Kingmaker volumes, you'll find several quests for the PCs to complete. And don't be surprised if players make up their own quests as they explore the land!
Not only are we tackling a more nonlinear "sandbox" approach to adventure construction (which means that it's very likely your PCs will work through this adventure in a completely unique order), but as the Kingmaker Adventure Path unfolds, your PCs will settle towns, gather followers, raise nations, and fight wars. By the end of Kingmaker, chances are good that one of your PCs will, indeed, be king or queen of his or her own nation!
And just to drive home the Old School vibe, each volume will include an original monster from Ed Greenwood.
Now, if I thought people were actually sinking the money into market research, I would be crowing from the rooftops about how Old School is the new Cool School. Between this and WotC bringing back Gamma World and boxed sets, there certainly appears to be a real Renaissance underway.
I suspect, however, that what's really happening is a sort of Old School fever; our enthusiasm for our games and our styles of playing is infectious. And we keep doing the impossible. Fans are not supposed to be able to churn out regular, dead-tree periodicals full of volunteer articles and art that look worth a damn, but we do. Boxed sets were supposed to be dead, but we sell out print runs. "Unsupported" games are supposed to quietly die away, but things seem better than ever for TSR-era versions of the game.
These are amazing times we're living in, and it's us who are making them so. Fight on!