…and that’s intentional.
I stumbled across a blog post today, which said, in part:
Again, this is a difference between the OSR and indie scenes – any fool who starts a blog and claims it to be OSR is automatically just as OSR as any given published creator. Things are often even considered OSR regardless of creator opinion on the label…
Yes, exactly. The OSR is not a community, or a brand, or a genre, or a play style, or a design aesthetic, or any of the myriad labels that are sometimes applied to it. Rather, it is all of those things, and a lot more.
I might define it as, at its heart it’s a group of people, and a bunch of products (not all of which are sold), that share an ineffable quality that blends nostalgia, a DIY sensibility, and a way of viewing role-playing games as an adversarial relationship between the DM and players, but with a shared goal of having fun.
But even that definition is just mine, and there are plenty of “OSR” things and people that defy that definition.
And that’s the beauty of the OSR. Nobody gets to create boundaries for it, nobody gets to say so-and-so is or isn’t a member of the OSR because he takes his own ideas in a particular direction, or because he has a particular political view, or practices the wrong religion (or any religion), or whatever. The OSR doesn’t work like that. There’s no Central Committee with the authority to declare a given OSR work or person “out of the club” because there’s no club in the first place!
And that’s a state of affairs that the many people who keep wanting to form some alternative to the OSR, that better matches their political or other aesthetics, can neither tolerate nor understand. The OSR by its very nature defies categorization, regimentation, and gatekeeping.
You can’t get thrown out of the OSR just because you’re an asshole. Or because you voted for Trump. Or Sanders. Or because you write adventures that feature bestiality, or weird sex, or that have art that has chain mail bikinis, or trans men, or because you use “phallic” sword symbols, or show boobs, or whateverthehelelse you do.
Remember that when you see people saying “it’s like the OSR, but without X”. Because it’s entirely the lack of people who can unilaterally decide X isn’t a part of it that makes the OSR what it is.