What does the "old school renaissance" (OSR) in role-playing mean to you?

Back in December, Mike Evans asked:

"Many people have different opinions on this... so: what does the OSR mean to you? What characteristics define it?"
I responded at the time in the thread he started, but wanted to repost my thoughts again here for future reference:

The Old School Renaissance (OSR) in role-playing games seems to mean different things to different people, and I've seen some frustration, especially outside the OSR community with trying to pin down a definition.  Or disdain due to the idea that OSR is simply shorthand for nostalgia-driven, regurgitated pap.

But the ambiguity doesn't really bother me at all.  When I see OSR I know what I'm getting, and nostalgia is only a piece of the formula.

In my mind OSR is associated with any combination of the following:

Compatibility (either 1-to-1 or in spirit) with older types of games.An effort to figure out the mindset which went in to earlier games, approached with both a critical eye and an open mind.  Usual…

Infravision - A Black Hack Hack

Infravision is the most recent thing I've been working on, a little Black Hack offshoot that diverges heavily in some regards and cribs extensively from a lot of other games I admire.

A bunch of major rules changes from Black Hack, but a lot more minor tinkerings and reskinnings of existing material.  There were a bunch of things I wanted to try out, and as long as changes are being made it might be worthwhile to attach this to something at least slightly different than the standard fantasy setting. Maybe not crazy different to start, but enough that shift expectations. Differences include, but not limited to: Separate races and classesStandard fantasy races swapped out for whatever others struck my whim at the time:Humans (same ol')Eld - The prigs and sickos you met elsewhere before. Here two distinct metaphysical strains.Mokta - Big, tough, lazy cat-things. Might seem familiar as well.Skulkin - R.O.U.S.sSimplified classes: Warrior/Jack/MageReduced Attributes reduced from 6 t…

Review: A Baker's Denizen - A Labyrinth Lord Adventure

Disclaimer:  I received a free a copy of this adventure from the writer for evaluation purposes.
The adventure can currently be purchased at RPGnow here.

This was not a bad little adventure. Although I level quite a bit of criticism against it in the sections to follow, I think it actually holds together rather well as a situation for PCs to stumble across in the course of their travels. Aside from the typical itinerant adventurer scenario, it seems like just the sort of thing to include in a city watch style campaign.

The art was sparse but decently done.  The three dimensional dungeon diagram was nice, although it seemed an unusual choice to provide both color and black-and-white versions of the same illustration in the document.

The art on the first page (defacto cover art) isn't bad, but seems a bit arbitrary (the door to a bakery?  A crypt?).  Also, the text box for the credits runs over the illustration.  The margin art is presumably meant to look like some kind of elaborate…

A haphazard assemblage of my D&D likes and dislikes throughout editions.

This is inspired by, if not probably the most direct response to, Catty Big's inquiry regarding a 5th edition review.  It's also heavily rambling, so hold on to your hats.

My tastes in D&D and it's ilk are pretty eclectic.  As with music I rarely like all of one thing, but tend to find certain things I really like in most products.  Below are general impressions of several editions and related products.  Keep in mind these are all subjective feelings and not deep analyses.  Your mileage may vary.

Caveat:  Sometimes I like to build for lots of damage or one thing or another. But usually I'm not too fussy about balance, as long as I feel my character's abilities haves something interesting to contribute both inside and outside of combat.

Swords & Wizardry (0th edition retroclone)Advantages:  Small and pretty straightforward.  Pared down and easy to tinker with.

Disadvantages:  Some bits still feel a bit cobbled together and arbitrary.  Mechanics not all the most…

Long Now Elf Love

Today for your reading pleasure, a brilliant and delicious excerpt dredged from the corners of the internet:

>> Anonymous 06/02/12(Sat)06:24 No.19334013 Anonymous No.19334013 06/02/12(Sat)06:24 No.19334013 Once, we had an elf who fucked one human, once, and developed this psychotic obsession with bringing him back to life after he died.

She sort of faded into the background after a while, we forgot about her, but two campaigns later her research started popping up, and this escalated until it turned out that she was basically getting ready to harvest all life on Earth to try and bring her pet goldfish back to life. By the end of it were were up to our balls in hideous soul-stealing goblin mutants that ate souls and vomited them back up as pearl catalysts for some ancient resurrection ritual.

Five fucking campaigns of fighting this insane elf, motivated by love and heartbreak to destroy the world and overthrow the will of the gods to bring her husband back, because SOMEONE just HAD …

Pawns of Hypnos (a setting mashup)

Inspired by Paul Schaefer's recent comments regarding am mashup of Ravenloft, Warhammer and Call of Cthulhu's Dreamlands.

Setup:  The PCs are modern era human dreamers, relatively new to the Dreamlands, but acquainted with Dreamlands lore to some extent through outside sources.  It seems the Dreamlands of Earth have mutated since classical times (i.e. 1920s era Call of Cthulhu lore).  As it approaches time for the stars being right in the waking world, the Earth's Dreamlands have separated into loosely connected nightmare realms.  Each realm is given shape by the will of great old ones worshiped as Chaos Gods, or by powerful but decadent or delusional dreaming human sorcerers.  Life in these realms is nasty, brutish, short and typically a bit Dickensian.

As their mortal bodies lie in comatose slumber in the waking world, Hypnos has taken an wry and inscrutable interest in the PCs, shaping the bodies of some into elf or dwarf or other less savory fare. For his own amusement…

Toward "Old School" style 4th Ed. D&D

Having run and played in a weekly 4th Edition game for about nine months at this point, I feel like I've got a basic sense of the system at this point, at least over the first few levels.  And while play isn't abysmally awful, I have had issues with a few aspects, mainly revolving around the omnipresence and tedium of combat.

However, other folks in the local group seem to enjoy the system well enough.  And 4E does have some interesting settings and material I would appreciate the opportunity to mine (Gamma World & Dark Sun in particular).

So, with that in mind I've come up with a few, five, patches I'm hoping to try out in the foreseeable future, once the current adventure path wraps up.  These are each intended to deal with specific issues, hopefully revamping them with an "old school" sensibility, but without gutting the system entirely.

1)  Combats take forever.  Characters will almost certainly win against all but the most extreme opponents, but it ta…