Thursday, 11 March 2021

The Crypt of the OSR

Gather round, my greybearded fellowship, come closer to the fire. Warm yourself a little, for I have a proposal for you. A quest, if you will. An expedition into the very depths. Don't be afraid, it is only... an adventure..

You like adventures don't you?

..

Its coming up on the ten-year anniversary of this blog, which was itself quite "late to the party" of the O.S.R. 

The OSR which has itself died and been reborn more times than a Hindu cosmos. The culture has moved on, from the ancient Forge through the age of the Purple City, still living but driven now to madness and a culture of purge upon purge, to the rise of the Red Bazaar, Constant-Con (does anyone remember that?) FLAILSNAILS, the rise and rule the Mad Titan and his banishment to the negative zone, the great migration to the Halls of Discord, Zuckerbergs Labyrinth of Pain and the Screeching Azure Cage.

Much has passed that was once known and much is forgotten that was spoken in ages gone. By the secret of the undying self-necromancy at its heart the OSR has lived many lives, died, and grown again from its own ruins.


Fritz Schwimbeck (thanks to Monster Brains)



In fact, we might say that in digital terms, the OSR is itself a Dungeon. A network of forgotten digital links and lost blog posts burrowed from the ancient forums and the old Forge.

I was there! I was there when arnold posted about a melon tree. But even that was not so long ago, there are much deeper relics, and darker halls...

The original Monsters and Manuals post references StoryGames Rules and RPG.NET!! 



"Let me explain why. I loathed, and continue to loathe, the 3rd edition of D&D and its bastard, scurrilous, spoiled and badly-brought up offspring, edition 3.5. They have no redeeming features for me; everything from the rules to the writing to the art makes me positively cringe to even think about"

Ah yes, classic Noisms.

Who now remembers Joesky the Dungeon Brawler?

Or Straits of Anian? (last seen 2014!)

How about Valley of the Blue Snails!  last seen 2010! We only had three short years!

Jeffs Game Blog goes back to 2004!, but there is  a tripod blog going even further back!



MY CHALLENGE


My challenge to you; go forth into the forgotten halls of the OSR. Seek the treasures of the ancient world and drag those glimmering shards into the nacreous light of our dying reality so that we, the mutated survivors of 'The Current Circumstances' may dance about them, flapping our wattled mouthparts, waving our stubbed and sore-pocked limbs as we chant praises to the secret powers of a forgotten ageof wonders we lack now the capacity to even comprehend! 

Yet still we may regard them, and paw them with our fur-matted and crook-boned hands, wishing hungrily for the might and power of that lost eon!

Delve too greedily and too deep! (be careful to mine around the antimatter corpse of the fallen Titan).

-
(one touch may destroy you)


Tell me! Tell us all!

What are the oldest posts you remember?

What should be known of the first posts of ancient blogs, made when the world was still young? And what things about them might strike the eye strangely to a traveller from current times?

What are the blogs on your blogroll with the most distant updates, yet still you cannot quite let them go?

Perhaps even mark those mouldering walls with a comment to speak of your passage and to tell those time-wreathed spirits, forgotten now even by the gods; "Ay, men, or things that dream themselves men, still live!"

Dare you enter a hobby which is itself a dungeon? A culture which feeds on death so that it may never truly die? The Ghoul Craft? Dare you enter..

 The Crypt of the OSR

80 comments:

  1. The Planet Algol blog was an incredible blast of trippy pulp fresh air in 2009. Really ignited something in my own games, creatively.

    I also loved Hereticwerks and their creepy Dickens-meets-body-horror setting of Wermspittle. Smile comes to my face every time I remember the term "Sewer Militia". Would have loved a campaign sourcebook but honestly a setting like that is probably best in strange, brief fragments.

    Carcosa.

    Mazes & Minotaurs. Harryhausen-flavored old-school RPG. Still online. One could make a case it was the first OSR game.

    I remember buying a LOT of (Often great) OSR books off Lulu during the 2009-2012 salad days. Are they still a thing?

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    1. Hereticwerks, last updated 2019. https://hereticwerks.blogspot.com/ they have always been around, think we started at about the same time. I have looked over there occasionally but that site just seemed so *dense*. So much *stuff*.

      Are there any particular posts that stand out to you?

      Same with Planet Algol http://planetalgol.blogspot.com/ last seen 2019 also. Was it them who came up with "Scroll of Summoning Kurt Russel"?

      Delete
    2. There was no one special post with HW, just the general vibe of everything in Wermspittle being bullet-scarred and bombed out from the ceaseless parade of foreign sieges and occupations and the whole place constantly damp, cold, and infested with strange bugs and black mold (Except the green wallpaper, because of the arsenic).

      With PA start at the very beginning. Such a wild mix of weird science-fantasy influences, like if Mike Grell's Warlord and Jim Starlin's Darklon the Mystic both crashed the set of a '50s B-movie.

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    3. So, weird synchronicity, but it's been a minute since I've looked at any OSR blogs, and stopped by here on a whim, just to see what's been happening. As I'm reading this blog entry, my wife shows me an old picture of Kurt Russell on her phone (we're both whittling away our time on our respective devices). Then, I go down to the comments, and read "Scroll of Summoning Kurt Russel". Guess it worked! Although if there's a knock on the door and I see Snake Plisken through the peephole, I'm fucking out of here.

      Delete
  2. I read Last Gasp's "In Corpathium" long before I knew what the whole OSR thing was and found it so strange and captivating that I still catch myself thinking about it more than half a decade later. It was like when a high schooler reads William Burroughs for the first time but for TTRPG material; my naïve virginal mind was unprepared for the beautiful and grotesque display of "Weird" worldbuilding. It exposed me to a whole new way of thinking about settings, games, and even fiction — which is kind of a corny thing to say about a post on an RPG blog but I'll stand in my truth.

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    1. That posts lives in my canon, and will forever.

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    2. Post in question https://www.lastgaspgrimoire.com/in-corpathium/

      Last Gasp still around, updated Nov 2020 so not that long ago!

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  3. There are so many, but HMS Apollyon is one of those projects that seemed SO REVELATORY for me and isn't talked about anymore. A shame. A damn shame.

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    1. One of the first that comes to mind for me.

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    2. I enjoyed HMS Apollyon, but had the curious experience of coming to it already having read 2000AD's Leviathan (an acknowledged influence: http://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/2012/06/megadungeon-ideas-so-party-is-still.html).
      Fallen Empire, however, thus stood out all the more for me!

      Delete
  4. "[RPGs] make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The [dungeons] of all dead generations weigh like a nightmare on the [games] of the living."

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    1. oh gus you have brought Marx to an innocent blog...

      Since people are praising Apollyon above do you have any intro links or available docs for those wandering through who might be interested?

      Delete
  5. You got a fantastic idea!!!! I'm genuinelly excited to see what kinds of things people can dredge from the vault.

    There was an era around 2012/13 where I remember lots of good things.

    The first is the awesome work that was Pernicious Albion at the Gloomtrain blog (today is called https://hexculture.com/) It showed me that a blog about rpgs could be something interesting to read and immediately inspired me to make one myself.

    this thread at /tg/ about a game of just goats and trolls:
    http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/archive/22907962/

    Then we got the Spanish game "Goblins y Grutas" dated around 2002 and which is the first attempt I know of a "rules light" d&d (https://www.rolgratis.com/gyg/archivos/ManualGyG.PDF)

    And this is an article about the dichotomy on scientific and mystical magic which inspired me a lot: https://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/magic/antiscience.html

    Then there is the threads on storygames about World of Dungeons: https://doubleninja.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/world-of-dungeons-resources.pdf
    I never ever achieved to make that game work, but that PDF as it is (an incomplete attempt of people improving and expanding an original idea) inspired me a lot, and I spend much time studying that lines.

    How OSR are all those links, I leave it to you, but they all have something special to contribute and sure deserve to be remembered.

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    1. That you ventured into the Chan is along proof of courage.. per perhaps.. MADNESS

      Thank you for the links! They are all new to me and therefore rare treasures.

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  6. Replies
    1. If you don't immediately know trust me when I say there is no benefit for you in finding out https://www.nickbostrom.com/information-hazards.pdf

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  7. The Dungeon Dozen blog (Jason Sholtis) hasn't posted since 2018. When he started his blog in 2011 he used to post almost daily, just hundreds of random d12 tables. Even his very first post was amazing. I still use many of these tables for inspiration.

    http://roll1d12.blogspot.com/2011/12/dungeon-corpses.html?

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    1. Dungeon Dozen was so good!

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    2. Another guy who began in 2011. What is Sholtis up to these days? I think I'm still getting occasional updates about the Operation Unfathomable Kickstarter.

      Delete
  8. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.

    Pearce was my first blog:
    http://gameswithothers.blogspot.com/2013/01/some-aids-for-people-new-to-older-d.html

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    1. Last seen 2015! Another blog that I often heard about but never dived into.

      Delete
    2. The d&d Dark Souls conversion inspired me to stop reading about osr and start playing

      http://gameswithothers.blogspot.com/2014/03/dark-souls-video-game-table-top-role.html

      Delete
    3. Googling "dark souls rules for d&d" was what lead me to that post, then to the blogosphere in general

      Delete
  9. Some of the paths into the OSR dungeon have been lost, doorways bricked over or hallways collapsed. Philotomy and Huge Ruined Pile are gone.

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    1. Philotomy is passed but not forgotten!

      https://www.grey-elf.com/philotomy.pdf

      http://save.vs.totalpartykill.ca/grab-bag/philotomy/

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    2. I found that Philotomy's Musings file back in high school directly after finding OSRIC. it would be another decade before I'd actually play another d&d game.

      Delete

  10. http://beyondtheblackgate.blogspot.com/2009/08/megadungeon-random-area-name-generator.html?m=1

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    1. They just posted in February after a 3 year break!

      Delete
    2. Yeah Beyond the Black Gate was the one that sprang to mind for me too. I think the posts of his that I most remember, as someone first getting into TSR D&D from 3.x at around that time, were Referee Impartiality (https://beyondtheblackgate.blogspot.com/2011/07/ref-impartiality.html) and Hexcrawl in Actual Play (https://beyondtheblackgate.blogspot.com/2009/12/hexcrawl-in-actual-play.html).

      I'm excited that he's back!

      Delete
  11. Kabuki Kaiser has gone dark. Requisat in Pace.

    The Metal Earth endures:
    http://themetalearth.blogspot.com/2009/11/sample-player-character-races.html

    This ancient is undiscovered as far as I know
    https://trollandflame.blogspot.com/2008/12/first-post.html

    You have ascended to the Second Circle and now see that participation in the OSR is itself a roleplaying game.

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    Replies
    1. Both posted in Feb this year. True gnarled survivors.

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    2. I sent an e-mail to Kabuki maybe a year ago (don't even remember why), but I haven't heard back since :(

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    3. He was one of my first commissioned reviews. Flower Liches of the Dragonboat festival. A real avant-garde motherfucker, fully playable. He will be missed.

      Delete
  12. Well if you want actual old you kids are going to have to go look in the archives of rec.games.frp.dnd and its ilk.

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    1. Man I don't even know what that is

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    2. Eh?! That was the original online discussion forum ... you can access it through Google Groups back as far as 1992. Better software used to exist.
      Here is an interesting sample from 1992: https://groups.google.com/g/rec.games.frp.dnd/c/be8Ftb0-w3Y/m/9PqFlFDhd5QJ

      Delete
  13. Not even off the beaten path yet
    A childhood attending small horrors:
    http://valleyofbluesnails.blogspot.com/2010/08/land-of-rabbits.html

    Categorize your undead : yawn Categorize your undead by SIN : porn

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    1. I found his blog the other day by going into profile and digging about. He recently still posted as I remember.

      Delete
  14. It's already mentioned but needs highlighting http://straitsofanian.blogspot.com/2014/10/we-are-eaten-forever.html

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    1. What happened to Straits of Anian anyway? Are they still doing stuff somewhere?

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    2. I love SoA's take on the wendigo. Their whole Pacific Northwest fantasy world could have kept my attention for years more.

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    3. "What happened to Straits of Anian anyway? Are they still doing stuff somewhere?"
      Unfortunately, it seems not. From what I could gather on the web, the author (Anthony) had to step away from his rpg projects. He was also writing an adaptation of Slumbering Ursine Dunes called A Coast of Grizzly Dreams, but never got to finish it. Hydra Cooperative is supposedly still working on finishing it, hopefully they will manage to deliver something with a similar quality to the blog (IIRC they're working with some kind of draft he left for the project).

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    4. Yeah, I was really looking forward to seeing his interpretation of SUD.

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  15. Still waitin for more Joesky content. I believe!

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  16. My favorite from the early days was Scott Driver's blog, now deleted. It shaped *so much* of my tastes in gaming. His stuff on the City State of the Invincible Overlord was glorious. And his setting with a Satanic and Anti-Satanic church. I forgot what it was called--the successor blog, also deleted, was called Huge Ruined Pile.

    I also adored Hereticwerks. It is a dense blog, very hard to penetrate. Maybe start with this post
    https://hereticwerks.blogspot.com/2012/01/wermspittle-introduction.html.

    Then the thing to do is to pick a random post and start following all the internal links to other Wermspittle things. This leads you down a delicious rabbit-hole. Maybe this is a good second post to start that process:

    https://hereticwerks.blogspot.com/2012/03/spring-in-wermspittle-ii.html

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    1. What strange energies within a man cause him to delete his own blog? These ruined cities litter the plains of the OSR, all lost to time.

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  17. While Grognardia was my gateway to the OSR, the blogs that first inspired me to start my own blog included "Temple of Demogorgon," "Sham's Grog 'n Blog," and most especially the B/X-centric "Ode to Black Dougal" (with an honorable mention to "Sword +1" and "The Grand Tapestry"). Sham's last post was 9 years ago and it's STILL on my blog role; I only took ToD off after he made the blog "private," but I see he's reopened it for (brief) posting after some life changes and a 7 year hiatus.

    Most of the "oldies" have refused to go quietly into retirement, instead choosing to limp along in a semi-dormant state of existence.

    The first thing that prompted me to start looking seriously at "old school" D&D again (after a loooong hiatus) was actually a post over at The Forge wherein someone wrote they tried playing an old game of D&D by the rules and it didn't suck nearly as much as they thought it would. I wish I could find that post now...

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    1. Sham was the one that had Skills: The Middle Road, right?

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    2. That was Rod of Lordly Might: http://rodoflordlymight.blogspot.com/2009/03/skills-middle-road.html

      Delete
  18. I first started blogging in 1998 back when TSR still owned D&D. The wayback machine has a post from May 8, 1999:
    https://web.archive.org/web/19990508203721/http://www.grymwurld.com/

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  19. It's honestly both sad and fascinating how quickly information only preserved on the Internet can go missing.

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  20. If the Mad Titan is who I think it is, I was first drawn in by the great pull of his orbit through the wreck and ruin made by the hewing of many axes wielded by comely dice slingers. But shortly after that it was an onslaught of wisdom that overcame my senses as doors to sages wise and strange were opened and all manner of esoteric and maddening knowledge was poured into my skull.

    Many of those I followed have already been mentioned (Valley of the Blue Snails, Straits of Ainan, Beyond the Black Gate, of course this here font of strange wisdom, Monster Manual Sewn from Pants, Monsters and Manuals, Jeff's Gameblog, Dungeon Dozen)
    but others, some of whom are still in business, haven't been. Whether or not they're OSR enough I dunno, but they're all sages in my opinion. I'm sure most here will know well of them, but these were who came to mind.

    Had many neat ideas, blogs gone private though. I first remember an entry on bells that influenced a religion in my games.
    http://stasisengine.blogspot.com/

    These tables and ideas have shaped tons of my games, and started entire campaigns that shaped worlds. Still going strong.
    http://elfmaidsandoctopi.blogspot.com/

    This post specifically opened a door in my brain when it came to playstyle. Having the power of the fantasy not come from being powerful right from the go, but by rising from the muck over time. And most characters are only as powerful as their weapons. Crappy weapons meant other solutions.
    http://middenmurk.blogspot.com/2014/07/terrible-weapons.html

    Lots of great ideas here, this entry built an entire region in my long running campaign.
    http://maziriansgarden.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-chatelaine-of-storms.html

    This post is half the reason my players bother with fighting dragons at all "He who Slays the Dragon, Becomes the Dragon!" Still producing good stuff.
    http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2014/10/on-what-to-do-with-dragon-corpse.html

    Also, though both are still going strong
    http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/
    and
    https://thealexandrian.net/
    Have been extremely formative in my hobby.

    I mean, https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/

    I'm still running things in this Black City, people keep going back in spite of the dooms found there.
    http://dreamsinthelichhouse.blogspot.com/p/black-city-project.html

    This used to be Gloomtrain which started back in 2013
    https://hexculture.com/

    Good stuff here.
    http://fistsofcinderandstone.blogspot.com/

    Probably the oldest I remember, but I think I came to that post late.
    http://ode2bd.blogspot.com/2009/04/reaction-rolls-my-favorite-sub-system.html

    This post changed my games dramatically, making them both faster and incredibly taxing to run, but also very intense.
    https://spellsandsteel.blogspot.com/2018/10/phased-real-time-combat-solution-you.html

    Cool ideas, going since 2012, also fun art on most entries.
    https://chaudronchromatique.blogspot.com/

    I think that's it, probably not ancient enough, but I came in later to the game than some. Sorry post is so long, kinda became a trip down memory lane.

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    1. Damn Chris Tamm literally cannot be stopped

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  21. Coopdevil's "Fighting Fantasist" marks the origin point of the "British OSR" for me, back in 2010. Deleted (along with his other blogs and fuckyeahbritisholdschoolgaming tumblr which suffers the indignity of advertising SPAM squatters) but preserved in the Wayback Machine:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120217081856/http://fightingfantasist.blogspot.com/2010/04/british-osr-starts-here.html

    More a discussion than a hardware blog. But formative for "my" OSR.

    ReplyDelete
  22. And another early British-flavoured OSR blog that inspired me: Amanda Heitler's Mikelmerck: D&D in fantasy Yorkshire.

    https://dramadiceanddamsons.blogspot.com/search/label/Mikelmerck

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  23. Hi! I enjoyed this post. For me it was a link to this thread that got me started: https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/101-days-of-d-d-rules-cyclopedia.231024/ thinking about OSR stuff.

    And then I read Grognarida (http://grognardia.blogspot.com) with literal delight...filled with thoughtful reconsiderations of things I pored over at 13, were fun in and of themselves, but also b/c they reminded me of being 13.

    And then I really liked the Dungeon of Signs http://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/. And also yours!

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    1. Damn, the Purple City in the ancient time. And thanks!

      Delete
  24. Planet Algol, man. Lots of blogs were incredible in the day, but Blair used to update SO MUCH, he was just relentless for a little while. And he cast such a wide net of influences, it was a real mindfuck for a young dude who only just knew who Conan was. He didn't waste any time trying to find his voice either -- it was on from the very first post.

    https://planetalgol.blogspot.com/2009/08/algol-earth-like-planet-orbiting-3-suns.html

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  25. guys I want to remember in which blog I read this:

    A reworking of the classes so every class gave a bonus to the whole party
    Fighters I think they could absorb all blows instead of nearby allies
    Thieves increased the initiative of the whole team or something like that.
    And so on

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  26. Unless my eyes deceive me, no one has yet mentioned the venerable Trollsmyth, who may yet lurk here among us. This was the first post I remember coming across of his: https://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2008/06/playing-with-death-and-dismemberment.html

    ReplyDelete
  27. Patrick,

    Anders Sandberg
    (has an awesome idea for a super campaign--Bulk and Surface)
    Here is a link to some of his gaming idears--much pruned over time for some reason.
    http://www.aleph.se/Nada/game.html

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  28. I don't recall the actual first post I read, but I found some of Rob Conley's "How to make a sandbox" posts, which opened me up to the entire subculture of OSR. Also, I watched Snowpiercer and had the amazingly creative idea of "Snowpiercer = Moving Megadungeon" and discovered in my research, the HMS Apollyon.

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    Replies
    1. Rob Conley is this one right https://batintheattic.blogspot.com/2017/08/my-axioms-of-sandbox-campaigns.html ?

      Delete
  29. Attempting to post again, if you get 3 posts from me, please feel free to delete the previous 2, having cookie problems...

    I don't remember a specific first post, but it was very like one of Rob Conley's "How to make a sandbox" posts that opened my eyes to the entire subculture of OSR and non-WotC/non-Paizo D&D. Also, I had just seen Snowpiercer in the theater and decided very creatively "Snowpiercer! Never-ending-always-moving-Megadungeon!" and somehow found HMS Apollyon.

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  30. I can appreciate feelings of nostalgia for older feelings of nostalgia.

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  31. Active since 2009: bxblackrazor.blogspot.com
    I remember his "Conan is a Thief" post
    Active since last year: inplacesdeep.blogspot.com, rolesrules.blogspot.com, savageafterworld.blogspot.com
    Inactive(?) but online: backin81.blogspot.com, lawfulindifferent.blogspot.com

    My osr involvement started in 2008, so I don't have access to the bottom of the crypt :)

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  32. For me, it started when the guy hosting our monthly RPG sessions (mostly 3E/d20 system games back then, 2006) introduced me to this thread on The Forge: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/archive/index.php?topic=22161.0

    Then I found Robert Fisher's writings about BX and the Isle of Dread game he was running. The original site is long gone, but Robert relocated things here: http://web.fisher.cx/robert/rpg/dnd/

    Those led me to Dragonsfoot, and I posted on the forums fairly often for a few years, but then Jeff's Game Blog became my OSR reading hub.

    I love this thread, the comments have reminded me of so many great blogs that I'd forgotten about!

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    1. Strange that so many secret paths run silently through the Forge

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    2. It was a great think tank.

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  33. I remember reading 1KM1MT back in the very early 2010s and being excited about edits to games that I had never played (the site is gone now). The whole idea of playing DnD was better than materially playing.

    That led me to a blog called Monstrous Television and its 666-level megadungeon city set in gonzo hell (this is also gone but an archive exists)
    (http://web.archive.org/web/20140108113307/http://monstroustelevision.blogspot.com/)

    The suggested blog reading included Games With Others and Dungeon of Signs, both of whom I read and copied from deeply. The HMS Apollyon setting and the whole megadungeon crawl still stick with me. I read the Dark Souls DnD conversion posts when it was still fresh.

    I also recall your Isles of The Imprisoned Moon play reports from years back, those showed me how good Into The Odd was as a rules-lite system.

    I was never a part of the G+ circle when it existed, or the OSR Discord that now exists.

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  34. Hey, so, I was late to the OSR, having come back to TTRPG after a 25 year hiatus in 2014 via Pathfinder. Think I heard about LotFP in my news feed and found Bryce's Ten Foot Pole blog some time in 2015. Picked up Maze of the Blue Medusa and down the rabbit holes I went. So my response here isn't strictly following instructions, but there are a couple of blog posts I ran across while chasing hares that are stuck in my brain's OSR Hard Drive.

    This guy has great posts...haven't seen anything in awhile but it was the first time I ran across the concept of Failing Forward: https://www.runagame.net/2015/12/fail-forward.html. And I always wanted to follow this concept of world-building: http://iceandruin.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-free-association-map-method.html.

    Certainly not examples from the nether-reaches of the OSR but are part of my way-back machine, given my limited association.

    A lot of great posts and places to go here, Patrick Stuart. Appreciate the exercise.

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  35. I guess that by definition, the Oerth Journal cannot be counted as OSR because by the time it's first issue came out in 1995 the subject matters of original edition D&D and the World of Greyhawk weren't that old to begin with... But for me the discovery of the OJ and it's sister website "Canonfire" in the budding years of this millenium stand as a premonition of things that were later to come. I remember later perusing Grognardia and Jeff's Gameblog sometime back in 2010 and thinking "oh shit, _this_ is what those people were talking about, I just didn't have the language back then to articulate what was so great about it."

    https://greyhawkonline.com/oerthjournal/

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  36. The late, lamented Year Of The Dungeon blog, started around 2010 by Tony Dowler had fantastically evocative, yet not over-perplexed dungeon (and town, and whatnot) maps on http://blog.microdungeons.com/

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