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Saturday 27 December 2014

Is the OSR "hostile to self publishers?"

A few days ago, I reposted the review of John Berry's (very good) "Hulks & Horrors RPG".

Yesterday, I hear that Berry has announced his retirement from RPG writing.
(also, he's in Finland, apparently. What is it with non-Finnish-sounding RPG writing guys living in Finland??)

Among the reasons he cited for Quitting Forever was that "the OSR community had become increasingly hostile to self- and public-funded works like mine".

Do you think that's true?  Is the success of the OSR and the rise in fancy, more professional OSR products actually meaning that the very small-press guy (the guy without huge design skills, who can't make a slick product with awesome art) just isn't wanted anymore?

I'm not really convinced; I DO think that there's been a kind of rise in "standards" that I could see as being problematic for some publishers.  With people used to stuff like DCC's core book, or just about anything LotFP does, with insane production values, there can be a de-valuing of an otherwise excellent game with lesser quality production.  At the same time though, I think RIGHT NOW at least, the OSR is still quite happy to support someone who makes a good product even if its look is kind of simple.

But more importantly, I don't get why it matters.  To Berry, I mean.  Sure, I could get why it would be a reason not to be a FULL-TIME game designer (that's a crazy pipe dream, for the most part; though if you're lucky you can end up making game design an important PART of your income); but to quit writing RPGs forever?

Look, all I know is, if at this point no one wanted to buy what I was selling, if there was no viability to it, then I'd STILL be writing RPGs.  I'd still be trying to share it.  Hell, Dark Albion: The Rose War didn't find a publisher for like three years, until it did.   What did I do? I put part of it on theRPGsite for free.  I didn't just quit. And now, tons of people say they're interested in buying the much larger and expanded edition of this OSR setting book, which has got an awesome publisher in Dominique Crouzet.

But even if that hadn't happened, I would still keep doing my stuff.  Because it's in my blood.  I can't not do it.

I have trouble thinking the guy who wrote Hulks & Horrors doesn't feel that same way too.


Currently Smoking: Brigham Anniversary Pipe + Burlington's Lapis


  1. It really sounds like he was expecting his RPG publishing to bring in some sort of significant income, and he's disappointed that it has not. I've sold several thousand copies of my Adventures Dark and Deep books, and it's never been more than a bump in my own income, compared to my full-time job. Perhaps he's just disappointed because he had expectations that were too grandiose?

  2. I have seen much love expressed for DIY game projects and fanzines. I have not seen any hostility toward DIY projects. So I'm not sure what he's talking about.

  3. It may have to do with all the failed kickstarters. That got people to be a lot more hostile than they should be.

    1. Perhaps so; I think "do you find people are less trusting, more demanding, less patient with kickstarter projects?" a separate but related question.

  4. I have no idea what he's talking about. I've bought tons of cheap OSR items.