May 25, 2023: Foundations

“This is how I go to my happy place.” Photo by Wil Wheaton (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Since I talked about Dungeons & Dragons yesterday, let me ride that wave for today’s post as well.

I started playing RPGs with the D&D red box, and that genesis set the foundation upon which the rest of my gaming life has been built. That box informs what I think of when I speak of “old-school” role-playing, what I think a “dungeon crawl” is like, and what I feel a fantasy RPG is and isn’t, even to this day.

Much has been said about the OSR movement, whether you read the R as Renaissance, Revival, or Revolution. I’m not going to rehash any of that here, but instead, I refer to this quote from business author, Seth Godin:

When we switch media, or time zones, or cultures, or technology, it’s up to us to make the idea what it can become, not simply an unpalatable simulacrum of what it was over there.

Seth Godin, “The Hobgoblin of Fidelity

I bring up these points because I have been working for a while on Project Legacy, a project that has me both excited and full of dread. Unlike the OSR movement, I am not aiming for any kind of return to the “golden age,” nor is it my intent to build “D&D, but better”—you just can’t out-D&D D&D.

Instead, I want to look at my foundations, borne out of that iconic red box, and see what did those rules teach me, what implications they’ve had in my gaming/designing life, and how can I express those foundations with the language I know today.

I don’t aim to build a hack of, a retro-clone of, or even an homage to D&D. I don’t aim to be a part of the OSR in any of its permutations. I do not aim to build an “unpalatable simulacrum of what […] was.” I aim to build something that speaks to what came before in a language that is of the present, something that acknowledges the past, but is a product of the now, and sets a road for the future. I aim to create something that is built from, and in turn, establishes a Legacy.

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